Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year In Review

Hey guys! I hope everyone had a great holiday season this year, and I have lots of pictures to share with you over the next couple of days, but of course today has to be the obligatory reflective day.

I'm not as eager to break up with 2012 as I was 2011, but I'm certainly not willing to let it linger.

2012 and I did not get off to a good start.  Just a couple weeks into the new year, I lost one of my greatest friends in a horrific car accident.  It was a devastating experience for me, especially considering that my first true experience with grief was with someone I considered so close to me. 

February brought a whole new mess of emotions when we celebrated Centennial Hospital's brand new heart wing.  It was the first time we had visited without a medical reason, and having the opportunity to thank so many people was a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Warmer weather came and Ethan experienced his (and mine!) first encounter with baby ducks.  We went through another pit when we had to find another doctor in Nashville to make sure I didn't have thyroid cancer.  Jason and I celebrated 3 years of marriage, and began to anxiously plan sweet Ethan's first birthday.

Ethan's birthday was such a bittersweet time for me, and I tried so hard to soak up the rest of the baby moments the best I could.  We partied hard, Dr. Suess style, in celebration.

Nearing the end of summer, we took our first vacation as a family of three and spent a week at the beach.  Just a few short days after returning from beach bliss, Ethan began his Early Learning Program, and I struggled with  my heart to let him into the care of people that wasn't family.  It was a big step for all of us.

Fall came and I decided I wanted to take a big leap in to "boy" motherhood and ended up gaining cool points from my niece instead.

I spent a lot of time at the end of this year evaluating my relationships with others.  I've realized that I am my worst enemy when it comes to invalidating my feelings and that I over invest too often. In those moments, though, I realized that I do have some very special friends that are hard to come by.  Friends that are opening their own businesses, buying their first homes, and celebrating upcoming marriages.  It's been so much fun to celebrate those moments with the people I love, and learning to understand how to love whole-heartedly without over investing.

I'm so thankful for a year that I can look back on many wonderful moments instead of just a few.  This year, I'm not feeling as "ready" for new beginnings, I'm just looking forward to continuing on the path we are on.

Here's to 2013.  Full of new babies (not mine), weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and anything else wonderful that may come our way.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Full of Pinsperation

So earlier this month, I hosted my very first solo wedding shower!  I usually have the help of my wonderful Momma, but since this shower was out of town, I was on my own.  I was ridiculously a little nervous about being able to pull it off on my own.  I took to Pinterest for inspiration on many of my projects and hoped for the best.

Not only was this my first solo hosting gig, but it happened to be for one of my diamonds in the rough.  The friend that has always kept me swimming, and one of the ones that makes me laugh harder than anyone.  The one that taught me to spend more time focusing on the present instead of worrying about the future.  The one that never even mentioned the idea of a future with a potential boyfriend in all of our years of girl talk.  So when she told me he was the ONE for her, it was hard to contain excitement waiting for him to pop the question and start the celebrations. 

With my Pinterest account in hand, I wanted to try the peppermint trays to have ready for all the cupcakes and fun treats on the table.   These were actually more of a pain in the butt little bit harder than I thought they would be.  My first attempt was a complete disaster.  When the instructions say don't cook something too long, don't cook it too long.  The design warped and attempting to fix it shattered the entire thing and sent pieces flying throughout my kitchen.  A few tries later (the morning of), we did finally get a few that looked someone acceptable. Sadly, I didn't get a good picture of the ones that turned out, but I did get a photo of one I screwed up!

's house is so quaint and cozy and utterly gorgeous.  She had it perfectly decorated for us. All that was left to do was prepare food and set it out on the tables!


One of the other fun Pinterest ideas I found for a Christmas party was serving hot chocolate and coffee in a crockpot! It was an extremely easy way to keep it warm for a couple hours at a time and make enough to serve multiple people. 

The gorgeous bride-to-be with her mother, and another shot with yours truly

Jason is a true rock-star.  He was such a great help all morning getting things ready, chasing Ethan, and getting ready for our fun surprise for all of Ally's guests.
Some mingling shots...

