Fall is a Decision


Here in Texas I have learned something…..Fall is a decision.  In Illinois Fall is a FEELING.  The air turns crips, the leaves change colors and drop, there is a smell in the air unlike anything else and you want to cozy up with your pumpkin spice whatever every day.  Here we don’t get that.  Today on the calendar it says it’s fall, the forecast says it’s a high of 93 and the sun will be BLAZING hot all day long.  But inside the Campbell house we have it decorated, have been diffusing Theives, there are fake fall leaves scattered across the floor because the kids got into my craft box, and very soon we will bake some apple crisp, purchase cider and a great big pot of chili will sit atop my stove.  This is the hardest season for me in Texas.  Don’t get me wrong, summer is terrible, but pretend fall I think tops my list of the time I feel the most homesick.

In case you are like, uh oh, Laura hates Texas again, quite the contrary.  I still love the town we live in, just accepted a job at our church that I’m excited about, and we are making friends, I just wish all of this was happening in the midst of 70 degree temps with a backdrop of beautiful colored trees.  So to all my friends in the North, HAPPY FALL!  I will sit down here in a tank top and shorts with my jealousy in check, because I also am very aware what happens after fall up there and I have learned not to miss that frigid cold!



To My Future Self

Because I know myself, and I know that hindsight is in fact NOT 20/20 and rather it’s cruel, I’m writing myself this letter because it’s going to happen, I’m going to look back, reflect on the time my kids were under my care and tell myself I could have done so much better.

Dear Laura with an empty nest,

You are probably sitting down to enjoy your morning read in a quiet house that is picked up, cleaned, and all your carpets still have the vacuum lines in them.  Your house is quiet, a little too quiet, and you are reflecting on the years where you would have paid money (and on occasion did) to have a quiet moment to yourself.  And you miss your kids.  And you think you took the time they were home in your care for granted.  Let me assure you, you didn’t.

You’ll wonder why you didn’t hold them more, kiss them more, tell them you loved them more, or cater to their incessant requests more often.  Here’s why…. you simply couldn’t.  There were days that the kids cried for hours, literally hours a day, over the smallest seemingly insignificant things and you picked them up countless times and then you hit your limit, you simply could not bend over and pick up a child one more time that day.  You were not a super hero, a saint, or a magical being.  You were human and sometimes humans hit a limit, there were days, many days, where you hit yours.  If you had kissed those baby cheeks one more time they would have started getting chapped, I assure you, you didn’t take the plump cheeks for granted, you kissed tears away, kissed them while they were stretched tight from giggles, and kissed them a million times in the morning when they woke up and at bedtime when you said goodnight.  Your babies always went to bed feeling loved by you.  Speaking of love.  You told your kids you loved them constantly, it was probably annoying to them if we’re being honest.  But you felt a lot of love for those sweet little ones in your care and you made sure they knew it.  And the incessant requests, when you finally snapped and raised your voice, and hurt your tenderhearted child’s feelings, I just want to remind you about that human thing, you weren’t perfect, but you were quick to apologize and heal up that hurt heart.

Don’t be one of those older mama’s who while looking at the young mama struggling in the grocery store with her screaming kids tell them, “enjoy it, you’ll miss this when it’s gone.”  Even though you probably DO miss spending your days with them, you probably only remember the sweet times when they would lean together in the cart for eskimo kisses or giggle and beep their car carts at other shoppers.  Those moments were sweet, but they weren’t the majority of the moments.  Many times you did shame shopping where people stared at you and wondered why you didn’t have better control over your children as they were bawling while you walked through the store attempting to complete your shopping list.

You will tell yourself that you should have worked less, I know you will, but work was a source of sanity for you and you needed it.  Not only did it give you something outside of mother and wife, but the money was helpful in those early years.  Don’t kick yourself for contributing to your family in this way, your kids learned valuable lessons while “working in your office” with you and learning how to entertain themselves.  It also made you much more intentional during the rest of the hours of your day when you were with your children you focused more on being present with them.

