Friday, October 23, 2015

DIY: Laundry Room Redo!

I don't know what inspired this project... maybe it was the haphazard, crazy/disorganized laundry room that drove my type A personality insane.. but I do remember my husband came home after I had decided to tackle this new "project" and he was {slightly} annoyed.. Any who... one weekend later and the project was complete! Now I present to you, our awesome, organized laundry room!! {sorry there are no "official" before photos... when I get a project in my head, there is no stopping me. There are a few in progress photos :) }

First off... I want to mention that finding a paint color for this room was impossible very hard. I went through 3 different paint colors that I wasted spent $40 on before I finally settled on the same paint color that was already in my daughters room {Lowe's Valspar - Linen in eggshell}.  After I finally decided on the color, I knew that I wanted a flat surface to fold clothes on where the socks wouldn't fall through the back of the washer and dryer into the abyss.. So, I recruited my awesome, super helpful hubby to build me a wood counter top to lay over the washer and dryer!  Because he did this for me, I don't have any photos explaining the process, but, he did use a Kreg Jig to make the counter and the process was similar to these tutorials. Once the counter was installed, I found a shelf from Lowes that held baskets {from world market} that I store my Laundry essentials in. Now that everything is organized, I feel that this space is so much more functional for the many hours I spend doing laundry!

Hanging vases are from IKEA


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Colic Chronicles: A glimpse into a few of the most challengingmonths as a parent

There are a few reasons why I am writing this post. One: to vent. Venting is healthy and therapeutic sometimes. I am in no way trying to gain sympathy. I am simply sharing our world as we have known it for the past few months and it has been hard. Two: because I hope that at some point, it helps some other desperate mom out there survive a similar time of exhaustion and for them to feel normal. Three: to educate. Many people have no clue what colic is, what it's about or how miserable it can be for the people who are going through it. Maybe it will serve to enlighten and spark empathy for those who may be experiencing the same thing. 

So, on to our story. Cade was born 3 weeks early. I should've known then that he would be an impatient little guy!! He just couldn't wait to experience the world. This pregnancy, labor, and delivery were nothing like what I experienced with Kylar.  It was a breeze. Naturally, I assumed the newborn phase would follow suit. The first 4 days were rough. When Cade was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and he had difficulty breathing so they admitted him to the NICU. There, he was placed on CPAP (he was taken off in less than 24 hours praise The Lord!) and was started on IV antibiotics. He had a significant amount of fluid in his lungs but it thankfully cleared after 18 hours of CPAP. He still remained in the NICU due to jaundice and was on the bili blanket for a few days. Those 4 days were so foreign to me. Imagine spending every day feeling your child grow, kick and hiccup in your womb and in a matter of minutes he is whisked away upstairs with various tubes in place. I felt torn. I had a toddler at home who thought my permanent residence was now at the hospital and I had a newborn who I desperately wanted to hold and bond with and to let him know that he wasn't just a patient, he belonged to someone. Thankfully, I was able to spend a lot of time in the NICU holding and nursing him and we began to establish an immediate bond. Once we brought him home, everything went swimmingly. He was such a docile baby and was so easy to care for. I even told my best friend "I could totally do this again and have a few more babies!". Then, like clockwork, at two weeks old, I began noticing the signs of colic. Within a matter of a few days, he began screaming *not crying or fussing* with his face beat red and his little fists balled up for 3 hours from 7pm to 10 pm. I remember the first night he spent crying for 3 hours straight. After my husband finally got him to go to sleep, I began sobbing at the realization that we have *another* colicky baby. Our first born, Kylar, had colic starting at 4 weeks old and lasted 4-5 months. Being a desperate and exhausted first time mom, I quickly switched to formula at 5 weeks old thinking it was something in my diet that was hurting her tummy. We noticed slight improvement but for the most part, she too had crying spells that lasted from 7p-10p. We were so happy when our colic days were behind us (or so we thought) and she became a very happy, well rounded, baby and toddler. 

