Friday, September 4, 2015

A book, what's that?

You guys. I read a book. Like a real book with no pictures (actually there were some pictures - but they were historical!). I don't know the last time that I'd actually sit down and read a book for pleasure.

It all started back on this vacation where we had zero access to the outside world. Inside this magical place was a shelf, with books. I think I spent probably 15 minutes staring at the titles waiting for one to jump out at me.

Ken Follett - hey I've heard of that guy. "On Wings of Eagles"? Could be promising...And it was. Based on the story of two Americans imprisioned in Iran for no reason right before and then during the Iran revolution in early 1979. And even though it was basically an opportunity for Ross Perot to make a case for himself as a presidential candidate, it was an enjoyable read. Intrigue, drama, no romance, history. 

I wouldn't say I highly recommend it, but sure. I enjoyed it.

What are you reading this weekend?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Big Puddle

A few weeks ago, back in the middle of July, we needed a break. So we packed up the car babies and all and took a should be 8 hour car trip down to LA (lower alabama). It took us about 12 hours to finally arrive to "The Getaway", and crying baby and all it was so worth it. 

We stayed Nathan's relative's getaway home. No internet, No TV. It is adorable and has an incredible screened in porch that I never did get to enjoy because - mosquitoes - but maybe next time. 

The first morning Nathan and Holland were still sleeping when Gavin woke up. So we put on our shoes and ran outside to have a look at the view of the bay. Gavin ran outside and exclaimed "A Big Puddle Mama!" And I said Yeah buddy! that's exactly what that is a really big puddle! It amazes me how his small vocabulary still manages to create a term for everything. :)

Our view was incredible and next time we are stopping to look at some amazing sunsets. I missed an amazing one our last night there while I was nursing Holland. I could see the sky through the window and the water turning bright orange and pink as the sun sank.

We braved down to Gulf Shores on day 1.  After only experiencing Myrtle Beach growing up this was such a treat. Way fewer crowds. I slathered us all up real good and kept Holland under a UV protected tent which was by the way a major pain to tear down. Thanks Nathan for trooping for that. And the random guy on the beach who offered to help!

Gavin loved the sand / beach / water / shobles!  He still talks about it every day. Mama, the beach! did you have fun at the beach? Shobles! Nemo! Fish swimming water! 

Day 2 we went to Orange Beach instead which was a little further from us but much nicer. There were flies all over the Gulf shores beach and I got bitten several times - which is why Holland is covered with a towel in one of the pictures. Day 2 is also when I put Gavin in a muscle tank instead of his rash guard and he got a little bit pink. So day 3 we wandered the cute little town of Fairhope, AL. 

While discovering Fairhope we walked out a long pier and noticed there was a little beach right on the bay, so Day 4 we went there instead. It saved probably 45 minutes of driving time and was still pretty good. The sand there was much coarser and there was a lot of debris from the bay washing ashore. But we could still build castles!

You can see Nathan and Gavin had the sweetest time. They really did bond a lot that week. Daddy time is so fun!

Later that night we tried to get a timed family photo. We all got squirted with bug spray (I use this one for the babies). I set my camera to timer and perched it on the stairs of our neighbors (who weren't at home). They have an epic dock btw.

It's not perfect, and not really in focus, but it's just right. And after only about 10 tries!  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

On Safe Mornings

image from "She Reads Truth"

Mornings are really hectic for me. Even on the days that I try to have everything prepared the night before - i.e. last night - I still can't seem to get it all together in time and make it out the door by my goal of 7:20. Even when I am prepared the babies end up being difficult. Gavin is in this full-on whiny stage and we've done everything to try and nip that. Answering/Acknowledging him immediately, distractions, time-outs, spankings. He's still a 2 year old and maybe it's the new sibling thing but It Wears Me Out. Oh the whining. 

