my favorite things.

A few of my favorite things:

this lotion.

Keeps mosquitoes from biting- don’t know how it works but it does!  I put it on before heading outside.  The last few weeks I was doing a lot of work out in the yard after Jack went to bed.  Dusk is prime time for mosquito bites.  I rubbed this stuff on and did not get bitten.  I’m very edible to mosquitoes; the record is 36 bites on both legs in one hour.

watermelon.

It just doesn’t get old around these parts.  The little guy loves watermelon, and we do too.  He would live off of it if we let him.  Since watermelon is rich in vitamins A & C and is a good source of vitamin B6, I don’t mind him indulging i this sweet goodness.  Vitamin A is important for healthy eyes, and vitamins A, B6, and C are all important for the body’s immune system.  Watermelon is packed with antioxidants, including the ever-important and popular lycopene, so I’m all over it, too.

my camera strap.

A birthday gift from my sister, I’m lovin’ this camera strap.  It makes carrying my camera around so much more fun.  And pretty.  [And don’t mind the adorable little guy in the background riding his dinosaur.]

my new headboard.

This beauty has really jazzed up our bedroom and is easy on the eyes as I’m crawling into bed.

What are some of your favorite things right now?  I’d love to hear what’s making your heart skip a beat!

a headboard with a heritage.

We’re not new to having a unique headboard.  When we got married we used the bedroom set my husband had used in college for our “master” bedroom.  It was fine for awhile, but it just didn’t suit our needs.  Our first master bedroom in our first house [confusing, huh?]  was pretty small, so it was a tight squeeze to get everything in there.  Tommy wanted to take the headboard and the foot board off the bed, and it ended up being a great move.  We had at least a good six inches of space to move around the bed after that.  But I had to have a headboard, so we got creative.

This is what our original bed was.  Could I be any messier?

This was the headboard we made.  It added some of our style and helped with our space issues.  Win. Win.

We decided not to use that homemade headboard when we moved to Tennessee.  It just didn’t feel right, but we also didn’t want to put the original bed back together, even though we do have more room here.  So we waited.  Finally, the world fell into place and the greatest headboard for us was born.

We turned my Mamaw’s picnic table into our headboard!

I am crazy about my Mamaw’s stuff.  I LOVE incorporating her things into our home.  I LOVE having a home where I can look around and find reminders of her.  I miss my Mamaw, and to me, this is just a small way of the remembering, the honoring.  This picnic table had been sitting outside folded up, unused at my parents house for over a year.  One day my sister said “hey, why don’t you make that your headboard?”  I was crazy about the idea!  Tommy got on board and helped get things going [and by that I mean, he did ALL of the labor to make this happen].  He took the legs off the table, cleaned it, sealed it, and stuck that baby up on the wall.  It makes our room feel awesome.  I’m lovin’ it.

I’m linking up with Tatertots & Jello for her Weekend Wrap Up Party here.

I’m linking up with The Shabby Creek Cottage for Transformation Thursday here.

back to school back to school.

I may be the only person who still quotes that line from Billy Madison.  I may be the only person who still talks about Billy Madison.  I’m so excited right now!  It’s the first day of school!  In all actuality this means nothing to me.  I’m not a teacher.  I don’t have school-age children.  Nothing in my life changes with this time of year.  BUT it does mean fall is coming!  Oh, how excited I am.  Plus, I just plain love seeing the excitement of the new school year.

In honor of back to school my granny had us all over for a Back to School Spaghetti Supper.  She is too cute.  She even made a sign.  My sister is a new teacher and my brother starts his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee in a couple of weeks.  Good luck Linds and Bud as you start back up.

And photobombed…

My husband is precious and so sweet.  He knows how much I love back to school, so he came home with some super sweet surprises for me.  In honor of back to school I got my favorite – some chocolate, a sweet card, and…

a bouquet of sharpened pencils!  [You’ve Got Mail, anybody??]

Just another reason to love back to school.

remembering: the follow-up.

Read Part 1 here.

