Friday, January 15, 2016

A Year Later, It Is Well With My Soul

A year ago today my life changed forever. My Nana, who was my best friend, biggest supporter, and always my first call in good times and bad, passed away. She fought dementia for 12 years and had not been "my Nana" for several years. Even as she became someone we did not know anymore, she still loved us and we loved her. That night as she took her final breath, we were not sad, but joyful that she was no longer suffering or dealing with a memory that was no longer there.

I found out I was pregnant with Aliza a week almost to the hour after Nana left us and I knew immediately she had a hand in that!  When sweet Aliza was born I knew immediately Nana was with her. She looked just like us and was demanding the center of attention...just like Nana! Haha! She already shows so many personality traits of my Nana; a killer side eye to show her disapproval, her smile, and infectious laugh. We often joke that their spirits must have passed, because they are so similar!  God sure does has a funny way of keeping those who have left you a part of your life! 

There have been so many times I have wanted to call her and couldn't. The day I found out I was having a girl I just sat and cried for 5 minutes before I called anyone because I couldn't call her and no one would have loved that baby more! There were days when Aliza was struggling with reflux that I would have given anything to bring her to Nana like I did with Nicholas for her to rock the colicky baby in a way that only she could that always relieved colic. We've now come through all of our "firsts" without her and although I miss her terribly, there is a peace that she is no longer suffering.  

I spoke at her service the following week and I have had every intention of sharing what I said, but never felt like writing the post. I wanted to do that today...

Most of you know that my Nana and I had a very unique, special relationship.  She had 10 grandchildren and loved us all equally, but differently.  I was her first grandchild and think the day I was born was the best day of her life...not because I was born, but because that was the day she gained her most valued title...Nana.  With me she was my best friend, my loudest cheerleader, most loyal supporter, and the person that taught me that I could be ANYTHING I wanted to be.  Nana always had a way of teaching life lessons, whether you realized that is what she was doing or not.  With me it was by encouraging imaginary role play to teach that I could be anyone I wanted to be.  It didn’t matter if it was Princess Diana, an astronaut, or a mom, we role played that part!  

Part of this pretend play for us was to dress up and pretend to be two old ladies… I was Louella Snodgrass and Nana was Myrtle Higgenbottom.  I can honestly tell you that I have NO IDEA where those names came from, but Louella and Myrtle have had some amazing times!  I remember actually wearing a gold sequined scarf, hat, and large rhinestone broach to the zoo where we sat and people watched.  I was 3 or 4 and yes, I already knew how to people watch!  The funny thing is, looking back, I’m SURE people were actually looking at US and commenting on how ridiculous WE looked!  Louella and Myrtle LOVED soap operas.  I still think I was the only 4 year old in the Baptist preschool that could recap the current storyline on All My Children.  Louella and Myrtle continued in those roles (well, without the dress up clothes) as recently as just a couple of years ago.  I remember when she moved to the assisted living telling my friends that nothing has changed, Louella and Myrtle will just finally be where two old ladies should be...the assisted living! 

One of her favorite things she did with her grandchildren was to host birthday parties.  Not just any birthday parties, but extravagant birthday parties ranging from dress up parties to baseball themed parties!  For my 5th birthday she had a playhouse built in her backyard for my party. By that time I had been joined by Lindsey, 3 years later, Katie and when Nana married Fred, 4 more granddaughters.  Between the 7 of us, there have been countless tea parties, dress up birthday parties, and afternoons spent in that playhouse.  

My Nana taught me so much over the 33 years I had with her.  I’m thankful that she taught me how to decorate for holidays and instilled in me the love of hosting parties, dishes, crystal, and serving pieces!  Everytime I bring home a new piece of crystal or a serving piece I just tell Michael that I can’t help it!  My Nana taught me to love these things! Not only did she have a love for dishes and hosting parties, but she also LOVED to cook!  You never went to her house that their wasn’t freshly cooked tea cakes, rice crispy treats, and a German chocolate cake sitting on her island!  I’m certain that the freezer in Heaven is now stocked full of dumplings for chicken and dumplings, German chocolate cake, and sliced pears for pear preserves for eternity!  

