Writing Letters to My Babies | GIVEAWAY In Blue Handmade

IMG_0824I love journals. I have always been a writer, if you define a “writer” as “someone who enjoys writing and does it a lot”, or “someone who can’t adequately think through anything without writing about it”. I am grateful to have the journal I was writing in as I came into what I believe was a truly personal relationship with Jesus in 2010. I also have my first journals from the second grade (Rugrats themed), notebooks all throughout highschool and college days (embarrassing), and most precious to me: a journal in which I began to write letters to my future husband, a couple years before Kip came along. I presented it to him during our first look on our wedding day. Throughout our marriage I have continued to add new notes now and then, and I hope it is something our kids will find one day after we’re gone, and they can laugh and be embarrassed and weirded out by it.

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So, when one Mother’s Day, Kip so thoughtfully gifted me an Etsy gift card, you would think I would know exactly what to get. I felt indecisive and overwhelmed by all the beautiful handmade Etsy wonder, and was about to purchase something ridiculous until I stumbled upon In Blue Handmade. They practically made my decision for me. How I had I not thought of it before? Duh, gimme all the beautiful handmade leather journals! All uh dem.

I was ecstatic to buy one for each of my children and began writing to them whenever a thought came to mind: things I want them to learn, lessons they’ve taught me, Scriptures I pray over them, and notes of my love for them. I plan to write in them as they grow up, and gift them to them when they are young adults, though I’m not certain exactly when. My desire is that they are able to look back over their 2 decades in our home and will be assured of the deepest love I have for them, and that maybe as adults they might see me as I once was, and how my heart for them grows every single day.

I’ve been writing in these for almost a year and a half, and I am still in love with them. I sent the shop owners of In Blue Handmade a message, letting them know how much I loved their product, and asked if they would consider giving away a journal to one of my readers. I am so grateful to say that they said “yes!” and I am ecstatic to see one of y’all receive one of these journals ($28 value). (P.S. Anyone can enter! You don’t have to be a mom, and you can obviously use it however you want. Just throwin’ that out there. ;))

{Update: the winner of the giveaway, chosen by random drawing, is… Kelley Jumper! Wahoo! 🙂 Kelley, please email me at realsmalllifeblog@gmail.com so we can get you your journal. 🙂 Thanks to everyone who entered, and to In Blue Handmade for sponsoring! xoxo}

To enter the giveaway, we’re keeping it simple! You must do the following three things to be officially entered:
1. Like In Blue Handmade on Facebook,
2. Like Real Small Life Blog on Facebook,

 -OR-

1. Follow @inbluehandmade and
2. Follow @realsmalllife on Instagram, and

3. Comment here when you’ve done those things, to let me know you’ve entered! (One entry per person, either via Facebook + comment below, or Insta + comment below! Capeesh?)

That’s it! The giveaway is open for one week, Monday, July 20th through Monday, July 27th. Yay! May the odds be ever in your favor. 😉

Love,
H

Ten Tips for Having Two Kids Under Two Years Old

To the Mama with (or about to have) two kids under two years old,

I wish I had I wish I could come bring you lunch, sit on your living room floor, and play with your toddler while you rock your baby or just go take a nap. But I’m just here in the trenches with you, just a year in, calling out from the other side of the Internet and hoping you can be encouraged to see Christ in this season.

Two Kids under Two years old

After a year of getting to watch these two littles grow together, getting to just be siblings… I can tell you with confidence that it is such a sweet and fun time. It’s absolutely not easy, but I love it. If you’re going to have two little ones soon, here is my sage wisdom… 😉

1. Memorize 2 Corinthians 12:9. Repeat it to yourself every day.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 

2. Do one thing today that will help you tomorrow.
Spending an extra ten minutes when you have them free one day can save you a major headache later. Double a recipe to put in the freezer, prep tomorrow’s breakfast before bed, or fill your diaper bag with all the essentials so you have one less thing to worry about while getting out the door.

Managing two babies under two

3. Own a baby carrier. Or 5.
An adjustable ring sling and an Ergo Carrier are my top two favorites for outings. Being hands-free to cuddle a baby and hold hands with my toddler in the parking lot is the only sane way I can get anything done. I always keep my Ergo in the car and the ring sling in my diaper bag. You can read about my ring sling here!

