Snuggle All My Bugs Together

imageChuck is adjusting pretty well. I would say that being 2.5, a precocious little genius and accustomed to being the constant center of attention could all prove to be pretty big hurdles to scale when it comes to adding a baby brother to the mix. But, she loves him, she “just LOVES him SOOO much!” Her words. And actions, as she tries to smother him with All.The.Love!

When Hfoe brought C to the hospital to meet her new comrade, he also brought the Calico Critters and school that I had gotten ahead of time to be the gift her baby gave her. It was a glorious plan in my mind. She would be so enamored with the baby and then he/she would give her a gift, too?! Wow, this sibling thing is pretty awesome! I also thought the little critters would be a perfect “sometimes” toy for her to play with only when I was nursing the baby, thus keeping her both occupied with the “special” toy and blissfully unaware that I was trapped on the couch, plugged in, unable to reprimand her for whatever she happened to be getting into at the moment. The best laid plans…

As they walked into our hospital room, I had baby Bug in his bassinet so the first thing C saw wasn’t HER mama holding a different kid. I squealed with delight to see her and invited her to join me on the bed. We hugged and cuddled and then she said, “Mama, what’s that?” “That’s your brother, G. Would you like to hold him?” “Sure, Mama.” So, hubs took baby boy out of his cozy bed and we cocooned Chuck in pillows as we laid him precariously in her lap. She poked him and kissed him and examined his tiny face…and then she was done. She wanted to explore the interesting hospital room. But, first, the gift! “OOOOH, cooool!” She loved it! That’s it. I was a genius and my plan was going to work perfectly.

Then, Buddy started to cry. I saddled him up to my boob to nurse (at which he was already a pro) and I didn’t think anything of it. She had her magical toys, after all. Oh the sob that broke from her sweet little gut just about broke my heart. I have actually never heard my girl make that sound before. “Nooo, don’t give him milkies! That’s my milkies, mama! Why, mama?!” It makes me tear up writing this two months later. I had no idea that it would hurt her so much to see me share her special mama time with another baby, without ever asking her if it was ok.

C only gets nursed to sleep now, so I guess I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to her. I was very wrong and it has taken a long time to make things right. After lots of explaining that he can’t eat the food she can and involving her help to get burp rags while I breastfeed, she now shares milkies with her brother without a fight. In fact, on occasions when Hfoe has to work late and baby Bug is awake when I put his sister to bed, she will ask to “do milkies all together…so I can snuggle all my bugs.” I love her terminology to describe our tandem nursing sessions. It is such a sweet, sweet time where she caresses his head and he holds her finger and I stare at them both in the dark. I know that C will likely be weaning completely soon, so I am cherishing what little time of this we have left.These two precious little beings, my snuggle bugs, all together, doing their “milkies”…I never want to forget it.

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Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

I like to do crafts. I really like to do crafts with my kid. I especially like new and educational or sensory type of activities we can do together and that hold her attention for longer than two minutes. Chuckles LOVES to paint so when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I had to try it with her!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Action shot.

Marshmallows? Check! Soy based paint (just in case she mistook it for frosting on the ‘mallow)? Check! A stack of construction paper thick enough to create a masterpiece for each family member? Double check! We were ready to create!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

She was too excited and dug right in before I got the “clean” picture.

I’m not really sure where I went wrong, but let’s just say that marshmallow painting turned quickly into an ooey, gooey mess! I’m sure the kid “shaping” the marshmallows into triangles and hearts had nothing to do with it. Neither did the licking of them behind my back. Right?

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Making this sticky of a mess takes great concentration.

Well, despite the mess and the fact that it didn’t quite turn out Pinterest perfect, I think she had fun. More importantly, I made dinner in peace!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Obviously, she loved it! (And yes, there is a plastic bag for protection on my chair. I’m not dumb.)

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Firsts on Firsts on Firsts

The single most covetable part about being a mother, in my opinion, is the privilege granted to me to be the eyes that witness and the ears that hear all the firsts that come from this tiny little human. It seems like every week is equivocal to a moon landing in one form or another. Chuckles had a big couple of weeks this month! Between her leaps in vocabulary and great first time experiences, I am chalk-full of accounts for September.

"Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!"

“Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!”

