Tuesday, October 29, 2013

To My Husband on his 31st Birthday

Happy Birthday Jeremy!

In case (in your old age) you've forgotten, I thought I would help remind you of some of the things you are...

You are the backbone of our family, babe - without you I would be nothing and Henry and I would be so lost and alone in this world.
You are wise and kind and so full of knowledge.
You are the best Daddy in the entire world.
You are one of the 'cool' kids.
You are honest and thoughtful, compassionate and considerate.
You are respectful and respected and you work your butt off.
You are adventurous and love to travel.
You love me unconditionally (which is saying a lot) and accept me for exactly who I am.
You are trustworthy and faithful and never doubt our relationship.
You are funny, silly, and cheesy.
You are great with your hands.
You are understanding, intelligent and encouraging.
You are always learning and growing and bettering yourself.
You are handsome. ;)
You are proud of who you are, our family, and of me.
You hold my hand and make me smile.
You are my hero (and Henry's too).
You are ambitious, patient and stable.
You are my best friend.
You are family oriented, have great morals, and are always willing to lend someone a hand.
You are always there for me.
You are loving and sweet.
You are amazing.

You are my husband, the love of my life, and the one personI can always count on. I love you so much, baby. I hope your 31st year of life will be one of your best.

Love you more...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Little Mechanic

It will probably come to no surprise that one of Henry's favorite things to do is whatever his Daddy is doing. I've had this envision in my mind for awhile now of taking photos of him in Jeremy's work shirt and boots. I love how they turned out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Today I turn twenty-six.

When I woke up this morning, my husband immediately wished me a happy birthday and then informed me that there was snow on the ground outside.

Hello winter, when did you get here?

I don't know what I will do today. I have no special plans or special requests and I honestly don't expect any kind of gifts. Jeremy and I are very low-key when it comes to celebrations. We see no point in wasting money on gifts unless it's something that we really want.

I have certain hopes and wishes for this year of my life. Many of them are small things that may seem insignificant to others but mean a great deal to me, while others are bigger and life-changing.

I can't wait.

More than anything else, I just want to find myself grateful for another year, another day, and another hour of life with my husband and son and our wonderful families.

I am embarking on yet another great journey and adventure, full of it's usual twists and turns and surprises. If there has been anything that my twenty-five years of life have taught me, it's this: life is what you make it.

I plan on making this year everything that it can be and more.

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Just That Word

I didn't know if I should write this post. For one, I don't want to talk about it. I know that's strange, but everyone else keeps talking about it and I for one, would rather not. I'm not good with these things. I can stay positive and encouraging, but I would rather keep quiet on the subject. Two, I really don't want the world to know and I don't think she does either. But let's be honest, those of you who read this live miles and miles away and do not really know me personally and we could use the silent support. I care for those of you whom I have gotten to know over the years. Yes, I said years. There's a bond here that is hard to explain but is very much real. I need that right now.

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with uterine cancer this past week and the news has rocked our worlds.

It's just that word - cancer - that is so hard and scary to say.

The doctors are very positive. They think they caught it before it's spread and it doesn't appear to be aggressive. She will have to have surgery and they're hoping that the surgery will remove all of it and then she will be considered in recovery. It's very likely that she will not even have to have any kind of chemo or radiation treatments. At this point we just wait. Wait for surgery. Wait for more test results. Wait to see if it's spread at all. Wait. Wait. Wait.

We all spent Saturday night at our house, just hanging out. She said that she doesn't feel like she has cancer and my husband and sister-in-law both seem to be in positive spirits that things will be okay. My father-in-law however, is taking it hard. It's almost as if he doesn't believe it, and we all know he's scared. It may be the most vulnerable I've ever seen him and it may be the most hurtful part of it all.

So when you think of us in the coming weeks, say a little prayer. Say a prayer for strength and for healing and for positive, encouraging days as we travel on this journey. My entire family would really appreciate it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Laundry

We all know the routine: wash, dry, fold, and repeat.

Laundry never ends and it never minds waiting on us either. No matter how busy we are, or how much we ignore the looming (and growing) pile in the corner, laundry will always be there.

I once worked at a little coffee shop in downtown Troy that had a lot of 'regulars'. These people were as diverse as each snowflake in the middle of a snowy winter and each had their own unique story (and favorite drink). But I got to know quite a bit of them pretty well and even now (almost 4 years later) I still see a few of them from time to time. I miss their stories and their faces, but I haven't forgotten their wise words or how it made me feel to listen to what each of them had to say.

I was talking with one of them one day, an older lady who worked for the city. She had been fighting cancer but you would have never known, she was always so well put-together and had the most gorgeous silver hair. She liked hot green tea in the morning, not coffee, and the subject of laundry came up. She had three grown boys and told me they spent a many years 'living off the pile' because sometimes life is just too busy for laundry.

