Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Little Family of Three

Thought I would just take some time this morning to give an update of our lives right now (when T.J. is sleeping, I take advantage of it!).  Warning: This post will be full of "mommy bragginess", so if you don't want to have to hear all of that, please exit stage left.

T.J. is at such a cute stage right now.  He is talking up a storm, mimicking everything we say, pulling up like crazy, moving along furniture to get to things, still crawling like it is going out of style, and standing on his own for a few seconds at a time.  Will he be walking by his first birthday?  Who knows!  I believe I walked by my first birthday, but Travis was a later bloomer on that so T.J. could go either way.  The great thing is knowing that he is progressing beautifully and growing up well.  More than anything, T.J. is a social butterfly.  He waves on a visual cue or verbal cue ("bye-bye"), claps when told to and when he gets into the rhythm of the music, and occasionally will lift his hands in the air when we say, "Praise the Lord!"  =]  He smiles at people and sings with us and just generally brings joy to people all around him.  Everything about him is my "favorite", but I would like to point out a few that might bring a smile to your face:

1. He is obsessed with Travis.  Oh. my. goodness.  When Daddy walks through that door after work, I might as well be a dirty sock lying on the floor (...well... no, I take that back... he probably would be interested in a dirty sock- gross.).  He crawls over to Trav while he waits at the door.  But this isn't just any crawling- no no!!- he puts his head down so he achieves a better wind-stream as he plows toward the front door to get to his dad.  Daddy makes him laugh and smile, and... and... where is that noise coming from?  What is that higher pitch???  Who is here????  Ohhhh!  No worries, it was just the "keeper of the boobs" talking... IGNORE!

Don't worry, though.  I love every minute of being ignored when Daddy is home- I love to see their special bond.  =]

2. T.J. will now snuggle so hard!  Oh my goodness!  He will wrap his tiny arms around our necks and bury himself into us.  Of course, sometimes this involves biting.  But don't worry, after he has cried a few times, we realize we cannot bite him so hard.

Okay, okay, before you call child services, I will say that obviously he is the one biting- derrr.  We promptly stop him from that out of well... pain.

Just the other day "our song" came on Pandora- "You'll be in My Heart" by Phil Collins from Disney's Tarzan- and he just lit up and started kicking his legs.  Thus, I began dancing with him (as I often do- it is like a dance party up in here most of the time, FYI.  Yes, it is embarrassing... yes, I sense your judgement... stop... okay fine, just judge- it is kind of weird.).  When we started dancing, he just put his arms around my neck and squeezed tightly!  So. sweet.  My heart pretty much melted (which, if you consider, is actually terrifyingly gross sounding).

3. So you know how I said that T.J. will occasionally lift his hands when we say "Praise the Lord!"?  Why am I asking you?  You can't respond.

Anyway, so on Sunday, my mom, dad, and I all had him doing that throughout the day.  He got so used to it that it became second nature.  Well, at one point we were in the car and Mom was telling Lindsey about it.  T.J. was already asleep in his car seat by this point, but, I kid you not, when my mom told my sister about it on the phone and said, "We say, 'Praise the Lord!' and yadda yadda yadda...", T.J. (IN HIS SLEEP) raised his arms instantly!  I nearly died.  Too funny- we had the poor kid so trained that he literally could do it in his sleep.

All right, well I told you I would update you on "our lives", so I guess that involves Travis and me- the boring ones of the family.  I will make this short.  We are fine.

HA!  Just kidding!  I got more for ya!  We are doing very well.  Travis is still working at Morgan Stanley, and I am still a stay-at-home momma!  I just recently got back from Tennessee where I got to enjoy the lovely crisp, cool mountain air while helping my parents decorate for Christmas (and by helping them decorate, I mean keeping T.J. from eating the garland and wreaking havoc the whole time).  Travis is still singing in a barbershop quartet and chorus and has been performing in a few gigs recently.  It is so nice to know that he can still pursue his passion for singing despite being "grown up" and in the real world.  He sings beautifully, and I don't want that to go to waste!  =]  Although, as much as I love listening to him sing barbershop and Broadway songs, etc., I think the time his voice is most beautiful to me is when he is singing lullabies to our son.  Okay, okay, I know I am corny... blah blah... ::vom::, etc., but it is true!  And if you know Travis and me at all, you know that our whole life together has been extremely corny- theatrically corny.

Anywho, so things are going fine for us!  We still are a one car family as of now, and we are still living in a two bedroom condo as of now- both blessings from the Lord!  And we are still happy- a happy little family of three!  =] 

Erica J Grant Photography
--Update me, friend!  What is new with you and your family?  Please leave a comment giving me an update or just to tell me what you thought of this post!  It would be much appreciated!--

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Be Informed...

Whether you are religious or not, conservative or liberal, etc., etc., I think you would agree that part of what makes this country great is our rights- including the right to practice religion and run a company with that mindset.  And considering the fact that we are supposed to have a capitalistic economic model in this country (though we are leaning toward socialism more and more each day), this should work just fine to allow "the people" choose.  People can choose to not go to Chick-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby, or Forever 21 because of the Christian beliefs at the core of each of those companies.  If "the people" all choose to not shop there, the companies will go out of business.  However, if people do choose to shop at those companies, they will thrive- so be it.

I as a Christian may decide not to support a company that uses "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" because I feel that "Christ" should be kept in Christmas.  I may decide as a Christian to not support companies that openly support and donate to abortion and gay rights causes.  That is, and should be, my prerogative.  If you disagree, if that "offends" you, well... I don't mean any disrespect but I really don't care if you are offended.  I stand with Christ alone.  The Bible is my belief system.  period.  I should be able to open up a business and still stand as strongly as ever with my Biblical belief system.

 Just as someone who believes in liberal causes can open up a business and run that business with those beliefs being at the core.  Donate money to those causes, shout from your business's rooftop about how much you LOVE those liberal causes for all I care!!!  If I have a problem with it, guess what?  You won't get my business...  Isn't that the way it is supposed to work?  The people decide whether or not a business survives based on how often they shop at that business or use that business's services.

...Well, I wish.

Check the article below out.  Whether or not you believe in Hobby Lobby's opinion, please try to switch out that opinion for one you believe in, and see if you agree or disagree with the government's intervention in this matter.  If you think you have an "open mind", prove it.  Try to see this situation with your own views in mind to see if you truly agree with the government's use of power- regardless of the "cause" Hobby Lobby is supporting.


Our freedoms are being taken away, and we need to speak out about it.  Christians, conservatives, Tea Party-ers, where are you?  Where are you on voting day?  Where are you when your right to your beliefs is being challenged in the government?  Where are you when companies that need your support are struggling in a fight against evil?  We need to rise up with God's strength and power to fight for Biblical principles in which we believe- before you know it, we will no longer be able to "legally" believe anything from the Bible.  Our Bibles will be taken away because having them will be considered a "hate crime".  It isn't long until we will be hiding and meeting secretly to study the Bible and worship Jesus.  If you don't think that could happen, you need to get informed.  In other countries around the world, people are doing exactly what I just described... if we don't fight back, we will be in the same situation.  We are so blessed to be able to worship freely and study God's Word freely, but if we sit idly by as the government becomes more and more involved, we won't have those freedoms anymore.  Don't be so sheltered that you miss what is going on in the world- being aware is part of your responsibility as a Christian: get informed so you can fight the good fight.  Watch the news.  Read articles.  No, it isn't enjoyable to see all of the terrible things going on in the world and at home.  However, hiding from reality doesn't make it go away.  Ignoring your emptying bank account won't suddenly create funds just as ignoring the government stripping you of freedoms won't allow you to exercise those non-existent freedoms.

