Monday, December 9, 2013

Gender reveal, Holidays, ER trips, and Getting huge

Its been forever since I've blogged. I knew I wouldn't be as faithful posting as I was during my last pregnancy (a lot less time & energy on my hands with a toddler!). But I'm at my halfway point (a little over) and wanted to check in with the latest.
Half way through this pregnancy I'd say it has been a lot rougher than the first. Morning sickness/nausea lasted much longer & then I've had one thing after another keep me from feeling back to nornal. I think it's also harder because I have a toddler to keep up with and can't really rest when I'm feeling bad like last time. Although everything is not as new and magical as the first time, I am LOVING feeling this little one kick all the time, seeing my tummy grow (a lot earlier this time around), and seeing KJ say 'baby' when I point to my belly. Being pregnant is such a crazy cool, hard experience. I have another dr apt Wednesday this week and am hopeful that all is well. 21 weeks pregnant feels like 28 weeks. I already feel huge, clumsy, and worn out. Last time I was barely showing at 21 weeks. I have no winter maternity clothes, just spring & summer! But I'm trying to embrace the belly and praise God for the growth. Baby is the size of a banana this week, 10.5 inches long and 12.7 oz.

We still don't have a name picked out for this little sweetie! We will let you know as soon as we decide. So much to think about. I like A names with Austell but those seem to be quite popular right now.

So KJ is 17 months! Almost 1.5 years old already. She is really saying a lot of words and it's wonderful to be able to communicate with her so well. She still uses a few signs, 'hungry', 'more', 'all done', 'please' and 'thank you' and usually says enough for us to know what she wants or needs. Her favorite words right now are 'hat' (and 'hot'-they sound the same) and 'puppy' (or pappy-my dad's name; also sounds the same). She repeats these over and over whenever she sees them. 
 She just got a new slide for her Christmas present, and we set it up in the living room already since we will be gone for Christmas and are often stuck inside these days. So right now she mostly plays with that, the small table and chairs my mom got her, her kitchen and play food, and her books (I wish I had a friend to do a book swap with-we are so tired of these same books!) I'll just say that I'm really glad we will be heading to Chicago for a week-KJ and I need a change of scenery and a houseful of playmates (her 3 boy cousins will be there too!) And nana has lots of fun toys waiting for them.
She is still goofy and expressive : )
She is still so friendly and social, loves people, says 'hi' to everyone, is a busy-body who never sits still (she won't sit in her high chair for more than 5 minutes and car rides are still rough). She really is very sweet and usually obedient. I just hope I am not allowing her to develop bad habits by letting her do certain things right now... Parenting is getting tougher!

We had an amazing Thanksgiving with my parents in town and all of Kent's extended family here in Memphis.  We did our gender reveal that day with them all and finally got to share the news we have been keeping to ourselves for weeks. Here is the link for the video, if you didn't see it on FB.

KJ is clearly thrilled to be having a little sister. At what point do you think they can understand the sibling concept? Not til she's at least 2 years old right? I'm sure it'll take awhile even after the baby comes...but I'm excited to see her as a big sissy!


Our ER trip (for those who are still reading this ; )

We did have a little scare last Saturday. KJ woke up and seemed fine, we went out to breakfast and came home, put her down for a nap. She woke up a little off, just wanting to cuddle. The next nap she took a couple hours later, she woke up very congested and pretty warm. She was very tired and clearly didn't feel good. She wanted to go down AGAIN which never happens, and after that nap, woke up VERY congested, couldnt talk, and would cry whenever she coughed, then struggle breathing and get really worked up. She was burning up, so we called her pediatrician. The nurse on call said to take her to Urgent Care if she was struggling to breathe. KJ was getting worse fast, so we headed to the Urgent Clinic. She was crying and wheezing every breath and even more so if she'd cough. We waited 30 minutes and then saw a doctor. At the doctor visit KJ had last month, she got 5 shots, so she does NOT like the doctor right now. Before he even touched her, she was crying hard, which made her breathing awful. I was a terrible 30 minutes of the doc trying to examine my baby who was freaking out and burning up. They said she had Croup pretty bad.  Her heart rate was over 200 (because she was so worked up). They did a breathing treatment for 10 minutes and she finally calmed down as they stepped out of the room. I thought she was doing better. But when the doc came back in (which worked her up again) she said KJ was stridering, a bad breathing issue which really concerned them. They called the ambulance to take us to LeBonheur Children's Hospital but wanted to give her a steroid first (which usually they do at the hospital) to get it started working in her system.

 So I hopped on the ambulance with my little and Kent took the car to meet us there. We asked for friends to pray and I was about to lose it, unsure of what was wrong with her and why we had to take an ambulance to the hospital. I hated watching my baby struggle to breathe. She has rarely gotten sick the past 17 months and it was scary for both of us. God started working and KJ was very calm on our ride to the hospital (a miracle for sure)... until the nurses there started poking her again...then she was hysterical again for awhile. Her fever was still high, (my shirt was drenched from where she was laying on me) but as we waited for the doc, she fell asleep and was breathing very well. 

I was so relieved and thankful she was resting as we waited there for the next hour. When the doc came in, he didn't even wake her. Took her temp and blood pressure and said the medicines were all starting to work and we would be able to go home that night. It would be bad for the next 2-3 days but the cold air would help if she struggled with breathing or coughing badly. If it didn't help we needed to head back to the ER. SO...we were able to head home late that night and KJ is on her 3rd day with Croup, sounding pitiful but not laboring to breathe, and we feel sooo thankful. 

