Saturday, December 31, 2016

Favorite 16 of 2016!

I say this every year, but this post is truly one of my favorites.  I love going thru all my pictures from the year, reminiscing and picking out my favorite memories.  In doing so, It always gives a sense of closure on the year.  

(Click here to see my post from 2015. To see my post from 2014, click here)

Anyone else feel like everyone on their social media feed is grumbling about how terrible 2016 was?  
In reflecting over the past few years, I have to say, 2016 was one of my favorite years thus far.  It was a year of tremendous growth for me, so for that, 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart.  

If I had to choose one word to describe this year for me, it'd be perseverance.

  On that note, let's dive right into 2016!

Lara Anne's FIRST big girl haircut!  All the heart eyes.

Hands down, one of the coolest things we've EVER done!
Bahama Cruise, Winter 2016

The best birthday party to date!  Surrounded by so many wonderful friends....and lots and lots of wine.

Clearly my 30th birthday was a success.....because shortly thereafter, we announced the future arrival of our little Sadie June!

This picture will always be one of my favorites.  We always visit The Elms (where we married)  for our anniversary every Spring.  This past year, we decided to take Lara with us. Watching Daddy walk her down the same sidewalk I walked 5 short years ago....all the feels!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sadie June's Nursery

Being that our little June Bug is approaching her 1 month birthday, I figured it was time to share some photos of her beautiful nursery.

I have to admit, I struggled in coming up with a nursery design for another little girl.  We poured out tons of creativity into Lara's room, and then moved into our home which we have totally gutted and honestly, our creative tanks were a bit dry.

However in the end, the space turned out better than I could've dreamed up.  It's meaningful, authentic and totally cozy.  I'm just crazy about how it all came together!

Jon put the wall up, which is made of pine boards. He cut, stained and nailed each board into the wall....bless his heart.  I'm the visionary, he's the "do-er."  
Thank the good Lord the man has patience.  

I wanted a vintage, rustic yet chic look, and this wall really does bring it all together.  

And can we talk about the pale pink crib up against it.... #swoon.

In the beginning, the only thing I could decide on was that I wanted it to be totally different than Lara's bright, fun, mermaid oasis.  I didn't have an overall vision until my Mom and I went to pick out quilting fabric.  We stumbled upon a beautiful, floral quilt with frayed roses and I absolutely fell in love with the look.  

If I had any sort of vision in my mind, this was it.  My Mom was confident she could create the quilt I had fallen in love with, so we spent the morning picking out different tones of floral fabric.  To contrast but play well with the floral, we chose some fun, muted polka dot prints to mix in.  

This quilt has so much love poured into it, which makes it even that much more beautiful.

 Pale pink Teddy Bears, compliments of Grandma.

I used the leftover fabric from the quilt to create the background for these frames.  

Jon and I both chose song lyrics that were meaningful to us; his being "Daddy's Hands" by Holly Dunn.  He sings it to Sadie all the time and it melts my heart everytime I hear him singing it...

 I chose Lauren Daigle's, "Trust in You."  As some close to me know, I struggled with Post Partum Anxiety after having Lara and it became progressively worse as I embarked on my pregnancy with Sadie. It's still a daily struggle, but as I continue to grow stronger in my relationship with God, I'm learning to find a peace I haven't had for years.

This song was my anthem in the early months of my pregnancy and the lyrics will always remain near and dear to my heart.  

The section of the song I chose to frame is below:
You are my strength and comfort

You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher

Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust
I will trust in You

These frames are one of my favorite parts of Sadie's nursery. They hang above her changing pad, which is where we obviously spend quite a bit of time. #obviously

Friday, December 23, 2016

Why I choose to lie to my kids about Santa Claus

Well, Ho Ho Hello there! 