I guess we really started the month at the end of LAST month with a trip to visit the cousins in Oregon. Chuck loved waking up every morning to the giggles of her built-in family playmates. There is just something so special about watching your kid bond with their life-long buddies. Knowing that these tiny people will grow and go their separate ways over the years, but will always be able to come back together to reminisce about breakfast around the table with “not-so-hots” and cousin craft nights that got a little TOO glitter-heavy makes my heart so happy. While we were in Oregon, we decided to take a little detour to see some friends who had recently moved from our area up that way. What a refreshing time of fellowship with some sweet friends whom we have missed! Somewhere along the way, we decided to make the stop at Wildlife Safari. Have you heard of this place or a place like it? It’s a drive through zoo where the animals roam (mostly) free. I remember going to a place like that in Arkansas called Arbuckle Wilderness when I was little and it made quite the impact on my aspiring Zoologist self. However, I don’t remember it being THAT cool! Wildlife Safari turned me into a giggly kid and turned my giggly kid into quite the chatterbox! “Hi Bear! Hey, look at me bear!!” Her mantra of the drive has now become a Crunchy house catchphrase because it made us laugh endlessly while in the park. Her favorite animal in the park was the “scary chicken” that kept coming up to the window for food…of course this was an emu, but “scary chicken” actually seems more fitting. Needless to say, Chuck’s first time at the drive-thru zoo was a roaring success!

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This is her reaction for the Frozen float in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland….You’d think she’d appreciate my rendition.

Another first for this growing kid of ours recently has been her usage of certain phrases, correctly, that send us into stitches. C has always had a great vocabulary and was able to express herself from an early age. But this level of comprehension (and wit) is new. For instance, she, of course, loves “Frozen.” Like it has for every other two-year old girl on the planet, Disney’s latest princess flick has found it’s way into our sweet girl’s heart as an instant favorite. She would listen to the soundtrack on repeat if allowed. So, it stands to reason that her papa and I know ALL the words to one notable song in particular. C has decided, though, that our sing-along sessions just don’t do the film justice and as we head into the hook with great gusto, our dear girl will shout, “Hold it!” with her hands held up and a furrow on her brow. Kills us every time. In addition to her lofty musical critiques, she has crafted quite the imaginary scenarios of which we are expected to partake….and know all the rules. One example of this is the tea party she likes to host on a daily basis. The cups must face a certain direction and we must only eat cookies (not biscuits) off the plates. If I “eat” something I’m not supposed to, I will receive a stern, “No mama, like this.” from my bossy strong girl. My favorite phrase at the moment, though, is “I no hafta (fill in the blank), mama.” The most common blank-filler is “I no hafta nap now,” but you can also fill in with “eat that” or “clean that” or “do that.” While I know at first read this seems like she is talking back and perhaps in need of some nose on the wall time,  it’s actually funny because she is such a little mini-me that her inflection and tone make her sound EXACTLY like my “persuasive” voice. When I am trying to convince Hfoe that I don’t really need to clean the bathrooms today or that I don’t really “hafta” cook dinner tonight….my tiniest ears are listening and mimicking ME! It’s both a funny and humbling reminder!

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First Fish!!

We had a proud moment first while we were all in Colorado this month for hunting season. Since Hfoe harvested his elk on his second day out in the woods (thank you, Jesus for a full freezer for the next year!), Chuckles and I got to enjoy a little more family time with him than we were expecting. On one of those days, we decided to head down to the community pond at my grandma’s cabin and try C’s luck at fishing. After a couple of slapstick moments of chasing after grasshoppers for bait, we were ready to cast the line. Papa threw out the first cast and asked me to hold tight to the pole, while Chuck, in all her mini-fisher glory, manned the reel. It was truly a group effort…and it paid off! C was so excited as that bobber disappeared under the water and I helped her snag her first little trout. She reeled it in with papa and squealed uncontrollably as it flopped and flipped at her touch! This was one of those moments that, despite her age, I really hope she remembers, at least partly, because it was kind of magical….and a little slimy!

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Kicked in the head by “Brother-Sister”

A couple of my favorite firsts from this month involve C’s “brother-sister.” She got to feel baby kick for the first time as we were laying down to nap one afternoon and then she told the baby “I love you, baby” completely unsolicited for the first time soon after. Talk about melting a mama heart! I sure hope this sweetness continues once the runt is born!

As we head into the last 8 weeks of this pregnancy, I am reminded to take every opportunity to step back and enjoy each of Chuck’s “firsts” because soon we will have another first-timer on our hands. I am most excited to see my TWO babes meet each other for the first time. Now, THAT is sure to be a monumental first for our whole family!

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Being a good big sister, feeding bear.

 

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5 Reasons I’m the Worst Mom Ever

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I try so hard to not complain about this pregnancy. It’s a blessing and miracle in so many ways, not the least of which is that this baby is sticking! I am 28 weeks along and I feel so much more secure knowing that if all H-E-double hockey sticks broke out and this kid decided to make an early appearance, his/her chances are looking pretty good. Beautiful miracle and all considered, there are a couple of not so awesome things about being pregnant for the second (third) time while wrangling a toddler with the attention span of an ape. This leads me to what I have learned are the top ways to be a truly awful mother….at least in my own mind…and why I’m convincing myself it’s ok.

