Friday, October 20, 2017

'Easy Peasy' Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

So cooler weather is starting to show itself around here... FINALLY!  This past week brought a little bit of a chill so my oldest requested one of his favorites, Baked Potato Soup.  I happily whipped it up, because it's EASY PEASY Y'ALL! I've picked bits from a couple recipes I've pinned & for the most part, just fell into a general recipe to go by.

Some great things about this recipe are:
-ingredients needed are CHEAP.
-easy to remember what to get to cook it on a whim.
-at our house (for now) we get a meal and usually enough for another night of leftovers.
-can easily be frozen to be warmed up later.

I don't pretend to be a chef, but I am a Mom of soon to be FOUR, three of which are boys... so hearty, affordable & easy are a winner in my book!

You'll Need:
* You can remove/add or change ingredients such as sour cream, onions etc as your family's tastes fit!

- 1 (30 oz.) bag of southern style hash-brown frozen potatoes
- 2 (14 oz. cans) chicken broth *I use a larger box, just easier & less to open LOL!
- 1 (10.75 oz.) can of cream of chicken soup
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 8 (oz.) package of cream cheese
- 1 package of bacon (cooked, cooled & crumbled)
- 1 handful of green onions, chopped
- 1/2 of a sweet yellow onion chopped 
- garlic to taste ( I use the jarred kind & usually roughly a tablespoon or so)
- sour cream (for topping)
- 1 bag original Velveeta shredded cheese
- loaf of french bread or a baguette

- Cook, cool & crumble the bacon (you can do this later in the day while soup is cooking or at beginning and add the bacon to 'stew' in the soup.... your call!
- I almost always use a crockpot liner, makes life a little easier for this Mama. But sometimes I forget to put in on & start dumping!  If you're like me, do that now!
- Set cream cheese package on counter to soften.
- Chop your onions ahead of time if you want.
- If time and stuff on hand permits I like to warm a little butter in a small pan and cook my sweet or white onions along with my garlic.  Doesn't take long, just a minute or two until fragrant.

Ready To Cook;
- Dump the hash-browns, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, 2/3 of the bag of Velveeta, 2/3 the cooked bacon in crockpot & cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- I always set my cream cheese on the counter to soften and then add it 30 minutes or so before serving.
* I usually just stir the ingredients to mix them a bit to begin with & then you can honestly walk away until 30 minutes or so before serving.  I use a potato masher to occasionally stir/mash... but again, that's not a necessity.  If I'm home & around I will... otherwise it cooks just fine regardless.
- At that '30 minute before done' mark add your cream cheese, green onions, salt & pepper (if needed/taste test) and just stir a bit.

For Plating/Topping:
- I usually heat the oven up & prepare some bread of some sort.  This stuff is AH-MAZING with warm, buttered french bread or a crispy baguette!
- The other 1/3 of green onion, Velveeta, bacon & sour cream I usually set on the island so the fam can add what they'd like to their bowls.

That's it... really that quick & easy... and I promise YUMMY!  This recipe fills my large crockpot & as I said you can make probably a meal two times over for a family of 4 or even split it in half and freeze some for a later date.  This is a great thing to whip up on a limited grocery budget, limited time, or just if you are craving something warm & will stick to your ribs.  The brands I use don't specifically matter.  I've used all generic/budget brands such as Great Value from Wal Mart and it's still just as good.  I shop there and HEB, the pic was snapped after a quick HEB trip. I only suggest sticking with Velveeta because, well, it's Velveeta & nothing tastes like it to me! The list of HITS at my house for the entire family isn't huge, there's usually one or two people that could take it or leave some stuff... but this ALWAYS gets me two thumbs up.

Scoop it up & enjoy!

P.S. if you decide to eat it as a leftover option, it's even yummier the second day!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Idle Hands...

It's been a bit since I've hopped on here... lots has happened around here, as it always does, HA!  But I'll share more on all that stuff later.  

But on a serious note this post has honestly taken me AGES to write up.  I've written it out, gotten too emotional, erased it... walked away from it. Thought about it, prayed about it... and in the end, here I am giving it another 'go'.

My last post was all about our youngest, Jack's, birth story.  But there was another chapter that unfolded during my 20-week anatomy scan/ultrasound and lasted a good 2 weeks, but I've just now gotten to where I don't get anxious thinking about it.