4. Establish a Routine.
Whatever that looks like for you, and for the ages of your kids, just work toward it. I am not a Type-A, super-organized personality. I’m pretty laid back about most things, but even I have found that a daily routine cuts down on a lot of stress. I know what windows of time I can run an errand, or do the dishes, or take a nap. The first few months after Samuel was born, the only semblance of a routine we had was that while Rosie took her afternoon nap, Samuel took a long snooze in his swing. That way, I at least knew I had a couple hours of quiet to look forward to in our day. As he has grown older and all our needs have changed, we have a more set schedule for our day. For us, that still means afternoon naps happen at the same time. Otherwise, my brain oozes out my ears.

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5. Begin as you mean to go. 
This simply means to establish habits and routines with both of your littles that you can stick to without losing your mind- ones that you won’t have to break later. Okay, I know I just said I let Samuel nap in his swing, haha… It was a habit we had to break, but it wasn’t difficult. He was used to napping at the same time every day, so we began laying him down in his crib while he was awake-but-drowsy. This is an example of one of our “habits” we started when he was about 4 months old. This made our nap schedule way, way easier and much less stressful. Yes, he cried for a few minutes (less than 10 or I’d go get him), but now he goes down to sleep like a champ.

Surviving two kids under two years old
6. Leave the house.
Even if you hop in the car and just hit up the Starbucks drive-thru (no shame!), or take a short walk outside your front door, getting outside always helps me refresh my perspective. Going places with two babies is hard. I know. But it’s worth it. Especially while living in a little apartment, where we pretty much live our whole lives in one big room, getting out of here for a bit really helps break up our day- and makes for good afternoon naps. 😉 If we can’t get outside one day, turning on some music and just being ridiculously silly with my kids helps lift everyone’s spirits.

surviving having two kids under two years old
7. Let people help you.
We wouldn’t have been able to survive Samuel’s first couple months without my Mom’s help. Even later on, if someone offers to bring lunch, to babysit while you nap, or to fold your underwear… just let them. When we are out and about, people are almost always willing to help us. They’ll hold the door open, get a basket for us, or take my cart back to the store after I’ve unloaded my groceries. I am not above asking a random stranger for that last one. 😉 Usually this is when I get a lot of the “You’ve sure got your hands full!” comments, but you know, they’re right. Haha. And I appreciate their help!

8. Do what you can while you can.
Especially during the first few months of having two babies, before we settled into a routine, I just realized I had to take my day one task at a time. Sometimes that meant chores had to wait, and sometimes that meant I cleaned the kitchen instead of napping while the babies were down. Finding ways to multitask has helped as well. I have found if I run my dishwasher and washing machine before I go to bed and unload them first thing in the morning, everything might not get perfectly put away all the time, but we will at least have some clean clothes and dishes to choose from. And it makes me feel like I’m being productive in my sleep. 🙂

parenting two kids under two years old
9. Read your Bible.
Make time. Even 5 minutes. If all you have time for is one verse, read it over and over again until it’s stuck in your head and rooted in your heart. See #1 for an example. 😉 Without a heart and mind set on Jesus, all these things we want to accomplish as mothers simply won’t happen. Jesus himself told us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

10. Make friends in the same boat. 
Find a MOPS group in your area or introduce yourself to the Mom at the library… Don’t be afraid to feel awkward. The awkwardness will pass! I am so thankful for my dear friend Kayla. (Shout out!) We met in a birthing class when we were both pregnant with our first babies. I hardly knew her, but she let me borrow her Dave Ramsey books, made us Valentine’s/anniversary cupcakes and brought them to our apartment, and from there we just kept hanging out. 😉 Now we each have two kids around the same ages, and it is always encouraging to hang out with someone who understands the same weird struggles. Ya know, like, ending bath time completely waterlogged and harried while your newly-clean-and-lavender-scented, butt-naked toddler streaks happily through the house while there’s company over. Normal life things. 😉

So, there you have it. There may be days where you feel forever glued to the house, where the diaper balls scattered around the living room outnumber the hours of sleep you had the night before, or you wonder if you’ll ever wear real pants or make-up ever again. Just know, I am with you.

