12.25.2014

Happy Merry Christmas

We are enjoying a nice holiday in NC, even though most of our family is sick (myself included). Thankfully there is plenty of food, family, and fun to help get us through the icky, sicky stuff. ;)

YAY, CHRISTMAS! ;-)

 Sweet cousins

 "Let it go, let it go!"

Snuggles with Daddy.

 Dancing with Eden :)


Soooooo many Christmas cookies!

A chat with Aunt Sarabeth

Wherever you are, whoever you're with, and whatever you're doing, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

video

"And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
~ Luke 2:11

12.23.2014

A Very Merry Birthday

Yesterday was sweet little Millie's birthday. 


It still seems crazy to me that she is a year old... I just can't figure out where the past year went!! I mean, seriously, didn't this just happen?


And now, we look like this!


The changes that happen over the span of a year will never cease to amaze me. 

***

Millie's birthday was pretty low-key. Our day went as usual until dinner time. Pop and Bossi got pizza for the birthday girl's dinner, and Mommy and Daddy got her a cookie cake!


We attempted cupcakes when we visited my side of the family for Thanksgiving, and she didn't go for them AT. ALL. The cookie, however....




Well, it seemed to go over pretty well. ;-) She even whined for some of my piece! I'm really glad she liked it so much, since I didn't really know what else to do for a little girl who wasn't won over by cupcakes! 

Then, of course, it was present time!







After dinner and present-opening, Millie got in on some fun times with her sister and cousins. She can't do much with them since they're so much bigger, but she loves playing with them. Thankfully, her cousin Eden does a good job taking care of her. 



All in all, I think she had a pretty great birthday. I felt so much pressure to have Charlotte's party just right, but I didn't feel that way with Millie's party. I think mostly because I know it's not the party, the presents, or the cake (or cookie) that really matters. We're surrounded by family, fun, and lots of laughs. What better way to celebrate a birthday?


Happy birthday, sweet Millie! I can't believe you've been with us for a whole year! While it feels like you've always been with us, it still also feels like we just brought you home from the hospital. (But without all of the late-night feedings. ;-)) You are the silliest, sweetest little girl, and you have taught us so much already. You love to laugh, play with (and pester) your sister, feed the dog, get into things you're not supposed to, and explore. You are so different from your sister, and yet sometimes so similar. But that's okay, because you are you, and we love you the way you are, sweet Millie-willie. ;-) I hope you always have a smile on your face, and will always be close to your big sister....no matter how much she tries to smother you with her bear hugs. Happy Birthday to our Rainbow. We love you so much!





11.17.2014

Reboot

In my last post {which was basically a bajillion years ago...about that} I mentioned this whole, up-in-the-air PCS business. For the past several months my mind has been preoccupied with this situation. Mostly, I've been in denial that it's happening. Somewhere along the way I got attached to this place - this house, this area, this town. I'm not sure why, or how, or when it happened. But at some point, this place began to feel like home and the idea of leaving wasn't something I could handle. 

In the past, when it's come time for us to move, I've been ready. When I moved to be with Joe during his training, I was just ready for us to be together again - it didn't really matter where it was. When he got orders to Hawaii, I was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to live there (and you know, SEE Hawaii!) even if it meant leaving family. Our time there turned out to be much different than I had ever imagined, but I still wouldn't trade it. When it came time to leave Hawaii and come back to GA, I was ready. Hesitant to say goodbye to the place where I became a mom (and earned my milspouse stripes), I was still ready for the next thing. When word came that we would be moving early next year....even I was surprised at my extreme desire to stay here. (Though I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we bought a house here, because of Joe's plans to ETS.)

Until this weekend, I wasn't ready to go.

I had a girls' night planned for this party Friday evening. I invited everyone I could think of that I know here. (And even a few people I didn't! Hello, outside my comfort zone.) I had even decided to set up my Jamberry stuff so that we could have fun and do our nails. (And, okay, I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope to get some sales or bookings out of it.) But really, I wanted to have friends over. I think I let myself believe (somehow) that if I had real friends here, that if I was doing something in my community - making a difference, making connections - that God wouldn't make me leave. (...I don't even know....)

