Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Jesus!

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the spirit of giving

Today Grayson, Lilah and I visited a local firestation and dropped off some cookies (and returned a t-shirt one of them had left at our house during a photoshoot--it was his 3yo son's shirt).  Especially after hearing many 6- and under-year-olds request iPads from Santa for Christmas when I was doing the photos for Edgewood Primary School's Santa Breakfast, I decided right then and there that my children will not be getting iPads, or anything of the sort before they are in highschool and have the need for it (if ever!).  The thing that bothered me the most was that many of these children looked like they were in need of more basic items like clothing.

When I was a child, we had to save up or use layaway just to get a doll for Christmas.  Yes, we were poor, but we were blessed and I never really felt poor.  I would never have even dreamed of asking for something of the caliber of an iPad, even before I knew "the truth".  Our family's financial situation is "better than I deserve" in the words of Dave Ramsey, but I don't want our children to ever feel like they are entitled to something like an iPad.  To further that idea, I've decided that our family will continue in a spirit of giving each year and we will be taking cookies to firemen, packing shoe boxes for children and doing other activities to inspire giving in our children, rather than entitlement.

I was reminded recently of how many people have certain expectations of how Christmas should go.  They have a plan in their head of a big, beautiful tree with lots of presents underneath.  Christmas morning to them is a time to make their children happy by giving them everything they want.  They (we) neglect to remember what we're celebrating in the first place--Jesus' birth.  OUR SAVIOR.  It's his birthday!!!  THAT'S the reason for the season.  So when we celebrate Christmas, we will still give our children gifts, but we will also give... because He calls us to.  That's His birthday gift.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

this one's for you, Shel Rockhill! ;-)

Yes, I know, I haven't blogged since July.  Well, it's been pretty busy here with an infant, a toddler, and about 100 photoshoots between then and now.

But, I read a post on my friend's blog this morning, and she inspired me to take a picture of this.  We don't have a lot of decorations up this year, because G can't seem to resist terrorizing them.  We don't even have ornaments on the tree because he broke one of the plastic balls on the tree in the studio.  He knows he's not supposed to touch them, but poor guy just can't resist his desire to explore.  And I'm not going to punish him for being the boy that God created him to be.  We just won't tempt him either ;-)

Our stockings are hung over the window on a curtain rack (high enough that he can't get to them!) and each one is specific to its owner...  Brandon's is the Blue one on the end, with a "B" ornament on it, mine is Lavender with an "L", Grayson's is Green with a "G" and Lilah's is Lava, with an "L".  Yes, we had to get creative on the colors, but it all worked out.  Lord help us if we have another kid... I don't know if we'll be able to continue this trend!!  haha  Anyway, the stockings are stuffed to the brim and we can't wait for the fellowship that will come when we open them.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas.  Enjoy those babies.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Way overdue.

Yes, I know, I have not posted in over 2 months.  You have every right to be mad!  haha  Life has been really busy preparing for our little Jelly Bean, keeping up with Grayson's activities and mostly, taking LOTS of photos!  It seems that once I announced I'd be going on 'maternity leave' July 1, clients came out of the woodwork asking for sessions!  Not that I'm complaining, because I LOVE my clients and I LOVE the job that allows me to stay home with my bab(ies) and still earn a little money to help out.  I had over 20 sessions between the end of June and July--about 2-3 times my normal amount!  THAT was a lot of editing!  My computer time was pretty limited to checking my email and editing.  I went on 'maternity leave' July 1, and then still had 3 sessions after that date!  Thankfully, Jelly Bean waited until I was finished to make an appearance.

Speaking of Jelly Bean...

On Friday, July 29, Jelly Bean arrived after 20 hours of labor at 2:59 p.m.  She (yes, SHE!) has a head full of inch-long, THICK brunette hair, just like her Daddy!  Her eyes have already turned brown too!  It's so funny to have one VERY blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby and one brunette, dark-eyed baby!  People are going to doubt they're from the same parents (Trust me, they are!).  She is absolutely beautiful and we got to come home Saturday, when she was barely a day old. 

Lilah Adelaide Gupton became the first female "Gupton" to arrive in over 60 years!  She was born at 7 lbs, 3 oz and 19.5 inches long (exactly her Mama's measurements).  Amazingly enough, she looks exactly like her brother did, only with dark hair and eyes!  It's uncanny the resemblance.  I wonder what she'll look like as she grows.  So far, she's making up for all the havoc she created in my belly and she's been even more laid back than her brother was.  She rarely cries and has a very gentle spirit.  She's had a bit of trouble latching to nurse, but we're getting the job done because she only lost a single ounce in the hospital!  She's also having a bit of trouble with reflux, but hopefully we'll figure out a remedy for that tomorrow at her first Ped check-up with Dr. Laughlin.  She's a very healthy baby though, and we are extremely blessed.

Grayson is doing pretty well with the situation so far.  At first, he wanted nothing to do with her... wouldn't even go over to Brandon when he was holding her.  Within a couple of hours though, he was blowing her kisses and waving hello and loves touching her hair (so do I!).  He has his moments now, but mostly he has been the same boy as before she arrived.  Every now and then he'll just come over and look at her for a while and just smile at you.  He can already say her name too, and it's SOOOOO cute to hear him say it! 

