Friday, January 30, 2015


Travis and I both grew up with pets. I may have had a few more, but only because my brothers and I thought we should bring home a new puppy or kitten or bunny from anywhere we went. We had Copper and Runt and Duke and Trouble and Skippy and Katie and Katie 2 and Petey and Muffin and Sunshine and Dusty and - you get the point. Each of those pets provided love and comfort and a piece of family for us. And when we lost each of our pets, it was hard. There were tears and sad faces and broken hearts. 

And while Travis and I both grew up with pets, our first pets as a family of our own were Lola and Cash. We got Lola, our maltese, just a few weeks before we got married. She quickly became our everything. We've only left her twice and that was for an anniversary get away and a work trip to Ireland. She's gone everywhere else with us. 
We got Cash, our black lab, right before our second anniversary. We had had a little dog and we were ready for a big one. And Cash was big. Not just in size, but in sweetness and love and energy and companionship. From the moment we got him, he loved both of us, but Travis was his favorite. Always. He would follow Travis foot for foot. He would lay in the kitchen while Travis was cooking. He would sit at the edge of the couch while Travis sat down. He would even wait at the bathroom door for Travis. It was sweet and I admit a little aggravating all at the same time. 

Lola was, and still is, our "lap" dog. All we ever really expected from her was love and attention and kisses. We were very content for her to just sit in our laps and live the high life. Cash was different. Of course we wanted his love and attention and kisses, but we expected more. We expected him to listen and follow rules and obey. Travis began training him at only seven weeks and train him, he did. Cash could sit and heel and come and stay and retrieve. You could say "kennel" and he would get in his kennel or his pen and not fuss one bit. You could say "go hurry" and he immediately went outside to do his business. He was one smart doggie.
We never worried about Cash being outside without a leash. Obviously we used a leash when walking him or taking him somewhere, but like I said, he never strayed too far from Travis. And even when Travis would come into the house, Cash would sit at the back door and wait. Slobbering on the door window the entire time. So we never thought twice about having him in our yard or my parent's yard or even a friend's yard without a leash. He never, in eight years, ever attempted to run in the road or chase a car or anything like that. 

Almost five weeks ago, on Christmas night, we lost our sweet boy, Cash. To make a long, heart breaking story short, we were at my parent's house for the holidays and something got Cash's attention. Travis had been outside, came inside, and in those few seconds, Cash went to the road and was hit by a car. The young guy that hit Cash stopped and knocked on my parent's front door to let us know that he had hit a black lab. We immediately rushed outside, only to have our hearts broken in half. 
It was gut wrenching to say the least. A moment that I will never forget. We were stunned, shocked, and devastated. And while we had both lost pets before, this was the first time we had lost "our" pet. Our pet that was more than just a pet. Cash was family. One of our babies. You can ask pretty much anyone, and they will tell you that if they came back as a dog, they would want to be Travis' dog. 

The next days brought many, many tears and questions and anger and just being broken hearted. Neither of us knew what to do or what to say. We were crushed. And when we returned home just a few days later, it was like losing him all over again. Our house wasn't the same. It felt empty. There was a void. It just felt wrong. There was no Cash bumping at our legs or feet as we walked through the house. There was no Cash sitting at the back door waiting patiently. There was no Cash running around the backyard. No Cash waiting at Travis' feet or at the bathroom door. I missed his snoring at night and his slobber on the back door window. I missed seeing his black hair everywhere. Even Lola was out of sorts and she wasn't his biggest fan by any means. 
We spent the week just moping around our house. Tears and tears and more tears. Just five short days after losing our sweet boy, we both decided that we needed another dog. We weren't trying to replace Cash. We weren't trying to find a quick fix, but we knew that we needed something to help heal our hearts. And whether it's right or wrong or whatever, on New Year's Day we went to visit a new puppy. A nine week old bloodhound. He was big. He was clumsy. He was slobbery and overly energetic at times. But, he was so sweet and so lovable. He gave big wet kisses. He had rolls of fur that went on for days and had long, long ears that felt like velvet. And for the first time in a week, he made us smile. Big. And we knew, he was the one. 

No, he wasn't Cash. And he wasn't ever going to replace him. Ever. But he was the one we needed. He was the one we were supposed to have. So he became ours. And we haven't stopped smiling. 