I spent the entire day prepping. I had Joe help me do some cleaning the night before, but with 2 kiddos I had more to do that day, too. I cooked, I cleaned, I even ran out to get a few more things - with both kids, on a cold, cloudy day that I would have much rather been cuddling on the couch with them! They were cranky because I was busy all day. I was cranky because they were cranky. Then I get a text from Joe saying his supervisors (powers that be, whoever they are) were making them stay late. Meaning I'd somehow have to get the kids to bed myself before the party started. EEEEEK! Hello, more stress. Miraculously, he arrived home just as I was feeding a very cranky Millie. I put Charlotte to bed while Joe scarfed down a quick dinner. She's been fussy with her bedtime routine lately, so I didn't notice the time when I put her down. 

10 minutes after party time and no one had arrived. 

I checked my phone to find a last-minute cancellation. Texted another girl who had been a 'maybe'.

15 minutes.

20 minutes.

I cried. I cleaned up my supplies. Put the food away. 

Cried some more while my husband tried to cheer me. 

Texted my bestie a few times. 

Don't know what I'd do without those 2. ^

I know if a few friends had been available, they would have been here. A couple were out of town, another had a previous engagement, just bad timing for a couple others. 

But in the end it left me feeling.....unloved, I guess. Not because of the Jamberry/sales thing. Jamberry isn't my/our livelihood. I do it because I enjoy it, and the product. No, it upset me because it made me realize what few real friends I've made here. 

I don't think anyone is to blame, really. I've put myself out there - going to PWOC every week I've been able. We were in small group at our church for a while, but it fizzled out due to crazy schedules. The 2 people I was closest to (and who helped me many times while Joe was TDY back in February) have since moved. I keep in touch with one of them, but it's not the same as having someone come sit on your couch. I know I'm introverted (and incredibly awkward in social situations pretty frequently), which is why I've tried as much as I can. 

Now? 

I think I'm ready to move on - to 'reboot' and start new somewhere else. I love our house, this town, and our church.... But these aren't things to hold on to. Yes, finding someone to rent our house (and dealing with all that comes with renting) will be a hassle. No, I may not like another town as much as this one. No, finding a new church won't be easy (it never is). But why should these things matter?

Right now I'm realizing that as long as I have my family and Jesus, I've got all that really matters. And when it comes right down to it, as long as I've got the love of Jesus I'm getting far more than I ever deserve. So my husband and kids are even more blessings, which is why I tried to spend the rest of the weekend focusing on them instead of trying to hold on to something not worthwhile. 








My goal for this week is to just focus on Jesus, my family, and spending some time with my much-neglected sewing machine. I'm hoping to list a few fun things in my Etsy shop soon, if any one is interested. 

Here's to refocusing, readjusting, and rebooting life -- all thanks to God's daily, fresh mercies.


9.26.2014

Feels Like Home

Maybe it's because the Army is about to uproot us again, but more and more lately I've been feeling like this place is home. It's not where I grew up, and I never intended to live here. It just sort of happened. 

When we moved here, I was pretty set against buying a house. I didn't see the point, even if Joe would end up getting out after his enlistment period. He always talks about moving back to NC, so it really just didn't seem smart to me. For several reasons, one being I trust my husband's judgement, I decided to let go. On our second round of looking at houses, I fell in love. It wasn't perfect, but it had good potential, most of the things on my 'wish list', and a nice backyard. 


I still stinking love our porch.

This is about half of the backyard.

Though I haven't done a whole lot in the way of decorating in this house (thanks mostly to pregnancy exhaustion and chasing a toddler), I still have a lot of ideas rolling around in my head about what I really want this place to look like. Some things we've done, and others are yet to come. Getting Joe's shop built a few weeks ago helped get a lot of things out of the house, and we also sold some stuff and gave some furniture back to family. (We got a ton of furniture handed down from family when we got married. It was awesome, but we've either outgrown it (goodbye, full size bed) or simply decided to downsize our stuff.)

Joe in his half-finished shop.

I also really love where we live. We don't live in a subdivision, but I like our cozy little neighborhood. We're 5 minutes from everything we need (WalMart, Walgreens, CVS, McDonald's, Dominos, Bojangles...Mexican food....okay, any food) and 15 minutes from post. All my other favorite shops and restaurants are about 20 minutes away, as are our doctors. I know my way around, and have even found a few shortcuts. 

