Three Month Letter

To My Boo Baby Vaughn Emerson,

It’s taken me until now to write this, but I felt SO BAD for you when I birthed you on Halloween.  Believe me when I say it was COMPLETELY not my intention to have a Halloween baby.  You, my little girl, were due on the 16th and the very last possible day you could have possibly been born was the 30th because they were going to have to take you out of me if you didn’t come out on your own by then.  Surprise!, you showed them, no body could tell you that you were going to come by the 30th and after midnight not only was I frustrated that I was still in labor, but I was sad for you that forever when you tell people your birthday is October 31, 2014 people will respond, “Oh you were born on Halloween.”  Instead of calling you a Halloween baby my doctor said, oh you got a boo baby, and for some reason that just made me feel so much better, sounded so cute, a boo baby.  I hope that you love having a Halloween birthday.  I hope you love to dress up and get tons of candy on your birthday each year.  I promise to do my best to make the day about you, I might even do a birthday week.  Well, enough about that, can’t change it so from here forward I will do my best to embrace it and help you embrace it too.  This month has been long, lots of sickness in our house and you got sick too.  I think that’s the cause of your sleep changes.  Instead of sleeping 8-9 hours straight you’ve started getting up to eat 1 to 2 times a night, usually just once around 5AM.  While I know this isn’t that bad, we were SO SPOILED the first couple months that it’s been a not super fun adjustment.  You still love the swing and I still let you nap in there at least once a day, sometimes twice.  We have been working on you putting yourself to sleep and I would say you are able to put yourself to sleep with just a little fuss about 50% of the time.  You are on a pretty exact 3 hour feeding schedule that almost always begins at 8AM.  Still napping every hour and a half throughout the day and go to bed for the night around 9:30.  I keep telling myself you are going to move to your crib, but I just can’t do it.  You are still sleeping in the bassinet in our room, mostly because you are still congested and gag a lot in the night.  Just this week you started not hating tummy time and also started sitting in the bumbo.  It looks like you are going to be a thumb sucker like your sister.  You prefer to be swaddled with one hand available to suck on.  You are such a smiley baby and are content most of the time to just sit in a seat and watch us, we are so lucky that you are our daughter and I could not be happier to have you!!!

Love you forever,

Mama

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14 Days of Love

Diptic

Our Christmas advent calendar was such a huge hit with Ellery that I decided we would do one for Valentine’s Day.  It was a great opportunity for us to spend intentional family time together.  Thanks to Pinterest I came up with 14 days of activities and 14 days of scriptures on love very quickly.  I got out some construction paper and a pen and we were ready to go.  I thought I’d take all the work out of it for you if you’d like to do 14 Days of Love and write out our calendar as well as links to the activities.

Feb. 1: Valentine Books: This year I bought THIS for Vaughn, and THIS for Ellery

Feb 2: Make Valentines: not sure what we are going to do yet

Feb 3: Caterpillar Heart Craft

Feb 4: Heart Paper Chain

Feb 5: Make Pink Playdoh

Feb 6: Family Date Night

Feb 7: Make Cut Out Cookies

Feb 8: Play a Board Game

Feb 9: Balloon Tennis

Feb 10: Heart Paint Stamping

Feb 11: Candy Heart Activities

Feb 12: Butterfly Craft

Feb 13: Valentine Breakfast: Probably doing the Cinnamon Rolls

Feb 14:Bake a “love” cake: Like Daniel Tiger 🙂

Then on the backs of each heart I wrote a scripture, or you could print these cards.

Not all the activities are really Valentine’s Day related, but the point is to just spend intentional time with the girls.

