July 22, 2016

Word Press Migration

Hey friends!  I've been having some trouble with Blogger on my Mac, so I need to migrate over to Wordpress - which I hear is more Apple user friendly.  It should be all the same content, but a slightly different blog link.  I'll still post up on Facebook and all that so you can follow me.  Sorry, Blogger! 

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July 21, 2016

Little Chef

My kid loves our kitchen.  I can't keep him out of it.  He is obsessed with opening cabinets and letting the tupperware fall out all over the floor.  Or, he can be seen sneaking into the pots and pans drawer, and then heard throwing all that metal all over.  Or, sometimes he can be found in the spice drawer, artfully rearranging all my mini mason jars full of spices (thank goodness for that tight, mason-jar-type seal, right?)  

So, in a vain attempt to *possibly* keep him out of the kitchen, I thought I would try my hand at one of those cute DIY kitchens I see all over Pinterest and remember my fave-bloggers-gone-rouge who did one.   Here it is! 
The first thing I had to do was fine a frame.  There are so many ideas of this on Pinterest but I went with an over-the-fridge cabinet I found on Craigslist.  The guy who was selling it was local, and I got it for nothing.  
I don't have a ton of pictures of the process, which really isn't like me...well, maybe it is now that I have a kid.  I can only DIY at night after Z man goes to sleep, maybe an hour in the morning after Dave gets home from work but before he goes to bed, and maybe nap time...if I'm lucky and don't have 20 million other things to do (you know...shower, clean the house, make dinner, clean up toys, blah blah blah!)  I don't have time to pause for pictures, people!
I bought a new jigsaw and had waaaayyy to much fun cutting the sink hole out of the top of the cabinet.  I bought a smallish metal bowl from HomeGoods to use as the sink ($7.99!!) flipped it upside down and traced a circle on the top of the cabinet.  Then I cut the whole just a little smaller, so that the lip of the bowl would sit on top.

Hello new jigsaw, you are awesome.  I love my power tools! 

Here is the bowl set it, just a little liquid nails and some time to set and there ya go!!  Sorry, some of these pictures are upside down.  Time people, time! ;)

I looked all over for a faucet.  Did you know that faucets are pricey?  I didn't want to spend more than $10-$15 on a faucet for a play kitchen.  I headed to ReStore in Aberdeen to check it out (its awesome!) cue picture...

I could this little bute for $1!!!  Can you believe it??  Anyways, I realized you had to have a special tool to drill holes for a faucet, so back to Home D I went.  I learn all sorts of stuff while building these crazy things!  I came home and again had way too much fun drilled the holes for it!  Set it in there, and voila!  Look at that thing!

Oh wait, before I set anything in anywhere, I primed, and painted. Then sanded.  Then painted and sanded again.  And again.  This thing needed a few coats.  I like to do thin coats, so that means more coats, more drying time, more waiting.  THEN I set the sink and faucet in.  

The doors were trickier.  Well, just the one door.  I put the left side back on how it came to me, but I wanted the right side to open like an oven.  I bought about 6 different sets of hinges, none of which worked.  I really wanted a spring hinge, something that would open an close softly, but none of the ones I found worked will the project.  So, I just settled for regular hinges and a magnetic clasp.  I may end up changing it because the door opens way too fast and scares Z a little, and his little toes are at risk until he learns how to open it slowly.  I'll get there...Anyways, for now it works.

I bought some new hardware and got them on there.  I blackboard painted the one side too.  I need to get some kid friendly chalk to write on there, but for now he doesn't really care.  Oh and I found a stick on backsplash from Lowes on clearance for $4, and the colors were peeerrrrfect!  So I brought them home and got them up on the little strip I added to the back for a nice visual effect.

Finally I had to add some little touches.  I found the "burners" and knobs at A.C. Moore.  I painted them black and attached them with some screws, I love the effect!!!  It's so cute!!

I used a chalkboard marker to draw on the details.  It's sort of a white-silver color.

I added some details to the sides too.  Those two little knobs on the side to hang things on...

And this little diddy for a dish towel (still need to buy one!)

Z already has the pots and pans set and a fruit basket set from IKEA which he LOVES, and I found a cheap food set at Ross for $10.99.  So I put it all together, made sure it was dry and set (I did a few clear coats and  light sanding to set it all up for extensive use) and waited for Z to "discover" it a few mornings ago...

He went right to it!!