Are you in this boat, or will be soon? Or maybe you’re on the other side and you have more insight for us! Comment, email me, find me on Instagram, whatever! I’d love to meet you and hear from you.

Love,
H

Samuel’s Birth Story [One Year Later]

One year ago today, we welcomed our sweet baby Sam into the world. It took me almost a year to finish writing these memories out, which is an excellent indicator of how this past year has been: busy. 🙂 The best kind of busy there is! I am getting ready to take my babies out for a birthday cupcake, but for those who are interested, here is Samuel’s birth story. 🙂


This is my perspective on our second natural birth at a birth center. It’s meant to be an encouraging birth story for those who might be feeling nervous about natural birth. Details are polite but still truthful. Haha. Honestly, if you aren’t interested in birth I’m not sure you’d make it all the way to the end anyway… soo…. 😉 Here ya go!

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I’m willing to bet that almost every pregnant woman convinces herself her baby will come before his or her due date. No matter how much we tell ourselves we won’t do it, by the time 37-38 weeks rolls around… we’re at the end of our rope and wondering, “Why on earth am I still pregnant?!” (And for those that actually deliver early- I salute you!)

Samuel’s due date, March 26th, came and went. We even entered a new month and even the Braxton-Hicks contractions had died down.

During this time, several Texas Spring storms popped up and rolled over our little bitty farmhouse. What does that have to do with a birth story? Well, try (finally!!!) having consistent contractions for nearly an entire day, only for a tornado warning to sound just North of where you live. Mmm, nope. I have been scared of storms/tornadoes since I saw the movie Twister as a kid. Scarred for life, I tell you. Kip came home that day to a hormonal + overdue + terrified mess of a woman. So, he did what any man would do in this situation… basically, whatever the insane woman wants. He loaded us up in the car, we picked up my Mom from where she was staying down the street, and we drove South until we were out of the storm clouds… and conveniently in a Chick Fil A parking lot. 😉 Kip still says he thinks it was all a dramatic ruse to eat CFA for dinner. To make it up to him, we also went to Cabela’s where I had to borrow my Mom’s shirt because I left our house in such a hurry… I was only wearing an undershirt & no jacket. Seriously, y’all. I can’t make this stuff up.

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Saturday morning, April 5th arrived. We had plans to meet with family for breakfast at IHOP- just what my overdue soul needed: pancakes. I rolled my round self out of bed to head to the bathroom and… um, what was that? Yep, water- breaking? Leaking? Not sure, but Iknow (seriously hope) I didn’t just pee my pants.

After some deliberation and realizing I was having zero signs of active labor, we determined to keep our breakfast plans, despite my family’s refusal to deliver my baby at the International House of Pancakes. I told them not to worry (as if they’d listen), and sent my midwife, Kathaleen, a text letting her know what was up. She asked us to come to the birth center at noon.

Our visit with Kathaleen was simply to check to see if my water had actually broken or if I was doomed to be embarrassed about wetting my pants for the rest of my life. The visit got pushed back to 12:30, then 1:30, then cancelled, then rescheduled again… for various reasons. Kip and I dropped Rosie off at home with my Mom, and went to walk around the Mall and like, buy oil for the car or something. Idk. Apparently it was important at the time. 😉

As we walked around the mall, I must have looked like I was about to pop. Literally everyone was looking at me. Really cool for self-esteem. Finally, we left and at 3:00 PM we arrived at the birth center.

I had a full exam. Kathaleen checked and said my water was leaking (Whew! Not pee!) but maybe not completely broken, and that I was dilated and effaced more. She told us, “We’ll bet on having a baby tonight.” And I just hoped and prayed she was right.

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The appointment lasted longer than we anticipated, so I think we finally got home at around 5:00 PM. We sat on the couch with Rosie, ate some dinner, and (by my request) rented “Hairspray” online. Yep. You know, the one with Zac Efron and John Travolta? Kip would never tolerate this movie any other day, but I love it and I figured being in labor was a good excuse as any to get my way. 😉 As I ate dinner and sang “Good Morning, Baltimore”, I noticed my contractions were picking up significantly. They came about 10 minutes apart and were definitely becoming, well, noticeable. I just chilled, did normal evening things, and sat on the exercise ball.