My best friend, Alyssa, was able to be at the hospital with us throughout the delivery and everything because our dear friend, Molly came up from KY to watch Grayson for us.  As excited as we were/are to have a baby girl in our lives, we will always be reminded of Alyssa's sweet baby girl Morgan that we lost in the spring.  Our girls were destined to be best friends, and instead Lilah's bestie Morgan is in Heaven waiting for us.  What a bittersweet birth it was for all of us.  Brandon and I both agreed that that was the hardest thing about the whole delivery (even worse than the horrendous back labor I endured).  I am so thankful for Alyssa's friendship and for God giving her enough peace to endure labor with me and be happy for us.  I know it wasn't easy, but I am eternally grateful to her for being there with me. 

Well, both of our babies are already in bed, so I'm going to enjoy my freedom for a little bit and then head to bed.  Sorry for the delay in posting..  Hopefully I'll get time to post some pics of our sweet girl soon.  Until then, check my facebook page for a couple!

Monday, May 23, 2011

tornadoes and sentences

So on our way home from Kentucky last night, my Sister left me a message about the tornadoes in Joplin...  Since I lived in Joplin for almost 6 years, my heart immediately broke and I was full of terror that my loved ones were hurt or worse.  I couldn't get a hold of anyone, so Brandon and I started watching CNN and The Weather Channel.  I could hardly breathe as I looked at the devastation.  How could I not even recognize the place I lived?!?!  Utter devastation.  And fear.  Finally I got in contact with another great friend from college and she confirmed that most everyone we knew/were friends with was okay, but most of their homes are not.  Her Grandparents (whom we all affectionately referred to as "Nan & Pop") and her Mom all live about a mile from the Walmart that was destroyed and was in the direct path of the tornado, so I was immediately fearful for them.  She said that Nan had called her Mom shortly before the tornado hit and convinced her to come over to their house, about 2 blocks down the road.  Thank you Lord for that--Cassie's Mom's home is totally destroyed, but Nan & Pop's was spared.  They have some damage, but are able to stay in the house for now.  Other friends have extensive damage and some have almost none, but so far, we believe that no one we know is on 'the list'.  We will continue to pray for that conclusion, and for the families that weren't so lucky. 

All day, I've just felt kind of depressed and anxious watching the news, so I stopped watching it for fear I'd make my contractions worse.  I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a couple of weeks now (I'm 30 weeks along today) and I'm having a lot of them.  I don't remember having this many with Grayson, so please pray that I don't go into preterm labor with Jelly Bean.  I want him or her to bake until at least 38-40 weeks if at all possible.  Grayson came at 38 weeks on the dot, and he was a little guy at 6 lbs 2 oz, so I'd LOVE for this baby to at least hit the 7 lb mark. 

Speaking of Grayson--he said his second sentence today!  His first sentence was "I don't know" and he holds his little hands out just like an adult!  It's the cutest thing when you ask him something and he responds "I no no?!"  His sentence today was "I poo-pood!"  lol  And he was right.  FOUR times today.  I guess he's just getting caught up from the weekend.  He also slept 13 hours straight last night and had a 3.5 hour nap today... not that I'm complaining!  I guess meeting Cheryl's baby Grace, me having 2 photo shoots, going to a wedding and reception, going to church, out to lunch and seeing Brandon's family (all between Friday and last night) really wore him out!  Us too, by the way!

So, we're off to bed.  Good night everyone.  May God bless and protect you all.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

feeling better

Grayson's fever broke Monday morning during his nap thankfully, and he recovered pretty quickly after that.  He was cranky for the rest of the week, but we did manage to get a few things done.  Grayson also had another "first" this week:

Wednesday, May 11 he got his first scraped knee!  We went for a walk that evening and he wanted to 'yalk' (walk) and he got going a little quick and fell on the sidewalk.  

He's enjoying all of his Easter gifts, especially his new bubble mower from Grandma:

Here he is helping Dad mow last night!  It was about the most adorable thing I'd ever seen.  I got a new phone this week since my old phone was dropping a lot of calls and messing up a lot.  And, I was eligible for a cheap upgrade, so Brandon got me a new one for Mother's Day.  It takes great pics, which I am really excited about!  The above pics are from the new phone and it's super easy to upload them, so you all can look forward to more pics in the future!  
Last night while Daddy was finishing mowing, Grayson and I went to the mall for some Mommy & Me time.  On our way home, I snapped these pics of Grayson.  He was totally fascinated by the beautiful moon last night:

Cutest. Boy. Ever.  Love him.  :o)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

not such a good end...

Well, the weekend started off pretty great.  Yesterday we went to Indy and ordered Grayson's new dresser (his is being carted to the baby's room soon) and went out to eat at Famous Dave's.  Grayson was an angel the whole time and even tolerated us going to Babies' R Us and sort of registering for Jelly Bean.  (We don't plan to have a shower or anything, but we get a big discount on anything 'left' on the registry before the baby comes, so we're taking advantage of that and 'registering' for some things we'll need for Grayson and the Jelly Bean).  He napped the whole way home, so we went to The WonderLab Museum when we got home since it was still early.  Grayson had a blast playing for a couple of hours--I figured he deserved some fun after the morning of shopping. 

This morning we got up and Brandon made me breakfast.  He had also got me a very sweet card and a big flower helium balloon.  He opted for the balloon because he knows how much Grayson loves them and wanted me to be able to enjoy watching him play with it.  It worked.  Grayson LOVES balloons!  He was so cute running around with it.

We then went to church and all seemed fine.  Unfortunately, when Grayson woke up from his nap, he had a 103.5 temperature and was burning up.  He refused to eat or drink and just wanted to be held all afternoon.  I gave him some Tylenol, which brought the fever down all of 1 degree, and just let him lay on me.  We called the pediatrician, but they said unless his fever reaches 104.5 or he has it for 3 days, they don't need to see him.  :-/  Ya, that sounds crazy to me too.  We decided we'd re-evaluate in the morning because I'm a little afraid he has an ear infection since he's super sensitive on the left side and won't even let me take his temp on that side.  Hopefully I'm wrong.