One thing I had my heart set on was a special visit from Ethan to the shower.  Ethan and Ally have a really special bond, and I wanted him to come love on her as well.  Plus, one thing that was requested of me was not to make everyone play silly shower games, but still have some sort of ice breaker since there would be so many people there that didn't already know each other.  So Jason and I went on a very long, and thorough hunt for the perfect costumes, and Santa Claus made a visit with his best elf to deliver some party favors.

Jason and I went hard at work to make some really fun tile coasters for favors (another great Pinterest idea) and had them ready for delivery when Santa rang the doorbell!

Of course, we made all the guests pose for a shot with Santa before he headed back to the North Pole.

Ethan tried helping Ally open her gifts for a while, but quickly lost interest.  We decided to make this shower an ornament shower, a really fun way to build up their very first Christmas tree for next year.  I was amazed at the thoughtfulness that everyone put into finding the perfect ornament to give them some personal, sentimental touches to their tree.
Our gift to her was an Etsy find, turned into a DIY project.  Jason helped me with the design on these, attached some silver bails and felt to the back, and voila! 5 personalized, dated vintage-y ornaments.

These ornaments were probably my personal favorites from the day.  A friend of hers from law school presented her with four clear ornaments, each with a tiny picture of the bride and groom and other lovely decor items, and tied them with ribbon. They were absolutely gorgeous, I definitely have a new idea for gifts for future brides!

Allyson has a very close relationship with her golden retriever, Bogie.  Since Bogie lives with Allyson's mother, Bogie sent a very special ornament to make sure he wasn't forgotten on her tree as well.

Our little elf kept popping up everywhere.  To say he tried to steal the show would be an understatement of the year.  Thank goodness it was a group of women that love babies!

A group shot...

And last, but certainly not least, a shot of the bride and groom after he came back home.  He escaped to a basketball game during all the festivities, but came home near the end to say hello.  These two are quite perfect for each other, and I cannot wait to stand up there with them when they become Mr. and Mrs.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Sweet Baby Boy,

One day in the near future, you will start to ask questions.  First will come the whats, then whos, then the whens, then the wheres.  I like to think that I will be very patient and willing to answer all your questions and encourage your curiosity of your world.  I fear the day you start to ask "Why?"

You see, baby boy, I won't always know that answer.  You will learn as you grow that grown-ups often ask the same questions that children ask, and struggle to find the answers too.  I hope that I can teach you to understand that sometimes things happen that we won't understand.  I hope that you will grow in your faith to trust that even if God doesn't show us why, that we are put through trials that we may not ever understand.  Sometimes, no matter how much we want to, we may not know why.

I hope that you one day learn that knowing "why" will not change the past.  Knowing "why" does not erase pain, it does not make things all right, and it certainly is never an excuse.  While it is in our nature to desperately seek answers when we are in the middle of confusion, the answers we find often don't fulfill the void we are seeking to eliminate.  We can only fulfill that void by trusting God is at work for something so much bigger, that we may not be able to see it for a very long time.  We may not ever see it, but maybe your children or grandchildren will.  God is more than just today, sweet boy.  He is your eternal future.  Please remember that when you are seeking answers for today.

There are things in this world that are not good things, and even things that are evil.  I pray that you will always remember that even in the midst of the unthinkable evil, God is present.  There isn't a place in this world that you can't take him with you when you keep him in your heart.  No matter what, no one can ever take that away from you as long as you protect it.  Please remember that even when the world seems dark, the heart of life is good.  There is good in everyone, but sadly sometimes it fails to shine through.  Try to seek it in everyone anyway.  Believe.

Believe in the things you cannot see.  Believe in the things you can feel in your heart.  On thing that you will learn as you grow is how things you believe in will change.  That doesn't mean they aren't real, it doesn't mean they don't exist.  It means that you are growing into a deeper level of your faith and understanding.  Teaching you to believe is one reason your Daddy and I are so excited to teach you about Santa.  We want you to believe in the magic of Santa, and in the love that Santa brings to people all over the world.  We want you to believe in the love Santa spreads.

While right now you will dream of Santa in a way that will be completely different when you are older, you are learning to believe in the things you cannot see.  You are learning to have faith in pieces of your heart that some people will tell you are not real.  Those pieces in your heart are real, Ethan.  They will always be real.  Santa is real.  God is real.  No matter how the way you view these things may change, the basis of it all remains the same.  It does exist.  Believe, and when believing is difficult because your world changes, remember that there is a larger picture that much more than today.

