The Allergy Monster

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It has been about three weeks since our visit with the allergy doctor.  To my surprise, Snowflake did great, and even seemed to have fun during her appointment! I expected her to cry since the appointment would involve being scratched by complete strangers (doesn’t that sound like fun?!). She didn’t shed a single tear though. I was very impressed by her. Our suspicions were confirmed – she is indeed allergic to cats and dogs. Sad face.

After talking it over with the allergist, we decided not to test her for food allergies. He said the scratch test for foods at this age is really unreliable and that we would probably know if she was allergic to certain foods, as food allergies try to kill you ;-) He said she may have some intolerances (like dairy), but nothing dangerous. Phew. That made me feel better. He also said the mosquito bite reactions were nothing to worry about. He said since she was having localized reactions, and no facial swelling, we were safe. No risk of anaphylaxis here! Hallelujah!

He prescribed her some medications, and then we were on our way home. The daily regimen was to include 1/2 teaspoon of Zyrtec twice a day and some steroid cream. He also prescribed another medication for whenever she is bitten by a mosquito. I bought everything except the mosquito medicine because it was hella expensive. That’ll just have to wait a month or two. For now we’re bathing her in California Baby bug spray anytime we go outside. It smells awful – she smells like a lemon dipped in citronella with it on – but it works!

We decided to only use the steroid cream on an “as needed” basis. After reading through the potential side effects, I just do not feel comfortable using it every day. We decided to only apply it whenever she is having a severe reaction (aka: bleeding rashes). We put coconut, lavendar, and melrose oils on her to manage the in-between-reactions stage. Desitin also seems to help, which is kind of weird. We started the daily doses of Zyrtec a couple of days after her appointment.

Fast forward to earlier this week. Em had been a diva-monster-girl for what seemed like forever. For a little over two weeks, day in and day out, it was nothing but crying, whining, and tantrums from her. I get that a certain level of those things are normal for this age, but seriously…if we were at home and she wasn’t being read to or taught something, she was PISSED and letting everyone know about it.  She was even being a little booger butt when we were outside of the home (this is not the usual for her). Grocery store trips had become a nightmare. We went out to eat once during this period and she threw down the entire time.

Exhibit A (she acted like this the entire time we were there)

Exhibit B (happy while being read to, but fussing if you stopped…this was ALL day)

She was not herself. And it wasn’t just because of the grumpies either. She was also showing hardly any physical affection at all. This little darling is extremely affectionate and loves to randomly hug, kiss, lay her head on you, etc. She wasn’t doing any of that! She also seemed to be tired all the time.

At first, I thought maybe we were just entering the terrible twos early. I kept that mindset for about two weeks, until one morning earlier this week, when I was giving her a dose of Zyrtec. She was fussing. AGAIN. I was exhausted, and feeling defeated. I didn’t want to go through another day with her being like that. It was demanding, and tiring, and I really just missed my cuddle bug. I gave her the dose, all the while wondering what had happened to my sweet girl. Almost immediately after I gave her the medicine, I realized what had happened to her.  The freaking Zyrtec. Her behavior changed exactly when the daily doses started. It was so clear. I still can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!

That was the last dose we gave her, and I am happy to report that the Allergy Monster has officially left the building. No more Ms. Grumpy Pants. THANK GOD. Sweet Em returned to us about 24 hours after the last dose. Crazy, right? I am so relieved that we realized what the problem was and that it had a solution. I’m not sure why the Zyrtec was affecting her in that way. We think maybe it was just making her tired or something? Who knows, but no more Zyrtec for us!

Now we are just trying to find a new home for Emmy, our cat. Em’s allergies are so bad, that she doesn’t even have to touch Emmy to react to her. Just the pet dander around our home is causing her to break out in rashes. I had hoped that finding Emmy a new home would be easy, but so far it hasn’t been. She is 13 years old, and I guess people just aren’t all that interested in older cats. I’ve had two people contact me about her, but one sketched out on me and the other had five dogs and a doggy door. Emmy would run for the hills in that scenario, and since she is declawed, getting outside could endanger her life. So that was a no. Sigh. I’m just posting about her online every day for now. Hopefully someone will take her in soon – until then, Em will have to be an itchy miserable mess because of her reactions :(

But the good news is that at least she’s smiling again!

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Allergic Reactions…AHHH!!!!

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Left. What Emrist looks like when she is reacting to something.
Right. What her skin looks like whenever it decides to be normal.