You loved your children well, you did everything in your power to enjoy the journey.  It wasn’t always easy, some days you wanted to get a full time job (you considered it on several occasions), but you made the choice to stay home with your kids while they were little and you did not take that privilege for granted.  Some days it was a sacrifice, some days it was a total blast and you felt spoiled that you GOT to stay home with your kids, and ALL of it was worth it.  So don’t beat yourself up, don’t wish you did anything differently, instead remember the good times, remember the bad times (that you can now laugh about), and above all enjoy where you are TODAY, enjoy where your kids are as adults outside your home now, and enjoy the journey….life is quite a ride!!

From your 30 year old self raising a 4 and nearly 2 year old….

Here are some photos that give you a sampling of what life was REALLY like day in and day out with these two, because you don’t always take pictures of the rough moments and I don’t want you to think your instagram feed is a good representation of your life at this time!





Today I went down to work while the girls were both having nap/quiet time.  While the house is on the market I’m sharing the office space with Andrew.  I sat down and went to scoot the chair up and the metal leg of the chair landed on a couple of my toes.  The pain was excruciating, like unable to speak, hard labor breathing, tears and I may have had some sobs come out.  Andrew kept saying, “are you ok?, is this as bad as labor, etc.”  I just couldn’t even talk it hurt so bad.  I went upstairs, came back down and Andrew said, “that must have really hurt!”  Before kids he probably would have said something like, “was it really that bad?” but after watching me labor unmedicated for like 18 hours he knows that I’m not a stranger to pain, just another perk of an epidural free birth, no questioning me and my reaction to pain for the rest of my life!

The Ugly Truth About Vanity

First picture of L and Vaughn

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since posting the first picture of me and Vaughn to Facebook two weeks ago.  When I look at this picture, what I should see is a proud mama with her hour old baby.  I should see an accomplishment completed that I had been planning and hoping for since I had a c-section 2 years before.  I wish I looked at this picture and remembered how special I felt that Andrew at 5:00 in the morning after being up with me for so many hours thought to take this picture of me.  Pictures were the last thing I was thinking about, and it felt so sweet that he wanted to capture the moment for me.

Instead what I see in this picture….AGE SPOTS.  Yep, every time I look at this picture all I can see are the age spots that two pregnancies have left me with.  In fact every time I look in the mirror all I see is age spots.  I think a lot about how someday I would love to get this taken care of and how much money I would be willing to spend to “fix this problem.”  The ugly truth about vanity is it’s a real joy stealer.  I actually am embarrassed sometimes to go in public now without make up on and honestly I rarely find time to put it on in my daily life.  I really don’t want to be a mama who’s kids grow up and have no pictures with their mom because she always opted out of picture time.

There is this new app out that let’s you airbrush yourself into a “magazine quality photo.”  Basically it takes away all your blemishes, let’s you shave off pounds and basically completely alters your appearance so you can have the “perfect picture.”  Makes me sad that we live in a time where perfection is actually just fake.  I know I need to get myself in check before my girls are old enough to look in mirrors and make judgements about themselves based on their appearance.

I hope to someday soon look at this picture and see the proud happy mama that I was when it was taken.  Until then I’ll be liberally applying my age spot cream and hoping they eventually fade!

In The Midst of All the Good

When I was originally writing this post in my head the title was In the Midst of All the Bad.  I was going to tell you about all the crappy things going on in my life and how I’ve had a few really positive things happen in the last few days and then I realized it has completely been the reverse.

Just this week: Andrew and I got away for 48 hours while my parent’s watched Ellery and celebrated 6 years of marriage, I had an OB appointment that indicated that everything was great with me and Vaughn, I found a substantial amount of money on the floor of a bathroom…..did everything I could to find the owner and have now taken it as a blessing gift and plan to use it to bless other people.  We transitioned Ellery to her new room and new bed and so far so good, she slept through the night last night and went down for nap without a fight today.  I got to spend several days with our nephew from Austin and got to spend time with both of my brothers.  Ellery’s second week of Wednesday morning daycare was just as great as the first week, she’s loving it and I’m getting tons done during my 4 hours of solitude.  Ellery and I had fun at the zoo this morning eating a picnic lunch and enjoying the Australian Walk About exhibit for the first time.  We got an unexpected gas giftcard in the mail today which will really help us out during a month where we’ve had to drive and will have to drive quite a bit.  And last, but certainly not least, my grandpa had a valve replacement this morning and is doing well.