I love you,


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Diamond in the Rough

In the spirit of reflection of the past two years, one thing that easily comes to mind is that this journey hasn't been all about me.  It wasn't all about Ethan.  Our journey involved so many wonderful (and not so wonderful) friends, family members, doctors, nurses, techs, and surgeons.  The incredible opportunity to learn about people was right at my feet, and you better believe I took it.

I had a nurse that insisted on allowing my family to break the rules and keep as many people sleeping in my hospital floor that wanted to.  I had a nurse that ran to the store, spent her own money on Pop-Tarts because she overheard me say that was the one thing that I felt like wouldn't make me throw up.  I had a nurse that found Ethan's heartbeat at any time of day that I asked.  I had a nurse that hugged my mother when they took me back to surgery.  I had a nurse that held my hand and did nothing else but whisper calming things to me throughout my first surgery.  I had a nurse that sat with me for hours when I couldn't sleep.  One of my nurses has even become one of my most beloved friends.  None of these nurses I have mentioned were the same person.

I had family that slept in the floor for days, waiting for good news.  They missed out on work, out on time for things they enjoy, out on their own comfort.  I had the best doctors and surgeons in the country working to make sure we were ok.  I had everything I needed.  The people I never once doubted would  continue to follow through with being right there.  Somehow, somehow, I managed to be lucky enough to find loyalty in my friends as well.

After my wedding, I came to the realization that you need your friends desperately when bad things happen, and almost just as desperately when good things are happening.  I needed my friends to want to celebrate with me, to be excited and happy with me, to want to ask the exciting questions.  There were only a few.  A few that I felt I had finally figured out who were my true friends, and who were just fun to be around.

When I got sick, I found myself in the same situation.  I needed my friends to cry with me, to listen, to not pretend like they understand.  Interestingly enough, the ones that had celebrated with pure joy and excitement just a few years back, the ones I had thought were absolutely as true as they could get, were no where to be found.  The ones that I had doubted, had been hurt by, and almost written off completely stepped in.  And amazingly enough, those are the ones that still stand beside me today.

I had friends that drove up to 8 hours in one single night to spend 45 minutes with me just because Jason told them I needed something only they could give.  I had friends bring me the wackiest things I could ever imagine just so I would laugh for a minute and try to forget what was happening.  Mind you, it was December in Kentucky/Tennessee.  Snow on the ground, ice warnings, finals, jobs, it didn't matter.   Two of my dearest friends made it happen.  I still feel overwhelmed with emotion when I remember the nights they walked through those hospital doors.  It still makes me cry, and it still makes me wonder how they would ever understand how much my heart overflowed (figuratively this time) that they were willing to do that.

In the days to come during my recovery, I spent a lot of time thinking about these grand gestures made from my friends and family.  I again reflected on true friendships, friendships that meant more than just dinners together on random weeknights.  I began to feel that the ones I felt were my truest friends in my last large milestone weren't quite my friends at all, and I had seriously mistaken some of the friends I doubted.  It was only until recently did it make sense to me.

True does not always mean forever.  Relationships that are filled with love, loyalty, and care are true friendships that go so far beyond the surface.  That doesn't make them forever.  My true friends during the days of me upcoming marriage may no longer be a part of my daily life, but that doesn't mean they were never my true friend.  True and forever are two completely different categories.    I have always considered myself lucky when I find the depth of a true friend, and I often forget that doesn't mean the friendship will last forever.  Sometimes they fade, and while it sucks, it's ok.

Finding both a true and a forever friend in the same person?  Now there, there, is your diamond in the rough.  A deep friendship is so often misinterpreted as a forever friendship and completely heartbreaking when it fizzles.  It's easy to believe that someone that is right there with you during your milestones (positive or negative) that they are in your elite club of diamonds.

People come and go, milestones will show you who is willing to be apart of your "true blue" club, but it's the moments in between that show you where your diamonds can be found.  We will always have ups and downs, we will always have life-changing events that will define how we view our world, but I've quickly found it's the moments of a quiet, straight line instead of a wavy one that reveal who will always be there.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two Years

Two years.

Two years.