Poor thing. Her little cheeks are almost always red. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out in public with her and had someone approach me to tell me how cute her rosy red cheeks are. On a normal day, when her cheeks are only mildly reacting, she does look like something out of a fairytale. Curly blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin, with a hint of rose on the cheeks. Of course, it is cute to a perfect stranger….but not to me. I know it’s an allergy, and I get to see what kind of torment those little rosy red cheeks bring her when we’re home. They itch. Well…all of her itches, really. You see, that rosiness isn’t just exclusive to her cheeks. It covers her torso, and is behind her ears and knees as well. The worst places are behind her knees because she scratches…constantly. We have to keep her covered, even on the hot days, to keep her from tearing at her skin.

Eczema. Have you heard of it? Well we’ve been battling it for months. I knew it was her body’s way of telling us that she is allergic to something, but I wasn’t really sure what. We’ve suspected dogs for a while, and wondered about our cat too, since the redness never truly goes away. We’ve also wondered about dairy. But we haven’t known with 100% certainty what is causing her reaction, and with her pediatrician wanting to wait until 2-3 years of age, we’ve just had to battle it to the best of our abilities with what little knowledge we have.

About a month or so ago, we were in the backyard playing when our neighbor’s dog came for a visit. Emrist was having a particularly good day in regards to the condition to her skin, so I decided to let the dog play with her. My thought process was that since her cheeks were pretty clear before playing with the dog, if she reacted then I would know for sure that she is allergic to dogs.

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Here she is playing with him. And within 5 minutes her face looked like this:

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It was terrible. Her face flared up worse than it ever has before. She got welts, and her skin started developing scabs almost immediately! I felt like the worst mom that day. I took pictures so that I would have it for our next pediatrician visit. I decided that day, that we would have her tested with or without a referral, because I was afraid of what other scary reactions could be waiting to happen. I called our insurance company later that afternoon, and to my relief, found out that I did not need a referral. Awesome! The only thing was that we would have to meet our deductible (around $400). So we’ve been saving up for that ever since, and just waiting. I had planned on taking her once Benji was out of school for the summer. However, last week we went to visit with some friends in Birmingham, and Em had yet another allergic reaction. This time to mosquitoes.

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This is just one bite. She had a total of five. This one was by far the worst, but the others were nasty and painful too. These pictures were taken over the course of 2-3 days. The one on the left is the day after it happened. It was huge, swollen, and flashing…like a strobe light. I’ve never seen anything like it. It scared me. I mean…what else is she allergic to that I don’t know about?! And what if she’s deathly allergic to bees or something like that, and I don’t know until she’s stung? To be completely honest with you, it terrifies me.

So we are taking her for allergy testing on May 16th. That’s the soonest they could see us. I’m excited and ready to have some answers. I’m also nervous. I have no idea what to expect, and I’m worried it’s going to be traumatic for her.

The reason I’m posting is to ask for pointers/advice. Any of you who have done this, could you tell me what your experience was like? Was it painful? Did it take long? Did you get answers that day, or did you have to wait?

Also…I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the mosquito allergy. We have a creek behind our backyard, so they are ALLLLLLLLLLLL over the place here. Mosquito paradise. How on earth am I supposed to keep them away from her?! We’ve been drenching her in bug spray, and so far, so good…she’s only gotten one more bite since using the spray. But still…it was one more bite. I’m interested in buying something for our yard. Torches. Candles. Electrical equipment. Anything. I just want to keep them away. Any advice on what I can do? HELPPPPPPPPPPPPP me :)

The Story of Us.

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May 1, 2004. I went on my first date with Benji. I still get goose bumps when I think of how God brought everything together. I don’t think I’ve ever shared about it here, so I’m going to today. Get ready for some cheese :)

Fall of 2003. I’d recently gotten out of a two year relationship and was struggling with feeling alone. I spent the months following the break up feeling like I *needed* a boyfriend. I was young and dumb, and convinced that if I didn’t have a boyfriend at 18, I’d end up alone for the rest of my life. From September through March, finding someone was all I could focus my thoughts and energy on. It didn’t help that all of my friends had boyfriends. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that every time I went somewhere, I would look at the boys there and wonder if any would be interested in me. Y’all…I was SO desperate.

Sping of 2004. The Passion of the Christ was the thing to go see. Everyone was talking about it. EVERYONE. My youth group took a trip to see it, and I went with them. Honestly…it was half out of boredom, and half out of curiosity. At the time, I was pretty cynical and didn’t care for “popular” things, so I sneered a little on the inside at the thought of this movie. I was a jerk. I sat down in the theater that day knowing that it was going to be super cheesy, that it would not live up to the hype, and that I would leave unchanged. Buuuuuuuut as usual, the Big G had different plans. I ended up crying like a baby for the entire film.