This story has a happy ending, but it's more about the period of limbo, a lot of worry, a test of faith & keeping my heart, head and hands as busy as possible.

Another little part of why this was such a testing time, was that like most people's lives, it wasn't the only thing we had going on.  We were extremely stressed with selling our first home that had been a rental property for quite a while as well.  And let's just say we got far from a fair shake on that deal, but we were backed into a corner.  We actually had amazing tenants in it, but they were ready to buy a home of their own and we were really wanting to start the process of doing the same, the house had to go.  We got the house fixed up and on the market I believe in April.  After a good handful of hopeful offers and negotiations we had a deal that was sticking, but we got a horrible appraisal, the prospective buyers were not wanting to start over with new financing and we were between a rock and a hard place financially and it was now mid-August.  We ended up closing the deal, after wiping out every bit of savings and borrowing from an Aunt & Uncle, we closed and could finally sleep and eat. This was after literal weeks of attempting to work with our mortgage company that couldn't get their crap together enough to get us an exact payoff before closing... it was a guessing game & we were so tired!  They wouldn't give us the figure over the phone, they would 'ball park' it but I'd call the next day to double check and it was a completely different amount than previously quoted.  They would NOT fax or email the title company either and would only snail-mail a payoff, but that pay off only lasted 3-5 days from the day it was requested and they kept sending it to the house which we hand't lived in for YEARS and it'd get returned because, DUH we didn't live there! I don't at this moment remember the day of the week we closed, but I want to say Thursday or Friday.  We were exhausted in every sense of the word, SPENT emotionally, physically & financially.  But we were free from that house & mortgage and we were so relieved.  So there ya go, take a deep breath... and prepare yourselves because at this moment we were firm believers that Murphy's Law was real, and we were raw...

That following Monday morning we had our 20-week ultrasound and were so excited to get a peek at our little Jack, and that alone had us in high spirits.  With my two previous pregnancies Mike had not been able to attend because of work commitments, but he was there for this one.  I remember being a little irritated because he was on his phone non-stop... I don't remember the situation, but I do remember he was stressed and he's a project coordinator that manages a few aspects within the small company he works for, and at that time they were very busy and he was firing off e-mails quicker than they were coming in.

This was my third time and his first with the BIG ultrasound... so in his defense the hair on his arms didn't stick up quite as quickly as mine did.

The tech came in and was all smiles, friendly and we made small talk.  

The usual... are we wanting to know the sex etc? Which we already knew from the blood test.

And we got situated, shirt rolled up, pants rolled down... I remember it was the first time I had worn my new maternity pants and I remember the nude stretchy panel and looking down at this round belly as she squirted that warm gel and quickly found his little heartbeat.  His image cleared and focused and he was going to town in there.  She made comments about his already visible hair... we could even see eyelashes on the screen.  She got right to business after that taking measurements and entering digits.  Meanwhile Mike had stepped back and was handling something on the phone.  

I remember my view moving from him over to the tech's face and she looked very concentrated... I think she noticed and in a nonchalant way smoothly turned the screen to where it wasn't  really visible to me... her chatter and excitement pointing out features quieted.  I think at this point because the room was dark and the light of the screen shifted, Mike stepped forward and little by little the tech was starting to speak up...

'Well, his feet look great, there's no issue there.'
'His pallet is well formed, that's great.'
'Nose & Lips look good'
'Heart looks good.'
'His overall measurement is right on.'
All these little things I don't remember even being mentioned with Kaleb or Emma... as she spoke, the hair on my arms stood up.  I could taste the cereal I had that morning high up in my throat... something was off...

'I'm going to get the doctor real quick, be right back.'

She cleared the screen and I remember telling Mike that I hoped everything was OK.  He brushed it off, of course he had not been to one of these yet... so nothing was odd to him.  

But as we waited I remembered the lady at the front desk rescheduling my OB appointment that morning as we came in because my doctor was needing to head up to the hospital for a c-section.  So for the tech to need to grab her before she left was worrying me.

They came back in & I could tell Dr. D was one foot out the door.  I don't remember her saying much other than a quick 'hi' and she started looking at some images and told the tech 'yes, I see it.'