And I've never forgotten that. Or the term.

We often 'live off the pile' at our home. Not because I'm too busy to do laundry, or to put it away, rather, but because life has too much to offer sometimes to stay focused on the little things. Our house could almost always use a good cleaning and there is almost always laundry waiting to be put away. But you know what? I don't think I'll ever look back and say 'I wish I had done more laundry'.

The one thing that I carried away from my conversation with this sweet old lady was that it was okay. It was okay to 'live off the pile 'sometimes, and it was okay to let the housework fall to the side in order to enjoy this time in my life. My son will only be this age once and when he's moved out of the house and on his own, I have a feeling that I'm going to miss that looming pile of laundry in the corner.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bits of Life - IG Style

Life has been less busy but more full lately. We've been slowing down and just enjoying life (my house shows it) and loving every single minute of it. I've got laundry piled in the laundry room waiting to be put away, grass and dirt on the living room floor, and dishes piled in the sink...but ya know what? We're happy as a bird with a french fry.

So an update, of sorts, IG style..

The last season of GG finally posted on Netflix last week and I watched it all in like two days. My husband is seriously sick of Chuck Bass...and he has no idea who he is!

Fall has arrived and all the fall festivities are in full swing around here. Henry and I painted his first pumpkin last week. We bough two more yesterday to decorate and we plan on going this weekend to get our big pumpkins to carve.

Go with the flow parenting at it's best - he sleeps where he crashes. Seriously, how is that comfortable?

My sister's first homecoming was on Saturday, I can't believe how old she's becoming so quickly - and right before my eyes.

Or how gorgeous she is. I was so glad to get to take their pictures!

Henry has not been feeling well the last couple of days. I've done everything I can to help cheer him up - chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, new toys, balloons, crafts, and even park time - but he's been a bear.

I discovered the culprit is two back teeth. Silly kid- this is the face he gives me when I ask him to show me his teeth.

The most exciting thing for me this week? This gem. I've spent the last two days painting it so that it's just exactly what I wanted. And I love it. And I can't wait to have my own little space to work and get my craft on. Now just to get a chair!

I hope you all are having a great week!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Easy Canvas Prints Review & Giveaway

As a photographer, I take a LOT of photos. Some of those photos I am super proud of while some of the others I want to hide away and hope that I never have to see again. I've been photographing Henry since the day he was born and when I take a photo of him that I LOVE, I make sure to find space for it on my walls. When I was given the opportunity to review a product by Easy Canvas Prints I jumped on it as fast as I could.

I'm sure you guys remember this post right before my big man turned two. I just LOVED all of the photos we captured that day and I had been contemplating which photo I wanted to enlarge and put on my wall. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make up my mind and finally have one of my favorite photos of my favorite man displayed for all to see and enjoy.

I am SO pleased with the finished product! I have ordered prints from many labs and it really shocked me how spot on the coloring was in my canvas. Easy Canvas Prints was exactly how it sounds too - super easy! You just upload your photo, choose a few options, and crop your photo right on their site to fit the canvas size. You know EXACTLY what you're getting when you order, no worries about whether or not an arm, leg, or other important parts of the photo will be cut off. It took an entire 10 minutes to order and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it was processed and shipped and then arrived at my front door via delivery man too. 

The photos that I have just does not do it justice. I keep looking over at my little corner of the room and see my beautiful canvas hanging and it makes me smile every. single. time. If you're looking to order a canvas, I definitely recommend Easy Canvas Prints. I know that this photo of our little boy and this canvas is something that we are going to cherish for the rest of our lives.

Now for the awesome part - I'm teaming up with Easy Canvas Prints, Tayler from Our Fairy Tale, and Kate from Raising the Rogers for your chance to win one too! Ya'll know how to work a Rafflecopter by now, right? Well! Get to it! Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Ordinary

The problem, the elephant in the room, was that they all knew that they had let the ordinary mask the extraordinary - every day life in the way of all the small, important moments that should never have been taken for granted.

Now it was too late.

They stared at the future with a sort of knowing, a longing, for the days and hours and events that he would not be there with them. Knowledge that one day they would stare out a window and think of what it would be like if he was there instead of gone away from them.

Regardless of where he may be, of the celebration of life lived, of comfort from friends, of memories from past days, things would never, ever be the same. They would not be the same.

As they sat in that dark, lonely living room, each solemn face knowing, they wished so much to speak of the truth, but each was afraid of the breaking, the shattered pieces, that the truth may bring.

This may be 'see you later' but it felt way too much like goodbye.

