Thursday, November 20, 2014


This weekend we are shooting a family photo for our Christmas card!!!
I've been having phenomenal visions of playful, bright, life-in-motion for this year's
theme -- trying to capture the reality of our current state of affairs.
Three children: 4 and under. *cough cough* ahem.

I stocked up on peanut M&Ms (the toddlers' payment of choice) and am hopeful for
at least one decent shot to share with dear grandma and grandpa.
Patron saint of family photo shoots, pray for us?

So you know that singing telegram scene from the holiday movie, Elf?
"And guess what? I love you, I love you, I LOVE yooooou!"

THAT is exactly how I feel about MINTED.COM.
Have you seen their Christmas card designs for this season? Gorgeous.
I'm going to throw it all out there, and just tell you that I am officially IN LOVE.
Excited that they will be doing our Christmas cards this year!!!

They offer so many beautiful designs and options that I seriously don't know how
I will ever be able to pick!!! Here are some of my favorites...

I can't wait to get my hands on some pretty paper and share the
final production with you!!!


P.S. MINTED is offering 15% off all holiday card
orders through the weekend!!! Use code: SNOW.
Get your hot cocoa and go!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baby Bella || One Month

Judah: "Mom, where are her words?"
Me: "Oh buddy, she can't talk yet, but she will soon."
Isaiah: "Yea, she just goes 'eeeeeeeeep!'"
Judah: "Like a wittle whale."

The boys have also lovingly dubbed her:

Princess Pea Pod
Sugar Plum
Chicken Noodle

and my favorite - Magic Bean

Welcome to life with brothers, Bella.

This first month has FLOWN by. I'm glad it doesn't PHYSICALLY feel like I just had her yesterday,
but it feeeeeels like I just had her yesterday. Time, be still. The first week was the hardest.
It wasn't really the baby, or the toddlers - it was mainly just ME. A hormonal reign of terror
coming down on all like a fearsome mother hawk. Remember this?

Yea, that's embarrassing. But I am happy to report that things have simmered down. A notch.
I only sent my husband THREE freak-out texts today. I'm over it. Smiles and chai tea all afternoon.

I am still in disbelief that we have a GIRL. I went out to buy her some 3-6 month clothes and
felt like such a rookie parent standing in the aisles trying to match all the girly accessories
to all the girly things. Holy moly. My head hurt. And so did my checkbook. But she's going to
be the cutest dressed baby on the block!!!

She sleeps like a teenager. Parties hard all day and sleeps SO WELL at night. Every night,
like clockwork (knock on wood), she's out for 10 hours - waking up ONCE to nurse and go right back
to bed. Occasionally she fights going back to sleep and we have some quality "girl time" at 4AM.
Not complaining. I'll take it.

Everyone keeps asking how the big brothers are doing - "have they accepted her?" I try not laugh,
like she's trying to get into a secret society or something. Rest assured, good public, she is loved
so well. Almost too well-- gotta watch those big brother smooches and squeezes.
They know not their own strength!

So excited to do "life" with this little girl!!!
She's got us all wrapped around her tiny fingers.
Melting like butter, we are.

Sweet Pea by Amos Lee on Grooveshark

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

What I Want My Kids to Know about Dating in High School

This has been a long time coming. I guess since I had one boyfriend in high school, I am
basically the Jedi Master on the topic - all things considered. I joke. But I've had enough
folks ask me about my thoughts on the matter, I figured I'd make it official and POST.

I have to prelude this with a significant disclaimer - in the likely case that some hundred
people (give or take) who knew me and said boyfriend in high school are reading this.

I honestly don't think that a more "ideal" dating situation for two 17 year olds could be
constructed. We were both homeschooled, from big families, with solid formation and strong
convictions in the morality department. Obviously, we went our separate ways 2 years later,
but I wouldn't say that it was a "failed" relationship or one that I "regret".

I just wish I had been able to see the big picture.

It was a small chapter of my life; one that God allowed to be written for one reason or another.
The relationship definitely changed me. Not for the worse or anything, but that's what happens,
right? People leave an impression - and that's why I don't "regret" the whole thing. I mean it
plays a part in who I am today. And thus a POST is born. There you go.

You know, my parents were right though. I love admitting that NOW, but at the time I would
have cried them an ocean of estrogen if they would have ACTED on what they tried to tell me.


They also had all these other crazy ideas about "courtship" and "chaperoned encounters"
in the living room which I promptly poo-pooed all over because "we are NOT the Duggars!"
Luckily they didn't push that agenda, but I had to share because it wasn't funny then,
but it sure is funny now!

Anyway. I digress.