On a lighter note, Jelly Bean got the hiccups last night around 3 a.m.  It's the first time I've felt them this time around!  :o)

Monday, April 25, 2011

How Great Thou Art

Wow, what an amazing Easter it was this year.  More than ever, I've been reminded of how much my Savior, my Creator, loves me.  My, how I have been blessed!  As we sat in the service yesterday morning listening to Tom tell us about what my Savior endured in order to set me free, I got chills.  Sure, I've heard the story and I've seen "The Passion of the Christ", so I know the devastation that the floggings and the crucifixion brought to Christ's body...  But this time, I heard it as a Mother.  *gulp*  I can't imagine, do not want to imagine the anguish that Mary felt watching her Son being beaten to within an inch of His life, only to then be drug through the streets and finally to watch him have spikes driven through his wrists and a crown of thorns shoved onto his head.  These were not the thorns from your Mama's rosebush either.  Historians tell us that they were several inches long.  To imagine how God felt as He watched His Son suffer and die...  knowing that he couldn't stop it...  how utterly helpless he must have felt.

I cringe when Grayson gets the tiniest bruise or scrape and just want to calm him down and dry every little tear that he cries.  It makes me physically hurt when he's in pain.  Every bit of my being just wants to take it from him.  Oh, the love I have for him.  I imagine how it would feel to be Mary, remembering the tiny kicks in her belly as she carried Christ in her womb... I remember how it feels because I am there once again with our tiny Jelly Bean kicking ferociously every time Grayson squishes him/her.  I know the love that you feel for your child before you even get to hold him in your arms...  and how great that love grows as you hold them more and more.  For 33 years Mary got to hold her Son and yet she was unable to save Him in the end.  I saw a whole new side of Mary during our service yesterday, and she was not even really mentioned.  I guess I just really stepped into her shoes while listening to the horrors of Christ's death due to the situation I am in.

I quickly realized how blessed we are that Grayson has not had any serious illness or injury so far.  We have not spent unexpected nights in the hospital, and certainly have not felt the horror of losing a child firsthand.  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you for taking those nails, and accepting those thorns.  Thank you for rescuing me AND my family!  Thank you for protecting us and sending Your Angels to watch over us.  Thank you for my amazing husband, my wonderful son, and this incredible little Jelly Bean kicking me while I type.  Please help us to remember, not just on Easter but every day, How Great Thou Art.

[If you haven't seen this, it is a must-see!]

Monday, April 18, 2011

You Never Let Go

You Never Let Go--Matt Redman

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back, I know You are near
And I will fear no evil, For my God is with me
And if my God is with me, Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go, Lord, You never let go of me
And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles, but until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth
Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles but until that day comes 
 Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

So I have to make a confession.  Last week at church, in the aftermath of Alyssa losing sweet Morgan, I admit that I had a really hard time praising God.  Singing the Hallelujah's and telling God how great He is was really hard for me because I, well, I was angry at God.  I didn't understand (and still don't) why He would allow this to happen at all, much less a second time to the same Mommy.  Doesn't He know that we need to have a baby in our arms?  I sang numbly through the service, crying for that sweet baby girl that was in Jesus' arms instead of in Alyssa's belly.  

This week at church, we sang several songs, but Matt Redman's "You Never Let Go" stood out to me.  We are certainly walking through the valley in the shadows of death...  and not just any death...  the death of a sweet, innocent baby.  We are caught in the middle of a storm that Satan has conjured up and we are broken.  Broken-hearted, broken-minded, broken-bodied, and broken-spirited.  Last week, I caught myself wondering where God was in all of this.  I feel so afraid...  obviously for Alyssa and Brian, but also for our own little Jelly Bean.  The kicks that I feel now no longer bring displeasure, but security.  But at the same time, I don't want him/her to be too crazy in there, lest Jelly Bean might tie him/herself up like poor Morgan did.  Alyssa and I both have wondered about God's design of the umbilical cord... I know He makes everything 'perfect', but why is it so long?!  We babyproof our entire house, yet we can't babyproof our womb from that crazy long cord?!  It just doesn't make sense.  

This week while I was editing photos, I came across a verse that really stuck with me.  I really feel like it was almost a message coming through Morgan from God:

"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid."  John 14:27 (NLT)

God is here.  God was there with Alyssa through the silence of the doppler.  God was there during her delivery, and He was there to carry sweet Morgan Home.  He is still here now, and He is sorrowful too.  He knew this was going to happen, but He didn't make it happen.  Satan made it happen.  God brought life into this world--Satan brought destruction and death.  God made everything perfect, especially sweet Morgan.  I should know... I photographed every inch of her tiny body.  She had beautiful, long perfect fingers and she already had long, skinny feet, just like her Momma.  I thought she looked just like her big brother, Carter.  God made her.  Satan took her from us, but God ushered her Home.  God left us His peace and the truth that He will come back for us too, in His perfect timing.  We don't have to be afraid.  Even through the suffering, we must hold fast to the Glorious Light that is coming.  

For this, I can sing praise to my King who has redeemed me.  Even through my pain and sorrow, I hold tightly to my Savior, the One who rocks Morgan to sleep at night and comforts the weary...  because He never lets go.   

