Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekend Links 3/28/14

Run Your Race - Jen Hatmaker (love this!! So much truth here.)
On being a Stay-At-Home Mom - Life as of Late (Could not have written this better myself)
Why You Don't Need a Big Story - Sarah Markley via (in)courage
The Sacrifice of Hospitality (and why it matters so much) - Megan Tietz
Why Winter is like early motherhood (and why its best to surrender to both) - The Happiest Home

Special Needs
Spring Sparks Sensory Challenges - The Sensory Spectrum
Study Uncovers Why Autism is More Common in Boys - The Sensory Spectrum (In short: "A large cohort study published by Cell Press in the American Journal of Human Genetics provides compelling evidence in support of the “female protective model,” which proposes that females require more extreme genetic mutations than do males to push them over the diagnostic threshold for neurodevelopmental disorders." - Interesting.)
3:21: World Downs Syndrome Day  - Enjoying The Small Things (While this day has since passed, this post has great food for thought, regardless of if you specifically have a child with some special needs. Please read!)

Our littlest girl. . . always so full of smiles

Who's that cute baby looking back at me?
Make it a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Clara Anne. . . Never give up

A friend forwarded me this U Tube video on Monday. I watched and cried my eyes out. Twice. And then later a third time. And I am tearing up just typing these words now.


Clara Anne, 

You bring us so much joy.

So much happiness.

You are so fully & unconditionally loved by us, and so many others.

You are our little fighter. Our own little super girl.

And just like Eden, may we encourage you to always keep pressing on. 

Keep moving forward.

Hold your head high and continue to smile with that exuberant joy that comes so naturally. 

Never give up, baby girl.

Never give up.


Mommy and Daddy 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Currently . . . March 2014 edition

It's been a long while since I have done one of these, so why not? And let's be real. . . while I several "deeper" post ideas swirling around in my head, I don't have a lot of extra time to put pen to paper right now. Or fingers to keyboard I guess I should say. Oh and I start back to work on April 1. And I am speaking at a girls retreat a few days later, on the first weekend of April (and haven't even started hashing out my talk). This could be interesting. . . let's just pretend I am not procrastinating by writing this blog post.
. . .

Loving: Our new little swing set Brandon and his dad put together this past weekend. Clara loves to swing so this is pretty much perfect. And it is pretty perfect for this mamma who still hasn't figured out how to take two kids to the park. Now all I have to do is walk out to our backyard.

 And don't worry. . . Camille just posed in the baby swing for a quick picture. I know she is not quite ready for swing time herself. 

 Clara just chillin and playing it cool. 

Reading: Notes From A Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider . I am only 100 pages in, but this book is so insightful. The whole premise of the book is the idea that we really can live with more simplicity and more intentionality in this crazy, chaotic 2014 culture. We really can make purposeful daily decisions that ultimately help us LIVE out our our values and passions, instead of just always wishing our life looked like x, y or z, or assuming that "someday we will get there." We really can live life on purpose now. Not tomorrow or five years from now. Now. Such a concept, right? (My friend Aja and I got to meet Tsh back in February when she came to Houston as part of her book tour. She is so down to earth and so incredibly nice. Just like you would imagine she would be after reading her blog/books. I will admit that I was a little star struck).

I also start each morning with a short devotional from Jesus Today by Sarah Young (follow up to her first devotional book, Jesus Calling). Such powerful words and corresponding scriptures. Always starts my day off on the right note.

Watching: Dancing With The Stars - I don't normally get into DWTS. I guess I am just not into the whole dancing/production thing. But this year is different because DJ TANNER (Candace Cameron Bure) is on the show! I really admire Candace for several reasons. . . the first being her faith. She is open and upfront about her faith in the Lord, and how that relationship is the basis of her life, family, and day to day decision making. Second, she herself has walked the eating disorder road and now successfully speaks out to other young women about her story, recovery and lessons learned along the way. A celebrity speaking out about her faith and life journey. . . so very inspiring to me.

Listening to: Pandora radio from our living room. My favorite stations are Hillsong United or Colbie  Caillat. I have found that when I have music on during the day for some background noise (as opposed to tv), especially something that brings calmness, I in turn am much more calm, peaceful and able to keep my composure when I feel a meltdown coming on. :) Which can be every ten minutes depending on the day.

Thinking about: God's faithfulness, even in times of personal struggle, heartache and grief. There is so much hurt in the world, some much pain that we all experience, yet in all of this there is also so much good. We are not always able to see the good right away, but there IS good, even when you can't hardly put one foot in front of the other. We just have to keep our eyes focused, so that when God presents us with some of this good, some of His compassion, we don't completely let it pass us by.

