Monday, December 16, 2019

Simple Christmas Porch

I actually have a porch decorated for Christmas this year!

Our front porch is about all I can manage (the back screened-in porch will have to wait until another year). I simply added some fresh Christmas tree trimmings to a copper wood basin we had and hung a fresh evergreen wreath on our front door. Not much at all--but that's the kind of simplicity I like.

We got new black rocking chairs this past summer and are enjoying using them out front and for photo opportunities. Our old chalkboard where we often write messages hangs out on our front porch as well.

I have so much fun using fresh greenery to make our home look festive for the holidays. Wreaths are very easy to make from greenery like boxwoods, fresh rosemary, or evergreen trees from your yard. Adding a different colored ribbon each year helps to keep things interesting.

Other than the front porch, we don't do any other outdoor decorating such as lights, etc. Just simply no time!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Just a Touch of Christmas

Happy Holidays, Y'all!

It seems like every year I put out less and less Christmas decor--but with having moved into our new house a little over two years ago and the fact that I have a 10 month old baby and two 6 year olds I guess I'm getting pretty lazy...

I'm starting to have a complicated relationship with Christmas--I dread it more and more every year for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps I will detail this in an upcoming post at some point. The stress, the traveling, family drama, the endless to-do lists, and the over-commercialized celebration it has become make it NOT the "most wonderful time of the year" for me. I hate that we feel obligated to get people specific gifts on their lists-whatever happened to just simply making homemade gifts or surprising them with something you think they might like?

The last couple of years I have LOVED the quiet weeks in January and February after the stress and rush of the Holidays, especially when it snows outside and I can hibernate with a mug of hot cocoa sitting by the fire. And last year being only a month or so away from giving birth I seriously wanted to skip Christmas altogether, so it was wonderful being able to stay home here in NC and relax.

Anyway, most of what I have put out in addition to our Christmas tree ornaments is basically fresh greenery cut from around our property and a few keepsake items. We will start in the kitchen, work our way to the dining room, and end in the living room....

fresh rosemary and Christmas aprons hanging on my Shaker peg shelf

touches of greenery from our property give a festive feel to the corner cabinet in the dining room

Our fireplace mantel is simply decorated with candles, a vintage tractor toy, and a glass urn with some nuts that has been there all year long. Above the fireplace is our "frame" TV, which in real life really does look like a picture or painting that then transitions to a regular TV. This was a Christmas gift to us from grandparents last year and turned out to be a great compromise between me and my husband (who has always wanted a TV above the not so much!)

I hope you enjoyed the tour! How do you like to decorate for the season, if at all?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Introducing Baby Johanna!

So I'm super late getting this post out, but better late than never! Our sweet baby girl, Johanna Judith, arrived on January 31, 2019 at 11:31 pm!  She weighed 6 lbs 15.8 oz and measured 20 inches long. We are enamored with her and everyone that sees her just can't get over her head full of dark hair!!

Her middle name is for my dad's side of the family, after my Aunt Judy, and her first name means gift from God, which she miraculously is!

All of the lovely photographs you see here were taken by April Cole Photography--she does amazing work and we love her!

Johanna's birth was an incredible experience and I'm still in awe of how amazing it was compared to the traumatic birth of my twin girls that resulted in lots of complications. I knew this baby was God's miracle and trusted Him that he would bless me with a safe and much better birth for this sweet girl. I'm so thankful I was able to enjoy it (as much as you can enjoy being in pain, and remember every detail!)

I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks prior to getting some different, cramp-like contractions more in the lower back early in the morning on January 31st. At the time of delivery I was 39 weeks and 1 day, and I remember the day before she was born being super emotional. These continued pretty consistently and eventually got stronger, so we headed to the hospital around lunchtime, dropped with girls off with their aunt and uncle, and arrived at labor and delivery around 1 pm. When they checked me I was 3 cm, and they said I could walk halls for a few hours to see how much I was progressing. After walking a while, I was only 3.5 to 4 cm and unfortunately not enough for them to keep and admit me. However, my contractions were getting pretty strong and painful at this point!

So, we decided to stick around close to the hospital and drove around for a bit before getting a hotel room so that I could take a warm bath and try to relax while my labor continued. As soon as we checked into the hotel room, I laid down on the bed and had a very strong contraction--and my water broke all over the hotel bed!!! So just as soon as we had settled into the hotel room we had to immediately leave and get back to the hospital. I was still leaking fluid with every contraction in the car, in the wheelchair on the way up labor and delivery, and once I got into the hotel room. My contractions at this point were extremely strong and painful, and close together.