Cade, on the other hand begun crying *all day long* {no exaggeration} at the predicted peak of colic around 6 weeks old. He went from high maintenance baby to seemingly impossible baby as he required that he be held during all of his waking hours, otherwise he would scream as if something very serious was wrong. I thought Kylar's colic was bad.. I would take her version of crying during the predictable times of 7p-10p over Cade's all day long screaming marathons any day!!  This caused me so much distress as I was the one home alone with him all day.  I would {and still do} spend the days praying he would go back to sleep, and once he finally went to sleep, I didn't dare do anything that would cause the slightest noise so as to wake the screaming beast up again!! I became a prisoner to my house because for one thing, Cade hates his car seat and will scream the ENTIRE 20 minute drive to the store, and most days I didn't have the energy to endure an unpredictable screaming fit in public under the judgmental eyes of those who can't tolerate a screaming child. {seriously, where is the sympathy these days?!} I will say that sometimes, out of desperation for fresh air, I would strap Cade into his baby carrier and take him to the store and he would do surprisingly well for the first hour or so, which gave me hope! But his good days were few and far between, and sadly, the closest family we have is my parents who are two hours away. Thankfully, my mom has been able to come down frequently to give me breaks to preserve my sanity. Seriously could not have survived without those periodic breaks and to just be around someone who could hold a conversation and to laugh off all of the frustration. If you are a mommy with a toddler and a colicky newborn or just a colicky baby in general, get help!!! Seriously!! It is hard enough with a toddler and a happy newborn.. Add in countless hours of screaming newborn while trying to tend to a toddler and not have them feeling left out and that is enough to push you to your limits.  And if you know someone with a colicky baby or is having a difficult time with a newborn, offer to help!! I am so very thankful for our wonderful friends who have been there to listen to me vent {as annoying as it may be}, provide warm meals for us, and give helpful, practical advice along with a "hang in there, you are doing an excellent job!!". Those friends have made this difficult time much more bearable and I can't thank them enough or explain to them how much their love and thoughtfulness was needed and appreciated! 

So... what is colic anyway?? Colic is officially diagnosed after 3 hours of inconsolable crying, at least 3 days out of the week for at least 3 weeks.  But, any of my fellow parents of colicky babies would probably agree that you don't have to suffer through at least 3 weeks of a screaming baby  to know they have colic!! It typically presents at 2 weeks of age, the worst of it is around 6-8 weeks and it usually resolves around 3-4 months old. Now, 3-4 months may seem like a cake walk to those parents fortunate with happy, smiling all of the time babies.. But to those of us who are suffering, it feels like an eternity that is potentially unsurvivable!  I know many of you are thinking "how hard is it to calm down a crying baby?! After-all, all they do is sleep!" Well, it turns out that colicky babies are EXTREMELY hard to console. Their tempers are volatile and they can scream at the drop of a hat for no particular reason.  I don't think people understand how bad the screaming is in a colicky baby.. This kind of screaming could break glass and it pierces your bones.  Did you know that they actually train navy SEALs to endure and tolerate torture by sleep depriving them and then blasting CDs of screaming colicky babies {which, by the way, their screams can reach 100 decibels.. And to give you some perspective, a lawnmower can reach 70 decibels} at them for hours?! So yeah.. To all of you mommies to colicky babies, congratulations!! We are basically the equivalent of a Navy SEAL! ;)  As a mother, these screams are even more debilitating because your maternal instincts kick in immediately once you hear your baby scream. But, what is also frustrating about colic is that often times there is nothing tangibly wrong to fix. 

