Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bethel is 4 months old!

Well, this post is oober later, but here it is! 4 months already! My dad came up to me yesterday and asked, "Does it seem like the days are just flying by?" And yes, yes they are!

What Bethel is doing and learning these days ....
Drinking sometimes 5, sometimes 6 ounces every 2-3 hours ~ Interacting with toys more ~ Exploring everything with her month ~ Shooting through her clothes - she will very soon be moved up to 6-9 month clothing! ~ cat nappin' throughout the day ~ Sleeping through the night a lot more consistently - whoop, whoop! ~ Becoming quite the little grabber ~ Still so chill ~ Growls and grunts a good amount ~ Likes to be rotated to new positions around the house ~ Has been sitting in her saucer and bumbo and doing so well in them ~ Holding herself up better when sitting and pushing herself up better when on her belly ~ Such a smiley girlie! :) ~ Got her first baby rash all over her body last week .... thankfully, Benadryl, prescribed by the doctor cleared it right up, and she was such a trooper! ~ Still as sweet as ever!

What Mama is doing and learning ...
BALANCE! ~ Giving myself grace ~ Rockin' my health bootcamp! ~ Trying to carve out more time for reading, Bible study, and prayer ... I'm gonna get this! ~ ADORING my young mamas' group - wow, it is life-giving! ~ Continuing to LOVE being a mom!! ~ eating so much better and exercising so much more than I ever have before! ~ Incredibly encouraged and thankful ~ Growing in pretty much every way all the time, it feels :) ~ Feeling empowered! ~ Excited for Spring!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Bethel is 3 months old!

Our sweet Beth is growing up too fast, as all babies do.  We are so grateful to be her parents.  God is so good to us!

What Bethel is doing and learning these days ...
Grinning up a storm! ~ Cooing and making other baby noises a lot more ~ She can flip from belly to back ... that often wakes her up overnight way before Mommy wants her to up! ~ She's quite the squirmy worm ... you put her on her back or her tummy for any length of time, and she's wiggling away ... literally! ~ She engages more with facial expressions and noises (like Haddie and Daddy playing loudly in the same room) ~ She is starting to engage with shows like Baby Einstein ~ She pretty much sleeps through the night ... as long as we give her a blanket and don't put her down before 8:30pm ~ She's pretty chill as long as her belly is full ~ She likes sitting up where she can see everything ~ She is quickly outgrowing her 3-6 month clothes and drinking over 5 ounces at her feedings already! ~ An all-around cutie bug!

What Mama is doing and learning these days ...
LOVING the Youth Mamas' Group!!!! ~ Helping Darrell cook and pack his healthy foods for his BeachBodies bootcamp ~ Working out with Darrell 4-6 days a week! ~ Loving that this healthy eating plan Darrell is doing gives us much more time together and is motivating me to exercise and eat better too ~ Feeling very distracted and exhausted a good amount of the time ... #momlife, I guess ~ So thankful for this season of life ... I love being a wife, mom, living with my parents, leading the mamas' group, going to our church, growing in my walk with Christ and in thankfulness, and remembering almost constantly how blessed I am! ~ Basking in God's grace and faithfulness ~ Just thankful :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bethel's Birth Story

Bethel's due date was November 3rd of 2016 if you go by my original pregnancy test at the health center where Darrell works and November 2nd if you go by what my delivering doctor told me after my first appointment.  She came on my doctor's predicted date, Wednesday, November 2, 2016 ... the day the Cubs won the world series!  The day I had a baby withOUT an epidural! ;)

I was convinced that Bethel would come early.  I had heard many second babies come early.  But I'd also heard that many come late.  I was hoping for early because, seriously, what mom doesn't?  Pregnancy is hard work, yo!  But I was convinced she would come a few days early just like Haddie did.  When Beth didn't come early, I copped a bad attitude.  I was so tired of being pregnant.  The day before she was born, I was sitting in my Tuesday morning Bible study, admitting to the ladies how I'd been struggling with my attitude over the past few days but was also being encouraged by the discussion that day that God is in control, and His plan was gonna be the best plan.  Little did I know, the very next morning ... 2am to be exact ... I'd start my contractions that would bring my sweet babe into the world in a fairly short amount of time!