When it's 7:10 and he hasn't eaten breakfast and he's throwing a fit about what shirt to wear I lose it. I am sinful and dark and I lose it. And i become a 2 year old. I slam cabinet doors. I sharply respond to his needs. This morning I heard him start the typical whine "uhhhh, uhhhh" and I replied with WHAT GAVIN. And his eyes fell and his little chin quivered and I felt it. 

First the guilt. The weight of our sin. The I'm not a good mom. The I hurt my child. The how can I do this. The frustration with now I'm going to be even later.

So thankfully I felt something else next. The joy in my failings and shortcomings. Jesus is sufficient to bear my sin and has covered it. 

I hugged my son and asked him to forgive me. That mama was so sorry for shouting. Then I asked if he would pray with me. And he held my hand as I asked forgiveness and more patience and more tenderness and a clean heart.  And every morning is a challenge. That's just how it is right now. It's hectic and babies are unpredictable and sometimes Holland nurses forever and sometimes what I pick out to wear gets spit up on and I have to change and sometimes Gavin can't pick out a shirt or breakfast or he wants me to carry him downstairs and it's hard and it's frustrating and I feel torn between caring for my family in the way that they need and getting to work on time. And I want to quit and I want to slam doors.  But my constant prayer is a clean heart. And I know that God is helping and going to continue to help me. I'm never going to be perfectly patient but I can always fall at the feet of Jesus for forgiveness and He gives grace. And I can teach my children that there is the sweetest place and the most welcoming place for sinners like me. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Stitch Fix Review II

I got my third (the second was not good at all) stitch fix box and it was so fun! They listened to my style pin board - helllllo stripes - and sent summer friendly clothes. So I had fun on Sunday while both - hear me - both babies napped.  hashtag weekend goals hashtag life goals. So, without further ado, here's what they sent.

First item up, a stripey tank. Which is great, cotton, navy/white, pocket with no real purpose. It's a great tank, but not one that I'm sure I am willing to spend that much on. 
headband: Anthropologie (similar),  jeans: Gap (similar), shoes: Target (found here
Next up is a fun little dress. It's comfy and breezy and definitely brighter than anything that I own but it's kind of boxy. Nathan liked it, but looking at pictures now, I don't know that it's flattering. And I'm not into the cut of the bottom half. I'd much rather have a straight hem. 
The necklace is also a Stitchfix. 

Shoes: Anthropologie (old) / hat: TJ MAXX (similar)

My favorite item was this great striped skirt. Every box the stylist sends a cute card showing suggestions for how to style your item. I took the advice of the card and added a chambray button down and some ankle boots. 

Chambray: Target (similar - in my dreams) / Boots: Target (similar)

lastly they sent this crochet tank. I honestly had no idea what to do with it. Even with the styling card I couldn't make it work. 
Tan tank: Old Navy (similar) / Maxi Skirt: Target (here) / Sandals: Target (link above)

So, in conclusion, I am thinking of keeping the skirt. And that's probably it. Then taking a Stitchfix hiatus for a while. It's fun, maybe again for fall.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Lately, I've been treasuring a lot of moments like this one. Gavin comes along to Holland "I cuddle baby sister!" lays on her with his whole giant toddler head and grins. Then he'll pat her a few times on the chest and be on about his trucks/trains/cars.

Lately, I've been really trying to read the Bible everyday. I started off strong with the whole chronological reading plan, but it's over halfway through the year and I'm in Numbers, so...

Lately, I've noticed my wardrobe shifting to neutrals: navy, black, white, and stripes. And nothing else. I feel so me.

Lately, I've been wearing a sunhat everywhere.

Lately, I've realized that as a mom the purse has become obsolete. Wallet in the diaper bag you go.

Lately, we've been watching Nemo and Mickey Mouse but then Thomas and Nemo and Nemo and Dude Crush!

Lately, I've been really proud and inspired by my husbands perseverance and determination to become healthier. While eating cookies...

Lately, I binge watched Hell on Wheels season 4. Am I the only person who watches this. The internet is all, "OITNB" and I really could care less. Give me Cullen Bohannon!

Lately, I've been anxiously watching a probably brown recluse bite heal. The internet makes it seem a lot worse than it was. Still, should we burn down the house?