1. Why I am the worst mom ever: Today is day 15 of the last 30 that will include peanut butter in some form at all three main meals for Chuckles. Creativity around here is at an all time low and unfortunately, her dietary experience suffers. If I have to think up a Pinterest-worthy dinner for this two-year old who will likely turn her nose up before a single bite is chewed ONE MORE TIME, I am going to lose it. So, I won’t.

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Why it’s ok: I mean, peanut butter is totally a protein, right? Nevermind the sugar content…I buy organic, natural, have-to-stir-or-you’re-eating-oil peanut butter, so it can’t be that bad…right? Right?

2. Why I am the worst mom ever: I let Chuck have LOTS of independent play. At least that’s what I am telling myself as I lay on the couch concentrating on breathing through the baby laying on my lungs and trying not to fall asleep so C isn’t TOTALLY unsupervised. Let’s just say we have taken the “Montessori” approach to learning around here. In the last three days, she has poured an entire bottle of water on the carpet in an attempt to “play tea party” with Mickey Mouse, drawn a masterpiece on the laminate wood floor with a dry erase marker and drank half her body weight in soapy water after she begged (and I obliged) to stay in the bath just a LITTLE too long…in the middle of the day.

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Why it’s ok: Hey, she’s learning! Water on the floor= you gotta clean up after yourself. Art on the floor= cause and effect (translate: Mama loses her mind a little before she realizes dry erase marker WILL erase from laminate! Yay!) Drinking bath water= learning about anatomy…and digestion…and soap may lead to less than favorable bathroom experiences. So really, I rock as a pre-school teacher.

3. Why I am the worst mom ever: C has learned and implemented some new phrases. She now speaks like a 15 year-old, angst ridden teenager and I have realized it can only be coming from one place. I mean, how many toddlers look their mother in the face and say with all seriousness, “I just can’t do this right now, Mom.” This is in regards to finishing her cereal, I might add. Perhaps telling her “I just can’t do this right now, C,” in reference to sitting in the bathroom with her while she poops and I try not to gag on heightened pregnancy senses was NOT the wisest, but I had no clue she would soak THAT in. Sure, I throw out plenty of “please” and “thank you’s” but THIS is what she latches to? Sheesh.

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Why it’s ok: She’s advanced. Truly, she has to have a pretty quick little brain to pick up on such things, right? I will just keep believing she is a genius with a stellar vocabulary. That belief makes me feel better when she holds up her hand and says, “Hold it, Mom,” as I sing my rendition of “You are My Sunshine.”

4. Why I am the worst mom ever: She seriously knows all the words to at least three Bubble Guppies episodes and 4 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Notice I said all the words to the EPISODES…not songs, not rhymes…entire episodes. Apparently, this kid has been allowed to watch so much TV that she can recite the script for her two favorite animated shows…WITH inflection! Who does that? Who lets their toddler watch so much tv that she could play understudy to the characters? Me. Giant, pregnant me. That’s who.

Why it’s ok: One part of classical education, which is the philosophy behind most homeschooling curriculum, is learning through memorization. I like to pretend that someday, when it’s time (in two years or so, eek!) I will be equipped and prepared to homeschool Chuck and her sibling. Well, we are well ahead of the curve when it comes to memorization because let me tell you, C can recite her ABC’s as well as the whole lunchtime scene from Bubble Guppies episode 1.4. Again, I rock as a preschool teacher!

5. Why I am the worst mom ever: I use other people’s children to wear mine out…so I don’t have to. Back in the olden days…read: pre-pregnancy…the kid and I took daily walks or park dates and I would chase her and squeal and slide right alongside her sweet, smiley little self. I pushed her on the swing endlessly and swam with her in the community pool. Now that I am a whale, such physical exertion feels nearly impossible. Or, I’m just lazy. Either way, my friends’ kids have slipped into this role beautifully! She wants to be pushed on the swing? Set up a park date with my friend and her 7 year old! She wants to be chased? Invite her friend from next door to play tag. She wants to swim? Make friends with the preteens at the community pool who, “just LOVE” babies and watch them all screech with delight as Chuck jumps in and swims to them. These are my solutions to my lacking and her rising energy levels.

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Why it’s ok: She’s socializing! She has a more complete calendar than I do and her social skills have benefitted from it. Isn’t it what we strive for as parents? To help our kiddos grow into caring, empathetic, well-adjusted mini- humans? The only way for that to happen is for them to have regular interaction with other littles. So, in essence, my laziness is just giving her a leg up on overcoming potential social awkwardness.

At the risk of judgment from my pre-parent self, I throw all this out there to let other pregnant moms know you aren’t alone. I’m tired, too. I’m not the same mom to Chuck now as I was 8 months ago and although this makes me sad and hard on myself at times, I know this is a season. The next season of our mother/daughter journey will include another little being and I am sure the dynamic will change once more. What doesn’t change, EVER, is my love and adoration for the sweet cheeks that grin up at me to tell me she feels the same. Hopefully, as I try to go with the flow, C will learn to be a flexible, forgiving human as well. If nothing else, she won’t ever be able to tell a therapist that I ruined her childhood by never letting her express herself…even if that was in dry erase marker!