More government isn't good for anyone, I guarantee it.  You know who had ultimate government control?  Hitler.  Use your knowledge of history to combat against repeating it.

Ignorance may be bliss for a while, but ultimately it will lead to our demise.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things


Okay, so a "few" might be an understatement... are 20 things considered "a few"?  Meh, guess it doesn't matter since I am going to talk about all 20 anyway- HA!  I have provided plenty of links (look for the words in GREEN) throughout the post, so please check out the companies, recipes, websites, and people I reference.  Get psyched... here we gooooo!  =]

1. Little Green Pouch

I have to give a special shout-out to my friend, Katryna Atkins who posted about the Little Green Pouch on her Facebook.  I became curious, looked it up, fell in love, and decided to give them a try.  If you have ever seen those baby/toddler food pouches at the checkout area in the grocery store, then you know what these are.  The difference is, they are reusable, dishwasher safe, and freezer safe!  I put my own, homemade organic baby food or store bought, organic, baby yogurt in the pouches.  Once T.J. gets the hang of it, he will be able to feed himself by sucking the food out of the pouch!  It also makes it easier for us to take baby food on the go as the pouches don't spill as easily as the jars!  Check out the website by clicking.... HERE!

2. Super Girlie, Fantastically Sparkly, Princess Nail Polish of Awesomeness

This awesome nail polish that my husband so lovingly let me buy on a whim is by OPI and called "Servin' Up Sparkle".  Every princess has to have her sparkly nail polish!  =]

3. Thoughtfulness + Cinnamon

 I have always love the cinnamon brooms they 
have at the grocery store around this time of year.  Well, Travis isn't the biggest fan of them.  I saw them in the store and was tempted to buy one but didn't.  Travis stopped by the store to get something one night and came home with this yummy-smelling, harvest-tastical broom for me!  SO thoughtful- I think I love his thoughtfulness more than I love the broom!

 4. Homemade, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Since we are the topic of harvest, what is the best part about harvest-y time?  Pumpkin Pie, of course!  My husband is gluten intolerant (as are my mom, sister, and mother-in-law), thus I needed to make sure I baked a pie he could enjoy!  This is the very first pie I have ever baked.  It turned out pretty good if I do say so myself!  Even my mom, who is NOT a fan of pumpkin pie, said that it was good!  =]  So happy I didn't fail miserably- haha!!!

5. Yankee Candles

As some of you may know, my favorite thing is scents.  I have a million and one different perfumes, use Listerine like it is going out of style, never go easy on the deodorant (TMI, I know, but really... who wants to smell like B.O.?), and LOVE LOVE LOVE air fresheners and candles.  If you are a candle person, too, then you know that the best smelling longest lasting scented candles are Yankee candles.  They are delish!  Recently, they had a buy 2 get 2, so my sister and I (being the brilliant women we are) decided to go halfsies each buying one and thus each getting one.  Then I had a fun, cheesy idea- I have those sometimes... and by sometimes I mean always- of each picking one for ourselves and picking one for the other person.  I chose "Pumpkin Buttercream" for myself and for Lindsey.  She picked "Be Thankful" for me and... derp... forgot the one she got for herself (comment with the answer, por favor, Lindsey).  I am pretty much obsessed at an unhealthy level.

6. Cheap Frames

Hobby Lobby, I want to thank you for having a 50% sale on lots of adorable frames.  I also would like this chance to berate you: STOP HAVING SO MUCH AWESOME, FUN STUFF THAT I WANT TO BUY!!!  MONEY DOESN'T GROW ON TREES YA KNOW!!!  WELL... IT ACTUally kinda does... considering that paper money is made out of... well... paper...

7. Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Botanical Cleaner (boy that was a mouthful!)

This is a cleaner that is botanical ("of, pertaining to, made from, or containing plants"- thanks!) so it can be used on surfaces where food is placed without having to be rinsed first.  If you look at a lot of your all-purpose cleaners, the packaging will instruct you to rinse surfaces (after using the product) that come in direct contact with food.  This is due to chemicals and such.  Well, with a baby around, with a highchair, and with making my own baby food where some of the ingredients may be lying on my counters before using them, I really appreciate having a cleaner that I can trust to be safe after simply spraying and wiping- no rinsing required.  It even says that if you need to disinfect using it, you can spray the area needing disinfecting, leave it to dry, and then not need to rinse it!  Awesome. stuff.  Not to mention, I LOVE the lemongrass citrus scent- it is so mild and clean smelling without smelling "chemically".  LOVE this stuff- I highly recommend it!

8. Chai Tea

Chai Tea with a little milk and honey makes for a delicious morning!  Yummmm!  =]  Simply put, it tastes like Christmas in a mug!  If you haven't tried it, you are missing out, my friend... or random reader I don't really know.  =]

9. Autumn Decor

Remember how I told you that I love candles?  If not, please refer to #5 and from here on out, please pay better attention.  Well, I fell in LOVE with this Yankee Candle three pumpkin tea light decoration.  Later on, I found a similar (but I little blinged out with some beads) single pumpkin tea light decoration at Michael's arts and craft store.  I snagged that sucker to Autumn-up my guest bathroom!  Love me some Autumn decor!

10. Will Power

Can I just say that the only way I have managed to become nearly 15 lbs lower than my pre-pregnancy weight (and nearly 20 lbs lower than my post pregnancy maintained weight for many months) is by the grace of God?  He is the only one who could bestow upon me ANY amount of willpower because I, in and of myself, have not a lick of it!  Thank you, Jesus, for being there to help me every step of the way with my weight loss!  Without You, I couldn't be doing it!  I feel so much better and healthier! =]

11. A Morning Bible Study

Speaking of health, the most important thing is spiritual health- being close to Jesus Christ.  When I start my day with getting in the Word, my day goes better.  It isn't necessarily that there are no trials, but God equips me to deal with the trials better.  I am currently working on Beth Moore's Breaking Free Bible study.  Add a cup of tea or coffee and it is a beautiful thing.  =]

12. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

-Boil pumpkin seeds in one quart of water with two tablespoons of salt for 10-15 minutes.
-Dry said pumpkin seeds.
-Rub an obscene amount of butter on the baking sheet.
-Toss pumpkin seeds in the butter (on the sheet) and lay them out in one layer on the sheet.
-Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes.
-Salt to your liking.
-Eat your body weight in delicious pumpkin seeds.

13. Pumpkins

'Nough said.

14. T.J.'s Pooh Bear Outfit

Ummm, what's not to love?  ...It's stinking adorable!  "Tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff!"  =]

15. Cooking With My Hubby

We made our fun, Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers together- fun and yummy!  =]  Want to try them next Halloween?  Find the recipe HERE!  Bon appetit!

16. A Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte 

As much as I ADORE Starbucks and its Pumpkin Spice Latte, paying over $4 a pop for a drink wasn't working out for me.  Some nights, if you listened really hard, you could hear the soft sobs from our budget.  Thus, I decided to try a homemade version of this delicious Autumn treat!