Lamentations 3:32 says "Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." Amen to that.

Looking forward to: I have several get togethers planned with girlfriends this week. This will be good for my soul. Going to a coworkers house to catch up and eat lunch on Tuesday (she also works part time), and meeting up with one of my best friends, Wendi, for coffee on Thursday after we both drop our oldest kiddos off at Mothers Day Out. Yay for some adult time!

Making me happy: My two girls. Yes, the days can feel tiresome, stressful, and (very) long, but that does not mean for a second that I don't love and appreciate God's good gifts of Clara and Camille. I am honored that God has chosen me to be their mommy. Truly I am. He has chosen me to wipe their noses, clean the spilled milk, and change what feels like the 50th diaper of the day. Yet with the mundane tasks also comes so much joy. And laughter. And blessings.

And smiles.

Their cute matching outfits yesterday at church. I never was able to get a pic of them side by side. Oh well. . . I am pretty sure there will be many more opportunities to come.

And a huge thanks to my friend Jess for their cute matching headbands! She sent them to me a while back, along with a sweet note, when she knew I was really struggling with the transition from 1 to 2.  She made my girls several, and they are all so unique and precious. 
I told her she should start selling them! :)

Have a great day! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekend Links 3/21/14

I skipped last Fridays post, so you all get some extra links today. Lots of great reads below! Enjoy and make it a great weekend!

And for all my local friends - come on out to the Chick Fil A in Greatwood between 5-8pm tonight to support our friends adoption fundraiser. CFA is graciously hosted a Spirit Night for them! Stick your receipt in the bin near the register, or if going through the drive through, ask that your receipt be placed in the bin designated for the "Grasham Adoption Spirit Night." I know this family will appreciate your support! And let's be real, who doesn't want an excuse to eat some CFA?!

Moms Make It Work: Guest Blogging Series - My Life In Transition
The Three Types of Friends that Every Parent Needs - Simple Kids
Saturday morning - Annie Downs via (in)courage (God knew I needed to read this post. Totally hit home for me.)
On taking a regular Screen Sabbath - The Art of Simple (thinking about incorporating this into our weeks)

Eating Disorder/Mental Health/Self Esteem
I 'got my body back' after baby, and it was awful - Today Moms

Special Needs
What to expect when your child needs surgery - Writing Chapter Three
9 Kinder Ways to Discuss Special Needs With Your Kids - Life Rearranged
Atypical Development In Siblings of Children With Autism Detectable at 12 months - Sensory Spectrum
Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney - NY Times ("There’s a reason — a good-enough reason — that each autistic person has embraced a particular interest. Find that reason, and you will find them, hiding in there, and maybe get a glimpse of their underlying capacities. In our experience, we found that showing authentic interest will help them feel dignity and impel them to show you more, complete with maps and navigational tools that may help to guide their development, their growth. Revealed capability, in turn, may lead to a better understanding of what’s possible in the lives of many people who are challenged." - So true!)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Camille 2 months

Happy two months little Camille! 
A few stats at 2 months:
Weight: 12 pounds even (60%)
Height: 23 inches (65%)
HC: 15.51 inches (77%)
BMI: 15.96 kg/m2

Diapers: size 1
Clothes: size 3 months

A common scene these days. . . 
Camille chilling with mommy while Clara pushes every bottom possible on the TV/DVD/Stereo.  

Favorite things: Smiling, cuddling with mommy and daddy, and milk

Not so favorite things: Baths, being put down once asleep, when the car or stroller stops moving, when her diaper is wet or dirty (who can blame her on this one?)

Working on her tummy time

Eating: She eats every 3-3.5 hours. She nurses or takes a pumped bottle. So thankful that she can switch back and forth depending on the day & what we have going on.

Sleeping: She sleeps well. . . as long as she is being held. I/we are trying to embrace this for now, but man. . . this can get tough. She still takes multiple naps a day and will NOT stay asleep if I put her down. She might sleep 10 -15 minutes on her own max, but then will wake up crying. I feel like I am either 1-holding her all day long or 2-have a crying baby all day long.

**I know from my experience with Clara that stages like this won't last forever, and that the days are long but the years are short and all of that but man, this is h-a-r-d. This is especially hard when you have a toddler that still needs so much assistance during the day. Honestly, I am one big emotional wreck, on a crazy non stop roller coaster, wanting to scream and/or cry at any given moment, but that is not the point of this post. That can wait for another day. You're welcome.**

That said, she sleeps well at night (only if with us) so that is what we are doing for now. Not our first choice by any means, but at least we are all getting some night sleep. 