Meet Conway, our newest family member...

Yes, our hearts still hurt. Yes, we still miss Cash terribly. We talk about him all of the time. We share stories about him. We share our favorite moments about him. We look at pictures and watch old videos. We will always miss him, but our hearts are slowly healing and we have Conway to thank for that. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

25 Weeks

Yesterday began week 25 for us.

Week 25 is the week that MK made her grand entrance. Yes, my mind is racing 100 mph. Yes, I'm biting my nails. Yes, I'm replaying the events from my hospitalization and her birth. And after a little scare last week, I'm anxious to say the least.

But, at the same time, I feel okay. I really do feel like I am in THE best care as far as doctors. He's aggressive, he's proactive, he's caring, he's intelligent, and he's doing everything humanly possible to get us full term. I'm being monitored closely and we have preventative measures in place. I have a cerclage, meds to take, and every Monday I receive an injection of progesterone. I'm following doctor's orders and my family's orders. My family might be slightly tougher than my doctor. So while on one hand I'm anxious, I'm also trying to be okay.
Thursday, at our 24 week appointment, things looked good. Our sweet baby weighed one pound, ten ounces. Almost his or her big sister's birth weight. Heartbeat was in the 150s. Cervix and fluid were good. There was no funneling like I had with MK and my blood pressure was good. I had my glucose test - a first for me! It wasn't nearly as bad as people had made it out to be. It tasted a lot like flat orange soda. I think it also helped that I was really thirsty. I think I was also just excited to have it done since it was totally bypassed while in the hospital with MK. Having it done made me feel like a normal pregnant woman.

There were a few concerns at my appointment - low hemoglobin, despite already taking iron twice a day. And there was some protein in my urine. We talked about those things, came up with a plan, and I was feeling good. A few minutes before I left, my doctor decided he wanted to do a Fetal Fibronectin Test (FFN). Fetal fibronectin is a protein that acts as a "glue" during pregnancy, attaching the amniotic sac to the lining of the uterus. He thought it would give us peace of mind. Except it didn't. I had this test done with MK at 24 weeks. It came back positive and that same night my water broke. Despite my history with this test, I left the office that day feeling semi-confident that all would be okay. By late afternoon I hadn't heard back from the office and I assumed that maybe that was a good sign. However, around 5:45, my doctor called to let me know that the test was in fact positive.

He was so kind and so patient while he explained everything. He told us several times that he hated to call with those results. These were not the results he had anticipated. He mentioned meds and steroids and all of the things I had heard before. Granted, this test is not always 100% accurate and it by no means meant that I would go into labor at that very moment. A positive fetal fibronectin test is a clue that the "glue" has been disturbed and you're at increased risk of preterm labor. I didn't care about the statistics or what Google had to say about any of it. I only cared about the fact that I had had this test done before and it came back positive and my water broke that night. That was all I could think about. And it was all I did think about. Travis and I barely slept a wink Thursday night. 

My doctor had us come in to the hospital Friday morning for monitoring. I had envisioned a big room with several other women, all of us hooked up to monitors. Reality was a hospital room, hospital gown, hospital bed and monitors. I was having contractions, but nothing consistent. Such a blessing. My doctor came by and spoke with us. We talked about meds for the contractions. We talked about the FFN and the possibility of a false positive. We talked about staying off of my feet and calling if anything changed. I left Friday feeling much better. Not 100%, but better. 

One of my favorites!
Despite the positive FFN, my body was showing no other signs of preterm labor. Another huge blessing. We are to return next week for a second test, another ultrasound, and to meet with the doctor. At that point I'll be 26 weeks. I've never been that pregnant before!

25 Week Update

Due Date: Official due date is May 9th or 10th or 11th. I'm super irregular (shocker), so we don't really know. I'll have a c-section the last week of April.

Gender: It's a surprise!

Movement: Lots of kicks and turns and punches. I love it! I never had this with MK, so I'm enjoying every second.

Feeling: I'm just thankful to be pregnant! Yes, I have heartburn, but it's another reminder that I have a little one growing inside of me. Yes, my meds make me feel hormonal and nauseous and tired and sore, but again, I'm pregnant. 