After seeing it, and getting an honest picture of what Christ had done for me, I was so torn up over what I had been giving my life over to for the past few years. It hurt me to think that after Jesus did all of that, he had to see me be more interested in boys than I was in him. I did a lot of praying that day. Truly knowing for first time what God had done for me, I told him thank you over and over again. I also told him I did not care if I ended up alone for the rest of my life, because he was enough for me. It was pretty freeing to say that and actually mean it. I truly did not care if I grew to be 102 and never married. I wasn’t afraid of being alone anymore, and it was the coolest feeling!

I was on cloud 9, and I blogged about it that night. Livejournal. Do y’all remember good ole’ LJ? Well…it was the Facebook of 2004. And it’s also how Benji and I met. Yes…we met online. Surprised? He denies it to this day, but it’s true! We did!

Anyways, I blogged about the movie and how God had used it to change my heart and my focus, and guess what! That’s the first thing of mine that Benji ever read. Neither of us know how, but somehow we ended up being friends on LJ. We had mutual friends, so it wasn’t creepy or anything like that. We were just…online friends lol. So he read my Passion of the Christ post, and over the next couple of months, we continued to keep up with one another, commenting back and forth on each other’s posts.

I even left him this comment on a post he wrote about feeling lonely (note…I am SUPER embarrassed to share this because of how corny I was, but it’s cool, so I’m sharing in spite of my embarrassment):

“Hey Benji,
Just a few words of encouragement. I know how it feels with the whole being lonely stuff and it’s not a lot of fun. I don’t know what your situation deals with or why you are sad, but I do know that God is there. He’s got you in His hand and He is never going to let you go. One day He is going to bring someone into your life that is going to bless the mess(a little rhyme for ya) out of you! Just wait and be patient…it’s all in God’s timing…and believe me when He does bring that someone….you will know!! I am praying for ya my friend and if it helps for you to know…I’m in the same boat haha =) I hope you have a blessed day!
*Ashley*”

This comment makes me laugh so hard because #1) “bless the mess”…what a cheese ball and #2) Because I had NO idea whatsoever that I would one day marry this boy. I was essentially telling him to be patient…FOR ME. Isn’t that mind blowing? Maybe not to y’all, but it is to me. I found this comment sometime after we got married, and my jaw dropped.

God. Is. Hilarious.

We met in person, by accident, in April 2004. I went to try out for a voice scholarship at the college he was attending. My friend (Anna) and I went to the library to check our LiveJournals while we waited for my audition. Benji and a friend just happened to sit right across from us. We overheard them talking about Livejournal and I thought we were about to get in trouble for using the computers, so we got up and left. When we got downstairs…there they were AGAIN….except this time they approached us. We talked and realized we all knew each other from LJ – crazy, right?!

A couple weeks later, a big group of us went skating in Tuscaloosa. My mom had just gotten me a new car, and buddy…I knew she was not about to say yes to letting me drive it 45 minutes away. By some miracle though, she let me go. I had so much fun that night, and I thought Benji was great, but I didn’t even think about dating him. He was probably the first boy that I had met in months that I didn’t size up, because I was finally in a place where I recognized Jesus was the only thing that would ever complete me, and that everything else in my life would just fall into place.

After our skate night, Benji and I started emailing on a regular basis. I did eventually fall for him, obviously. He was just so darn cute, and hilarious, not to mention into Jesus. He eventually asked me out and we went on our first date on May 1, 2004. Ten years ago today. Wow.

We got married two years later. He grew a beard, I grew children, and we haven’t really looked back since. I’m so glad that God orchestrated it the way he did. He is hilarious, and all about the details. HE CARES. Oh, how he loves us! <3

 

My First (and probably last) Ever Video Blog! What?!

For the record, I can’t believe I actually made this haha. Enjoy my stellar awkwardness.

PS: You gotta love the frame YouTube chose as the cover picture. Good. Lord. Can’t you help me out even a little bit, YouTube?!

And here’s the donation link:

http://www.gofundme.com/6uygj4

The Thing I’ve Been Dreading For YEARS

Potty-training. I am so serious when I say I have been dreading it for years. Like…since I was in high school. How ridiculous is that? It’s true though. I knew I wanted to someday be a mother, so I started thinking about how awful potty-training was bound to be, and the thought/fear/anxiety has been stuck with me ever since. I’ve been dreading it!

You know how a chronological life story typically goes. You meet someone, fall in love, get married, have kids, blah, blah, blah. Well in between the marriage and kids portion of my story were two dogs. And buddy did that experience wreck me! We crashed and burned when it came to teaching those creatures where to pee and poop. This only heightened my anxiety levels for potty-training my future children.

And then 2010 brought my first child, who also happened to be a boy. Ask around, and most people will tell you that boys are hard work when it comes to potty-training. They’re also known to take a whole lot longer than girls. I knew that information when Harper came because for some reason, when you’re pregnant with your first, people feel the need to scare the ba-jezus out of you by telling you all of their worst parenting nightmares/stories.