With Haddie, I had no contractions until about 15 hours after my water broke, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  My contractions were 5 minutes apart from 2:00 to 3:00 that Wednesday morning.  They weren't terribly painful, more like pretty uncomfortable menstral cramps, but they hurt enough to keep me awake for most of that hour.  I didn't think I was ready to go into the hospital because I expected those contractions to be much more painful at 5 minutes apart, so I decided to call the hospital, just to check it out.  By the time I got through to someone, my contractions spread out to about 10 and 15 minutes apart.  So the doctor on call told me I wasn't ready and that I needed to wait for my contractions to be 5 minutes apart.  So for the next three and a half hours, I spent my time "watching a movie" ... riiighhhtt ... on the couch ... standing up every so often to brace myself through the contraction pains.  I never once thought "I need to get myself to the hospital" because the contractions weren't 5 minutes apart yet.  So around 6:30 in the morning, Darrell came downstairs to check on me.  He asked, "should I stay home from work?"  And I replied, as I'm doubling over from the pain, "my contractions are only 7 minutes apart, so why don't you head to work ... I can always call you, and you can turn around if you need to."  So Darrell headed upstairs to take a shower.  Thankfully, HE has brains in his head, unlike me, so he never planned to go in to work.  By the time he got out of the shower, I was like, "yeah, we need to go to the hospital."  So we packed up Haddie and our hospital bags and headed that way.

On the way, my contractions were definitely 5 minutes apart!  I remember grabbing hold of the overhead handle in the Santa Fe every 5 minutes and breathing hard and fast through the pain.  We got to the hospital, and Darrell dropped me off at the door while he parked the car and brought Haddie in.  When he and Haddie got upstairs, I was doubling over the counter, sobbing, trying to fill out some paperwork.  What the heck?!  I am doubling over from contraction pain, and you people want me to fill out some paperwork???!!!  It's hilarious now, but I was not laughing then!  By the time I got to the triage room, I could barely stand the pain that was coming way closer than 5 minutes apart.  They told me to put on a gown and pee in a cup ... yeah, right!  Again, are you kidding me!?  So I shut the bathroom door, stripped off my clothes ... after your first labor experience, you don't care a whole lot about modesty ... and just barely peed in that daggone cup for them.  I couldn't figure out how to get the God-forsaken gown on either!  So I opened the door, asked them if I could order my epidural already (they looked at me like I was dreaming, which did anything but help my calm), and told them I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to put on that gown!  By the time they got me on the bed to check me, I was dilated to 7cm!  No wonder I was feeling the pain!!!  They wheeled me to my room and started my IV.  Right as they rolled me all the way into my room, I started to get the feeling that I wasn't gonna get my epidural.  A few moments later, one of the nurses said, "it's too late for an epidural."  Fear and panic welled up inside me!  I already knew that I wasn't gonna get my epidural, but to hear them say it was terrifying!  But by that time, I was already dilated to 9cm, and the contractions were so close together I barely had time to talk or think!  I remember the fear that overwhelmed me when I found out it was too late for an epidural ... I immediately started sobbing and asking the nurses over and over again ... "since I can't get my epidural, the pain will be short-lived, right?  The pain will be short-lived?"  They reassured me that it would.

I was so terrified of the pain of childbirth.  I was terrified with Haddie too, but with her, I only had to feel mild contractions for about 45 minutes before I got my epidural.  So I experienced nothing like what I was experiencing with Bethel!  During the most intense contractions, I remember a nurse telling me that "Mother Nature" will do her work, pushing my baby through quickly with my contractions.  I distinctly remember thinking, "I'm so glad that I have JESUS, NOT Mother Nature!  Thank you, Jesus, that YOU are with me!"  From the time I laid down on the bed in the triage room when they first checked me, until I dilated to 9cm, I was praying almost non-stop and remembering my focal points that I never got a chance to put up in my hospital room .... "Just breathe, and trust Jesus." and "Do not be afraid; remember the Lord who is great and awesome!"  I repeated this phrase and verse over and over and over to myself through my sobs and fear and pain.  And just before I started to push, the fear swelled so much I didn't know if I could face it, but then, all of a sudden, WORSHIP for the Lord welled up in my heart, and I began WORSHIPING God ... whispering praises and thanksgiving to God for being so good and faithful and kind and always with me.  i couldn't believe it!  I was about to experience my greatest fear, and I was praising Jesus!

