Nugget Has A Name

Tom and I have been going back and forth about this sweet baby girl’s name. Couldn’t agree on anything.

For the first names we loved, we couldn’t settle on a middle name.

For some names we liked, they were WAY too popular, and we knew she would be one of 5 girls in her class named that for the rest of her life.

And for some names one of us liked, there was just a negative connotation for the other.

And then. FINALLY. (okay, it was less than a week after finding out the gender. But if felt like ages.) We agreed on a name that was just right.

But instead of just telling everyone, we let Josey say it for an instagram video and let people guess it.

Bahaha, I loved all of the reactions on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! Thanks for making each step of this little girl’s life so fun already by playing along.

So, without further ado, sweet Nugget’s name is:

 Piper Dylan McFarlin.

I mean, just look at that face. It’s just a Piper, isn’t it?

Just kidding. But I’m sure it will be when we meet her!

People we have told (parents, siblings, a few friends) have wondered how we settled on this name.

Here’s how she got her name:

Piper is a name that I have loved for ages, and this time around, Tom loves it too.

We couldn’t settle on a middle name, but the other night at dinner, Tom said, “what do you think about Dylan?” And that was pretty much it. We both loved it immediately.

Of course, being the way I am, I had to look up it’s meaning and agree on how we’d spell it.  But we really liked the way it flowed together.

We also like how it’s not a traditional name for girls (but if you look it up on naming sites, like, it is considered a boy or girl name), and so we don’t think we’ll hear it a ton.

When we looked it up, Dylan is “of the sea” or “son of the sea” because in Welsh mythology, Dylan was the son of a sea god.

Since my mom and dad grew up near Tybee, and all of my grandparents enjoyed fishing, and since Tom grew up going to the gulf to fish, and that’s a big part of life on his dad’s side of the family, we liked that.

We also liked that “Piper Dylan” is a name that can’t help but make many people think about music, or it makes us think of music anyway. And since that is one of our favorite things, we loved that about her name.

So, there you have it, folks. Piper will be joining us in March, and we are so excited to have a proper name for our sweet girl!


Nugget is a Girl!!!

Well, if you follow along with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you are aware by now that Nugget is, indeed, a baby girl! Here’s a video of us finding out.

Some have asked how we did this without knowing the gender. I have to give credit for the balloon pop idea to my sister-in-law, Lana, who found it on Pinterest.

I wanted to do something other than cake colored on the inside or balloons coming out of a box, not that there is anything wrong with that (I mean, when are balloons or cake not awesome?), but I have seen a lot of it in the last couple of years and wanted to try something else.

I asked the ultrasound tech to put the ultrasound picture of the gender into an envelope and seal it so we couldn’t peek.

Then, the day of the party, I went to Party City and brought the envelope with me. I picked out about 6 blue and 6 pink balloons, and asked them to blow those up and tie the pinks to one balloon weight and the blue ones to a different weight.

Then I found some blue and some pink crinkle paper in their store (the kind you use to stuff a present) in the baby shower aisle. I asked her to fill one of their HUGE latex balloons, in the darkest color they had in stock, with the correct color after I left and to blow it up and tie it to its own weight so it could be separated from the others.

Then, I went and paid for all the balloons and just ONE of the bags of crinkle paper, since she would only be using one. And I left.

I went back to pick it up later, and it seriously filled my entire minivan with balloons. I couldn’t have done this with my car. I was so paranoid the entire way home that that big green balloon was going to pop and that I would find out the gender, alone, in traffic on the way home.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and I managed to get all the balloons into the house, and the big balloon isolated in a room downstairs where we could close it off and no one would accidentally pop it before it was time.

Then I just set up the dining room for the party and enjoyed visiting with everyone while we waited for all of our family members to arrive.

They were all so sweet to come. Not one person who was there lives less than an hour away, but they still chose to make this party a part of their night and to share in our excitement. We are so blessed.

Here are some pictures of the dining room set up. We had nuggets from Chick-Fil-A (since we call her Nugget, this seemed fitting), chips and dip, fruit, Oreo pops decorated with pink and blue sprinkles, and sweet tea and lemonade.

We served the drinks in mason jars with paper straws that had pink or turquoise chevron stripes, and we had pink and blue “baby girl” and “baby boy” stickers for everyone to put on to show their guess. They were set out next to (non-gender revealing) ultrasounds of the baby.

After that, it was time to pop the balloon!

(Photo Credit- Lana McFarlin)

(Photo Credit- Lana McFarlin)

(Photo Credit- Lana McFarlin)

And then we got some pictures with everyone who came to help celebrate this new family member!

(Photo Credit- Lana McFarlin)

(Photo Credit – Whoever had Lana’s Camera, ha!)

We are so excited. Tom and I are still coming up with her name, but Jo has started to refer to her as “sista” and “sissy.” Pretty cute.

I am desperate to find a name because I feel like I will feel more connected to who this little person is and can plan for them more easily (nursery, etc.) when I can call them by name.

I’m somewhat obsessed, looking up names and meanings until one in the morning and trying them out with other names so I can have a first and middle. Then, of course, Tom and I must BOTH feel like it’s just right.

I’m having a hard time being patient because Tom is in no hurry. And, because we had Josey’s name picked out when I was 5 weeks pregnant, both loved it, and were set for a girl or a boy, this waiting and debating process is new and frustrating for me.

AND Tom keeps teasing me that he wants to keep her name a secret once we do decide, which I am definitely NOT wanting to do. I’m pretty sure that’s just retaliation for making him wait 4 days to find out the gender at the reveal party, haha.