They turned the screen towards us and she pointed out a decent sized spot on one side of his brain.  She explained it was a plexus choroid cyst, could mean nothing, but was also a marker for two pretty serious issues... Trisomy 18 (Edward's Syndrome) & Trisomy 21 (Down's Syndrome).  I had done the screenings for genetic issues and there wasn't an issue flagged there, but she did suggest doing another test if I chose.  I think once the terms were shared my brain kind of went in overdrive... the next hour or so was kind of a blur.  Mike's plans to go back to work were off now, and we went straight to the clinic to have this other test done.  I was so jittery we had to turn back around to get my lab order because I had forgotten it in the room.

Knowing my husband, he doesn't worry without proof... but I was so worked up.  I made the mistake of Googling the words on the lab slip, and also both of the possible syndromes... Down's didn't terrify me, as I knew plenty of kiddos live very fulfilled lives, but
Edward's Syndrome terrified me.  It was most times fatal in utero, there are not many physical characteristics, but baby doesn't mature/grow as it should and if I remember right, there are substantial heart and or brain issues.  I could live with an 'imperfect child', but the idea of saying goodbye to a child I hadn't yet met broke me.  That whole 'Murphy's Law' thing was so heavy on my mind as well... we had not had any good luck in so long, I was sure the streak was still going strong!

The phlebotomy tech had done all my work up to this point and he was the one there that day as well.  I'm usually very friendly & after the first time meeting him, made it a point to be extra nice because my first impression was he was having a bad day or just wasn't a big fan of his job.  But after that first visit, he seemed to always smile back and maybe he enjoyed having someone a little upbeat to deal with when it was my turn.  But in the short time between being called back and him coming in and asking for my papers, he must have read the worry all over my face.  He was quiet as well... when it was done and I stood up to gather my purse he gave me a hug and a pat on the back.  That was the last time I saw him and I'm not sure since he sees so many illnesses and probably worried faces, that to him I was just another one, but I was thankful he acknowledged my worry.  They told me that my doctor would be calling them with results and I would hear something in like 10-15 days, I don't remember.

When Mike & I headed to the stairway I remember stopping and crying... that hallway was so hot, all windows and sun shining in... he stood a step of two below me and let me lean in on him cry a minute.  He was so calm about it.  That's Mike... I'm the emotional one, he's the collected one... Thank God for that!

We went to eat and we went home... I remeber laying down in our room and just sleeping for a while.

Emma had dance that Wednesday and I went to drop her off, but didn't go in... I was just a wreck still and I didn't want to be there if I had a crying spell.  I went down the road and popped in a little shop and bought some lotion and went back to the car.  Mike called to check on me... I vented about how worried I was and he responded with 'Whatever it is, it is... Jack is our Jack.  Regardless of if he's perfect or not.  We should get started on his room.  Let's go get paint after you get home.'  In that moment I was frustrated but knew to a degree he was right & talking me down... because I will wreck myself with worry and he knew I needed a project.

So we started on Jack's room and decided to try doing a hounds-tooth accent wall.  It could be easily painted over when we moved, which we knew was a possibility, but it was the project that was the blessing.  

Planning, taping, painting... we'd get home from work and eat dinner, get the kiddos in bed and spend a few hours in that nursery.  Working on that wall was therapy... I'd find myself lost in the process and for a while, my head wasn't full of worry, my hands were busy besides Googling scary medical stuff.

The days I spent at my shop,were not really very focused.  I'm sure I called the doctor's office near twice a a day just curious if results had come in.

Eventually the phone rang and it was them with results... all levels were normal, from what they could tell without an amnio, which I didn't want to do anyway, we were good.  She said that we would look for the cyst at the 30-week ultrasound and go from there.  I remember her saying 'sometimes they just disappear.'

By the grace of God... that's exactly what happened. And he was born healthy and a whole other level of 'priorities' set in. My way of thinking about a lot of things were different from this experience on.  Jack was a game-changer for sure, but all in a good way.

But a few weeks after his birth we found ourselves preparing to move... and I was painting over that wall. Wasn't sad to, in a way erase it, but a little bummed to see the final project go.  That wall and painting project kept me sane.  It gifted Mike and I hours of sometimes quiet time spent just together waiting for a phone call... and when we brought our sweet Jack home & I rocked him in that room, I'd look at that wall and smile.

Thank God for answered prayers & thank God for my husband that did his part by keeping my hands far from idle.