Here are the 3 things that I want my own kids to know about dating in high school...

1.) FRIENDS. Focus on friends. Guys friends - gal friends - ENJOY EVERY SINGLE MINUTE.
Take advantage of those "non romantic" relationships to learn about who you really are
and want to become.
I think it's hard to concentrate on others around you when you are
raging with adolescent hormones. Am I wrong? I mean, when you're "in love", you eat, sleep,
breathe that interest. More or less - depends I guess.

But spend the weekends with your friends - eating Ben and Jerry's out of the carton
and having lip-syncing contests with hairbrush microphones. Or if you're a boy, do whatever
boys do?! Make fire, shoot some tin cans, eat an entire convenient store worth of potato chips?
You catch my drift.

You will have the REST OF YOUR LIFE to spend with your spouse. Wait for it. Just be.

2.) FUTURE SPOUSE. Speaking of "your spouse" - PRAY FOR THEM. Know that if you are
called to dating and marriage that it is waiting for you. Dating in high school may or may not, but
most likely, present opportunities that weigh on the virtues of purity and chastity. It's a lot
to deal with even OUTSIDE OF HIGH SCHOOL - let alone when you're dealing with those raging
hormones I was talking about above. Not worth it. Don't carry that challenge until you are
good and ready.

Not that my kids will care or want to mimic me, but writing letters to my future spouse was
SO GOOD for my own heart. Definitely made me "think twice" about who I dated and how I carried
myself in those relationships. My future spouse was REAL to me. You will NEVER regret honoring
them in all ways.

3.) JESUS. He has a PLAN FOR YOU in your singleness - things that He wants you to
accomplish without a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or children attached. Look for it, love it, live it!
Whether that's school, mission work, ministry, etc. I don't know. But I DO know that you should take
advantage of the season and be fully alive in the joy of that. You might still do school, mission work,
ministry, etc. WITH your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, or children someday (and it will be beautiful!),
but love the moments before and hold nothing back.

But I think making decisions about what comes after high school will be easier, more clear,
more of WHO YOU ARE and less of WHO "WE" ARE without a significant other in the picture.
You've gotta do what YOU are called to do before you say "I DO!"

Jesus dreams BIG for you. Give Him your hands, your heart - always do HIS will.
Momma can't argue with that.

People have asked me if I'll let my own kids date in high school. I have no plans of stopping
them at the moment. But you can bet they'll have to "hear it all" from their mother just in case
they might be swayed. If THAT fails, I may have to try scaring them away from the idea with
some of those "living room courtship" ideas my own parents had for me! Wink.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

On Loving My Postpartum Self

No one reeeeally talks about it. The 4th trimester - the ups and downs, laughter and tears,
joy and insanity of it all. One day you are swimming in a sea of warm, squishy, newborn baby bliss
and the next you aren't letting anyone IN or OUT of your house because they are either going to
contract ebola and give it to your infant or lead a serial killer right into your living room.

People have been so kind and ask me how I'm doing and all, but I lean more towards "fine"
rather than dive right on into the fun facts of anxiety, stitches, breast engorgement, and the
whole achy, throbby - "I am falling out of myself" feeling. You following me?! TMI. I know.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

It was just this past Sunday. I had just put on one of my favorite dresses to go to church.
I was totally having a party in my head; celebrating the fact that...

A.) it fits
B.) I don't look so "lumpy" in it after all

An hour later I walked into the bathroom in a completely different outfit and my husband asked,
"Why did you change?" Well, let's see. When I put it on I had just breastfed the baby and
was looking decent in that department. Given time, milk reproduces, and I was totally channeling
Dolly Parton. Not for Church. Not for Jesus. I laughed it off. No big deal - I'd rather breastfeed
my baby than wear my favorite dress. Perspective, right? That's REALLY how I'm doing.

A couple weeks ago our 3 year old totally climbed into our bed in the middle of the night. Nathan
and I were both so exhausted that we just let him stay - unaware really. Long story long --
he peed on my husband, all over our sheets, comforter, feather tick. I woke up to *freaking out*,
lights turned on, and drama in our en suite bathroom. ARE YOU KIIIIIIDDING ME?!

I motioned to Nathan to GET OUT and turn the lights off before, God help me, the
baby that was just wide awake from 2-4AM wakes up AGAIN. I stripped the bed and marched
straight to the living room to tell my husband that this was ALL his fault and that
he could just sleep with said 3 year old - IN THE OTHER ROOM. For real.

Y'all, postpartum Brittany is cray cray. The next morning my husband let me sleep in
til 9AM and the first words out of my mouth were, "I AM SO SORRY. That baby. I was tired."