And in the midst of all this good we found out that last year when we bought our “new” used car, the car dealer sold us a complete lemon and in one year we lost just about $10,000.  Which for some people isn’t a lot of money, but for us, well it’s quite a bit.  This evening we are biting the bullet and becoming VAN people, which I think in the long run we will really enjoy, but in the short run it’s been a tough couple weeks of processing losing that much money and committing to spending a lot when we finally felt like we had a good grasp on our finances and we were getting out of debt.  Every cloud has a silver lining though and it will be so nice to have a van when family comes to visit and when we go to visit family and drive the 18 hours each way.  And this soon to be mom of two is going to be rolling in a Swagger Wagon so I can’t really complain.

If God Exists

This is a question we will no doubt hear over the coming weeks and have heard over the years, “if God exists, why do bad things happen to good people?” The simplest answer I can give for this is, “because evil exists too.” I don’t really believe in coincidence. I’m sure there are a few things in life that are coincidence, I’ve had examples in the past that I think might be coincidence, but I can’t think of one right this minute. Rather I think God and Satan are both at work in our lives and the good is from God and the bad is from Satan. God is good, all the time, and satan is bad, all the time. They are at war and sometimes satan wins a battle here and there, but I promise you this, God wins the war.

I’m sickened and saddened by this tragic event. As some of you know my brothers have participated in many races and we have had the privilege of spectating at marathons and an ironman competition. Just a few years ago we attended the Boston marathon to share the accomplishment with my brother Kevin. It is a joyous occasion, the entire city shuts down for this fun day where everyone comes together and cheers on the runners. I can only imagine the sheer panic, fear and chaos of the days events. While evil created this event God was in attendance. The stories of good have started coming out. God was in the hearts of the people that sacrificed their safety to help others. I watched 100s of people stick around to help, pushing wheel chairs and seeing what they could do. I saw on twitter that runners ran to the hospital after they had finished to donate blood. I’ve seen a quote going around the Internet from Mr.Rogers, “when I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

God is in the helpers. I urge you to strip the glory from evil and not dwell on the tragedy, rather praise God for the good that has been happening, pray for the victims and families, and pray for our country and the decisions the government has to make in the coming weeks. I’ve seen a lot of people post that they are “praying for Boston,” let’s really do this, not just say we are doing it.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Cause for Silence

I haven’t been quite sure what to write, how much to share or how to tell about the whirlwind we’ve experienced over the last few days, but I decided while Ellery watches her shape DVD I would attempt to tell you about the roller coaster ride that has been our life over the last few days.

We decided kind of last minute to make a trip up to Champaign/Peoria area on Friday. If you were not informed you are not alone we only told like 3 people. We just weren’t sure what our house hunt would look like and we definitely didn’t want to over commit ourselves, so I apologize for any hurt feelings, they were completely unintentional. We left after we got word from the realtor that the couple would be making reasonable requests and we figured it was safe to drive up before their option period because we really needed to pick out a house and put in an offer if this whole thing was going to go as fast as it appeared.

Saturday when we were about 3 hours from my parent’s our realtor called and informed us the buyer had backed out because they were freaked out about a couple things in our inspection report. We were shocked. We literally have done almost every single line item from our inspection 2 years ago and the others we had appointments to fix over the coming week or two. We were appalled that they were unwilling to let us fix the couple issues, but they would not work with us and decided on Sunday that they definitely wanted to back out. We signed our termination papers over lunch and our house was officially listed. In 24 hours we had 9 showings. One of which revealed that it appeared we had carpenter ants in our attic, which obviously was not there when we left on Friday! I’m so thankful this realtor contacted our realtor to let her know the issue. We had the pest people out and they think when we had our roof replaced on Monday it disturbed a nest and that is why we suddenly had an issue. Luckily it’s a quick cheap fix, but before we had the resolution it was very stressful.