I know many parents have dealt with sick kids and this turned out to be very minor, but it was scary nonetheless and makes me really empathize with parents whose kids are going through something more serious. Gosh, seeing your baby in pain and scared and being unable to do anything about it is awful. Praying for all those sick littles and their parents! And thanks for everyone who prayed for her!

That's all for now! I'm sure I'll post again after our Christmas in Chicago (woo hooooo!).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Confessions

     Growing up, I had a great fear of God. I mean, I literally was afraid of Him. I felt so small, so weak, and so sinful. I felt like he was always mad at me, disappointed in me. Whenever I'd pray, I'd mainly just say, "sorry" over and over. I didn't know how I would ever feel close to him or at peace with Him. I really DID want to please him. But I kept messing up and began to feel hopeless. I remember thinking, "This 'Christian life' thing is really hard!"
   Now keep in mind, I come from an incredible, loving, godly family and grew up in a great church at least 3 days a week. I heard "Jesus loves me" from the time I was born. Yet if I felt this way about God, I started thinking how much more so do those who never grew up in church, who never heard "Jesus loves me," whose parents never affirmed or encouraged them.
    A sweet mentor friend of mine used to tell me, "The world in general feels far from God and already condemned. They usually don't need anyone pointing out to them that they fall short." Yet there are so many churches that do just that... preach a list of do's and don't's week after week and make it sound like that's what the Christian life is all about. Most of us innately KNOW what we should and shouldn't do and also know how often we mess up. That doesn't need to be beaten into us. (Now granted, I am the type of person to beat my own self up when I fail and always expect perfection, so maybe it's mostly these personality types who don't need others reminding them of their failures.) But it can be really overwhelming to live this way. Do you agree? Anyone else been there?
   We all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory! (Rom 3:23) It's pretty clear, pretty obvious! And the penalty of sin is death! (Romans 6:23) Most people go on with life sitting underneath the weight of these truths, feeling condemned, hopeless, and far from God (even if they try to avoid thinking about it by staying busy or finding significance in some way or another). Most people stop trying with God because they just feel like they can never be good enough. I know I almost did. I felt my unworthiness soooo deeply growing up and all through college, and I remember telling God one time, "If this is what the Christian life is like, I don't want it!" At that point I had been trying to do everything in my own strength and all I could hear was the voice of the enemy whispering condemnation over me, even though I had also heard another truth my whole life that I failed to really believe in my heart for years.
    Jesus came, not to judge the world, but to save the world! (John 3:17). There is a HUGE need for us to have a Savior, isn't there? Have you come to that realization, that you need a Savior? I come to it every day! We will NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH. We can never be near God or accepted by God on our own. And God knows that. It isn't a surprise to Him. But he doesn't just sit up there in heaven looking down on us in disappointment. He did something about it! He sent us a Savior, his own Son (the only one that could do it!). Jesus said, "I'll save them from their sins, their failures, weaknesses and shortcomings. I'll give them my righteousness and take on their sin. I'll die the death they deserve...SO THAT they can finally draw near to God without shame! (Yes please!) Wearing MY righteousness, they will be accepted by God. He will love them as he loves me, his own Son! He will welcome them into His family and give them the family inheritance and never leave them or forsake them." So Jesus gave his life for us. Hebrews 2:15 says, "Only in this way could he (Jesus) deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying." So there it is. He delivered us from fear, from fear of God (being afraid of Him) and fear of death! Ahhh, this is so great!
     I have to remind myself continually of what it means that I have asked Jesus to be my Savior. It has taken me so many years to truly understand my position now that I am in Him! I am memorizing Romans 8 with my best friend and one of the main reasons I chose it (well, besides that it's one of the best chapters in the whole bible) is because of verses 1. "Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those of us who are IN Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death." My daily reading passage today reaffirmed the joy I now have in being in Christ.
     Psalm 103: "Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me. He FORGIVES all my sins and heals all my diseases. He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things! (vs. 12) He has removed our rebellious acts as far as the east is from the west!" (You should really read this whole chapter. It. is. incredible).
      God has removed my sins from me and remembers them no more. He calls me his beloved daughter. Jesus calls me his sister (Hebrews 2:11)! All that is His is mine. I am a part of SUCH A COOL FAMILY! And I no longer have to be afraid of what God thinks of me or fear his wrath. He delights in me and sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17) and accepts me.  I am so thankful he finally helped me see what it REALLY means to be a Christian, to accept what His son did for me, to be free in Him, to enjoy nearness and a personal relationship with Him without condemnation! So. Awesome.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

That time I fell into a black hole

I feel like I am just coming out of hibernation. Well, I'll say that I actually wish I had been in hibernation these past three months!
All I wanted to do was sleep. I was unusually tired from working and dealing with kids all day at school and then being a mom to a toddler after work.  
I was having LOTS of migraines. Stomach aches. EXTREME Nausea and dizziness. Not wanting to eat. Not being able to sleep. And nothing I could do made it better. 
I couldn't stand the thought or smell of most foods,of coffee. I didn't want to eat anything besides crackers and fruit (specifically watermelon). Making it through each day seemed way more than I could handle and I had to leave school a few days because I felt so sick. 

I thought something was really wrong with me. After missing my period and taking two pregnancy tests that were negative, I continued to feel sick for weeks. I finally made a doctor appointment and prayed they would give me SOMETHING to help the pain! I thought maybe since I'd stopped nursing KJ, my body was just trying to get back into its regular cycle.

All of this started at the end of July, through August and continued through September. And finally, October 12th, I can say I am starting to feel better. And can deal with the reality of what is wrong. 
So I'll tell you. 