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Merry Monday Roundup!

So many of my favorite bloggers do a weekly roundup of things that are making them smile at that moment. I believe imitation is the HIGHEST form of flattery, sooo…here’s my Merry Monday roundup.

1. I put Hershey’s in my coffee…

       Inspired by my husband’s reminiscing around the campfire when we were camping last week about his step dad who made hot cocoa with milk and a chocolate bar, the realization we were out of creamer this morning wasn’t so daunting when I saw this left over Hershey bar in the fridge! Yum!
2. Paper clips…

        Seriously. Ok, a few of you may remember a plea from after the Fourth of July for suggestions on how to get a coin out of a car CD player. Apparently, one little Miss Chuckles decided the car stereo was more “jukebox” than all around entertainment center and shoved what we thought was a quarter in the compact disc slot while we were joyfully roasting marshmallows right next to the car, completely unaware of her shenanigans. Well, a month later we were finally able to get the car in to the shop only to be told the damage would equal about $1100! I find it extremely ironic that this is almost the exact amount of C’s college fund at the moment! Obviously, I’m too cheap for all that mess. I quickly said, “thanks, but no thanks,” and resolved with Hfoe to figure this out for ourselves! And, we did! A few strips of tape, steady hands, a plastic fork and knife and TWO PAPER CLIPS in and we have made not .25, but .30! She had shoved a nickel AND a quarter in the slot and we saved $1100. I’m digging it!
3. The Rain, Rain app…

      Chuck sleeps with a sound machine and although she CAN sleep without it, she goes to sleep much faster WITH it! So, when we had a sleepover with friends a few days ago and forgot the happy wave sounds she’s become accustomed to, I, of course turned to the Apple App Store. This free app not only has five different types of wave sounds, but also boasts rain, transportation, appliances and several other types of white noise for your choosing. I love that the sounds will stay on indefinitely unlike some of the other white noise apps out there and that you can close the app to multitask in other programs while the sound still plays. And did I mention, it’s FREE?!
   

     I’ve gotten big, y’all! This baby bug is determined to be huge and healthy and although that makes me so over-the-moon happy, the ensuing stretch marks and itchy skin are a little less appealing! So, this little sample that has been sitting under my sink for the last few weeks since the “Blogger’s Night In” event, broke out yesterday! And it is so perfect! It glides on my baby bump so smoothly and mess free and it smells just delicious! I have to get more because as you can see, I drained every last smidge from the sample packet!
5. Savannah Guthrie…

     I used to watch the Today Show every morning. This was, of course, before a particular toddler took over morning TV with her love of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Bubble Guppies…my kid watches TV. Oops! It allows me to drink my morning coffee in peace and really, that’s better for everyone. Anyway, I have missed my morning crew! How exciting it was for me to see that one of my favorites of the gang was pregnant! I have been following Savannah Guthrie’s pregnancy journey in snippets since I don’t get to watch the show every morning, but the pieces I have read and pictures I have seen of her growing bump make me happy. She is a normal, weight gaining, maternity clothes wearing, mama-to-be! And she talks about it! All of it. This is so refreshing in the Hollywood baby bubble of “I only gained 10lbs while pregnant and it was all baby.” Yeah right. But this lady, this paragon of pregnant pretty…I appreciate her candidness! 

What’s waking you up happy this Monday morning? I’d love to hear!


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Jamberry, BAMberry!

Ok, so I have been super curious about this Jamberry nail thing everyone is so crazy about right now. When one of my best friends from back home decided to have an online party, I thought this would be a great time to check it out. They have some really cute prints for your nails! Surely this stuff couldn’t really be that great, though. I mean, I am a mom of a VERY busy toddler. We go to the beach and the pool and the park and my manicures always last about 2.5 minutes unscathed. That is when I get them done, almost every NEVER! Unfortunately, the week of her online party, I missed out on ordering because I was mid-travel and I lost track of time. I did, however, manage to win one of her party games due to my uncanny Disney trivia knowledge. That’s a whole other story.

Anyway, when I missed out on ordering from the party I was bummed. But, the Heather announced that she was going to become a consultant and she approached me to do the “7 Day Challenge,” talking about it to all of you. Challenge accepted! She sent me a sample in the mail and the day I got it felt like that day in 5th grade when I got my first pen pal letter! So exciting! I quickly opened the envelope and ogled the adorable prints she had sent me. I promised myself that, tonight, once the nugget was sleeping soundly, I would treat myself.

The best laid plans….