Look at that smile.  All the frustration and DIYing is worth it for THAT smile!

If I say, "Z go stir the spaghetti," that is his cue to go over to the kitchen.  I have no idea how that started or how he even understands that?!?!

All in all, I'm pretty proud of myself!  Its such a cute "toy" for Z and it does (somewhat) keep him out of the actual kitchen.  I threw in some older tupperware, a cleaned out coffee can and sour cream container, and he is set!
Play on, my little chef, play on. <3 
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July 16, 2016

Puzzle Pieces

Recently I was reading one of my mom devotionals and the writer said something so profound, so simple, it totally stuck with me! She was talking about different parenting styles and ways to baby rear, and how there is so much stuff out there about how to raise our children.  As moms, we want to make sure we are doing the absolute best thing for our children.  Some of us have no freaking clue on how to raise a baby, and maybe someone you know (ahem) may turn to books, online articles on Baby Center or even Facebook (gasp!) to learn how to raise the sweet little monster that may or may not be terrorizing your house at the minute.

Guys, I am talking about me, if you didn't get that ;)

Anyways, I love to read about raising kids.  I respect what other moms have tried and failed and perfected when it comes to their kids.  I am willing to try anything (well, mostly anything) to figure out how to raise my kid so he wont be an...well, I can't say that word here.    I want him to be healthy, happy, compassionate, love Jesus, well-rested, smart, considerate...you know, just a nice and normal person!

The writer in my devotional said that I have to look at my kids, my family, as a puzzle.  We all look different and have different qualities and angles, yet we all fit together perfectly because God gave us to each other.  We are a family.  We belong together.  We fit together, because God says so.  Dave, Tina, Ashley, Zachary = one beautiful puzzle.  That means, however, that my family and your family are a totally different puzzle.  None of our pieces look the same, therefore our puzzles will never look alike.  When it comes to figuring out life, it can be helpful to ask and learn from what other parents have done, but we have to take into consideration that our kids are all completely different beings.  I hear the "what works for me may not work for you..." all the time but more than that, child-rearing has all these milestones and rules that we feel we should all follow and fit into.  The result?  Well, I don't know about you, but all that ends up doing is make me feel like a bad mom when my child doesn't fit into that mold.  

That starts a deluge of the critic in my head..."You aren't doing this right," and "you aren't a good mom," and "Other kids do or don't do that," and all that nasty stuff that we hear and feel and sometimes even listen to. Being a mom in this world can be really tough. 

To breastfeed or bottle feed?  Wean at a year or at two?  To vaccinate or not?  To cry it out or not?  Are you going to homeschool?  Private school?  Which nursery school?  Your kid needs to do sports. Your kid needs a schedule. Your kid can't watch TV.  Your kid can't have this or not, and needs those, and won't be this without that.  So...many...choices! Most moms I know are in the same boat as me, we just don't KNOW yet...but there are other families we see or hear about who are so passionate about some of these things!!  It's not wrong to be passionate, not at all.  But it is wrong for me to think that what works for me and my kid must work for everyone else too.  I understand the "mommy wars" term now, because society can make us feel pressured to do something we may not know is right for us and our babies, or they tell us/make us feel that what we've been doing is the "wrong" way. 

When I read that line about the puzzle pieces, it helped alleviate the pressure I sometimes feel.  It doesn't matter what other moms are doing, or what the "experts" say.  They are doing or saying what works for them, or what works for the majority.  Zachary is my kid, I spend 24 hours a day with him (right now) and I know his needs best.  I am his momma!  He is part of the puzzle of my family, and he is teaching me very quickly that he will not fit into any standard this world has.   I spent the first few weeks after his 1st birthday feeling so stressed out.  He has to give up his bottle, I have to stop the formula even though he doesn't eat enough food, he has to be on a nap schedule, blah blah blah.   I wanted to scream because I wasn't doing anything right!

I realized that I wasn't thinking about my kid, really.  I was just thinking about some silly standard I have in my head.  A standard based off of a bunch of information that has nothing to do with him.  I know that we will conquer each step or milestone eventually, but it has to be right for Zachary.  Finally, with the help of Desperate, and a whole lot of prayer, I realized I need to stop trying to fit my kid into some puzzle that doesn't exist.  He fits into our puzzle perfectly, however we can make that work and keep him safe, healthy and happy.   