We've only been here a year and a half, but it feels like home. It feels like home, and I don't want to leave. We have a pretty good support system, a church we love, I really enjoy our PWOC, the girls and I have the best doctors, and this house doesn't just feel like a house. 

Maybe it's because we moved here with no intentions of leaving within 3 years. We planned on staying a while, so I let myself create a sense of home. Now that I have, the Army threatens to uproot us once again. And I find myself thinking all the time.... please don't make me leave.

Picnics in the backyard are our fave.


9.22.2014

Jams for a Cause

We interrupt this unintentional blogging break to bring you news about a JAMazing fundraiser.

Several years ago, I worked for a restaurant that did fundraising for St. Jude and almost I instantly developed a heart for this hospital and all the great work they do for children and their families. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, I thought it only appropriate to do a fundraiser now. 




Some info about Jamberry Nails, in case you are unfamiliar with the product:

Jamberry Nails are a new and innovative way to avoid nail polish drying time, chipping, and pricey visits to the salon. They are a DIY DREAM come true! They last up to 2 weeks on fingernails, 6 weeks on toenails and WILL NOT CHIP. They are a vinyl adhesive wrap that is heat activated and pressure sealed to the nail. They will NOT damage your nail when removed properly. They are so much fun! You will love them!



How will this work? First, you purchase the sheet(s) of nail wraps you love from my website. At checkout, select “St. Jude Fundraiser.” At the end of this month, I will donate 10% of all sales from the fundraiser to St. Jude. Easy peasy, right?! Please help me donate as much as possible to this great cause by purchasing nail wraps that you already love and enjoy, and inviting your friends as well!

I'm running this fundraiser on my personal Facebook page, as well as here and other social media. I had first thought to just extend the giveaway to people on my Facebook, but I thought I would share it with you, too! When sales reach $200, I will select one person to win Jamberry's brand new Mini Heater. It was just released this month, and I kinda think it's cute. ;-) 


To earn points/entries into the giveaway, all you have to do is make a purchase! {Comment and invite entries are only available to those participating in my Facebook event. Sorry!}


As I said earlier, this fundraiser will be open through the end of the month. If sales reach $200 (and I really, really, really hope they do!), I will choose the winner of the Mini Heater on Oct. 1 and announce it all over social media. Stay tuned! 

Thanks in advance for helping me give to this organization I love and appreciate so much!

Happy Monday!

9.08.2014

8 Months of Millie

Geez, you guys. How is my itty bitty baby already 8 months old? How is she sitting up, babbling, and crawling. Like...when did this happen?! Where did my squishy newborn go?!

I can't believe it's gone so fast. The first few months of her little life were not easy, that's for sure. And I know there were days I longed for us to be at this place already. But somewhere between the "someone save me" days and the "I think we're doing okay" days, time sped up and here we are.




Bam. Just like that - 8 months old. Although I miss her squishy little newborn self, I absolutely love seeing her little personality come out. She is too much fun! She's quite a bit more reserved than Charlotte is, but sometimes I think that's just because she's watching Charlotte. When it's just her and I in the afternoon (while big sis is sleeping), she does tend to be pretty vocal.

She is giggly, but only when she wants to be. Which is usually when she's one-on-one with me or Joe. It's really hard to get a giggle out of her if she's got everyone's attention. Sometimes I think she's going to be a little more like me, in that she kind of needs time to come around to new people/situations. She also doesn't like to be held 24/7 - she needs her space.


She's been sitting like a champ for....a while now. I have no idea when she actually started being able to sit up on her own. I was propping her up with the boppy for a while...and then I noticed she was sort of sitting up in the bouncy seat one day. And then I just kind of sat her on the couch after feeding her, and....what do you know? She could sit up! So much different than with Charlotte, haha! Funny how you stress less over these things with the second baby.


She's also doing things like this now - sitting up in bed, playing, waiting for me to get her up from a nap. And sometimes she'll do something crazy like pull up on her knees. Stop it, kid. I'm not ready for that just yet.