To My Two and a Half Year Old

To The Big Sister Ellery Wynn,

Goodness gracious you’ve grown up A LOT in the last 6 months.  Everyone said when Vaughn arrived you would suddenly seem so much older.  Words could not be truer.  You aged so quickly when we had a little newborn babe around the house.  You are a fantastic big sister.  I literally could not ask you to be better with her.  You are gentle, kind, loving, engaged and so helpful.  When you walk in the room Vaughn lights up, when she cries you can calm her quickly.  You want to know where she is all the time and have yet to be frustrated that she is in our lives forever.  You think she is “so cute” and “love her so much” and can hardly stand to not touch her all the time.  You, my sweet girl, have made this transition so much easier for me than I expected.  The only real change I’ve noticed since Vaughn’s arrival is you have to sleep with your door open now.  I grew up my entire childhood sleeping with my door open, so I don’t blame you.  Shutting the door does feel pretty isolating.  You have a vivid imagination.  I love to listen to you play by yourself.  You have a constant dialogue going and just the other day you told us all about your friend “bread.”  At least we think you are saying bread.  You’ve told me, “he’s so cute,” “he has a nice smile,” and “he draws with me.”  Lately we’ve started a new night time tradition.  After our typical routine Daddy shuts the lights off and then we “snuggle” which means I play with your hair and we talk about our favorite moments of the day.  You have developed a love of drawing.  Especially with pencils.  You mostly draw circles, but this activity can hold your attention for a full hour.  I’m not going to lie to you and pretend like you are all happy happy nice girl.  You most definitely have a nasty side, but we are working very diligently to minimize seeing this side of you.   Your dad has started this thing where he tells you a “story of Edubs” which is just a story about something you’ve done in the past week.  Edubs is short for Ellery Wynn. You LOVE these stories and constantly ask us to tell you more.  The other day I needed Vaughn to be entertained for a few minutes and I asked you to talk to her.  You went up to her and said, “would you like to hear a story of Edubs?”  Then you made up a story exactly as we do, it was so sweet!!  You are kind, funny, imaginative, creative, and a fabulous big sister.  Two and a half, how in the world did that happen???

Love You Forever,

Mama

Your hair is tucked in the smock, no we did not cut it or give you a blow out, but it does look super cute this way!!

Your hair is tucked in the smock, no we did not cut it or give you a blow out!

Timeouts, Tantrums and Target

This photo has nothing to do with this post I just think it's funny how Ellery is smiling, this is her latest "stock smile"

This photo has nothing to do with this post I just think it’s funny how Ellery is smiling, this is her latest “stock smile”  And Vaughn is crying, but it looks like they are both just squinting.

From the beginning of stay at home motherhood I made a conscious effort to not unload the kids onto Andrew when he gets home from work.  I would say once every two months or so I have to break this “rule” that I set for myself.  Tonight was one of those nights.  From the moment Ellery woke up she was in “a mood.”  I mean crying from the get go.  I tried everything I could to keep my cool, but by 9AM she had already been sent to her room to cool off (she got up at 8:20).  The day just went down hill from there.  I tried every method of discipline I could think of.  When one would fail I’d try the next and by 5:30 when Andrew came upstairs from work I was DONE.  I decided I would run to Target to get some pizza sauce for dinner and wander around.  Despite being “done” with my kids for the day I of course found myself in the kids section buying them things.  Lucky for me the clearance was an extra 20% off and I found them matching pjs for next Christmas (major score, I’ve been looking forever)!!

When I came home, Ellery was so excited to see me and I had regained my patience and it was my “turn” to deal with the monster for awhile.  In the 45 minutes I was gone Andrew had already used up all of his patience….yes that’s the kind of day she was having.  She was a whiney mess and when she refused to sit on the stairs in time out I gave her the choice, you can either sit on the stairs or go up for an early bedtime, do you know what she chose?  BEDTIME!!!  I could not believe it, but she went up and got ready for bed without a fight.  Had I not had the time away from her there was no way we could have ended the night on a positive note.

Then Andrew and I tag teamed putting Vaughn to bed.  So thankful for my teammate because sometimes I really need to reset.  When I’m on edge, my kids are on edge.  Even my 11 week old can sense when I’m tense.  I keep telling myself that every day is a new day and I absolutely must allow her to be better tomorrow.  And I mean that when I say ALLOW.  I cannot hold a “grudge” against my kid and expect her to be in a funk again in the morning.  Let me give you maybe my best parenting advice ever…. get away from your kids!!  Even if it’s a 10 minute walk around the block, it is quite amazing what a little distance can do.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