Lately, I've been praying for a lot of babies. Why does the internet have to share such heartbreaking stories. This is one news avenue that I'd rather remain ignorant about. I have several friends with sick children. Actually sick children. And then the stories of unwanted babies. Seriously, bring me all the unwanted babies. I will love them all for you.

Lately, we've been missing Dillan. I tried taking the blanket out of his chair and Gavin lost it saying "No! Boof's chair! No mama!" but he didn't realize that there is not boof to go into the chair. We do miss him. 

It's funny how the more you write them things open up. Thanks internet for being my digital diary. You're special to me. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We'll see you again

One week ago, we put Dillan to rest.

I know people usually say put to sleep, but for some reason, after having been through it, rest seems more appropriate. Rest implies peace and non-suffering. Anyone can sleep, but resting - that's rejuvenating. That's what Jesus offers to us. I told Dillan this. As we were waiting in a dimmed patient room at the vets on a soft blanket and I told Dillan he was going to meet God. But he probably already knew this. I told Dillan that Jesus is one day bringing back a new earth and that earth would not have cancer. No disease. No pain. But I think he already knew that too. He was ready.

It's probably silly, I mean, he's just a dog. But my soul needed to hear this truth. That the world is waiting to become new - to become what it always was meant to be. And that dogs exist there.

Little (big) Dillan. You are missed. Tater boof I think about you every morning when I don't have a dog to let out. Picodill I think about you every day when I open the door and you're not there to great us. Dragon Puppy I think about you every time we drop food on the floor and then have to clean it up ourselves. Deer Dog you'll never be replaced. Thanks for 3 really good years.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2 Years Old!

Gavin has been 2 years old for over a week! Our boy is so grown up.  Here are some photos from our weekend celebration. 

On Friday he stayed home from daycare with Mama and baby sister. We had his 2 year doctor appointment, lunch and cake with Dad, and play time with church friends! by the way, if the nurse asks you to hold him down when she's prepping your child for a shot, just tickle them. Gavin had no idea what happened. When we got home I distracted him with watching Wall-e while I pulled out his presents, balloons, and baked a pizza :)

On Saturday we slept in and then headed up to the train museum in Boling Green.  It was not very kid-friendly, but Gavin enjoyed the trains that kept passing on the other side of the fence and liked sitting in the drivers seats.

Gavin's favorites at 2 years old:

Favorite songs: ABC's, Twinkle Star, Bible (Jesus loves me), and whatever words Dad and I have made up for the KeyKey House (Mickey Mouse) theme song.

Favorite Shows: Wall-e, anything Mickey Mouse, Chuggington, Thomas the Train

Favorite Foods: Pizza, Sweet Potato Fries - or any fries, all fruit - especially berries, yogurt, cheese toast (grilled cheese), and Faffles (waffles).

Wears: size 2T and size 6 shoe

Favorite Toys: Blocks, ALL of his Thomas Trains, Wall-e and Eve plushies

Favorite Books: Dragons Love Tacos, Just One More, Giant Machines, Llama Llama Red Pajama

Favorite color: He will say blue

Can: Count to 13, build tall towers, run fast!, name all (well ya know) his colors, say please and thank you without much reminding from parents!

Mama and Dada are so proud of you little man! You are the best 2 year old boy we could hope for. We love you so much!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dillan : An Update

One week ago Dillan went in for his follow up exam. The vet asked if we were interested in chemo - we aren't - so we talked about how to keep him comfortable for the next few weeks.

She put him on a steroid pill and recommended getting some wet food that would be easier to digest.  The steroid pills are meant to help with swelling and pain and they have made a huge difference. Dillan is eating, the edema in his legs is gone, and the lymph nodes on his neck have shrunk quite a bit. he even tried to run in the backyard the other day - only to realize that after he took about 5 gallops that he can't go anymore. Which is heartbreaking, but at least he's feeling well enough to try it.