And then there is my body. I don't keep a scale in my house on purpose. Numbers don't matter.
It's all about FEELING good and being COMFORTABLE in your skin. That being said, I had to
promise myself that I would NOT step on the scale at my CHILD's 2 week check-up.

Yea, I broke that promise and had to pep talk to myself the whole way home. "20 more pounds
to pre-baby weight?! You've got this."
And just to make sure that I was thoroughly beaten up,
I went home and tried on all my non-maternity pants. Why why why?!

*bangs head against the wall*

I look down at my stomach and see DARK stretch marks this time - a straight line running down
my abdomen that looks even darker and more foreboding when I bend over. Weird, but I notice these
things... and I am sure MY HUSBAND DOES TOO and probably DOES NOT WANT ME ANYMORE?!?!??!

CUE: explosion of tears when he walks in the door from work. He wants to know what's wrong and
asks, "is this postpartum-ness?" Oh no he didn't. That's the post-baby equivalent of asking,
"are you PMS-ing?" NO. No, it's NOT. Yeeeeeessssss... yes, it is.

For the record, my husband DOES still want me. Phew. So that's good. Seriously though, so
THANKFUL for his covering and affirmation. He sees my post partum body very differently than
I see it - giving grace, love, and understanding - where it TRULY IS DESERVED!

I just had a BABY. A 10 and a half pound baby. I gained 50 pounds to bring such BEAUTY
into our lives. My body was stretched and pushed to the very limits to bring LIFE - a human
being (that still blows my mind!) - a breathing representation of the love my husband and I
share - and it is SO GOOD. So so good.

Despite the postpartum party going on over here, I AM finding it easier to be KIND to myself
this time around, to lower my expectations, and have grace on my brain, body, and those around me.
I'm laughing more and crying less. I am learning to LOVE myself in this season.

The other night I was laying in bed doing some spine stretches and deep breathing when my
husband walked in to give me a foot massage (SPOILED. I know.). I looked at him, feeling completely
humbled, and said, "You've seen my body do CRAZY things - with having babies and all."
(I mean, the guy has seen my intestines. I haven't even seen my intestines!) He laughed and agreed,

"It's pretty amazing actually."

"YEA IT IS! Too bad YOUR body doesn't do anything cool like that!"

*fist pumping mothers everywhere*

Motherhood is wildly beautiful, my friends. It bends and breaks us - strangely building us
up into stronger women. Pregnancy. Postpartum. I'd do it again and again to know this JOY
of loving and raising tiny humans -- the ones so intricately stitched together by the God
Who knew us all before there was time.

I'm going to go put a sweet potato in the oven now. For lunch. 20 pounds, remember?!
But you can bet I'll probably eat a Reese's peanut butter cup while I do it -- because GRACE, right?!
My body has been through a lot. It deserves it.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Am Not Broken. A Birth Story.

My Bella Jane. Talk about fashionably late. Even at 12 days past her due date, she came slow and
steady into this world. Apparently my uterus is like the Taj Mahal of uteruses - so why leave?
I guess the "all you can eat" milk buffet just doesn't compare.

41 weeks //

All my people from far and wide were sending me every trick in the book to induce labor. God bless 'em!
Check. Check. Check. Did it all. 3 or 4 times over for good measure. Yea about that whole pineapple I ate
- all I got was a couple cankers, thank you very much. My favorite was a message from a friend
reminding me about how "funky town" from Parenthood would totally work. Anybody?!

Totally did NOT work. But again, we did our best. Wink.

I am so thankful that my doctors were willing to let me take this pregnancy to 42 weeks.
Since I have had a C-SECTION, most OB-GYNs in my experience are not too comfortable with such
ideas. But knowing that I have one successful VBAC under my belt (funny, right?!), I was confident
that I could do it again. I just needed time. And time was given.

I wrote a whole post about my "non birth plan" plan, but at 10 days past my due date I looked my doctor
in the eye for the last time before we would meet in the hospital and told him...

"I told you that I have NO plan, but that's a lie.
I am going to VBAC and you are NOT going to cut me open."

To that he said, "That's right!"

Again, thankful for supportive doctors. I felt like they believed in me and were so open
to all the little alternatives that I requested. If anyone in the Chicago-area is looking for
some solid Catholic OB-GYNs - I cannot recommend this practice enough. I love them.

Two days before my scheduled "light induction" (no promise of a VBAC, but at least a trial of
labor), I decided it was time. CASTOR OIL. Yes, I did. My doc actually said to give it a shot -
so I followed my cousin's midwife's directions (because midwives are so cool) and later that night...

contractions woke me up.
They were tolerable, but I could not sleep through them.
2-3 minutes apart for hours and hours. I woke my husband and told him I was jumping in the shower,
but encouraged him to keep sleeping because I had been having "fake outs" for many days and was
sure this was just another round of fun.