17. Carving Pumpkins

Better late than never!  Travis and I carved our pumpkins on November 2nd!  Although that may seem silly because we completely missed Halloween, we did it!  Why?  Because we bought the pumpkins already and we wanted to carve them this year.  So... why not?  Sometimes it doesn't matter WHEN, just as long as it happens.  We don't want to miss out on something fun just because we missed the proper date!  We wouldn't not celebrate a birthday because we couldn't celebrate it on the actual date.  We still had a blast!  =]

18. My Handsome Hubby

I luff him!  =}  He is a sweetheart and so selfless.  He works hard at Morgan Stanley and then comes home and helps with T.J. and the condo.  He is a sweet, loving, and God-fearing man who also happens to be QUITE the hunk!  ;]

19. My Sweet Baby Bear

Our son T.J. has brought unspeakable joy into our lives.  He is not only adorable, but he also has the greatest personality!  He is sweet, easy-going, and already compassionate- even at 9 1/2 months!  He is truly a gift from the Lord.  We have been immensely blessed.

20. Jesus!

This may seem cliche, but with CHRISTmas quickly approaching (Yes, I know that we haven't even hit Thanksgiving yet, but trust me, Christmas will be here before you know it!), it is imperative that we remember the "reason for the season".  However, we need to be thinking about Jesus throughout the year.  He is the reason for our salvation.  He bore the weight of the world's sins on His shoulders and spent a moment dying in darkness separated from His Father.  All of this He did for you, the world, and me.  He should be everyone's "favorite thing"!  If you haven't given your life to Him, please take some time to get to know about Him and what He has done for you by reading the Gospel of John.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mrs. MIA

Hey everyone!  I know I have been kind of MIA recently in the bloggerdom, but I am a relatively new mom so give me a break!  ;]  A lot has happened over the past nine months.  Let's take a look, shall we:

1. I gave birth to our beautiful baby boy, T.J.  He is the cutest baby in the whole wide world if you were wondering... and no, I am not biased at ALL!!!!  ;] Heehee!!

2. T.J. is now crawling QUICKLY, babbling up a STORM, getting into trouble, learning to respond to "no", pulling up on occasion, and saying "T.J" when we encourage him.

3. He has graduated to the big bath.  =[  His little blow-up ducky bath just isn't cuttin' it anymore.

4. He is eating Cheerio-like organic puffs and organic cheese/veggie puffs.

5. He is drinking water from a sippy cup.

6. Travis has been in production (no longer in training) at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney for almost a year (employed there for almost a year and a half).

7. Fall decor is up!  (Has been since probably before September but SHHH!)

8. We've already made our Tennessee Christmas plans where T.J. will hopefully get to play in some snow!

9. I am listening to Christmas music.  Your judgement will not help my addiction... I have been listening since August 1st (be happy I held off that long... yes... I know...).

10. I have been learning the guitar- I think I am actually doing pretty well if I do say so myself!  =]

11. I have been making a solid effort to read more books and watch less TV.  It is going well!  Since the beginning of this year I have finished a total of 8 books and am currently working on two (one fiction, one nonfiction).  I want T.J. to grow up in a home where he sees Mom and Dad on the couch reading together, not watching TV.  This is part of the reason we try to read multiple times to him a day.

12. Travis and I have started making monthly goals: 4 for me, 4 for him, and 4 for us.  This has really helped me to keep on track!

13. In more recent news, T.J. has plagiocephaly due to torticollis.  =[  It is simply a cosmetic issue, but we are going to get him started with a helmet because he is a boy and it will be more noticeable on him.  Stay tuned for cute pictures in the next month of my adorable baby bear sportin' his awesome helmet like a football star!  =]

14. I have been trying to get in some quiet time/Bible Study recently.  I need to get closer to the Lord, and without getting into His Word, there won't be much growth.  I am returning to my Beth Moore study, Breaking Free.  I didn't complete a lot of it before, so I am trying to go through it again with some more success this time.

15. I now weigh over 15 lbs less than I did when I got pregnant with T.J.!  I fit into some of my size 4 stuff, and I am feeling awesome!  Nothing more encouraging and empowering than when you can say "NO!" to a chocolate cupcake, etc.!  I figured now was the perfect time to lose the weight since I am still breastfeeding.  An extra 500 calories lost each day without having to do anything?  Don't mind if I do!  =]

I think fifteen is good, don't you?  Oh wait, dang!  I forgot one thing... ugh, there goes my nice little 15 point list.  Grrr...

16. I made a full card set for someone!  For those of you who don't know, I have launched my Facebook page for my little homemade card company, Cards for Cool Cats!  Wellllll, my husband's Aunt D is going to be undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer beginning October 11th (prayers are appreciated).  My mother-in-law asked me to make a set of 12 thank you cards for D to send out to people who send her things and show her kindness during this tough time.  It took me two days, but I finished 12 unique cards (none are the same) and a pretty little box to store them.  Please check out the Facebook page to see the full set:

All right, that should tie things up nicely.  =]  Hope you enjoyed my little update.  Just to keep myself accountable and you interested (PSH!  As if I NEED to try to keep you interested... I mean, I KNOW you have just been sitting there anxious for the past month WAITING for me to post again, right?  ...hello...?), I will give you a little heads up as to what the next post will be about... stinkin' preposition.

Heads Up
It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's a POST!!!

Up next is "A Few of My Favorite Things": I will post a few pictures and descriptions of a few of my current favorite things ("current"... I am so fickle sometimes...), and then you can share some of your favorite things in the comment section.  We shall then battle to the DEATH over whose favorite things are better!!!!!  Muhuhahahahah!!!!  ...sorry... did I mention that 3 of the books I read were the Hunger Games trilogy?  kthanksbye!  =]

---Pretty please with sugar on top show me some love by giving me some feedback in the comment section and also by utilizing the "like" and"dislike" buttons (P.S. "Like" is the correct choice, btw... just... fyi... in case, you know, you were wondering...).  I would love to hear an update about your life- tell me what's been going on with you and your fam!  Toodles!---

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lessons From a Stay-at-Home Mom

Obviously I am no expert when it comes to parenting or being a wife or anything at all... except I am an expert at just being generally awesome.  Hahah!  Just kidding... kind of.

However, even though I am not nearly an expert or amazing at anything in particular- especially parenting considering I have been a parent for 7 months- I can still offer up a little bit of knowledge that I have personally gained through experience.

Let's begin:

1. Everyone has a different opinion about how things should be done.  It is your child.  God has given you instincts, friend... use them.  Every baby is different, and every parent is different.  Thus, there are going to be different methods of parenting, and guess what?  Unless you mess up royally, your child will probably turn out just fine.  Relax.  Hardcore on Baby Wise?  Your baby will be fine.  Hardcore on Attachment Parenting?  Your baby will be fine.  Personally, I like to mix it up- my opinion has always been "moderation is the key".  And you know what?  My baby will be TOTALLY AND UTTERLY DESTROYED!!!!  Now, see... if you believed that, you obviously weren't paying attention.  The real answer is, he will be fine.  =]  Okay.  Paying attention now?  Good.  Carry on then...