I have NOT agreed to keep it a secret, but since we have no name picked out, we’ll see what happens when we do.

Whatever we call her, I hope she will know that her name wasn’t taken lightly and that she is very much wanted. We are so happy she is on the way!


Who is Nugget – boy or girl?

Well, it’s that time. Time to find out what this little person growing inside of me is- boy or girl!

Tomorrow we are having a few family members over to do a gender reveal party. With Josey- or Jellybean, which was her nickname before we knew who she’d be- we couldn’t wait for the gender reveal party. Tom and I had to find out, but we did the party to announce it to family.

This time around, I’m insisting that we wait and find out with family what Nugget is. Tom can’t believe I’m making him wait and is giving me nonstop grief about it, but I think it will be more special to find out at the party.

To be clear, neither of us really cares one way or the other- but it’s one step closer to meeting our baby and knowing them as a person, and that makes it hard to wait.

This is the 8th grandchild on my side of the family and the 4th on Tom’s side of the family.

So here’s how it all stacks up –

Pro- Boy

*On my side, my 10-year-old nephew is the only boy, so far. So it would very exciting to have the first grandson in a decade. And Tyler would probably like to have a boy cousin!

*On Tom’s side, there are 2 girls and 1 boy already. If this one is another boy, he will be named Thomas Hudson McFarlin V and called Hudson.

*Little boys are so fun, and we’d have one of each (not that that would keep me from wanting more).

*We have had a hard time settling on a girls’ name this time. In fact, we don’t have one picked yet.

Pro- Girl

*Josey would get to have a little sister close in age.

*I have a blast having a little girl, and I’d get to reuse all of the precious things I have saved from Josey.

*We have lots of girls in our family, so it seems likely to be a girl again.

*With Josey I had dreams that it was a girl, and with this baby I had one dream it was a girl.

*Josey has said she thinks it’s a girl.

The Stats

-I’m 20 weeks, and here’s a screenshot from Instagram of my belly.


*Here’s a screenshot from Instagram of Nugget’s ultrasound at 20 weeks.

*Heartburn has been atrocious. But it was with Josey too, and my guess is that it has nothing to do with the gender and everything to do with the fact that I have a hiatal hernia.

*I have been in the mood for somewhat healthier foods this pregnancy than I craved with Josey.

*This baby measured right on track for 20 weeks at the 20 week check-up.

*That’s about all the stats you get because I didn’t ask how much I weighed at my appointment, and I wouldn’t share it here even if I did know. Since I don’t know my weight, I can’t even let you know how much I’ve gained so far. Again….not sure I would anyway.

So, what’s your guess?

Anyone have any guesses for gender before we find out tomorrow night?

I can’t wait to find out and share it with you!

I’m Alive

Wow. I’m closing in on 5 months pregnant. And I wasn’t sure I would survive to this point.

This pregnancy has been rough. I was sicker and then even sicker. It went on forever.

Sometimes I would look at Tom and cry and say, “I don’t think I can do this anymore. I want to die. Seriously, when I think about feeling this way for several more weeks, or possibly the whole pregnancy, I want to die.”

He would look at me and say, “I don’t think you should do this again. Do you really want 4 kids?” (He was met with a “that’s not helping.” But honestly, I don’t blame him for asking.)

That sounds dramatic. But believe me, I have never felt more sympathy for the women I know with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (I’m looking at you- Kristen, Athalia, Tiffany, Theresa Anne, and Kate Middleton-even though I don’t know you personally).

The misery I felt this time around began at 4.5 weeks and would not be satiated by medicine, food, or rest. Although I didn’t get a lot of that last one, since I was keeping up with Josey as best I could.

I would walk into my house and gag at the smell of my home. I would get nauseated by the sound of Dora The Explorer’s voice, and I had to start Josey wearing headphones when she watched her favorite show, which I will unashamedly admit she did a lot of while I lay next to her on the couch and moaned and gagged.

It went on for what felt like forever. All the women who told me, “Well, you’re almost done because you’re almost 12 weeks!” received a flat stare and a “no.” I was sick with Josey for 4 months. I was holding out for 16 weeks. “Please, God, please let it be over at 16 weeks.”

But when 12 weeks hit, and the sickness got worse….I knew that wouldn’t happen. And as I watched week 16 come and go, I thought, “this is it. This is my life forever until this kid comes. I don’t think I will survive.”

And when, at the middle of 17 weeks, it actually started to get better, minus the heartburn getting worse, I could hardly believe it.

Today, I am 18 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and my horrible heartburn and the occasional headache and back pain is the worst thing I have going on. It’s awesome.

I still get nauseated by certain smells, or any really strong smells, but I can deal with it.

For all of you women I know personally who go through this on overdrive for the duration of your pregnancy, I salute you. Because every one of you chose to go through it again for a second child.

I think you might  be a little crazy, but I also know that nothing makes you “crazier” than the crazy amount of love that we have for our children. And that some things are worth suffering through if it’s for them.

Anyway. I’m alive. My blog looked sad and neglected, so I thought I should update.

Other news on the baby front- my due date was moved to March 21st because lil Nugget is measuring large, just like Josey did. I think all my babies are destined to be whoppers.

Also, Tom and I are gung-ho about going for a VBAC this time around. All natural is my goal. I’m scared and excited and praying it works out. I really don’t want to recover from a c-section again.

To do that, we have to switch to a provider who will do VBACs, so we are going to use a midwife group in Atlanta that was highly praised to us. We’ve gone to their Q&A, toured the hospital, and were able to ask questions, so we feel confidant in this group. We’ll be making the switch sometime after my 20-week check-up in November.