I started to push, and it was the most excruciating and terrifying experience of my life!!!  After about 4 pushes, I wasn't sure if I could do anymore.  The pain was more than I thought I could handle.  I screamed with each push, so much so that I surprised myself.  I screamed until the doctor said that the screams would make it take longer to get Bethel out because I was focusing more on the screaming than the pushing.  So you better believe I shut up right quick and pushed her OUT!  Only about 5 pushes, and praise Jesus, she was out and crying right away!  I was so thankful for the relief from the pain.  And I was so amazed at God and my baby when they put Bethel on my chest.  From the time we got to the hospital, until Beth was born was about 45 minutes!  She was born at 8:26am.  Bethel's birth was the most excruciating and terrifying 15 minutes of my life, but I learned so much from that 15 minutes and experienced proof of so much spiritual growth in my life!  Not only that, but I have a perfectly beautiful baby girl from it all.  I would not trade that experience for anything!  Our time in the hospital was heavenly too.  With Haddie, I had a miserable couple of days in the hospital ... battling all kinds of fear, self-condemnation, and other spiritual warfare.  But with Beth, it was a sweet time of bonding and visitors and being totally pampered. God is so awesome!  And I am so incredibly thankful for my sweet Bethel and God's never-ending grace to continually work in my life!  To God be the glory!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Bethel is 2 months old!

Our sweet Beth turned 2 months old on January 2nd!  What a beauty!  We are so grateful to be her parents.

What Bethel is doing and learning these days ...
Drinking 5 ounces of formula every 2 to 4 hours! ... She was about a pound and half smaller than Haddie when she was born, but I'm starting to think she's gonna be even bigger and stronger than Haddie when she gets older.  She is gaining weight and growing in length so fast! ~ Smiling! :):):) ~ Engaging with people's faces and dangling toys ~ Reacts to a variety of noises ~ Pretty self-sufficient for a 2-month old ... plays on her back in her pack 'n play and under her dangly toys on the floor for 20-30 minutes at a time, sits in her swing/rock 'n play for 15+ minutes while I cook or load the dishwasher ... she'll even sit propped up on the couch for a bit by herself ~ She likes being held up where she can see her surroundings; she's not one to be carried laying down in our arms - she's gotta see what's goin' on! ~ She's a super gruntin' pooper! ~ She gets plenty of tummy time and is able to push herself up some and hold her head up well ~ Sleeping 5 to 7 hours a night ~ Doesn't do nearly as much sleeping during the day anymore ... a handful of power naps and MAYBE one 2-3 hour nap each day ~ Likes it when her big sister is around ... even though she occasionally gets squished, smacked, and bopped on the head ;) ~ Really likes laying on her back on the dining room table ~ Notices her hands often ~ An absolute cutie bug!

What Mama is doing and learning these days ...
REJOICING!  In God's faithfulness, kindness, goodness, and working in our lives! ~ Loving being home with my babies most of the time and working outside the home just a few hours a week ~ Soooo grateful to my parents and Gma for giving me work and offering to watch my sweet babes while I do so - they are so incredible and generous! ~ So thankful for the kindness of my parents and parents-in-law for supporting us and giving us so much! ~ Growing more in love with my husband and babies everyday! ~ Reading some good books - Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa Kruger, Hearing from God Every Morning by Joyce Meyer, my NLT Inspire Bible, and (I'm trying to read) Power of the Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian and Dare to Discipline by James Dobson. ~ Learning to depend on the Lord in every circumstance - Dependence is my word and only resolution for 2017 and beyond ~ Praying for God's direction and wisdom in our lives, especially concerning our finances/me getting a job or not, what it will take for us to get back out on our own, and how to parent our children HIS way ~ Trusting the Lord for His provision ~ Totally flabbergasted about the astronomical daycare costs, so I may not be finding a full-time job afterall ... but now, I'm not sure I even want to because I'm enjoying more girlies so much :) ~ Doing amazingly well in my attitude about getting up with Bethel once a night ~ Growing in grace and overcoming self-condemnation more and more over time - whoop, whoop! ~ Cultivating a thankful heart and seeing noticeable results - praise Jesus! ~ Hopeful ~ Excited ~ Thankful! ~ I could keep going, but I will stop here.  God is just so faithful!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bethel is 1 month old!

Our beautiful girlie number two is already a month old!  It's craziness!  Bethel turned a month old on December 2nd ... wow, the time is flying!