2. Everyone wants to brag about her child.  This irks me many times.  But it shouldn't. You know why?  Because the kid that doesn't walk until 13 months could end up being a surgeon, and the prodigy baby that starts walking at an astounding 7 months could end up being as dumb as a bag of rocks someday.  Sounds harsh?  Sorry, the truth hurts.  According to research I have done at least, their early development (early as in like... baby) doesn't really have any bearing on their intelligence and development later on in life.  So if you feel the need to brag about your baby's accomplishments, try to think how you would feel if another momma told you everything her baby has done and your baby hadn't quite made it to that point yet.  If that would worry you, then newsflash... it probably worries the other momma... so knock it off.  Obviously I know my child is just as smart and developed as the rest of them, but when mommas start the "Well, my kid is doing such-and-such" game, I start to unnecessarily worry about whether or not T.J. is up to par.  That isn't fair to anyone- especially T.J.  If it is purely an innocent comparison and just a fun topic both momma's are interested in discussing, then great!  That is a different story.  Alls I'm sayin' is, try to be respectful and considerate.

3. Don't worry if you look like poop on a stick, no one looks at you anymore.  Seriously, though.  It is amazing how when you are holding an adorable child, no one stares at you anymore to see how you look.  Sound depressing?  Cheer up, Charlie!  (...or you know, whatever your name happens to be.)  This is a good thing- be an optimist!  You can look like junkindoodles and a half and not have to worry!  Obviously I am exaggerating, but the truth is, you are a lot less the center of others' eyeballs' attention.  Follow those possessives?  ::phew::  Give yourself a pat on the back because I wrote that and it annoyed me.

4. It will never be about you ever again.  EVER.  "Mom!  Dad!  So happy to see you!  You won't believe what I have been up to; I-  You aren't paying attention to me, are you?  Nope.  Just took T.J. out of my arms and are snuggling him without even realizing I am here.  You don't seem to understand that I brought him here... to you... right now... why am I still talking to myself when no one is listening?"  Sum it up?  Grand.

5. Babies don't pay attention to what goes in their mouths.  I am sure you knew this one, but I find it interesting that I made T.J. a prune, banana, breast milk puree ::waits patiently for readers to finish vomiting:: and he gobbles it down despite the fact that it looks like cat diarrhea.  Oh, to be so innocent and carefree.  Brown slime?  Don't mind if I do!

6. A successful day is measured in naps and poops.  To clarify: naps and poops of the baby.

7. You and your spouse's main topic of discussion will probably be the quality and quantity of baby's poops and naps for some time.  This is okay.  But you may want to try forcing yourselves to discuss other topics.  I mean, yes, baby bowel movements and naps are interesting to discuss (not.), but you need to have some actual conversation about other stuff as well... such as baby's general behavior and the clothing he or she wore that day...  ;]

8. Babies have rough patches.  No one said parenting was easy.  And if they did, either they don't have kids or they consider raising 9 cats as parenting.  Your baby may go through a sleep regression... or maybe even ::gasp:: multiple sleep regressions!  You will live.  Suck it up, you probably got up more in the middle of the night to pee during your pregnancy than you do to care for your little love bug during a regression.  I know I did!  Your little snuggle bear may go through a rough teething time.  And why not?  They have sharp objects ripping their way through sensitive mouth flesh- sound painful?  It IS!  The point is: you will live, they will live, and things will always get better!

9. Get out of the house.  One of the best things I can do for T.J. and myself is getting out of the house- even if it is a quick 30 minute walk or an hour at the park with Trav when he gets home from work.  Being a stay-at-home mom, I can get completely stir crazy when I am stuck in our 2-bedroom condo for the entire day.  T.J. is a person, too.  He probably gets just as stir crazy- boring?  I think so!  Walking can be such a relaxing, fun way to spend some quality time in the fresh air with your child.  Whatever you do, just get out for a bit- it always helps us break up the day with something different.

10. Enjoy these days without inhibitions.  As a stay-at-home mom, I feel the need to make sure the house is clean and everything is done before I can really sit down and enjoy time with my baby boy.  Here's a plan... the dishes and laundry will always be there... babies aren't babies forever.  I have cherished so many days of snuggling with my son (especially when he was a newborn), making sure that I soaked in the time.  I can say without doubt that I got to spend significant time snuggling with him when he was bitty, and I don't regret it.  Guess what?  My house wasn't clean... I didn't look super put together.  But my heart was full and now my memories are as well.  Make time for the things that matter.

sldfgja;gasd;jsdlkfjsdl;kfjsd, That's All Folks!  (Betcha didn't know how that mumbled up jumble was spelled until now.  You're welcome.)

-Have anything to add?  Don't lie, you know you want to give your two cents (...or, who knows, maybe twenty bucks!)!  Utilize that lovely comment area to add your thoughts!  Gracias!-

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kitchen Cavern of DEATH!!!!

You know when you run the garbage disposal in the sink and it sounds like there is a little something in there?  Well that happened tonight.

So I did something stupid.  NO WAIT!  Don't leave!  My fingers didn't get severed, my hand didn't get mangled, and my body (nor anyone else's) was harmed in any way.  The only thing harmed was my ego.

So back to my stupid choice.  I turned off the disposal and stuck my hand down in there to fish out whatever was making the little clicking sound.  I know, I know... why would a sane person do that?  Well, my dear, you are forgetting one thing: I am in no way sane!  Two things you must know about my sticking my hand down there:

1. It is yucky down there.
2. It freaks me out.
3. I have this deathly fear the entire time that either a bug will find my hand down in that dark, gross cavern of the sink.
4. I have another deathly fear that the blades will magically turn on due to a black out or something and my hand will be mangled in some personal horror scene in the kitchen.

Did I say "two things you must know"?  Meh, two of them were bonuses... it's your lucky day.

Needless to say, my heart pumps a little faster the whole time my hand is in epic danger.  Thus, I am surprised that I didn't die of a heart attack when the dishwasher decided to drain WHILE my hand was in the sink cavern.  In case you don't know, that means that water begins to spray down inside the garbage disposal area!!!

...that's one way to cure constipation.

Friday, August 3, 2012

It's the Little Things

thank·ful [thangk-fuhl]
feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

I have just been thinking about how thankful I am for the little things people have done for me recently.  Sometimes the most simple gestures can mean so much to me.  I am sure you can relate.  It is like getting a homemade gift from your child- I haven't experienced this yet obviously (I know the kid needs to step it up, but sheesh, give him a break, he is only 6 months old!), but I have a feeling it will be something I treasure more than any store bought gift.  (Someday my teenager is going to read this and make me some really crummy gift that shows NO effort, and I am going to regret this post- hahahaha!  Just kidding... kind of...)  As I reflect on certain people and gestures they have made, it makes me so grateful to have such sacrificial, selfless people in my life.  So here is my list of the "little things" (and some not-so-little things) in my life that I am thankful for right now.  P.S. If you have done something totally awesome for me recently and I forgot to put it on the list, feel free to berate me publicly on the comments section.  I will surely fix my post free of charge- lucky you!  ;]  Heehee!

I am thankful:

1. When I can call up our family friend, Janna, during a crisis (like yesterday when my air conditioning broke and T.J. and I were sweltering in our 82 degree apartment), and her first response is, "I will leave in ten minutes."

2. When that same person offers to let my family of three stay at her home that evening if our air isn't fixed by then.

3. When my baby boy, T.J., wraps his arm around my waist when nursing and scratches my back.

4. When my son sleeps for over 8 hours at night and takes naps during the day.

5. When my dear friend, Alyssa, continues to make an effort to chit chat despite life tugging at us in all different directions.  Sometimes we are both so busy, but she is always there making an effort to talk.  I so appreciate her for this, especially since I have a baby and can sometimes be so scatterbrained when I am busy that I forget to keep in touch.

6. When my mother-in-law, Becky, babysits T.J. for hours so I can spend some time with my sister-in-law, Kristin, at the beach, etc.  It gives this stay-at-home mom a nice break to re-energize!

