Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Baby Parkinson Woodland Nursery

We are getting close to this baby being born. As in ridiculously close. We're at 37 1/2 weeks at this point, and that fact is actually starting to freak me out for the most part. So distract myself from that, I thought I'd share a few pictures from our sweet nugget's nursery. It's not really Pinterest worthy, but I love how it turned out. His room is my safe haven at the moment--it's honestly currently my favorite room in the house to hang out in. 

I decided before we even knew this baby was a boy that I wanted to do a woodland theme for his room. We painted the walls a soft neutral gray, (after trying out 5 sample swatches of colors I ended up hating), and I actually adore the color. Mike told me afterwards that he wanted to paint the rest of our house in the same color, so I think he's on board. Anyway, without further ado, here is our minimalist woodland nursery! 

I made this rug from a tutorial you can find over at We Lived Happily Ever After. It's not perfect by any means, but I kind of love it and stayed up way too late one night in a fever to get it finished.

The pictures I painted using inspiration off of Pinterest. How did anyone come up with ideas before Pinterest? They're not perfect, but I really enjoyed making them.

Every kid needs a sheep skin and a rocking teddy, am I right?

The frames were brand new from Pottery Barn but scored at a garage sale. The prints were freebie printables, also off Pinterest that I just had printed as 8 x 10s at Walgreens. You can find "The Mountains are Calling" one here, and the "Going to the Woods" one here. The feathers you can find here, and there are actually several different color options.

The pillow was a DIY project, and the quilt is actually a prayer quilt, made by some very sweet ladies at a friend's church. This kid already has so many people loving him and praying for him already!

Can I just take a minute to brag on our crib? My husband actually built it, and I could not love it more. He decided pretty early on that he wanted to build the crib from scratch, and while I had the hardest time being patient during construction, it makes me swoon.  I love the minimalistic design, the rustic finish, and most of all, that he built this for our boy. If you want to make your wife fall in love all over again, build your baby a crib. Just saying. ;)

A bucket of friends. The Beanie Babies are actually mine from growing up (vintage makes them sort of cool/hipster, right?) and the stuffed lion was Mike's favorite toy growing up.

I love this little tree full of woodland friends, and so does our dog. I recently caught him trying to kidnap the raccoon from his home. No raccoons were harmed in the creation of this nursery.

He has a few clothes to get his wardrobe started. But mainly I just wanted to show you his closet cube organizer. Mike and I actually built it ourselves. (He may have done all the actual construction work, but I helped with design/held pieces in place for him to put it together, so I'm still letting myself feel proud.)

The quilt my mother-in-law made for him. It could not go more perfectly! We love it and can't wait for our little nugget to love it, too!

So that's our nursery! We continue to pray that our sweet boy will be home safe and sound to use it in no time.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Baby Parkinson Update

I shared on here months ago that we are expecting our first baby in July. Between now and then, we've had a lot going on and I've struggled to find time to blog. And if I'm being honest, I've also struggled with if I want to share this part of our story this publicly at all.

We took a baby-moon vacation cruise to the Bahamas at the beginning of February.  It was just the two of us and we were so relaxed when we came home. I was about 18 weeks at that time, and we had our anatomy scan scheduled for February 16, when I would be just over 19 weeks. We knew of course, that the anatomy scan was to check the baby's overall development, but the main thing I was dying to know was the gender. Mike was desperate for a boy, and I was just desperate to know!

I wasn't concerned going into the scan, just excited. Everything had been measuring right where it should be up until this point, and the genetic screening blood work they had done for Down Syndrome and a couple other conditions had all come back negative. Baby was face down for the entire scan, so they had a hard time getting all the measurements they needed, but was not shy about showing his manhood. Less than a minute in, the technician asked us if we wanted to know what we were having, we both enthusiastically responded yes, and she told us we were having a boy. I'll never forget the look on Mike's face. Priceless.

The technician had me try laying on both sides, but baby boy would still not roll over, show us his face, or let her get some of the measurements she needed, including a clear view of his heart. After trying for about an hour, she finally wrapped up the ultrasound and sent us to talk to the doctor for the second half of our appointment. We waited for about an hour in the waiting room, and a feeling of uneasiness kept growing in my stomach. They were running behind that afternoon, so I kept telling myself that the long wait didn't necessarily mean anything, but I just couldn't shake the feeling.

When we were finally taken back to an exam room to talk with the doctor, one of the first things he asked us was "Did the technician say anything to you about concerns with his heart?"

I don't think I'll ever be able to forget that moment. It's cliche, but the world really did seem to stop.