Yesterday I talked about the day Jack was born and his sudden sickness.  Only by the grace of God, we made it through the night.  Tommy made a couple of trips down to the NICU to take milk I was pumping down to the fridge.  He would tell me that he saw Jack, gave him a kiss, and told him he loved him.  It was comforting.  Every day Jack made improvements, and by Saturday, the neonatologists declared that he had turned the corner– they could say with certainty that he was going to be ok.  We were so thankful!  Jack stayed in the NICU for 8 days and was then discharged.  It was a challenging journey- every part of it- but he was healed and is a healthy, thriving toddler now.  I understand there are parents who have very sick little babies in the NICU for a long, long time, and I am by no means saying our journey is like that.  I know that 8 days would be amazing to some families.  I am not trying to compare us to them but am just sharing our journey.  We were shocked that our full-term baby was so critically ill, so we had never expected this.  I guess no one really does.  I now have a heart for those mama and daddys who watch their little ones growing and healing for months in the care of the NICU staff, and I have great respect for what they go through.  At some point in the future I may go into more detail in Jack’s story.  We know that we are called to never forget that he was healed.  God didn’t have to heal him, but He did and we are so thankful.  Thank you for walking with me as I remember and share our story.

the one that’s hard to write.

Over 14 months ago my world was rocked, and it hasn’t been the same since.  My son was born on May 25th, 2011- the day my world fell into place and my heart stepped outside of my body to walk around on this earth.  Like all new moms, I had no clue what I was doing.  I read some books, I tried to pick up on some things about motherhood and babies, but I really had no clue.  I was never a big baby person or kid person.  I wanted children for sure, but Tommy and I were surprised to start that journey after just 2 years of being married.  I had no idea what was coming.  And now, knowing what I know, I wouldn’t change a thing.  But aside from new motherhood and the whirlwind that is the day of your first child’s birth, I had something else that rocked me to my core.  Jack, our gorgeous happy boy, was sick.  Here’s his story.

He was born at 10:24 am on a Wednesday.  He was a little distressed before he was  born with the cord wrapped around his neck, but he looked great at birth.  He had Apgars of 9 & 9 and was deemed perfectly healthy.  We were thrilled and I was totally clueless how to take care of him at all but so excited to learn.  I tried nursing him.  We tried getting him to sleep.  We unswaddled and re-swaddled.  We held, we hugged, we adored.  He was grunting.  This really weird nose.  He kept grunting.  We were starting to think that we had a grumpy baby with a potentially rough parenting road ahead of us.  Around 1 I was moved from the Labor and Delivery floor up to the Mother/Baby floor.  The woman who moved us up there [a transporter for the hospital] was pretty inpatient as we gathered all of our stuff up.  Tommy and my dear friend, Jessica, finished grabbing everything while this woman went ahead pushing me in the wheelchair with sweet Jack in my arms.  Jack kept grunting the whole way.  As we passed the nurses station on the L&D floor they all looked in response to the noises but no one said anything.  As we got in the elevator, this transporter told me to have the nurses check my baby because it could be a breathing problem.  I honestly didn’t give it a second thought for two reasons.  1.  My baby was perfect and I was certain nothing was wrong with him.  And 2. She was a transporter– nurses, doctors, and people who’s entire purpose was in examining newborns had given him the clean bill of health.  What did she know?  [I’m embarrassed to even say this now, but it was definitely what I was thinking at the time.]

Grumpy, grunting faces. 

We hung out, playing with our sweet new guy that afternoon.  He still wouldn’t eat or sleep.  We had several nursing checks, and then finally my family arrived around 4:45.  They were so excited to meet Jack!  My mom held him, and within the first minute of holding him she said “This baby’s hungry.  He needs to eat, Lauren.”  I told her I’d tried but he wouldn’t eat.  She thought he seemed uncomfortable.  Then she passed him off to my sister who held him for about two minutes before the nurse came in to check on him.  She was just doing a routine check on the little guy and put him in his bassinet to check on everything.  She listened a little longer to his chest this time, and then said that she thought everything was fine but that she wanted to get him checked out by her nursing supervisor just to make sure he was ok because he sounded a little wheezy.  We gave her the ok to take him, and she left with him.  It was weird, but I really didn’t even give it a second thought.  I fully expected her to be right back in with him.

