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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I stay at home (and some things God is showing me)

There are many "mom battles" out there. There's the battle "formula vs breast feeding", "medicines or anti-vaccine", and then of course the "stay at home vs working". While they all drive me crazy, the latter one is probably the one that gets under my skin the most.

A little over a year ago, I became very unhappy staying at home. I would get SO frustrated (and still do sometimes-More on that in a minute) when people would tell me how "blessed" I was to be "able" to stay at home. First of all, most days weren't joyful for me and money was SO tight because we were on one income. I stayed home, not because we were well off, but because I felt it was something the Lord called me to do. During this time, I began praying for God's direction for our family. Staying at home seemed like such a dream to most people...why did I hate it? God answered my prayer in an unexpected way by giving me a job opportunity for 11 weeks as a long term sub.  We put Lyla in daycare and it was hi-ho, hi-ho, off to work I go.

I won't spend too much time on this, because I want to say other things, but basically during this time, the Lord gave me a new joy. It was VERY clear to me after those 11 weeks, that my place right now was at home with my child. Now please hear me, (because I am all about being real), not everyday is fabulous. Let me say it again, THERE ARE STILL DAYS I STRUGGLE. But, God gave me a renewed strength (one that has lasted) to fufill this calling of a stay at home mom.

I have had a small taste of being a working mom and I applaud you over and over and over again. It is no joke trying to balance it all. I have had a bigger taste of being a stay at home mom and that TOO is no joke. It has become something so close to my heart and I just wanted to share some things the Lord has laid on my heart, maybe for another mom that needs it today, whether you are new to this staying at home thing or a seasoned veteran.

1. God is showing me constantly how important He is in my day. If you are a Christian, you have heard this again and again. It may even frustrate you to hear it once more. If you are like me, it almost makes you feel even more like a failure to hear it because let's be honest, WHEN is there really time to spend with the Lord? How do these other moms do it and still do everything else that needs to be done. The answer is simple. I don't know. I do know that God asks for my best and sometimes my best is 10 minutes. 10 good minutes alone with Him. Sometimes, I don't exactly get those "alone" moments (heavens, I cannot even go to the bathroom alone some days) so, I have to invite Jesus in on my day. Sometimes that looks like praying while I am washing dishes. Sometimes it's reading a verse on my phone while I am nursing Layton. I just know one thing to be true. I CANNOT do this thing without Him.

I'm reminds of Luke 21:1-4
The widow woman gave her very last coin in this parable. Jesus said "All of these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

"...She put in all she had..." It wasn't much, yet it was a lot.

2. STOP STOP STOP trying to defend being a stay at home mom. This is PRIDE. (I STRUGGLE WITH THIS BIG TIME!) God has called you and me for such a time as this (sound familiar?)  Why should we apologize for it? Like I said, I struggle BIG time trying to convince everyone (and I mean everyone) around me, that what I do is hard. Sometimes, I am wanting praise for what I do. Ok, most times I am wanting praise. I've gotta rest in the fact that what I am doing matters...BIG TIME! And if no one else "sees" me, that's ok, because I know God always sees. There can be SO much freedom in this.

3. The next few things are some things that have helped me in the day to day. I read a blog once that described staying at home so perfectly. It said you are bored and completely overwhelmed all at the same time. You are lonely, yet long for alone time.

One thing that I have found to ease some of these feelings (notice I said "ease" not "erase") is to have a schedule. It really helps the flow of the day.

I used to get REALLY down on myself if my whole day didn't revolve around my kids. After all, this was my job and my family was sacrificing in many ways for us to be able to do this, so I had to give it all I had. That meant crafts, going places, fun snacks. ....or at least that's what I thought. If Lyla watched a lot of tv that day, I really beat myself up for having failed her. I was even to the point where she ruled the day (which is not healthy). If she wanted to play, we played. There was always a show on that she wanted to watch (this can drive you insane after the millionth episode of mickey mouse clubhouse). There has to be a balance.

One thing I have started doing is having "school" with Lyla. This really helps that "teacher" in me and gives me that creative fix. Her attention span is SHORT! Like 20 minutes. But it's a sweet time for me and her to spend learning and having fun.  The Lord is also polishing my patience in this along with my need to control everything. Lyla has a mind of her own and I am thankful she does.