Oh, and? She crawls now. It was fun to see her learn to do this. I don't really remember when Charlotte learned how to crawl. With her, it was like one day she'd just lay on her tummy on the floor, and the next she was crawling. Millie, however, would get up on all fours, rock, and then launch herself. Then, she'd end up sort of scooting backward. Last week, she started sort of crawling. She'd get her knees under her, put one forward, and then fall down. (It was kind of funny....ha!) And then, this past weekend something just clicked and she was off! It's been so fun to see her get mobile, although I will admit I have to keep a closer eye on her and other things now.


One of my most favorite things is seeing how the bond between my two girlies has grown and changed. It's not always easy or fun (for me or them), but they love each other so much already. Charlotte has always been concerned about Millie. When Millie cries, Charlotte has always made sure that she has what she needed. In the beginning, it was me or a pacifier, then Charlotte started bringing her all of her toys. And now, Charlotte will pat her on the back, and give her a hug and a kiss. Millie loves playing with Charlotte. She has always been able to get the biggest smiles out of Millie. And now that they can play together, she is all kinds of happy!


Of course, it doesn't always go well... Sometimes Charlotte will take a toy from Millie, or Millie will pull Charlotte's hair or something. But that's really just part of it. Now that Millie is mobile, I feel like they are closer. They can play together, sit in the floor and watch cartoons, have a tea party... You name it. It's really one of the sweetest things ever.


I wasn't sure if we'd ever be able to adjust to having two babies there in the beginning.... And now? Well, I'm not sure what we'd be doing without this cute, smiley baby!

We love you, sweet Millie-girl! I hope you're always as sweet and happy as you are now. :*

8.22.2014

Marriage Matters

This is something that's been on my heart and mind for a little while now. It seems like everywhere I look on social media lately someone is getting divorced. And honestly, it breaks my heart a little bit every time I see it. I think about the hearts, families, and children involved and it just makes me so sad. I suppose that's in part because my [biological] parents are divorced. Even though they divorced when I was about Millie's age, it still affected me growing up. And there were absolutely times when it was painfully difficult.

It pains me to see it because I, too, know that marriage is hard. Although I won't go into detail (some things just don't need to be shared), Joe and I have had our fair share of tough times. There were days when I wasn't sure if we'd make it; days when I wondered if he really did love me. There have been days - weeks, even - when all I could feel toward him was anger and tension; days when we fought, and I cried my eyes out. 

Reality check: marriage isn't easy. It isn't all rainbows, butterflies, happy babies, and happily ever afters. It takes work. And military marriages? Well, it's my personal opinion that military marriages take twice the work because we endure frequent separations, cross-country moves, daily upheavals, and frustrations. There are times we go days or weeks, (for some of you months) without speaking. It's really hard to make a marriage work when you can't see or talk to them for long periods of time. 

When we got married 6 years ago, I had no idea that marriage would take work. I didn't know that we'd need to have the same discussion 5 times just to understand each other's ideas and expectations. I didn't know that I'd do certain things that would drive him crazy, and vice versa. I didn't understand the brand new challenge kids add to a marriage. And since I didn't marry a military man (he joined after our first anniversary), I had no clue what challenges we would face as a military couple.

Knowing how divorce can affect children, it was (and has always been) my aspiration to keep my family whole - no matter what it takes. I don't want my babies to know the pain and frustration I've dealt with throughout my life. Even though it was just a part of growing up for me, I think it's normal for us to want better for our kids. Doesn't every parent want that? 

In the end, though, we make it work because we made a commitment to God and each other. And it's not just a stay-together-because-of-the-kids type thing. It's actual work: having hard conversations, doing dig-deep Bible studies (and groups), and even counseling from pastors at church. We have to make "us time" a priority, too, although I admit that's something we struggle with. Really, that's mostly because our kids are so young. We can't always afford a babysitter (or find one we trust), and we can't always leave them with sitters because I'm breast feeding Millie. Instead, we try to find things to do together at home - new shows or movies to watch, talk about things after the kids are in bed, etc. 

I know that sometimes it's one person who wants to end a marriage, while the other has done everything they can to save it. I've seen it. Sometimes it's God's plan for a couple to separate for a while, and sometimes God allows a marriage to dissolve even though He absolutely hates divorce. That's probably another reason I feel so much about this issue. I know that divorce breaks His heart; how can mine not be broken over it?