(little peek at Jack's nursery)

I have my 20-week anatomy scan with baby #4 this coming Friday and I think in a way to settle my nerves I finally forced myself to get this down... I'll be going to this one alone most likely since Mike will be leaving early that morning for a trip with Kaleb.  Here's to hoping all goes smooth... I have faith it will!

PS, I'll hopefully get myself in gear  here soon & share Jack's lumberJACK first birthday & catch this little blog up on the upcoming baby as well!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick...

(the infamous Facebook check-in status LOL!)

I have finally tucked in my little ONE YEAR OLD for the night, cleaned up the kitchen & walked away from the laundry to sit down and write this out. 

I want to preface this post by saying... it's a birth story, so if birth isn't your thing, just scroll on by or jump to another post.  And if birthing babies is your thing, sit & read a minute.

Ironically, my oldest asked me during dinner tonight, "Mom, what was something you always wanted to be or do but you've never done. Career wise?"  Easy, labor & delivery nurse.  It's always amazed me... women's bodies, delivering babies, the process, new life, pink wigglies. But I've never been able to commit to the school aspect of it.  I had Kaleb at 21, and the three years before that I was playing Mom to my sister & taking care of my Grandma who was battling cancer.  So I guess I've just always been one to take care of other people, nursing always appealed to me, but it just wasn't in the cards.  And that's totally OK with me.  The one thing I've always aspired to be is a Mom, as good of a Mom as I could be.  And I've never been able to pull away from that role in a way that fit going to school seriously.  And to be honest, the few times I starting thinking about going back down that path, I was reminded by friends who are nurses just how brutal the hours are when you start out & just how much time you sacrifice from your family.  I just couldn't do it... God bless nurses, I'll say that!

Alright, so let's start with my 37 week checkup.  At that visit everything was looking PERFECT with Jack & myself.  Minimal weight gain, great blood pressure, baby was growing great & no swelling or issues.  Now, the doctor I was seeing for this pregnancy was different than my doctor who delivered Kaleb & Emma.  We had moved from Alvin to North of Houston & I had my little shop to try to run this go round.  So I just rolled with the punches & decided to continue to see the doctor I had seen for my yearly exams.  The plus to this was her office was literally a mile from my shop & the hospital she delivered at was within a 5 minute drive.  PERFECT.  So, during this visit she brought up the subject of induction & I explained to her that I had been induced with the two previous pregnancies & I would like to let this last one take it's course if all looked good.  My 38 week checkup went just as smooth and again the subject of induction was surfed over by us both.  She did mention that the norm now with induction was to really only entertain the idea after 39 weeks & it was really only if I was showing signs of distress or baby had grown too large in her opinion.  None of that was happening.  But I was getting impatient.  My check ups were always on a Monday.  It was the one weekday my shop was closed so it always just fit well into my schedule & routine. 

(me at 39 weeks preggo on the Monday of my appointment)

So, here we are the Friday night after my 39 week checkup, so 39 weeks & 5 days.  That Friday & Saturday night I had woken up having some contractions, but nothing ever really stuck.  They were strong enough to wake me so I would get up to pee, get a drink and re-adjust & they'd calm down.  I knew my uterus knew what it was supposed to do, but it had been a hot second since the last time it 'stepped up to the plate', so to speak.  I'll say this, pregnancy in my 30's compared to pregnancy in my 20's was a whole other ballgame.  The last two weeks of this pregnancy I could have fallen asleep literally doing anything, I was EXHAUSTED ALL THE TIME. I was convinced I was anemic, although my doctor jokingly told me 'No, hun, You're just not 24 like you were last time.' So that Friday night I started spotting, or after Googling & reading up on my What To Expect When You're Expecting, 'bloody show' had commenced.  Again, third baby... but I hadn't experienced this with K or E, so I was a little anxious.  According to Google (LMBO) if it wasn't my first pregnancy & delivery it usually means you will have an onset of labor within the next 24 hours.  YIKES!  So I had been told two things, #1 my doctor wasn't on call that weekend & #2 it was only actual labor if contractions had been continuous for at least a solid 30 mins with spacing regular or shortening in time.  So I kept my cool & just was on 'high alert'.  I think I had asked my doctor at least 5 times if I would KNOW it was labor or not.  She laughed each time pretty much & answered with 'Oh you'll KNOW, trust me.'