The recent "movement" on social media surrounding the topic of telling our kids the "truth" about Santa has really been nagging at me.  I've seen countless people share via Facebook that they chose to spill the beans to their young children, as well as multiple articles on the topic floating around, insinuating that we should all tell our kids the truth, that Santa does not exist.  This will in turn, spare our children long term psychological harm.

So, what's any respectable blogger to do, other than to take their thoughts to their own URL to share their two cents on the subject.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry Christmas...Cards!

Anyone else LOVE getting holiday cards in the mail??

Now, I'll admit, I'm not one of the first to get mine off in the mail each year.  I typically get them out just in time to arrive by Christmas.  With a newborn, this year was no different...but I'd say that's a pretty reasonable (and very cute) excuse.

I have to say, this years card is definitely one of my favorites!
(Who else says that every year?)

And with this face, how could it NOT be?!?!

I die.

We had our newborn shoot a week after Sadie was born and while I had it all planned out to snap a few of Sadie in this adorable, knitted Christmas outfit, I had not originally planned to have Lara in the photos.

Last minute, I thought it'd be cute to throw her in a Santa dress we had from last year and snap a few of them together and I'm SO GLAD I did!!


They were all so dang cute it was difficult to pick the "one," but I fell in love with the one below from Walgreens and was able to pick them up later that day!  And let's be honest, the cost was super fantastic at $30 for the batch.

The best part is that you can write a personal message inside the card, which I definitely prefer when it comes to our holiday cards.

So, because I can't send a card to everyone, here's my virtual copy to each of YOU!
Merry Christmas!

And just for shits  fun, let's take a look at the Christmas cards we've sent out over the last 5 years!



Can we pause for a moment of silence for my black hair?

2014 (LOVED putting this one together!)


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I jazzed up the envelopes with a strand of lights and Christmas tree on the back.
And yes, this is what my dining room table looks like most Saturdays...

I would love to see all of yours so be sure and post a pic on IG/FB.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas at The Xenos'

 Can you believe we are 6 days away from Jesus' Birthday?  Like, how did that happen?

I have to admit, being on maternity leave thru the holidays is pretty dang amazing.  I still have a few gifts left to purchase, but most of the shopping is complete (Hello, Amazon Prime!) and the majority of the presents are wrapped.  Anyone else LOVE wrapping presents?  I don't mind it as long as it's not a last minute thing where I'm frantically running around the house searching for wrapping paper, scissors, and of course the tape is nowhere to be found.  You know the drill.

But this year I've been able to sit down with a glass of wine, Alabama Christmas on in the background and just pump them out.  One evening I decided to include Lara as my helper.  Let's just say she colored on more of the wrapping paper than actually helped in the wrapping process.  But hey, she's cute so I'll keep her. 

To kick off the week, I thought I'd share a few pictures from around our home.  I rushed around to get all the decor up before we had Miss Sadie.  

We are all about real trees, particularity Frasier Furs.  The needles are SO soft and they're just gorgeous.  And the smell....oh, the smell.

This picture was after a total toddler meltdown, so don't let her grin fool ya.

A month or so ago, we found these awesome metal snowflakes at a boutique here in town called Cameron's Home Furnishings.  We splurged and bought two strands and i'm SO glad we did, because the lights reflecting off the metal are just gorgeous.  They totally compliment our rustic tree decor and I'm just crazy about them.

We have this rhinestone chandelier above our dining table and I turn it into an ornament each year with the red bow. So simple and an easy way to incorporate the decor into the kitchen area.

Anyone else swap out their air fresheners each season, or just me?

This Santa is an oldie, somewhere around 30-35 years old, and is one of my FAVORITE decorative pieces. I grew up with this Santa in my home and I'm so thankful to now have it in mine. 

The cutest toes I've ever seen. 

And last, but certainly not least, my nativity scene.  As most of you know, my dad passed away about 20 years ago. He and my Mom bought this nativity scene their first Christmas together as a married couple and someday I'll pass it down to my girls...

