. . . for Lauren and Lauren: July 2013

July 31, 2013

Round Two

Nine months of pregnancy lessons couldn't fit into one post so here's round two.  Read my first post here

Nauseousness can come back at the end of pregnancy.  Eating a poptart after you brush your teeth will help.  But probably will only make your next dentist trip even worse than it already is. 

Speaking of dentists, going while you're pregnant isn't as bad as when you're not because they can't do x-rays and can't tell you about all the cavities you have.  

You may have the desire to tell your doctor that there is a real baby in your belly (as oppose to every other patient he has) and he should give you an extra ultrasound to assure you everything is fine.  

The emotional worries and fears are far harder to deal with than any physical pregnancy symptom. 

People like to stare at pregnant bellies.  

You may spend about two hours in the middle of the night thinking you are experiencing contractions and going into labor soon and then after going to the bathroom realize there is a good chance it was just gas. 

You will be almost as excited to see your husband hold your baby as you are to hold her yourself.  Almost. 

Getting your pregnant self tan is not as easy as you think.  Apparently the sun will only hit the top circle of your big belly and leave you with a red and even itchier stomach.  (Which makes for some funny tan lines on your post pregnant belly.)
 
Pregnancy weight gain is far from predictable.  You can gain 5 pounds one month and one the next.  It is hard to not let it mess with you. 

The waiting at the end of pregnancy can take quite the emotional toll on yourself.  The days go by ridiculously slow and as much as you hear you need to enjoy the time to relax by yourself, your desire to meet your baby and get passed the labor will far outweigh any desire to "relax." 

It is never a good idea to try on your shorts from last summer when you are nine months pregnant just to see how they may fit.   Nothing good will come of it.  

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July 30, 2013

Lately

dress & sandals: ASOS    belt: target

Still loving anything animal print.  Please tell me when this is no longer trendy.  Or maybe don't because I'm not ready to give it up yet.  Keep the elephant, giraffe and bird prints coming. 

Deciding if I like this dress better with or with the belt.  Opinions welcome. 

Gold Block Letter Initial Necklace
Wanting to order everything with Addilyn's initials or name on it.  I am waiting for this necklace that I found on etsy for $13! (But in an A of course) 

Wearing lots of shorts and t-shirts around the house, like this batman tee. 

Jack of All Trades tee

Needing some cuter, nicer pajamas since I'm spending quite a bit of time in those too.  I would love ones like this


Enjoying some fresh air outside, trying to catch up on blog reading and feeling thankful for some very cool July weather so we can spend some time out of the house.  


Hoping you're having a good start to the week!

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July 29, 2013

Summer Steal

 dress, purse and sandals: ASOS (c/o Chippmunk)

I was so excited when Chippmunk contacted me to help promote their site by finding an outfit that is perfect for summer, which to me means a comfy dress, and sandals.  Chippmunk is also having a contest where five readers can win $100 to the store of their choice, and one lucky winner will get $250! 

You know that I LOVE finding good deals and rarely buy things for full price.  Chippmunk is a site that lets you search and find tons of coupons for all different stores and deals.  You can search buy store, budget or category and you'll get a list of different coupons that you can use online.  

I found all of my pieces from ASOS and was able to save over $50 thanks to the coupons I found on Chippmunk.  They had tons of items for over 70% off, plus I found a coupon for an additional 20% off and free shipping!  I rarely buy things online because I'm always worried they won't fit, but love that ASOS has free shipping both ways in case you need to return something.  

Now for the good news for you! Chippmunk's current contest is looking for people to share their recent good deals and summer styles.  All you need to do is upload your image on Chippmunk and share what good deal you found.  Or you can share you steal via Instgram or Twitter with hashtag #chippmunkExpertShopper and answer three things: (1) how much you saved and where you got it at (2) why you love it and (3) your advice to other shoppers at that store. 

Five lucky ladies will win a $100 gift card to the store of your choice.  Good luck!!! 

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July 28, 2013

Currently Learning



I recently shared about some lessons I've learned while being pregnant, but now it's on to the real lessons of parenthood.  