Awhile went by, longer than I had expected, and we finally heard the door open.  I said “here he is” but instead of our nurse returning with Jack, someone I didn’t recognize was coming in empty handed.  I thought she was there to see me but quickly realized that wasn’t the case.  She introduced herself as one of the neonatalogists in the NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit] and said that she had some bad news about Jack.  I can still remember her standing on my right talking to me so calmly as I lay in bed feeling so helpless.  She said that Jack was down in the NICU.  She explained that the nurse felt he was having difficulty breathing, so they checked his oxygen saturation level and it was pretty low [in the 80s].  They ordered a chest x-ray where they found that his lungs were completely 100% covered.  She told us it was a very bad x-ray, and they weren’t sure if it was infection but that his lungs looked very bad.  She said he was “very sick”.  She was so calm.  She explained everything so well to us.  She told us that the nurses were about to do shift change but that after that we could come down and see him.  She told us that she wanted to prepare us for what we would see, so she explained to us that Jack looked like a different baby than we had held in our arms just an hour earlier.  She told us of all the leads they had placed on his sweet little chest, the pulse-ox meter they had attached to his little tiny foot, and of the big line they were getting ready to place as soon as we gave them permission.  She explained that he needed oxygen right now and that they had him on an oxygen hood to support him.  She told us they were prepared to do whatever they needed should he get sicker.  She explained to us the necessity of putting a line in his umbilical cord stump.  She explained the risks.  We signed the consent form.  She asked if we had questions.  The only one I could think of was “Is he going to be ok?”  She responded with “We’re going to do everything we can for him.”  We were all in shock.  Later I could think of a million and one questions but at that time, I was stunned silent.

I remember her leaving but I don’t remember anything after that until it was time for us to go to the NICU.  I don’t know if I looked at Tommy right after she left.  I don’t know if he was sitting beside me, across the room or standing up.  I don’t know who spoke first after she left or what was said.  It’s all a blur.  But at exactly the time she told us we could go down, we did.  We all went down together- me in the wheelchair.  Tommy and I scrubbed up before entering while everyone else waited outside the NICU for us.  We went to the desk saying we were Jack Morgan’s parents and Dr. H had asked us to come down.  They took us to her, which was so reassuring at the time.  The NICU is an amazing place, a place I have such a thankful heart for, but on that first evening, it scared the pants, or hospital gown, off of me.  Dr. H showed us around the NICU and told us that our baby boy was in NICU A and took us to him.  As I think about that moment, even now, I can remember exactly how the NICU looked and smelled.  I can remember exactly the turns it took to get to Jack’s bed.  Even now, as I think about it, I feel my stomach jump into my throat.  My throat swells up as I remember what my son looked like in that moment.  He was, as she had described him, with lines and leads coming off of him and hooked up to all sorts of machines.  He had a huge oxygen hood over him, but what broke our new parent hearts was seeing the fight in our little guy.  He was restrained at his wrists and his ankles to keep him from pulling at all the wires, and he was fighting it.  I will never forget watching him arch his back to try to loosen his arms.  I will never forget watching his chest rise and fall so rapidly, much too rapidly.  I will never forget the pain he was in.  I will never forget that while my heart was breaking right in that moment, the image before me so beautifully displayed the glory of my Savior on the cross.  And in that moment, that was all that kept me standing there.

This was a much better view than we had the first night.
This was towards the end of his NICU stay but is an example of some of his lines and leads. 

Tommy and I just stood and watched.  I don’t know how long it was- I have absolutely no concept of that.  I don’t know what words we spoke to each other or to Jack.  I don’t know at what point we pulled ourselves away from our boy.  All I can remember is that next we went back to Dr. H’s office, where she showed us his x-ray.  She showed us what healthy lungs look like and then showed us Jack’s.  To these 4 non-neonatologist eyes it looked bad but she explained why it was so very bad.  They had their plan to help him and they were watching him all the time.  We knew he was in the very best of hands, so we left him there.  We walked out through those doors leaving him in the care of strangers who would become our closest companions during that time.  And we took a deep breath, looked at our family, and lost it.

Over 14 months ago, my world was rocked.

 

Read Part II here.

insta-saturday.