So, what causes colic anyways?! Many years of research has gone into the cause of colic and there are many different theories of its cause: gas, reflux, food allergies, some ancient folks even thought it was the curse of "the evil eye". But, none of these theories can fully account for why colic happens or how to cure it. {although the evil eye theory is somewhat convincing during one of my sons scream fests!! ;) }.  Perhaps, the most sound theory of colic in my opinion is one that is postulated by Dr. Harvey Karp in his book "The Happiest Baby on the Block". If you haven't read it yet and you have a colicky child, get it ASAP!! It has helped tremendously for us in understanding why my son screams for so long and how to calm him down. Don't get me wrong, there is no magic fix to colic, only ways to deal with it and to make things go smoother for you and your baby. I won't bore you with the details of the book and his theory but I will just simply say that once babies are born, they instantaneously go from an environment that provides warmth, loud sounds that lull babies to sleep and a feeling of being cuddled 24/7 to an environment where there is hardly no continuous noise, they are only cuddled about 6 hours per day and now they have to cope with all of these new sensations: hunger, gas pains, cold, bright lights etc. Some babies are just "chill", they can cope easily without being bothered by all of these new things. While others, like my son and daughter, are a little more hypersensitive to these new sensations. And therein lies the cause of the blood curdling screams when they have gas rumbling around in their tummies. All babies are gassy and pass gas.. Some can just handle the gas pains better than others and aren't as hypersensitive to their tummy rumblings. There is a very brief glimpse into the theory.. There is much more compelling evidence and reasoning in his book. So far, his theory is the only one that has made the most sense to me out of all of my research and after experiencing two colicky babies first hand. So, if you are as desperate for answers as I was, I highly recommend reading the book!! This book was not only wonderful in explaining newborn development in relation to their new environment but also has excellent tips on soothing even the most impossible baby. I know what you're thinking.. Seriously?! Who has time to read a book with a newborn?! Well thankfully there is a DVD version of the book for all of the sleep deprived, can't hold my eyelids open for one more second, mommies out there!!

Like many moms, I have attempted to find a magic cure for colic. And as a true sign of my desperation, I tried literally everything. Gas drops, check. Colic calm, done. Probiotic drops, yep. Chiropractor, been there. Reflux med, twice a day. And of course, the diet overhaul... No more dairy for mommy!! {could they please make a more tasty non-dairy coffee creamer?! That would make this whole no dairy thing go much smoother} As if I didn't already have enough things to do, now I have to come up with creative food ideas sans dairy and research every piece of food that I intend to eat to make sure there is none of that dreadful ingredient: milk. Out of all of those things, the one that seemed most helpful was the probiotic drops by Gerber.  I saw an improvement in his gas pains in 3-4 days. {several studies have shown that probiotics with lactobacillus reuteri can cut down crying up to 50% when compared to placebo or simethicone} Also, as much as I hate to say, eliminating dairy has helped too {dangit!! Can a girl just get a bowl of ice cream for once?!}. I have tested the no dairy hypothesis a few times and boy did I pay the next day for sneaking some dairy in! Attempt #1 = eating pepperoni pizza with lots of cheese. The next day his eczema was horrible and he was terribly gassy. Attempt #2 = eating a few pieces of milk chocolate. The next day was horrible. Random blood curdling screams followed by gas that had such a strong stench they singed nose hairs! Yeah.. We won't be testing the dairy theory for a while... Finally, someone recommended I read the book "the happiest baby on the block" by Dr. Karp. Seriously, I wish I would have known about this book with Kylar and before we had suffered through colic for 6 weeks with Cade. I think I would probably have a lot less grey hairs and a lot more sanity still remaining if I would have read this book sooner!!  And finally, we discovered a swaddling blanket that Cade {aka super ninja} couldn't bust his arms out of!! Meet our best friend, the miracle blanket {or as mommy likes to call it, the baby straight jacket!}. 

He is now 9 weeks old and things have improved significantly. We aren't officially "over" colic yet but I do think he is starting to grow out of it. He has downgraded from a baby who screams all day to a baby who is fussy the majority of the day with occasional screaming fits and who generally detests sleeping.. {seriously, these bags and dark circles under my eyes don't lie.}  Sadly, he still wakes up every 2 hours at night.. Sometimes I think he is hungry and sometimes I think it is because he realizes he isn't being held. So, we hang out in the rocker until he or I, or both fall back asleep. He still hates his car seat but I have discovered that if I play the ambient noises by the Johnson & Johnson bedtime app and jiggle his car seat repetitively while holding his paci in his mouth, then he will stay calm! {because that isn't dangerous at all...} He still is a crappy bottle drinker.. And after trying 6 different bottles, we have finally settled on the ugliest bottle invented.. The MAM bottle.. Yeah.. My baby doesn't go for trendy new bottles of the year! But at least he will actually eat at daycare now!! He still won't smile directly at me.. He just cracks the occasional half-smile at the ceiling fan {but I'm not bitter..}. He also has what I like to call "the turtle smile".  