Currently I'm learning that I can't stare at my daughter enough. 


That I was never prepared for how many diapers we would go through and how thankful I am that Chris changes as many as he does. 

That at least every hour I look at her and think about how beautiful she is and how lucky we are that she belongs to us.

That there is no way to resist uploading picture after picture of our sweet baby to instagram and facebook.


That the minute your baby is in your arms you want to protect them from everything and all your plans of being a parent that didn't worry about germs went out the window.

Or that breastfeeding a million times a day is both wonderful and exhausting.  


Today I have a friend that is sharing her story of parenthood and learning how to trust that God has a plan for your children and how to deal with some of the challenges of watching your children struggle, learn and grow.  

Thanks Tif for sharing your story and for a little giveaway at the end! 

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My son was diagnosed with ADHD and OCD when he was in 5th grade. He struggled so hard throughout the years with bullies, being punched, kicked, thrown down the stairs…hard classes, being mainstreamed into a class where NO ONE knew how to handle a child with his disability…the list goes on.

Day in and day out…week after week…I was in the office BEGGING the principal to do something about the bullying…which he never did. I was forever in meetings with Teachers trying desperately to get them to listen to how to “deal” with my son in class…this was to no avail…they never listened. Over the years I was given a nickname in the office…I was unaware of this until one day…when my son had been beaten up again…I called the school to speak to the Principal. Unbeknownst to the receptionist…the phone didn’t put me on hold…and I heard “The Dragon Lady is on line 1 AGAIN”…so when the Principal got on the phone I said…”HI…this is the Dragon Lady, my son was beat up yet again today” I went on to tell him that one day…if someone didn’t do something…my son was going to snap! And…he did! He FINALLY defended himself and we ended up in court for fighting in school. Luckily the Judge listened to our side, saw the papers on how many times I complained and went easy on him.  By easy I mean a $500 fine, 6 months of probabtion, 8 hours of community service, 8 hours of anger management...and all because he'd had enough of being beaten up and finally defended himself. That was not the end of that though.

A few weeks later I was sitting in the school waiting for an ARD meeting to begin, when THAT PRINCIPAL walked in. Now mind you…I try to stay calm when confronted with certain situations…but…BUT…this guy had pushed me to far! This is how the conversation went:

Him: “Mrs. Kennedy” 
ME: “I do not want you in here!”
HIM: “I have to be her…a principal has to be in attendance” 
ME: “SO…find someone else!” 
HIM: “Mrs. Kennedy, you are taking this to far!” 
ME: “Ummm…have you EVER heard of a school called Columbine?” 
HIM: “NOW I TELL YOU YOU ARE TAKING IT TOO FAR!”
ME: “Really…let me tell you something. My son has a support system at home…thank God…but how many other kids are bullied and don’t…and you do NOTHING…when it happens here…I will hold YOU personally responsible!” 

He left the room in a huff…guess I earned that title…but MY KID is worth it.

SO…after years of struggle we decided to hold my son back in the 8th grade and let the bullies move on to High School and get interested in cars and girls. And that…WORKED! The bullying stopped…my son found himself and was SO excited to start High School the following year. THEN…the bottom fell out again.

9th Grade ARD meeting…all his Teachers, Principals, Counselors and even a member of the board of the ISD was there…oh and so was my son. The meeting started out okay…when the lady from the board said “Mrs. Kennedy, I see here your son has had a lot of issues with his former school…honestly…I believe we are wasting our time here. He will probably quit school before the end of this year.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…I even LITERALLY SHOOK MY HEAD because I thought I heard wrong…when it set in I wasn’t mistaken in what I heard…it too EVERYTHING in me NOT to dive over the table and snatch her ball-headed! (sorry...that is Southern slang for tear her hair out!)