(side note: I am reading this book called "Christ in the Chaos" (thanks Leah, Lauren and Adrienne for the reccomendation) It's all about the gospel and motherhood. Anyways, one of the things it talks about is how we are sinners (in case you didn't know) But, here's the part that blew my mind. When we go about our day praising our own accomplishments because of what WE have acheived that day, (ex: I was a good mom today because we did a craft. OR "I am a great mom because we all ate healthy today) we are creating a self righteouness in ourselves! (WHAT?!) So, whether you feel like you have had a successful day or one of the tougher days, find your identity in CHRIST and not yourself or what you have or have not accomplished.

Ok, back to schedules. Since I spend that time with her (Layton and I get OUR one on one time during Lyla's nap), I also make sure to allow myself some time. Sometimes, it's sitting at the table drinking my coffee (and in one sitting, not having to warm it up 5 times). Sometimes, it's watching a show I want to watch. Sometimes, it is getting to blog (like right now:))Do something for yourself. You will grow bitter and resentful if you don't- and that's just not a good place to be. TRUST ME!

4. This is kinda silly, but some practical things that have brightened my day here lately are:

  • making my bed
  • lighting a candle
  • opening the blinds/windows
  • turning on the lights (no brainer right? But we leave our lights off a lot-amazing what a little light can do for the soul)
  • putting my phone down (like leaving it on the charger and not returning to it) 
  • showering (if you can. I sure do try to shower during the day, but here's one reason why I usually wait until Jeff gets home: Yesterday, I hop in for a FAST shower -both kids are in safe places by the way- and Lyla comes in saying she has to poo poo. I had just shampooed of course. So, I get out and stand there sopping wet while she takes 15 minutes -yes, you read that right-to poo poo) Showering, sometimes is not an option. Sorry folks, but it's the truth. I laugh at people who say "put on your make up everyday and get ready that'll make you feel better"-hahahahaha! But, hey, if you can do it, do it! It does make you feel better, just not always a reality. 
Anyways, if you have made it to this point, yay! Thanks for letting me pour out all of those thoughts. I just have such a heart for stay at home mom's because it is tough sometimes and we need to encourage each other in this thing called motherhood instead of tearing each other down.  Please comment and tell me somethings God has shown you about staying at home. I would LOVE to read them. 

You are an awesome mom whether you stay home or you go to work everyday!!!! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

One month-can it really be????

Lord have mercy, time is FLYING with you! You turned one month on February 13th! Here's what you have been up to since we brought you home...

Once we got settled in, we gave you your first bath. You can tell by the picture, it wasn't your most favorite memory! You definitely have gotten used to them and bath times don't quite look like this anymore. Bathing a little boy is a different experience for us-you have "sprayed" us a few times so we have to be quick!

(this was right after your first bath-keep in mind I was VERY tired...but hey, just keeping things real!)

You are the sweetest baby! You LOVE to be held-just like your sister! I love that, though. I was hoping you would be a cuddle bug like her and so far it's looking good! It amuses me how similar you and Lyla are when it comes to some things. She used to only take her afternoon nap if I was holding her in our bed. You are the exact same way-and believe me, I have tried many things. But, you just want your mama in the afternoon. It's crazy because you will sleep anywhere any other time, but once Lyla is down for her nap, you want to cuddle with me. :) I really don't mind because that is a really sweet time for me to spend just focusing on YOU!

You have only been alive for one month and already you have seen your first snow. We brought you outside for about 5 seconds to capture the moment, then you had to go back inside (sorry!) It was just too cold for your little self. 

I have to be honest. I really didn't think dressing a boy would be as much fun as dressing a little girl. BOY, WAS I WRONG! I LOVE your little outfits. You are such a stud:) My favorite thing to put you in is a little hoodie (Just like daddy!)

I might be a tad obsessed with your feet. They are seriously the softest feet I have ever felt and I just love rubbing them when I hold you. Yes, this mama is weird, but I just love every little part of you and want to always remember these little things!

Many people have asked me how Lyla is adjusting to having a little brother, so these next few pictures are dedicated to that subject!
Lyla really loves having a baby in the house. She is such a great helper (sometimes TOO good of a helper when she is trying to jam the passi in poor brother's mouth) She also has a thing for touching his head. YIKES! But she is always very gentle. 
Layton, you are tough. She means well...and she really just loves you. 

I have no doubt you two will be the best of friends:)

She likes to be very involved when it comes to you. One of her favorite things is to all pile up in mommy and daddy's bed and watch The Little Mermaid while I am feeding you. 