Emma had dance Saturday afternoon & we just kind of took it easy Sunday. Straightened up the house, made sure K & E's bag to take to the hospital were packed so they'd have lots to keep them busy & I sat in Jack's nursery & re-packed his bag & checked mine again.  We were kind of nervous because the downside to letting labor come on it's own, was that we don't have any family near & we knew that K & E would be coming to the hospital with us when labor started & we had been told they couldn't be in the room.  That alone made me very anxious.  I couldn't quit thinking about how on Earth I'd labor my baby while worrying about my older two.  But that's life, babies come when you aren't ready & everyone tends to survive. 

So Monday I go in for my 40 week checkup... I'm feeling pretty sure she's going to check me & send me to the hospital.  I explain the activity with contractions & apologize because I've been wearing a pad since Friday night.  TMI I know.  But I warned you!  I should add, I had a horrible cough that had hung around since Thanksgiving pretty much.  But when you're THAT pregnant you can't take any good meds lol!  I kept thinking about the stories you hear about women going into active labor & they didn't know their water had broken & all I kept thinking was, "With these damn pads on I won't even know if it breaks!  Well, she had me assume the position & I hadn't progressed hardly at all... She said maybe if she was feeling generous I may have dialated a centimeter since the week before.  COME ON?!  That's it?!  So, we made a plan of attack.. I was scheduled for induction that Thursday because she wasn't on call that coming weekend & I was uneasy letting me go past 41 weeks.  I've heard too many stories of really hard labor & deliveries.  I left feeling a little defeated, but a healthy baby in the end is all you really want anyway, so it was what it was. 

Tuesday, Mike called to see if I wanted to meet for lunch.  Only problem was all TWO pairs of my maternity jeans were in the washer... it was either my regular jeans or pajama pants!  I should add, I also had a sink full of dishes, the slipcovers off my couch, bed un-made & I think I may have had a roast in the crock pot.  But I decided to meet him anyway.  What's one last lunch date sans baby?! I waddled into Rudy's BBQ with a hair tie in my jeans button-fly, no kidding.  I made the joke that these jeans would quite possible squeeze Jack out... maybe they are what did the trick after all.  After lunch I went up to the shop.  Because I'm a 'Type A' person & it was Tuesday, so I had it in my head that tomorrow, Wednesday, would be my last FREE DAY & I wanted to take the day off & just relax.  The printer had been giving my part time girl, Hannah, a headache so I wanted to get it working correctly.  I also had some packages to ship off and I wanted to make sure to get change from the bank & make a deposit before I headed home.  During that car ride, contractions started.  I'm going to say I probably ran errands from about 5:15-6 & I started tracking them on the car clock.  They were getting to the point where I couldn't really count, so I was just looking at the time & coaching myself what 4 mins etc from the current time would be.  They were like clock work, starting at about every 5 minutes and by the time I dropped the change off at the shop & waddled back into the car, they were down to a solid 4.  I messaged Mike to just get dinner in the oven for the kiddos & make sure they were ready because I was thinking this could be IT.  When I got home I had to wait for a contraction to subside while I sat in the car & then waddled inside.  They were at a point where it was easier for me to stop walking & talking to work through them.  I got upstairs & took a quick 'neck down' shower & drank the cold Gatorade Mike had brought up.  I told myself I'd lay down & see if they calmed, but I couldn't lay down... I was uncomfortable.  Mike had hopped in to take a quick one, because I KNEW he'd be wishing he had if this was actually labor. 