Around dinner time, the kid started melting down. She stubbed her toe or something else just as common that I can’t completely recall right now, and I had to do something to calm her down before she would settle for bed. Instantly, I thought of the fresh little present sitting on my counter in the bathroom! With the promise of “pinkies” as she calls painted nails, we headed to the bathroom for a quick pick-her-up.

She’s pretty pumped about her “pinkies.”

It worked! These things are so easy and quick to put on that even my two year old could sit still for the process. She was so in awe over her flowered ring fingers that the tears automatically dried up. We did her nails on a Monday night and since I’m a mom and my days blur together…I finally took the challenge “after” picture 9 days later instead of 7! I am amazed. The painted nails looked horrible after only a couple days of chlorine and sun and playing in the dirt. But, these Jamberry accent nails still look like day one! If they do this well on a kidlet, I can’t wait to see how they will look on me!

Freshly painted and ready to rock!
Nine days later and still JAMMING! Paint looks icky, but the accent nails are hanging on!

When I finally make time to do myself, I will report back and maybe I will have a little giveaway in store, too! Keep in touch! Until then, check out Heather’s website!

I received free product to conduct this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

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A Date With Chuck At Stonefire

I was asked to attend a media event where food and beverages were given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As always, opinions are strictly my own.

As a blogger, sometimes opportunities come your way that excite you even more than they probably should. Usually for me, those opportunities involve food. Because I love food…free food is even tastier!

When I had Chuckles, our church family rallied around us with support and dinners. For two weeks after we brought our little bundle home, we had dinner magically delivered to our door by our brothers and sisters in Christ who wanted to help a new mom and dad to just relax and enjoy bonding with the new baby. It. Was. GLORIOUS! One of those memory-making dinners was from Stonefire Grill. I had never eaten at this place before, but whether it was post-delivery hormones talking or not, I was hooked on that scrumptious barbecue and garlic bread to write home about!

Lucky for me, I was presented with the chance last week to be a part of a media tasting event at Stonefire Grill introducing their new summer menu options. I, of course, jumped at the chance! I rsvp’d for me plus one, thinking this would be a wonderful date night for Hfoe and myself. After all, it’s not so hard to shell out $10 an hour for a sitter if dinner is comped! But, alas, hubby had to work on the night of the event. So, with a very deep breath and a few meditative  moments of preparation for the unpredictable toddler emotions, I took Chuck as my “plus one.” My good friend Melissa over at MelissaDell.com has a daughter that is Chuckles’s age and they are buddies. She was in the same boat, so we made it a double mama-daughter date.

On the drive over, the girls sang Disney songs and held hands across carseats….this was looking promising for good dinner behavior! And they didn’t disappoint. From the moment we walked into the restaurant patio, both girls were so well behaved. I am sure they were just as impressed as I was at the reception we received from the Stonefire crew. We were greeted by the owner’s son and summer menu co-creator, Justin, and presented with our choices of seasonal brews, wines or in my case, passion fruit tea. Sensing the toddlers’ short attention spans, Justin intuitively asked if he could pull together a couple children’s menu items for the girls to get them started. Sure! And the mac ‘n cheese was the hit of the evening for one blondie with discerning  taste!

Leave me alone, mother. This mac ‘n cheese is divine!

Now, for the mama food. Yum! That is pretty much the summary of my experience. My first bite was from the new Keen Green salad, with it’s kale, quinoa and avocado. It’s not something I would probably generally order at this place I love for barbecue, but I was pleasantly surprised at the fresh, delicious flavors that were perfect for summer! Next came the roasted cauliflower pita and the Capresse sandwich. Which one is my favorite? I can’t choose. I never prepare cauliflower at home after I had an unfortunate experience once with a mushy restaurant side dish, so when I saw the pita, I was hesitant. But, so as to be able to give an accurate review, I tried it anyway. I am so glad I did! Chuckles even liked it! My highlight of the sandwiches I tried, though, was the turkey salad. Oh my goodness…and I mean GOODNESS! I would NEVER have thought to order this light of an option and receive this explosion of flavor! Over all, the dishes presented to us this evening were a smorgasbord of tasty choices fit for warmer weather, but still filling enough for lunch or dinner.

Golden State Kale Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Pita and Keen Green Salad
Capresse Sandwich and Traditional Turkey Sandwich

The cherry on top of our evening was dessert. With a powder sugar-covered brownie and a slice of cheesecake, my plans of taking the girls to get yogurt after dinner for their good behavior quickly went out the window…gladly! Chuck couldn’t even wait for me to snap the picture before she dove right into the brownie!

Someone was a little impatient!
Baby bug approved, too!

To say the food was delicious would be redundant and an understatement, but my overall experience for this fun evening at Stonefire Grill was exceptional. I was happy to see how kid friendly the staff and menu were and how mama friendly the new summer menu additions are. It’s good to know on those nights Hfoe has to work late and I just don’t have one more creative dinner in me, I can take the kidlet down to Stonefire for a thoughtful, healthy meal.