Food Cravings: Schlotzsky's Smoked Turkey Original Sandwiches, Menkoi Spicy Ramen Noodle bowls, my mom's Strawberry High, 5th Avenue Bars, cold stuff

Food Aversions: Lots. My appetite is pitiful.

Clothes: Bed rest allows for mostly PJs or lounge clothes. When I do get dressed for doctor's appointments I'm wearing all maternity. 

Stretch Marks: Not so far.

Sleep: I sleep best in our recliner. I'm not really a side sleeper, so that's been an adjustment. I receive my weekly injections in my hip (more like my behind) and they make my sides so sore and tender. But again, I'm pregnant. This is all temporary. No big deal!

Best Moment: Making it to 25 weeks and not being hospitalized!! Feels like a huge milestone. 26 weeks is going to feel even better!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Interview with Morgan Kate

The past three years I've asked MK these questions every January. It's so neat to see what stays the same and what changes. I love being able to look back and I love asking her these questions and hearing her answers.

What is your favorite color? Can I pick two? Pink and purple.

What is your favorite toy? Barbies. (I don't know that I agree with this one.)

What is your favorite fruit? Pineapple.

What is your favorite TV show? Austin and Ally.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cereal. Lucky Charms.

What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? A grilled cheese sandwich.

What is your favorite thing to eat for dinner? Spaghetti with no onions.

What is your favorite outfit? A skirt and t-shirt. (The girl LOVES a skirt.)

What is your favorite game? I like to play school.

What is your favorite snack? Crackers.

What is your favorite animal? A baby tiger...ummm, no...I mean a baby polar bear.

What is your favorite song? Theme song to Austin and Ally.

What is your favorite book? That's hard, Momma.

What are you thankful for? God, Momma, Daddy, Lola, Conway, Flip and Flop, Goldie, and my baby.

What is your favorite drink? Pink lemonade.

What is your favorite holiday? Christmas because you get lots of toys and it's Jesus' birthday.

What do you like to take with you to bed at night? My stuffed animals.

What do you want for dinner on your next birthday? Basagna. (My lasagna. She loves it!)

What do you want to be when you grow up? A vet or a nurse or a dance teacher.

What's your favorite thing to do with Daddy? Play with him.

What's your favorite thing to do with Mommy? I like to cook cookies with her.

What's your favorite thing to do with Kaka and Gator? Hang out with them.

What's your favorite things to do with your uncles? Tease them.

What's your favorite thing to do with your aunts? Sit in their laps.

What's your favorite thing to do at school? My favorite thing is recess. I also like to roll the dice and write numbers. 

What's your favorite school lunch? Hot dog.

*Answers from 20122013, and 2014.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Master Bedroom and Nursery.

It took me a while to decide what rooms I wanted in the dollhouse. Obviously, I knew there needed to be a kitchen and living area, but I wasn't sure what to do with the upstairs. Originally I thought bedroom and bathroom. Toys R Us and Hobby Lobby had the cutest bathroom furniture, BUT it didn't really fit into either of the upstairs rooms. 

I found a dollhouse family at Toys R Us and that really helped me finalize my decision. The set included mom, dad, sister, and baby. I then decided that a master bedroom and a nursery were my best options. I'm glad I went with that. Besides, it's much more fun to play in the baby room versus a bathroom. 
Three things became an issue while working on the dollhouse. Number one - time. I thought I had so much time to work on this, but in reality I didn't. I spent too much time thinking and not enough time working. Number two - furniture. Like I mentioned in my previous post, furniture is so expensive. And  there are just too many options. There was so much cute stuff and I just couldn't make up my mind. It's much cheaper to order online and again, I ran out of time. And number three - giving my girl a voice. Originally I wanted to do the entire thing on my own. Every detail, every square inch - all of it. But then I thought it might be a better idea to give my girl some say since it is her dollhouse. I left the master bedroom unfurnished and the kitchen only partially furnished. She can now decide what she wants to get for those rooms and how she wants to lay them out. 