I then checked in with my doctor, and he asked me if my bags were packed.

But by the time I got to the hospital those beautifully consistent contractions were fading. I was
instructed to "WALK!" Round and round the labor and delivery floor. 3 hours later it was determined
that I was NOT in actual labor. Another fake-out. Technically I could go home.

Since I was 12 days overdue, dilated to 3, with a scheduled "light induction" less than 12
hours away, we decided to stay at the hospital and let the doctor break my water. Once I felt
that initial gush, I got that "HOLY COW THIS IS IT" feeling! In less than 24 hours we are
going to have a baby in our arms!

You would think that a 10 and a 1/2 pound baby would just fly out after the water had been
broken, but no. Hours later I found myself hooked up to my BFF, pitocin. That's a joke.
The BFF part.

Every hour or so they would bump up the dosage and my contractions would become stronger,
more consistent. Once I was dilated to 7 the doctor came in and turned off the pitocin;
thinking that my body would do the rest on its own. 5 minutes - 7 minutes - 10 minutes -
the contractions started drifting off to nothingness.

This was my panic moment. I asked every nurse that came in, "is my body broken?"

I cried. Partly from the pain, but more so from the fear and frustration of my body not responding.
I began to repeat in my head, "I AM NOT BROKEN. I AM NOT BROKEN. I AM NOT BROKEN."

My doctor came back in and said he was sorry, but that they were going to turn the pitocin back on
at the highest level safe for my condition (c-section scar). He asked if I wanted the epidural
first. I said, "NO" - determined to overcome the situation, thinking "I've got this."

10 minutes later, back on pitocin, I paged the nurses 2 times and eventually sent my
husband out in the hall with instructions NOT to come back without the anesthesiologist.

The pain subsided to the level of bearable and I just laid there on the hospital bed.
Feeling defeated. Crushed. Beaten by the woes of induction. My breathing slowed and I held
my husband's hand as the box fan whirred next to me, blowing away the tension and my furrowed brow.

Finally, I could feel the baby descending with that great rush of pressure. It's time. I knew it
was time. 30 minutes of pushing, deep breathing, chanting in my heart, "I AM NOT BROKEN!" ---
and then LIFE. I pulled myself up to see the doctor turning the baby over, hearing the nurse
ask, "is it a boy or girl?!"

GIRL. It's a girl.

Nathan got to cut the umbilical cord right before they rushed her over to clear out her lungs
(meconium). So surreal. Tears filled my eyes and no words came. No words. It was like being a
first-time parent all over again. A daughter?! The awe of it all - felt so different.

Her daddy got to hold her first. In fact, I'm pretty sure Nathan got to hold all of our children
before I did due to complications with each delivery. I guess the universe didn't get the memo that
the I was pregnant for 40+ weeks and probably should have dibs on holding the baby first! HA.

But it was wonderful. Happiest of memories. Nathan handed her to me, and even though I had planned
to breastfeed RIGHT AWAY -- I just stared at her; completely overcome with newborn baby bliss,
drowning in a sea of hormones and emotions. It's one of those SURPRISE OF YOUR LIFE kind of moments. You know?

We prayed for her. We waited for her. We are celebrating her.
Lady Bella Jane, welcome to our family!!! We love you more than you will ever know!

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

WEAR || Bizzy B Crafts

Last year we discovered Miss Brittany over at Bizzy B Crafts and
absolutely fell in LOVE with her work! She makes the BEST child-size infinity scarves!
Soft and oh-so-hipster, right?! They are a MUST for my boys' fall/winter wardrobe.

Seriously, there were TEARS when my boys discovered that they had to WAIT for their new
scarves to come in the mail this year. TEARS. Thanks for saving their little lives, Brittany!

Brittany has been so kind to offer my readers a 15% OFF promo code!


Hello, Christmas shopping?!
Don't worry - she makes beautiful things for people of all ages!!!
Check it out.

Bizzy B Crafts || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lady Bella Jane

And just like that - our lives are forever changed.
A DAUGHTER! I'm still processing the crazy beauty of it all.
We are completely in love and spending our days smothering her in kisses.

Thank you for all the kind messages, comments, prayers, gifts and love
you've been sending our way! We are so happy to celebrate this joy with you!!!

I promise a birth story soon, but until then...

bask in this newborn baby bliss with us?!

I've Always Loved You by Third Day on Grooveshark

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