Yeah.. It's probably not a real smile but it gets me excited!! He is starting to coo a lot now.. Sometimes I think it's in frustration but I will take it! :) he is starting to tolerate things that he previously would not, like the bouncer or the mamaroo albeit only for 10-15 minutes but it is huge improvement!! It is just enough time for me to brush my teeth or throw in a load of laundry! I admit, I'm extremely jealous of all of my friends who have "easy" babies who smile and coo all of the time since they were 5 weeks old.. I feel a little robbed of the "honeymoon" newborn phase but to be honest I think that once we finally get past this phase, I will be more appreciative of my happy baby and we will have a stronger than ever bond because of where we came from!  I want to be able to look back on this post when my little one is a happy and thriving toddler to be proud and to remember: we survived. 

So, in summary, that has been our life for the past 9 weeks.  We are in survival mode running on very little sleep and lots if caffeine! Oh and in case you are wondering about housework, it is pretty much non existent.. Along with cooking. I'm doing good to get a load of laundry in the washer and remove it promptly to put it in the dryer. And to be quite honest, the majority of the time, the laundry in the washer is forgotten until later that night {or sometimes 3 days later} in which I am running the washer again to get the mildew smell out!! ;) So, to all of you new mommies, mommies of multiple babies, and mommies to babies with colic,  sometimes you just have to laugh at the chaos and don't stress about household chores.. They will get done eventually! You aren't alone in this always crazy, most times fun, definitely rewarding, adventure we call motherhood!! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Be an Encourager!

I am naturally an introverted person. I remember when I was about 5 years old, I used to cling to my moms leg and not talk to anyone who tried to approach me and ask me a question.  Obviously, over the years I have learned to be more extroverted but there is still a hint of a small shy and unsure little girl in there somewhere! ;) Probably one of the things I fear most is being rejected or not having someone's approval.  The Lord has really been working on this issue in me lately.  I don't know about you, but there have been many times when I have felt like complimenting someone on their outfit but I'm afraid they would respond negatively {it's silly I know! Who doesn't like compliments?!}.  There have also been times where a verse pops into my head while I am having a conversation with someone about a tough time in their life and I am too afraid to share it with them for fear that their opinion of me will be negatively affected.  Have you ever felt that way?  As I am learning to dismiss the importance of others opinions, The Lord has revealed to me that the most important time to disregard how others may view you is when you have the opportunity to encourage someone or spread the gospel.   We encounter numerous people each day, not knowing their stories.  Some of them may be going through divorces, others may be dealing with financial issues and some people may just simply need a word of encouragement. I believe that positive and uplifting words have such a powerful impact on people, whether or not they are a stranger or your best friend. I encourage you to speak up! Don't be silent! You may never know how much you can impact someone's life with a simple word of encouragement, but regardless of whether or not I am aware of my impact, I want to do everything I can to uplift others.   God put us here on this earth to love and help one another and sometimes this world can be so distracting that the only things we think of at times are owning the newest Louis Vuitton handbag or getting a promotion at our job so we can buy more pretty things that the world tells us we need.  But, at the end of the day, all of those worldly possessions can not make you feel like you have fulfilled a purpose or calling on your life.  We are all human and get distracted by those things.  But, it is so important that we pay attention to others and their situations. So, next time you have that small voice that tells you to speak encouraging words to someone, don't ignore it!  Never underestimate the power of words! 