Today I hosted a wedding shower for an old friend.  Yesterday, I was busy cleaning up our house, so I completely forgot to post my instagram pictures from this week.

Coming home from vacation means a huge mess in our house.  Eating dinner with a table looking like this was a little stressful, but we’re all good now.

This little guy has found a new hobby in pulling blankets and pillows off the couch, bunching them up on the floor, and laying on them.  Sometimes, he runs and dives into them.  And sometimes, he pretends to sleep.

This week’s CSA pick-up.  Lovin’ all this color!

Jack was inspired by the Olympics, so he did his own balance beam routine.  The routine was impressive… the dismount did not.go.well.

We’ve had a fun week!  We’ve all had a cold but we’re doing much better this weekend.  Tommy and Jack had a boys day while we had many women at our home.  The boys had a blast.  As Jack gets older he enjoys spending time with Tommy even more.

Happy Weekend All!

where our produce comes from.

I’ve briefly mentioned before that we are members of a CSA for the first time this year.

This was something I’ve debated on doing for a couple of years now.  I first learned about CSAs when I was a Dietetic Intern with the University of Maryland.  One of my favorite rotations [and where my dream job would probably be] was at Food and Friends.  Food and Friends is an awesome organization who delivers food to those with life-challenging diseases in the greater Washington-DC metro area.  This is a phenomenal place, who  staffs 3 Registered Dietitians to provide nutrition counseling and make sure the nutritional needs are met for those who have special nutritional needs [cancer patients and AIDS patients, just as an example].  So many volunteers work at F & F each day, helping to prepare meals, load them up, stock grocery bags, and deliver meals all over Virginia, DC, and Maryland.  I’m in love with this place.

Upon completion of my program I so wanted a position to open up.  I knew it was a long shot, but you’ve gotta go for your dream job, right?  Well, one did, and I had my first interview in the same week that I had 2 other job interviews.  The F & F process was long [lots of applicants] and there was no guarantee I’d be selected, so when I had 2 job offers come in, I got nervous, lost sight of patience and went with the sure thing.  Was it wise or did I give up?  I’m still not sure but based on some other patterns in my life, I know patience is not my strong suit.  And I do regret missing my opportunity at F & F.  So back on track… the RD who was my preceptor left a tremendous impact on me.  I will never forget her.  She explained to me what a CSA is—the concept behind it, the good, the bad, and the beauty of it.  I fell in love with this idea.  So when the next year’s enrollment came around, I wanted to sign up, but I got nervous.  I didn’t know if we could make the pick-up each week.  I was nervous about trying new produce, and quite frankly I was concerned that I wouldn’t get all of the tomatoes that my body needs.  Yes, needs.  So I balked.  Then one week our friends asked us if we wanted to pick up their CSA while they were away on vacation.  I jumped at the opportunity, fell in love with the CSA idea all over again, and vowed that I would join.  We moved in November, so I was sad to not be able to join the same CSA we had visited—as their set-up and produce was amazing!  But during the winter we researched our CSA options here in Knoxville and have been pretty happy with what we’ve got.

Here are some questions I get pretty often about a CSA.

What is a CSA? 

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  The purpose is for community members to stand with their local farmers and support the farm by contributing financially and enjoying the produce from that farm.  CSAs can be set up differently depending on the farm, but it’s basically an informal contract where the community member says “I will get my produce from you” and the farm agrees to provide quality produce for a set amount of time.  I’ve seen CSAs go in 10 week increments; ours is 25 weeks.

Do you get to pick your produce? 

We don’t.  The way our CSA is set up, we arrive at our pick-up location and they give us a box with our weekly produce.  You get what they grow.  Our friends CSA was pretty cool in that it did allow you to choose from what they had, so if you wanted a lot of tomatoes, you could swap out your potatoes for tomatoes and that kind of thing.  So it did allow some choices.  I do wish we had that here, but I’m not complaining.

What if you get something you don’t like?

You either get creative or you waste it.  We’ve had several vegetables come in our produce box that we’ve never had before.  And quite frankly that I never cared to try.  I tried to do something with all of it since I’ve been on a “waste not want not” kick.  But did I always?  Nope.  I never tried the bok choy and wasted a whole bunch of swiss chard, among other things.