The reason cited for the couple backing out of the contract was a minor water leak in our showers, $150 and an hour later a plumber fixed those two issues. This couple lost out on our house over a one hour repair that we were absolutely willing to fix! Now we can see that it was such a blessing they backed out. We signed off on an even better offer last night and feel confident about this next inspection now that we’ve had a plumber fix the issues. Also because we didn’t have an offer on Sunday when we looked at houses we couldn’t put in our offer on the house we really want and yesterday they lowered the price for a second time. In 10 minutes we’ll be signing our offer with the realtor and hopefully we’ll be buying the house that I’ve already started decorating in my head. We are on quite the ride right now, but I’m so glad that Andrew is in the car with me and we are holding on together! We close April 30th now instead of the 9th and I’m great with having a few more weeks to pack and spend time with friends and family in the Austin area. I hope to have great news in the next few days!!

Setting the Record Straight

(This post is about lady things, men feel free to come back tomorrow.). The other day I posted about Ellery losing weight last month. My milk was seriously drying up, as in sometimes she would eat 1 ounce in 3 hours. A reader very politely commented and asked if I could expand on this so I private messaged her and told her what I thought was going on. Then I realized I have at least a handful of readers that have requested my nursing notes and I would be doing a dis-service to not share what happened. I also know that I have anti Babywise readers and readers considering Babywise so I just want to set the record straight.

I am pretty sure I lost my milk for a lot of reasons, Babywise was not one of them, here is what my research has shown me.

At my seven week appointment as I was getting ready for my exam I discovered that Aunt Flo decided she was tired of not visiting and she had arrived. This means had I not been following the rules I possibly could have shown up pregnant to this appointment. So when people say nursing is a good form of birth control the first 6 months know that it does not apply to everyone. I was still nursing through the night at this point. When my milk really decreased I was having the worst period of my ENTIRE LIFE. Nothing I could do about that.

My sweet baby has a condition that is caused by low estrogen, not going to expand on this because some day she will be an adult and this post might still be flying around in cyberspace. Low estrogen can cause babies to eat less. This condition resolves itself by age 6 and she’s perfectly fine, but potentially contributed to the weight loss.

My pump broke in October, I had been pumping frequently before that. Since Ellery had quit taking a bottle I decided I didn’t need one anymore and couldn’t afford to replace it so I stopped pumping, that was a bad idea. Luckily our new insurance is amazing and I got a free pump a couple weeks ago. (On that note, call your insurance before buying a pump, I got a medela $300 pump at no cost to me).

Around the time Ellery started sucking her thumb her weight started dropping. She was always a fast eater so when she put her thumb in her mouth after 5 minutes of nursing I figured she was finished. I didn’t realize 5 minutes really wasn’t enough. Now I know she needs to eat for at least 5 minutes on each side regardless of what she wants.

Besides her weight dropping there were literally NO SIGNS. She never acted hungry, she was still sleeping for all her naps and still sleeping through the night. She hadn’t become anymore fussy than her one hour witching hour so if we didn’t have a scale we probably wouldn’t have really noticed. Also her skin started getting lose.

And after playing around with increasing my supply I have found this to be the number one thing that helps. I decided I was tired of having this pooch belly so I started cutting myself off of food at 8:30 PM. BIG MISTAKE. Going to bed hungry completely zapped my supply. If I eat a small bowl of cereal before I go to bed I wake up leaking and she eats 6 to 7 ounces for the first feeding. Feeding my kiddo is obviously way more important than fitting back into my skinny jeans. So eat up nursing mamas your milk depends on it.