Marriage is the foundation of our family - of any family. To have a healthy family - spiritually and emotionally - we have to make our marriage healthy. We have to put God first (also something we struggle with), recognize when we're having a hard time, deal with our problems, and do hard things. We're modeling marriage for our children, and I want them to know what they should be looking for when the day comes that they'll get married. I want them to see two people who love God, love each other, respect each other, love their family, and love others. Maybe that will include some arguing. Maybe that will include some tough times. But no matter what, I want them to know that we still love and are committed to each other. Because we don't give up when things get hard. We turn to God, ask for direction, seek help, and do the work we need to do to get better.

Marriage matters. Families matter. People matter. 

8.13.2014

Brave: Battles Within

For a while now, I've been contemplating how I should approach this subject and if I should even post about it. It's very personal, so it's hard to talk about even though it has affected every part of my life. Since I try to be open about my life on here, I feel like it's something that needs to be shared...and, as always, it's my hope that sharing will help someone else in the process.

Before I go any further, I want to say this: If you read this and think, "I never knew; why didn't you say anything to me about this?" know that it's not because of you. It's because of me.

Many of you know that Joe went to NTC this past February. Millie was still brand new, and we had just discovered she had colic and reflux. Add a toddler to that mix, and I was beyond overwhelmed. Before he even left, I had anxiety about the 5 weeks I'd be alone. The first day he was gone (true to Murphy's Law), I all but had a breakdown. I'm not sure I've ever cried more in the span of 12 hours than I did that day, just from anxiety.The entire time he was gone, it was one thing after another. I took Millie to the pediatrician at least twice. All of us caught a cold. Then there was the ice storm, which resulted in a 72 hour power outage. The first night we were back in the house, there was an earthquake. (No, really.) Millie was barely sleeping at night, and Charlotte was...being a typical toddler. 

I was the epitome of exhausted. I didn't want to do anything but sleep. But then I also had a hard time getting to sleep. I would hear Millie grunting over the monitor, and my heart would pound because I just knew she was going to wake up and need to be fed. If she didn't wake up, I had a hard time going back to sleep. When she did wake in the middle of the night, it took forever to get her back to sleep. Some nights, I had thoughts that would terrify anyone. I was inexplicably angry.

During those 5 weeks, I assumed the feelings I had were because I had a toddler, a colicky newborn, and was doing it all alone. Sure, I had been able to get friends to come over and watch them when I went to get groceries, but the rest? That was all me. I figured that it was a combination of hormones and exhaustion. I reassured myself that once Joe came home, all would be well again.

Well, he did come home. We survived, although I'm still not sure how. That time is a complete blur. (With the exception of that stupid ice storm. I may never forget that one.) And yeah, things did get a little bit better. I had some help! Help getting them fed, bathed, and in bed. But at the same time...things weren't all that much better. I still didn't want to do anything but sleep. I rarely posted on my blog, or anywhere on social media. I just...didn't. Which is kind of rare for me. The inexplicable anger was still there, too. 

It wasn't until Joe started asking me, "what's wrong?" that I started noticing something was going on. It wasn't until I realized I was angry at Joe for no apparent reason that I started to think I might need help. It wasn't until I lost it with Charlotte that I truly recognized the problem.  

Like any good blogger, I headed for Dr. Google first. I scrolled past a few articles until I found one that looked right. The list of symptoms hit me straight in the stomach. I was at once relieved and scared; hopeful and embarrassed.

Post-partum Depression.

As soon as I read those words, I decided I needed to talk to Joe. He was very supportive, and we agreed that I should call and talk to my doctor. The next day, I put a call in to my OB/GYN. Thankfully, she agreed to call in meds for me and advised me to talk with my PCM.

It's been 4 months since that day. I initially hated the idea of being on medication, but I knew I needed something. And you know what? It helped. Although it does make me sleepy, I can avoid being a walking zombie by taking it at night. No longer do I feel overwhelmed by the simplest things; no longer do I feel inexplicable anger. I don't go from happy to extremely upset in 2.5 seconds anymore. I want to do more than sleep. I want to hang out with my girls and my husband, blog, post photos....all of what I did before. Do I enjoy taking medication? Nope. But I recognize that I need this...for now. There will hopefully come a day when I don't, but until then I'm thankful that it helps me feel more like me.