So, armed with the knowledge that my boy would take longer to potty-train than a girl, I looked at one of his first meconium-filled diapers and thought to myself “well, this isn’t so bad. I think I can handle this for two years.”

TWO YEARS.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Yeah, no. I didn’t have a clue. And I didn’t know the nature of my child. He is not one to be rushed and typically takes forever and a day to do anything.

Close to his second birthday, I started to feel panicky because he wasn’t making the progress I assumed he would be at that point. I was also starting to get comments about him still being in a diaper.

I remember texting a friend and mother of four (Hi, Nicole!!!) about it one day to ask for her advice. Side note: I’m so blessed to have a multitude of wise mothers who have done these things before me. Who needs parenting books when you have that?! Anyways, Nicole gave me the best advice ever, and I am so thankful for it. She told me to just wait him out, and that he would probably be closer to age three before he potty-trained. She said if I would wait on him, rather than forcing it, it would take a week to train him versus taking a year. Pssssh! Sounds good to me!

After our conversation, I quickly formulated a plan to do absolutely nothing :) It took so much stress off of me. We continued to talk to Harper about the potty and we let him play on it whenever he was interested, but we tried not to force anything.

For whatever reason, as time went on, he began to lose interest in the potty and at some point, he even developed a slight fear of it. As he approached age three, I really began to doubt myself and wondered if we had missed “the window” everyone talks about. What if I had the one child who would never want to use the potty? I was also still feeling pressure from others to get him out of a diaper.

Let me tell you. There are few things more embarrassing than having your soon-to-be three year old walk up to you in public and say “Mom, I pooped. I need a new diaper.” Lots of stares and “if he can ask for a new diaper and tell you when he is pooping, he needs to be using the potty.” I’m sure to others it looked like Harper ruled the roost, and was getting his way. And maybe he was, but as much as we tried to encourage him to use the potty, he just wasn’t having it, so we just had to deal with the judgements for a while.

As hard as it was, we continued to wait and to give him time. Every now and then, we’d ask him if he wanted to try using the potty. Sometimes he did, and sometimes he didn’t. If he did want to try it, we always got the same result: lots of sitting without actually doing anything.

His third birthday came and went, and at this point, I was just resigned to him still being in diapers by age 25. We had pulled out all the stops to encourage him to go (big boy underwear, candy, cupcakes, toys, etc.) but nothing worked. So more waiting for us.

About a month later, on Thanksgiving break, we finally had some success. He peed in the potty. Woo hoo!! We still didn’t push things, and continued to go with the flow. When Christmas break rolled around, Benji and Em came down with the flu. We decided that if we were going to be house-bound we would also try to make some progress with Harper and the potty. He seemed ready, and since we couldn’t leave the house anyways we thought “why not?”

Best decision ever!

We let him go diaper-free, and within just a day or two, he wasn’t having accidents and was beginning to stop in the middle of whatever he was doing to tell us he needed to go pee. Fast-forward a couple of weeks: he is now wearing underwear all throughout the day, and he goes to the bathroom on his own, without any reminding from us. Amazing, right?! Yeah, I thought so too!

The only thing we’re having slight hiccups over is #2.

TMI ALERT: Don’t read any further if over sharing bothers you.

Harper has always been a standing-pooper, so this whole “sitting down to poop” thing is crazy to him. Add to that the fact that we’re now asking him to poop in a bowl rather than in his diaper, and it’s as if we’ve asked him to do the most unnatural thing on the planet.  Although he isn’t having accidents, he still isn’t a fan of going #2 in the potty, and whenever he *does* have to go, he tells us, and then holds it in. FOR DAYS. Right now we’re going on five days at a time. He could probably go longer, but by day five, I start to panic and pump him full of laxatives, until he can’t “prairie dog it” anymore.

Now I know you’re sitting there in disbelief at the fact that I am talking about my son “prairie doggin’ it” so I figured I’d just go ahead and cross the line with a graphic:

Präriehund_P1010308Photo source.

There you go. Yeah, I know. I’m evil.

Anyways. I’m not really worried about this half of potty training since he isn’t having accidents. In my mind, the worst part is over and done with (I hope I am right on this anyways), and he will eventually come around on this part too. It’s just going to take some time, patience, and a little waiting. Overall, potty-training wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be, and for that, I am grateful!

The Pensieve.

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^^^This year’s memory jar (and here’s a link to my blogpost about 2012’s memory jar (here) if you care)

It’s that time again. A new year has come! To celebrate, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite memories of 2013 from our family pensieve (aka the memory jar).