What Bethel is doing and learning ....
Drinking 3 ounces of formula every 2-4 hours ~ Holding her head up amazingly so ~ Sleeping in her own bed on her tummy since 2 1/2 weeks old ~ Sleeping 3-4 hour stretches over night ~ Loves being with her daddy ... he has the touch! ~ Pretty much over her spit ups ~ Super congested all the time ... poor, kid ~ Enjoys her swing for short times throughout the day (usually after she eats - when she's the happiest) ~ A super pooper ~ Already likes her pacifier

What Mama is doing and learning ....
~ Sleep-deprived but getting lots of help from daddy and grandparents ~ Thankful for my girlies but wow am I worn out! ~ Adjusting better to two babies but wow some days are rough ~ Learning that I may not be cut out to be a stay-at-home mom ~ Looking for a full-time job ~ House hunting with my hubby ~ Putting money into savings ~ Loving Haddie's smiles and laughter ~ Loving holding Bethel and staring into each other's eyes ~ Struggling emotionally as we begin disciplining Haddie, our awesome, strong-willed girl ~ Continuing to overcome self-condemnation ~ Continually trying to carve out QUALITY time with Jesus ~ Working at The Porch with the girls ... my mom is amazing and helps me out so much ~ House cleaning ~ Loving the young mamas' group I started a few months back ~ Loving being a mom to my beautiful girlies ~ Thankful for God's grace and patience ~ Thankful for the way having children makes me grow in my faith ... even though (or is it because? ;)) it's the hardest thing I've ever done!!! ~ So thankful for our amazing support system, especially our parents and Gma ~ So, so, so thankful for my amazing husband who helps me so much with the girls, offers to get up with Bethel overnight even when he works the next day, and offers me all the unconditional love, patience, and grace that I could possible hope for ~ Praying for my girlies' salvation ~ Thankful the girls are taking a nap at least some days so that I get a break! ~ So thankful that God constantly teaches us and never gives up on us and gives us grace to get through each circumstance

Thursday, October 6, 2016

My Thoughts about Pregnancy Part 2

Well, I am 36 weeks pregnant today with our second baby girl. I've been thinking about writing this blog post for weeks. Since my pregnancy post with Haddie was so dramatic and full of struggle but with a happy ending, I wanted to share my thoughts about Bethel's pregnancy because it has been so different.

I was totally convinced we were having a boy because I wasn't sick at all in the first trimester. I woke up feeling a bit yucky until I ate something, but no nausea - what a gift! Really, other than some yucky mornings and a growing baby bump, I couldn't even tell I was pregnant. I've had a few minor ailments here and there, but really, I think this has been the smoothest, most comfortable pregnancy a mama could ask for. Remind me of that tonight when I'm turning over every 20 minutes from some fairly severe sciatica. ;) Haha!

Don't get me wrong. Even with a super smooth pregnancy, I'm still not a fan of being pregnant. I'm definitely not my grandma who apparently has said that she felt the best in her life while she was pregnant. What the what?! But wow, this pregnancy has been perspective-changing. I have felt Bethel move almost non-stop since week 20, which leaves me awed every time I feel her. I had a bout of despair and self-condemnation and hormones that I thought might literally kill me that preceded a real breakthrough in my bondage to self-condemnation .... I am now walking so much more in the freedom of grace - thank you, Jesus! And I have been so, so thankful this pregnancy, growing in excitement about meeting Bethel, growing more in love with Haddie everyday, growing to love my husband and be thankful for our relationship, basking in our amazing support system, growing more in my walk with Christ in this season of life than ever before, and so much more.

It's just amazing what I've learned during this pregnancy. Sure, I've felt a lot better carrying Bethel than I did carrying Haddie, so it's been easier to have a good attitude.  But I think God is ready to teach us something amazing (and difficult) every single day of our lives and in every season. We just have to be ready and open. ... I was pretty closed off for a lot of my pregnancy with Haddie, and I've definitely had some rough days and weeks with Bethel. But wow! God is so faithful to teach me, and I am so thankful for that!

I'm so excited to meet you, Little B! You're our next big adventure!!!


Over the summer, I watched the movie, War Room, and read this book, Fervent, with my ladies' Bible study at church. Wow, they were both so good! The biggest thing I took away from the movie was the WAY the main character prayed. She wrote down her prayers, word-for-word, and taped them to her closet walls. She wrote a couple pages at a time, even, and committed to reading through and praying through these written-out prayers! And that's what stuck with me. Reading the book only fueled my desire to pray, reminding me how powerful and essential prayer is and giving me a never-before-known-to-me desire to begin praying fervently for my husband, my children, myself, my family, my friends, my church family, and beyond.

I started writing out long prayers and taping them to my bedroom wall. When my prayers drifted over to Darrell's side of the room, I decided to make a crafty prayer journals instead. It has been working out great because now, when I want to pray, I can grab my journal and pray through my prayers easily instead of squinting and getting lost in my prayers from across the room. Haha! I am still working on my consistency, but I am praying and growing in my faith a heck of a lot more since I started this fervent prayer journey than I would be if I had never watched this movie and read the book and applied some of the principles. So I am stoked to continue growing in fervent prayer.

