Hope Remains

One of my best friends lost her five year-old this week. After almost two years of seizures, comas, hospitals and specialists, Walker is finally resting in the arms of Jesus. I keep thinking back to when all of this started. Trevor called me that morning and told me about the medical call they ran the night before. The call where his captain turned their firetruck into our friends’ neighborhood. Then onto their street. Then pulled up at their house. Each step of the way, Trevor said he kept thinking “Please don’t let this be their house.” Only it was. Karie, my dear friend, called me from the hospital and told me about the first seizures. They came out of nowhere and suddenly their vivacious, smart, talkative three year-old was having an MRI while we all prayed and wondered how to make sense of it all. Many months later, we still can’t make it make sense. Babies shouldn’t suffer and die. Parents shouldn’t have to beg for their children’s lives. These things shouldn’t happen.

Everyone is so amazed they kept going. Not just that Andy and Karie carried on, but that they did so with immense faith and never failed to point out that God was in control. They had something bigger than their fear: they had hope. Here’s the funny thing about hope- it won’t let you give up. It’s more than just a feeling or an idea; it’s a bridge that carries you from a place that doesn’t make sense into one that does. To a place where details like autoimmunity and encephalitis don’t matter, but one piece of truth reigns over everything: that Jesus Christ is Lord. He suffered and died so that when our loved ones suffer and die, it isn’t the end. His kingship rules even over death, forcing it into submission to a mighty God that loves us recklessly and without condition. A God that fights for us even beyond death. He wants more than life for us: He wants eternity.

Walker may be gone from his earthly body, now, but his short life was not without impact. More people heard the name of Jesus through Walker’s story than I could begin to count. He mattered. He still matters. He will always matter. His life has led people to surrender theirs to Christ, to trust in God’s goodness even amidst tragedy. His strength and his parents’ strength have made us stronger.

Living in this sin-wrecked world has its perils; death is one of them. When the world has gone to pieces, we can’t expect things to make sense all the time. But. Even amidst all of the uncertainty, the fear, the all-too-human questioning, one thing stands out: love. The love of a God that made the ultimate sacrifice- his own son dying on a cross so that we, along with our own sons and daughters, can live together forever in paradise.

His love gives us hope. The world is broken, but our God is unshaken. For that, we can all rejoice, knowing that He can do infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine. He is holy. He is sovereign. He is alive. He is good. He is our hope.

Back to Reality

I went back to work on Monday. I’m pretty sure those were the shortest 12 weeks in the history of time. I originally intended to blog SO MUCH during maternity leave, but you know what? I really just focused on spending time with my family, and that didn’t seem to include much time on the computer…. and that is just fine. I was super intentional during these weeks to soak up the sweet new baby-ness of Ford, and that’s exactly what happened. You guys, I am so in love with that baby boy. I think because it had been four years since we had a baby, I was so ready to do it all again. I know some people are the total opposite, that once they get out of the baby game, they don’t want to go back. Something about it seemed so refreshing and new, and Ford feels so much like a missing piece that’s finally put into place.

Trevor has made similar comments, as well, just how different this time felt. I think with Knox, we were the typical first-time parents, overthinking everything and stressed out way too much. With Brody, we felt like we were drowning, chasing a toddler and then dealing with this tiny screaming person that never slept. Ford seemed to come at just the right moment to catch us in a comfortable season- we know what we’re doing, but we’re far removed enough from the baby/toddler years that it all seems fun again. It’s been such a joy.

Everyone asks us “how is life with three?” or “has it been a lot harder adding a third?” Truthfully, three is pretty darn amazing. Ford is a sweet, squishy little guy, and I could kiss his little fat cheeks all day long. He’s pretty happy (unless he’s hungry or deems it necessary to nurse… which is often!), and he is easy to please most of the time. The transition back to work was hard. I cried for a few days prior and leaving him about killed me. Luckily, I was passing him off to Trevor and/or my mom, so that made things way easier than they could have been if he had to go to daycare. Basically, Trevor keeps Ford (and the big boys) on his off days (two out of three days), and my mom keeps them when Trevor’s on-shift. Knox is in kindergarten from about 7:30 to 2:30, and Brody is in preschool from 8:30 to 11:30. I pick Brody up from preschool (at the church where I work), and I take him home on my lunch break. So, I am able to see and nurse Ford at lunch, which is SO nice. That has honestly saved me when it comes to having to leave him. Knowing I only have to go a few hours instead of eight is a big deal. I am pumping twice a day at work, which isn’t nearly as annoying as I thought it would be. I think a lot of that is because I have oversupply and overactive letdown, so it takes me literally five minutes to pump 12 ounces. So, that’s pretty nice.