7. When my mom and dad, Frank and Marilou, come down to visit and spoil my family rotten!  My mom treated me to eye cream and face cream from CLINIQUE when she was down here!  Cah-razy!  She also bought most of the groceries, treated us to meals out, treated us to Starbucks, etc., etc., etc.!!!

8. When my mom comes to visit us and happily sleeps on an air mattress in our living room without complaint because we don't have a guest room.

9. When my mother-in-law and father-in-law treat my family to dinner on Tuesdays.

10. When my mother-in-law spends all day with T.J. and me on Tuesdays to get us out of our apartment and spend time with us since we don't have a second car.

11. When my mom and dad FaceTime with T.J. and me every day and can't wait to see him!

12. When my mom and dad motivate us to hang pictures at our apartment and get things done that we would otherwise be too lazy to accomplish.  They help us so much with stuff around the apartment!

13. When I come home from having a crazy day with the air conditioning dying, etc., and I find red roses in a vase for me from my darling husband, Travis.

14. When my friend, Rainee, invites T.J. and me to go to library time with her and her son, knowing that she has to pick us up since we don't have an extra car.

15. When my sister says, "I wish you lived closer."

:: What are you thankful for today?  Let me know what "little thing" or "not-so-little thing" you are grateful for right now in the comment section below... I will be so thankful if you do!  ;]  Okay... now I am questioning that word's existence since I have typed it so much now... "thankful" is still a word, right? ... I'm confused. ::

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Uncle Russell

For those of you who don't know, on Friday, July 13th, T.J. and I were scheduled to fly to Tennessee in the morning.  I couldn't wait to see my parents and show them how much T.J. had grown.  Well, our happiness came to a bitter stop when I received a phone call from my sister at 4:00 in the morning.  You know something isn't right when you receive a call at that time.  The words still ring in my head from time to time... I can still hear my sister's exasperated voice breaking the news to me that our Uncle Russell had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  There is still a faint tightening in my chest when I think of that moment- not close, of course, to the feeling within me that morning.  I am not going to go more into my reaction because this isn't about me.  However, I will say that after I got to Tennessee, we all packed up and left that Saturday, drove 16 hours, and arrived in Texas on Sunday where the viewing and funeral were being held.  My sister, dad, and I all spoke at the funeral.  This is what I said:

What can I say about my uncle Russell?  Many things, but definitely this:  he was everything an uncle should have been.  He treated us as if we were his own kids- never forgot a birthday, a graduation, or a wedding.  He had such a great sense of humor and a sweet, loving heart.  I will never forget his generosity.  When my husband, Travis, and I were visiting my sister in Texas, Uncle Russell and Aunt Reba didn't even blink an eye before offering up their home to house us for the week.  I remember teasing him about his crazy technological gadgets- Mom called him the "King of Gadgets"- and I remember how easily he spoke to me and was genuinely concerned for me if I seemed down at all.  Many people couldn't probably have a heart to heart with their uncle, but we were lucky enough to have an uncle like Russell where we could be so comfortable with him.  My son T.J. never got to meet him, but he will hear much about him.  I know Russell would have loved T.J., and I know T.J. would have loved Uncle Russell.  Why?  Because he looks, talks, and acts so much like my dad, T.J.'s grandpa.  And I know that if he had gotten to meet T.J., he would have treated him as if he were his own grandson.  Every time I watched Uncle Russell, I could see my own dad reflected in his face.  I wish T.J. would have had the privilege of seeing that as well.  There is especially one thing from my childhood that I will never forget to tell my son- something so funny about my uncle.  And I will end with this- he would have wanted it that way.  He came to stay with us for a time in Danville, California.  And what I will always remember about him from that time was how he would sit on the couch watching TV and eating brown sugar straight out of the bag!  It was the craziest thing to me and I laugh about it to this day.  We will miss him greatly and love him always.

 He was gone far too soon- only 64 years old.  Please view his obituary here (written by my sister, Lindsey Portugal), and if you wish you can donate to the Alzheimer's Foundation in his honor.  His mother, my Grandma Johns, passed away from Alzheimer's, so finding a cure was always a cause in which Russell was interested.

Here is a video my sister created for the memorial service:


Goodbye, Uncle Russell.  We already miss you and will always miss you.  We love you.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I'd never really given much thought to bullying.  I mean, it seemed like something I'd never really experienced, so it didn't directly affect me much.  Sure I had been mistreated on occasion, but, overall, nobody really seemed out to get me.  And of course I was never a bully.  Bullies are mean-spirited, wicked people trying to physically or emotionally harm someone with malicious intentions, right?  When I hear the word "bully", I tend to think about a big kid on the playground picking on someone not "his own size".  Physically pushing and shoving a smaller kid.

Secondly, I think about hate crimes that have recently occurred in the news... violation, exploitation, teasing and taunting to the point of distress.  All so evil.  I mean, what is wrong with these people, these "bullies"?  Why are they so out-rightly wicked?  How could anyone have the potential to be that sick and mean?  Surely I would never... no... COULD never do anything so despicable.  I mean, these sick people bully others until they decide it is better to just quit living.  I could never do such a thing-treat someone so harshly.

... why is it that the moment you think you are above evil, something comes into your life that forces the realization upon you that you are far more capable of wickedness than you thought?

Tonight (technically last night considering it is past midnight), Travis and I watched this movie called To Save a Life.  It centered around bullying and the harmful effects it can have on its victims- depression, cutting, and suicide.  It got us discussing the matter.  At first, Travis just mentioned something about how people don't really act that way toward others.  I explained that in this day and age (what with the zombie apocalypse and all in the news), I believe anything could happen; the more I hear about bullying issues, the more I realize that true, deep hate still exists in our world- over petty issues, too!

This lead me into my discussion about how Travis and I have never really had to experience it because neither of us ever attended a public school where issues like bullying seem to be more prominent.  Not to mention that our hobby, theatre, was filled with self-proclaimed freaks and geeks who were proud of that label- I mean, sheesh, Travis and I were just as proud to be called "theatre geeks" (and who wouldn't be?!).  Theatre was a place of acceptance- weirdness and all.

This stopped my guilt-free train of thought.  I realized it.  I was a bully.  Travis and I both were bullies.  I guess theatre's "weirdness acceptance" had its limits, too.  I remember how easily I hopped on the bandwagon of making fun of these two boys that were a little more than "unique".  They were totally "out there" in behavior and style.  One was our age, and I hate to admit this but... the other was much younger.  Let's call the older guy Taylor and the younger kid Stanley.  Now let's look at the facts:

1. True, we didn't physically harm these boys at all.

2. True, we mainly teased Taylor behind his back.

3. True, everyone was doing it.

Let's consider some corresponding facts:

1. Emotional harm can sometimes be more damaging than physical even.

2. He knew.  Your sin will always find you out... and we didn't try particularly hard to hide it in the first place.

3. We left him all alone.  Not one true advocate.

Again... some facts:

1. True, we didn't technically call Stanley "names"...

2. True, we tried to pass it off as funny to everyone involved- including Stanley.

Corresponding facts:

1. The founder of this teasing started calling Stanley "Joe" for fun instead of using his real name- we practically took a running leap onto that bandwagon.  He also called him some other names that were more targeting and hurtful to his face- we were high and mighty enough to only call him those names behind his back... high and mighty?  I'm sorry, I think the word I was looking for was selfish and cowardly.