In the master bedroom I painted the walls, hung a frame, and added some wallpaper on the back wall. I found the frame at either Michaels or Hobby Lobby. There were two in a pack and I used one here and one on the front door. I loved the color and the shape and the distressed look. They were perfect! So many of the dollhouses I found online were decorated with "wallpaper". People either used scrapbook paper or wrapping paper. I had both, but I didn't like either options for the master. Instead I searched online, found a cool image I liked, and then printed it on computer paper. I cut it to size and used Modge Podge to adhere it to the wall. There are a few bubbles if you look really closely, but overall I was very pleased. The walls are decorated, but now my girl can decide on her own furniture and what she wants to do with this room.
I moved on to the nursery next. If you look closely, you will notice a little nook in the very back. Apparently my granddaddy wallpapered that area before he ever put the house together. There was no way possible to get back there and do anything, so I left it as is. I like it like that because it's like having a little piece of him still there. I painted two of the walls and used scrapbook paper, that I already had, on the other wall. 
I found the nursery furniture at Toys R Us. It's plastic, but I know it's durable and things need to be durable when held by a six year old. The little teddy bear on the floor came with the set, and the yellow animal (not sure if that's a dog or a bear) was something I found in MK's room. 
It may be difficult to see, but on that wall behind the chair and bears I "hung" buttons on the wall. I had lots of spare buttons and decided to use some of them to decorate the walls of the dollhouses. I just used hot glue to stick them on the walls.

I made the little banner with scraps I had and used mini clothespins to attach it to the wall. MK can change it out however often she wants to or she can hang something completely different. 
Once I finished the top two rooms, it was time to move on to the bottom. Those rooms were bigger and required a little more work and creative thinking. 

Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Dollhouse.

Last Christmas, while browsing around in Blog Town, I came across this dollhouse. I was immediately captivated and read all of the blog posts about it. I thought it was so neat and I filed it away in the "try to do one day" compartment of my brain. The one where I put things that I think are really awesome, but I probably won't ever get to. Yep, that one.

Fast forward to this holiday season. I was trying to really think about gifts and what Morgan Kate would love and appreciate. So many toys get thrown to the side and never really played with. I wanted to do or give her something that I knew she really wanted and something that she would really enjoy. She's mentioned a dollhouse a few times and whenever we are in stores and there is one on display she always plays with them. She likes the whole "play house" concept, but she also loves to just decorate and rearrange the furniture. When we were at my parents' house for Thanksgiving it hit me. I remembered that my grandaddy had made me a dollhouse when I was about eight or nine years old and I was pretty sure it was still in my parents' attic.

It was.
The front of the dollhouse my Papa made me. 
And it was in great condition. Granted, I wanted to give the front a facelift and the inside needed some updates, but overall the structure was in almost perfect shape and my brain was overflowing with ideas. 
The inside. Notice the country blue molding and windows frames. Also, the 1980s wallpaper. 
After hiding the dollhouse in our garage, I hopped on Google and Pinterest and of course went back and visited the original dollhouse that inspired all of this. Pinterest had some awesome ideas. Like this and this and so many others. I also began searching for dollhouse furniture and nearly tossed the entire idea completely. Dollhouse furniture is crazy expensive! But, I decided to look past that and continue on. After all, this was for my baby girl. And let's be honest, I love planning and decorating and attempting to be crafty, so I was excited to do this. If those aren't your things, then you obviously wouldn't enjoy doing this and that's perfectly okay. 

I decided to start on the outside first. It seemed easier to me. The only hard part was deciding what I wanted the "new" outside to look like. After looking at about three dozen dollhouses online I decided to paint the shutters black and the front door a light turquoise. I also painted the porch grey to look more like cement or concrete. I touched up the white paint in several places, but overall, it was in good shape and I left it alone. I used acrylic paint that I already had. Looking back, it might not have been the best choice. It took several coats to cover up the paint that was already on there. I think a "real" paint would have been easier, but I was trying to use things I had on hand and while this was for my precious baby girl, I didn't want to break the bank. 
The front of the new, updated house.
I really liked how the outside turned out, but I wanted something else. A little outdoor decor. Something festive for the holiday season. I found those little colored lights at Hobby Lobby and used mini clothespin to help hang them. MK can keep them up, trade them out for white lights to use year round or take the lights off completely.  I found the little door decoration (the white frame thing) at Michael's. I think. It might have been Hobby Lobby too. I glued it to the front door and behind that little piece of greenery there is a C. The greenery was something I already had and decided to put it up for the holidays.  I just snagged it off of what I had and stuck it there. It's only temporary. MK can take it off and put it back on any time she chooses. The little door mat I just cut from a piece of carpet that we had left over from when we redid our hallway and extra bedrooms. It's a little hard to see, but I also made a door knob by adding a little jewel to the front door.  