Now, onto Ford himself. This kid is huge. I think he’s probably 16-ish pounds. He was 14 at his two month visit, and he’s days away from being three months old. He’s wearing size six to nine month clothes and filling them out WELL. His sweet little chubby legs are still too short for those sizes, though, so all of his pants get cuffed. He eats about every two hours (or more if he wants to, I nurse on demand). He’s in a size two diaper. He has cheeks for days. He takes a few really good naps a day- his big morning nap varies from two to four hours, and his late afternoon nap is about two to three, depending. He cat naps throughout the day, and he’s not on a schedule yet. He wakes up a couple times at night to nurse, down to about two or three, which to me, is very doable since we co-sleep.

He loves to look at lights and ceiling fans, and he LOVES his brothers. Knox and Brody both make him smile just by looking at him. For some reason, the sound of blowing raspberries with our lips makes him shake his head back and forth. I have no idea why, but it’s so funny! He prefers to be glued to me, and he likes the car much more than he did in the beginning!! He’s becoming a much easier traveler when we go to stores, etc. and tends to snooze as long as we go during his napping times. I think that’s enough information to inundate you with for now, and here’s about one billion pictures since it’s been so long since I blogged!

This was an afternoon trip to the zoo- Ford’s first visit (he slept through the whole thing)

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“Oh Baby Ford, he’s super cute” is Brody’s new refrain. We hear it at LEAST 20 times a day. No really.

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This face.

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My mom (Gigi) and Ford with his squishy sleep mouth

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This is my great-aunt, and she’s the one Ford is named for (Bradford is her last name). I adore her, and I hope I’m as spry as she is at 92!

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Easter egg decorating with Knox and Brody

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I love this smile on Knox’s face. He LOVED his Easter outfit, which cracked me up.

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Easter Sunday with my boys

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Ford’s fan club on Easter evening

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This is Brody’s favorite shirt right now. His “chicken shirt.” Brody has intense feelings on his shirts.

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Superheroes and football players. They hang out and play catch.

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Typical Ford posture: chubby hands together, cheeks everywhere.

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He was thrilled to suck on Sophie’s ear.

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Not so thrilled when he realized nothing came out of it.

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How I Became a Minivan Mom (aka the end of all things as we know it)

So, life with three kids is pretty amazing. The biggest difference was our travel situation. We had finagled three car seats into the backseat of my Ford Edge (two Radians and a Chicco KeyFit 30). They fit, but man alive it was TIGHT. I didn’t love how snug things were back there, in terms of the seat installation, and let’s not even talk about how annoying it is to buckle in kids when you’re having to lean over one to reach another. We’d been talking about a new car for a while, but we were pretty (read: extremely) upside-down in my car and would have to make a humongous down payment. We wanted to wait a while to see if it was really something we wanted to do before forking over that much money.

Well.

I’ve never been more thrilled to give someone all of my money. Except maybe when I got an epidural. After a few weeks of three in a row (more power to those of you that make that set-up work for your families!), I had enough. So, we sucked it up and laid down some moo-lah and became the proud owners of this:

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Y’all, never say never. I swore up and down that I would NEVER EVER EVER drive a minivan. Funny thing happens when you add a third kid to the mix, you guys. Just combine amazing safety ratings, tons of space and a billion amenities for a family and you get a brand-new appreciation for all things uncool and mommy-like. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it is. Like, I am obsessed with this minivan. I  went to the car dealership and was all “power doors, GET IN MY LIFE.” The convenience so far outweighs the cool factor, I can’t even. The children have room. There is no poking of one another or choruses of “he’s took my toy!” They can’t touch each other if they want to, which, thank you so much, Toyota. Knox sits in the way-back and can now buckle himself in and out of his car seat (life-changing, I tell you). Brody and Ford sit in the bucket seats in middle. I sit in the drivers seat and sing the praises of Japanese auto makers. I have Bluetooth. I can talk on the phone as if by magic without touching anything. I can stream music without plugging anything in. There are two glove boxes. There are air vents everywhere. Our floor mats are all-weather, which means you can hose them off if someone vomits or poops on them – there is even room to change a diaper on the floor without having to put your baby under the drivers seat. And don’t even get me started on the back-up camera. I can park correctly for the first time in my life.  It’s like a whole new world.