Man. I really wish it was a pensieve. It’d be super cool to look like this when putting stuff inside:

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(Photo sourcey source) 

….instead of having to write it down like a stinkin’ muggle. But alas…I *am* a muggle…so I’ll have to settle for documenting things with a pen rather than a wand. Biggest disappointment of my life.

In all seriousness though….2013. It was such a wonderful year! New friends. New house(s). New job(s) for me. So much change. So many blessings. There just aren’t words for this past year. It was awesome!

I spent the last few minutes of 2013, reflecting on everything that has happened. For the last 30 seconds, I truly felt a pang in my heart because I didn’t want to see it go. As I watched the numbers get smaller and smaller, I just wanted to hold on to time and make it stop. It’s kind of silly, I know. And I’m not saying I’m not excited about 2014. I definitely am! I am just really sad to see 2013 become a thing of the past.

Once the countdown ended, my heart felt a little lighter. It was over and 2013 was gone. I opened my hands to let go of the past and held them open in hopes of things to come. I can only hope this year will be as wonderful as the last.

I rang in the new year “on the clock” and in my PJs, which was incredibly appropriate. My new job has been perhaps the biggest and best change for our family this year. I haven’t posted about it here because I don’t want to seem braggy. It seems that every time I mention my work to someone, I am flooded with questions on how I got this job, how someone could get into this field, etc. For a mom who wants to stay at home with her kids, but also wants to work, it is the perfect solution. It is my dream job, and I did absolutely nothing to deserve it.

Here are some of my favorite memories from the pensieve. I narrowed it down to ten:

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#1 Harper climbed to the top of the Chick-fil-a playground for the first time and wouldn’t come down. Benji had to go up after him. We joked that he looked like a giant hamster in the tunnels!

#2 Jenn, Theresa, and I all saw each other for the first time in 10 months! It felt wonderful to be together again. All the  kids had changed a ton and everyone got to meet our newest member – Emrist. She was all smiles. We had our first ever kid-free hang out that night. We shared wine and laughter. It was lovely!

#3 Slow dancing with Benji at Grace’s wedding <3

#4 We sat outside after Harper’s bedtime and watched fireflies. He loved it and kept asking us to turn them on and off. It was magical!

#5 Emrist is FOR SURE smiling! She did it to my mom yesterday and then to me four times this morning! She also cooed for the first time today. Absolutely precious!

#6 Harp swam by himself for the first time. He just took off suddenly and began swimming around. So brave! He is growing so fast!

#7 Emrist let me rock her to sleep for the first time in ages. Sweet girl!

#8 Dancing around the house with Harper and Benji before bedtime. One of my favorite things to do!

#9 On Tues, Harp brought me a chrysalis. I tried to save it by taping it to a twig! It worked! The butterfly hatched the next day. Harper loved it. He said “Look! It’s a beautiful butterfly. He’s cute!” After letting him dry his wings, we set him free. It was beautiful!

#10 We went to Paw Paw Joe’s for his annual Christmas party. Benji wasn’t feeling well the night before. I asked Harper if he would like to pray for daddy. I was expecting to lead him through it, but he excitedly said yes and began praying on his own. It was beautiful!

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Little bit loved the jar

So there they are. My favorite memories from 2013. I decided to type them out for you all because my handwriting is pretty awful :)

I hope you all have a happy new year and that blessings, joy, and laughter rain down upon you in 2014! <3

Opinion #1,000,647 On Phil Robertson

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(Photo Source)


I’ve been reading opinions all week. I actually got to a point where I stopped clicking because I was tired of reading opinions….so it’s funny that now I’m here sharing mine. I really don’t care if you read it. I just needed to get it off my chest.

You see….I have an overly empathetic personality. I hear that empathy is supposed to be a gift. Well, I view it more as a curse at times. Yeah sure…it has it’s perks. It makes me more personable and enables me to be kinder to people because I am constantly putting myself in their shoes in order to feel what they feel. I even have a few friendships that I can truly say are there because of my ability to empathize.

On the flip side though, I sometimes can’t even enjoy the warmth of my own bed without “the curse” creeping in and telling me there is someone, somewhere, sleeping on a freezing bench, which on more than one occasion has sent me to bed in tears.

My heart feels really heavy sometimes – almost unbearably so – because of the way I feel after reading and seeing certain things. This week, my heart has been heavy with Duck Dynasty and homosexuality. After several nights of going to bed sad, I decided to blog about it so hopefully I can feel some peace. I felt this same way when all the Chick-fil-a business went down last year, but I never voiced my feelings because honestly…I was afraid. It’s time for me to stop being afraid though.

Let me preface this by saying I love Duck Dynasty. Benji and I don’t have cable, so we usually watch it online. We love it. LOVE it. They remind me of my family, so I feel a deep connection with them even though we are complete strangers. I really and truly enjoy their show.