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At 8pm, I took Rosie to her room, cradled her one last time as my only baby and told her tomorrow morning she’d wake up and be a big sister. My heart is in my throat just thinking about it. I truly wanted to stay in that moment with her forever, even if I was the only one who felt the depth of it. But, I sang “Jesus Loves Me” once through and put her in her crib for the night, trying to slip out of her room before another contraction hit.

I came back to the living room to finish my movie. The intensity of the contractions picked up, probably because I felt more relaxed knowing Rosie was asleep. I sat back down on the exercise ball, and with each contraction I would kneel on the floor and lean forward onto the couch. Kip was right with me for each one, applying counter pressure to my lower back, which helped soooo, so much. It almost made the pain go away… Almost. (Note: during my first labor, I sort of just sat & waited for labor to happen to me… This time, I was armed with more knowledge on how to make my contractions more efficient. Kneeling, leaning forward, squatting, etc, really, really helped! Instead of letting labor happen to me, I labored.)

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My wonderful Mother-in-law drove three hours and arrived around 11 PM to stay at the house with Rosie. I didn’t know how long this labor would be, so I decided to try to get some sleep. (Ha.) Kip and I laid down for about an hour, and contractions picked up more… enough to let out a low moan for each one. I sent Kathaleen a text around midnight and said I would feel better if I could come to the birth center soon. She told me to come when I was ready. I was definitely ready.

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We waited for a contraction to pass, and made the 5 minute drive to the birth center. During the short trip, I believe I had two contractions. That freaked Kip out a little, haha. I could still talk and smile between them, so I was a little afraid I wasn’t very far along into labor and that we’d be in for a long night. To my surprise, when I was checked I was dilated to a 5 and about 80% effaced! I was so, so thankful. Halfway there!

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My mom and our sweet friend Carol arrived shortly after we did. They kept us encouraged and lighthearted even though they were sacrificing their sleep to be with us. I drank a huge, very strong cup of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea with way too much honey and walked around our birth suite. The music I had chosen for this night played in the background. About two hours went by like this, where we could have conversation between contractions, but when one hit I needed to focus on getting through it. I originally planned for a water birth, so I got into the big birth tub and labored there for a while. Shortly after that was when labor really picked up. I needed all my mental energy and focus, during and between contractions. Even the slightest distraction between contractions could throw me off for the next one. The room got quiet, except for my moaning and Oceans playing in the background: “I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine.”

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Every few minutes I would feel the energy of my muscles tightening, slowly getting stronger and stronger until it peaked at the moment I thought it wouldn’t end, and then it would slowly fade out. During each one I would say aloud, “Just this one, just this one. Just finish this one.” Each contraction was one step closer.

After a couple hours in the birth tub, my fingers were pruny, my feet were falling asleep from being up on my knees, and I knew these distractions would hinder my labor. A water birth was not worth making things last any longer than they needed to! Also, I realized… I had to go to the bathroom. I was not about to do all that in this tub. And that’s all I’ll say about that. (Any Mom who has birthed a baby understands what I’m getting at here…)

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So, I asked my Mom and Carol if they minded stepping out for a bit. (And this is where the pictures take a break…) I needed to get out of the water, but wasn’t sure where exactly I would go… and I knew walking half-naked with others in the room would distract me as well. They sweetly stepped out and I automatically missed my Mama. But I had asked them to be there to pray, and I knew that’s exactly what they were doing. Looking back, I am glad I took the initiative to remove even the slightest distraction, because Samuel came very quickly after that! But i’m ahead of myself… 🙂

I moved to the bed, had one contraction standing next to it and couldn’t handle that. It was just too intense. I got on my hands and knees on the bed, had another contraction, and couldn’t handle that either. Someone got me a birth ball to lean on, and this is about the time the I can’t‘s and the just get through this one‘s started mixing together. Donnellyn, another attending midwife and one of the sweetest women I’ve ever met, grabbed my hands and told me, “Hannah, you CAN. You CAN do all things through Christ who gives you strength, and I need you to tell me that.” I knew that was true, but it sure didn’t feel that way. She held my hands while I pushed. All of the sudden, I felt Samuel make a huge move downward through my hips. I will never, ever forget that feeling. Not painful, but strange. Encouraging. Empowering. Humbling. I felt grateful. 