The doctor explained that although they couldn't get a clear view of his heart because of his positioning, there appeared to be a hole in his heart. They couldn't tell us the extent or seriousness, but they wanted to refer us to a cardiologist for a fetal echo (basically an ultrasound focusing just on his heart). Our doctor explained that from what they could tell, our baby had a VSD, or a ventricular septal defect, which is basically a hole in the heart where the right and left chambers usually join. Severity ranges widely among VSDs; some will heal on their own and just require extra doctors visits as the child grows. Some require surgery, but are minimally invasive techniques, and some require open heart surgery after birth.

They set us up with the referral to the cardiologist, but there was a 3 week wait before they were able to get us in. Longest 3 weeks of my life. I liked our cardiologist right away when we met with him. He has a very calming personality, exactly what you want when you are worried about your baby's heart.

Unfortunately, the news was not what we were hoping to hear. The doctor confirmed that our baby did have a hole in his heart, and he also has an underdeveloped aorta, which is the main valve in the heart that pumps blood to your body. He explained that the combination meant that our baby would need at least one open heart surgery shortly after birth. He recommended we see a specialist for follow up and more genetic testing, as heart defects can often be caused by an underlying genetic condition.

The shortened version of the long story is after multiple specialist appointments, the doctors believe our baby has a condition called DiGeorge Syndrome, or 22q deletion syndrome, which is causing his heart issues. They won't be able to confirm 100% until after birth, but the heart defects and the blood work results of additional tests they did put him as high risk and they feel fairly confident. 22q has a huge range of complications and severity in problems, but some of the most common issues are heart defects, low immune systems, calcium deficiencies, and learning disabilities. He will need open heart surgery 2-3 days after birth and will be in the NICU for a minimum of a few weeks. Instead of delivering at the local hospital in Winston-Salem, we will deliver in Charlotte where they have a better pediatric heart program. I'll be temporarily re-locating down there and staying with family towards the end of June, and Mike will be travelling back and forth as much as possible.

If I'm being honest, this is not what I wanted or expected. We are young, healthy, don't smoke, do drugs, or do anything that would raise our risks for something like this. For quite a while, I felt cheated. Cheated out of a normal, happy pregnancy. Cheated out of the normal happiness that comes with a healthy baby and given anxiety and stress instead. Instead of spending time on perfecting his nursery, it seems like many of my days off work are spent at doctor's offices.

But here's what we've learned:

God is good, all the time. Even when your baby is diagnosed with a heart condition.

Our church family has our back. The support system we have here has been amazing, and we are so grateful for it. We have so many people praying for us and loving our baby already.

And maybe most importantly, we've decided that we're going to be okay. Whatever happens in the next few months, God will be there, and Mike and I will get through it somehow. These past few months have already been some of the most trying to my faith, and I know we still have a long road ahead of us. We are so far from perfect--we still have our bad days. This is still not how I want things to go. But I know that this is exactly how God wants our story to go. I've taken a lot of comfort in this passage lately:

It is of  the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness. ~Lamentations 3:22-23

Baby boy, you are already so loved. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Present {5 Minute Friday}

Today I'm taking advantage of the snow day and linking up with Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday.  Head on over for more free-writing posts of 5 minutes of unedited writing on a prompted word. This week's word is present. Baby steps on easing back into blogging, y'all.



It's been 4 weeks since we shared our news with the world. We still feel like kids in many ways, but now we're adding one more to our pack. It's amazing how something can be in your plans and still so unexpected when it happens.

The last several weeks have been a blur of anxious waiting. Waiting for the first appointment. The first ultrasound. Waiting to tell family and then friends. Now I'm anxiously waiting to find out the gender. (The hubs doesn't want to find out early.)

I keep waiting for it to be the next step, for it all to start to feel real.

The problem with waiting is I've been focused on the next, not the now. I've been so focused on when the next milestone will come along that I've been forgetting to enjoy the gifts right in front of me. Time alone with my husband and myself. Time to figure out how the heck to keep a baby alive. (Only half joking.)

Time to enjoy the present.



Monday, October 5, 2015

A God in Ruins {Must Read Monday}

This month's Must Read Monday is brought to us by my friend, Mike Harrison. He is a newspaper editor and mentored me through my college internship. Excited to share his review and check out A God in Ruins! I have not read anything by Kate Atkinson, so this one is especially intriguing to me.