However, you will not find an “I stand with Phil Robertson” or an “I support Phil Robertson. PERIOD.” icon on my Facebook page. And here’s why:

I know that a lot of Christians are hellbent on “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Fine, whatever, but can I tell you my experience with something similar? When I was a child, I went to the doctor for one of my well checkups. I wasn’t overweight yet, but my eating habits were well on their way to sending me there. I remember being completely blindsided and…hurt, at this particular well visit. The doctor, who obviously felt he was doing his job by warning me of the inherent danger ahead, told me that if I didn’t stop and turn from my ways, I would end up being carried around in the back of a truck because I would be too big to fit inside of it.

I’m 27 years old, and I can still feel the drop in my gut when he said it. The shame. The guilt. The filthiness. The gluttony. All of it washed over me through his words, and all at once, I felt alone and not good enough. I still remember it so clearly.

This one moment has affected me on a daily basis, ever since it happened. Something that this doctor saw, not as mean, but instead as part of his job and as a “must” say, has at times led me to feel far from God, and far from both friends and family alike. Over the past 20 years, I cannot count the times I’ve looked in the mirror with disgust and self-hate because of what was planted in my head that day. I still struggle with food and my weight. Although he had the best of intentions, nothing he said changed me for the better. It actually changed me for the worse, and hurt me deeply.

This is why I cannot and will not ever tell someone the “err” of their ways. I don’t care if they are a drug dealer or a drug taker. A liar. An adulterer. A gossip. A girl who doesn’t cover her hair when she prays. A glutton. A homosexual. A heterosexual. A thief. A girl who wears jewelry or makeup. A politician. A guy who shaves. Someone covered in tattoos. An alcoholic. A dirty-mouthed sailor. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I. Don’t. Care. It is not my job to have a stance on someone else’s life. My job is to love God and to love my neighbor. Put even more simply, my job is to love.

Love is so much more powerful than words, y’all. If you really want to lead people to Jesus, love them. And I mean the no-strings-attached kind of love. Just LOVE them and accept them as they are. Don’t look at them as a project to be worked on. No. Show them love, acceptance, and friendship. If God sees fit to change someone, then let him do the changing. I can assure you….he is big enough to change someone, even if that someone ends up being you.

Lovely Little Snowflake

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(The difference between March and November! Photo on the left was taken by Rachel Stricklin and the photo on the right was taken by Jennifer Nicholson)

Sigh. Somehow I am here….posting about how Em just turned one. I have a ONE year old, people! Again. How is this possible? One of the best things about your second child, at least in my humble “I don’t know a thing” opinion, is that you have a knowledge that you didn’t have with your first. The knowledge that the sweet baby phase goes by hell-a fast and you better enjoy it while it lasts. Since I kinda rushed things with Harp, I tried to enjoy every moment with Em…even the not so fun ones. Newborn screaming fits that couldn’t be figured out (not very many of them fortunately), 1Am and 3AM feedings…..yawn, 3 hour feeding schedules, diaper blowouts, having to avoid red lights lest I wake the sleeping baby, etc. I really did try to savor every little thing! I tried to commit it all to memory. And yet…here I sit trying to remember the sound she used to make while sleeping, and for the life of me, I can’t. WTH. In some ways, I feel like time went by even faster than it did with Harp. Does it speed up with each child?

So in the blink of an eye, my itty bitty newborn turned into a one year old chunky firecracker. And let me tell you guys…she is AMAZING! Oh, how I love her! She has added so much joy to our family :)

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She is super affectionate and cuddly. She loves to talk. I had always heard that girls are quicker at picking up on language when compared with boys. Well, that’s definitely true for Em. Verbally, she is where Harper was at 15-18 months. This may also have something to do with her being #2. But yeah…she talks all the time. Real words and babbles. When she babbles, she looks at you like she is having a real convo with you and she expects a response. Her facial expressions when she does this are hilarious (mainly her furrowed brow lol)!

She loves her brother! A lot. Daddy is definitely her favorite though. I’m trying not to be too jealous since this is the natural law of the universe…”daddy’s girls” and all. Let’s see. She loves to eat. However, unlike Harp, she will eventually get to a point where she STOPS. Harp is a bottomless pit! She loves fruit, crackers, and broccoli. Over Thanksgiving, she tried ham (we don’t usually buy it because I’m the only one in the house who likes it), and it was like someone had given her candy!

She loves to swing…a lot. She giggles like crazy when you push her really high. She is daring, and very brave. She enjoys anything that takes her breath away. She reminds me of Benji in that way. She has a quick, fiery temper (a lot like mine) and is perhaps the most stubborn human being I’ve ever met…even more stubborn than my mom ;) She is special, and I see bits and pieces of Benji and me, as well as several of our family members all wrapped up into her tiny little frame. And at the same time, she is uniquely her own. She is amazing, and words can’t describe how much I love her.