We loaded up in the car & left the house about 7.  Contractions were about 3-4 mins apart at this point, but water hadn't broken & I wasn't really hurting, just cramping.  But they were constant & definitely uncomfortable.  Mike dropped me & the kiddos off at the hospital door & parked.  We walked inside & waited for him by the elevators.  And (I'll never forget this), I coughed really big & got this odd feeling. Like touhed my pants to see if I had peed, feeling.  9 months pregnant with my third baby & full of Gatorade... it happens. But remember that pesky pad!?  Anyway, we went up to L&D & buzzed.  Mike cracked a joke about how his wife was having a baby & were we in the right place etc. Mike has always made me laugh... and I think we pretty much were trying to make light of the situation because we were so anxious.  K & E had to wait in the waiting area, which I hated.  But there was security & it was 7:20 & empty except for them.  Apparently 7 PM is shift change, and I was the only woman in triage.  So I had two nurses, the one leaving & the one coming on shift.  I was told to change into a gown & leave a urine sample and come out clothes free from the waist down.  I remember looking in that little cup & thinking 'hmmm, there's stuff floating in there, that's odd'.  So I came out carrying it & sat it on the table & proceeded to lay down on the bed.  The nurse asked me the typical questions of my last exam, where the doctor placed my current progress etc & asked me to make my heels touch & drop my knees... I kid you NOT, that nurse barely began to examine me when 'WOOOSH' came my water.  She kept apologizing & we just started laughing.  At least we weren't in limbo any longer... it was baby time!  She told me I was a loose 4, probably closer to a 5, but she didn't want to stretch me & get me moving too quick.  I was taken to a delivery room while they got theings organized & got me checked in officially.  At this point I asked to bring my big kiddos in & she THANKFULLY obliged.  So Kaleb & Emma came in and we just explained the machines & what was going on... they were so so excited.  We were inundated with questions of 'how long till he gets here?'  Because of the timing of our arrival and the shift change, the computer in the room wasn't even on & the monitors she had placed on my tummy weren't hooked up.  I felt like I had to pee constantly so I asked if we could take them off until they were ready to hook them up.  So it was about 7:45/7:50, a dark, quiet, and cool night.  We had our two big kiddos there with us & were just so calm & excited.  By this time we had called Mike's parents to let them know it was for sure labor & they could head our way.  I had called & messaged a handful of people there were lots of well wishes going around.  The nurse popped in to explain that my doctor wasn't on call, and the on call doctor was at dinner & she had instructed the nurses to not give me any Pitocin & just let me labor on my own & that she'd call back about midnight to see how I was progressing.  I wasn't in any pain & we were comfy... so she went back to gather some more supplies & get set up for what we thought was going to be a quiet night of me laboring. 

I really don't have a great timeline as to how the next couple of hours progressed.  I do know I have a very high pain tolerance & had not gotten anything for pain & Mike has told me his version and swears I hardly did more than some moans... but I just kept my eyes closed & worked my way through the contractions.  I do know at one point she checked me & I was at an 8, almost 9 & I asked for something to take the edge off. Things were moving so fast by this point I just couldn't have gotten anything anyway.  She phoned the on-call doctor who had decided to go ahead and head in.  Another nurse came in about 9:45 & I was in the thick of some strong contractions.  At one point I remember actually feeling Jack drop down.  They checked me again & at this time Mike decided to walk the kiddos out to wait for his parents in the waiting room.  We knew they'd be getting there any minute, but he didn't want the kiddos there for the actual delivery.. They're older & smart, but I also know seeing Mom in pain & the sight of blood etc may be too much, even for kiddos as mature as them. 

So I was now at a 10, no meds so far, holding a baby in, & was told that the on call doctor wouldn't be there in time, but they were pulling a doctor in who was finishing up a C-section down the hall.  In that position, I really didn't care who, if anyone was down there LOL!  Mike had practically delivered Emma anyway, so I knew we didn't have any time to split hairs.  I know during one contraction I attempted to close my legs & one of the nurses pushed them back open... Jack was born during that next contraction.  This doctor I had never met before, came in shortly after Jack was delivered by the nurse & introduced himself, shook my hand & congratulated me.  He laughed & made the comment that 'I don't waste any time.'  I joked that 'I warn the nurses every time... I labor quick!' 

(picture snapped by Mike, moments after birth)

Sweet Jack was cleaned up & handed to me... It sounds crazy, but he became REAL in that moment.  There was a period of a lot of worry about his health & I think I put up a wall so to speak, not intentionally, but in that second it came down & I was handed this perfect dark haired baby boy.  He nuzzled right onto my chest & followed my voice.  I know we got a few minutes with him before Kaleb & Emma were brought in.  Mike was eager to introduce them & apparently during labor he had been texting Kaleb & my mother in law keeping them up to speed.  Time-wise it worked out that they stepped off the elevator about the time Jack had arrived.  So, perfect timing! 