I know I'll probably never feel like I am doing everything right, but that's ok.  I am going to let Z guide me and teach me, and keep filtering everything through prayer.  Being a mom is scary, having to be in charge of this sweet, little life is a big responsibility.  When I strip away all the junk from my head, I see how lucky we are to even have this kid in the first place.  How is it so easy to forget that?   Our family has our own way unique way of living and growing and loving, and we are figuring it all out one step at a time, minute by minute.  That, my friends, is totally fine.  We are a puzzle, each piece belonging wholly and truly, just as God orchestrated.  Can I hear an amen?  

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June 12, 2016

Two Years Later.

Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of my son's death.  Today is the anniversary of his birth.

Last year, I was 2 weeks postpartum from my C-section with Zachary.  I didn't really have time, or energy, to grieve the first anniversary of all that mess.  I was deliriously tired and happy all at once, overwhelmed with this new little Rainbow that actually came screaming into my life, instead of silent like his brother.

I can't let this years anniversary without writing something to honor and remember my beautiful Jackson.  I can't believe it's been two years.  I won't go into all the details again because it's so painful to relive, but you can read them herehere and here.  

As I move forward in life, I still feel heartbroken when I think about my baby being "stuck" back in 2014.  Life sped away from him and left him there, and left a huge part of me back there too.   The grieving of this loss is never ending.  Not to sound hopeless, because even in baby/pregnancy loss there is hope.  You have to choose to look for it and you have to find it every single day, but there is hope.

Sometimes I feel that I have to justify why I still feel sad, why I still want to talk about him, why I still say his name and his twins name, and why I'm not "over" it.  No one actually makes me feel that way, but I think the stigma and silence around the subject of baby loss forces me feel that I have to explain myself.

I don't.

My very first son was real.  He had a heartbeat, he had a brain, he had arms and legs and fingers and toes.  He had everything that you and I do, but was still very tiny and was supposed to keep growing.  He was here, he had life.  He had a gender and a name and a room to be decorated and everything that a baby should have.  He had 21 weeks to grow in my belly, 21 weeks to move around and develop, and 21 weeks to make our whole family fall completely in love with him. He was my baby.  Then, very suddenly, he died.    

It could be so easy to feel hopeless, to feel sick with grief all the time.  Baby and pregnancy loss is nothing to wave off, although many people do.  It hasn't happened to those people, and that is ok, no one should have to go through it.  The heartache is crushing, acute and long-lasting.  It could drive a mother crazy, it could actually kill her. The weight of empty arms when they should have been full of a beautiful live baby is the heaviest emptiness I have ever felt.  

Thank goodness I have a God who loves me and and picked me up and walked me through it, even though I wanted dig my own grave and stay there.  Some things aren't to be understood, and although I am not ok with that, I have learned that hard lesson.  Jesus helped me find my life again, he helped me appreciate the time I have here with all of my loved ones, he gave me knowledge and strength when I thought I had nothing.  He carried me through it and then slowly put me down and walked closely as I got through those weeks and months after.  

Slowly, I got to a place where Jackson's life and death don't make me sick to my stomach.  I got to a place where I could think of my baby boy and his twin with love and peace and even joy.  I got to a place where I realized his life meant something, and taught me so many wonderful things.  His life may not mean a lot to a lot of people, but it does mean a lot to a few.  

He taught me to love big and worry less.  He taught me so much about the grace and love of God. He taught me about real life, that life isn't always happy and perfect all the time, and that we can heal and make the most of it regardless.  He taught me the importance of somethings, and the silly unimportance of other things.  He taught me to love people like crazy because I never know who may need it.  He taught me not to judge because you never know who may be dealing with loss.  He taught me how to grieve and understand the act of grieving. He taught me to slow down and just enjoy life!  He taught me to look at the sunsets and sunrises and any body of water and see God's love for us.  Most of all, he taught me that I am a mom, even before Zachary got here, even though I had no earthly baby at the time, I am a mom and he gave me that. 

So while my sweet little boy isn't here with me, he sure taught me a lot in a very small amount of time.  He will be with me always, and not a day goes by that I don't think of him.  

Zachary sees him, which may sound a little weird.  Sometimes he will look up at the ceiling and point, sometimes laugh and giggle, sometimes even play peek a boo with someone. that I can not see.  I know it's Jackson, and I whisper to the room, "I love you, baby.  I miss you.  Thanks for watching over your brother."  Sometimes I cry, because I wish I could see him too.  Other times I smile and feel at peace.  