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy 1 Week Birthday, Morgan

One word can't sum it up.  A few that come to mind:  unspeakable, tragedy, horror, dismay, utter disbelief, shock.  A few more:  devastation, incomprehensible, heart-wrenching.  Broken.
Thursday, April 7 will be a day I will remember forever.  It is the day that the heart inside my best friend's belly ceased to beat any longer...  and the day that both of our hearts broke.

Alyssa texted me that her midwife couldn't find a heartbeat during her regular 16-wk appointment and I just began to pray that it was a fluke...  surely everything was fine...  God couldn't let this happen to her again.  Not another baby.  He just can't.  It's not fair.  We're pregnant together... doesn't He understand that?!  Our babies are going to be best friends, just like Carter and Grayson!!!  Unfortunately, Jesus was already cradling baby Morgan and the silent doppler turned into a silent ultrasound too...  Morgan looked perfect and cozy, but she had already grown her wings.

Alyssa asked if I would mind doing some photos of Morgan when she was born since I am a photographer and already volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit infant bereavement photography organization.  Just the week before, Alyssa helped me get through my first session with a 34-week baby boy...  neither of us could imagine that what God was preparing us for.  Of course I agreed to do it, but as I did, I wept in the floor of my kitchen...  I was supposed to be doing her maternity photos this summer, not taking pictures of the baby already!!!!  Gone were our dreams of our babies playing together; gone were my dreams of taking their photos together.  It just didn't seem real.

Baby Morgan was born Friday, April 8 at 9:48 a.m.  and I got to the hospital about 11 after taking Grayson to Kelly's house (God bless her).  It was all I could do to not just sit and weep for that beautiful baby...  Alyssa was being so strong as we sat there.  I couldn't believe it.  I think I would have been a complete mess, and she was the only reason I wasn't.  I was absolutely devastated, and I'm positive she was too.  I met little Morgan, as she lay on a blanket in her Daddy's lap.  Almost immediately I noticed the tiny knot in her umbilical cord that resulted in her Heavenly home.  I like to dream about her being a crazy little girl with a lot of energy, just like she was in her Mommy's belly.  I'm sure she's keeping the angels on their toes!  :o)

Now, as we sit in the aftermath of such a personal tragedy, I want Alyssa to know that I'm going to be the same friend that I've always been to her.  I still want to see her, to watch our boys laugh and play together, and most importantly, to talk to her.  I know my continued pregnancy is going to be difficult for us both, as our Jelly Bean is a constant reminder of our friend Morgan that we never got to know.  I want her to know that she should always tell me when she's feeling sad and when she doesn't feel like doing something we normally would.  I want her to know that she can always talk to me (or just cry) about Morgan and about how lost she feels without that baby in her arms...  I want her to know that she's still the first person I want to tell when Jelly Bean does something crazy, but if I don't, it's just because I don't want to make her sad(der).  I also want her to know that no matter what, I will always be here and we will face whatever Satan throws at us together.  Because that's what best friends do.

And, to baby Morgan...  I can't wait to meet you up in Heaven!  I'm sure that you'll be ready to give us a tour and show us all of the wonderful things when we get there.  You were so crazy in your Mommy's belly that you just couldn't stay in there long enough, so I'm sure you're staying plenty busy up there.  I want you to know that I'll help take care of your Mommy because I know that she's really sad that she didn't get to raise you.  I'm really happy that you've already got to meet Jesus and that He'll take better care of you than we ever could.  I know He also loves you and is sad that He had to meet you so soon too.  I want you to know how happy your Mommy was when she found out about you and how happy I was too.  I was really looking forward to you playing with our little Jelly Bean and I hope that you'll watch over him or her while he's/she's still in my belly.  I know they will never replace you, but if there comes a time that your Mommy has another baby in her belly, I want you to take special care of that baby and make sure God makes him or her perfect, okay?   I know that you can do that because you are a special girl...  I want you to remind Mommy how much you loved her too and how you appreciated what good care she took of you while you were in her belly.  She did everything she could to help you become a strong, healthy baby and you were!  You had long, beautiful feet and hands and you were perfect.  Until we meet again...

all my love,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Big Boy Bed!!!

Wow, so my 19-month-old is growing up... preparing to be a big brother, I guess.  This weekend, albeit with some hesitation, we decided to put the toddler bed rail on Grayson's crib to begin his transition to a real toddler bed this summer.  We'll be needing his crib for Jelly Bean, so we decided that it would be best to start early and give him time to transition, just in case.  Well, he has passed so far with flying colors!!! 

Turns out our Angelcare Motion Monitor is dual purpose--it tells us if he stops breathing in the middle of the night (yes, I am super-paranoid of SIDS, since I know TWO families that have lost their 18-month-olds to it!) AND it tells us when he gets out of bed now!  He very quickly figured out how to get in and out of the bed... that was easy-peasy for him!  Saturday night (his first night in the new bed), he had a bit of trouble going to sleep and got up twice.  But, as soon as he got tired enough, he laid down and went right to sleep!  He only got up once at 1:30 and then slept until morning!  Last night was even better, despite the massive storms we had all night.  He woke up a few times, but stayed in his bed like a good boy!  He woke up about 7:45 for the day. 

The day has ended with our OB appointment for Jelly Bean.  I have to go finish dinner, but let's suffice to say that it was an AWESOME appointment!  I'll post more later...  (pics too!).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Say hello to...

our healthy little Jelly Bean!

Yup, that's a foot and you can even see the metatarsals--isn't that cool?!
Waving hello!  (I just noticed it looks like there's too many fingers! Hope there's only 5!! lol... oh, and that's the cord sticking out, I already asked!)
My placenta is right by the baby's face, so we didn't get any good pics this time--this was the best she could do)
Jelly bean was shaking his/her fist at us!
This one is harder to make out, but the big round blob on the right side is the face!  Jelly Bean turned to look at the wand.  The two smaller black holes are the eye orbits and you can see the nose too.