My girl and me…excited about the full bellies!

We visited the location at 6405 FALLBROOK AVENUE
WEST HILLS, CA  91307, but please visit Stonefiregrill.com to find a location near you and run there for dinner tonight!

Thank you so much to the folks at Stonefire Grill who made our evening so enjoyable and yummy!

I was asked to attend a media event where food and beverages were given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As always, opinions are strictly my own.

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Heartbreak and Healing: a Papa’s persepective on baby loss and what comes after

I have been hoping to share a guest post from Hfoe for a long time now, but between his work schedule and the crazy antics of one little Miss Chuckles, the opportunity just hadn’t presented itself…until now. Considering that today is Father’s Day, I thought it would be completely appropriate to have my sweet husband explain, from his daddy heart, just what the loss of our baby Blue was like for him. I know many men aren’t able to fully express how hard life stuff affects their insides, but Hfoe was blessed with a pretty great way with words. So, I hope for anyone, any papa, who has lost a baby and also those who are expecting another after their loss, his words can be a source of camaraderie and comfort.


“I told you it wasn’t going to take long.”  That was the first thing I told Cara when I found out we were pregnant. I’m going to tell you how she let me in on her secret because this story could use as much humor as possible. I had arrived home from work and as often happens after a long ride on the L.A. freeway system, I spread some love and cheer to my two lovelies when I walked in the door then made my way to the restroom. As I was taking care of business so-to-speak I heard the mmm mmm mmm that lets me know I have received a text message. I dug into my pocket to retrieve my phone and there was a photo of my a fore mentioned lovelies, but something was up. I got the message right away. In the photo, my littlest lovely was wearing a new t-shirt that said “World’s Best Sister”. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at all, even though we had only tried, in my opinion once (the wife says twice.) What did surprise me was the time and place that Cara chose to spill the beans. Evidently my rush to the commode had dashed her original plans, but she couldn’t wait any longer. 

   From that moment, I was over the moon with anticipation. I started talking and singing to our newest creation from the second the secret was revealed to me.  I was so sure that everything was going to be perfect that I didn’t waste any time before spreading the news to family and friends. After all we had gotten through the scares of our first gestational experience relatively unscathed. There was a crazy, beautiful little girl running around my house, reminding me every day that everything would be O.K.  There was a point in the first pregnancy when the Doctor couldn’t find little Chuck’s heart beat and yet hear she was. So what could possibly go wrong with our latest attempt to add to our family? 
   I still don’t know what exactly went wrong, but something definitely did. I honestly don’t remember how my lovely wife told me that something was wrong. I do remember that watching her heart break from the inside out nearly killed me. I do remember that the feelings I was trying to deal with while trying to be everything she needed me to be, nearly killed me. One of the toughest things to do was let myself grieve. I hadn’t been carrying this child. It wasn’t living off of my blood and breath and yet it was still mine.   
What a confusing place to be. My wife needed me and I needed her. There were times when we held each other and wept, there were times when I just had to let her be. I think those were the toughest for me. I’m a fixer, yet I couldn’t fix her, I couldn’t fix me and I most certainly couldn’t fix the baby we were losing. 

 
   Seeing her so mad, so very angry at the world for things that were out of control was heartbreaking. I knew she didn’t mean things that sometimes came out. I knew that I could never understand what was happening inside her. I prayed with everything that I had for patience and healing and love. I felt like a jerk for feeling like
“What about me? I’m losing something here too, you know?!!!” For the most part I choked those feelings down and really tried to be the husband that I knew needed to be. Even if I couldn’t fix things I could at least assist in the healing. 

 I would love to say that I am a new man and the grief is gone, but that would be a lie and a disservice to anyone who has gone through this. I know we all handle this type of thing differently, but the truth is, it just plain SUCKS. The other truth is, and I firmly believe this, the Lord has used this experience to not only strengthen my marriage, but more importantly strengthen my faith in Him. There were times when I wanted to run, when I wanted to drink, when I wanted to rip the door off of my house and throw it into the street, but I didn’t. I prayed and prayed and prayed and God gave me strength that I didn’t know I had. He gave me clarity when I was confused. He gave me patience when I was hurt and angry. He revealed to me what I was supposed to be for the woman He put in my life. I hope I did it right. I can’t be the judge of that, maybe my wife could tell you.

   Shortly after we lost our baby we were blessed with another pregnancy. Everything has gone without a hitch, at least physically speaking. I still struggle emotionally, trying to connect with the baby bump that grows every day. I know in time things will feel more normal and I’m confident that this pregnancy will be without major issues. Hopefully next time I share my perspective it will have to do with juggling a crazy, beautiful toddler and a newborn while trying to let Mama get some sleep.
 