Kaleb & Emma were in love immediately!  They've been smitten with him since the second they met him & he just adores them.  They play so great with him, are both such huge helpers & boy does he light up when he sees them!  We worried about the age gap this time around, but it's been beautiful!  I've had them close & I've had them spaced out & I wouldn't change the way our crazy three kiddos worked out one bit!

So to summarize Jack's birth:

Natural onset of labor.
Arrived at the hospital at 7:20
Water breaks at 7:30
Jack is born at 10:03
100% natural/uncomplicated delivery.

Jack WAS nimble & Jack WAS quick LOL!

I wouldn't have believed ANYONE had they said that I would get my wish of experiencing going into labor on my own, non-induced, & delivering naturally with no intervention... and in about 2 1/2 hours.  Especially considering I had seen the doctor the day before & she was convinced we'd have to 'beat him out of there like a raccoon in a bush'! 

All I can say is I am so amazed by a woman's body & all it can do.  We are amazing creatures that can create, grow, nurture & deliver a brand new life... it's beautiful! Jack did have to stay some extra time after I was released due to jaundice... but that's a whole other blog post & I don't feel like tapping into all those emotions tonight..

So we have survived the first year... full of life, and change... tough stuff & beautiful moments... I am so grateful that this sweet boy is ours!  Next weekend we get to pull on some plaid & celebrate this first year with him in 'lumberjack style'! Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


365 days ago, he was due...
Jack's due date came & it went. I felt, wholeheartedly, he would be coming earlier. My OBGYN had made comments about the idea of induction after 38/39 weeks, & my other two were induced a week early. But, alas, here I was at my appointment, exactly 40 weeks pregnant, DUE, and had made no dilation or effacement progress from the week before. Which was kind of defeating because I had contractions off & on and started spotting that past Saturday.
Part of me wanted so much to speed it up... I couldn't wait to hold him! She had danged the carrot that was induction the last two visits, but my weight & blook pressure were perfect.  I physically had no complaints except at this point all I wanted to do was sleep... Literally, All. The. Time! But part of me was relieved when we decided to let him come on his own terms. Kaleb & Emma had both been inducted.  Kaleb due to blood pressure & swelling, and Emma I'm not even sure what the reason was... I had been sent in for a NST (non-stress test) & was sent home with orders to return the next morning.  This was different... the last pregnancy. The last baby. The last time I'd get kept up at night feeling a baby move and stretch in my tummy. Any Mama can tell you, it's more intimate than anything else... And little did I know that night would be the last night I'd sleepily get up to pee for the millionth time. and that next morning would be my last one with my full round belly. I thought maybe he'd just stay in there until they kicked him out... and I was beginning to be ok with that idea too. I made a joke with the doctor, as she was examining me that last time to just beat him out like a raccoon in a bush... we both laughed.  But she patted me on my leg and sent me home with a plan in place to be induced that Thursday.  Boy, was I in for a surprise just one short day later! 
I haven't said much about my pregnancy, or the immense stress & worry we felt for a good few weeks.  I'll chat more about that later.  It's kind of like a car wreck... you may survive & come out the other side, sometimes no broken bones, but very shook up... you find yourself taking a different route just to not have to feel your heart speed up.  That's me... my heart races when I think about it...
But I'll try to write out Jack Grayson's birth story tomorrow... just a teaser, it's a SHORT one!

(Maternity Portraits by Sharla Jahnke Photography)

Sunday, January 8, 2017


So, it's been a good long bit since I last sat & blogged.  I contemplated just starting all over, but that's not real... getting caught up in life, checking out, growing, changing & settling back down & picking up is real!
Six years is a long gap. There's been quite a bit of that 'real life' that I've weathered in that span, and well... I feel like this blog of mine is therapeutic. I'm the kind of person that just feels better if I get my thoughts down, document my projects etc.  I think I do a better job of having proof of progress made & accountability.  If anyone finds my journey interesting, then WELCOME!
I'm declaring 2017 to be the year of 'ENOUGH'... no big stressful life changes, just letting life be enough with no high expectations.
I've always been a creative person, type 'A' & at times that can let me feel very overwhelmed, stressed & feeling less than... but when I look at these three little people I am reminded that I am blessed beyond measure & what I'm doing in life is more than enough...
'Lord, I ask not for wealth or povertly. I pray only for enough.' Proverbs 30:7-9
May your 2017 be all that you pray it is... hugs y'all!