After finishing the front, it was time to move on to the inside. I was so excited to start on the inside, but also a little overwhelmed. I have a hard time making decisions. Which room would be the kitchen? Which room would be the nursery? Would I have a bathroom? What color would I paint the walls? Would I paint the walls? Would I use wallpaper? So. Many. Decisions. Also, keep in mind I started this project a few weeks before bed rest so I was able to grab some things, but the rest I had to grab from around the house and my creative juices just were not flowing. 
The updated inside.
In the end, I was very proud of my work and seeing MK's face on Christmas morning made it even more worthwhile. I love that it's something I did for my girl, but it's also a part of my grandaddy and something he did for me. Such a treasure! I love things like that.

Stay tuned...more details about each room to come. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

23 Weeks

Today begins my 23rd week. 

It feels good to be 23 weeks. My belly is growing, which I love. I am feeling our baby move more and more every day. Twenty-three weeks means another week closer to having our baby here in our arms. All of those are good things. And they feel good.
19 weeks on the left, 23 weeks on the right.
But, 23 weeks also feels scary. Very scary. It was at the end of 23 weeks that things took a drastic turn with Morgan Kate. Things had been going so well and then it all went downhill. And it all happened so quickly. At 23 weeks I began to notice changes and was put on bed rest. At 24 weeks my water broke and I was hospitalized. And at just 25 weeks and 4 days, Morgan Kate was delivered via emergency c-section because my placenta ruptured. 

So while 23 weeks feels good, it feels hard, too. I'm anxious. On edge. Nervous and scared. I think and worry and I replay the events from Morgan Kate's pregnancy/birth. I desperately want this time to be different. So very different. 

There are things that are different this go around and I'm thankful for that. This time things started out differently. With MK I had bleeding around 7 weeks. This time I didn't have that. My belly is already a lot bigger than I ever was with MK. I know it's not my first pregnancy and women usually are bigger, but with MK I was really small. I feel this baby move a lot more than I ever felt MK move. At MK's 20 week ultrasound she was measuring a little behind. This baby has measured right on track the entire time. At one point the baby even measured a little ahead.
Precious little profile.
But, in some ways things seem a lot like MK's pregnancy. For instance, I am currently on bed rest. I know it's the best thing and I know it's what I have to do, but it's been hard to accept. Despite all that happened with Morgan Kate, I really did think this time might be different. I thought I might actually be able to go full term without bed rest. Maybe what happened with her was a fluke and that my body really could carry a baby to term without any interventions or time off of my feet. Bed rest to me means that I can't, that I need help, and some days that's hard to swallow. 

At my 20 week appointment my doctor decided that it was in fact time for bed rest. Around 18 weeks I was having what I thought was cramping or the baby stretching out, but later learned were contractions. I never had contractions with MK (that  I know of) so I had no clue what a contraction felt like. At that same appointment my cervix has changed some. It was still in a safe place, but had changed and it frightened us, especially in addition to the contractions. After that appointment I continued working, but spent afternoons and weekends in our recliner, doing nothing. I kept my feet up, rested and drank lots and lots of water. At my 20 week appointment I wasn't having as many contractions (if any) and my cervix had improved. Apparently the rest and fluids were making a difference. We had a long talk with our doctor and all agreed that staying off my feet as much as possible was key. It was something that had to be done. We all want this time to be different, and we think that by doing this, it can be. We don't want to have any regrets and we want to know that we did all we could do to ensure the longest, healthiest pregnancy. 
Another picture at 23 weeks.
When we walked out of the doctor's office that day, Travis was thrilled and relieved that I would be at home and off my feet. I, on the other hand, was in tears. I wanted this time to be different and I wanted to return to my classroom where there were 46 sweet little faces waiting for me. It took most of Christmas break to digest all of this and really accept that it was reality and something I must do. 

I've been on the other side of bed rest. I've been on the side where I can come and go as I please and move about, but my baby is confined to a isolette in the hospital. I lived that for 107 days and I know there is nothing easy about it and it's not what I want if I can help it. At all. So, this bed rest thing? I can do it. It might be hard and at times boring and lonely, but I can do it. It's much easier than the alternative.