The whole situation is heartbreaking. The medicine makes it seem like he's getting better - but he's not. Last Tuesday the vet said he has a few weeks. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers after last weeks post. He's a special puppy. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Himmeli Inspired Mobile

I love making items for my babies. When I saw this post on the Oh Joy! blog many months ago, I pinned it, knowing that something like this would be so beautiful as a baby mobile. 

I found the paper fans in JoAnn's along with the bells and bought the paper straws at Target. 

red straws
red rosettes
silver rosettes
silver bells (here them ring...)

There are a lot of paper online resources for additional colors and patterns if the stores don't have what you're looking for. Pro tip though - the mini silver rosettes from Joann's come with tiny clothespins that are perfect for assembling the mobiles.

I wasn't sure exactly what I would end up making, so I used all the images over on Oh Joy! as inspiration and just went from there. The pdf is really easy to follow and gives far better images and instructions than I could ever hope to try and give.  

I then screwed some eye hooks into the ceiling above Holland's crib. Or should I say, the husband screwed some eye hooks above Holland's crib while moved his elbow to exactly where I thought the drill bit should go. Teamwork. 

I love how they turned out and Holland loves them as well.  I just give them a little push and she's in a trance. Baby hypnosis. I am thinking of adding one more.  Holland's room theme is supposed to be kind of French with creamy walls and red, baby blue, and gray accents so I'm thinking of finding some baby blue to contrast all the red. I'd love to give you all a tour of her nursery as soon as I get figured out where a painting is going.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

No Title

I'm not sure how to begin, I'm not sure how to title this post. 

Two weeks ago a friend was over giving Dillan the rubs he so enjoys when she noticed that his lymph nodes felt enlarged under his ears. Now that she had pointed it out, we could tell that they were swollen, so I called the vet and got him in the next day. Turns out the years of neglecting his teeth had resulted in an infection in his mouth - which should have explained the enlarged lymphs. Just fighting an infection. But the vet wanted to sample it anyway. 

Over the next week we noticed Dillan's energy levels sinking. He wasn't jumping up and down with excitement when we grabbed his leash. he wasn't begin for pets as much. He spent more time in the floor than in his beloved chair or on the couch. In the words of our neighbor, "he's not quite himself."

We got the official news on Friday afternoon. Dillan has lymphoma and in multiple nodes meaning at least stage 3. Over the course of the weekend he developed edema of his back legs and a large bruise on his whole stomach. He's declining quickly. He even surprised our vet today when we brought him in. I would guess it's definitely stage 4 now and possibly 5.

We're keeping him comfortable and giving him lots of pets and rubs. He's such a good dog. I know he's not a person. But he is special. We appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers as we prepare to say goodbye to our much loved boof.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

First Stitch Fix Review

Holland is most content strapped to me. She doesn't like her carseat much, and while I'm hoping that she grows to love it, for now I'll keep wrapping her into my chest. I really love baby wearing but it makes shopping next to impossible. I mean sure I could continually wrap and unwrap in stores, but where do I put the baby? On the floor? ew - no. So, I signed up for a stitch Fix. A subscription service that pairs you with a stylist who then sends you 5 items as often as you request it. Here's what I got this month.

First item: Space Dye Dolman Sleeve Knit Top:
I was not a fan of this for several reasons. The Dolman sleeve is just not my thing. This sweater was very long. Not flattering. And finally, it's a sweater and Nashville from May-September is not just hot, but humid. Pass.

Second / Third Item: Black Knit Pant and Space Dye Open Cardigan

This was closer. But I may as well have been wearing leggings. Again with the heavy things during summer. Pants had to be cuffed and I just didn't feel like I would ever buy a cardigan like this. But - I did ask for nursing-friendly items and my stylist was really sensitive to that. Pass and Pass.

Fourth Item: Button Down Blouse

Winner Winner. Loved this sleeveless blouse. Works for work and the weekend. Easy to nurse. Fits great across the chest - which is challenging right now - and I think will continue to fit great after Holland is weaned. Keeper!