Instead I looked at my son…who was almost in tears. I said, “JC…” (interrupted by someone…I told them to shut up and listen very carefully to what I am telling my son) “JC…I love you no matter what! Do you hear me? I don't know about you...but I am so tired of fighting over schoolwork…and projects…and teachers…and everything else…are you?” “Yes…Momma, I am.” “Well you know what…from now on…the pressure is O F F ! You do the best you can do…if the best you can do is an F…then so be it…BUT I know that is not your best!” He put his head down and I said “JC…I want you to look into every single face in this room…one at a time…remember who they are…remember what they’ve said about you!” He looked very carefully at each and every one of them…”NOW…JC…PROVE THEM ALL WRONG!” And you know what…HE DID!  


He was on the honor roll so many times I lost count...He graduated with 28.5 credits (only needed 26 credits...could have graduated early...but didn't want to), and he lettered in the Air Force JROTC and graduated a Major.

So much has happened since 2008.  Diagnosis's change...we didn't know but the ADHD/OCD was but only a symptom of his now diagnosed disability.  He is schizo-affective (and no...there are no multiple personalities, and he doesn't hear voices...not all are like that.)  But take another look at that photo...would you know it from looking at him?  I call it his "invisible disability" because to look at him, you'd never know what is going on inside.

It's so very hard to watch your child suffer, longging to be "normal", longging for love, longging for a family of his own.  There isn't a day that goes by that at one time or another you may find me in tears for him...and for me as well.  I have had to learn to "mourn" the life I'd always wanted for my son.  A life that is not possible.  The reality of that, literally breaks my heart so bad my soul hurts for him.  He is an amazing young man!  He doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs...he's loyal, faithful and very loving, heck...he didn't even go to the principals office one time in High School.  It breaks my heart that he can't even have a career to look forward to.  Why? Because he has to live on disability because the $10,000/mo. medication bill is too much for anyone to pay.

God's got a plan for him, I don't know what it is...wish I did...but I know whatever it is...we will make the most of it!  Mom's & Dad's take your child, hold them tight...tell them you love them NO MATTER WHAT!  It's not the grades, the talent, the hopes/dreams you want from your child...teach them to love with all their heart, try with all their might and believe in themselves...because in the end...what they think of themselves is ALL that matters!

Thank you so much for sharing your story Tif!  Get to know more about Tif by checking out her blog Ramblings of a Southern Belle and enter below for a chance to win a bottle of Viva La Juicy Couture Perfume.

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July 25, 2013

Thankful


I wanted to say a truly genuine thank you to those of you that have been reading my blog this last year and a half.  I know I've said it before but when I started this blog I had no idea that I would end up sharing our struggle to get pregnant.  Sharing my story and the blessings that have come from it has the best thing about blogging.  Thank you to the so many of you who have prayed for this baby and sent me many words of encouragement throughout our journey.  It blows me away that people I've never met before care about me and care about my desires to have a family.  I've felt showered in prayers and amazed at the excitement people have had for our baby girl.  So thank you for your prayers, encouragement, support and excitement.  It has truly made such a difference and I feel beyond lucky.  I hope Addilyn knows some day how many people prayed for and waited for her.  
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July 24, 2013

Maternity Staples


Looking through my maternity outfits this was probably my favorite.  I got this dress from Old Navy for $5 and felt comfortable and pretty in this dress. 

I thought I'd share some of my favorite and most worn maternity items.  I've mentioned before that I bought way more maternity clothes then I needed, as I bought some before I was even pregnant and then a good amount at the beginning before I knew what I would really need.  I was just too excited to be able to buy maternity clothes and found some for really good deals.  


Black skinny jeans. I bought a pair of black skinny maternity jeans from H&M and really liked them.  The only thing I didn't like about them is that they were really thick and made me really hot so once the weather got warmer I couldn't wear them.  


Jeggings. I think the best thing I bought for maternity wear was these mint jeggings from Walmart.  I had a black pair as well and wore them all the time.  They weren't maternity so I just bought a bigger size and they were only $10.


Skinny jeans.  I looked for awhile for a pair of denim skinny jeans(with the full belly panel) and ended up finding these at Ross for $11.  I wore these a lot!  I had found a few pairs of maternity jeans from Target that I bought before I was pregnant but wore these every time instead. 