Side note here: I’ve said this before, but birth is the most amazing experience. The words “hard” or “difficult” don’t even begin to cover it. I have never been so absolutely certain that I can’t do something, and yet, I do it. I have to. It is the deepest, darkest place I have ever been in my soul. And then suddenly, light… and it is finished. Momentary affliction that results in an eternal 8 pounds of glory… Reminiscent of 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…”

I moved onto my side on the bed and began to push. Now, with Rosie, I had to have a very minor episiotomy. I tried to push for two hours and it just wasn’t working. A tiny bit of help and she was born almost immediately. I think a few things contributed to this, mainly the fact that I was lying flat on my back, coupled with sheer exhaustion. I knew this time around I wanted to avoid being on my back at all costs. I never imagined I would give birth on my side, but someone suggested that position for pushing, and I thought, “Sure, whatever! Just get this baby out!”

At this point, things felt kind of insane for… I honestly don’t know how long. Samuel’s heart rate began to drop. Suddenly I had three different voices telling me to do different things. “Breathe deep, Hannah.” “Puuush, push, push!” I couldn’t do both at the same time! An oxygen mask appeared and was placed over my face. I finally decided to listen to Kip. He was whispering “Breathe deep for our baby, Hannah. I need you to breathe for Samuel.” I took deep breaths and waited for a contraction to come again. I heard baby Sam’s heart rate pick back up on the monitor. I didn’t have to wait long, another contraction came and I reached to feel my baby. He was soooo close.

Because of the local anesthetic during the episiotomy for Rosie’s birth, I never felt the “ring of fire” so many women have described. But here it was. To push into pain, to lean hard into it because you know you have to for it to ever end… is the deepest, strangest mental battle I’ve ever faced. I gave everything I had, and suddenly I felt him- he was out! Or so I thought. Why wasn’t everyone celebrating? “Is he out?!?” I asked. Someone told me, “His head is out! One more push and you’re done!” I immediately thought, “THAT WAS JUST HIS HEAD?!”

And then, just when I thought I had already given everything, God supplied one more gust of energy to feel his shoulders and then the rest of him come into the world, right at 4:02 AM.

It took maybe 30 seconds for them to put him on my tummy, but it felt like forever. I just kept asking “Is he okay?? Is he okay??” Everyone assured me he was. They put his sweet, squishy self on my tummy, and he just looked up at me with an expression that said, “What the heck just happened?!”

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I told him, “Hi, I’m your Mama!” Birth assistants put a little hat on him, and I asked for my Mom who was already making her way in the door with Carol not far behind. 🙂 And, remember that little story at the beginning about my fear of storms? Not even kidding, less than 10 minutes after he was born, I looked through the skylight above me and saw lightning, heard thunder, and then… the power went out. I thought, “You have GOT to be kidding me!” Thankfully our birth center kicks butt and the power came back on almost immediately, and a small thunderstorm passed over us very quickly. But ugh, that small moment of despair!

As everyone came to admire and check on Samuel, I was just absolutely exhausted. Kip cut the cord, and I slowly maneuvered myself to be semi-upright on the bed. I remember my thighs and abs were just killing me…. so sore from all that squatting and pushing, and I was uncontrollably shaking with adrenaline. Our wonderful midwives very quickly began applying essential oils to help me deliver the placenta, but it just wouldn’t come. I tried to push, but I had no energy left. The minutes were ticking by, and we were getting too close to an hour with no placenta… I was looking at a possible hospital transfer straight in the face and I just couldn’t believe it. All of that work we just did to have a beautiful natural birth, only to end up in a hospital? No way. We resorted to a shot of Pitocin in my leg, which didn’t seem to help much either. Everyone prayed. Donnelyn put her hand on my knee and prayed in the name of Jesus that this placenta would deliver in that exact moment. And you know what? It did! Right at the one hour mark. Samuel had just started to nurse really well, and Praise the Lord, I think that did the trick!

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Once we got cleaned up, fed, and a bit rested, Samuel and I got to take the most amazing herbal bath. My quads and abs didn’t actually relax until we did this. Oh it was soooo nice, and I’ll never forget how Samuel just laid his head back in the water, totally relaxed, and fell sound asleep. It was so precious and made me laugh so much!