I love seeing all your pictures on Instagram and Facebook, of your homes.  There is just nothing more cozy than a beautiful Christmas tree and your sweet little families enjoying each other.

I hope everyone's able to take a moment to breath this week and just enjoy the season.  My hand is raised for being guilty of letting the hustle take over, causing me to forget to relish in the true meaning of the holiday.  I'm making a concerted effort this year to focus on the blessings; the blessings we have because Jesus was born, lived and died for all of us so that we could live a beautiful, forgiven life.  As the old saying goes, our man Jesus is most definitely the reason for the season.  

Merry Christmas, friends!  I have a few more Christmas posts lined up for this week, so stay tuned. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sadie June's Birth Video & Story

I can't believe the time has come to write the birth story for our second daughter, Miss Sadie June.  

At times, it feels like just yesterday we were bringing our tiny Lara home from the hospital.  Now here we are, wrangling a rowdy two year old while whipping up bottles for our new little one.  We've been home since last Friday evening, and I still pinch myself when I look across the room to see Lara eating popcorn on Daddy's lap, watching The Good Dinosaur, and I look down to see our little Sadie nuzzled on my chest.  

We are oh so blessed, and I'm not taking one second for granted.

Below I will share all the details for how Sadie came into our lives, but I've also put together a video that depicts the emotion we felt in those moments, much better than any amount of words can convey.

  This video is near and dear to our hearts, and to be honest, we debated not sharing it...but after much discussion, birth is a beautiful experience and one we are very proud of.  As some may remember, I had to have a C Section with my first pregnancy because Lara was breech.

I was absolutely devastated when I was told I could not deliver vaginally.  For me, it was a dream of mine, a bring my babies into this world the way my body was supposed to. That being said, statistics show that cesarean rates are increasing dramatically.  I hope by sharing this personal piece of my life, that I can empower someone who may be on the fence about attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).

I chose the Hillsong's 'Oceans' for the background music to the video, because the words could not speak more true to my delivery experience.

"You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand"

I was terrified multiple times, that I wouldn't be able to have a successful vaginal delivery and my dream would be taken from me.  But the Lord was ever present, every hour of that day, in the great me the strength to push thru.


So without further adieu..

In my last post, I shared that we had decided to move forward with getting induced on Wednesday, November 30th.  To say my last few weeks of pregnancy were challenging would be an understatement.  I was absolutely miserable.  

So on my due date, we loaded up the car, dropped Belle off at the Vet to be boarded, dropped Lara off at my parents house and headed to the Plaza for a nice, big meal before checking into the hospital.  I wanted to walk around and enjoy the Plaza lights, but with how uncomfortable I had gotten, we ended up just heading straight to dinner.  I had purchased Jon a gorgeous Seiko watch and surprised him with it at dinner.  I mean, he'd need something snazzy to time my contractions, right? ;)

We were supposed to be to the hospital for check in at 8:00 pm, but we ended up wrapping dinner up early so we stopped by a CVS to pick up some last minute necessities.  And when I say necessities, I mean gummy bears & oreo's for Lara and a new eyebrow pencil for me.  

We headed to the hospital and arrived around 7:00 pm.  We made a quick FaceTime call to Lara and checked into our room about a half hour later.  

To finally be sitting in that birthing suite was just surreal....

Because I had a CSection with my first pregnancy, there are very limited options available when getting induced.  The route my doctor and I had chosen was a mechanical induction using a balloon catheter.  The catheter is inserted into the cervix and injected with saline.  The goal is for the inflation of the balloon to cause the cervix to dilate to 3-4 centimeters to which it will then fall out on it's own.  

When I told my nurse about this plan, prior to my doctor arriving, she freaked out and told me that the procedure is extremely painful and she highly recommended getting my epidural placed PRIOR to having the balloon inserted.  She told me she'd had another patient attempt to have one placed and was thrashing around to the degree that they could not place it successfully.