Old Navy v-neck tees.  I bought a handful of v neck tees from Old Navy in a size bigger for about $5 each and wore them all the time.  Most of the ones I have are the vintage kind and are so comfy and stretchy.  It surprised me that I wore these non maternity shirts over the maternity ones I had but loved these much more. 


Maxi dresses.  Once the weather got warmer I started wearing maxi dresses all the time.  Most of the ones I wore were non maternity, which worked until the very end when I was really pregnant.  I already had a few maxi dresses and bought a few more and am happy that I can wear them all post pregnancy. 


Maxi skirts. And I know you are well aware that I wore a lot of maxi skirts, especially at the end.  That grey maxi skirt (from tjmaxx a few years ago) was an at least twice maybe three times a week outfit the last few weeks of pregnancy.  And again I love that I can wear these after as they aren't maternity.  

I think the biggest thing is that you have to find what is comfortable and works for you.  And what works for one pregnant lady isn't going to work for another!  But I hope this could be helpful if you're looking for some maternity items that you'll be able to get a lot of wear out of. 

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July 23, 2013

Blue Lights

I will definitely share Addilyn's birth story soon, but have been thinking a lot about our extra stays at the hospital and wanted to share this first. 


The day after Addilyn's birth the pediatrician told us that she had signs of jaundice and after doing blood work found her count to be really high.  They needed to put her under these blue lights to help her numbers to go down.  Thankfully they put the lights in our room that day so she could stay with us.  They continued to test her blood and each time there wasn't much progress so it kept changing to "tomorrow morning you should be able to go home" or "tonight you should be able to go home."  

We got lucky that they let Chris and I stay an extra day in our room even though we were technically discharged.  Addilyn had to spend Tuesday night in the nursery and I could go in just to feed her. After still not much progress she had to stay Wednesday night as well, but Chris and I had to go home. 


Walking out of the hospital without our baby was so hard for me.  I wasn't worried that she would be okay and get over this jaundice but hated the idea of being away from her.  For the majority of our five days at the hospital I could only hold her to feed her, which at times was stressful and did not feel enjoyable for either of us.  I felt like I was missing out on bonding with, holding and loving my new baby.  I felt like I was getting robbed of time to connect with my baby and a "normal" stay after giving birth.  It was so sad to watch her in her little light box with those huge goggles on and not be able to comfort her.  I worried about her feeling attached and connected to me.

One day in the hospital I was thinking about why God would allow this to happen, when it seemed like such an easy fix to have her blood counts go back to normal.  I was trying to figure out what he could be teaching me through all of this and I think it just comes down to the fact that we are not in control and that God always is.  I had prayed for a baby and many times had said nothing else matters as long as I had a baby.  And I did.  I had a healthy, beautiful baby.  I waited years to hold my baby and just had to wait a few extra days.  


As I spent all day Thursday in the nursery with Addilyn, I was reminded how lucky we were as the nursery was filled with these tiny premie babies that had been in the hospital for days, weeks or months.  Our three day extended stay would seem like nothing to those little babies and parents.  Although still really hard it put things into perspective for me. 

Life is not always going to go how you think it should or even feel you deserve it should go.  Things aren't always going to make sense.  There are circumstances where it seems like God could easily fix and make your life so much easier, but He doesn't.  He doesn't because he wants us to constantly be leaning on Him, remembering all the blessings He's given us and never forgetting that rely on Him.

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July 22, 2013

Pregnancy Lessons

A few lessons I learned during my pregnancy . . . . 

Don't be afraid to try out new fashion trends like crop tops.  

Just kidding. I did not wear this out.  You will be stuck with the same four or five tops that fit near the end. 

Anxiety never ends.  You will think once you get to the next stage: hear the heartbeat, get an ultrasound, know the heart is healthy, get past 27 weeks . . . . your anxieties will lessen but they won't. Trusting that God is in control and giving over your worries will always be a struggle.  

Generic poptarts are better than the real deal.  And you can also justify eating half a poptart every night in bed before you go to sleep.  

Comparison will make you crazy if you give in to it.  Comparing your pregnant belly, your clothes, your symptoms, all of it.  Try your best to remember every pregnancy, baby and woman is going to handle pregnancy differently. 