It seems crazy to me that two years have passed since our amazing heart journey.  I remember reflecting last year so much on how much that experience scarred me.  At the time, I felt proud of it.  I was proud of the journey I had gone through, and what we struggled with to overcome.  Now?  All I really want to do is forget it.  Sometimes milestones aren't as uplifting as people think they may be.

I'm still proud of the strength that journey brought to my marriage.  I'm still amazed at the beautiful little boy that burst his way through such darkness to bring us hope.  I'm still proud that we didn't give up.  I'm glad for it, kind of. Really, though, I would sweep it from my mind if I could.

It's not fun to still feel afraid.  PMS rolls around and I worry that a normal bloat is a recurrence.  Fatigue and heart palpitations come and I panic.  I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and feel a weight on my chest and worry it's fluid.  I get a chest cold that makes it difficult to breathe and I cry.  It floods back so quickly, and I come back to those moments so easily.  Will I ever, ever get over that?  Will that small bit of PTSD always live with me?

It's no secret that Jason and I are nearing the time that we want to expand our family again.  We've talked about it in great detail, and there are only a few things currently standing in our way to jump with full force hoping to give Ethan a brother (or sister-but fingers crossed for another boy.  Something I never thought I'd say!)  Some of those factors are a few practical, lifestyle things.  Things that are lining up nicely, given just a bit more time.  One thing, though?


We have spoken with all of my doctors and specialists over the past few months, and all of the opinions are the same.  It is absolutely safe to try to conceive whenever we like, and we have absolutely no reason to believe that my second pregnancy will be like my first.  We've been given top-notch reassurance and encouragement to not look back in our journey to a larger family.  The only problem is I'm not always a very good listener.  Am I still worried that another crazy fluke may happen again?  Absolutely.  This time is even more worrisome because not only do I have myself and a future child to worry about, but I have Ethan to worry about too.  I worry about how he would be impacted if that tsunami of horrible events swallowed us whole again.

Those memories are not easy.  They never seem to get easier.  It isn't getting easier to talk about, it isn't getting easier to remember, it remains at the same, stable, completely emotional state it has been in since I felt it in the moment two years ago today.  I find myself to be so thankful to be in the company of people that don't know our story.  They see Ethan has a fun-loving, flirtatious toddler and not know a thing.  To not have to discuss what a miracle his presence is can sometimes be relieving.  Not because I don't want people to know what a miracle he is, but I want people to focus on who he is now.  I want people to see him for the amazing little boy he is, and not just how he came to be.  His grand entrance doesn't define him.

It's funny how your point of view can shift on the same subject matter in a year.  Last year, I was feeling a bit triumphant over it all.  This year, I see now why so many people want their scars to fade, or disappear.  The values I developed and the lessons I learned will not leave me just because a scar fades.  I won't forget what I came through to get here, but I'd really love to forget the emotion that went along with it.  I'd really love it to become a distant memory, rather that overwhelm me so easily.  I vividly remember conversations that were had, tears that were shed, hands that were held in those first few days and during the first surgery.  I can still feel the place that the draining tubes ran, and it still hurts.  I vividly remember every moment of that first surgery.  There's nothing I'd love more than to forget those things.

I remember saying last year about how much I had learned that the ugly parts mattered.  The painful moments matter too.  They do matter, and I still believe that, but I often wish those ugly parts would fade a bit easier.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we let the ugly overshadow the beautiful.  The ugly rears its horrible face and reminds you what it was like to be in the middle of the storm, instead of on the other side.  So while last year I felt achievement that we had finally survived the worst year ever, this year I find myself disappointed that it has not become as much of a distant memory that I hoped it would be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

Thank you all so much to everyone who entered and participated in Jason's Christmas card giveaway!  I wanted to take a quick second to announce that Summer has won the 25 Christmas cards and Melissa has won the second prize of 10!

Since the second prize went in the comment section, I used to make that selection.  I numbered the comments in order received, and let the computer do the rest.

Congratulations Summer and Melissa!  I will be in touch with you to make your selections.  You will have until Monday, November 26 at 5:00pm to respond or I will select another winner.

Thank you again for everyone who participated!  If there is anyone that entered that would be interested in a discounted rate of one of the designs you have seen, please contact us and we will be happy to make the arrangements for you.

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!!