 

With love in my heart,
HFOE

 

P.S. 
If there are any husbands who are dealing with this and would like more input, I’d love to offer any help that I can. 
  Don’t be afraid of what you are feeling, you are losing something too.
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Silhouette Craft for Mother’s Day

I came up with this really cute idea for the grandparents at Christmas, but I decided to post about my yarn and jute ornament craft at that time instead. So, I thought I would share this with you now for a quick, thoughtful Mother’s Day craft!
 
 Have you ever admired your grandmother’s silhouette plaque from when she was child? Or maybe you have been to Disneyland and considered purchasing the black outline of your little cherub’s face? Well, now you can do it for yourself!
 
What you’ll need:
White/off white wood plaque from craft store
Mod Podge
black paper
About 6 inches ribbon
hot glue gun
scissors
Digital Camera and printer
 
 
First, you need to take a clear profile photo of your child. I lined Chuck up against our white wall and had Hfoe keep her attention looking the correct direction so I could snap a few pics and then decide which was the best to print for our purposes. Once her photo was printed on regular printer paper, I cut it out around the outline of her profile.
 
 
Next, I traced the outline of her sweet little face in pencil on black paper and cut it out. I used construction paper, but I suggest black scrapbook paper or something similar since once I got to the mod podge stage the construction paper started to shed a little. Overall, I liked the flecked look of the final result, but you may not.
 
Once your silhouette has been cut out, it’s time for the mod podge! I’m not gonna lie, this is my favorite part. I love how such a simple crafter’s tool can create such masterpieces! Anyway, swipe a small amount of mod podge on the back of your outline and align it in the middle of your plaque. Once your kiddo’s face is good ‘n stuck, you can begin slowly swiping thin layers of mod podge over the top of the entire plaque. You want a uniform look and because the mod podge will leave faint lines, choose a direction for brush strokes and stick with it. I suggest at least two coats, but I think I did more like four. Just be sure to let it dry between coats so it doesn’t get all goopy.
 
 
Once the front of your piece of art is completely dry, flip it over to attach your ribbon for hanging. I chose a sea foam green color because I figured it would go with most decors, but you can choose any color. Cut the length you want and tie the ends together in a pretty little bow. Next, go crazy with hot glue to attach it…like REALLY attach it! Too much is never enough! You wouldn’t want this little gem to fall off a wall due to a poorly attached ribbon!
 
 
And that’s it! Voila! You have a pretty, nostalgic, thoughtful Mother’s Day gift of your little nugget’s face fit for gifting to every doting grandmother in your life! Enjoy, Share and craft away kids!
 
Oh, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway I’ve got going on here.

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7 Things I Have Learned Through Grief

I have been keeping a running journal in my head for the last couple of months about little life lessons learned through grief. In my head it’s titled, “Laugh, cry, make inappropriate jokes.” But here, I will keep it simple.

1.       It may come in stages…all at once

When you are pregnant, people kind of expect you to be crazy, laughing one second and crying into a Kleenex in the next. But, when your baby dies, I think laughing weirds some people out. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. I found it kind of confusing that I would be sobbing in wretched pain at the thought of what was happening when a flash of anger so strong would hit me that I couldn’t stand to be around another human for fear of lashing out. Then two minutes later I would say something about my uterus being an inhospitable chamber of doom to any fetus who chose to take up residence and my poor husband would nervously chuckle, not sure if this was another one of my shock value “jokes” or if I was truly ready to launch myself off the nearest cliff. Man, grief is exhausting! But, I think we have finally made it to the final stage- acceptance, mostly intact, ailing reproductive organ humor and all.

 

2.       You are not alone

You know how before you buy a car, you look around and you think, “I’m going to get a Nissan Sentra. It’s a sensible family car and I don’t see 4,000 of them on my commute every day.” Then you buy a Nissan Sentra and you see 5,000 of them on your commute EACH WAY. Or, like me, you thoughtfully choose a traditional, yet UNcommon name for your baby girl and once she is born you meet 5 other babies in your immediate circle with that same name? Grief is like that. Before you go through something terrible, it seems like those things are so horrible and rare. You may even think, “Gosh, how in the world would I cope if that was me?” And then it IS you and all the other grieving folks come out of the woodwork and your eyes are opened to just how common this really is. It’s both sad and comforting to suffer together.