You should not download the baby app or baby forum groups to your phone and check them often. The simple updates are good the forums are not.  They will scare you and make you more anxious.  Delete them from your phone!  Remind yourself over and over how many healthy babies are born every day.  

Your underwear, pants and shorts will leave you with some pretty serious indent marks, making you think you've gained new stretch marks whenever you get ready for bed.  Which will probably bring you to tears at least a few times.  

It may be better to not know if you have stretch marks under your belly where you can't see until after the baby comes when you are so aware that it was worth it.
 
You may never get the urge to start nesting and think it is something that people just make up that makes non-nesting pregnant woman feel useless and lazy. 


Feeling your baby kick and move, while at times feels a little too much that a mini alien is trying to take over, will never get old or annoying as it reminds you of the miracle growing inside of you.  

You can go from one extreme to another.  Some days you may feel completely great and others feel pretty terrible.  Some days you can feel so ready for this baby to come and others feel like it might be a better idea to just stay pregnant.  Some days you'll feel like you have more than enough baby things and others I feel like you've barely started getting your house baby ready.  It's tough to find the middle ground.  

You may think that you will be one of those woman that works out throughout their entire pregnancy but the moment you have one complication your fears of anything happening to your baby (even if later they tell you it's completely safe) will outweigh any desire to have a super fit pregnancy. 



You may fear that your child's gender was predicted incorrectly until the day they tell you "She's here." 

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July 21, 2013

Dear Katie,

I'm so excited to have a woman that I admire and greatly respect share on my blog today.  Sybil is one of the sweetest and wisest woman I have met through blogging and she has been such an encouragement and blessing to me.  I asked her to share some advice to a new parent and loved it when I read it before our baby was here but love it even more now that I think about it in regards to our sweet Addilyn.  

Hi Friends! I'm Sybil and I blog at Peace it all Together. I am both thrilled and honored to be writing here today. If you're reading this post, it means that Katie's baby girl has been born and that she is spending time in Addilyn's presence, taking in every detail of her new life, as a mommy.
A little about me....I am a 38-year old wife and mom of three. My kids are 10, 8, and 5. My husband and I were both born and raised in the central part of California, and that is where we currently call home.

When Katie asked me if I would write a post about the motherhood lessons I would share with a new mommy, I thought I could say it best in the form of a letter. A letter to Katie, my dear blogging friend, and the newest mommy I know.

Dear Katie,

Motherhood is challenging. Motherhood is blessing. Most days are an appropriate balance of both. So much so that you don't even realize that each have occurred. Some days you will experience so much more of one or the other that your heart will either be full of joy or overwhelmed with fear. At least this has been my experience. 

I am not a perfect mother, and certainly don't feel qualified to offer advice, but there are a few important things I have learned since beginning my journey in parenthood.

Be honest. Among the coos and giggles, and late-night snuggles, there are many things that will happen with your baby and you that may seem strange or wrong. Since every child and mother are different, you may not have read about these things in a book. That's okay. Just don't be afraid to tell someone how you're feeling. 
If you've had a good day, share all the things you loved about it. If it seems like you just had the worst day of your life, tell someone that too. If you tell the right person, there will be no judgment, just love and support.

Take photos. As a new mom you will be tired and, as a result, your memory of your baby's early life may be affected. I am forever grateful for the photos I took of my son as an infant. Because most of what I remember from his first year are the struggles, it is wonderful to have photos proving that he did smile and he did sleep, even though it was rare. These photos are the reminders we mothers need, especially on the rough days. 
Also, as your little girl gets older, she will likely love looking at these photos of herself. You can use them to tell her the story of her birth and early life, making even more memories with her.