I highly recommend reading this book and finding the prayer method that works best for you. Writing and crafting my prayers has taken my prayer life to a whole new level. I'm so grateful for the motivation and inspiration and revelation this journey has and continues to give me!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Battlefield of the Mind

It's a miracle - I finished another book!!!!  My mother-in-law, Jan, gave me Battlefield of the Mind for Christmas in 2014.  I started reading it in April of last year.  I finished it about a month ago.  Yeah.  Haha!  I'm not the best reader around.  But I do have an almost 15-month-old, two part-time jobs, and a life to live.  Haha!  I'm working at becoming more of a reader, that's for sure!

I've decided to write about every book I read from now on ... to remember what I read and to, hopefully, encourage others to read some good stuff ... assuming that everything I read is good. ;)  I usually think it is.

I've heard lots of debate about Joyce Meyer.  I used to be pretty skeptical about her, myself, because I saw her as a female pastor, and I've been taught that female pastors are not biblical.  Yes, it's true that 1 Timothy 2:11-15 talks about how women should not authority over men.  And I believe that is God's Truth.  It's in the Bible; therefore, I believe it.  I do wholeheartedly believe that God gives women the ability to teach His Truth, and He has called them to do so.  I'll say I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable if a woman pastor one day took over for Pastor Roger.  But to me, the "women should have no authority over men" is a gray area in the Bible because it is not specific enough.  I'm still not totally sure what I believe about this issue is what I'm really trying to say.
I don't know if Joyce would call herself a pastor anyway.   And honestly, I don't know if it really matters.  I do know that men listen to her preaching and sit in on her seminars (I've seen them on her teaching DVD that I bought).  But isn't that their choice?  Joyce believes she has been called to teach God's Truth, and so she is.  She shares what God is teaching her, and she can't help who decides to listen or not listen.  All I know is that I have been pretty blessed and challenged to a closer walk with Christ because of what I've read and listened to by Joyce Meyer.  Her ministry is also flourishing.  I think God blesses people and ministries that honor Him, so I'm gonna believe that Joyce is good to go.  Just throwing my two cents in there ...

Either way, I read Joyce Meyer's book, Battlefield of the Mind, and got a lot out of it.  I took away four powerful points ...
#1 - We must PRACTICE taking every thought captive in order to obey and glorify Christ.  It is a daily (even moment-by-moment) battle that goes on in our thoughts.  See 2 Corinthians 10:4-6.
#2 - This battle in our minds for a positive, uplifting, Christ-honoring thought life is a war against Satan and his minions, not against flesh and blood.  I must believe the Truth about WHO I'm really fighting so that I can win!  Again, see 2 Corinthians 10:4-6.
#3 - I have control over what I think about!  I don't have to wallow in self-pity, self-condemnation, self-mutilating thoughts, or any other negative thought.  I can SPEAK God's Truth out loud to combat Satan's lies.
#4 - Sometimes, our "thorns in the flesh" are there because God wants to use them to grow us closer to Himself.  See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  No matter how far we get in this sanctification process, there will always be something that we struggle with - perhaps it's our "thorn in the flesh" - and maybe God gives it to us, or allows it to continue in our lives, so that we will be continually dependent on Him.  So let's thank God for our progress and expect more change.  Let's thank God that we are totally dependent on Him!

The way we think really does affect our lives!  Thinking and speaking God's Truths instead of complaining and wallowing in sinful thoughts really can transform our entire lives for the better!  For Christ-likeness!  And isn't that the goal???  I'm slowly but surely putting these Truths into practice and seeing the transformation first hand.  Hopefully, someday, y'all will see it in me too. ;)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Our Baby Names: Hadassah Ruth