So, yes, our ultrasound went great!  The sonographer even said that the baby has 'a beautiful heart' which made me feel a lot better!  It seems like there's so many birth defects out there, and I was certainly relieved that they didn't find any with our Jelly Bean.  Our Quad Screen (genetic test for Trisomy 21-Downs' Syndrome, neural tube defects such as spina bifida or anencephaly, Trisomy 18-Edwards Syndrome or another type of chromosome abnormality) also came back perfect!  God is growing us a beautiful, healthy baby!

However, this baby is already proving a little stubborn... the poor sonographer worked for about 40 minutes trying to get Jelly Bean to roll over so she could get a better picture of the spinal column!  She got pictures of everything else she needed and we could see the cord, but not clearly enough for a picture.  The baby was also stretched out like he/she was laying in a hammock--complete with an arm behind the head, legs fully stretched out and little feet crossed at the ankles!  The head/face were right up by my placenta, so she couldn't get very good profile or face pictures either, which was disappointing.  The good news is that we get to have another ultrasound at our 23 week appointment (in FOUR weeks!) to see if she can get it then!  I'm just excited to get to see Jelly Bean again!  Hopefully this time he/she will be in a more cooperative mood!

As indicated by the constant 'he/she' above, we elected not to find out Jelly Bean's gender.  We just looked away when she had to examine those regions.  I know Brandon probably wants to know, but he's playing along with me wanting it to be a surprise--what a great husband I am blessed with!  I think having a surprise at the end will be fun!  And, if we found out it was a girl, I'd REALLY have a hard time not spending money.  Alyssa and my Mom both think it's another boy anyway, but I guess we'll wait and see what God has in store for us!  We'll be happy either way!

Thanks for listening everyone... good night!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why we cloth diaper.

Brandon and I have been cloth diapering Grayson for almost his entire life.  We started pretty much as soon as his cord fell off and his circumcision healed.  Still, that left us about a month that we had to use disposables.  This time around, I decided that I wanted to use cloth as soon as we leave the hospital (being at the hospital without Grayson is going to be hard enough, so I figure we'll just use the hospital's diapers for a day.  That, and those first couple of poo's are disgusting!).  We have many reasons that we cloth diaper, but the biggest are definitely the cost-savings and the health benefits.

Now, I should mention that Brandon and I had actually read Dave Ramsey's book "Total Money Makeover" before we had Grayson.  We used his plan and paid off all of our student loans and both cars.  We were debt free except for the house!  Then, we fell off the wagon and bought our Honda Pilot when we found out we were expecting.  Our reasoning at the time was that we had a need for a bigger vehicle as we both had 2-door cars.  However, we didn't realize that the "Honda Pilot" part was a want.  In any case, even though Dave would have said 'no', I still LOVE our Pilot.  It's the safest SUV on the road in its class and it holds all of the crud a baby 'needs'!  haha  It drives great and I'll be driving it until it falls apart.  Now, it's our only debt aside from the house. 

When I first mentioned the idea of cloth diapering to Brandon, he was skeptical, as are most people.  But, the thing I love about my husband is that he didn't immediately shut me down.  He listened to my research and agreed to keep an open mind about it.  I read dozens of articles about the cost savings.  Me, being the research-enthusiast that I am, actually sat down and did a cost-breakdown of what our savings would be if we went through with it.  I even included cost estimates for the extra laundry and electricity/water consumption!  [Yes, some people might call this 'anal', but I call it 'detailed'  :o) ]  After Brandon saw my spreadsheet and the fact that it would save us over $2000 just to cloth diaper Grayson, he agreed that we should give it a whirl.  So, out came the squeaky wallet and we began our initial investment.  (As a side note, I was able to sell all of Grayson's 'initial investment' diapers for more than I paid for them after he outgrew them!). 

The other reason we cloth diaper arose from the massively accumulating data about all the hazardous chemicals in disposable diapers and its endocrine-disrupting abilities.   They even release VOC's!!!  You don't paint their room with them, yet you put them on their bottoms?!  If you do a Google search on disposables, you'll be amazed at what's out there.  I just knew that I wanted to do what was best for my son, regardless of the fact I might get a little dirty.  Now, I will be the first to tell you that I'm not perfect when it comes to environmental toxins, but I do pay attention and buy organic whenever possible.  Sometimes it's just not in the budget; other times we make room for it.  We're just trying to do what we think is best.  We do still use disposables occasionally, but we use the 7th Generation ones with fewer chemicals. 

The other reasons we cloth diaper have arisen after we started cloth diapering.  We found that our cloth diapers held in Grayson's explosive poo's much better (as in, we've never had a blowout in a cloth diaper).  Brandon became a lot more 'into' the cloth diapers when Grayson had a blowout in a disposable IN THE CARSEAT when he was on duty!  Talk about a mess!!!  I firmly think that that moment he was thinking "WHY didn't I listen to Lisa and put him in cloth!!"  A woman can always dream, right?!  At this point in our lives, Brandon would much rather put Grayson in cloth than a disposable.  He's found out through experience that it isn't as hard as everyone makes you think.

We also don't have hardly any diaper rash now that we use cloth almost exclusively.  Yes, we have had it a couple of times due to detergent and hard-water build-up in our diapers, but that cleared up as soon as I washed the diapers a bit more thoroughly.  The only other time we've had it with cloth was when Grayson ate too many peaches...  and that'll get just about anyone!  ;o)  When he was in disposables, it seemed like his bottom was constantly red. Our cloth diapers, even after he's slept 12 hours in one, feel dry next to his skin when I go to change him.  That is amazing to me, especially considering the diaper *thuds* to the floor after that long!  They really do a great job of wicking the moisture away.