**I know some choose the cosleeping method and that is great for you & what works for your family! No judgement from me whatsoever. It is just not our first choice.**

She goes to bed around 9pm, will sleep until anywhere between 3-5am to eat, then (usually) goes right back to sleep and will sleep until anywhere between 7-8am. Once Brandon gets up for work, we sometimes have some luck putting her down in her swing to sleep for a while. 

Most naps end up like this. . . and yes we have tried every seat possible and wearing her around the house. Never lasts long. 

Schedule: At 2 months, she is getting a tad more predictable, but I wouldn't say she has a "schedule" just yet. Her last feed of the day is between 8-8:30pm and then by 9pm she is usually asleep, so I call this bedtime. I try to "start" her day by 8am at the latest, so that we have some sense of order to our day & so that bedtime can remain (mostly) consistent. 

Development: Lots of social smiles, lots of eye contact and cooing (makes me melt!), mimics opening mouth wide and sticking out her tongue (as seen in the two pictures below). Her head control is getting quite strong, and she is starting to kick and bat her arms a lot.

Adventures: She attended her first birthday party last weekend! She thoroughly enjoyed the pigs in a blanket and chocolate covered Oreos (Ok. . . I did on her behalf). Below is a picture from that party. Clara's little friend, Eden, wanted to hold Camille. How cute is that???

Happy two months, little one. You are such a blessing and we love you so much! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Clara's first steps

So this just happened. . . today.

This past weekend we were practicing with her by separating the two ottomans, and then seeing if she could take a step from one to the other. We would slowly separate them more and more, little by little. She would take maybe one or two steps, here and there, and would wobble and fall down pretty quickly.

And then today! Totally caught me off guard. To say I am just a little bit excited is an understatement. She has been working so, so hard the last few weeks. I am amazed at her determination, strength and will to give it her all. Her neurologist and occupational therapist guessed (when she was first being assessed for global developmental delays, long before we learned of her Cohen Syndrome) that she might walk by age two. She will turn two on May 2nd. Only time will tell. But either way. . . so, so proud of my Clara girl. And so very proud to be her mommy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Creating a positive self image & seeing yourself through God's eyes. . . would love your input

In a few weeks I will be speaking to a room full of middle and high school girls, at a church youth retreat. This is equal parts exciting and terrifying for me. It is easy to sit behind a computer screen and share your story, you know. . . to really open up and be vulnerable. Yet, it is a totally different ball game to sit in front of real faces, real eyes, and admit past failures and heartaches. When asked to speak I spent a few days praying about what to do. And within a few days the Lord made it really clear that I was to go, to share my journey, despite how inadequate and unqualified I may feel. It is in our inadequacies and lack of qualifications that God has room to do great things, to move mountains. So while on the inside I wanted to pull a Moses and beg that the Lord choose someone else, I knew I needed to step up and say yes.

The overall theme of the retreat is self image.

Specifically, how does one create a positive self image and see oneself through God's eyes? 

Especially in today's culture. 

I plan to share some of my testimony and also share some practical steps and pointers that have helped me along the way, as well as allow some time for Q&A.

But I would love to hear from you. I would love to share some of your insights as well.

So. . .

What are your thoughts on creating a positive self image?

What has helped you view yourself, and your body, in a positive light?

What steps have you specifically taken to rid yourself of the negative vibe our modern culture tries to instill into the hearts and minds of todays woman?

How do you remind yourself that seeing yourself through God's lens is the most important lens of all?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Weekend Links 3/7/14

Making time for what matters - Ally Vesterfelt via The Art of Simple
Sometimes Our Biggest Question Has An Easy Answer - Tsh Oxenreider via (in)courage
Be careful what you tell your daughter because she'll believe you - Lisa Jo Baker
Giving Up Self: A Kindness Project For Kids (and parents too!) - Life Rearranged (I love this!)
Watching the Oscars with children - RATM (I thought the mother-son conversation was hilarious)

Special Needs
Your short bus jokes just aren't funny - Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
If You Build It, They Will Come - Enjoying The Small Things (love the letter to herself at the end)
How did I know my daughter was Autistic? - Autistic Parenting Magazine 

 My two cutie girls and their pacis. . . Clara was zoning in on Camille's. . . Clara likes to snatch it now and then all the time, even though she clearly has one of her own. 