We are expecting baby #2! 
Yep. The tests were wrong. When I finally got to the doctor, they told me I was 7 weeks. It's what I totally thought RIGHT away. The symptoms were JUST like last time (only last time it didn't really hit me till I was about 7 weeks). This time I experienced symptoms literally the first week we got pregnant. and when I took those tests a couple weeks later, it was still too early to tell. So, after our surprise happy news, I was able to ride out the following weeks of sickness with a secret joy in my heart that has helped get me through this.  (I THINK this time was worse than last time, or maybe it was the same but has just lasted a lot longer. Either way, PTL I am about through it!)


That's me at 11 weeks, no bump yet. But now at 13 weeks it's there! Way earlier than the first time around when I waited FOREVER for that bump. And the first time around I started documenting the (lack of) belly right when I found out (6 weeks) even though there was nothing really at ALL til maybe 15 weeks! I was a little over eager, but it IS really exciting to finally show!
I am now almost through the 1st trimester and we can finally share the news! And I can finally function again! Please be praying for our little one! We know lots can go wrong and are trying to trust the Lord and not be anxious. We are due April 21, so the kids will be 21 months apart. (Let's see if we can get KJ potty trained before this baby comes! HA! That would be a miracle!) Pray that these two little ones will be best buddies! Pray they have a special bond and that KJ adapts quickly to her younger sibling. I am totally taking advice from mamas about the changes a second one brings and dealing with a toddler's adjustment to a new family member!

We find out around Thanksgiving if it's a boy or a girl and are SO PUMPED to find out! A girl would be awesome since I'd already have all the clothes and stuff and KJ would have a little sis to pal around with.  And of course I love little girls! But I do get nervous about them comparing and competing with each other and would have to really pray over that one. If we have a boy, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH BOYS! Haha! I just had one sis growing up and was always SO AWKWARD around boys. But I'd be soooo pumped for Kent to have a son and I always wanted a brother when I was growing up. I LOVE my sister's 3 boys and would be so excited. Kent is convinced we are having all girls, and I think he's right. So we will both be super surprised if it's a boy. Well, we will keep ya posted!

How far along? 13 weeks
Size: 2.9 inches, .81oz  A peach!
Symptoms? Nausea, stomach issues, tiredness, headaches, can't sleep
Weight Gain? I've lost a few pounds but that's about to change
Maternity clothes? none yet. Last time I didn't need any til like halfway through, but I'm sure It'll be earlier this time
Sleep? Awful.  Takes me a LONG time to fall asleep because I'm not feeling well especially at night and when I'm just laying there and am not distracted, the pain is worse. I take Tylenol pm almost every night. (Don't judge!)
Food Cravings? Fruit. I won't eat apples (my usual favorite) but any fruit that's juicy and soft. Even fruity candy I have been indulging in, like fruit snacks and skittles. (Vegetables sound disgusting to me, as do most meats!)  Also, crackers, chips and bread always sound good (I've been loading up on carbs!). Sometimes I'll do cheese and crackers for a meal, or like crackers and peanut butter (with maybe a pickle or two on the side ; ) But a hot meal does NOT sound good at all. We've been getting bagels a lot for breakfast, eating sushi pretty often (not raw) and Kent is indulging me with anything else I suddenly crave, like slurpees, popsicles, ice cream or pizza (he loves when I'm pregnant because I normally never want pizza and he wants it like every day! But during pregnancy we probably get it once a week!)
Anything make you queasy? I haven't been able to cook for the past couple months. Any strong smells really take it out of me. I don't even like to look in the fridge because seeing food or smelling it could send me over.  I can't drink/smell coffee (which I'm normally addicted to). Mint gum bothers me, just like last time. I gag when I brush my teeth because of the mint toothpaste. Can't even use my mint lipgloss right now!

On a positive note, being sick this trimester has allowed me to 1. Get out of all dirty diapers when my husband is at home 2. Take a major break from cooking and baking 3. Eat out more, which we never do because we are really frugal about spending $ on that and 4. Read again! I used to read ALL THE TIME before I had KJ and especially before I got married. Feeling sick has made me want to lay around a lot so I have picked up the habit of reading again which I had lost somewhere down  the line. So it hasn't been a completely horrible past few months : ) 

Anyway, we just made a visit to Northwest Arkansas to visit all our buddies and got to share our news and had a blast seeing everyone. And I'm just PUMPED to be through the worst of this pregnancy and now can be excited! Bring on baby #2!

It's FALLLLLLLL

You need this recipe. I know, I know. Some of my usual 'healthy' recipes aren't to die for. Some of you may have tried one and said, "No more recipes from Jen's blog, thank you." But this one is one everyone will love. Promise!
 
I haven't been eating my usual apple a day for breakfast lately and realized I had a bunch of apples that would soon go bad if I didn't use them up. So I looked up apple recipes and found this amazing one for Apple Pie Bread from a great site called What's Cooking with Ruthie. It's not even horribly unhealthy! Here is where I got it from, and the ingredients and instructions below are straight from her site. These pictures are how mine turned out. It's really quick and easy and you don't have to use any weird ingredients. It will make your house smell awesome too!
 
Get some yummy apples! Tis the season.


The streusal topping is divine!
I made a mini loaf too and sampled it right out of the oven. It's so moist and flavorful!


The only difference in mine from her recipe is that I used white wheat flour, different kinds of apples, and truvia instead of normal sugar. Also, the browned butter is a bit tricky, but be patient, it's worth it.
 