I am so lucky to have Tom. Throughout this pregnancy, he has been so supportive (sure he was concerned about me going through this again, but who wants to see their spouse so miserable?). He never complained about working to support us and then also tackling the lion’s share of what I normally do around here. Never criticized me for having a babysitter come on some Friday mornings just so I could go back to bed. Never complained about having take-out more nights than I care to remember and then acted so happy and grateful if I so much as made a sandwich for dinner. Didn’t mind pushing a 32lb toddler uphill in a stroller on his runs so I could take a break. Still continues to do this and support me in getting the birth I want. I am so blessed.

And, finally, my 20-week check-up is November 4th, and it includes an ultra-sound. We’re hoping lil Nugget cooperates and decides to share the gender with us. We’ll wait to find out until the gender reveal party though. I can hardly wait to find out and share it with everyone!

That’s our news! I’m sure to report more as we find it out!

Something’s In The Water!

With all the announcements we’ve seen in the last few weeks of friends who are expecting, we’re so excited for all the new sweet babies on the way. We’re also wondering if there’s something in the water.

If so, we’ve been drinking it.

We’re 8 weeks and 1 day pregnant with our own little Nugget, and we’re so excited! We’re due March 24th.

Here we go again!

“Where Did You Get That?”

One of the things I hear non-stop as Jo’s mama is “where did you get that _____ ?” You can fill in the blank with: hairbow, headband, dress, shorts, shirt, shoes, and even some of her baby gear.

I absolutely have a ball dressing Josey, and I’m happy to share where I find her things. To make it a little easier though, I thought I would do a blog post about it.

(Excuse the quality of the photos; most of these are screenshots from instagram.)

1. Zulily

Zulily is by far the place I get the majority of Josey’s cutest items.

It’s a savings site that emails new savings each day. They carry a multitude of brands at discount prices. And they carry things for adults and the home as well (I buy Tom’s Vibram 5-Fingers there at a HUGE discount, for example).

A few of my favorite brands to shop on Zulily include: Jelly the Pug, Liv and Monkey (owned by Jelly the Pug), Mud Pie, Hippo Hula, Snapping Turtle Kids, and TOMS.

All the other things I’ve bought there are just things that I’ve found browsing the emails and decided were just right for Jo.

Here are a few examples of things I have bought Josey (or she has been given from my mom) on Zulily.

(This feather dress gets asked about a lot. The brand is Bebe Oh La La, but I bought it on Zulily.)

(Dress and bloomers- can’t see the bloomers here- from Zulily, shoes- Target, headband- Naartjie)

(Hat from Zulily, shoes- Sketchers)

(Dress from Zulily, Bow from Swanky Bowtique)

They also allow members (it’s free) to invite friends to join by using an affiliate link, and if they sign up with it, you get a credit to your account. I used my affiliate link above, so if you are interested in joining, please click through with my link!

2. Swanky Bowtique

Bailey Oliver, the owner behind this shop, went to high school with me and makes the CUTEST hair accessories for her beautiful daughter. She began selling them, and no headbands and clips Jo has worn have gotten as many compliments as the ones I’ve received from this store.

Bailey custom makes hair clips, headbands, necklaces, and paci-clips. She has a quick turnaround, and she works hard to make sure she gets you EXACTLY what you’re looking for.

I had her make clips for Jo for Christmas and for her birthday. She even wore them when she first met Santa and on Christmas day!

(Outfit is Mud Pie, Hair Clip – Swanky Bowtique.)

To see some of the past Swanky Bowtique creations, click here.

3. Target

Oh yes. I love Target as much as the next girl. They have some of the CUTEST outfits for little girls. If I’m not careful, I can double my spending by shopping the baby/kids’ clothing section. And the shoes. OOOOh, the shoes.

(Dress, I bought on Zulily, shoes- Target.)

(Outfit- Target, Necklace- mine, Feather Clip- Hobby Lobby)

(outfit- Target, headband- Zulily)

(Shirt- Target, Leggings- Old Navy, Leg Warmers- Zulily)

4. Naartjie

I had never heard of Naartjie until my parents bought something for Josey there when she was a few months old. It was so different than anything I was seeing in other local stores. People often confuse Naartjie’s ruffled, cute items for Matilda Jane pieces, but the prices are much more reasonable.

Since then, I have become a huge fan. They change out their selections regularly, and you can save by shopping the sale items they move out. Very cute clothes that will let your little one stand out!

(Leggings- Naartjie)

(Leggings- Naartjie)

(Bow- Swanky Bowtique, Shirt- Naartjie, Pants- Target, Shoes- Tiny TOMS)

(Headband- Naartjie, Shirt- Target)

5. Matilda Jane

 I don’t shop this brand often, since it’s a more expensive line of clothing, but the few pieces I’ve bought there, I have LOVED. Josey was able to wear them for months, and people always notice them. So cute. The hardest part if keeping yourself from buying more than planned!

(Shirt- Matilda Jane)

(Reversible Headband- Matilda Jane)

(Dress and Shirt- Matilda Jane)

6. Hobby Lobby

Whaaat? I know. Sounds weird, but they actually are my second favorite place to get hairbows for Josey.

They have lots of clips with big bows or feathers and are inexpensive enough to get several. Not custom or as “special” as my favorite pieces, but I really like having some cute bows that I can afford for my toddler to ruin or lose on accident.

(Flower Clip- Hobby Lobby, Outfit- Target)

(Hairbow- Hobby Lobby)

(Feather Clip- Hobby Lobby, Shirt- Target)

7. The Rest

Other places I will find clothes for Jo: Old Navy, Babies R Us, and various department stores, websites (etsy, ebay), etc.