 

3.       People still say cliché things

“Everything happens for a reason, dear.” “God only gives you what you can handle.” “I’m sure God will bless you with another baby in time. He just needed this one in heaven.” Those are just a few of the gems I have heard, not including scientific reasoning and urgings to just move on. I could write a whole novel of what NOT to say to someone going through a miscarriage or, really, ANY grief. But, I won’t. For the most part, people are well-meaning and loving and just trying to help. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt and just know that at one time, YOU were probably the one making trite comments. I know I have been! But, if I take one lesson away from this experience, I hope it is that the only truly sincere, helpful response to a person going through such deep, lonely waters is, “I’m so sorry you are going through this.” You can add on, “I will pray the Lord heals your heart,” as long as you truly mean it, but don’t say it and then walk away to forget. I cherished prayers from friends, because in the midst of the pain, my prayers didn’t sound very coherent. The Lord is the best healer and only HE has the correct words. So, rather than stumble around, leave it to the Master.

 

 4.       You don’t have to answer the door

Usually on Sunday mornings I am at church bright and early, but during the miscarriage and for a couple weeks following, I just couldn’t pull myself together to face our church family. So, I stayed home and learned this lesson….just because they knock doesn’t mean I have to answer. I saw them walking up the driveway because the blinds were open and I was sitting alone on the couch watching Dr. Charles Stanley. It was probably too late; I’m sure they saw, but I dashed to the bedroom anyway, frustrated with myself that I hadn’t turned the volume down on Dr. Stanley. They knocked once and my heart raced. I imagined these two suited men standing on my porch, feeling hurt that I was avoiding them because surely they knew I was home. They knocked again and I had to physically restrain my puffy-faced, snot and tear laden self from feeling the conflicted obligation to both open the door for these Mormon brothers because I was home on a Sunday and the distinct fear to, because of course I already go to church….well, not today. But usually. Oh, the snot? Yeah, sorry about that. I promise I’m not a heathen. In the end, they left and I sighed, relieved and guilty. I will have to apologize if they come around again (NOT on a Sunday, of course) but I think at the time I did the right thing.

 

5.       Coffee will SA-A-AAVE your soul

My favorite scene in any Friends episode is always when they come together in Central Perk. Some of the best one-liners are dropped over a cup of joe. I think the same is true in life. Especially in the midst of grief! Although, my hair never looks as good as Jennifer Aniston’s, I learned an entirely new appreciation for a hot mug of java as my closest friends gathered around to comfort me during my grief. Of course, we brought the coffee shop to my house, but there really was nothing better to lift my spirits than a text that said, “I’m stopping at the ‘bucks. What can I get you? I’m coming over.” In the comfort of my own poorly lit living room I could freely cry and giggle and make uncomfortable broken womb/dead baby jokes to those who know my true heart and could cry and giggle right along with me. No judgment. No pity. Just hugs and encouragement and sometimes, complete empathy. Ok, so maybe it’s not the coffee alone that will save you, but the warm trickle down your throat into your cold, dark shell will surely start the process!

 

6.       Kids give two flips about grief

Being sick while taking care of a sick kid is pretty much the absolute worst state of parenting I have personally experienced. Parenting while grieving is like that, except the kid feels fine and still wants to jump on you and run with you and be read to in high pitched, squealy voices. Hfoe, bless his heart, was the most perfect partner during everything because he took over many “mama” duties despite his own pain, so that I could recover. But, there is no substitute for “mama milk” and just when I thought all the life had left me, she would latch and suck out a little more. It reminded me of a saying I saw on a sports motivation poster once, “When you think you’ve given your all, give a little more.”  But, looking down at her sweet, quiet, suckling little face sure did fill my heart with love. Tons and tons of love. And after all, isn’t love the Neosporin to grief?

 

7.       The tears don’t last forever, but the ache might…and that’s ok.

It’s been two months since I started bleeding and I no longer cry every day. In fact, I don’t cry most days and it feels nice. The first day I didn’t feel the lump in my throat I remember clearly. Chuck and I were at the mall one beautiful Saturday morning while her Papa was at work. I just needed to return a couple of things and I decided since she was being a trooper, we would grab lunch while we were there. As we chewed our French fries, I looked over at my beautiful, growing, spunky little girl and I thought about what her sister may have looked like. I thought about how they may have been best buddies and how Chuck would have loved to “help” with the baby. I remember smiling and feeling a little pang in my chest, but no lump rose up in my throat, no tears welled in my eyes. It was nice. I realized at that moment that remembering and honoring our little blueberry didn’t mean I had to live in a state of depression over her. I could still live my beautiful life and love every second of what God has blessed us with. That wasn’t a disservice to her or a neglect of what was. It was actually the best way to honor her memory…with love and joy. And, it is the platform for moving forward. I am thankful for that day.

 

 

 Ultimately, through this grief process I have learned so much about myself and my family, life and love and our heavenly Father above. I appreciate the overwhelming comfort we have received in the way of cards, letters and books to read. People are good. So, so good. And maybe that is the purpose of grief….to remind us of that.

*Sidenote…a book that has been SO comforting to me through this is Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child. I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for scriptural truth regarding the fate of their child in Heaven.

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