Fifth Item: Gold Earrings

These were really lovely and nailed what I would buy myself, but I didn't keep them because I just didn't want to spend the money this time.


It is as awkward as you can imagine to take photos of yourself and getting the focus right is hard. #thingstoimproveupon

Nathan commented that they just sent what was fashionable right now, but I'm holding out that as more and more happen my stylist will start #nailing my style. 

You can schedule to get them as often as you'd like. Right now mine arrive every month.

I selected the "as cheap as I can get it" price option but felt like the items were still kind of high. nathan thought they were normal. However - there is a $20 stylist fee for every box that is removed from your total of items kept. So a shirt that is listed as $40 is $20 - but you still pay $40 because there's a $20 styling fee. Make sense?

If you'd like to give it a try - use my referral! link below:

Monday, May 18, 2015

From the Weekend

Our weekends are when we spend the most time and the most quality time together. It's also the time I scroll most. Here are some pics from the weekend and some links to some things. Take that description!

We went down to Franklin to the Touch-A-Truck event to touch some trucks with Gavin. He was more than overwhelmed. Not much touching, or sitting, or honking occurred in the first 30 minutes. Just too much to see. Finally he warmed up when we got to the police car. 
"Gavin, do you want to sit in the police car?" "uh-huh". Okay buddy.

In other news...

I finished season 3 of The West Wing on Netflix and Aaron Sorkin is a punk. When will CJ find happiness???  Or Josh, Or Leo, Or Donna, Or Sam, Or Toby...

I received my first Stitch Fix on Saturday and am working on a review.

Gavin turns 2, two, TWO,  on Friday. He's too grown up.

I read this article with great interest and admit that while in the ER a few months ago I paused an watched Thomas because there just wasn't anything else on.

John Oliver NAILED IT

JENI'S  opens back up on Friday. But my ice-cream game has been pretty on fleek lately. 

Also - how to know if you're using "on fleek" correctly! I honestly have no idea if I am...

These Tacos look super delicious.

Now I'll never get into any of these places.  But they will stay on my list forever then.

Finally, Happy Monday

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Current Lunchtime Fav

Being at home everyday doesn't exactly make it easy to eat healthy. Being at home all day actually makes it super easy to snack. It also doesn't help that the husband bought a huge tub of cheese balls last weekend along with my requested double stuff'd oreos. (those have been gone since monday...)

Anyway, I found an easy lunch that makes me feel like I'm eating a somewhat nutritious meal and is super tasty.

Oh, and it's super easy too.

   - sweet potato tortilla chips (the Food Should Taste Good brand is best)
   - drained and rinsed black beans (one can gets me 3-4 nachos trays)
   - pico de gallo (or any salsa)
   - cheese!

   - Layer sweet potato chips, black beans and salsa in a pie dish.
   - Cover with desired amount of shredded cheese
   - Broil under a close eye.
     My broiler works very fast - takes about 30 seconds for the cheese to melt so keep checking on your nachos.

Slide the nachos out onto a plate. Side with sour cream if you're bad ;)

Pro-tip: make your own salsa with red onion, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber!


Thursday, May 7, 2015


Yesterday was Holland's two month check up and therefore her first round of vaccines.  These shots are the worst. Babies are just too small and helpless to understand any amount of pain and she does not do pain. She once slipped my grip a little while I brought her up for a burp session and her head bumped into my shoulder. Oh my, she screamed. So you can imagine what 3 needles in her getting chubbier little legs would do.

These shots also make babies so sleepy. The doctor of course got on me about the tummy time - 1 hour a day! - but that was impossible yesterday. Sleep - wake up and cry - try to eat - cry - fall back to sleep. She napped pretty well that morning but the afternoon she would not be consoled any way than strapped next to my chest and walking around - preferably outside. So that's what we did. We walked and walked all afternoon outside. I grabbed a book to pass the time as my fitbit stacked up the steps. Over 13,000. Sheesh. I kicked off my shoes to feel the grass. #nofilter - it is that green right now. I texted a friend I hadn't spoken to in months when the book started talking about community. I miss her. It's funny how relationships grow apart. Someone that you think of often and love dearly but you lose touch. I couldn't quite remember where she works and felt embarrassed when I asked to be reminded. But isn't it better to know than pretend to know? Isn't that what community is? Caring and not pretending to ignore our shortcomings? I don't remember things well all the time, but I can be authentic in wanting to know and wanting to remember. 