(Vest- Babies R Us, Shirt- Naartjie)

(Shirt and Pants- Old Navy)

(Tutu- Ebay, Leg Warmers- Zulily, Onesie- Disney World)

So there is Josey’s closet in a nutshell. I have a blast dressing my girl, but if you have a son, don’t pass these stores up!

You can find bowties, hats, cute clothes and shoes at almost all of these same places. I think girls have an overload of cute things from which to choose, but boys are a bit more challenging.

Hopefully shopping these places will make dressing your little one more fun- whether you have a boy or a girl!


A Tale of Two Brands

Sometimes I feel like I live in limbo. I am stuck in an adult body with adult reasoning skills and adult responsibilities. But I haven’t yet forgotten how it feels to be young.

I remember exactly how it felt when I was 14 and every girl in my class made sure there was no where for me to sit with my grade at lunch for two solid months of ninth grade. I remember how stressful it was to keep an A average while juggling all the extra-curricular things I was involved in after school. I remember thinking my parents were INSANE for expecting me to only talk on the phone for half an hour every day.

I remember fighting with my mom about everything from clothes to boys in middle school. I didn’t want to wear skimpy stuff to get boys’ attention (most of the time), I just wanted to wear what was in style. I wasn’t a baby. I wanted to dress how girls my age dressed. She said I’d dress how girls my age SHOULD dress. I wanted to bang my head on the wall.

So here I am, almost done leading a group of middle school girls through three years of life. They constantly remind me of my own life at that age. Wanting to be a “good girl” while still being attractive, desired, witty, and popular.

And here I am, married to that guy that mattered most to me in high school, the one who was just my friend for a couple years until I saw him for the catch he always was, and we’re raising a daughter of our own.

Stuck in limbo.

Today, I saw that Victoria’s Secret is planning to launch a line aimed at middle school girls.

The new brand called, “Bright Young Things,” includes lace black cheeksters with the word “Wild” emblazoned on it, green and white polka-dot hipsters screen printed with “Feeling Lucky?” and a lace trim thong with the words, “Call me” on the front.

When I read that, it released an all out war in my heart. Part of me wants to stop wearing Victoria’s Secret items all together, and part of me realizes it will take a lot more than that to make a difference.

Part of me is cringing because yesterday, we JUST FINISHED a four week series on sex in my middle school small group. I’m grateful we start talking about sex with these kids at 11 years old and keep the discussion going every year until they go to high school. And they can continue it there every year until they go to college.

I see every one of my girls in my mind. Precious faces. Dear to my heart, I love them all. Sick that this is marketed at them. Who needs to see their thong, asking for a phone call? Seriously, Victoria’s Secret??

In my mind, I see myself at 13, knowing all the other girls are getting this and fighting with my mom. I hear her asking me, “Why do you need underwear with writing on it? Or lace? Who is going to see that anyway?” And I say, ” NO ONE, MOM! Maybe the other girls in the locker room, who will also have it. I don’t want it so I can show it to boys! I just want to have it because it’s cute. FOR ME. Not for anyone else. GAAAH!” And she doesn’t back down, and I storm off to my room, and 14 years later, I find myself siding with her.

And for me, that’s how it would have gone. But thankfully, for girls today, that’s not the end of the story.

Victoria’s Secret isn’t the only brand out there marketing to girls and women (and sometimes, guys). There are other brands that have a message blazing across their products, and it’s a positive one.

So Worth Loving is a movement that Eryn Erickson began a few years ago. It started as a doodle in her journal. She reminded herself that she was, in fact, “so worth loving”– just as she was, just who she was made to be.


She started using stencils and spray paint to put it on shirts- for herself, for her friends (including me). And then people saw it, and something resonated within them- they needed that reminder- that they and others are worthy of love and should love themselves for who they are.

Strangers began mailing Eryn their shirts. People started tweeting it and emailing her their stories. And suddenly, this sweet person who was trying to minister to others with an idea that’s both simple to say and hard to act out- loving yourself as you are and others as they are- realized that there was a greater need for this message than her stencils and spray paint could keep up with.

So she launched the brand. So Worth Loving. It’s a challenge and a way of thinking and a reminder all wrapped up in three words.

She has multiple screen-printed shirts that are so cute, jewelry and stickers and buttons, and a second line called “Been Loved” that has the same message screen-printed on one-of-a-kind vintage clothing that she finds in stores around Atlanta.

I have one of these shirts, and I love it. Trust me, you carry yourself differently when you are wearing that message. When you wear these shirts, you feel like they’re true. You feel your self-worth. You’re more accepting of who you are. I don’t know why, but there is something about how what you wear makes you feel. You just act like it’s who you are. (Which should scare you, if you are buying sexy lingerie for your 12 year old, but I digress.)

She has a blog with multiple people who share their stories and remind others on a daily basis what it means to look past the negative around you and to love yourself.

In a world that markets lingerie to 11-year-olds, we are in desperate need of a different kind of message, and thank goodness for someone like Eryn.

I would rather see these girls, and my own daughter, plaster themselves with words of love and self-worth than “Feeling Lucky?”

I would be so grateful to see them choose to see their own value and wear it proudly on their shirts rather than declare themselves “Wild” with a lacy pair of underwear.

I don’t think the answer is angrily picketing or boycotting Victoria’s Secret, but instead, putting your money into brands that are promoting the kind of messages we want to see more of in the world.

So write your thoughts to Victoria’s Secret, let them know you don’t condone selling sex to middle school girls who are already desperate to find their worth and shouldn’t be looking for it in how sexy they can be.