The most important thing Nana taught us was to love The Lord, our family, and our friends.  Even in her darkest times she always worried about others instead of herself.  An example of this was when my grandfather was in his last days and a close family friend was also in the hospital.  Nana, 8 month old Lindsey, and 5 year old me were at Erlanger waiting on an elevator when our friends passed by.  In showing concern for them and asking about their loved one, she forgot that she had pushed Lindsey’s stroller onto the elevator and as the doors shut she turned around just in time to see Lindsey take an unattended ride through Erlanger!  I now work at Erlanger and ride these same elevators often, every time laughing remembering how her concern for others almost caused us to lose Lindsey!  This has become a story that our family has laughed about for years!  

As much as Nana LOVED being a grandmother, at 80 years old, my Nicholas became the light of her life as her only great grandchild.  As recently as Christmas Eve she played and laughed with him.  She loved him as only she could and he loves her.  He asks about her daily and I am so thankful he was able to know her.  

I was blessed for almost 34 years with the most amazing grandmother.  Nana was a very colorful, feisty, sassy, fun loving, and the most one of a kind person I’ve ever known.  She loved her family fiercely and she loved us well.  No one was more proud of us than our Nana.  Anytime one of us made the paper, she would order her own personal color copy of the picture!   She was my first phone call in the good and bad times.  I could count on her to celebrate the good times and comfort me in the bad.  In the happy times she would sing You Are My Sunshine to us and when I was upset about anything, she would make me stop crying long enough to hear her sing the words of It Is Well.  In the last few days that song has randomly played on my itunes several times when I needed it most and has given me a peace by reminding me that she is no longer suffering, she is with the Lord, and that she always looked forward to the day she would leave this world for Heaven.  

Proverbs 31:25 says:  She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.  My Nana was THE ideal Proverbs 31 woman and I will forever be thankful for the time I had with her.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thoughts On Thursday

Hi! I'm back for a catch up, random thoughts post! 

1. Working mom of two.  Being a working mom of 2 has thrown me for a loop. We got into a great routine while I was off for 12 weeks, but when I returned to work it was all new, not to mention Christmas craziness also going on. This week we have worked hard to return to a sense of normalcy and so far so good. Meal planning, laundry, and packing lunches are all returning to normal and that makes me happy!  We all get home around 6:00 and the next 2.5 hours are crazy, but we are surviving. Next round of craziness...when baseball starts in about 2 months! 

2.  A new, bigger car. The lease on my Explorer was quickly approaching when Aliza was born and it didn't take long to see that a larger car would be fabulous. About 2 weeks before I went back to work, Michael surprised me with a new to us Yukon! The kids and I love all of the room and not feeling so cramped. I don't know that I could ever go back to a smaller SUV now! As a matter of fact, I'm kind of wishing we had gone ahead with the XL instead of the standard length! 

3.  I love big bows and I cannot lie!  My baby is rarely seen (other than at daycare) without a big bow. I love little girls in smocking, big bows, and sparkle! 

However, for New Years Eve, we broke out our tiara handband and sparkly sleeper! 

4.  Bonus Year of School. We are half way through our bonus year of PreK and it has been amazing! Absolutely, hands down, best decision ever! Nicholas has just flown and grown so much over the last 5 months. We LOVE his school and his teacher! She has been so good for him and it's amazing how much he has learned. 

6.  Breastfeeding. I plan to do an entire post on this subject, but we have had quite the breastfeeding journey this go around. I had a lot of problems early on with Nicholas waking up enough and latching well and I ended up exclusively pumping, but I had high hopes this time around it wouldn't end like that. Well, it sort of did. Aliza did great for about 4 days then when my milk came in she couldn't latch. We did everything but nothing worked, so out came the pump. She sometimes nurses at bedtime and in the morning, but she is still almost exclusively bottle fed. I am proud to say that she is exclusively breastfed and to me it doesn't matter if it comes out of a bottle or breast, she is still fed and happy! (Of note, I am the last person on the planet to judge breast vs formula. I've now had one that was on formula from 6weeks on and one exclusively breastfed and they are both healthy and happy. Every baby is different and every situation is unique. You just do what is best for you and your baby! No judgies here!)