2. It wasn't funny.  It wasn't funny to Stanley- we knew that deep inside.  He would sometimes play along with the "Joe" thing... and other times he would just act mad.  But what else was he supposed to do?  We wouldn't stop... it was practically a legal name change against his will.  You want to know the most depressing thing?  When bringing up memories of "Joe"... we almost couldn't remember his real name.

We, Bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-loving teens, were bullies.  Not only were we bullies, but we were also bullies that one would say to, "Pick on someone your own size!"  At least that was the case with Stanley- he had to have been in middle school.  Some role-models we were.

Let's revisit something from that sentence..."Bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-loving..."  Jesus-loving.  Amazing.  Jesus was the most beat-up, bullied "kid" in the history of the world.  Jesus was God's Son.  Every person on this earth was created by God and is thus God's child.  So then, just because we love Jesus and weren't alive during the time he was crucified, are we any better than the people who spit on Jesus, the Son of God, if we are "spitting" cruel, taunting words at other children of God in this day and age?  No.  We are just as evil.  God doesn't weigh sin.  Sin is sin.  Without repentance and inviting Jesus into our hearts, the sin of gossip will just as well end us up in hell as will the sin of murder.  And with bullying these days, those two sins go hand in hand in a sense.

We can only be eternally grateful for our salvation.  But you know what is the worst part of all of this?  Travis and I blew our witness with Taylor and Stanley... and truthfully with everyone observing our following the trend like sheep.  Right now, we could be eternally grateful for Taylor and Stanley's salvation as well, but who knows if we will ever get the chance to witness to them again?  I can only hope they are both alive and well.  And if they are... I can only pray that another Christian will have the courage to stand against the stream... the boldness to take a step in the less selfish, less cowardly direction- the direction Jesus would and did take for others, yet many others were not willing to take for Him.  I can only hope that that Christian will undo some of the damage these two fallible Christians did.

Finally, after coming to that realization, another one hit me.  We are silent bullies even now.  Though we may not be in the same situation with those two boys where we were pretty much outwardly making fun, is it that much better to talk behind others' backs?  To the Lord it isn't.  We have all heard that gossiping is a sin and that we shouldn't do it, and blah-dee-blah.  However, did we ever really consider what it truly is?  Silent bullying.  Saying mean, hurtful things about someone, just not to their face.  Bullying them in our minds.  Just as a roving, lustful eye can eventually lead to the desire to actually commit adultery, so can mind-bullying eventually lead to a desire for open taunting and teasing.  Plus, let's be honest, we may mean it to be silent when we gossip, but we all know how those private conversations can somehow manage to slip through the cracks and become the talk of the town.  So how silent is silent bullying really meant to be?

This sent us into prayer.  Repentance.  A plead for strength to not remain in our state of depravity.  A request to keep bullies away from T.J.  A request to keep T.J. from bullying others.  A request for someone to reach out to him if he ever does find himself being bullied.  And a request for T.J. to be completely open with us as his parents so that we will know if he is ever being bullied in the future.  I doubt Taylor and Stanley opened up to their parents about the situation at the theatre.  We also discussed calling each other out on this "silent bullying".  When we start to put someone down or make fun of them behind their back, we plan on keeping each other accountable and stopping this hidden hate.

I have rambled on for far too long, and it is getting far too late.  However, I will end with this:  Never say never.  Don't ever think you are above evil- it is unfortunately in our nature.  The only cure is our wonderful, merciful Savior, Jesus Christ.  And remember, he was the most bullied kid of all.  These two bullies are forever grateful for His unending forgiveness and kindness in a world where hopping on the bandwagon of hate is easier than you think.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Hey everyone!  I would like to share a poem I wrote for T.J.  I am not finished with it, but I thought I would share it anyway and get your thoughts.  The meter isn't all the same because I have been singing it to myself in a tune that kind of popped in my head when I thought of the "lyrics".  It comes from my heart, so please be kind.  =]  Hope you enjoy "Priceless":

I am blessed beyond measure,
God's given me the treasure,
Of you...

And I can only hope one day,
To Him I'll have the chance to say,
Some words so true...

So I'll shout it from the rooftop,
Knowing He can hear me here on Earth,
I'll tell Him what you mean to me,
How much I know your worth,

I'll sing, "Lord, Lord above,
You've given me a priceless bundle of love,
I'm not worthy of this gift,
So unto You I lift,
Him up...

Thank You, Lord for what You've done,
 For the blessing of our son."

Illinois Dreamin' on Such a Summer's Daaaaaay!!!

Hey you!  Yeah, I am talkin' to YOU!  I just wanted to tell you that I am super duper stoked for tomorrow!  Why, you ask?  Well, I will tell you:

By this time tomorrow, I will be with my friend, the lovely Alyssa, in Chicago, Illinois!!!  I am visiting her so that she can meet T.J. and also because... well... she is awesome and stuff.  =]  Totally excitedddd!

Travis will be joining us in the evening on the 13th, and then we will all head to Indiana to celebrate my birthday on the 15th!  For those of you who don't know, since I was born, I have never woken up in the same state on my birthday.  =]  Just a crazy tradition that we have kept up which I LOVE!  Definitely something unique!  <3  Anyway, I lived in Illinois years ago, so obviously I can't wake up there again.  Thus, off to Indiana we will venture.

So, anyway, that is all.  I just wanted to brag about how I get to see the fabulous Alyssa and you don't- na na na na NAAA NAAAAAA!  xD

>>-----> All right, all right... you get the chance to brag, too.  Any upcoming trips you'd like to spread the news about?  That is what the "Comment" section is for, so go on and fill it up with news of your upcoming adventures!  =]  Hey, you should take advantage of this... I am letting you steal my bragging spotlight!  Heehee!  This doesn't happen often... savor it. <-----<<

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another View of T.J.'s Birth

For those of you who haven't read the story of T.J.'s birth yet, please check it out here and the sequel post hereHowever, if you prefer to look at things from a less detailed/graphic point of view, please check out my lovely sister's post about his birth on Portugal Ponderings!  It is super funny- definitely made me laugh out loud!  xD  Even if you have read my posts about the birth, I highly recommend reading her post- it is hilarious.  =]

-~- Please, please, please don't forget to comment on her post and show her some love!  Let her know I sent ya! -~-

Monday, June 4, 2012

me too

You know when you feel like you are worth nothing and are nothing? too.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Parent Night

You know what they should have at movie theatres?  Parent Nights.  This would be a showing of a movie that adults want to see (AKA The Vow, Hunger Games, etc.) in a child-friendly setting.  What I mean by this is that the movie would play at a lower volume so it wouldn't hurt delicate baby ears and crying/fussing would be relatively acceptable.  This would be awesome so that moms like me could go to see a movie without it blasting the volume so high into my 4 and a half month old's ears and without having to worry that the slightest fussiness will bother other viewers.

When people see movies such as Madagascar, Shrek, etc., they don't worry as much about babies crying or fussing because it is understood that sometimes if an older child wants to see a kid movie, the parents may have to bring the younger child (perhaps a baby) along with them.  Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am just a kid at heart- I love anything ranging from Spongebob to Pixar films.  However, I don't always want to go to the theatre to watch a kid movie, and I don't know too many people who can babysit T.J.  Therefore, I end up not getting to see movies in the theatre many times.