Then, after you send that email or letter, let your daughter pick out a shirt or a necklace that reminds her she is already worthy -of love, respect, and admiration. It’s a far better message to send the world about our daughters. And more importantly, it’s a far better message to send our daughters about themselves.


Somebody Should Have Told Me….

I have successfully survived a year of parenthood, and I have several friends who are just starting or are in the middle of their first year journey!

To help these awesome parents (and others) along, I am going to share things that either people assume you know, that you’ll figure out, or that you will hear from someone else. Things you wish you’d known BEFORE you got to the point of learning it for yourself.

(To be fair, I may have been told some of these things, but I’ve seen that many others were not, so I’m just putting it all down.)

Without further ado, somebody should have told me…

1. That dry shampoo is your saving grace.

Moms just don’t get to shower as much as normal people. Especially when their babies are tiny.

Or maybe you get a shower, but you don’t have time to wash your hair and blow dry it.

Never fear, dry shampoo was made for days such as these. I absolutely love to use it because it is training my scalp to create less oil, it saves me on “no-wash” days, and the skipping of hair washing means my hair color stays vibrant for longer. (I know purple streaks are not the concern of many of you.)

I have used Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo and Got2B Rockin’ It Encore Fresh Dry Shampoo. My friend and hairstylist, Jennie, also tells me there is a dry shampoo that is specifically for brunettes out there (no white powder to worry is showing up), but I haven’t used it.

These are the two at Wal-Mart I’ve seen, and that’s the store closest to my house. When I want dry shampoo, I want convenience!

2. That newborns can shoot poop several feet and will try to use this odd superpower when their diapers are off.


Yes. Seriously.

You will inevitably decide one day that it’s harmless to change your baby on top of your master bedroom comforter and BAM! Poop everywhere.

On the comforter, your pillow, you, and the wall or lamp if they’re really talented.

Then, just to ensure that they were thorough, they will pee the biggest pee of their existence. It will soak right through that soft, downy comforter, and you will pray that you have some kind of mattress protection on your bed.

Not that I have any experience with that. I mean, I was just being specific because ….someone I know had that happen to them.

3. That there is a reason you never liked broccoli growing up.

Turns out that that stupid vegetable can wreak havoc on your kid’s intestinal system if you ingest it while nursing.

I mean, screaming for four straight hours in absolute misery in the middle of the night with gas pain until you are crying with them and hate yourself and want to take out broccoli for the sake of all mankind type of misery.

I am betting most kids hate broccoli growing up because there is some sort of deep-seated memory of the pain that came from that one stupid vegetable. (And to be fair, there are a ton of things that can cause this, so check out this list.)

And if your baby has awful gas, try laying them on their back and gently pressing their knees into their tummies (while wearing a diaper, see #2 above). This will help them release gas, which many babies fight at that age. Don’t worry- they will be happy to fart later on.

And simethicone. Those gas drops were a game changer for us.

4. That some things DON’T come naturally and a support system is one of the best things you can have.

Seriously. People act like you will magically know everything to do with your baby as soon as they arrive.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be a natural.” “It will come to you.” “You’ll just know.”

Lies and more lies said to new parents so they’ll quit worrying.

Yes, you might have some instinctual things you do, but for the most part, you are going to either figure it out by: looking it up in a book or online, through trial and error, or by being told by someone else. And that doesn’t mean you’re not naturally good at parenting.

Which brings me to part B of this one- surround yourself with other parents who have gone before you and whom you feel comfortable reaching out to for support or with questions.

They don’t have to be far ahead of you. They just need to have been there and done that with the stage you are in.

Not all of the answers they give you will work for your child, and you will figure things out that work for you that they never tried. But it makes a world of difference being able to see someone else walk the road before you.

It’s less lonely knowing you’re not the only one up at 4 in the morning or that when your child is going through the most horrific separation anxiety, someone else knows exactly how you feel. They don’t judge you. They don’t mind being asked.

They support you. You need that. We ALL need that. (And really, this is good advice – if I do say so myself- whether you are a parent or not. It is good to have someone who knows what you’re going through and rallies around you in life.)

 5. That you do NOT need a whole bunch of people waiting at the hospital to meet your baby.

If you are like me, you are the type to invite any and all (close) family members and best friends who might be interested in being a part of that special delivery day to come hang out and wait at the hospital.

I did this because I’d seen my rockstar sister-in-law do it like it was no big deal, then everyone would leave the room, she would push, and we’d have a new nephew or niece. After an hour or so, we’d be all back in the room, meeting this new family member and eating dinner like no big deal.

Let me tell you that that is not typical. She made it look easy, but it’s not (hence, I call her a rockstar).

I am very grateful for the family members and friends who gave up their whole day to wait on my daughter’s birth and support me and Tom. But I don’t plan to do that again, and I don’t recommend it to others.

Having a lot of people there creates an atmosphere that is NOT ideal for spreading your legs and pushing out a human.

You want to feel like you can focus on what you’re doing when you go into labor. It’s painful and awkward enough without worrying if they noticed you just farted during that last contraction.

Then there’s the pressure you might feel to hurry up and get that kid out! People are waiting! And none of them are saying that to you, but you will put that pressure on yourself simply because they are there.

Listen up ladies. It can take babies well over a day to work their way out of you once they start, and making yourself feel bad because “everyone’s waiting” is stupid.

So politely tell them that you’d feel more comfortable calling them to come to the hospital when you’re about to push. Because at least then, they only have to wait a little while or not at all and still get to see your baby all fresh and new. And you can worry about more important things, like pushing out a human.