This of course, totally psyched me out and threw a total wrench in how I expected the process to go. I did not want an epidural until I absolutely needed one. I wanted to try and labor as long as possible before having it placed.  To hear that the balloon catheter was this painful scared the hell out of me.  While we waited for the doctor to arrive, the nurse attempted to place my IV and ended up bending the needle inside my vein.  She had to pull it out and insert into my other hand.

If this first hour was any indication for how the next 24 hours were going to go, things were not looking up.

When my doctor arrived, we spoke at length about different options and decided to move forward with placing the balloon after I received a mild dose of Fentanyl thru my IV.  I trust my doctor more than any other medical professional and knew she would never steer me down a path I couldn't handle.  Within about 10 minutes, the catheter was placed and we were officially on our way to meeting our baby girl!  It was approximately 10:00 pm.

The balloon stays in for 12 hours max, unless it does it's job quicker than that.  Around 2:00 am, the resident came in to check my cervix and the balloon fell out!  I was already 3 cm dilated and we were ecstatic!  I was hopeful that things would move quickly from here, but boy was I wrong...

The pitocin was started quickly after the balloon came out and all hell broke loose from there.  The contractions began and became painful much quicker than I expected.  I became unreasonably mad at ridiculous things, including Jon.  Poor Jon...  

At one point he chuckled about something he saw on his phone with regard to Elf on the Shelf and I became borderline hysterical.  

I mean, how could he be laughing right now?!?!  

Needless to say, there weren't many laughs for the next several hours.  

Around 3:00 am, I had him call my mom and have her head to the hospital.  In that moment, all I wanted was my Mom there with us.  She arrived shortly thereafter and I continued to labor thru the night.  My contractions were every 2-3 minutes and more painful than anything I have ever felt.  I always wondered what they felt like, well now I know.  

Like 1000 knives, knifing you over and over again, repeatedly in your uterus. 

I spent the next several hours camped out on the birthing ball with Jon and my Mom by my side, rubbing my back. 

Around 4:00 am they checked me and I was still at a 3.  I could've literally punched the doctor in the face.  She's lucky I couldn't reach her while laying down.

After she left, the nurse continued to increase my pitocin and at one point I told her I was going to take a bat and bash the pitocin machine to pieces.  Every time she came into my room, I'm convinced she was increasing it just for fun, which is completely irrational, I know.

Around 6:00 am I was checked again and still at a 3.  I wanted to just die in that moment.  I could feel my chances of delivering vaginally slipping thru my fingers.  Shortly thereafter, the nurse continued to encourage me to order my epidural. I continued to refuse until she told me that a few other women were getting ready to call anesthesia.  She didn't want me to end up third or fourth on the list and have to wait another several hours.  Again, that scared the hell out of me, so I went ahead and requested anesthesia immediately.  

At 6:35, my epidural was placed and rainbows and butterflies were now flying around my room. 

By 9:00 am, I was still only 3 cm dilated.  My doctor suggested we move forward with breaking my water to which I gladly agreed! Anything to make progress!  Throughout my pregnancy, I was told repeatedly that I had a lot of fluid around the baby, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  However, because of all the fluid, Sadie would continually float up versus lodging down into the birth canal. 

When my doctor broke my water, Sadie became agitated and her heart rate dropped.  Several nurses flooded the room and I had to put on an oxygen mask.  As we sat there waiting to see if her heart rate would pick back up, I was terrified I was on the cusp of being swept out of the room for an emergency cesarean.  About 30 minutes later, she had perked back up and her heart rate rose above 100.  We were back on track!

A few hours later, at 11:45 am, I had progressed to 7 cm dilated!!  We had officially turned and corner and I felt more confident than ever that I'd be having her vaginally after all, something I had dreamed of for so long!  I was so excited but absolutely terrified at the same time.  I kept asking Jon if he really thought I could do this, to which he always responded with the resounding vote of confidence I so desperately needed in those moments. 