Alright, Haddie girl, it's your turn, babe!
A year or two before Darrell and I started dating, I read through a book series called The Mark of the Lion series.  It was a Christian historical fiction series written by Francine Rivers, just in case you're interested in reading it! ;)  In the first two books of the series, the main female character's name was Hadassah.  She started out as an ordinary, fearful girl who lost her family to the violent Romans, and she became an extraordinary woman of faith, determination, and trust in the Lord in the midst of some unbelievable trials.  I was totally inspired and amazed at this woman's journey of faith ... yes, even though she is a fictional character.  It was just that good of a story!  And from that point on, I wanted to name my first daughter Hadassah.  I pray that Haddie will grow to be a woman of this kind of undying faith in her Savior.
Darrell and I agreed that we'd really like to pick strong, Biblical names for our kids, and thankfully, Hadassah is found in one sentence of the Bible!  Hadassah is Esther's Hebrew name and can be found in Esther 2:7.  So, boom!  We have our strong, Biblical name for our first born girlie!  In addition to the Francine Rivers' Hadassah, we really admire Esther's strength and courage to follow God and risk her life for her people.  Also, we chose Haddie's middle name, Ruth, from, yep, you guessed it, the book of Ruth in the Bible.  Ruth's story of courage, loyalty, and humility is inspiring and such an amazing example to follow.  Hence, our strong, Biblical middle name for our Hadassah.  I worked through a Bible study of both the book of Esther and the book of Ruth while I was pregnant with Haddie, and I remember being even more convinced that we picked the perfect name for our girlie!

God is so awesome!  I'm so thankful for my Haddie girl!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Our Baby Names: Bethel Grace

My husband, Darrell, and I found out a few weeks back that our second baby is another girl!!!!  We are absolutely excited and can't wait to meet her!  And we are totally in love with the name we've picked out for her!

Bethel Grace.

I was lying on my bed upstairs thinking about Bethel's name recently ... and then I started thinking about Haddie's name and thought "a blog post is in order!"  Darrell and I wanted incredibly meaningful names for our kids even before we were married.  Meaningful and Biblical.

This post is a bit backwards, seeing as Bethel is our soon-to-be second born child, but her name inspired the blog post, so I'll write about her name first.  I'll get to your's soon, Haddie girl! :) ..... I think it's been at least two years now since our Pastor taught through the book of Genesis, but his sermons about Bethel really stuck with us.  You can find the story surrounding our Bethel's name in Genesis 28:10-22.  It's all about Jacob's dream of a ladder reaching to heaven.  When he awoke from his dream, he exclaimed, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it."  So he named the place Bethel.  Over and over again in Pastor's sermons, he referred to Bethel as "God of the house, and He's home."  Wow, we loved that!  And that's exactly what we want for Bethel.  We want her to be a house of God and for God to really and truly reign in her life every single day.  And what a beautiful name for a girl!  We also chose Grace for her middle name because God's grace is God's greatest lesson in my life ... at least so far.  I have struggled to grasp and accept God's grace for myself (recovering self-condemner and all), so Grace is perfect and beautiful for our Bethel girl.

So there you have it ... Bethel Grace Thompson.  We can't wait to meet her ... 14-ish weeks and counting! :D

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mical's Must Have's for Baby's First Year

Well, we've made it through a year and a couple weeks with our sweet babe, and what an adventure it has been!  I'm sure all first-time parents say that ... and probably all second-time and third-time and so on parents as well.  Kids are so, so worth it, but man, they are a lot of work!!!!  I wouldn't trade our sweet Haddie girl for the world though, and I am so looking forward to meeting Baby #2 in a few months.

I've been thinking about this post for over three months ... it all started when I was putting away my portable changing table pad and thought ... "Mical's Must Have's for Baby's First Year!  It's gonna be a blog post, yo!" ... I thought something like that. ;)  So here it is ... a list of things I'm not sure how we would've lived without in raising Haddie this year.

Portable Baby Changing Table Pad
Umm, yeah.  This is a life-saver.  Thank you, Maggie Wade!  So many times I went out with Haddie this year, and although most places have changing tables, some places do not.  And it was such a blessing to have a safe place to lay my baby.  Get one of these, and all ya do is fold it up and stick it in the side pocket of your diaper bag, and it's super easy to wipe down too!

When I first bought this for $20 ... thank you very much! ... When I first bought this saucer, I thought, "What on earth is this thing?"  I bought it because I heard they were super nifty for helping your baby play by herself, but to look at these things, you might think, "Huh?"  But babies love them!  At least mine did.  It was so fun to watch Haddie learn how to play with the toys attached to this round, roly seat.  And on top of that, it's a safe place for her to play when I need to get some things done around the house.  Pair it with Baby Einstein, and you can call yourself one blessed AND spoiled mama!  Holla-lujah!  Haddie played in this while I cooked dinner and interacted with her.  She played in it (and slept in it) while watching Baby Einstein.  It's great for teaching independent play and for sustaining mama's sanity.  They can be pretty pricey, but if you can find one at a yard sale or on some local baby pages (I'll talk about those later), then do it!  You won't regret it! :)