The final reason I cloth diaper probably has no impact on Brandon...  but to other Mamas out there, you'll agree!  Grayson's bum is SOOO cute in cloth diapers!!  There's just no comparison to ugly disposables.  Cloth diapers come in such an array of colors and prints, it's hard to not become 'addicted'!  Now, I buy, sell and trade cloth diapers (without spending any extra money from our budget) all of the time.  We have quite the stash of adorable-ness to cover his bottom and keep him dry...

Because that's all we Mamas really want right?  A cute, dry, healthy booty!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mama's Favorite Fifteen Things

So, with this impending bundle of joy on the way, I figured it is high-time I finally posted my list of favorite things.  I began compiling the list in my head soon after Grayson was born...  these are the things that are 'must-haves' in my mind.  Without them, life would still be lived, albeit not quite as smoothly and a little more sleep deprived.  Many of my friends are also expecting or adopting their first children now, so I figured this might help them out a little too!  So, in no particular order....

1.  Angelcare Baby Movement and Sound Monitor  I take it back.  If I could buy only ONE item for my baby, THIS would be it.  I know a lot of people love the new technology with the little TV video monitors, but I personally don't want to sit up all night watching to see if my baby is breathing.  This monitor has a pad that goes under the crib mattress and detects any small movement in the crib (such as breaths).  If it detects nothing for 20 seconds, it sounds an alarm like a fire alarm!  (Believe-you-me, it's enough to almost make you wet your bed!!!)  SIDS is one my biggest fears--and rightfully so.  About 2,500 babies die of SIDS in the U.S. alone each year.  This monitor may or may not save your child's life, but it does allow me to sleep at night knowing that I'm doing all that I can to prevent it.  Additionally, this monitor has a sound sensor, a room temperature sensor and a nightlight.  I LOVE IT.  (fyi--we are buying another one for the new baby and letting Grayson keep sleeping with his... that's how much I trust it with my child's life!)

2. Dr. Harvey Karp & The Happiest Baby on the Block Series  I credit this man with giving Brandon and I a most precious gift--being able to soothe our son effectively and quickly!  We received the DVD for free from our insurance company and after watching it, I immediately went out and bought the book.  We both read it and learned the invaluable 5 S's that Dr. Karp teaches so eloquently...  Swaddle, Side, Suck, Shush, & Swing.  We learned these with such vigor that our nurses in the hospital thought we had several other children--Grayson was the quietest, calmest baby on the floor!  I don't tell you this to brag, but rather to let you know that even first time parents can calm your baby within minutes of that first cry!  Grayson didn't have any special temperament--he still cried--but we were able to calm him using Dr. Karp's methods.  And once we discovered my next favorite, our lives got even easier!  And, we are getting ready to pick up "Happiest Toddler on the Block" and see what wonders it has in store for Grayson's new toddler behavior!  ;o)

3.  The Miracle Blanket  Yes, when you put your baby in it, it looks a little like a straight jacket, but it was the only thing that helped Grayson nap by himself and sleep through the night!  We tried soooo many things and absolutely nothing worked... every day I ended up holding him through his naps.  That won't be an option for baby #2, so hopefully our blanket works miracles again!  There are lots of different swaddling blankets out there, and we just used simple receiving blankets for a long time.  I've heard wonderful things about the Halo Sleepsacks too, but our boy was such a little Houdini, that by 6 months, he could basically get out of anything!!!  We let him try sleeping without being swaddled for about a week, and after none of us getting any rest, we bought this blanket.  Thank you my sweet, Lord Jesus!  It worked!  We swaddled him with this blanket until he was too long for it (around 10 months) and by then he adjusted to sleeping without it just fine. 

4.  A Good Camera  Yes, I am a photographer, so I am a big fan of photos!  Take them all the time--you don't want to forget anything!  Babies grow and change soooo quickly!  I'm a big Nikon fan, but I'd be happy to help anyone with questions about any type/brand of camera.  I personally shoot with a Nikon dSLR, but I know of many point-and-shoots that are really reliable and easy to use.  Buying a dSLR will not automatically provide you with great photos of your baby... it takes a LOT of time and patience to learn how to use it first.

5.  A Good Video Camera  We have a Flip video camcorder and it fits in my purse/pocket.  It's so handy and we use it all of the time.  Kids do the funniest things and I like to be ready!  Since Daddy is away for work during the day, I like to capture Grayson's special moments on video so he can watch them when he gets home.  I love sharing the joy!

6.  Amazon Mom  What Mama doesn't love a fantastic deal?!  Amazon's "Mom" program offers 30% off AND free shipping on diapers, and lots of discounts on other babycare needs.  We use disposable diapers for church, and this is the cheapest I've found them.

7.  Mortimer the Moose  Yes, this looks about as ridiculous as it sounds, but Grayson LOVES Mortimer!  Even to this day, he still plays with him.  When he was a baby, he would play with it for minutes on end.  (which is about as long as a newborn's attention span goes!!)  Every baby is different, but I've never known a baby who didn't LOVE squeekers and rattles, and Mortimer is not short on either!  He's also a great teething toy.  A dear friend bought Morty for Grayson right after we conceived, and I'm sure she had no idea that he was going to be Gray's favorite, but we're so happy she cared!  What a fantastic gift!