7.  Losing Babyweight. I'm not going to lie, all but 2 pounds have come off, BUT I am 2 sizes from where I was a year ago and where I would like to be thanks to flab and fat. With Nicholas it all fell off and I didn't have a lot of flab, well I do this time and literally no time to work out and tone. I'm hoping I can return to my workout routine by summer, but right now I'm having to accept the fact life is crazy and I just can't get it in. And that is ok! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Santa! We Know Him!

We went to see Santa a couple of weeks ago after church and he was such a good Santa!  We've seen this Santa every year but one and if you are in Chattanooga, try to go Hamilton Place when this Santa is working! 
We are excited today that tonight is the night Santa comes to town!  This year Nicholas has asked for a Star Wars Infinity video game, plants vs zombies stuff, Legos, zombie nerf gun, and Star Wars stuff.  Aliza is hoping for a few toys to grow into between now and her birthday! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hello Again!

Merry Christmas! Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!  I wanted to pop in with a quick photo update and share some pictures of my sweet babies. We are having so much fun and enjoying these two cuties!  I miss blogging, but there just isn't much time these days. I'm hoping to blog Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas soon!

Christmas Breakfast Casserole

Tis the season for lots of yummy foods!  I always share some of my favorite holiday dishes and I actually had this one sitting in my drafts, so thought I would share with you! 

Last year I tried a new casserole on Christmas morning and it was such a hit, we've had it several times since! 

Traditional Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Casserole 
1 roll of crescent rolls
1 lb of hot sausage cooked and crumbled (I prepared mine the day before)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
1 bag of frozen shredded hashbrowns
12 beaten eggs
Salt and Pepper to taste 

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with a cooking spray and roll out crescent rolls. Layer hashbrowns, eggs, and sausage. 
Cook on 400 for 50-60 minutes or until cooked throughout (I tried it at 350, but it took forever!) Cover with cheese and cook until melted. 

Next time Michael wants me to add bacon bits and mushrooms. I can't wait to try it again and play with different ingredients!

Hope you enjoy!  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Introducing Baby Aliza Kate

We would like to introduce baby Aliza Kate, who joined our family on Friday, September 11, 2015 and immediately stole everyone's heart!  It had been a long, hard pregnancy, but it was so worth it to have this sweet baby complete our family.

 We went in at 6am for a c-section at 7:30 and by then I had actually been in labor since Sunday afternoon and more than ready to have this baby!!!  I had been to the hospital the Sunday before when I first felt I was in labor, but my contractions were not regular enough to have her at 37 weeks.  I literally spent the next 5 days in bed or in the bathtub trying to keep her in until Friday morning's scheduled appointment.  I got one final (although I didn't get many over the previous 33 weeks) bump picture and one with my big boy on our way out of the door.

Aliza was born at 8:03am and before they even had her out I kept hearing my doctor say "this is a big baby with a lot of hair!"  He was NOT kidding!  
She weighed 8 pounds and 10 ounces and we were told she was 20.5 inches that day, but at our 2 week pediatrician appointment, she was up to 23 inches, so our pediatrician thinks she was actually around 22-22.5 inches!  She was only 1 ounce smaller than her brother was!

We were in a room by 10:00 and Michael went to get the proud big brother and Grandparents from the waiting room.  Needless to say, everyone couldn't get over her size or hair!  Haha!  Nicholas was in love immediately and so excited to get to hold his long awaited baby sister!

Yes, I dressed them alike for the occasion! It was cute and Nicholas loved matching Daddy! :-)

This was at the end of a long day, but we finally made it for a family picture around 9:00 that night.

We had a very long, hard first night and when my doctor came in around 10:00 the following morning I asked to go home.  He said that since I was already on oral pain meds and walking around well, I could go.  I am so thankful they let us leave early.  It made our transition home much easier and Nicholas was able to be with us after less than 36 hours.  Aliza came home in the same dress I did 34 years earlier and wore a family heirloom bonnet.  She looked like a little doll!

When we got home I tried to get some pictures of her in her fancy dress in her fancy crib, but she wasn't having it.