Baby Einstein Videos
Our friends, Jared and Maggie, gave us a few Baby Einstein videos to try out when Haddie was pretty little.  I took them gladly and gave 'em a try.  The first 2-3 months, Haddie was just too small for these videos, but she started liking them more and more as she got older.  By 6 or 7 months, she was hooked and so was mama!  Haha!  Haddie got the whole collection for Christmas from my mom, and we use them every single day.  I'll admit that Haddie watches them too much, but ya know ... I don't feel guilty about that one bit.  I play with my baby, feed her, love her, read to her, keep her safe, teach her independent play, pray for her, rock her to sleep, call the doctor for her and take her to all her appointments, encourage her, comfort her, and make sacrifices for her everyday.  So a little Baby Einstein isn't gonna kill her ... and to be honest, it gives ME LIFE! :)  Haddie is a fabulous independent player; she is social; she is happy; she is smart; she is an explorer; she is learning from these videos.  And when she watches these videos, she allows me to get all kinds of stuff done.  These videos (along with her saucer and pack 'n play) have allowed me to spend extra time in prayer and Bible-reading, get the dishes done, put laundry in the washer/dryer, read a book, BREATHE, work at The Porch to provide extra needed money for our family without sending Haddie to daycare, write blog posts, take showers, have a few minutes to myself, and BREATHE some more.  I'm incredibly thankful for the creators of these videos and for Jared and Mags who gave us a few to try out!

Pack 'n Play
We have used our pack 'n play for pretty much all of Haddie's life.  This is the pack 'n play that we keep at my mom's cafe', but the one we have used at home this year has two levels built in ... one that zips up high in the pack 'n play for when Haddie was very tiny (under 15 pounds) ... she had lots of tummy time in here.  As she got older, we took the upper level out and just let her play on the "floor" level ... she STILL plays in the pack 'n play at The Porch on a daily basis.  It's a safe, contained space so that I can do office work or prep food at my mom's store.  I've also taken the pack 'n play with me to do house-cleaning jobs as well.  Couple it with some Baby Einstein, and you've got a safe and entertaining place for baby for as long as she'll stand it.

Baby Swing
We only used our swing for the first few months ... I think Haddie started enjoying it for short lengths of time around 6 or 7 weeks old ... all the way up until probably around 4 months old.  It was like a saucer for really tiny babies ... it was great for interacting with Haddie while I cooked dinner or got the dishes done.

Wow!  Again ... what a blessing this little guy has been.  We used this as Haddie's high chair until she was almost 8 months old.  Heck, she STILL uses it at The Porch everyday!  Our specific Bumbo has a tray that you snap on to create the high chair effect ... or you can just push it right up to the table.  And even at 25 pounds and over a year old, Haddie can still use it on a daily basis, so we keep the Bumbo at The Porch and the portable high chair at home.  It's a safe place for Haddie to sit and eat or play with toys while I eat or do housework in the same room with her.  I remember when Haddie was younger than 7 months, I would put her in the Bumbo up on the table top so that she could play with toys and stay occupied while I worked in the kitchen ... she liked being able to see everything I was doing.  A great alternative to a high chair ... or heck, use it AS your high chair for as long as possible!

Portable High Chair
This baby is an awesome upgrade from our Bumbo seat.  Sadly, we haven't thought to actually take it with us when we could've used it while out and about.  Imagine that ... taking a PORTABLE high chair out to a friend's house for dinner or on a weekend trip out of town ... ha ha!  Yeah, we never remember.  But!  If we were to remember, this high chair would be perfect! ;)  Haddie got this for Christmas from Darrell's parents and grandparents, and it has been a huge blessing.  She can sit in it for decent chunks of time, eating, drinking a bottle, playing, or watching Baby Einstein.

Little People (Or toy of your baby's choice)
If you can, find a toy (or toys) that your baby really likes.  We started collecting the Little People princesses and superheroes long before we even thought of having a baby just 'cause we think they're cool.  And when she was 6 or 7 months old, she started playing with these all the time and loved 'em.  We think she liked 'em so much because they were the perfect size for her hand ... yet big enough that we weren't afraid she'd choke on 'em (bonus!).  She carried them with her everywhere and played with them in her car seat.  Although she has started playing with toys that make noise or music or talk much more often, she still enjoys playing with her growing collection of Little People even now.