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21 NIV)

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19, 20 NIV)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Unfruitful Branches

Have you ever wondered sometimes why some things don't work out as you had intended?  Lately, I have been pondering the purpose of all of the little set backs in life.  One day, I was thinking of some recent seemingly "set-backs" and asked myself "am I doing something wrong to cause all of these issues?"   And then the Lord spoke to me and said "No, I am weeding out all of the bad vines that don't produce fruit in your life."  That was so comforting to me.  I don't know about everyone else, but when I work really hard on something and it does not turn out the way I intended, I am very critical on myself and try to analyze {and analyze.. And analyze some more for good measure :) } everything and look for what went wrong.  I think it is good to be aware of your actions and their effects, but I think that in some situations, The Lord is ridding your life of something that you may be spending unnecessary time or energy on.  Looking back on those "set-backs" I am very glad they did not turn out the way I had planned, otherwise I would be wasting my time on something that wouldn't bear any fruit in my life or the lives of other people I encounter.  So, whether your "set-back" is a quarrel with an acquaintance, a job opportunity that just doesn't work out or even something as simple as the department store is sold out of that pair of shoes you just HAVE to have!!, instead of getting upset and frustrated, take a step back and ask yourself, "Is this bearing fruit in my life? Is this making me a better person or am I wasting time and energy on something when I could be using this time to do something that does bear fruit for others ?" 

Here is a verse to remember:

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."  (John 15:2 NIV)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More than conquerors

Lately, I have been thinking there seems to be one trial and tribulation after another which often gets very exhausting and can bog my spirit down.  Sometimes it is hard to not get discouraged and wonder what God's purpose is for that particular trial in my life.  First of all, I think these hard times are in some ways a gift because it shows us that He cares and is continually molding us in His image.  For example, if my daughter gets near the stove top and attempts to touch it, I am going to tell her not to do it.  If she decides to be contrary and do it anyways (which unfortunately, happens a lot) then I will physically remove her from that dangerous situation.  I think this is the same thing that God does with us.  A lot of times, he tries to send us messages through the holy spirit (much like my verbal warning to my daughter) but the majority of the time, we don't listen.  So, sometimes he intervenes because he knows what is best for us. And, we learn a lot about ourselves, our relationship with God and our faith along the way.

Secondly, I think that although the Lord uses trials to better us and protect us, Satan tries to use them to make us weary.  However, I take comfort in the fact that I don't have to rely on myself or my own means to take care of my situation.  The bible says "yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors  and  gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us." (Romans 8:37 AMP)  We are more than conquerors!! That means that no matter what situation I may be facing, I know that I am victorious in Christ Jesus who gives me strength!  All of my debts will be paid, my sins forgiven and my family provided for! That is why I refuse to worry or fret what tomorrow may bring because I hold steadfast to the truth that I serve a mighty God who loves me deeply and already knows my path for the future.  I choose to not give Satan the victory over my situation by causing me anguish and frustration. Daniel 7:25 says "and he shall wear out the saints of the most high".  This is why I am realizing it is ever important to remain strong and faithful in Him and to not be clouded by a haze of worldly fears and anxiety.  Life is much more peaceful with a God-centered heart!

Friday, April 5, 2013

one year

This past weekend was the official one year anniversary of Raynor being released from playing baseball.. and while those few weeks were some of the most difficult weeks of our lives, I find myself in amazement at how the Lord's plans are so much greater than our own.  This time last year, if I were only able to fast forward a year to see all of the good things that were to come, the transition into a "normal life" {i.e. one that does not revolve around baseball schedules and one where your spouse is home year round} would be much easier.  But, as they say.. hindsight is 20/20.  Or perhaps, maybe it isn't a matter of hindsight.. maybe it is a matter of having full faith that the Lord opens doors that need to be opened and closes doors when they are ready to be closed.  Although, if you would have asked us a year ago, our plans were that Raynor would continue to play ball and we would move to Arizona in the off season after I finished PA school.  We were so enveloped in these plans that we never really stopped to ask ourselves: are we looking to the Lord for confirmation of these plans, or are we blinded by our own worldly desires?