I've been planning on talking about this for a while, and with all of the 'hype' surrounding Robin William's death... I couldn't stay silent anymore. The entire time I was dealing with this without medication, I was in a deep, dark place. My lack of interest in things I normally enjoy, was like some sort of numbness. I just didn't care. The anger...was terrifying. There were times when I would be rocking Millie, trapped in anger, crying, and praying that God would help me not to be angry. I didn't want to feel the way I did, but I could not control it. 

I've seen so many posts in the last two days on depression that just make me sick. I couldn't control my depression - my anger, my numbness. I desperately, desperately wanted to. I hated the way I felt, the way I acted. I have so much regret for that moment I lost my temper with Charlotte. I didn't hurt her physically, but my actions spoke anything but love to her. For weeks, she reenacted what I said to her in that moment, and I was forced to relive it every time.

No matter what anyone says, depression isn't something you can just get over. I do believe in the power of prayer, and I did pray. But still the feelings lingered. Please don't assume that depression has a simple fix; it doesn't. If you know (or think you know) someone who struggles with depression, just love them and be supportive. Just because you don't understand their struggle doesn't mean it's not real. It's very real, very dark, very personal, and can be hidden from even the closest of friends.

8.11.2014

Brave: Accepting Myself

It's probably no surprise to anyone when I say that I often struggle with the way my post-baby body looks. (Doesn't everyone?!) Truth be told, it's not even the stretch marks that bother me. I've come to accept those as loving little reminders of what my body is capable of doing - growing, birthing, and nurturing my babies. No, my problem is with the 15+ pounds my body has been hanging onto. 

Some women lose the pounds like crazy while breastfeeding. Other women, like me, lose a bunch in the first few weeks and then plateau. Sure, there are things I could (and probably should) do to help lose it. But more often than not, I find myself thinking "Oh, I should have done some yoga/pilates/exercise!" as I'm stepping into the shower. I know it should probably be more of a priority (as should eating better), but it's always a struggle for me. 

Right now, though, I've decided that my babies need my presence more than I need to lose 15 pounds. Millie needs my milk (which can change when you change your diet drastically) and cuddles, and Charlotte needs my full focus. It helps Joe more if he comes home to a mostly clean house than it does if I've played with the kids, worked on Jamberry, and worked out, but didn't do much else. So right now? I need to accept the way I look, even if it's hard.

After working through all of that in my brain, I decided that I was going to buy a bikini to wear to the beach this year. It's been years since I've even thought about purchasing one, so this was a pretty big deal. The current fashion trends made it easier for me, thank heavens. 

I finally found one I liked, and I ordered it, dang it. Because you know what? I may not be 125 pounds anymore. I may have stretch marks. I may have some cellulite, and bumps and bruises. But my body is still awesome. My husband seems to think so. My girls think so. More importantly, my Creator thinks I'm beautiful - who am I to disagree with Him?!  


I have birthed and nursed 2 babies - my body can do awesome things! It's time to accept it, and get over what anyone else might think. It's about me and what I'm comfortable with, not them.


I will say that I still had some nerves about how I looked when we were at the beach a couple weeks ago. (Sheesh, I can't believe 2 weeks has gone by already!) But when I look at the pictures we took? I don't feel bad about myself. And that, my friends, is worth far more than I paid for that swim suit. :)


I think there is something to be said for being comfortable with the way you are right now, even if it isn't where you want to be. Because I do want to lose those extra pounds, but I don't want to do it if it means sacrificing the quality of my breast milk (I often wonder if this happened when Charlotte was a baby) or time with my littles.




I've always struggled with body issues, even when I was thin. I don't actually ever remember thinking that I was thin, actually. I can look back now, though, and wonder how I didn't recognize it. Anyway, I know that one day I'll be where I want to be and then my kids will probably be bigger and I'll be wishing they were smaller again. ;-) 


So I guess that's why I decided that I was going to be brave, put on that bikini, and not be ashamed of the way my body looks, even though it isn't our culture's definition of beauty. Why do they get to decide what's beautiful and what isn't, anyway?