8.  Medela Pump-in-Style  I can't believe it took me this long to remember this Godsend!!!  I wanted to nurse Grayson for the health benefits to both of us, but also because most estimates say that I could save our family between $1500 and $2000 by doing so, not counting the cost of bottles and the like.  Since we had decided that I would stay home with him, that was essentially like me making $2000 that year.  I really looked forward to nursing and hoped that we'd catch on quickly and that the process would go smoothly.  (Doesn't everyone hope that?!)  Thankfully for us, the ride was mostly smooth.  This pump tremendously helped.  I know lots of books that say if you're going to stay at home with your child, you don't need this.  They are wrong.  I personally wasn't super comfortable nursing in public--this pump allowed us to go out to eat with our newborn and feed him without having to show my 'bee-boos' to everyone.  I was also able to increase my supply and allow my dear husband the wonder of feeding his son.  What Mother doesn't want her husband to bond with their baby?!  Sure, you can buy cheaper pumps, but this pump is well worth the money.  I'll be using ours this time around as well.  Oh, and contrary to popular belief, you can (and should) buy one used.  The mechanics are the expensive part of the pump--find one on Craigslist and either sterilize the accessories (the horns, tubing, etc) with a bottle sterilizer OR go buy new accessories at BRUs or the like.  They'll only run you about $40.  I just looked on eBay (where I bought mine brand new for $150!) and you can get a used one for about $75.  Factor in the cost of new accessories and you're still saving about $135 off of the $250 sticker price!!

 [Just a side-note:  I was able to nurse Grayson for the first whole year, which is recommended by the AAP and he didn't have even one ear infection or major illness and is a really healthy toddler.  I can't say this is solely due to nursing him, but I'm sure it helped and it made me feel like a rockstar!  Additionally, I even got the ever-feared mastitis one time when he was about 7 months old--I felt like death for 2 days, but I survived and continued to nurse.  If you are determined to do it, most any Mom can.  Ask questions & accept help from a lactation consultant if you need it--they are amazing!!]

9.  Itzbeen Baby Care Timer  I registered for this because I had heard wonderful things about it.  I'm so glad that we actually received it!  In those first few sleep-deprived months, I barely knew what day it was, much less what time it was!  I seriously couldn't even do simple math!  This little gem helped me keep track of diaper changes, naps, feeds, the works!  We mostly fed on demand and let Gray sleep when he wanted to right at first, but when we started trying to get him on a better schedule, this little timer helped tremendously.  It's easy to use and it clips to your pants so you can't lose it.  It was my brain for the first few months!

10.  Mustela Stelatopia Baby Products  When Grayson was born, he, like 20% of other babies, developed eczema.  Fortunately, his was pretty mild, but it still needed treatment.  He would get red, raised rashes on his forehead (we called them his 'horns'! haha) and his skin in general was very sensitive.  We had to use All Free & Clear on all of our laundry because anything else would make his skin break out (even Dreft!!!).  When others would hold him up next to their clothing, he would break out... it was heartbreaking to watch him suffer when all they wanted to do was hold him.  We tried LOTS of different creams and soaps and nothing helped.  Finally, we were referred to the Mustela Stelatopia products by another Mama.  Praise Jesus!  The Milky Bath Oil and the Moisturizing Cream cleared him right up!!  We also used the Cream Cleanser and the Hydra-Stick.  He has since grown out of the sensitivities by the grace of God, but now his skin is getting dry from the winter, so we've started using it again.  It really helps.  I use the Hydra-Stick on his cheeks, chin and lips to keep them from chapping (the kid produces LOTS of drool!).

11.  Boppy  I think most people know what a Boppy Pillow is now, but just in case, there's a link to a cute one I found.  This pillow saved my arms while I was nursing Grayson.  He would even nap in it occasionally sitting next to me on the couch.  Later, I used it for tummy time and when he was learning to sit up, I used it to prop him up.  Now I use it as a photography prop to pose babies!  :o)  Soon, it will revert back to its original position. 

12.  Vibrating Bouncy Seat  We didn't have this particular one (we actually had 2 different ones, one that was too big for him when he was born and another newborn one that a friend gave us).  Grayson HATED the swing with a passion.  He would scream and cry EVERY time you put him in it.  So, we didn't use that much.  ;o)  But, he loved his bouncy seats and would sit in them happily while I ate or cleaned.  LIFESAVER.

13.  Fan  We got a little blue fan for Grayson's room pretty similar to this one from WalMart for about $15.  It has 2 speeds, oscillates and most importantly, it makes a nice, gentle whirring sound that puts him to sleep and helps him stay asleep!  Many SIDS experts also recommend a fan for baby's rooms to help circulate the air...  look at that!  2 birds with 1 stone!

14.  A Good Rocking Chair/Glider  Our Shermag glider probably has my butt imprinted in the cushion, I've spent so much time there!!!  What a wonderful blessing to give a new Mama--a comfortable, cozy rocker!!  As previously mentioned, Grayson refused to nap without being held as a newborn.  So, I set up my 'command station' before I sat down in the glider with him.  I had a little table complete with snacks, water, my phone, the remote and the laptop right next to our glider (which was moved to the living room).  I would lay Grayson on the Boppy in my lap and he and I could both snooze in that wonderful glider.  I don't think I will ever be able to get rid of it!  Grayson still loves to be rocked in that glider.  It's sturdy and dependable to rock him to sleep!

15.  Last, but certainly not least, Cloth diapers.  No, I'm not talking about safety pins and plastic pants.  I buy ours from these fine retailers:  Diaper Junction, The Nappy Shoppe, The Green Nursery/Barefoot (they own a store in Bloomington!), and Cottonbabies.  I've also bought lots of our diapers gently used on  Check out the cuteness and the convenience of them, and your curiosity will be piqued... I promise!