6. That nursing is a friggin’ commitment.

Breastfeeding is a lifestyle. It’s a sacrifice. It’s HARD. And it’s awesome. You can read more on that here (and in that post’s comments).

You will need support from other women who have been there. You will want to give up before your baby is 6 weeks old, most likely. That is when you call someone who also hated it at first and stuck it out, and ask them to help you stick with it a little while longer.

And you should take advantage of lactation consultants whenever possible. They are your breast friends!! har har har.

Seriously do this- get an app just for breastfeeding on your phone. In the first few months, you are feeding so often that it’s hard to remember what side you last started on, and forget trying to keep track of how long so you can tell the pediatrician when they ask. Get a free app to track it all. You will thank me later.

If you’re a dude, and your wife is breastfeeding, don’t EVER act like it’s not a big deal. (Major props to Tom here.)

Pull over the car on a roadtrip, park in the shade, and wait with her while she tries to wrangle with the baby in the confined space of the passenger side. Adjust the air and music for her. Ask her if there’s anything she needs.

Unless she tells you to, don’t go pee before she gets to. She has a person sitting on her bladder, and she’s holding it. And if she does let you get a bathroom break on that roadtrip before her while she nurses, bring her back something she would want from that darn gas station or restaurant. Nursing makes you HUNGRY.

And don’t forget, moms, breastfeeding doesn’t make you better than anyone else if you choose it; it just’s the right choice for you, and your body cooperated. Not all women who want to breastfeed can. Don’t forget: You’re making milk with your boobs, not ending world hunger.

7. That if you have a c-section, you will not feel like you’d never had major surgery within 6 months.

That’s what one of the doctors told me. He was wrong.

Then again, he’s never had a c-section, so I should have guessed he couldn’t have known.

Over a year out, I still get pain in my scar area. The areas to the left and right of the scar are the worst because that’s where they tie off all the sutures inside of you. Those areas made me want to die for the first 8 weeks Jo was alive, and now they still hurt at times.

Quit judging yourself. You will take longer to get back to normal (I still haven’t) after having a c-section than most moms who don’t have one.

That doesn’t make you lazy and fat; that makes you someone who had major abdominal surgery and couldn’t cough or laugh or sneeze without dissolving into tears from pain for 2 months after giving birth. Most of us aren’t going to be doing marathons 6 months later.

I really didn’t know any of this stuff because I was NOT going to have a c-section. ha.

8. That teething is torture for the whole family.

I mean, yeah, teething stinks. Everyone knows babies are fussier and chew stuff and drool.

They also wake up constantly, get loose stool in their diapers, pull their ears in pain, scream if anyone but their mom holds them (or is that just us?), have unpredictable appetites, and are generally miserable.

Which means you get the side effects of that. You also lose sleep. People judge you because your kid is fussy and cries easily and insists on being held by you at all times.

Whatever people. Just love on your kid and pray for patience and energy. And drink lots of coffee.

9. That it’s harder than you think to “nap when your baby naps.”

Yes, you want to sleep all the time because you’re exhausted, but then the baby goes down for a nap, and you can:

A. Shower long enough to shave your legs.

B. Clean part of your house.

C. Return phone calls and do other things that require more attention.

D. Sleep.

E. Exercise.

F. A million other things you need to do when you have both hands free and no distractions.

Well, it’s hard to give in and sleep, though you need it. My mom would remind me that at 3 in the morning, my daughter would need a parent who could handle the fussiness that comes with teething or a nightmare, and my now clean floors would not.

Sleep makes you a better parent, so get it when you can, especially when your child is going through a rough patch with their own sleep habits at night.

10. That you should wait to take the diaper off before bathtime until RIGHT before they go in.

I used to stick Josey’s feet in the warm water for a minute before taking off her diaper in the hopes that she would go on and empty her bladder BEFORE getting into the water so I wouldn’t have to dump the water and start fresh midbath.

Now that she’s old enough to forgo the baby bath and bathes in a regular tub, I leave her diaper on while the water runs, and then I pull her onto my lap and just undo it a little without taking it off completely before putting her in. Once that cold air hits, babies will often tinkle again, and you want that to happen into the diaper.

Once that’s done, toss the diaper, plop the baby in the tub and bathe them!

11. That you should go pee before going to feed your baby in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.

They’ll be okay crying for two more minutes, and you won’t be in agony having to pee and not being able to while holding a baby who is pressing into your bladder for 45 minutes or however long they decide to eat.

Just trust me on this one. If they aren’t in any danger or pain (this is why video monitors rock), then you can take a quick trip to the potty first.

12. That you will learn to have ninja stealth when sneaking out of the nursery.

When your baby is little, do not keep your house quiet during the day, even at nap times. Let the dogs bark, the other kids play, the tv run, and the vacuum roar. They need to learn to sleep with the noise of life going on.

And at night, it can be quieter.

But when they get older and are lighter sleepers, and they wake up in the middle of the night, they won’t want you to go. A silent exit is key.

And you will want to murder anything that makes loud noises outside the nursery right after you got them back to sleep.

Here are some tips:

  • Take the jangling dog collars off your dogs if they are within earshot of the nursery.
  • Walk around barefoot. It’s quieter.
  • Take advantage of baby gates to fence other kids and animals away from where your baby is sleeping.
  • Use a white noise machine in the nursery.
  • Get a flashlight app on your phone. That way you can see what you’re looking for (paci, teething tablets, extra wipes, etc.) without turning on the lamp.
  • Set that darn phone to silent and/or do not disturb mode when in the nursery. You will kick yourself if that is why your baby wakes back up after you get them down.
  • If the door squeaks, fix it.