With her being our second, I had a good many people tell me that I wouldn’t document her like I did Harper. That I would take fewer pictures and make fewer notes of her milestones, etc. etc. Well…the thought of her being 20 years old and having fewer memories written down or on camera because she wasn’t born first made me sad so I tried to keep up with what I did for Harper. I wrote letters to her in her notebook. I took a ton of pictures and videos. I documented milestones.  And, I made a video of her face changing, just like I did for him.  Let me just tell you…there is nothing more annoying than having to remember to take a picture once a day for months. I’m glad I did it with both of them, but I’m also glad it’s over lol. There’s one dad out there who did it every day for like ten years. I just can’t even…

Anyways, here is her video:

It has been such a great year! I look forward to many, many more! <3

The Wait Is Over

Updating about our new hizzle. After talking to a dear friend yesterday, and finding out that she was unaware of our upcoming move, I realized that I hadn’t really shared the news with a lot of people. Not intentionally…I’ve just been busy working two jobs and planning birthday parties, etc. Just busy with life, really.

Anyways…here’s my update.

Remember the house drama that went down about six weeks ago, and THIS post I wrote afterwards? Well…we waited. We didn’t know what we were waiting for, or for how long, but we waited nonetheless.

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Photo Source Here

Last month, we found a house on Craigslist. I guess one of the real reasons I didn’t tell many people about it is because I was expecting it to fall through. Honestly, I thought our time of waiting would be longer than just a few weeks. As per our usual, this story is a little weird…nay…miraculous :)

Basically, I was on CL one day just window shopping and trying to get an idea of what was out there. Although neither of us knew how long to wait, we both assumed something wouldn’t come our way until after the new year. We let our apartment go into a month-to-month lease which cost us an additional $100 in rent each month. We didn’t want to pay that much for very long, but figured it was fine for a few months.

Any-whoo. On that particular date, I got onto CL, and my eyes immediately went to a house about halfway down the page. It caught my eye because the square footage was 1,222. If you know me, you know my thing with this number (222).  It’s like a secret code God uses to say “HEYYYYYYYY!!! Over here!” to me, so of course I clicked on the listing. Three bedroom, one bath, brick home, fenced in backyard, on a road with a cul-de-sac, Millbrook. Pretty much everything we had been hoping to find (it even has things that the other house didn’t). I almost didn’t reply to the listing because it was just too perfect, and we had no money for it.

Backtracking a little here. Since September I’ve been working as a medical transcriptionist as well as working as a waitress. The MT job will be my main job soon (in less than two weeks, actually!), but it only pays once a month. With that being the case, I went a full eight weeks of working there without a paycheck. My first paycheck was also cut in half in order to pay my trainer for the two months she spent training me (trust me…she deserved more than what she got). I won’t actually be getting my first FULL paycheck until the end of this month.

I kept my job waiting tables to get us through the transition period, but at the same time, I had to cut my hours in half to allow me to work as an MT. Things have been TIGHT to say the least. Really tight. Especially after the whole house fiasco. We lost about $500 on that due to the rent money we paid there and all of the disconnect/set up fees we had to pay to get the utilities stopped at our apt, turned on at the house, then stopped at the house, and turned back on at the apt. It was one big fat expensive mess.

So when I saw the CL listing, we no longer had enough money for a full deposit. Sigh. I just knew we wouldn’t be able to get the house, but I emailed the owners anyways to see if we could view it. I guess I just wanted to torture myself.

Benji and I talked before we went to see it and agreed that we were not going to rush things. We both agreed that A LOT would have to fall into place in order for it to work out. They’d have to be okay with us only having half of the deposit, and they’d also have to be okay with allowing us to wait 30 days before moving in so that we could give our current landlords notice. If these pieces of the puzzle didn’t fall into place smoothly and effortlessly, oh well. We would just keep waiting.

We went, and I pretty much fell in love. It’s right down the street from one of our favorite parks. It’s in a quiet neighborhood. They had just put new carpet in the week before we viewed it so it had that fresh new smell about it. It also had a layout similar to our home in Northport, so it felt strangely familiar upon entering. The backyard was big, flat, and fenced in and directly behind it was a creek. It was beautiful and peaceful and I remember standing there in the backyard and getting that feeling in my chest…that feeling you get when you want something you know you can’t have. I had to remind myself of my agreement with Benji…no rushing. If it was meant to be, things would fall into place. If not, well…there was no sense in longing for something that wasn’t meant to be ours. So I stuffed those feelings away, and put on a smile. We walked inside and I basically just blurted out our situation to the owners (I’ll refer to them as J and M. J is the wife, and M is the husband).