My Staples

Arizona Earrings

Do you see Arizona Robbin’s earrings in this picture, you must look REALLY closely?  For years, literally years, I’ve been telling Andrew that I want these earrings (except in yellow gold, instead of silver).  I had never seen them anywhere, but I continued to want them.  She wears them almost every single episode, unless she is dressed up.  They are super simple, but in my opinion seemed like the perfect everyday earring.  Lo and behold they showed up on Pinterest a couple weeks before Christmas.  My mom was luckily still looking for an idea for me so I wrote her an e-mail begging her to get them for me!  Thanks to THIS Etsy shop I am now sporting some gold “staples” in my ears.  And the other sweet everyday earrings I got from my mother-in-law can be found HERE on Etsy.  Here I am looking so un-fancy, speaking of un-fancy, have you started following her?:

Laura bar earrings

 

How’s It Going?

Leslie Sansone

We are now halfway through the month of January and some of you have probably already fallen off the wagon.  It’s never too late to make a fresh start.  That’s the beauty of a 24 hour day.  Each sunrise brings with it a clean slate.  So you blew your diet today?  There is a new day coming tomorrow, so do better tomorrow.  So often I hear people say, “I’ll start next week.”  Why wait?  Start today.

Something I decided this month was to set a monthly benchmark.  I finally realized one of my biggest problems with diet and exercise.  I set myself up for failure every time I start.  I say,” I’m going to workout X amount of days per week,” and then when I miss the mark I don’t really have motivation to keep going.  This month I decided to try a new approach.  I started doing my favorite exercise videos again.  It’s called Walk Away the Pounds by Leslie Sansone.  You can choose different length aerobic walks, any where from a quick 5 minute to a 5 mile.  I decided this month I was going to do 31 miles.  So the easy way to do that would be a mile a day, but this way if I missed a day I could just make it up another day.  So far this month I’ve only missed two days and already done one make up mile.  I really want to join a PiYo group this year and make a big change to my life and my body.  If I’m going to spend the money on this I want to make sure I will actually spend the time doing it so this is my test month to decide if I can really make the commitment.

My plan is to do a check in every month to keep myself accountable.  We’ll see how that goes, life looks REALLY different now than it did when we started this little blog 6 years ago.  While I’d like to blog everyday that’s just completely not practical for my life!

House Purge: This month I went through all the totes of clothes for Vaughn and gave them to my mom to take to consignment.  I got rid of the clothes that Vaughn has outgrown that I am not totally attached to.  We are definitely on the fence as to whether or not we will birth more babies so I don’t want to store tons of clothes that we may never use.  I’d rather get the money now and buy clothes for Ellery as she needs them.  I once read a piece of advice from The Fly Lady (an organizing guru) and she recommended not holding on to any baby clothes and selling your baby’s clothes after each child.  Her logic is, it takes up tons of space and baby clothes that are stored for long periods of time typically come out with stains on them.  So while I don’t totally agree with getting rid of everything every time it did make me not so paranoid to really purge the infant clothes down to a minimum.  I also got rid of 6 scarves, 10 necklaces and a couple of articles of clothing that have been too small for me for pretty much forever.  Last night I purged our linen closet, could not believe how much TRASH was in there!  This has felt so therapeutic.  I’m realizing how overwhelmed I’ve been feeling by having extra stuff in my house.

Purge Debt:  This month because I have not been working much lately we are only able to pay our minimums, but the little boy I watch started coming back this month so I’m confident we can stack some cash on one of our loans next month.  Goodness this accountability could be really good for me.  It’s killing me to write that we didn’t do anything on this for the month.  (We budget using the money from the previous month so even though it’s only mid-month I know we won’t be paying extra on the debts).

Purge Pounds: Down 5 pounds so far!  While I’d like it to go WAY faster, I’m happy that the number is going down.  All I’ve done is give up candy, fried food and done my “mile a day.”

Purge Paperwork:  This one is probably going to begin some time in March or April.  My focus is to get our house totally purged down, and then tackle the paperwork.

It’s never too late to resolve to change, start today!!

VBAC Tips

VBAC

So as you may have read in my Birth Story I didn’t LOVE having a VBAC and actually spent several hours of my labor mad at myself for wanting it.  Immediately afterwards I had already decided if I were to get pregnant again I would schedule my c-section for 39 weeks.  Now months later I am glad I did the VBAC, it wasn’t fun, but neither was a c-section so if you asked me right now what I would choose I would do a VBAC again.  So now that I’ve cleared that up I’d like to offer you some tips for having a successful VBAC.