Grief is a wave, and sometimes we go up and then we go down.  I will ride this wave for the rest of my life.  The waves never stop, but I get better at keeping my head above water.  I used to want to drown in it.  I'm glad that I didn't, I'm glad that the strength and love of God and my family kept my head above the water.  I am strong, I am brave, and I am still here.  

Jackson and Lily will always be a part of our family, and will always own a piece of my heart which is not with me anymore.  I am a different person because of them.  I thank everyone who has been so loving and supportive over these past two years.  I have found happiness and reasons to smile and though the pain of not having them here will always hurt, I am always learning to live around the pain.  While I don't want to write much more about baby loss and grief anymore, it may weave its way sporadically through some of my future posts.  I feel that I've said most of what I need to say on the subject.  I know that Jackson and Lily don't want me to be stuck in the past, and I finally feel free enough to move along in life without guilt.

I love you.  I will always miss you.  You have a piece of me with you, forever.  <3

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May 8, 2016

Baby photo shoot

Happy Mother's day!!!  

As a gift to myself and the family, I really wanted to get some professional pics of Zachary done.  I never cared for the thought of a studio set, and while I LOVE the personal location shots, I just can't fathom forking out the money for them!!!  I know, I know...they are memories, but apparently I am surprisingly cheap when it comes to something I "feel" that I can do myself.  I know, I know, I am NOT a professional photographer.  I don't have a fancy camera, or the high quality editing programs...so my pictures never really look just like those nice family ones we see.  

Oh well, I did it anyways!!!  And I loved doing it!  I talked to Dave and made sure he'd be around and awake enough to help me, and gathered or fashioned some props for the photos.  My little model can be a bit "testy" at times, so I decided to catch him when he is is most happy which is right when he wakes up - at 6:30 am - on a Saturday!  Sorry babe ;)  Ask my husband how he feels about 6:30 am, I dare ya!  (Insert laugh till you cry emoji)

I used my iPhone and this really great iPhone editing app that I bought for about $10.  I love that the app has tons of filters but also lets me crop, light, adjust on my own too.  It's really fun and I feel like a pro!!!  Here are some of the shots.  If you don't like them, feel free to judge and laugh from afar.  If you do, well, I always like hearing good things ;)

I loved the hot air balloon idea!  I found it on Pinterest and the best part is that it matches the theme of Zachary's birthday party later this month - Vintage Travel!  I decided to cap his first year off with the same theme as his nursery.  I love the theme, I don't think he'll ever choose it himself when he is older so I'm choosing it for him now!  There are so many cute ideas too, I'm going to have a lot of fun with it!  Some of these I'll have printed for the part, because they are so cute.

Now, prepare yourself for reality.  It was just Dave and I and we aren't experts in baby wrangling for photos, but I love how they turned out so far.  I'm still editing some, but here are some great ones I have as of today!  I think I captured his crazy, exploring, inquisitive personality just perfectly!  Enjoy!

These next two photos right here are real life, why are they my favorite?  "Mom, I'm so done with your shenanigans!"

BTW the animal in the picture below is "Snow Luck Bear."  I bought him at Target right before Christmas for $5.  He is not very sturdy, being a $5 "bear."  The funny thing is, he isn't a bear at all, he's a dog.  He has a little snowflake on his tummy so I dubbed him "Snow Luck Bear" to bring us luck for a snowy winter (sorry, Maryland!) and after about a month we realized he a dog!!!  Oh well, the name has stuck and he is Z's favorite thing ever.  You should see him make out with him and sleep on top of him at night, it's hilarious!  Oh and I can't even handle that face...

These are just the sweetest ever, aren't they?  The photo he is holding is his newborn picture!  Wasn't that just yesterday???

 This picture is pretty typical of him, always exploring things, me always chasing after him.  Le sigh....

 "The pigeon wants a puppy" is Zachary's favorite book in the world right now.  It's the first book he has ever really shown active interest in.  We read all sorts of things to him, but this one I really act out and he loves it!  He cries when we are done and will open my hand and shove the book back in.  Next years party may have to be the Pigeon party ;)

 Thanks for checking out my photos.  Hope you enjoyed them!!  I totally forgot to get suitcase photos, so I'll have to do those another time!

Thanks to my little bumble bee, my rainbow who gives me the privilege to be a momma on Earth.  Its the best thing I've ever done!  
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