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After a few hours, we loaded up our new bundle and arrived home around 7:30 AM, just before Rosie woke up for the day. And like that, our whole world changed. For the better.

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Ring Sling Review

Are you looking for an affordable, easy, comfortable baby carrier? Does it seem impossible to know what kind to get? Look no further than a ring sling from Bibetts. 

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I am a huge, HUGE fan of baby-wearing. It’s a great way to keep baby close when you’re out. When they’re snuggled so well  to your body, people are less likely to stick their fingers in your baby’s mouth. Ya feel me? I also wear my babies when I really need to get something done around the house, but they absolutely refuse to be put down.

I’ve used the Ergo Performance carrier, my FAVE for back-carry, and the Moby, perfect for snuggling at home or pleasant walks with sweet tiny newborns. But what I really wanted to add to my options was an easy hip carry without a bunch of buckles or Moby-tails dragging the ground in the parking lot of the grocery store. Ew. I have long admired photos of beautiful ring-slings online, and I knew with Samuel I just had to have one. I looked at a ton of options, but I was really looking for three characteristics in a sling:

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1.) Comfort- It had to be a comfortable ring sling for both baby and I, AND breathable. Texas Summer, anybody? My babies are hot-natured like me, so minimal sweaty-ness is key.

2.) Ease- I didn’t want to have to spend 20 minutes wrapping myself up or reaching buckles if I needed it in a hurry.

3.) Cuteness- duh. It had to be cute. An Ergo kind of bunches up a dress for a special occasion, and a Moby kind of hides everything! I wanted something that felt part of my outfit.

Oh, and the kicker? I needed an affordable baby carrier. Yikes. 

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Dual wielding babes when Samuel was just a couple weeks old. 🙂

Well, who says you can’t have it all? I started Etsy-hunting, and what I found was just marvelous. Bibetts has so many color options… I could hardly choose! I emailed the sweet shop owner and she generously sent me a ring sling to try out and share with y’all. I love it so much, I definitely plan to buy more. It met all three of my requirements. It doesn’t make Sam too hot and sweaty, I can easily get him in and out of it whenever I need to, AND! It’s beautiful. Samuel has the deepest blue eyes, and this sling really brings them out. 🙂 Plus, I love that I can just stuff it in my diaper bag and it doesn’t take up too much room. And for such a great quality, made-with-love item, you cannot beat the price. For serious.

We’re still in tummy-to-tummy stage right now, but I imagine in a few more weeks Sam-I-Am will have better head control and will be riding a hip-carry like a champ. `

Do you wear your babe? What’s your favorite carrier? Let me know if you decide to get a Bibbets sling! 🙂

Love,
H.

He’s Here!

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Our baby Samuel.
Born at 3:46 AM on April 6th, 2014
8lb 2oz, 21.5 inches long.

“For this child I have prayed, and The Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.” -Hannah, 1 Samuel 1:27.

We are so thankful to finally hold our little boy! Prayers for Rosebud for the transition from only child to big sister are appreciated. 🙂 We’ll share a birth story soon! Thank you a for your prayers for Samuel’s birth! The Lord answered them faithfully.

Thankful,
H

Dear Rosebud, [Happy First Birthday]

Tomorrow morning at 2:05 AM, my baby will be 1 year old.

1 Year ago today, I sat on a big pink exercise ball, talking with my Mom, sister, and husband, as labor slowly progressed throughout the day. I thought she’d be born on the 27th and share a day with her Auntie Heather. But no, she had something else in mind. In the wee hours of the morning on January 28th, 2013, our Rosemary baby was born and now shares a birthday with my twin Aunts, one of whom I am named after. 🙂 (As well as our dear friend Justin Lowe, who was there to capture Rosie’s first moments! We love you, J-Lowe!) Read her birth story here.

We celebrated Rosie last weekend, with “just” our immediate family, which is really quite a lot of people… 🙂 Our house was full and overflowing to the back yard, and Rosie was showered with love and gifts from her family!

Big girl in front of her presents!

Unfortunately, Rosebud was not feeling well that weekend and spent much of her party cuddled on much obliging family members.

My Aunt made Rosie’s cakes and coached me in some cake decorating skills. 🙂 Also, check out my 30 week belly!

Rosie has lots (I mean LOTS) of cute cousins!