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The moral of this story? Give in to the magic. Minivans are awesome. All the cool people think so.

P.S. Here is an obligatory cute baby picture of my TWO MONTH OLD. How the heck did that happen in five minutes?!

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Okay, one more. IMG_2242

My Baby Must-Haves (Newborn Edition)

I feel that after three babies, I have a pretty good handle on what newborn items are needed and which ones are unnecessary or just trendy. With a four year gap between Brody and Ford, lots of new things have come out, so it’s been fun to give some of those a try. We didn’t go crazy buying things this time around, which was pretty refreshing. I knew the basics of what I loved before and based my shopping off of that. We got rid of EVERYTHING after Brody because we were “so sure” that he was our last kiddo. Ha. Ha ha ha ha! So aside from the obvious baby clothes, crib, car seat and diapers, here are my favorite, absolute must-have baby items:

The New Stuff:

Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper

You guys. This thing is magical and glorious. We didn’t have one with the bigger boys, and I knew I had to try it out with Ford. So many of our friends told us “you have to get one!” that we were curious about it. We got the automatic version, which rocks itself, and I’d highly recommend springing for that upgrade. Ford sleeps in this thing for hours a day, and the subtle movement is just enough to keep him soothed to sleep if he wakes up mid-nap. I give this sucker an A++, and it’s probably my new favorite baby item ever.

 

 

Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blanket

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I can’t even with that smirk. See, Ford is also a fan of Aden + Anais.

I know these are expensive for swaddling blankets, but there’s a reason. They are AMAZING. These blankets are the softest things ever- they’re so lightweight and won’t make your baby sweat but keep them tightly swaddled. If you’re in the market for some, keep an eye out at TJ Maxx- I got them there for just $25 instead of the $40 you pay at big box retailers. I had seen them when I first got pregnant and didn’t buy any- I went back a few times before they re-stocked and grabbed a pack immediately! These are also great gifts because everyone having a baby would be able to use these things and love them.

 

 

 

 

 

The Solly Baby Wrap

Please excuse my tired, non-make-upped face... but yay for this cute wrap!

Please excuse my tired, non-make-upped face… but yay for a cute baby in a wrap

I wanted to like baby wearing with Knox and Brody. Really. But every single carrier or wrap I tried made me sweat to death. I am so hot natured, and so are my kids, so nothing was worth using long-term. I knew that with a third baby, baby-wearing would be a huge must, so I set out to find a perfect baby wrap. I kept seeing the Solly Wrap on Instagram and thought it may be the one, then, I saw that my friend Sara had one and she confirmed that it was awesome. It’s incredibly lightweight and soft- reminds me a lot of the Aden + Anais blankets- and easy to tie. Ford passes out when I put him in there, but I do have to give him a pacifier, otherwise he roots around like crazy being so smooshed against his food source! I really can’t recommend this wrap more highly.

 

 

 

 

Honest Company EVERYTHING

content_desktop-1b7cf792-8ee7-408d-872c-0b003cf26414I am super cognizant of chemicals and toxins in everyday products, foods, etc. I care a great deal about food quality, organics and doing things as naturally as possible. The Honest Company wasn’t as prevalent when Knox and Brody were babies, so I never tried their stuff until recently. We use their shampoo, lotion, wipes and diapers for Ford, and everyone in our family uses the very same shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc. which makes re-ordering and shopping in general so easy! I check all of my personal care products in the Environmental Working Group “Skin Deep” database before purchasing them, and all of the Honest personal care products we use rank “1” which is the best and lowest indicator of unnatural ingredients in a product. The scents are all from essential oils and are so light and natural- I hate strong-smelling products but still like a little fragrance, so this is a plus for me.