13. That you can get a newborn back to sleep in a few different ways.

If you know they are dry, they are full, and they have no gas, but they just won’t sleep, there are a few things you can do:

  • Try shushing them LOUDLY. They have a lot of noise in the womb, so a loud “SHHHHH” is good. (Also, getting a white noise app – I like White Noise by TM Soft, and it’s free- on your phone, is nice to have.)
  • Try gently trailing your finger from the top of their nose to the tip of their nose over and over while shushing them. (This is also great when they start to fuss.)
  • Try swaddling them snugly.
  • If they start to resist the swaddle, gently but firmly hold their arms down with your hand. They will probably settle after a few seconds. You might need to reswaddle if they have loosened it.
  • Try rocking them in a way where their little tush goes side to side instead of forward and backward.
  • Try letting someone else do these things. Babies can smell the milk on their mamas and will get worked up over it sometimes. Let someone else take a turn settling them down.

And remember, sometimes they will just have a wakeful time during the day. You will learn their patterns and be able to plan a schedule. Then, just to be fun, they will change it all up on you.

And I’m not a doctor, so this is just a non-medical opinion, but let a sleeping baby sleep. Unless they have jaundice, are sick, or are underweight, don’t worry about waking them to feed them unless you are feeling anxious. Use common sense (supposed to feed them every 2 hours but they’ve slept 6? I’d wake them up then.), but enjoy having a good sleeper.

This “let them sleep” advice was from two different mothers of four kids (my mom and my sister-in-law), who are both married to doctors. I took it, and I’m glad I did.

14. That it’s okay to say “no” to almost everything when it means doing the right thing for your kid.

Your baby is tired and teething and hungry, but someone is insisting that they get a chance to hold them because it’s been so long?


You haven’t  seen a friend in a while and they want you to meet up with them 45 minutes away for a lunch that will probably get you home way after naptime?


You feel like a jerk because you are missing all the performances and games for kids in your family. You love them. You want to be there. You can’t find a sitter?


I know that sounds harsh. But the reality is that you will learn what your child can handle. I’m not inflexible. Sometimes Josey has a later nap or I leave her with Tom or someone else so that I can attend something for a family member or friend.

More often than people realize, you will give up your one chance to sleep in during a week (once you reach a point you can actually do that, taking turns with your spouse caring for kids in the morning) so that you can be at something that mattered to them.

It is hard being a parent and feeling the pull from everyone else to also do everything you used to be able to do.

For your child’s sake and your own, learn to say no. But say it politely, and explain why if you need to. It’s not that you don’t care, it’s just that it’s a difficult stage of life.

15. That it’s awesome to just enjoy where they are right now, then to let that stage go without sadness when it’s over.

I know a lot of people who act like they wish they could go back to a previous stage or can’t wait to reach a future stage of their child’s life.

When Josey was a tiny baby, I remember feeling a little sad the first time she outgrew a set of clothes that I had to pack away. But it was just because I couldn’t believe how quickly time was passing.

I have enjoyed her at every stage, and when that stage was done, I was ready for the next one. It’s nice not to look back and wish for her to be how she was. I don’t want Tom to ever look at me and wish for me to be like I was in high school or college, so why would I do that to Josey?

I love seeing her become more of who she is. And I look forward to the future, but I’m in no hurry to get there. I like where I am now. And I will like where I’ll be in a month too.

So when you are going through a rough patch (teething, for example, or a growth spurt that makes them want to feed forever), and someone tells you they couldn’t wait until their kids were past that stage, and that you will be happy once they are older, just smile politely. But go ahead and love where they’re at. Even in the hard times, there are things in the stage of life they are at to cherish.

The days pass fast enough without wishing them away.


So those are a few things that Tom and I could think of off the top of our heads. I am sure more will come to me later, but feel free to jump in on the comments and leave your own things you wish others had told you before you learned it for yourself!


Josey’s First Birthday Party

We celebrated Jo’s first birthday party a couple days early in Covington with family at my parents’ house.

I had been wanting to do a “You Are My Sunshine” themed first birthday party since before I got pregnant. I even have a painted sign with the lyrics on her bedroom wall. So I knew that would be the direction of Josey’s party.

I worked on decorations for her party for about a month, and I feel like I didn’t sleep all of January! Josey is too into everything for me to do any work with her awake, so I spent naptimes and nights working on things.

My goal was to have a sunshine themed party that was tasteful- shades of yellow, lemon curd in the cake, a sweet yellow and white dress on Josey, and no cartoon suns anywhere! (Invitation bought off Etsy!)

I used my Cricut to make a couple of banners, signs for the food, a banner for the cake (and a flag for the smash cake), and tags for the treat boxes.

The dining room, where a few snacks, drinks, and the cakes were set up, had a few other homemade decorations as well.

I made small pom poms in shades of yellow and white to hang from the chandelier (Tom patiently held up pom poms and tied them off at the exact lengths I wanted). Some were made with cupcake liners, and the others were made with tissue paper.

For the drinks, I wanted to use glass, but that presents three problems. First, it could make the party more formal than I wanted it to feel. Secondly, if a glass broke, it could be expensive to replace. Third, glasses don’t come with lids, and there would be six of my nephews and nieces in attendance.

My solution was to use mason jars. They’re casual. They are inexpensive to replace if broken. And they have lids that can have holes drilled in them to slip a straw through.

I rimmed the jars with yellow sugar to make them more festive, but I also included some white and yellow paper straws with name tags on them, made from the same papers used in the banners.

For drinks, we served sweet tea, lemonade, diet lemonade, and water. All but the water came from Chick-Fil-A, and it was delicious.