The season before Raynor's release was filled with much hardship and frustration.  I was alone in Texas while pregnant and finishing PA school, and Raynor suffered from multiple injuries.  Looking back on that time, I often wonder if we missed those subtle hints that maybe baseball wasn't the path that the Lord had for Raynor anymore.  Last January, Raynor had to leave early to rehab his most recent injury before Spring Training began.  It was the most difficult goodbye our family has had to make as Kylar was only 5 months old and we knew Raynor would be gone for the rest of the season until September {missing Kylar's 1st birthday}.  While Raynor was gone, I took care of Kylar and everything at the house, as well as worked to finish up PA school.  I can honestly say, this was a huge time of growth for me as I was alone in Waco, taking care of an infant while juggling school and all other responsibilities.  And then, I got the unexpected phone call from Raynor saying "I'm coming home".  At that moment, it felt as if I were drowning in a flood of emotions and stress.. I thought "why would God bring us so far only to take it all away?"  I don't know if I will ever know the answer to that question, but I do know that even through that difficult time of uncertainty, all of our needs were met and we grew closer as a family while maturing in our walks with Christ.

Over the past year, a lot has changed.  Kylar has developed in so many ways:  learning to crawl, swimming in the pool for the first time, learning to throw and kick a ball, taking her first steps, feeding herself, learning over 30 new words, developing phrases, and so much more.  She is such a joy and I cannot imagine her daddy not being there for this past year of her life.  In a way, saying goodbye to baseball was much easier this way because if Raynor continued to play ball for a few more years, he would have missed out on much of Kylar's life.  Raynor has found a job that he enjoys as the field manager for the Baylor baseball field and he also gives lessons and runs baseball camps for the future Ian Kinsler's and Clayton Kershaw's ;) and I have graduated from PA school and started my first big girl job! :) In retrospect, it is always easier to analyze our response to difficult situations because we already know the outcome, but during {what seems like} a crisis, I have learned that it is best to take a step back and ask for clarity and peace because today's crisis may lead to tomorrow's blessing in disguise. 


Kylar walking through our very first house to call home!
White Coat Ceremony
Kylar's 1st birthday party!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Staging Bookshelves: A How-to in beautifying and decluttering!

Bookshelves are great for storing items and are very useful; however, if not used properly, they can become huge eye-sores!  But, who says a bookshelf has to be completely functional?! They can be pretty + functional with a little TLC :)  For months, my mom had been asking me to declutter her built in bookshelves {and for months, I have been begging her to give them a face lift by painting them a cream color, but she is not ready for a drastic change like that so, I will take what I can get! :) }. Little did she know, this "small" project of re-doing her bookshelves would turn into completely updating her house! Oops! She of all people should know that if you give me an inch, I will take a mile :) But, I will post all of the details on that transformation later!  For now, I will leave you with some simple steps and pointers on how to declutter and stage a bookshelf!

1. Take everything off of the bookshelf.

       Take off everything from you bookshelf and make 3 piles: keep, throw away and give away. Going from completely cluttered to absolutely nothing is a huge difference! It may be tempting to leave the bookshelf completely empty once everything is gone :) but, hang in there! It will look great in no time!

2. "Shop" your house.

       Take a look around your house for any picture frames or nick-nacks that you like and think may look good displayed on your bookshelf. You may have seen this concept on pinterest or other blogs but it is such a great way to incorporate items you already have and give them a fresh spin just by putting them in a different room! Plus, it can save you a lot of money!

3. Take the paper spines off of your books.

      The difference is amazing! Books are so much prettier without the ugly covers on them which will make your bookshelves look less cluttered and more put together.

4. Vary the arrangement of your books but be careful not to put too many books back on the shelf.

5.  Add some greenery and fun picture frames.

6. Paint or wallpaper the back of the bookshelf.

        I had suggested this idea to my mom and she considered it, but didn't want to go that extra mile {I guess I had taken too many extra miles already ;) }.  But this is an excellent way to create some depth and contrast for your bookshelves.  AND if you are too cautious to take a leap of faith and paint or wall paper them, you can cover foam board or cardboard with fabric or wrapping paper for a less permanent update!  Check out this blog post here on painting bookshelf backgrounds.