Ask for help, not advice. As you know from your experiences with infertility, all women have different experiences with motherhood, from conception to birth to caring for an infant. The advice that one mother would give may not work for you. So, instead of asking for advice, ask for help. 
If you need a shower, a nap, or a walk by yourself, find someone to sit with the baby for a few minutes. Ask a friend to bring you lunch or dinner. Wake up your husband in the middle of the night to soothe the baby, so you can take a break.
Most importantly, pray for God's wisdom as you make decisions with this life that He has entrusted to you. Don't forget you are not alone.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what type of diapers you use, where your child sleeps, whether you breast feed for a month or a year or make your own baby food. There are no guarantees with any of these. There are no rules. There is only you and your little girl and what works for the two of you. And, all that really matters is...

Love. The greatest gift we have to offer our children is our love. When asked to state the greatest commandment, Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind." and "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Because if you love, you are are putting the needs of another above yourself, you are working to promote their best-good. If you do that, you can't go wrong.

With love and prayers,
Sybil


Thank you so much Sybil for your beautiful letter!  What wonderful, wise and loving advice.  I know I will be reading this post many times in the future.  I look forward to hopefully some new blog posts this week, as well as catching up on some of your lives soon too! I miss you all!


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July 17, 2013

A quick hello and a new friend

Thank you SO much for all of your congratulations on our baby girl!  The last few days have been quite a blur and we haven't even begun to adjust to life at home because we are unfortunately still with our little girl at the hospital.

Photo: How sweet is little Addilyn?  What a gift she is.  I'm hoping she never learns how to cry.  She's so cute and sleepy.

We've had a few minor complications with our sweet baby Addilyn but should get to go home soon.  I'm excited to begin life at home with our daughter and begin whatever kind of new "normal" we'll get to adjust too.  

I'm excited to have Jenn share with you some of her favorite summer reading choices and a little about herself.  I wouldn't consider myself much of a reader but I definitely become more of one in the summer and always enjoy hearing about good books to read.  So thank you Jenn for your post!  



Hi For Lauren & Lauren readers!

My name is Jenn and I blog over at Jennifer-Blake, a lifestyle blog about well, my life! I am a graduate occupational therapy student about to finish my last year and I currently reside in Massachusetts with my husband. My summer term for school ended in June which means 2 whole blissful months off. My husband just had hip surgery so we crammed most of our summer outings into the past two weeks, the rest of the summer is for slow relaxing days. Slow relaxing days means a lot of time for reading, and I am a total bookworm so I'm pretty excited!

Here is what is on my summer reading list!
Where'd You Go Bernadette: This has been sitting on my beside table for a while. I heard it can be hard to get into, but if you give it a chance it is a must read comedy.
Inferno: I have read a few of Dan Browns books, I loved Angel and Demons so I am excited to read his newest novel. I am typically a chic lit. girl, but I do love some suspense and action!
Adulting: I have followed Adulting the blog for a while, she cracks me up. I was excited when I saw her book at Barnes and Noble, I know it will make me laugh and be insightful.
Beautiful Ruins: I have never read anything by Jess Walter but I thought this would be a good place to start. The cover sucked me in as well as the plot!
The Testing: I just started this book and I am loving it so far. I was recommended it from a bookshop owner based on the fact that I loved the Hunger Games. It has a similar feel, but different story. I am really excited to see where it goes.
Little Women: This was a childhood favorite and after recently visiting Louisa May Alcott's house in Concord MA, I was sparked to re-read it and re-live some of my childhood again.

Whats on your summer reading list? I am always looking for recommendations.
Make sure to stop by and say hi!

Thank you Jenn!  To probably no surprise to you, I'd like to read the one that is like the Hunger Games, seeing as it is right up my teen drama loving alley.

I look forward to checking up on blogs and blogging more next week!

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July 15, 2013

Meet our daughter . . .

Photo: So in love with this baby girl. Having a hard time believing she is ours.  God is so good.

Addilyn Jane Vale
Born July 14 at 9:38 am
8 lbs. 13 oz.   21 inches long 


I am beyond overwhelmed with love and emotions for this sweet baby girl and
 still don't believe we get to take her home tomorrow and that she is ours. 
I couldn't feel more thankful to God for blessing us with this miracle. 


Chris and I can't wait to begin our lives as a family of three.  
Thank you for all your prayers and excitement for our baby!
I'm excited to share about her arrival and of course ore pictures soon! 

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