Now don't get me wrong, this is part of being a parent.  Those are just the facts- selflessness comes with the job.  And I have no problem with giving up movie theatre dates, but it was just a thought.  How cool that would be!  You could meet other moms and families with children the same age as your children, and you could watch a movie you want to see without feeling pressured to duck out at the slightest fuss! 

A girl can dream, can't she?  =]

Friday, May 25, 2012


I have had JUST about enough.  Went to the pediatrician today.  Ended up seeing a different doctor even though we asked for an appointment with our previous pediatrician who knows us and our child, but instead we got another pediatrician who even grouchily admitted when he came in that it had been "one of those days" for him.  So then the best thing ever happens... he decides to give me a 10 minute lecture on why I should vaccinate my child and why it is a horrible idea not to, etc., etc., ETC.

I am done.  It is MY decision to not vaccinate MY child.  If you want to vaccinate your child, then, by all means, GET ON WITH IT!  I tried to stay polite with the man and end the conversation by saying, "It is just a personal decision.  We just aren't comfortable with it," and yet, amazingly, somehow that didn't seem to work for him!  If you have a different opinion- great!  You are more than entitled to it, but please back off and allow me to have my opinion as well.  Just because my opinion doesn't happen to be the "popular" one right now, it is still my opinion that I am just as entitled to.  Years ago, it was the popular opinion that women shouldn't be able to vote- I am guessing that you are happy someone decided to stand up and say, "I disagree."

Here it is, point blank: your child, your choice to vaccinate.  My child, my choice to vaccinate.  Yes, I know the risks.  However, to me, the risk of not knowing all the risks of vaccines (because no, I'm sorry we do NOT know everything about them) is greater.  Oh, by the way, apparently deodorant and SUNSCREEN help cause breast cancer!!  So the entirely safe, wonderful sunscreen we use to prevent SKIN cancer, is now contributing to BREAST cancer.  See what I mean?  We don't know everything.  We can't know everything.  I am just saying that the "unknowns" bother me more than the "knowns" at this point, okay?  Now get off my back and let me make my own decision for the child I spent 9 months carrying and caring for in the whom and then a freaking hour pushing through my hips and out of my BIRTH CANAL!!!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lindsey Portugal Photography

While my son is in his crib staring at his mobile in awe, I thought I would get on and write a quick post about something special.  As some of you may know, I like to support artistic entrepreneurs just starting out.  One of the best ways I can do this is through advertising for them.  Whether this is by handing out their cards, bragging about how wonderful they are to friends and family, or posting on my Facebook and blog, I like to help!

Well, this particular entrepreneur is close to my heart, my sister.  Some of you may follow her blog, Portugal Ponderings (If you don't, you may want to check it out!  I follow it, so you can find it in a snap!), and if you do follow her blog, you know that she has just begun her own photography business!  It is an exciting new journey for her, and she is enjoying every minute of it!  So this is my shout out:

If you are in the Houston area or know of anyone in the Houston area looking for a photographer, check out my sister, Lindsey Portugal!  

Why?  Well, I will tell you!  You are not going to find a more creatively meticulous person in the world!  If you want perfect photos, Lindsey is your gal.  She is is one of those people that won't settle for good or even wonderful!  She wants perfection in her art (You should see her decorative cakes- sheesh!!!).  She seeks this perfection by being open to clients' ideas and suggestions as well as through professional development.  She reads photography books, researches and studies others' photography, and, most importantly, practices to scaffold her knowledge of photography and increase her skill.

Not enough to convince you?  Then check out her Facebook page "Lindsey Portugal Photography" to see her photos from the recent engagement shoot she did.  You won't be disappointed.  =]  And it would be totally groovy if you could "like" her Facebook page to show her some love and give some support to an entrepreneur just starting out.  I would dig it.  That's right... groovy... dig... I brought out the big guns.


P.S. You can leave a comment here to let me (and her) know what you think!  You know I love me some comments!  =D

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Push Him Out! Push Him Out! Waaaaay Out!!!



I, apparently, had an appointment Wednesday, the 11th, at 8:50am instead of on my actual due date.  At that point, I was 80% effaced and 2 cm dilated.  That is when the midwife, Liza, told me, "I don't think you are going to make it to your induction on Wednesday."  She said she thought that I would give birth that weekend.  She really wanted to deliver T.J., but, alas, he showed up on Dorothy's watch!  I loved Dorothy, but Liza would have been just as spectacular- all the midwives are fabulous!  =]

That leads me to another correction: when I went into the office during the afternoon (right before being admitted), I was then 3-4 cm.  THAT is when Dorothy decided it was time to admit me, and she told me she would meet us at the hospital.  That makes a lot more sense than being in that much pain and going to the hospital when only 2 CENTIMETERS DILATED!!!  Haha!

This isn't so much a correction as it is some funny information I left out... I labored some in the bathtub in our condo wearing a bathing suit and sipping a raspberry black tea lemonade from Starbs!  =]  Ahhh, it was glorious, you know, when I wasn't in terrible pain and all...

All righty, ready for the rest?  Well, ready or not, here it comes!

You know, the awesome thing about going into labor is that, if it happens at the proper time, you are SO ready for it.  At least I was.  I was tired of being fat.  I was tired of being bloated.  I was tired of being... well... tired- I mean sheesh!  I had to pee like 7 times a night for goodness's sake!  This is all not mentioning the fact that the baby is SO real by 9 months.  I had carried my child for a very long time, I knew he was a boy, I knew his name, I could FEEL him SO vividly moving around... I wanted to meet him!  God planned this so perfectly so that the excitement of meeting your little addition to the family greatly outweighs your fear of the pain involved in labor and delivery.  Some may disagree, and are so very entitled to, but that is the way it was for me.  =]  I was ready.

You know... at the very beginning of my pregnancy, I thought that I would really, really try to give birth naturally (you know, no drugs).  






Now don't get me wrong, I was never of the opinion that I was absolutely, never ever, no matter what going to get an epidural.  However, after going through the birthing process, the thought of going "drug free" is hilariously absurd to me now- especially considering my low pain tolerance.  It is actually kind of funny how the thought of getting the epidural evolved during my pregnancy.  At the beginning, let's say I was at 20% thought of getting the epidural... well... as the pregnancy continued and I came closer and closer to "the day", that 20% grew to probably 95% thought of getting the epidural opposed to not.  xD  Yes, I was chicken- and for good reason!  I do not do well with pain... I am not one of those "he-women" who can just butch through a stubbed toe, etc.  

But I digress...

We arrived at the hospital and checked in, and then we were placed in a nice birthing room with wood floors, a tub, etc.  (I mean, good grief, the bathroom was nicer than master bath at our condo!)  Once Dorothy came in, she checked things out and asked if I wanted the epidural.  Everyone was really great about not pushing me into getting it- they knew that I had planned initially to go natural.  I decided that I wanted the drugs!  (It didn't take a lot of time or thought... haha!)  

During the epidural, even Travis couldn't be in the room.  I had to breathe through the contractions, leaning over a pillow.  I don't want to brag, but I did really well with not moving and becoming paralyzed by the epidural.  There was a small pinch, but the epidural really did not hurt badly at all; the anesthesiologist was fantastic.  I didn't want to see the needle before it went into my back because that would be, well, insane.  However, afterward, I definitely wanted to see it so I could see what a beast I was!  =D  The anesthesiologist showed me how big it was, and it was big but not as bad as I thought.

The happy juice hit pretty quickly...  P.S. Epidural?  Best. decision. of. my. life.