1.  This one is number one for a reason.  I believe this is the MOST important piece of advice for having a successful VBAC.  Are you listening really closely??  Ok here is it, get a supportive doctor.  Not just a doctor who is OK with a VBAC, but a VBAC loving doctor.  I won the JACKPOT in this area.  Not only does she love VBACs and believes they are the safest option, but she loves natural birth which is what I wanted.  If you are lucky enough to live in the Peoria area try your hardest to get in with Dr. Angela Martin at OSF.

2.  If you live in an area where you have choice in what hospital you go to this is the next most important thing you can choose.  I knew that one of the hospitals here would be totally cool with all of my natural birth requests and the other hospital would be hesitant and it would have been more of a fight.  Ask you super supportive VBAC doctor what their hospital preference is, they probably have one.  If you live in the Peoria area I would recommend Methodist.

3.  Go naturally, commit to no epidural.  Like I said before I believe whole heartedly that if I had an epidural I would have had a c-section.  Our bodies are designed to move around during labor and being flat on your back in bed is not at all helpful to get you dilated and get your baby turned properly.  If you want a natural birth, commit to it, if you go in saying, “we’ll see how it goes,” I can tell you how it will go….you will get an epidural.  UNLESS you have a super quick labor and your baby is crowning when you ask for one.  LABOR FREAKING HURTS.  I watched a show yesterday where a guy got his toes cut off, I turned to Andrew and said, “I bet my birth hurt a whole lot more than that”…he didn’t really believe me, but I’m convinced.

4.  Get your baby in position.  Go to Spinning Babies and read about positioning and do the inversions everyday starting around 30 weeks.  Vaughn was beautifully positioned.  This will seriously help shorten your pushing phase.  Another huge help for this is going to the Chiropractor.  My advice would be to go to one that practices the Webster technique.  Not only is it great for your labor, it made my pregnancy SO MUCH more bearable.

5.  If you have the money, hire a doula.  We couldn’t swing it this time around, but my nurse and doctor did many doula style things and if we go down this crazy road again I will hire a doula if we are financially able.  If it’s too late to hire one when you are reading this or it’s not a financial option, make sure you ask for a natural birth loving nurse (you can ask the charge nurse when you check in), she will be your best tool in labor.  Husbands are wonderful, but nurses are made for this type of assistance.  Utilize them.  I basically begged my nurse to stay with me because when she was there I just felt more in control.

6.  DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT GET INDUCED.  Yes you can have an induction with a VBAC, but I most definitely wouldn’t recommend it.  UNLESS you are 42 weeks and the option is either repeat cesarean or induction, in that case I MIGHT pick induction, but I would have to think really hard on that.  Seriously ladies, wait until you are 42 weeks to have any type of intervention done.  Unless of course your super supportive VBAC doctor tells you a LEGITIMATE medical reason why you should not wait that long.

7.  Believe you can do it.  My doctor would say to me at appointments that she believes a positive attitude goes a long way.  From the beginning I was confident that my body could do it.  I didn’t let myself think that it wasn’t possible.  I will say at 41 weeks 5 days when I was still completely closed I gave up hope, accepted the c-section, and then went into labor the next morning.  I think giving up was a very powerful natural induction tool…I’ve heard this from friends as well.

8.  Walk everyday.  I wish I had done this, but my child HATES riding in the stroller so I unfortunately did not keep this up.  I think there is a really good chance my labor would have been shortened if I had walked daily.  Also I’m pretty sure there is some research out there that a healthier pregnancy leads to a better delivery.  So eat right and exercise…..do as I say not as I did!

9.  Educate your husband and/or birth partner.  I think that Andrew being on board was so incredibly key.  A lot of people are uneducated about VBAC safety, so you will hear a lot of misinformation about them from people who mean well, but frankly don’t know what they are talking about.  So make sure that the people who are alongside of you through the whole VBAC journey are educated and on board.  Every time I would have doubts I would go to Andrew and he would talk me off the ledge.