The cakes were made at Sweet Treats Bakery in Covington. I had emailed and talked on the phone with Christina, who made the cakes, until she knew just what I wanted.

I had requested a ruffle cake that faded from a darker yellow on the bottom to a very light yellow on top. I wanted a yellow cake with buttercream icing and a lemon curd on the inside. The smash cake was a small, single layer that was iced to match the big cake.

I also told her to leave any names and decorative toppers to me, as I had some flags and banners I had made to go on top. The bigger cake’s banner said “Josey.”

The smaller cake had a flag with Jo’s monogram on it.

The only disappointing thing about it to me was that the larger cake was on a really large, square board. We had to put it on a huge (wedding sized) cake stand in order for it to fit, and it made the cake look really small, even though it wasn’t.

I had hoped for the cake to be the centerpiece of the table, and it looked a little lost on that big cake stand. I really recommend this bakery, but I would suggest someone request the cake fit on the stand they had in mind when ordering.

In the foyer, my dad was a champ and got out a huge ladder, climbed it, and hung big pom poms (homemade, except for the dark yellow one which was Hobby Lobby) and parasols (Hobby Lobby) from their chandelier as I instructed from below with help from my mom. They let me completely take over their house for this party!

You can also see in the picture above that there is a yellow garland strung along the banister upstairs. I made that with cupcake liners in various shades of yellow and white.

When guests entered the foyer, there was a sign-in photo book that I made with a freebie code at It had pictures of Josey from two weeks to eleven months.

There was also a pom pom to tie in the yellow, and a frame with a little poem asking guests to leave Josey a sweet note.

In the kitchen, there was a simple yellow table cloth on the table and a pom pom hanging from the chandelier so guests would know that was a place they were welcome to sit and eat.

I also had set out another frame with a poem reminding guests to take a treat box home with them. I had made a box for each family.

Inside each box was a cd I had burned with a copy of “Little Miss Sunshine’s Party Mix” wrapped in white and tied up in yellow tulle. We had played the cd over ceiling speakers during the party.

There was also a goody bag for each person in the family, filled with yellow and gold wrapped candy, chocolate, and gum.

I got the kraft boxes off Amazon. I ordered a bulk shipment of them, because I want to do that kind of packaging for my photography business as well, and I really enjoyed putting a small thank you together for each family at Josey’s party.

But the best part of the party was the joy we had in celebrating our sweet girl with family. She and I snuck in one picture before everyone arrived. (Of course, she had her wubbanub in the picture too!)

Josey had a blast! She had fun opening presents, getting into everything she wasn’t supposed to, and having all the attention, especially from her cousins.

We also loved watching her get into her smash cake. She had never had any dessert before, except for a few cookies that are low sugar and made for toddlers.

Suddenly we’re giving her cake covered in two inches of icing! She was dainty with it at first, but then she really got into the spirit of it and chowed down. Thankfully, we had laid out a sheet under her high chair.

Somehow, she managed to get it all the way down her leg! I had to snap a picture of her iced body and bulging belly!

And everyone else wanted a picture too! (I was trying to get her to really go for it- this was earlier in the cake-eating process.)


Thanks to everyone who was a part of celebrating Josey- whether at the party or by sending her sweet birthday wishes in the mail and/or online. We love our sweet girl and are so grateful for friends and family who love her as well!


Happy First Birthday, Jellybean!

A year ago, I was in the hospital. At 7:11 pm, after a day of laboring, Josey ended up being delivered by c-section.

Moments after birth.

She was 9 pounds, 2 ounces, and 22 inches of pure joy. I loved every inch of her, and I could have burst with pride.

Two Weeks

Now that she’s a year old, I can say that even on her birthday, she is still the gift that WE have received. God blessed us beyond measure when he placed her into our family.

Two Months

Josey, you are so bright- in both your intelligent mind and your sunny disposition. You shine with happiness.

Three Months

I love the way you dance every time you hear music. I love the way you toddle around and how tough you are- laughing when you fall.

Four Months

I secretly (not so secretly now that I’m blogging it) love the way that I can’t get through one shopping trip anywhere (the grocery store, the mall, ANYWHERE), without being stopped at least once (but usually no less than 5-10 times) because someone wants to talk to you or about you. They love your smile, your beauty, and your charm. And I’m so proud to show you off. 

Five Months

I get a kick out of the way that little boys just a little older than you will literally leave their mamas and follow our cart through stores trying to catch your eye and hold your hand. I’ll probably find that less funny when you’re older. 

Six Months

I don’t even care that the internet probably has more pictures of you than of everyone else combined. My friends good-naturedly tease me about being your paparazzi because I have bombarded every social network with photos of you since the day I brought you home.

Six Months (again)

You’re one of the only people I would jump into a pool of sharks to rescue. When you get older, you’ll appreciate how much that means. 😉

Seven Months

You are so silly sometimes. I love the way you growl and then laugh at yourself.

Eight Months

You love other kids, and I adore that. You want so much to play with them and wave and smile so vigorously when you see other kids- big or small. You are still learning how to be gentle, but your heart is in the right place!

Nine Months

You like to test boundaries. Sweet as you are, you still go right to where you’re not supposed to be and look back at me. One day, you’ll understand why you get in trouble for moving the baby gates or for playing with electrical sockets. But for now, I’ll keep correcting you.

Ten Months

You love dogs, green bean casserole, and shopping. You love shoes and music and cake. You love going fast and talking and singing. You are definitely my child.

Eleven Months

Sometimes I still can’t believe you’re real. And that I get to be your mom. I’ve never wanted to be good at something so much in my life.

I love you, Josey-Jo! Happy birthday!