Isn’t it expensive? 

It really is a good value to us.  We pay what works out to $25 a week for our produce.  Sometimes our boxes have had what we would value at less than that, but more often they’ve had more.  This may not work for some families but for us, it’s a good use of our produce money.  If you have a whole bunch of picky eaters who only eat apples and carrots, a CSA probably isn’t for you.  But for us, we’re willing to try new things, like a variety of produce, eat A LOT of produce, and really love that our money is going to support a local farm and family who we have the pleasure of getting to know through this.

We really have gotten some beautiful produce from this farm.  I’m sold on the CSA.

I want to encourage you.  If you are nervous, like I was, about stepping outside of the box and taking this risk, to go for it.  Be creative.  Take a risk.  I think you’ll really like it.  If not, it’s only six months.

Visit the website for the farm where we get our CSA here.

Visit the incredible Food and Friends here.

*Neither Food and Friends nor the Colvin Family Farm know that I’m talking about them here.  I was not compensated for this post.  I’m just a huge fan of CSAs and Food and Friends and want you to be too.

the beach part II.

More pictures from our fabulous and much  needed time of rest.

There are 2 guys here who are very happy.

I was afraid my little man  might have some whiplash after I took him for a cruise on the bike.  I think he’s ok.  It’s hard to steer one of those things.

My mama– such a beautiful lady!

We were pretty excited to see 9 deer in this yard.  Living in Maryland, I saw deer all the time, but something about it in all other places of the world is really cool.

I love this bridge.  This was the view from the front of the condo.  I’m not one to get into nerdy engineering things– even though my husband is– but this bridge amazes me.  Maybe it’s because I’m just so thankful we don’t have to drive over the old Charleston bridge anymore.  Anyone else remember those old bridges?

My brother is one of my favorite people.  Always has been.  It was so fun to spend a week with him.  That hasn’t happened in a long time.

Jack learned the word “go” on this trip.  He would pop up from his nap saying “I go” or “go, go” and literally hit the ground running for the door.

A little horse and carriage ride.  Was really nervous how a 1 year old would do.  He did great!

If only pictures could do it justice, but the moon was incredible.  The way it reflects across the ocean is breathtaking.

Mom and Dad, thank you for taking us on the most fabulous vacation!  We love you!

a much needed rest.

Isn’t it amazing how God lines things up and we have no idea how perfect they are until after?  We just got back from vacation with my family, and it was incredible.  We had all of us there and were at our favorite beach in the world.  The blessing of rest and time away was so needed that we could feel it.  Even now, as I transition back into reality, I feel so much better able to do daily life.  This is really the first time I’ve ever felt this.  It’s been a hard summer for our little family and our bigger family on husband’s side.  Tommy is working hard and has a lot going on at work.  Between dealing with the stress of work and his family, he really needed this break.  It truly was perfect timing.

Jack, of course, had a blast.  How could he not with family around him 24/7?  I was really nervous for yesterday since it was going to be just me and him for the first time in 9 days.  Often after a weekend with Tommy and others around, he is really bummed on Mondays for it to be just the two of us, but yesterday he did ok.  It was really fun to watch Jack form deeper relationships with his Pops, Nan, Uncle Bud, and Aunt Linny.  I have so many pictures from this trip, it would be overload to do them all in one post.  I’m going to break it up into probably two posts.  I apologize in advance if it gets old; I really want to look back and remember this vacation that was so perfect.

Baby’s first bike ride.  Ohh my I was so excited to get him on the bike and with good reason– he LOVED it!

What a view!  My 2 loves.

I sat back and watched the family play for awhile.

Family shot.

Our view every day.  Um.. yes.

Cuddles with Dada.

We watched the guys play when they finally made it around to the 18th.  Tommy putting.

Dad putting.

Our condo looked out over the 18th green and the ocean.  Quite a view.

I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2.  Thanks for reading.

we’re back.

Today I’m lookin’ at this:

Rather than this:

It was hard to come back and reality sets in quickly, but it’s always good to be home.  Today you’ll find me cleaning, unpacking, and straightening up what you saw in those pictures above.