“We really like your house, but we can’t move in for 30 days, would that okay?”

“Yeah, sure. We’ll just need a deposit in order to hold it for you.”

“Well…about that…”

To my amazement, they were willing to work with us (sidenote: our appointment actually ran over and another couple came to view to house while we were there…so this made me even more grateful that they were willing to give us a shot).

We told them that we would go home and figure out just how much we could give them, and that we would call them back. I called them back later that evening and told them we could give them a little over half the deposit. M got on the phone and informed me that he didn’t want us to give them everything we could – he wanted me to put a little aside in case of an emergency. He asked that I give them a little less than what we could afford instead, and said they would hold the property for us. I was basically speechless. After the way we had been treated by the landlords at the previous house, this was a breath of fresh air. They seemed to genuinely care about our family.

Over the past month, they have worked with us time and time again to make sure everything fell into place. Our security deposit was finally paid in full, and we signed the lease last night. So it’s officially official now. We are moving in this weekend, and I just cannot wait.

I’m excited about the house, but I’m also excited about working with and knowing J & M. They are just two sweet, incredible people. Two retired veterans, who love Jesus and have been married for 44 years. They are both full of wisdom and I honestly love being around them. Just an example of their kindness (beyond working with us on everything!): one of the times that I met up with them, it was raining. M ran out to our car, with an umbrella, covered me and the children and ran us inside.

Like seriously, y’all. They are incredible, and we are just over the moon excited and thankful to be so well taken care of by Jesus. Even in spite of our doubt.

Three Years

I guess this post is better late than never!

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Baby bird is now three years old.

I feel like a broken record when I say I can’t believe we’re here. Three years with Harp. How? It truly feels like we just brought him home yesterday.

I imagine I’ll be saying this for years to come (I hope so anyways). How, how, how? I don’t know that I’ll ever see him as anything other than my little baby. Even now. We have conversations. He sometimes gets an attitude and talks back to us. He tells us what he is thinking, feeling, etc. He is gentle, kind, and makes us laugh constantly. But sometimes when he is talking to me, I have to catch my breath because it feels so weird. My little man is…talking to me? What on earth? Wasn’t he just babbling at me? And before that, wasn’t he just screaming at me because he wanted a bottle?

Now, three years later, he fills our days with hilariousness, joy and love. He talks of jumping into the clouds and eating them and about how the moon and stars are friends. He tells us when he thinks someone or something is cute. He tells us when he is happy, sad, or scared. He obsesses over helicopters, motors, and propellors. He loves to watch air conditioning units and fans.  He is just so grown up.

And yet, late at night, when I sneak into his room to kiss him goodnight, I can still see my baby lying there. Maybe it’s the long lashes resting on his cheeks, or the tight hold he has on his bunny, but I can see him almost as if he hasn’t changed at all.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over baby bird, and I hope I can always catch glimpses of him, no matter how old he gets <3

Moving along.

To celebrate his birthday, we had a party at one of his favorite parks. We had friends and family come all the way from Birmingham, Fayette, and Tuscaloosa. I feel truly blessed to have people willing to drive so far to celebrate our son.  We had SO much fun on his birthday. It fell on the weekend this year, so we were able to have the party on his actual birthday.

On Saturday morning, Harp woke up to a flood of balloons. The night before, Benji and I blew up a ton of them and placed them outside of his door for him to walk into. I think we were just as excited about his birthday as he was. This was the first year he really understood what was going on, so the anticipation was high for all of us. Here’s a picture the balloon craziness:

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The look on his face when he saw it was priceless. I videoed it, but I’m too lazy to upload it at the moment. In a nutshell, he walked out, smiled, and started kicking them, and immediately asked for cake. We died laughing. Emrist enjoyed the balloons too!

The party wasn’t until the afternoon so we spent all day preparing and just enjoying our time together. My family arrived at around noon, so we also got to spend some time with them which was very nice. Once the party arrived, Harper was in heaven. Candy, cake, pizza, presents, and LOTS of helicopters. The hardest part was getting him to let go of one present so that he could open the next. He was pretty smitten with the first gift, and had a hard time opening the rest haha.

Overall, it was a wonderful day that left me feeling exhausted and so loved.

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Blowing out the candles.

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Helicopter favors.

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Family photo.

And that’s it. The rest of the party pictures are on my camera :)

Here are some pictures I’ve taken since arriving at three:

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Little buddy loves his sister.

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He got a zoo membership for his birthday, so we have been going a lot! He loves it!

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He also loves to swing.

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And finally, a random banana picture because my goodness, this boy blows through some fruit.

The end <3

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