We did manage to get one of Aliza, Nicholas, and I in front of our stork and big brother sign.  This was my favorite picture of the entire weekend.  I laughed so hard at Nicholas showing his big brother muscles!

We are so blessed to have 2 healthy, beautiful children.  Six years ago right now I was taking fertility drugs and no one was sure we would ever have one, much less two children.  Sometimes it is just so  overwhelming to think they are both mine!  We have had a good 2 weeks at home and I will blog more about the weeks leading up to this post and the weeks after later.  I hope to get all caught up this week now that Gigi and Michael have gone back to work and it is just the baby and I at home during the day.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

First Day of School

Yesterday was the day we had looked forward to for a long time, the first day at our new school!  As you know, we elected to give Nicholas a "bonus year" by attending the state funded PreK at his elementary school. So far, that has been the best decision we've ever made for him!  He LOVES it!  

Sunday night we read back to school books after we got our bath and got in bed early for the big day. He was excited and nervous, but not as much as Mommy! I had such mixed emotions, and still do 2 days into it. For 5 years he has rode to work with me and been at daycare right next door to my office. Now he is 25 minutes away. I also worry about him going to the cafeteria, after school care, and those type of things. It's a big step!

He was so excited to get up and get to school!  When we dropped him off he didn't seem to care at all! (Huge improvement over last year) He ran in to find his cubby, put his stuff up and get to a table to sit. He sat at a puzzle table and was happy as he could be! 

I cried a lot Sunday night and did fine on Monday until his teacher asked how I was doing then I lost it. I was the crazy sniffing pregnant mom leaving the classroom after telling him bye 5 times. After I got back home and thought about how excited he was and happy, I finally felt better. 

I picked him up around 4:00 so he could get used to going to after school care before he had to go until 5:30 today. He loved it too and when I picked him up he ran up to me with a big hug and kiss and said he loved school! I couldn't have been more relieved. We immediately went to get an ice cream to celebrate both of us surviving big day! 

This morning he got up on his own, ran into our room excited for another day!  He walked around for 10 minutes with his backpack waiting on me to fix his lunch and for Michael to take him to school. After Michael took him to school he called me to say he did great!  He walked in, put his stuff up, went over to a table to sit, and never looked back!

I am so proud of my big boy! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thoughts For Thursday

1. Nicholas is LOVING day camp!  Last week was his first full week week and he had so much fun! They go swimming twice a week and a field trip to somewhere fun once a week. His teacher sent me this last Tuesday and it made my day!  

It has been close to 100 degrees here all week and I'm starting to swell as I hit the 30 week mark! I couldn't even find any shoes in my closet for church on Sunday except flip flops and some sandals! I went out Sunday night and got some Epsom salt...not sure it's working though. Any tips for a hot, swollen pregnant girl? 

I'm really struggling not to buy all the seasonal baby things. And I mean ALL the things!  I would have bought one of each of these had they not been 6-12m last weekend at Hobby Lobby!  I need an intervention! STAT!

 Life keeps getting ahead of us. Between two demanding jobs, a 5 year old, pregnancy, and taking care of two homes (ours and Michael's grandfather's home) we cannot keep up anymore. I bought this calendar at Hobby Lobby in hopes it would make it easier to track who is doing what when and what bill is due when. 

I've developed a craving for V8 drinks. Sadly, they have over 900mg sodium in them (see number 2) so I've had to quit drinking them. Also, note that they are not a suitable replacement for the weekend morning Bloody Mary. 

6.  I've begun looking at birth announcements, but nothing has just jumped out at me. Any suggestions on a good place to order them? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Going From One to Two

One thing that has always worried me about having two children is how it would effect Nicholas. I already love our new little addition and can't wait to meet her, but I worry how it will impact them both. Being an only child, I feel like I have no clue how to love two children or how to show two children equal attention. I'm starting to get really anxious and nervous about baby sister's arrival because of that. 

For five years it's just been the three of us. Within the last couple of years we have finally gotten into a great routine and comfortable in our role as parents. I have no clue what a second child will do to our lives. I'm so excited to welcome her and get to know her, but at the same time, worried about how she will fit into our family. I know she will be loved, a lot, but will they both feel loved equally? Will one resent the other or us? 