They did agree on one thing - that the ordinary had masked the extraordinary, and if they could do it all again, they would have never taken such an extraordinary, unique soul, for granted.

And so the lesson is left for each of us to learn...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm in the Business of Raising Babies

You're going to be sitting - quiet, content, happy -when it's going to happen. A familiar face will stop by and you'll get to chatting, or you'll overhear a conversation from two tables over...

"They had a baby last spring but she doesn't even work now. She is soo lucky. Can you imagine having all of that free time all day?"

And when it happens it's going to sting in a way that is unexpected, and a huge part of you will want to throw your hands up and just give up on it all, and another part of you will want to push them down into a chair and give them the kind of lecture that your parents gave you when you were 16 and they caught you making out in the back yard with your boyfriend for the first time.

Girl, I get it.

Being a mom is tough business and being a stay-at-home mom, well, it's not all coloring pages, play-dates, and afternoon naps. But it is rewarding and worth it, and likely the most important job you will ever do in your entire life. Soak that in for a minute.

When your kids are grown and you actually have a moment to breathe, you won't regret it.

You won't regret the afternoon when the baby won't stop crying and dinner is burning in the stove and the dog is running loose through the neighborhood without his collar on and you are a panicked mess with your husband on the other line of the phone telling you to calm down and that things will be okay.

You won't regret the long nights of stuffy noses, nose-suckers, humidifiers, and absolutely no sleep with a 7 o'clock doctor's appointment the following morning where you get stuck in traffic, sit in the waiting room for an hour, and then are told that it's just a cold, wait it out, and that everything will be okay.

You won't regret the brand new box of Cheerios dumped all over the floor, two dogs eating as fast as they can, and your almost-two year old on all fours joining them while the neighbor is knocking on your front door to tell you that your sewage system is backing up into their yard again. "No worries, just call the city, they understand - it'll be okay."

Because despite all the times where you're ready to pull every grey strand of hair from your head, you're going to look back and realize that the most important part was that your kids ran to your arms while eating your dinner, and YOU taught them their ABC's and how to say their name and how to tie their shoes and what to say when someone gives them a gift and that their life was the most important thing to you. Ever.

And all of it really was okay.

Mama, they're going to remember this. Sure, they'll forget the details, but they're going to look back one day with a great sense of awe and love and gratefulness and say, "my mom gave her all for me."

So when you overhear that conversation and the needles shoot straight to your heart, hold your head up high and just smile. Smile like you know some secret that no one else knows. And when they ask you what you do all day, just simply tell them, "I'm in the business of raising and loving my babies."

Monday, October 07, 2013

Breath Holding

Yesterday was by far one of the scariest days of my life.

I stood as my husband held our son - still, unresponsive, no breath leaving his blue lips, eyes rolled back in his head - and I cried and I panicked because I had no idea what to do.

I just wanted my baby, my perfect baby, my everything, to be okay.

We had went on a little adventure in hopes to take some family photos, my sister-in-law and her two kids in tow, when Henry slipped on some wet leaves, fell forward, and bumped his head. Being the tough guy he is, he got up and started my way. I picked him up and was trying to soothe him, never imagining that anything else was wrong, when Jeremy noticed that he had gone unusually still.

At closer look he was completely unresponsive and not breathing, his lips started to turn blue and his eyes were rolling in the back of his head. Jeremy immediately took him from me and tried to rouse him. Eventually he gave him several chest compressions, more in his stomach than his chest to try and push air through his system, and a couple of rescue breathes. In the meantime, my sister-in-law had called 911.

It seemed like forever (it was probably less than a minute in reality), but he eventually came to returned completely to himself almost immediately after. He wouldn't even let me carry him out of the woods to the ambulance but instead insisted on walking himself. Jeremy and I were borderline hysterical and my poor niece and nephew were scared to death.

After arriving at the hospital and being checked over, we were told that Henry simply had a 'breath holding spell' and that it was fairly common among kids his age. Essentially they get so upset that they don't take time to catch their breath and can easily pass out. The amount of time that they're out can vary, but until their body 'resets' and the brain tells them to breath again, they will remain in an unresponsive state.

Even with the reassurance that Henry was completely fine and not in any danger, it scared us to death. We held him extra tight last night knowing that he was okay and said more than one prayer in thankfulness. It is every parent's worst fear that something will happen to their child, but the reality is that we can't protect them from everything. Jeremy and I both discussed last night how it would be easy to blame ourselves, to keep him indoors when it's wet out so he doesn't slip, or to not let him run and play. But the honest truth is that our boy was just being a boy and there was nothing we could have done to prevent it from happening. At least now if it ever happens again, we'll be a little more educated in what is happening and how to react.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

A Note

There is something about the rain, the putter-patter on the roof and the click-clack on our old, out-dated metal air-conditioner, that makes me want to write. It's soothing and pulling and when my fingers touch keys and begin to move, it feels more like a calling, a need.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my history. Not my family history, not how my great-grandfather met my great-grandmother, or how my mother and father came to realize they were pregnant with me, but my own personal history: the places I've been and the things I've overcome and how they've made me the person that I am today. My testimony with God at the center at it all because without His amazing grace, I don't know who or where I would be today.