Going back to me staying at home, using cloth diapers, on average, saves a family over $2000 when diapering one child.  Since we will be using Grayson's diapers on this next baby as well, my 'stay-at-home-salary' will go up even more this time around!  Close your gaping mouth--no it's not as gross as everyone makes it out to be and, no, I don't love playing with poo!  There are many, many benefits to cloth diapering in addition to the cost...  it's better for your baby's bottom (because there are SOOO many chemicals in disposables, including VOC's...  we don't paint our baby rooms with it, yet we put them on their bottoms?!?!), and it's better for the environment.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not really too much of a 'tree-hugger', but I like to do what I can for the environment that my baby will grow up in.  The biggest factor for us was the cost savings...  but just slightly behind for me was the cute bum Grayson has when he wears them!  Check out the cute colors and prints one of our favorite brands offers!!  We even have a cow-print one

Yes, my husband was a little harder to convince.  But, once Grayson had a blowout (in a disposable) ALL OVER THE CARSEAT when Daddy was on duty, he became a pretty quick believer!  We have NEVER had a blowout in a cloth diaper.  Yes, he has out-peed a few when he needed to be a size up, or we were having hard-water issues, but never poop.  And, the only time he's ever had diaper rash was either from a disposable or from him eating peaches (he seems to be allergic to one type).  Now, Brandon actually prefers to put a cloth diaper on Grayson!!!  Take that nay-sayers!!!

Well, I think I'm spent.  And, Grayson's up from his nap, so it's lunch time!  Feel free to tell me what you think of my suggestions and add any that you love!!  I'm sure I'm forgetting something!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

*melt my heart*

This morning Grayson was eating his breakfast and when he was all done I exclaimed "Great job!!!  What a big boy!  You ate all of your breakfast!!" to which he sweetly responded "Mama... Thank you!" which came out more like "Mama... Taint-tu!" 

Could this child get any sweeter?  I love him and his wet kisses!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Flu all around!

Wow, so this has been a hard couple of days.  Grayson woke up sick about 3 a.m. Friday morning and threw up all over me (which is not a nice thing to do to a pregnant woman who's sense of smell makes her puke on a daily basis already!).  Thankfully, Brandon helped me get him cleaned up and put back to bed.  He had a temperature, but we couldn't find the thermometer, so we don't know exactly how high.  We all finally got back to bed and slept a couple more hours.  Brandon went to work, and I woke to Grayson in a happy, cheerful mood and no fever, at least that I could feel.  Bizarre, but I thought, hey, maybe we got lucky!

Wrong.  When he woke from his nap, he was very congested and his temperature had shot back up to 102 (I located the thermometer during his nap).  I still wasn't sure what to think, because he was playing pretty much normally, with a few extra cuddles here and there.  I pretty much narrowed it down to the molar that he's cutting and just treated the symptoms--Tylenol, Ibuprofen and watered-down juice.  Late Friday afternoon, he puked again and continued to Friday night, so Saturday morning we called Dr. L.

Dr. L thinks he has the flu--he said that he's seen a lot of it lately, even in kids that have been vaccinated, like Grayson has.  He gave us marching orders for the vaporizer, Vicks Vapo Rub (we put it on his feet and cover them with socks so he doesn't ingest it or get it in his eyes), and watered-down Gatorade to replenish electrolytes ("Pediasure is just expensive, watered-down Gatorade" Dr. L explained). 

So, we stuck with those ideas and Grayson slept through the night last night and seemed better... until his first nap today.  He was refusing to go to sleep and just screamed for a long time...  then, he puked.  Everywhere.  Bless Brandon's heart, he just shut the door and told me to start a bath because he knew I'd puke too if I went in there.  My sense of smell is RIDICULOUS right now and pretty much any strong scent makes me sick.  I gave Grayson a bath while Brandon cleaned up the aftermath.  He had to strip everything down to the mattress and even use vinegar on the mattress it stank so bad.  He had to clean the bed, the floor, the rocking chair...  it was massive puke-struction! 

After we left his room to air out, I started to put the laundry in--everything had to be washed, and we already had some from Friday that needed washing.  And that's when I started puking.  Yes, now he has given me the flu.  And yes, I've had a flu shot.  Something tells me they guessed the wrong strain this year. 

Not cool people, not cool.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It Snow Lie--He Can Do It!!

As a basketball player for more than 20 years, I couldn't be more proud!  If you listen close you can hear him say the word we learned today "baw" (ball).  He learned "buud" (bird) yesterday! 

He's also learned another trick as you can see!  Gotta make sure that stair gate is latched ALL the time now!!

And yes, it's snowing here again today...  it's no lie either.  boo.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

get out the dictionary!

Grayson's vocabulary has really exploded since Christmas and I just wanted to take a second to jot down his new words!

Dada, Mama, bay-bay (for baby), 'Yight' (for light), 'Itty' (for kitty), cat, nay (for horse), no, yes, ho ho ho (if you ask him what Santa says), vroom vroom, tan-tu (thank you), "shish" (for Goldfish)....  that's all I can think of right now, but it seems like he's adding at least 2 or 3 every week now.

My favorite thing is that if I ask him for a kiss, he'll come give me one and then say "tan-tu" back to me when I say thank you!  He doesn't do it for anyone else though, so Momma feels special!!  :o)

I'll try to get some pictures posted, but running around after him keeps me busy!  I just feel tired all the time!!