We got back to the hospital around 6 pm or so, and I was checked into a room and at that point I was 5 cm dilated. My labor was naturally progressing super fast, and it was at this point I asked for the epidural. I was going to try nitrous oxide gas but things were so intense I just wanted the epidural at that point...haha. In the span of about 20 minutes, I went from 5 cm to 7 cm and probably would have given birth soon, but after getting the epidural my labor slowed down some and I was able to relax a little better. There were a few scary minutes when our baby's heart rate dropped because of the combination of the epidural and the fast dilation, but it came back up quickly. A team of several people came in the room and left just as quickly once the heart rate stabilized. On a side note--although it seems like a good thing to have the attending MFM in your room, it usually means something is going wrong! I was happy to have my sweet resident doctor and nurse back handling my labor for me.

The rest of the evening I was lying on my side with a peanut ball in between my legs during labor, which I could still feel, just at a reduced pain intensity level because of the epidural. I did have to get it boosted once as it started to wear off a bit. My contractions remained very close together and strong. Finally at around 11 pm I was fully dilated and it was time to push and Johanna was born 30 minutes later! As soon as I pushed her out they immediately placed her on my chest and finished checking her out while we did skin-to-skin. She stayed there for a few hours before they took her to be weighed, measured, etc. She even tried to nursed some, it was the most amazing bonding experience and I still can't get over how thankful I am to have made it through without any preeclampsia this time, no induction needed, no excessive bleeding, infections, or any other complications. We went home from the hospital not even 48 hours after she was born. I felt pretty well recovered physically and back to normal much, much sooner with this birth.

I remember the nurses who were checking her out after she was born still in the labor and deliver room saying, "she looks like she is hungry"--how appropriate because she was a BIG eater the first month and so hungry all the time. She has slowed down some now but is still our growing girl and loves to be moving all the time. She is also smiling a lot now which is so sweet and fun :)

Her big sisters have been great with her and are such good helpers. We all adore her so much!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Getting Ready for Baby...

I can't believe we only have a few or so weeks until our baby arrives! It really has gone by so fast this time around--having twin 5 year olds sure does keep one busy and occupied.

I've felt great so far and really enjoyed this pregnancy. It's been smooth and so much easier than my twin pregnancy--I'm praying it stays that way! We took some impromptu maternity photos recently when it snowed here in NC. My husband and I may have been a little crazy running out in the middle of the snowstorm but I think we got some pretty shots to document this precious little one growing inside :)

Still, we have managed to find time to prepare for this new little one in the most basic ways. I thought I would share with you all the ways we have prepared (early on) for the new baby in our house. I hope this may help some readers out there who are wondering what and when to do the things for preparation of a new little one when you already have young children and most of what you need.

Since we are keeping the baby in our master bathroom (attached to our bedroom) likely for the first six months to one year, we didn't have to worry about a "proper" nursery. We simply set up the crib, changing table, diaper pail and hamper in the area where a bathtub would normally go (but we had left empty).

My mom got me this wonderful changing table on sale from Pottery Barn that can double as shelving for when the baby gets a little older.  I outfitted it with some baskets from HomeGoods to hold things like diaper changing necessities, clothes, blankets and extra crib sheets, wipes, and many other things.

The crib fits perfectly in this little nook beside our shower. On the wall I hung some baskets that we used in the girls' nursery to hold diapers so they are within easy reach. The hamper is also new from HomeGoods.

Upstairs in our guest bedroom (we aren't sure where the baby's room will end up being yet), we have added the baby armoire and stocked it with most of what we already had on hand in terms of blankets, crib sheets, clothes, bibs, socks, and any other baby necessity that would normally fit in a dresser.

I started early in the second trimester pulling everything out of the attic, sorting through it, washing anything that could be washed and putting it away. I organized and cleaned anything we had saved that we could reuse for this baby, including things like breast pump containers, bottles and feeding supplies, baby seats and carriers, and baby toys and books.

Each week I did a little bit more until most of the work was completed. I don't like to procrastinate, and I decided it would be better to go ahead and get as much as I possibly could done when I was still feeling up to it rather than wait until late in the third trimester when I may not be feeling so great.

Next I began making a list of things that we would need new and I created a small Amazon baby registry. Some things we added we did not have for the girls and we decided would be nice to have for this baby, and other things we needed new of that we had either lost or needed to replace.

In our living room, I cleared out a bookshelf to house baby books and used one of our cabinets to hold baby toys since the baby will probably be playing downstairs quite a bit the first year. In our bedroom, we moved the glider from upstairs to a corner in our bedroom and replaced where it was in the girls' room with another armchair.

Some friends of ours and my sister-in-law hosted a lovely baby Sprinkle for us which was so nice! We received a lot of needed items and some new fun things for this baby girl--she is already so loved :)

We are excited to meet our baby girl soon and our daughters are looking forward to being big sisters! I'm being monitored for any signs of preeclampsia considering I had it with my twins last pregnancy, but so far everything looks great (for which I'm so thankful!). Praying things will go smoothly during labor and delivery and that we will have a healthy baby and mama :)