APPLE PIE BREAD
Serves: 8
Recipe Type: Sweet Bread
Author: www.whatscookingwithruthie.com
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 70 mins
 
Ingredients:
  • ¼ C browned butter
  • ¼ C applesauce
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs (or 1 egg and 2 egg whites to cut down on fat/cholesterol)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C shredded apple (I used 3 jonathon)
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Streusal Topping
  • ¼ C light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ C whole oats
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cooking spray and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
  3. Set aside.
  4. In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, brown the butter- cook stirring constantly until the butter is slightly browned and aromatic.
  5. Set aside.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  7. Add eggs, vanilla, applesauce, and shredded apples.
  8. Mix until incorporated.
  9. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  10. Add half flour mixture to apple mixture and mix in.
  11. Add remaining flour and mix just until incorporated.
  12. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  13. Topping:
  14. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon.
  15. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to flour using a pastry cutter or a hand mixer on low speed, mix until small pieces.
  16. Add oats and mix in.
  17. Sprinkle over top the batter and bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  18. Let stand 10 minutes on a cooling rack, then remove loaf from pan and finish cooling.
  19. (turn it out over a counter top because the topping is a little crumbly, I just scooped crumbles up and sprinkled it back on!)
  20. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Keeping short accounts

So I haven't written in forever, especially sharing what I've been learning with ya'll, which I wanted to do even for my own personal accountability. That really does reflect my lack of deeper study and reflection on the word lately, to be honest with you guys. It is something I'm very much needing these days!

But I did get some good time today meditating on scripture, and it was so refreshing! I read Ephesians 1-holy cow, WHAT a pick-me-up! I also read from Psalm 66. 

In Psalm 66:18, David says "If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God who did not ignore my prayer and did not withdraw his unfailing love from me."

Y'all, this is convicting to me. I haven't spent great time in prayer with The Lord the past few weeks, let alone have I been intentional about confessing sin before him. And it hit me that when we don't confess sin in our life & just sweep it under the rug, our prayers really are hindered! Now, I know that, because of Christ, I am forgiven for past, present, and future sin (praise God!) but I also know that unconfessed sin in my life does hinder my relationship with Jesus. Just like it would in my marriage if there was something between us that needed to be dealt with. I do NOT want that!

So it was just a good reminder to myself to spend time in the Lord's presence, asking him to search me and try me and see if there is any offensive way in me, and to lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139!) To ask God to give me a clean heart and to keep short accounts with Him. (And my husband too! Do you know it also says we aren't right with our spouse, our prayers are also hindered?) I need to be quick to confess my failures and receive God's wonderful grace and mercy every day!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Junior High Kickball...those were the days

I haven't posted anything lately because nothing cool has really happened and also I may have been a little depressed that summer has ended. I know I have no right to complain because most people don't even have a summer break, but still, it's hard to get back to work after being in break-mode. It was SO nice having Kent home more this summer, to feel like the days weren't so long because he was home. We could go out as a family and do some fun things together, and I wasn't by myself all day.

It's especially hard starting up work after taking a year off! Yep, I started the school year with Kent teaching at Briarcrest again. This time I'm not doing Bible like I did 2 years ago. I'm teaching High School Health and PE in the mornings and middle school PE in the afternoon. The 7th grade kids I taught two years ago are now in high school, so it's really fun to have them as students again! I like being in Kent's world too, and I even get to see some of my track girls every day, which is awesome.

Everything about this opportunity is really God-ordained! As sad as I am to leave Kennedy each day, listen to how perfect this job is. 1) I had been praying for awhile that God would give me girls to pour into (having youth ministry withdrawals). The Health and High School PE classes I teach are girls only! How perfect! 2) I would have been even more sad for Kent to go off to work again if I was staying home. I had been a little lonely and restless at home with KJ last year, especially when Kent would work late, so I wasn't excited to go back to that. Now I'm starting up with him! 3)Kent is starting seminary classes this fall and we wouldn't have had the extra money to pay for them without this job. 4) I get to play games like kickball, which were my absolute favorite growing up, and also make kids workout, which you know I love to do, haha! I have no work to take home with me and I get to be outside when the weather is nice! Woo Hoo! And 5) it is only until October! I'm just taking over for a teacher on maternity leave, so it makes it much easier to leave KJ every day knowing it's for a short time. And since it's only temporary, my awesome mother-in-law volunteered to watch Kennedy, which is sooooo perfect and allows them special time together that they would never have otherwise.

GOD IS GOOD! He knows what we need even before we ask Him. And as perfect as I can see now that this job is, He really had to push me into doing it. I would have taken the easy way out and just said no if it were up to me, but now that I'm in it, I can really see his hand. Anyway, I made it through the first week, am tired and missing my baby but feeling satisfied. I do love getting to socialize with other teachers/adults and interacting with these kids every day. I love (and also hate) being pushed out of my comfort zone, being forced to depend on God and trust in Him. Then, I can boast of his faithfulness and really see his hand in my life! Pray with me that God will use me at that school, even in this short time. Just wanted to share what's going on with us and remind ya'll how God leads and guides us where we are supposed to go!

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you." Psalm 32:8

"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. " Psalm 138:8

Hope the summer has been good for ya'll and that you are forced to depend on Him too!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Nike running shorts for babies?

Kennedy-
I know blogging about you every month is only cool the first 12 months of your life, when so much changes each month...so I promise I won't continue the monthly 'Kennedy updates'... BUT when I am in the mood and you are doing things I want to remember, I will probably have to post about it. :)

You are officially walking! Gotta go get you some legit shoes, because you only have one pair with an actual sole, given to us by some friends (and some Nike shoes too...for real! They are incredible. Except that every outfit you have is way girly and doesn't look good with Nike gym shoes, gosh darn it. Do they make Nike running shorts for 12 month olds? I think it's time to get you some workout clothes!) You will still resort to crawling occasionally, but now usually choose to walk where you want to go. You especially love to hold our hand (both dad's and mine) and walk. You are clearly so proud of yourself and laugh and giggle while you are walking on your own. This new found freedom has brought about your first tantrum. I took you with me to run errands and when I put you in the grocery cart, you immediately wanted down so you could walk. Of course, once I let you get out you didn't want back in, and if I tried to stop you from pulling things off the shelves you threw a fit. So. I can see that this is going to be a challenging new season! Lord, help me!