Speaking of feeding you, you sure do like to eat! You have nursed very well ever since we were in the hosspital. You picked up on it right away. You usually take 5-6 oz every 3-4 hours. There have been SOME nights where you have slept 6 hours straight. WOOHOO! But usually you feed at 11pm, 3 am,  and between 6 and 7am. You are pretty consistent and we are on a very good schedule. But, hey, I'll take those 6 hours anytime you feel like sleeping a little more:)

You weigh 10 lbs and 6 ounces now. WHEW! Lyla didn't weight that much until she was several months old. But, like I said, you are a very good eater. It has made me sad, though, because you have already out grown your newborn clothes. Lyla wore hers for a while, so I guess it feels like things are just happening so fast with you. TIME, PLEASE SLOW DOWN! You mostly wear 0-3 month clothes, but can fit your 3-6 clothes. 

You have started smiling intentionally. I LOVE IT!!!!! Like I said, you've got this mama wrapped:)

We've had several visitors your first month of life. Aunt Goo got to be here for your one month birthday! She is so in love with you already (aren't we all!?)

You are a great baby. We have been so thankful you have been happy and healthy. While we were in the hospital, they suspected you might have a heart murmur like your daddy, but thankfully they results came back negative. You also had a clogged tear duct, but we are getting that fixed right up with daily ointment. You do like to spit up a bit, but we have gotten that under control as well, so we are still not convinced it's acid reflux. You are, however, quite gassy and really, that's about the only time you fuss. 

Layton, we love you so much!!! You are such a beautiful addition to our family. Boys are awesome-and you have already stolen my heart! 

Happy ONE month Baby Layton!!!! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Layton's birth story

This is the story of Layton. Seeing as he was one month old last week, I figured it's about time I sit down and get his birth story written down. It has become very hard to make time to do things like this now that we have two small ones, so sorry for the delay. But here we go. 

Since we had such a great experience with Lyla, we decided to try and schedule Layton's birth as well. We decided the week before, that we would go in the morning of January 13th at 5:00 and they would induce labor. Since things were a little different this time around, it was very important to me to have someone here for Lyla. Having things planned out allowed my parents to go ahead and come out here to be with her. SUCH A BLESSING! 

My parents got into town that Sunday before. We had Christmas together (since we weren't all together for the holidays) and just really enjoyed seeing one another again. We all said our good nights and tried to get some rest. My parents got back to our house around 4 am and that got things started. (the stayed with our pastor and his wife-HUGE thank you to them for letting them stay at their house all week! With the arrival of Layton, we lost our guest room, so it was so nice to have my parents close in town!)

It was quite different this time around. This time it was just Jeff and I headed to the hospital instead of having my mom in the room along with my dad and Jeff's mom in the waiting room. But some things still seemed the same. 
(left: right before having Lyla.  right: right before having Layton)

(left: checking in with Lyla.  right: checking in with Layton)
still bringing everything we own!

Jeff and I held hands the entire way to the hospital. For some reason, I was much more nervous this time around. I was so thankful to have his support even if we didn't say much on the way there. We checked in and got things rolling right at 5am. I am proud to announce that I did MUCH better this time with the hand IV. Last time around was quite tramatic. Things were off to a great start! 

Jeff and I were both EXHAUSTED! Neither of us got much sleep the night before, so we were more than happy to turn off the lights and TRY and get some rest before the main event. Those hospital couches are NOT comfortable and I can't say that the beds are any better, but we were both able to get a few hours in before the nurses came back. 

I remember my contractions coming a lot sooner this time around. Jeff was still snoozing and I woke him up (sorry!) so he could pull up a chair and sit next to me. I was thankful he was able to distract me for a while with his silly-ness and crazy jokes. At one point he had me laughing so hard, the monitor they use to track the baby's heart rate (and mine) fell off. Whoops. He was texting pictures of a baby that CLEARLY wasn't ours to our friends and telling them baby Layton had arrived. I was in stitches reading everyone's responses. Ridiculous, I know, but it keeps things interesting. 

A little while after that, Dr. Simon came in to check me and while she was doing so, my water broke. They noted it as a natural water break. I was thankful because I remember her breaking my water the last time and it wasn't pleasant.  

As we all know, once your water breaks, it gets very serious. My contractions picked up BIG time around noon and lasted for an hour and a half before I was able to get some medicine. Jeff made us a play list of praise and worship songs and we immediately put that to use. He held my hand the entire time and encouraged me through it all. He was GREAT! I tried to sing some of the songs to take my mind off of things. It was so neat to feel God's presence and the man he created for me in that moment. I really needed them both! My contractions were a lot stronger this time. Maybe I just forgot how bad it was with Lyla...?? 