Not sure what happened here, but I assure you Camille was not hurt and no tears were shed.

 Finally learned how to use the beast double stroller. Been using it for a few weeks now thankyouverymuch. 

Don't smile Clara, whatever you do, don't smile.

It's the weekend. . . which means Brandon is home with us. . . enter Hallelujah Chorus!! Hope you all have a great one!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Clara 21 & 22 months

I never got around to posting Clara's 21 month update, so I just decided to combine 21 & 22 months into one post, since the info is mostly the same anyway. . .

These last few 21 month pics crack me up. . . totally capture her fun loving spirit. 

Baby Einstein Baby Signs video - y'all she goes nuts during the intro when the caterpillar comes on the screen. . . NUTS! 
Jumping on her trampoline
Walking behind her Vtech walker (She is doing SO, SO well)
Pulling up on the dresser that hold the tv and pushing every button possible
Standing up in her bed and pulling the curtains back to look out the window
Splashing in the bathtub. . . think water everywhere. Everywhere.
Her nighttime ladybug glo pet
Her footie pajamas

Crowded places with lots of noise
Taking medicine and/or vitamins (although this has slightly improved)
Her electronic/spinning toothbrush (a therapy tool, no luck with this)
When we wipe her face after a meal or wipe her nose after a sneeze

Bed between 7:30-8pm and usually wakes around 7am (that is the trend recently anyway). Goes down for nap at around 12:30pm and will sleep 2-3 hours.

Her fav foods right now are: Strawberries, bananas, mandarin oranges, blackberries, Nutragrain bars, peanut butter, pb&j sandwiches, zucchini, spaghetti and really anything that is dipped/soaked in tomato sauce (the girl loves her some tomato sauce), milk, graham crackers, pancakes, those handy dandy squeeze pouches (thank goodness for this invention), and a cheesy scrambled egg/one egg omelet (we can sneak veggies in this sometimes. . she ate one with broccoli just last night!).

She keeps a pretty busy schedule. Occupational Therapy on Mondays & Wednesdays, Mothers Day Out on Tuesdays & Thursdays, Speech Therapy on Thursdays and one ECI appointment weekly (actual day changes weekly based on our caseworkers availability).

Clara loves her therapist, Ms. Brittany, so much. 
Love how she is looking in her eyes in this picture. 

Worn out after therapy one day

She is getting so close to taking that first step. . . maybe by 24 months? We will see!
Becoming more proficient in drinking from her sippy cup
Tries to mimic everything!
She has gotten really good at banging two objects together
We continue to work on: baby sign language and communication skills, fine tuning her hand coordination (putting objects into something or on something - blocks into a bucket, rings back on their stand - using her sippy cup properly, etc).

"Mom, are you really trying to take a picture of me with my sippy cup? That is so lame."

Size 4 daytime diapers, size 5 overnight diapers
Size 18-24 month clothes, some 2T, size 3 shoe

Having fun on the roller coaster during occupational therapy

And this video. . . makes me laugh every time. 
Totally captures Clara's little personality right now. 
She is such a joy!So full of life! 
Oh, and please excuse the earwax, drool, and snot. 

Cannot believe my "baby" will be TWO in May! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Camille's nursery

Here's a little tour of Camille's nursery. We went with brown, coral and teal as the color scheme.  (Sorry in advance for the blurry pics. . . and all the glare. . . I don't claim to be a photographer, obviously)

View from the doorway

Closeup of the crib and window treatment/bedding. We got this bedding much cheaper off Ebay. For like $60. Score.

Close up of mirror/framed scripture that hangs above changing table. I love that you can see the glider, chandelier and part of the wall decal in the mirror reflection.

You might be thinking the changing table looks a tad old school. Well. . . it is. . . but it was passed down from my older sister. My niece (who is now 11! Just crazy.) used this as a newborn and into toddlerhood. Precious family ties. And why I adore it so much.

Corner shot. . . to the right of crib. . . another framed scripture and laundry hamper

And this is my favorite spot in the room. . . My friend Emily made this wall decal and gifted it to us. I love it! She based it off of one I found on Etsy. Thank you, Emily! And another favorite. . . the glider/rocker that my in-laws/Brandon surprised me with at Camille's baby shower.  

So there you have it. . . nothing fancy by any means. . . and not nearly as bold and colorful as Clara's room (second child problems). . .  but we love it.

But what we love more is the precious baby girl that calls this room her own.

© A Joy Renewed. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.