I think I've heard a bit of controversy about pacifiers.  I know we heard some while we were going to breastfeeding classes shortly before Haddie was born.  If you breastfeed your baby, I bet what they had to say about staying away from pacifiers made a lot of sense.  But since we chose not to breastfeed (and it was the best decision we could have made for EVERYONE, by the way ... again, an opinion under much controversy! ;)), pacifiers have been a must have for us.  When Haddie was really little she had no use for them, but once she started teething (and continues to do so!), pacifiers became one of her best friends.  I say read your kid's needs and be open to trying something out that may save you and your baby a lot of unnecessary tears and anguish.  Although we don't want her using a pacifier well past the age of 2, pacifiers have been a friend to our family over the past few months. :)

Local Baby Pages on Facebook
I saved my favorite for last!  Oh. My. Word!  I'm assuming that there are Facebook Baby/Mommy Pages anywhere you live ... at least I hope so!  These Facebook groups have been the greatest blessing to us as parents this past year.  We figured out pretty early on that Gerber Soothe worked best for Haddie, and once our Target gift cards ran out, we were able to save so much money by using these groups to buy and sell formula (along with other baby items).  Thank you, Justine Basye, for hooking me up with these pages!  You communicate with other moms in your area to buy, sell, and trade all kinds of baby stuff.  I wish I had thought to keep track of how much I saved on formula this past year because I was buying Gerber Soothe from other moms for 35 to 50/60% off what I could find in stores.  Formula is expensive, y'all!  So what a huge, huge blessing!

Any first-time moms out there reading my blog???  What are YOUR must haves for baby?  I'd love to know ... I've got another one on the way! ;)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Books to Read Before I Die

So these books WERE my reading goals for this year.  I have probably a gazillion books on my to-read list, but I am a terrible reader.  Sure, I don't retain or comprehend the best, but what I really mean is, my attention span and busy schedule make reading pretty difficult.  And in this season of my life, I am learning a whole, whole lot about grace ... and maybe a little about simplifying my life.  So I've decided to keep these books on my to-read list, but instead of reading all of them by the end of 2016, which was my original goal, I will make them my reading goal for some time before I die.  Yep, you heard me right.  Before I die.  Sounds like the perfect goal to me!  And perhaps I can tell you a little about each book I read from here on out just in case it peaks your interest and you wanna read it too.  I usually pick pretty good reads.  I did read the entire Twilight Saga ... so maybe you'll disagree with me.  Hahaha!  Silly.  Probably a huge waste of time.  But those books were pretty entertaining for a single, sappy young woman (yes, I was at the time!).  I'm still sappy ... just not single. ;)

Anyways ... here's the book I have finished most recently.

How to Argue so your Spouse will Listen by Sharon Morris May

I started going to counseling last July for myself ... for my issues with self-condemnation.  It was the catalyst to start me on an awesome journey of discovering what God's grace truly means.  And one area in which I desperately needed to grasp grace was in my marriage.  I wanted to please my husband so much, but I beat myself up about every little thing that I didn't do perfectly ... which, as you can imagine, was everything, because I'm not perfect.  Ahh!  So I started bringing Darrell along with me to counseling, and it has empowered our marriage so much!  I thought we had a good marriage before, but now, we have a great marriage that is getting better with time.
Okay, so that's the back story.  During some of our counseling sessions, our counseling pastor had us read this book.  Honestly, I don't have too much to share about it.  I did read the whole thing.  I think it's a great book for every married couple.  It helps us begin to understand the mechanics of arguing and what causes arguments.  For me, figuring out where arguments come from in the first place is what I took away from this book.  Chapter Three: Dragons and Vulnerabilities ... The Hidden Meanings that Fuel our Arguments.  This chapter throws a lot at readers ... pulling personalities, past experiences and relationships that cause vulnerabilities, and current relationship styles all together to help us understand why arguments happen in the first place.  Sharon Morris May calls our past experiences or vulnerabilities our "dragons."  She explains that "when experiences in [our] relationships today are similar to the hurtful experiences [we] had over the course of [our] life, they trigger the same hurts, fears, and responses.  When a current situation touches or raises [our] old hurts and sets in motion [our] automatic way of reacting to those hurts, [our] 'dragons have been raised'" (pages 44-45).  I just know for me and Darrell, remembering that our hurtful responses come from events and feelings in our pasts has really helped us communicate better.  You will find plenty of great principles for marriage in this book, but learning about dragons was what impacted me the most.

And by the way, if you and your spouse are not in counseling, even if you think your marriage is great, I would consider it!  We have our whole lives to improve and grow and become more like Jesus in our marriages.  Take the time to invest in your marriage no matter what the season ... you won't regret it! :)