 My new favorite thing-When you fall asleep in your car seat on our way home from somewhere and I unbuckle you to take you out,  you STAY ASLEEP in my arms. You never used to do this! You used to cry and have a hard time going back down but now I lift you out and you lay your head on my shoulder, put your fingers in your mouth and fall right back asleep on me. I don't remember how old you were when you stopped sleeping on me but it was in the newborn stage, so I'm soaking in the few seconds where you will sleep on me again as I carry you to your crib! You do give hugs now and snuggle a little bit when you first wake up which I love! You run to dad and I and let us scoop you up in our arms and you nuzzle close. SO sweet.

Lately, when I read to you before bedtime, you will suddenly crawl off my lap and walk out the door yelling, 'dada!' It's like you can't go to bed until he comes in and kisses you goodnight. This is your dad's latest favorite thing. You often walk through the house yelling, 'dada!'. Not sure if you just love saying the word or you are really looking for him, but it's pretty darn cute. (Although you look at me and say dada sometimes too, so who knows!)

You communicate SO WELL for your age! (Who am I to know? I think everything you do is brilliant and have no one to compare it to, so your dad and I always joke that you are 'so advanced for your age' :) You point at everything and say, "what's that?"  You can tell us when you are hungry or thirsty, when you want to be picked up or put down. You say and wave 'bub bye' and say 'hi' and 'yeah' all the time. You still call me 'baba' instead of mama, like you have a stuffy nose or something, ha! But occasionally you will say 'M's'.

Now, when we ask you questions, you will shake your head no or say, 'yeah'. Like, when I say, "Do you want to play with your toys?" you respond, "yeah". "Do you want to go to bed?" You shake your head no. You are definitely able to tell us your opinion about things now! You listen pretty well if mama tells you no. When dad says no, you burst into tears and are so upset! You are already a daddy's girl for sure!

You are so playful and goofy and do anything to get our attention. You always want to be where we are, preferably IN our laps playing, as close to us as possible. You also FINALLY let us read books to you! You would NEVER sit through even a page before. I'm so excited to finally read the endings to all the books you have!

You pretend a little, with talking on your toy cell phone or eating fake food in your kitchen. I've seen you pick up your baby doll a few times and hug her too.

You still try to shove as much food into your mouth as you can, as if you are afraid someone will take it off your tray if you don't grab it quickly. If we put too much on your tray at one time, it will all end up in your mouth until you can't even chew, and you will spit it out in a big clump. Ew. At what age does this change? You don't really care to try and use your own spoon yet. You have gotten picky about food texture and refuse to eat things you used to love like bananas. I have basically weaned you, only nursing you once every other day since I'm going back to work next week. It hasn't been bad at all (just a little sad on my part). I gradually took away one feeding a week and you took to drinking whole milk so quickly that it was an easy transition.

You are in bed between 7-8pm and up around 7:15am. You still take 2 naps a day if I stay home in the mornings (usually 9:30ish again around 3pm.) But if I go to the gym or something, we get home about 11am and you will take 1 nap for about 2 hours. Your nap schedule has never been super consistent. When I start work I will have to wake you up around 6am (NOOO!), so we will see how that changes your schedule. But you are usually super clear when you are ready for a nap. You stick your fingers in your mouth and want to be held, and once I pick you up, you lay your head on my chest.

We went to story hour last week at this place where they do a craft and have a snack afterwards. You didn't sit still for the story very well. And the craft was coloring, which you can't really do yet. You picked up a crayon and tried to eat it, and then made a few dots on the page. The animal crackers, though were a huge hit and you tried to put them all in your mouth at once. I guess we will wait a few months before trying that again.

KJ, you are so awesome. That is all.

If I'd known THIS before having a baby....

I thought I'd take a second for my soon-to-be and new moms to write down some possible helpful tips for you!

The first year of having a kid is soooo incredible. How do I even describe it? Everything is new. You are constantly in awe. Watching your little baby start out completely dependent and helpless, and seeing them grow and learn SO much every single week...it's the coolest thing. And you think you couldn't love them more the moment they are in your arms for the first time, but the more they interact with you and start to say mama and reach for you, the more their personality develops...oh man, your heart could explode with love for them! It just grows over time and is SO FUN! I'm so excited for you!!!