10.  Last, but certainly not least.  PRAY.  The best phrase prayed over me during my VBAC hopes was, “don’t mourn what you haven’t lost.”  At 41 weeks I was already in mourning over the loss of my VBAC and this phrase got me through to 42 weeks, with as much hope as one can have that has a C-section on the books.

I have a VBAC board on pinterest.  It is my most rapidly growing following.  I would say almost daily another hopeful mama starts following this board and with hope in my heart I say a little prayer for them.  Please know that if there is ANYTHING I can do to help, you please don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail: lauracampbell2008@gmail.com.  I’d even be more than happy to send you my birth plan which I think was a super helpful tool for the hospital.

{While I wish a disclaimer weren’t necessary, unfortunately it is.  First of all, nothing I say is medical advice, I’m in no way a medical expert, so consult your doctor about everything.  Also please don’t hear what I’m not saying, I’m not saying everyone has to have a VBAC to validate themselves after a Cesarean.  If you want to schedule your repeat C-section, more power to you mama.  I wrote this for all the VBAC hopeful mama’s out there.}

Some Etsy Love

Some of you may have gotten some Christmas cash, I always love getting money for Christmas and then stretching it out buying little things I would like over the first few months of the new year (or more).  I thought I’d share just a few of my favorite Etsy shops so if you are inclined to support people running their small businesses you can spend your cash on this fantastic stuff.

I would like one of everything from this shop, but my current big swoon are these babies.

rare specimen amethyst  I ordered my sister-in-law the herkimer diamonds and I was very pleased with them, the ONLY drawback is it ships from Canada so even for this tiny item you’ll pay almost $10 for the shipping.

If you want something beautiful for your walls this lady does beautiful work.  I haven’t ordered anything from her yet, still trying to decide what I would like it to say, but I am a fan of her art and an even bigger fan of her blog.  I definitely recommend checking it out, she has a beautiful heart and a way with words.

Be The Blessing

Some of you know I cross stitched Vaughn’s name for her nursery, I had a few people ask me where I purchased the patterns.  You can find those here.  She only really has letters so I thought I’d share my favorite cross stitch patterns for pictures that I have found.  If you have a lot of time on your hands, or just want a hobby I definitely recommend cross stitching, it’s easy, fool proof, and can be done while watching T.V.  I had a hard time choosing just one pattern that I thought was cute.

Nesting Doll

This shop has beautiful items.  That’s all I have to say about it, the pictures definitely do the selling for themselves.  Below is one of my current favorites.

Blue Druzy

In case you are wondering, I’m not sponsored, so these are just things I really like and I don’t get paid one penny to say it and I get zero credit if you purchase these things.

A Purge Year

If you know me personally you might be thinking, “what do you have to purge?”  I like to think I live a minimal lifestyle, that I bring very little in and have no problems getting rid of stuff.  Truth is, even I have a lot of stuff in my house that I could get rid of.  Last year was a year of MORE, which seems funny since this is a purge year, but it wasn’t a year of more stuff.  I can’t say I did a fantastic job with all of my goals, but we did add one more baby to the family so I’ll call it a win for the year!  Here are some specific areas I plan to purge this year:

-Purge my house:  I want all of the things in my house to have a use, or feasibly have a use sometime down the road.  For example; I am not going to get rid of Ellery’s old clothes because sometime in the future Vaughn can probably use them.

-Purge debt:  We had a goal this last year to pay off our most expensive monthly debt payment and we did that in December!!  Receiving that letter felt really good.  The goal this year is to pay off all of our education debt besides one low interest student loan, our zero percent car loan, and our mortgage.  It’s going to take discipline and sacrifice, but it is definitely feasible with some effort.

-Purge some pounds: This is an every year goal, but since having a baby 2 months ago it has become an extreme necessity.  I have about 12 pounds to go to get to my pre-baby weight and hopefully fit back into my old pants…I’m getting super tired of my maternity pants!

-Purge Paperwork: This will most definitely be the biggest challenge, but the boxes of papers around my house is the most annoying thing I have going on here and I absolutely must file, recycle or shred everything in this house.

And because I now have two kids I’m going to keep it that simple.  Hopefully your 2015 is off to a good start!!