The reasons I don’t think Babywise played a role in this. I never let Ellery go hungry, I would stretch her 15 minutes max. Dropping the night feedings was led by her. Once she went a couple nights not eating at one of the feedings we got rid of it. By getting rid of it I mean I let her fuss in bed for a couple minutes until she went back to sleep, this lasted for a few days each time. I didn’t ever let her scream or even cry in the night, if she did I would feed her. Fussing and screaming are two very different things in my book. Still to this day I have never let her go more than 4 hours during the day without eating and most of the time she eats within 3 hours. Since she was 4 months old I haven’t needed to ever hold her off from eating for even a few minutes. I talked to my doctor and based on the way I personally do Babywise she assured me that it had nothing to do with my lack of milk.

And while we are setting records straight I want to say one thing about not co-sleeping. I read a blog post written by someone I don’t know who is an attachment parent. She was writing about how sad she is for babies who have to sleep in their own cribs and how she would hate to have to sleep alone. She talked about how when she gets scared from a dream she loves that she can reach out and touch her husband for comfort. I felt a little angry because I feel like she is really misinformed. Last night Elle woke up around 9 o’clock screaming bloody murder, I jumped up and ran to her bedroom, picked her up and rocked her until she was calm. Then I laid her down and without a peep she put herself back to sleep. Just because we don’t sleep with Ellery in our room doesn’t mean we are heartless monsters, I’m not saying anyone of you thinks that, I just had to get that off my chest because I was sad that some people might think that about mamas who don’t believe in co-sleeping.

So there you have my incredibly long list of things that hurt my milk, likely TMI, but oh we’ll. I’m happy to report we are on the upswing and it looks like I’ll be able to nurse until we are actually ready to give it up.

I Needed That

I’ve written about this before, but it’s been a long time so this first part may be a repeat for some of you. I’m a rule follower. If there isn’t a rule for something I create one. I like boundaries, I function very well within them. I have always enjoyed this about myself, but the older I get the more I am seeing this just might be a flaw. I live my life in black and white, my husband’s entire life is gray. You can imagine the kinds of “heated discussions” we’ve had over the last 5 years. Enter baby Ellery, talk about a game changer. I still think kids need boundaries, and you will never convince me otherwise so don’t even try. However, I am finding that sometimes my “rules” are completely lost on her. Take sleeping for example. Doctor says always put your baby on their back to sleep. She sleeps through the night every night on her back. Put her on her back for a nap and you’re lucky if she sleeps for 20 minutes. Yep, I’m just as puzzled as you are. Guess what, my little lady sleeps all three of her hour and a half naps on her tummy. This was super hard for me because it was breaking a rule that is supposed to insure the safety of my sleeping infant. After a week of her not sleeping I bent the rule and we are all so much happier!

Tonight after caving and giving her Tylenol after she cried most of the day and slept about half of her naps I felt really guilty. I never wanted to give my babies medicine. I don’t take medicine unless I am really sick so I figured I’d be the same way with my kids. Then your sweet baby looks at you through tear filled eyes and you realize she has no choice. She can’t ask for the medicine and likely she would beg you for it if she could. Right after I gave it to her I saw THIS article via Emily and I felt so much better. (Warning there is some profanity in the article.) I am never going to be the mother people think I should be. But as I’ve said before and will say again and again, I’m doing my best and that’s all I can do.

Like a Joke

I asked a friend yesterday if she was having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit because of the weather here. She is from a cold climate so she understands what Christmas “should” feel like. She put it into words that succinctly expressed how I feel, “it’s like living a joke.” It really does feel like we are trying to celebrate Christmas in July. Last night Andrew and I decided to go on a “Christmas cruise” to look at lights after dinner. We had the windows rolled down and Andrew said, “if you pretend really hard it kinda feels sorta crisp outside.” We are trying! We listen to Christmas music, turn the tree on anytime we are home, burn an evergreen candle in the evenings, watch lots of Christmas movies, but nothing seems to be working. Everyone thinks living in a warm climate is so amazing, but I’d trade it tomorrow for a little cool air or some flurries of snow! I guess it’s Mele Kalikimaka for us this year (yeah i know it’s Texas not Hawaii, but you get the idea) maybe next year we’ll celebrate in snow, at least it’ll be cold in Boston. Any tips for enjoying Christmas in the heat?