We tried their free trial pack first, which you only pay $6 for shipping and get five bottles of sample products. If you like them, you can order a bundle, which is the BEST value for your buck. They’re $35 a month and include five products of your choice. Considering just a bottle of the shampoo is $10 at Target, this is already a great deal. Then, when you consider things like laundry detergent (72 load bottle) can be included in your bundle of five, the savings increases even more. You get a discount on your first bundle, so I bought tons of extras (also at a discount) to try that first month. We have now tried and loved: shampoo, lotion, conditioner, bubble bath, organic body oil (was amazing for my itchy pregnant belly), bathroom cleaner, multipurpose cleaner, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, wipes, diapers and hand soap. The only thing I have tried and haven’t loved is their dishwasher detergent- it works fine and is the best “natural” cleaner I’ve tried, but I still can’t find a natural option that beats Finish tabs for getting dishes really clean. If you want to try a bundle, click here to try it– you can change your products every month, depending on what you need- and you can change your shipping frequency if you don’t need things as often. I highly recommend it!!

Tried and True Favorites

Medela Pump-in-Style Breast Pump

81eryoA2dPL._SX522_This pump. It’s awesome. When I go back to work, I’ll be having to pump twice a day, so I knew I would get another Medela pump. I used this same model with both Knox and Brody, and it is effective, easy to use and reliable- all qualities you need in a pump.

 

 

Lansinoh Breast Pads

51BQYc9EbmLThese are the very best, most absorbent breast pads I’ve used. I really hate having to use disposables, but I have oversupply and leak like crazy the entire time I nurse (as in over a year… every day… all the time). I’m jealous of those people who stop leaking after the first few weeks! I’ve tried all of the “amazing” washable pads and end up with a wet shirt in a few hours. I’ve had lots of recommendations for Bamboobies, so that will be my last shot before I give up! But as far as disposables go, these Lansinoh pads WORK. They are less visible than most brands I’ve used, they do not leak and they are soft. Plus, you can find them almost everywhere, even Publix.

 

 

Boppy Pillow

IMG_0903Yes, you need one of these. The Boppy pillow is such a convenience before babies can sit up- it helps prop them up and keeps them from rolling away or tipping over. We used ours until it was nearly flat with Knox and Brody- the newer models are “fluffier” than the old ones were, so I foresee this one lasting a long time!

 

 

 

And a Diaper Trial

I’m currently doing an experiment with disposable diapers. I’m trying to find a more natural diaper that 1) doesn’t leak 2) is soft and 3) won’t break the bank. I seriously thought about cloth diapering again, but working full-time, having three kids and endless laundry already, I decided that it really wasn’t an option, even though I LOVED it when I did it before. So. Disposables it is. So far, I have tried: Pampers Swaddlers (no, not the most eco-friendly, but also not the worst out there), Honest Company, Earth’s Best and Bambo Nature. I don’t hate any of them, but I will say, the Bambo Nature are amazingly soft for a disposable because they’re made of bamboo. They’re also the most expensive of the lot and have to be ordered online. I’ll let you guys know what I decided after a bit more experimenting!

So that’s my short list of must-have products for a newborn… I’ll likely do another version when he’s a bit older and we delve into more “stuff.” What’s your favorite/must-have baby item??

Ford’s Newborn Session (& Due Date)

Today is Ford’s due date: Valentine’s Day. I always had the 18th in my head as his “real” due date, but the doctor’s office insisted on the 14th… after a few months, I gave in to their date since he always measured ahead anyway. It’s hard to believe that today he’d be 40 weeks gestation and has been with us for nearly three weeks. And even though it’s only been three weeks, it feels like he’s always been here.

He’s a sweet, sleepy baby. He definitely thinks the afternoon is night and sleeps sometimes four hours straight heading into evening. At night, he was waking up every two to three hours… until I tried co-sleeping with him. When he’s nestled next to me, he’ll go four hours straight. Co-sleeping for the win! He definitely loves to eat and would do that every waking second, if I allowed it. He’s staying awake for longer, now, during his alert hours, which are generally first thing in the morning and early evening.

We had his newborn photo session when he was one week old, and we got them back this week. I am so in love with these- my friend, Candice, took them and did a great job. It took about two hours of posing, re-situating, calming, nursing, pee clean-up, etc. to get these pictures- I never knew how much work went into newborn photography! Without further ado: here are a few of my favorites:

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IMG-60 IMG-62Happy due date, sweet cheeks. I love you more than I could ever say.

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