At 1:47 pm I was still at a 7, however the baby had finally dropped another centimeter down into the birth canal.  Contractions began picking up quickly in the minutes to follow.

I began having intense pain shooting down my right leg. I was convinced the anesthesia was only working on my left side. They came in to check the placement and it had moved a bit, but they didn't feel it needed to be replaced.  We decided to move forward with a bolus injection of additional pain medication.  This didn't relieve the pain at all, so he gave me another bolus shortly thereafter.  I could still feel the contractions, but not nearly as intense.  

At 2:30, I asked my (NEW) nurse how long she predicted it would be before the baby would make her entrance.  She had been a nurse in labor and delivery for 40 years, so I figured she'd better be one damn good guesser.  She cautiously answered that she thought I'd have the baby by the end of her shift, which was another 5 hours out.  She may have thought she as comforting me with that statement, however the thought  of laboring another 5 hours made me want to throw myself out the window.  

Around 3:15, as the pain medication made it's round thru my body, I decided to turn on some Adele and sing a little bit.  

Let's be honest, I was snowed.  

I was so relaxed, it felt as if I was having an out of body experience.  I remember singing along...."Hello, it's me.  I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet."  I felt as if I had been in labor for years, so the song was actually quite appropriate for that moment.  

Little did I know, I'd be pushing out our baby girl in the next 20 minutes!!

At 3:22, my doc came in to check me for what would be the very last time!  I was at 10 cm and she asked if I wanted to practice push.

Wait, what? 
Are you sure?

A few practice pushes later, the nurses & nursery staff swarmed the room, my legs were up in stirrups and 3 pushes later, our Sadie June made her grand entrance into this world!!!!!

They immediately put her on my chest, and her little body was so soft.  She was beautiful, just like her big sister!  Her cry was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard....

I was in total shock.  I had dreamed of this moment for so long, and it was finally here.  I had just pushed a human out of my vagina, and it was the most empowering experience I will ever have.  My Mom and Jon were clicking away on their cameras, capturing those moments we will cherish forever!

After delivery, they allow Mom's to keep their new babies on skin to skin for an entire hour.  I had quite the reaction coming down from my epidural and was shaking almost uncontrollably.  Thankfully we had brought a heavy blanket from home.  I snuggled little Sadie tight to my chest while Jon fed me my first bites of food in what felt like 100 days.  

That chocolate pudding might as well have been a bacon wrapped filet the way I scarfed it down.

Around 6:30, I was helped out of bed for the first time.  My body wasn't quite ready and I almost blacked out, but with the nurse & Jon's help, I made it back to my bed in time.  I rested for another couple hours and we were then transferred to our mother baby suite. By this point, I was able to get up and around and freshen up.  We got our bags unpacked and settled in for the night.  Sadie's temperature dropped quite a bit during the transfer, so they had me do skin to skin for 30 minutes to see if we could get her body temperature back up versus having to place her in a warmer. 

Of course the skin to skin worked wonders, and she was just fine.  
A little mommy medicine is all she needed!

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Now, let's talk about her name.  
We had all but narrowed it down to two names, Sadie being one of them. An hour or so after she was born, Jon was holding her and I asked him if he was leaning toward one or the other.  He immediately said Sadie, however at the time, I was leaning toward the other.  We even wrote out the other name a few times and had decided on the spelling and everything.  The next morning, I woke up with a strong feeling that she was, in fact a Sadie June.  

I requested that my nurse send in the birth certificate person ASAP.  I did not want the option to change my mind one more time.  She came in a little while later and we signed everything, making her officially our Sadie June, and we haven't looked back since. 

June is the middle name of both of our grandmothers, so that was the easy part.  Committing to a first name was tough, but Sadie just felt right.  

The way we love her is immense & deep.  It feels as if she has always been in our lives....which is an incredible feeling. Lara is adjusting much better than we both expected, which has been a huge relief.  
I'm going to wrap up for now because I have some baby snuggling to do!