Rosie finally sat down and happily opened her gifts. 🙂

…and thankfully her bigger cousin was there to help her out! 🙂 ❤

Lots of new clothes ❤

Dear Rosebud,

Happy first birthday, dear one. God gave me the happiest gift He could have given last year- you! What better gift to celebrate?

In the last few weeks, you have taken your first few steps, learned to sign “more”, “please”, “eat”, and “milk”. You now have six teeth, a little bit of hair (which is mostly growing into a mullet at this point…), and you love to give Mama and Daddy very wet, slimy kisses. You wave at every car that passes by, and you recently discovered a love for blowing the floaties off the dandelions growing in our yard. You still prefer to crawl, unless someone is holding your hands- then you are ready to walk anywhere and everywhere!

I pray every day for you- for your safety and health, because you have a very paranoid Mama. 🙂 But I also often pray for your heart as you grow- for your purity, for your future spouse, for the world you will grow up in. Most importantly, I pray that you grow to learn not just about God, but to love Him for who He is. Grow up knowing I am on my knees for you.

We are forever thankful that you are our baby. We have always wanted you and we will always, always love you. In about two months you will have a little brother to play with, and our little world will change for good. I will enjoy every moment we have as “just girls,” until our hearts expand and make room for a little boy in our lives. But for now, for today… it’s just you and Mama and Daddy. Let’s celebrate your first year of life… 🙂 Happy birthday (tomorrow at 2AM… but I promise not to wake you. ;))!

You are my heart. My truest, closest heart.
We love you so strong.
Mama & Daddy

Rosebud’s First Birthday

Tomorrow morning at 2:05 AM, my baby will be 1 year old.

1 Year ago today, I sat on a big pink exercise ball, talking with my Mom, sister, and husband, as labor slowly progressed throughout the day. I thought she’d be born on the 27th and share a day with her Auntie Heather. But no, she had something else in mind. In the wee hours of the morning on January 28th, 2013, our Rosemary baby was born and now shares a birthday with my twin Aunts, one of whom I am named after. 🙂 (As well as our dear friend Justin Lowe, who was there to capture Rosie’s first moments! We love you, J-Lowe!) Read her birth story here.

We celebrated Rosie last weekend, with “just” our immediate family, which is really quite a lot of people… 🙂 Our house was full and overflowing to the back yard, and Rosie was showered with love and gifts from her family!

Big girl in front of her presents!

Unfortunately, Rosebud was not feeling well that weekend and spent much of her party cuddled on much obliging family members.

My Aunt made Rosie’s cakes and coached me in some cake decorating skills. 🙂 Also, check out my 30 week belly!

Rosie has lots (I mean LOTS) of cute cousins!

Rosie finally sat down and happily opened her gifts. 🙂

…and thankfully her bigger cousin was there to help her out! 🙂 ❤

Lots of new clothes ❤

Dear Rosebud,

Happy first birthday, dear one. God gave me the happiest gift He could have given last year- you! What better gift to celebrate?

In the last few weeks, you have taken your first few steps, learned to sign “more”, “please”, “eat”, and “milk”. You now have six teeth, a little bit of hair (which is mostly growing into a mullet at this point…), and you love to give Mama and Daddy very wet, slimy kisses. You wave at every car that passes by, and you recently discovered a love for blowing the floaties off the dandelions growing in our yard. You still prefer to crawl, unless someone is holding your hands- then you are ready to walk anywhere and everywhere!

I pray every day for you- for your safety and health, because you have a very paranoid Mama. 🙂 But I also often pray for your heart as you grow- for your purity, for your future spouse, for the world you will grow up in. Most importantly, I pray that you grow to learn not just about God, but to love Him for who He is. Grow up knowing I am on my knees for you.

We are forever thankful that you are our baby. We have always wanted you and we will always, always love you. In about two months you will have a little brother to play with, and our little world will change for good. I will enjoy every moment we have as “just girls,” until our hearts expand and make room for a little boy in our lives. But for now, for today… it’s just you and Mama and Daddy. Let’s celebrate your first year of life… 🙂 Happy birthday (tomorrow at 2AM… but I promise not to wake you. ;))!

You are my heart. My truest, closest heart.
We love you so strong.
Mama & Daddy