The best part of the epidural was obviously that it took away the pain, but another great effect of the epidural is indirect.  Because of the pain going away, I got a chance to sleeeeeeeeep!!!!  That was super important because I was already exhausted.  If I hadn't gotten sleep, I would have been too tired to push... which, obviously, would have been a problem for the little guy who was making his way out whether my body was ready or not.

Since I had the epidural, I could carry on a conversation with people and just enjoy labor in general.  We were laughing, talking, and having a fine time.  =]  Various people came in to see me and wish me luck!  It felt like forever to be truthful; I was wondering when it would be time to get the ball... er... baby rollin'!  

What happened when the epidural started running out?  I simply pressed a button and more would shoot into my blood stream!  Yayyyy happy juice!!!!

Now any of you who have had an epidural know that the feeling of your bottom half is... well... gone... my legs felt like they were 200 lbs each!  I could barely move them at all!  It was such an insane feeling!  Thus, if I couldn't control my legs (or any of my bottom half), I couldn't get up to pee (something you do very frequently during pregnancy).  Problem?  NAH!  Thankfully because of the epidural, you cannot feel them put the catheter (yikes!) in!  Not having to pee is one of the contributing factors to me getting some awesome sleep prior to pushing.  =]  Trust me, that is a good thing because they were PUMPING fluids into me like nobody's business!

And we all slept... Travis even hopped into the hospital bed and snuggled up to me for a nap.  Hey, it was getting late, and we were exhausted, we all needed some sleep!  

But... there were complications:

- Because of the epidural, my blood pressure got too low (this happened to my mother during one or both of her births), and so I had to have Ephedrine to raise it back up (ironic considering that it was so high I needed to be tested for Preclampsia).  

- They had to give me Pitocin because the epidural was making my contractions slow.

- A bigger problem occurred... one that scared all of us...

When I was laboring, the RN and midwife turned me from side to side (a normal thing they do during labor).  Well.... While I was lying to my right side, that steady baby heart rate started faltering... it would get too low and then over compensate.  Basically, my poor little baby was inside, stressed out, with a sporadic heart rate flying up and down.  =[

This was dangerous for T.J.  Dangerous enough for the midwife to bring in a doctor... the doctor checked it out, and the general consensus was that if his heart rate didn't level out again, I would need to have an emergency Cesarean Section.  Great.  This was devastating news for me.  I wanted SO badly to have my child vaginally.  They don't do VBACs these days (vaginal birth after a C-section), so if I had a C-section for this birth, that would determine that I would have C-sections for every next baby.  =[  Heart-breaking yes.  Would I put my child at risk to not break my own heart?  No.  I came to terms with it- it may have to go that way.  That was all there was to it.

Eventually, however, my mom realized that the heart rate only went sporadic when I was lying on my right side.  The midwife thought that that could be due to the positioning of the baby and the umbilical cord - perhaps he as lying on it?  Thus, I stayed on my left side and back for the remainder of my laboring.  Instantly his heart rate stabilized when I changed my positioning.

Before I move on, I want to say that at some point during this whole process, I remember it hit like a rush...

Different people from different departments were pouring in and out of the room, chaos was ensuing, and they put an oxygen mask on my face.  That is when I looked to my left at Travis's face- worry-stricken and in a painful, helpless shock.  I tried reassuring him that everything was fine and going to be fine, but I knew that my attempts were futile.  How do you make someone feel better when the love of their life is trying to deliver the second love of their life and is having everyone freak out around her and giving her a mask to help her breathe!?  I was more worried about Travis being scared to death than I was that I was getting extra oxygen through a mask.  Speaking of which, that oxygen mask was annoying... just sayin.

Anyway, so it was finally getting time to push.  The lovely shine-an-intense-burning-light-of-the-sun-toward-the-pregnant-lady's-crotch lights came on like glorious spotlights on the main, unmentionable attraction.  Lindsey got on one side of me to hold my right leg (WHICH, by the way, she did not sign up for- she actually planned on sitting on the sidelines away from "view" if ya know what I mean... well those dreams were thrashed by my enthusiastic midwife).  My mom held my left leg while Travis stood by, preparing for helping with the delivery.  If I had known that they didn't have to hold my legs, you know... that I could have used the sturdy metal stirrups instead to push on, I would have probably requested the stirrups.  I felt inhibited because I didn't want to thrust my mom and sister across the delivery room with my legs while pushing!!!  Anyway, we will get to that excitement in a bit.  

The midwife put on gloves and... i was just... gloriously exposed... awesome.  Speaking of which, (Haha, if that isn't a scary beginning to a sentence, then I don't know what is!) as I was... erm... there... I see new hospital faces peeking at me, smiling, THROUGH MY LEGS from across the room!  Truth be told, I kept a pretty happy disposition the whole time, but that kind of annoyed me.  I had to ask, "Ummm, who are they?!"  Apparently they were NICU people, just in case.  Ahhhh, nothing like being completely exposed whilst meeting new people.  "Well, hi there!  This is my crotch.  Nice to meet you!"

Finally it was time to "Push him out!  Push him out!  Waaaaaay out!"  xD  I will just sum this part up... I turned inside out and boom! we had a baby!  

okay... maybe I won't sum it up that much.

Dorothy broke my water, and we were ready to roll.  I don't want to freak any pregnant or wanting-to-be-pregnant women out, but it was excruciating.  The absolute hardest, most painful experience of my life.  By that point, the epidural had worn out, which is helpful for pushing but also makes it... well... HURT LIKE THE DICKENS!!!  Pushing is not easy as you can imagine.  I was asked to take a deep breath right before a contraction and then push for as long as possible while holding my breath.  This was particularly unpleasant with that stupid oxygen mask on; thankfully she finally took it off of me during the pushing.  That whole "screaming bloody murder while pushing" that you see in the movies... not true.  You are supposed to not make a peep while pushing!  Craziness!!!

I pushed for just under an hour (around 12:30 am-1:24am).  Unfortunately, I needed the episiotomy, but it helped the process go much smoother and quicker.  My sister, Lindsey, said that she had never seen me work harder at anything in my whole life.  And truly, I haven't.  When you know that you are working for your child's life, nothing, not even exhaustion or pain, can stop you.  I do remember saying a few times, however, "I can't do it."  To which my midwife replied, "You have to do it for your baby."  She was right.  And I did.

At one point during the birth, I don't personally remember when (I was busy after all), my sister nearly passed out.  It was near the end when she actually saw T.J.... um... emerging (Sorry, I warned ya!  Not for the faint of heart!).  The midwife was yanking little blue-gray T.J. to and fro by the head trying to get his shoulders out.  Travis had gloves on and was ready to help out, but just as he reached to pull T.J. out, Dorothy pushed him quickly out of the way so she could unwrap the cord from around his neck (that explained the heart rate issue).  Seeing all of this... joyousness... that is when Lindsey felt extremely woozy.  Apparently (I heard later) that Travis noticed this and told her quietly to sit down!  However, she pulled through like a champ!  She sucked it up, stopped watching the nether-regions, and stuck through it till the end!  As far as the rest of the birth goes, Travis helped Dorothy pull T.J. out, and he also cut the cord!  I held T.J. for a moment before they whisked him away to make sure he began breathing- that is when I heard his sweet little cry for the first time.  =']  

Once he was cleaned up, weighed, etc., I held that soft little bundle of love in my arms and knew my heart would never be the same.  <3

The beginning.