My epideral arrived around 1:30. Thank you Lord!!! Jeff kneeled in front of me while they administered it. Epiderals are tough because you are still expereicning strong contractions and then you have to bend at the waist (where a lot of the pain is coming from) and let them stick you. But, relief is coming and that gets you through it! 

Once the epdieral was in, I could almost immediately feel the contractions easing up. One of our old students came in to visit right after that. I wish I could tell you how that visit went, but I was SO out of it. The epideral I had with Lyla did not affect me like this one did. I was very naseous and light headed. I am sure I was talking crazy to her and as soon as she left I threw up everywhere. Unfortunately, there wasn't much I could do to clean myself up because I was hooked up to so many machines. So, my hair that I had straightened went up in a pony tail, and my make up that I had tried to fix was wiped off. So much for framable pictures of those first few moments meeting my son. haha. But, hey, this is reality and sometimes it's just not pretty. 

After that, I slept on and off. My body was exhausted and needed rest before having to push. Epiderals slow things down a bit, so we knew it would be a little bit longer before we got to meet Layton. A little after 4:00pm the nurse announced that I had reached 10 cm and it was ok to push. They called my doctor and she was in route to get to the hospital. In the meantime, my nurse wanted me to go ahead and push. This made me a nervous wreck. I wanted my doctor there!!!  But I also wanted my baby to be safe, so I started pushing. Nothing was happening. I pushed for maybe 30 minutes with Lyla and the second child was supposed to slide right out..right? The nurse began alternating having me sit up for 20 minute increments and then push for 20 minutes. Still nothing. Honestly, I was still so out of it, in between pushing, I fell back asleep. 

Once my doctor got there, she wouldn't let me off so easy. She wanted this baby out did I! She decided it would be best to turn off the epideral so I could feel enough to push more effectively! (WHAT??!?)  Within a few pushes, Layton was out at 6:10 pm on January 13, 2014. And boy did he scream! One of the most beautiful sounds you will ever hear! Although I felt some pressure while pushing, I could actually start to feel them sewing me up. (Lovely right!?) They gave me a shot of morphine down below to help numb that back up. That's all we will say about that experience:) Let's get back to that amazing baby!

My mom was the official photographer when I had Lyla so HUGE props to Jeff (and our nurses for some of them) for being there as my supporter AND capturing these breathtaking first pictures of our son! (there are more, but here are some of my favorites)

As soon as he was out, one my best friends here in Mississippi was waiting outside to love on us and our newest addition. She immediately took our order for some chili's take out and went and got us food. SUCH A BLESSING because mama was HUN-GRY!!!!

(told you I was out of it)

My parents were in Meridian when we called them to say all was well. They had taken Lyla to eat at chick-fil-a. People eating there overheard the conversation and saw Lyla's big sister shirt and immediately started congratulating her. So precious. My mom and dad brought Lyla straight to us. I was so grateful to them for doing everything they could to allow us the moments we wanted with her. 

These are the first pictures of us as a family of 4 along with Lyla, Gammie and Papa meeting Layton for the first time. 

Layton Wade Graves was born on January 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm. He weighed 7 lbs and 9 oz. and 20.5 inches long. 

My beautiful friend Katie came in the next day with Layton's door sign. She is so talented. Love her!!!!

Lyla got to come visit again that second day. It was really sweet, because my parents left for a little while to give the 4 of us some time to ourselves. Lyla was running crazy around the room. I think she was just a little bit excited. I was able to get a few pictures-but none like the ones you see on pinterest! Again, this is reality people! 


She loved holding her new brother (with help, of course!)

She also loved jumping on the hospital bed....

This precious baby brought me a flower (georgia bulldog colors!) Way to go Lyla:)

Some of our sweet visitors! So blessed to have such great friends! I forgot to take pictures of everyone. I am sorry:(

We got to go home Wednesday January 15, 2014. It was such a windy day so we had to be sure to bundle up baby Layton!

When we got home, big sister had helped make Layton some birthday cupcakes. We all gathered around and sang happy birthday dear Layton. Lyla got to blow out the candles.

A few weeks later Gigi got to come out to meet her new grandson! I think it's safe to say it was love at first sight:)

We can't wait for the rest of our families to meet him!!!

Layton, you are such a special addition to our family. We are so crazy about you already. Lyla loves having you as her brother. She is always trying to play with you and help with you. You are the sweetest baby. You love being held and you are a great eater. Your smile already melts my heart. We love you so much baby Layton!!!