I don’t know if Kate Atkinson ever decided what kind of writer she wants to be, and I don’t know that she has to. Well, of course she doesn’t have to–no one has to do anything under reasonable conditions–but in the modern world it seems a writer’s success seems dependent on finding that all-mighty “niche.”
There’s “romance,” “thrillers,” “horror,” “historical,” “humor,” “mystery,” yadda, yadda, yadda. Yes, she uses metaphysics as a device sometimes, but doesn’t get into metaphysics itself. And when she uses it, it works.
If I had to categorize Atkinson, I would scream “story-teller!” She’s simply a brilliant writer, and I wish I could recall how I first learned about her so I could repay a debt of gratitude.
Whether it’s a noir infused story about solving a multi-layered mystery like Case Histories (the first of four featuring Jackson Brodie, a character most of Atkinson’s female readers would want to be with and her male fans to be like), or time-hopping with a sort of accidental heroine in Life After Life or Human Croquet, her novels meet the age-old standard: readers just have to find out what happens next and how it’s going to end.
A God in Ruins in no different.
Here, we not only have a reoccurring character for the first time since Brodie made his last appearance in 2010’s Started Early, Took My dog, but an entire family of characters who debut in Life After Life. While the earlier book concentrated on Oliva, it gave us a more than fully formed look at her entire family in the years leading up to and during The Blitz in England in World War II. This one focuses on her brother Teddy, who grew up to become an RAF pilot.
Like all of her other books, A God in Ruins is rich with imagery and palpable descriptions of scenery and emotions. You feel her character's yearnings and passions, and you also feel their pain. There’s much to see in the subtleties–pay attention to the title of a book one character throws at another–and even more to think about when the book is closed.
You loved Teddy in Life After Life and to get to follow him–and the rest of his family–in the post-war years is a gift. The somewhat alternate reality view you get of Teddy’s family is worth the price of admission alone. I’m not giving any spoilers, but an early chapter in which Teddy’s father Hugh, the semi-stuffy banker, has a near close encounter with a widowed neighbor is priceless for its rom-com brevity but also the anxiety and remorse felt by a confused and longing proper Englishman in the 1930s.
The title had nothing to do with God or religion, by the way. It’s a story that conjures the old saying about the distance from the penthouse to the outhouse and what can happen along the way. If you’re new to Kate Atkinson, resist the temptation to read Life After Life before A God in Ruins because it most certainly stands on its own and it will be a lot more fun to go back and read the earlier one second.
Better yet, if you’ve not yet read one of her books, start with the first one and work your way up. You can thank me later!

Mike Harrison is the long-time editor of local newspaper, The Fort Mill Times, avid reader, and dog rescuer. He is also a future lottery winner and fantasy owner of a sports bar/blues club/art gallery/launder mat/animal shelter. Yes, all under one roof.  
If you can't piece it together, just ask.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Must Read Monday: The Fault in Our Stars

I never expected to enjoy The Fault in Our Stars as much as I did. It sounded a little teenage angst-ish to me, but with the movie coming out, I wanted to read it first as we'll probably end up seeing it eventually. This way I can properly dislike the movie for not including enough/getting the story right. Isn't that way everyone reads the book first?


Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.


John Green somehow created characters that are simultaneously amazing and tragic. Augustus and Hazel both sometimes comes off as a little overly pretentious, but that's just their characters. One thing I love about John Green's novels is that he puts characters in situations that we usually like to sugar coat, or somehow spin as inspirational. 

The truth is cancer happens to normal people, not just Lance Armstrongs. (Bad example, I know, but back before we knew he was a cheater.) Augustus and Hazel are strong through their sicknesses, but because they have no other choice. It is their reality. I know I'm rambling here, but I guess I just liked that they were two normal teenagers who happened to have really crappy things happening to them.

Also, the writing is just beautiful. So many memorable passages, some beautiful, some just snarky. Overall, I'd have to recommend this one.  It is a bit teenage angsty but in a good way. 

Favorite Quotes:

"It's a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing.” 

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal” 

"Headline?" he asked.
"'Swing Set Needs Home,'" I said.
"'Desperately Lonely Swing Set Needs Loving Home,'" he said.
"'Lonely, Vaguely Pedophiliac Swing Set Seeks the Butts of Children,'" I said.” 

“What else? She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.” 

“All salvation is temporary," Augustus shot back. "I bought them a minute. Maybe that's the minute that buys them an hour, which is the hour that buys them a year. No one's gonna buy them forever, Hazel Grace, but my life bought them a minute. And that's not nothing.” 

“I fell in love like you would fall asleep: slowly and then all at once.” 

"The smell of canals and cigarette smoke, all the people sitting outside the caf├ęs drinking beer, saying their r's and g's in a way I'd never learn. I missed the future. Obviously I knew even before this recurrence that I'd never grow old with Augustus Waters. But thinking about Lidewij and her boyfriend, I felt robbed. I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up you can't make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn't see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again. That is probably true even if you live to be ninety.”