I know these are normal feelings (I think??? I hope???) and pray every night that we have made sure Nicholas feels secure and loved no matter what. Lately, when he wants to cuddle I drop whatever I'm doing or if he wants to play video games, we do it. I want him to know he is still important and loved just as much as ever. 

We've decided to do one activity every weekend before she arrives to focus on Nicholas and each other by doing something we all love to do that may not be easy to do with a baby. So far we have really enjoyed that special family time!  We have 10 weekends at the very most to spend just the three of us and I plan to make the most of it! (I also have some fun mommy and Nicholas dates planned for us to do once a month or so after sister comes)

Last weekend we went to Buffalo Wild Wings and played games and trivia. It was so much fun and something we loved doing before we had Nicholas. Even Nicholas loved it and has already asked to go back! Ha!

This past weekend we went to see the Minion movie and ate popcorn for dinner!  That's living on the edge for me! Haha!

It's so hard to believe we are so close to meeting the little person who will complete our family. I'm so excited! I cannot wait to see the love between my two babies and how she will bless our family, but in the meantime, I plan to soak in all of the time I can with my sweet little man and his Daddy. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth Of July Recipe: Nana's Peach Ice Cream

This is a repost from 2013, but it's a classic family recipe I wanted to share again! 

When I was a little girl there was a couple of things you could ALWAYS count on eating at Nana's house in the Summer: homemade tea cakes, rice krispy treats, and peach ice cream!  Nana loves peach ice cream and she always had some made and ready.  I never realized how much it symbolized Summer to me until I made some this weekend for her birthday.  As soon as I tasted it I felt like I was back at her house and it was 1990s all over again!  :-)

6-8 sliced, peeled peaches (I cheated this time because they aren't really in season yet and used thawed frozen peaches)
1 cup of sugar
4 cups half and half
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Slice and peel peaches, mix with sugar.  Stir and let sit for about an hour.

After an hour, place the peaches and sugar in a food processor (do not use a blender, it will not work as well) and puree until it is a chunky puree.  We like to have chunks of peaches in our ice cream so I do not puree all the way.

In a large mixing bowl, stir pudding and evaporated milk.  Add peach puree, condensed milk, and half and half.  Stir well. 

Pour into ice cream freezer and freeze according to the freezer's instructions.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Today You Are Five

Dear Nicholas,

As of 4:28 this morning you are FIVE years old!  It is so hard for Mommy to believe that you've been with us that long and that you are that old!  We celebrated your birthday on Saturday with your friends, but today we get to celebrate just the three of us.  This is a BIG birthday!  You are no longer considered a baby in any way, you are definitely a big boy now!!!  

The next few weeks will bring so many changes in your life.  This week you get to go on your first field trip in kids camp, in about 6 weeks will be your first day of elementary school, and in 12 week or less, you will become a big brother!  We are so proud of the boy you've become. You are no longer our little boy, but rather our big boy who is ready to take on the world. (Even if we aren't ready for you to go out into the big world without us!) 

My prayer for you as you begin all of these big changes is that you always have a desire to learn, help those who may be struggling around you, and they you always love the Lord. 

I also wanted to document a few things about you on your 5th birthday for me to be able to remember when you are a really big boy! 

- You are 44 pounds and 45 inches tall
- You wear size 5 clothes and an 11.5 wide shoe
- You love your friends and your best friends are Tate, Braxton, Trey, Lucas, and Will. 
- Your favorite thing to do is play on your Nabi
- Your favorite food is fish or shrimp and any dessert
- You would rather have chocolate milk than anything to drink.
- You love Legos, Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, and Transformers. 

One day you will look back and remember your first day of elementary school, the day your sister was born, and the many changes of this year and I hope you have good memories. Your 5th year is going to have so many wonderful changes and I pray you embrace them with the enthusiasm you embrace life. 

Daddy and I love you so much!  We are so proud of you and the sweet, loving little guy you've become!  Happy birthday buddy! 

Love, Mommy