Things I wish someone told me when I had my first newborn:

  • Don't feel guilty about getting nothing accomplished those first couple months. If your baby falls asleep in your arms and you want to just sit and rock them and cuddle them, DO IT! Don't be frustrated at their lack of ability to sleep on their own or their constant desire to be held. All too soon, they won't let you hold them, they will be crawling everywhere, so wiggly and squirmy that you will only wish you could hold them in your arms and snuggle them again! Forget about the list of tasks you have not accomplished. HOLD YOUR BABY! Soak her in. Be in awe of how God made her, so tiny and perfect.  In a flash they are toddlers. And so people tell me, you blink, and they are all grown up!
  • Be lazy. You have a very short time where you can lay on the couch all day with your baby and read a book or watch movies and just sit with them. (Especially it you have to go back to work!) You are tired. Your baby is sleeping all the time. So kick back and be sleepy too. (I'm sure you really are!) When they are crawling and then walking, you won't be able to sit still again, ever, as you will need to chase after them and entertain them. And the next time you have a baby,  you will also have a toddler, so no resting for you! You will have the new baby strapped to you as you chase around kid #1. So enjoy this sweet time of things being slow. Relax and enjoy it. It won't come around again, so don't feel guilty like I did!
  • In the hard times...the sleepless nights, endless diapers, colic, acid reflux, remember everything is a season with babies. It's just a season. It will change and their schedule will change and it will be over soon enough, so hang in there. Also, if things are great, be thankful! That, too is a season and just when you think, "OH BOY! They are sleeping though the night!" teething will happen or a growth spurt and you will be up again. So enjoy those good times! 
  • Register for Amazon Mom! You get discounts on diapers and wipes, you can get them shipped to you every month or every other month. You can get free 2-day shipping. And getting out of the house with your baby is not always an easy experience. Getting things shipped to you is amazing! And cheaper in many cases. For me, Babies R Us is 25 minutes away and sooo annoying to drive to. I love that I can find lots of cheap things for her on Amazon and get it shipped for free.
  • Lastly, and I'm sure this is a super controversial one,  but I'd suggest kicking them out of your room as soon as possible. Kennedy actually never slept in our room. Now her room was right across the hall, so we could hear her cries even without a monitor. And we MAY have tried it for a bit if her room was upstairs and ours was down. BUT, here is why I say this. When the baby is born, everything now revolves around that baby, 24/7. Your poor husband will often feel neglected. You will be drained yet always thinking about that baby, barely sleeping, up many times a night to take care of the baby and your husband can definitely be pushed to the back burner. For Kent and I, we knew at the end of the day, we needed our sacred space, our 'us' space to reconnect and have no distractions.  It was good for our marriage to have our room be just our room. Your marriage is your first priority, even when you start having kids. (And your kids need to see that your marriage is your first priority as they grow up!). The other reason is that I'm SUCH a light sleeper, that if we had her in our room, I would awake to any and every noise she made. I way preferred to have her monitor turned on (low) and only hear the actual cries. Again, just me. We also wanted KJ to get used to her crib as soon as possible, and for us, it worked great.

Random tidbits for those who are expecting:

  • Diapers: We LOVED Pampers Swadders. KJ is a year old, a size 3, and we still choose pampers swaddlers over any other. Everyone has their preference, but someone recommended these to us and we agreed. Also, we always preferred Pampers for diapers and Huggies for wipes. The pampers wipes are SO greasy and gross and I hated them personally. We used Aquaphor for Diaper cream and never really used anything else. This stuff heals their irritated skin sooo well, doesn't smell nasty like other creams and can be used on any cuts or scars or skin irritations. It's all we use.
  • I was given SO many blankets. I don't think I have used ONE. Seriously. You can't really cover them up when they sleep til they are older. As a baby, you usually swaddle them (I had at least 6 swaddle blankets and would have been fine with 4...the aden-anais ones are the BEST). Her swaddle blankets worked great if I ever needed to cover her in the carseat. Everyone is different and I still have hope that someday she will use one of the 10 that she has, but I'm just sayin, you really DON'T need more than one baby blanket in my opinion. (I also never used the Velcro swaddle blankets, and someone tell me what you use receiving blankets for? I only needed one sleep sac for cold nights when she was done with being swaddled).
  • You also don't need an abundance of pacifiers BECAUSE you don't even know if your little nugget will use them, so maybe buy one and wait and see if he/she likes them. We have like 8, and she didn't ever really use them.
  • Clothes-everyone wants to buy you baby clothes because they are the cutest and so fun to pick out.  I can hardly resist buying clothes for other pregnant moms, myself! And everyone buys the little 0-3 month size because they're so darn cute and tiny! But the truth is, a) we would rather people buy us the not-so-fun stuff off our registry so that WE can enjoy picking out the baby's clothes. b)The mom-to-be may have a totally different taste than you for how you would dress a baby. And c) when babies are 0-3months they only need a couple cute outfits because usually you don't take them out of the house a whole lot. They just wear a onesie or pajamas for the most part. I think those cute outfits are more practical for 6-12 month olds. Just my opinion. I think that mama would appreciate diapers over clothes.
  • Speaking of clothes, putting shoes on a newborn or even an older baby before they can actually walk is a huge pain and of course completely unnecessary. Lots of the tiny shoes she had gotten (which are the cutest things EVER) she didn't even get to wear because I would try them on her at one point, they would be too big so I'd put them aside, and by the time I remembered to try them on again they would be too small. You have such a small window for your baby to wear them that, as CUTE as they are, I think they are annoying (unless they are little booties that slip on and keep their feet warm. KJ did have fur velcro boots but they were SO EASY to put on and kept her feet warm so she definitely rocked those in the winter). When you buy shoes, think of how easy they are to put on (especially a wiggly baby) and they NEED to have that little tab on the heel to pull on to help shove their foot in or it's pretty impossible.
  • Breast pumps. I bought the double electric Medela breast pump. Knowing what I now know, I would have just bought the single electric pump OR would recommend the hands free version. Here's why. In order to double pump, you have to use both hands to hold the shields on. Then after a minute or so, you are expected to push this button once your milk lets down that changes the suction-only you are using both hands to hold the darn shields.  It is really uncomfortable and annoying and I hated it. I usually just did one at a time so I had a free hand. It's also boring if you are using both your hands and just have to sit there, can't read a book or be on your phone or anything. I guess you could watch TV and that would be fine.  If you really want the double electric, they do have special bras that will hold the shields to you so you have free hands. Anyway, for me, I didn't need to pump excessively so one electric pump would have been just fine. They are so expensive so I just advise you to really ask others about your situation and what you really need before diving in and buying one.
  • Baby furniture. It's your first baby. Of course you want the newest nicest stuff to make her room perfect. as did we. However, the crib we bought her now has bite marks ALL OVER the rails. It looks HORRIBLE. She started biting it as soon as she got bottom teeth and then with the top teeth in too, plus her ability to stand up and wait for us to come get her, she has made even more marks. So next time I would either just buy a cheaper one and expect it to get scratched up or at least buy those rail covers once they get teeth! The changing table/dresser we bought also got ruined pretty quickly. We noticed all these scratches on the edge from where we would stand to change her, apparently from our zippers or belts rubbing against it (I blame Kent :) ). Sounds weird I know, but just another big frustration after all we spent on that furniture.
  • Burp Clothes: Buy a TON...but get the plain white cheap ones like these. They work SO much better than all the cute embroidered ones. As fun as those are, they don't absorb the spit up well or wash as well. I loved having a few because they were so cute, but I'm such a practical person that I would say stock up on these and only these if you don't want to do a load of laundry every day. 
  • Bibs: Having a few cloth ones for when they are infants is great (I actually never even used a bib for her because she just nursed and than I'd just use the burp clothes), especially if they are bottle fed. But when you introduce food, buy one pack of these and you are SET. Someone got us these and they are all we use. You just rinse them under the sink right after they eat and they dry quickly and you are good to go. We velcro our 3 onto the back of her highchair and they are always ready to go. They also have a little pocket to catch food she drops and she'll go search for it in there. These are awesome! No stains, or smells.
  •  Stroller: Everyone has their own preferred brand of car seat-we loved our Graco Snug Ride, but I would TOTALLY recommend getting a snap and go type stroller to click the car seat into. We used it ALL the time, it was SO easy and light weight and trust me, you DON'T want to lug around those HUGE travel systems OR have to take your baby in and out of their cozy car seat to put them into a stroller. We bought the snap and go frame off Craig's list and a BOB for jogging and haven't even needed another regular stroller. If I did need one for the mall or something (although the BOB works just fine), I would just get an umbrella stroller. Again, just my opinion. (Here are some examples of the snap and go frame for the car seat.)
  • Activity Center: There isn't a single toy for us that has been more worth our money than something like this. As soon as your baby can pull up to a stand, they will LOVE having a toy especially made for that purpose with all sorts of things for them to play with. She still uses this even now that she is walking. I say that this, and the jumperoo are worthy investments. Don't bother with a walker, as much fun as they look. Honestly, KJ is bored with most kid toys so quickly and always chooses tupperware and card board boxes and normal household items over her toys.