These baby days are going quickly. Soon I'll be back at work full time and struggling to get everyone fed every evening and surviving the infamous "witching hour" and bedtime routines and then trying not to crash at 8pm because lunches need to be packed and what the heck are we going to eat for dinner tomorrow and what are we going to wear tomorrow because I can't keep up with laundry and dishes and any other tedious chore. So I'll take the 13,000+ steps every day. I'll take the peace that Holland feels when she's next to my heart. I'll take the fresh grass between my toes and the solitude of reading. I'll take it.

Wrap by Solly Baby, Holland's bonnet from Briar Handmade, Book: The Gospel 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Mom!

card source is from Rifle Paper Co, found here

Happy Birthday to my wonderful mom and Mimi to my babies. We all love you so much and are so thankful for you!  Bring back your magic Mimi sleeping dust anytime :)

And a happy birthday to her twinner, Uncle David too :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sweet Face

Most of you probably noticed, it's hard to miss, and didn't want to say anything. Or didn't know how to word it. Or like seeing anything abnormal wanted to give me, as a mother, reassurance that there's nothing wrong with her baby. 

And I appreciate that.

Holland has a pretty large birthmark on the right cheek of her sweet face. I remember being in surgery and the doctor pulled her out of me and said so. "She has a birthmark on her right cheek" the doctor said, but I was so relieved to hear her crying that I didn't think anything of it. Then I overheard the nurses commenting on it while wiping her down, "What is it", one of them said. But Holland had taken a big practice breath full of fluid and was working on coughing all of that out, so my heart was occupied on praying for my baby's lungs. The nurses whisked her away from me to get her to the NICU and get the remaining fluid out of her lungs. For .5 seconds they paused and lifted Holland towards me, "Here's your baby mom". 

No skin-to-skin, no nursing, just alone on the table for another hour. Then my family took turns sitting with me and visiting Holland with Nathan for the next four hours. Finally I was out of recovery and I was united with my baby. 

The bright red angriness of her cheek had faded quite a lot in just a few hours. Her breathing was fine, she ate well, but in the back of my mind all I could think was what I had done to cause it. I have to admit I didn't take all my vitamins daily like I was supposed to. I missed my other medicine a few times. I took really hot baths every night to ease my RLS. What did I do to cause it? 

I had prayed for a healthy baby, and I had gotten one. But how would life be for my little girl? In a time when physical beauty is praised how would she be made fun of? How can I protect her? Would everyone on social media blame me like I blamed myself? 

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." (psalm 139 13-14)

It's not for me to know why God gave Holland this birthmark. But He knew He was going to from the beginning. He has a plan for her story. It is only my job to love my daughter. To show her a mother's love and to help her understand the love of God for her. To comfort her when she's hurt and encourage her when she's unsure. To give her a supportive home where she is safe. To tell her everyday how beautiful I do think she is. 

The great news is that we had a biopsy done of the tissue and it is truly just skin that didn't form correctly. No real reason why, just happens. No one's fault. A birthmark that will make our little girl stronger and braver and give her a unique story, all her own. It can be removed, and I want to share my story of that here. The process will start around one year old and take about two years to complete. It will leave her with a scar that one day might be faded and unnoticeable. Either way doesn't matter. She is perfectly formed, beautifully made. 

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Holland Paige Merrick

In the midst of all the radio silence we had another baby. Surprise internets! On March 5th we welcomed baby Holland into the world.  As cheesy as it sounds I really do feel like our family is complete. She brings so much joy and greatfulness to our lives. We are really blessed.


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