I was going through some notebooks yesterday and found a small note, scrawled in almost ineligible, chicken-scratch type of writing, from a boy who thought he loved me, and I him, and the words there were so convincing. Had someone whom did not know our history found and read that note, they could be fooled into believing that it was the product of a great, never-ending love. Only, when I read the name signed at the bottom, I had to think back and remember, because I had long since forgot. There was no true love there, only a girl who was desperate to feel needed and loved and a boy who was completely wrong for her.

It seemed so long ago, and as I sat there looking over those pen-strokes, I had to pinch myself to believe that the same girl who read and believed those words so many years ago was the same girl reading it today. It's amazing how God can shape a person, stretching and molding and buffing out the imperfections, in such a short amount of time. One day a young, broken little girl, searching for love in any place she could find it, and the next, a wife and mother who knows that she has found the most perfect love in the world.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Write

I've always loved to write.

I think a huge part of my love of writing is the simple fact that I find life too short to drag down the good days with bad feelings. Writing is my outlet, my way of discarding any and all negative thoughts onto a piece of paper and then watching it disappear when I wad it up and throw it in the garbage. It's 100% stress-relief for me.

I hate to admit it, but there have been times when I've allowed my writing to become focused on things that are not important. Things like view numbers and comments and followers. Things that I think will entertain others despite the fact that they lack so much of myself. I've tried my best to resist the urge to just post so that I'm posting or to write just to say that I've been writing.

Writing is an extension of my soul, and when I write, I want it always to be so that I'm exposing parts of myself that are otherwise hard to see.

My prayer is always that I can encourage someone else through their journey by telling my own. To lift up and be a friend to those who feel as if they're walking completely alone. I've been there and it's down-right hard.

I write so that those who read will know that they are loved and needed and enough. You've got this, girl. And when you don't, I'll help you carry the load.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Hand-print Spider Art

If there's any one thing that I LOVE to do, it's crafting. Give me a pile full of craft supplies, a hot glue gun, and an hour and I'm one happy girl. It's a very convenient hobby and trait to have when you're raising children, especially younger ones. My walls are covered in Henry's 'masterpieces' and I love seeing his artwork on a daily basis. However, I know that I cannot keep every finger-painting and doodle that he will do over the years. This has caused me to take great care to plan certain projects that I know I can hang up and keep on my walls year after year without feeling like I'm going to be that silly mom in 20 years who still has her son's finger-paintings on the wall.

So when I saw this pin, I knew I had to do it! It would be perfect for the fall season every year and would also capture those small precious hand-prints that we all adore so much. 

The best part? It's super simple to do and SUPER fun too!

We used an 8x10 canvas but you could use any size and you could also use paper and then frame it. Canvas can be pricey at most 'big' craft stores, but you can often find it now at other places for pretty cheap. I paid $1.50 for mine!

I used regular old latex paint for the orange and craft paint for the silver and black. Lowe's has samples of paint for $2.98 and if you find a mistint, they're sometimes sold for as little as a dollar. I bought my orange as a mistint and I had the craft paints around the house, but you can buy them for fairly cheap at any craft stores as well.

(On a side note, I'm sure you could use regular finger-paints or 'kid's' paints for this project. Henry and I play with paint quite often and we have a certain routine to where I really don't have to worry about him flinging paint across the room or getting it all over the floor/furniture/etc... Once dried, you're going to have a heck of a time cleaning this up, so just be aware if you choose to go this route!)

I let Henry finger-paint the orange onto the canvas until it was covered and then we smoothed it out together. Then I blow-dried the canvas with my hairdryer on low heat. I only did this because (hello, I have a toddler) I didn't want to lose the attention of Henry and risk him moving on to another craft. After the orange was dry and our hands were washed, we moved onto the silver. I coated his hand with paint, pressed it gently but firmly onto the canvas and then we washed hands again. We then painted the webs and name on together. This is something we do often so Henry is totally okay with both of us holding the paint brush and allowing me to guide the strokes. If your child isn't so used to the 'help', you could have a major issue with paint flying and a temper-tantrum. It may be best if you just allow them to move on while you paint on the details.

Let your canvas dry and WAH-LAH! a pretty new piece of artwork that is perfect for display every fall and a ton of fun for both you and your kiddo!