Okay, well I'm sure there is lots more, but that's all I got right now. Hope its helpful. I was SO overwhelmed with what to register for and what was really necessary and what brand to get. Just get lots of opinions and filter them out. Mamas? Anything huge you would add  to this list? I know it's all personal opinion but I'm just thinking off the top of my head of some things I would have liked to know.  Take it or leave it! I'm no pro. =)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Year Ago today...

One year ago today, I was staring at a dark, hairy-headed baby, a puffy-faced stranger laying asleep in my arms thinking, 'This kid is MINE? Forever?! What do I do with her?' (see the birth story here)

She slept ALL the time and I just sat there and watched her, in awe of God and the miracle of life, amazed at the deep love he immediately gives us for our newborn babies the instant we meet them. Amazed at God's words in Psalm 139, that before He even knits us together in the womb, He has ordained every one of our days. In days to follow, I was struck hard at the new realization of what love unearned and undeserved is like, love without condition; the way God loves us, before we have done a thing to earn it.  This truth has seeped in more deeply throughout this past year and makes me just love God so much more!

I remember those first weeks as a mom, being so excited, overwhelmed, unsure, and exhausted :). I thought that time would pass by SO slowly (and some days seemed to). I remember looking at the few 12 month outfits we had for her hanging up in the closet and thinking the day was SO far away when she would be wearing them. She was SO TINY...and those outfits looked SO BIG. I couldn't imagine her toddling around in them, pushing a shopping cart through our living room, giving me a goofy smile as she walked towards me saying, "BUP mama!" (wanting to be picked up).

This girl. So big. So precious. So fun! She never stops moving, is always exploring, pointing at everything and talking to us in her new baby language. My heart explodes just thinking of her. Every month has brought such huge change, and my love for her has grown deeper and deeper the more I get to know her. This parenting thing is awesome. God has taught me SO many life lessons through her. I know the next couple years of toddler-hood will have many new challenges but I know as I take it day by day, God will give me the patience, grace, and wisdom I need with her.

So here she is. My ONE YEAR OLD!
Her whale-themed pool party









Kennedy-
You are my bestest buddy and I don't even know what I did before you came into our lives! This year has been INCREDIBLE and we love you so much!



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Reminding myself that I am a mess

Acts 13 Paul stood up in the synagogue and started speaking... "Before (Jesus) came, John the Baptist preached the need for everyone in Israel to turn from sin and turn to God and be baptized.(24) Brothers...this salvation is FOR US (26)."  
The Jewish leaders fulfilled prophecy by condemning Jesus to death. They didn't recognize him or realize he was the one the prophets had written about...They found no just cause to execute him but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway...But God raised Him from the dead! He appeared to many people over a period of many days. "Brothers, listen! In this man JESUS, there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in Him is FREED FROM ALL GUILT and declared RIGHT WITH GOD- something the Jewish law could never do (38)."

So, I haven't written in awhile. You could sort of attribute it to traveling and busyness, but more so I'd say that I haven't been digging deeply into the word lately or feeling very connected to the Lord. I desire it SO MUCH. I need Him SO MUCH. But my heart feels a bit numb and I wasn't really sure why. Sunday morning at church, we talked about Revelation 2, the first letter written to one of the 7 churches at the time. It's a letter from God telling the churches what they are doing well and warning them about what they are lacking. The church of Ephesus did a lot of things well and would be considered diligent Christians who looked the part. But their hearts had grown cold. They still went through the motions, did good deeds, even shared the gospel and endured persecution and hardships. But the love they once had for God had faded. God warns them to return to their first love (Him!).

How often I need this reminder! Lord, stir up my heart for you! Renew my passion for you, my vision for your kingdom here on earth! Lift me out of complacency and selfishness. Fill me with overflowing love for you and for the world around me!

I feel like I sometimes live in this bubble, taking care of the mundane household chores and taking care of KJ, working out, cooking meals, paying bills, grocery shopping and running errands... My focus can completely be on temporary things and I can go for days without remembering why I'm really here and what Christ has done for me.

Our Sunday School teacher asked a question. Why do you think the church of Ephesus had lost their love for God?

Great question!
We came up with many possibilities, but one of them stuck with me. They had forgotten the gospel. They had grown numb to it. Even though they may have been sharing it with others, they forgot that it was for THEM. They forgot where they would be without Christ. They lost sight of the joy they once had upon receiving it. Psalm 51:12 "Restore to me the JOY of your salvation!"

Sometimes if I'm honest, I find myself doing that too, thinking I'm 'past' the gospel...ready to move onto something deeper. It seems so basic and I've heard it so many times that I find myself saying, "What's next? I've already got that." This thinking shows me that I really have very little understanding of the actual gospel- thinking I've got it figured out and can move onto something else- as if there is anything else greater or more important.

I am a wretched sinner. If I think about it for one second, I realize how far short I fall daily from being righteous. The thoughts I think, the way my tongue can lash out, my impatience, lack of generosity, missed chances to serve others, my selfishness...I am a mess! If not for Christ, I wouldn't have a CHANCE at being good enough for heaven. I couldn't stand for God to even look at me. I would be receiving what my sin deserved, death and separation from God for all eternity. If God kept a record of ours sins, who could stand? All have sinned...all have fallen short.  All deserve punishment.

OH but for CHRIST! For Him taking on my sin and guilt and shame. Dying the death I deserve. Offering me FORGIVENESS. Grace. Acceptance. Eternal life. FOR FREE! (Well, to ME it's free...it cost Jesus His life!) By faith in Him, I am forgiven and clean. THANK YOU GOD for making me cleeeeeeeeean! That I would be declared righteous by God???
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:1

I have heard it said that we need to tell ourselves the gospel daily, and I think that is WISE advice. I hope today was a good reminder for you too! If we forget this, our hearts will grow cold, our love for God will fade, and we will become prideful. Remember what He has done for you! Remember where you would be without him! Thank him! And ENJOY the gift of salvation and peace with God every day! We are made RIGHTEOUS, our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west! And we have eternity in heaven with Him!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

KJ's 5 mile hike

KJ-
You are 11 months! Holy cow! You are NOT about to be a one-year old! WHAT IN THE WORLD!

This month:
-You are saying "Mama"! (Woo hoo! The most important milestone of them all!). I don't even know if you are sure of what mama is, but I'll count it. The 'mm' sound was a tough one for you to say. You still say "baby" more than any other word, but can also say "dadada" and "up" when you want me to pick you up (sounds like 'bap'). And your only consistent sign is still "more" (your favorite word).
-You will stand up on your own now without holding onto anything and stay standing for as long as you want to. Kent says you took one step but since I didn't see it, I'm pretending it didn't happen yet.
-Your top two teeth came in! The top right is huge, the left just barely popped through, and the other top 2 are close behind. You look SO different with a mouthful of teeth! SO much older. Where did my baby go
-You wear size 3 diapers, size 2 shoes and 9-12 month clothes.
-You still nurse 5 times a day and eat as much food as we will let you at every meal-bottomless pit!
-You love playing games, wrestling on the bed, climbing up the stairs (and on everything), walking around the house with your walker, pulling things out of boxes or bags, swimming, and being around people. You got lots of time around other babies this month and it was fun to see you be sweet to them. (Although you tried to crawl over cousin Will a few times).
-You now want to feed yourself the messy foods that I usually feed you (applesauce, oatmeal or yogurt). You will grab the spoon from me and jam it into your mouth usually upside down so it falls everywhere Let the messy mealtimes get even messier!



We celebrated dad and I's 3rd anniversary, my first mother's day, and my birthday this month. Dad finished another school year, his second year teaching at Briarcrest. We traveled to Nashville for the State Track meet,  Arkansas for a friend's wedding, then Phoenix Az to visit Aunt Leslie and her family for a week. What a crazy month!

  We took a 5 mile hike in the Arizona desert with your 3 cousins, including 3 month old baby Will. Dad carried you in a backpack the whole way and you seemed pretty content considering everything! It got up to 110 degrees mid day! (I honestly, think I prefer the dry heat to Memphis humidity though..) but we had a BLAST the Day family. Wish they lived closer to us! Those crazy boys need a little girl around to sweeten them up!

Mom and Aunt Leslie
We are looking forward to a summer filled with swimming, family time, and hanging with friends. (and a ONE YEAR OLD'S BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!) Life is so good!





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