Follow me:

    Learning to say “yes”

    One day, I will learn not to take all three of my kids to Target alone. Maybe.

    It was a Friday morning, that fateful day. I needed a few things, and I had a hankering to peruse the home aisles of my local Target. You know, to relax and imagine a world where children don’t actually destroy everything nice I own. It started off fine. Knox and Brody were in the front of the monstrous family buggy, and Ford was in the Ergo carrier. We made it all the way to the back corner of the store, as you do, before the crying began. Ford was done shopping at Target. Like, furiously done. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but wearing an angry baby is UNACCEPTABLE and is in no way, shape or form an allowable alternative to holding said baby. So, I took him out of the carrier, which now dangled around my waist and held him. Still, no dice. His angry “I hate Target” cry quickly turned into a “feed me, woman” cry. So, we pushed our cart as quickly as possible to the front of the store, where I pushed everything and everyone into the family restroom, ignoring the “no merchandise in the restroom” sign. Sorry, Target.

    I quickly nursed Ford while Knox and Brody tried to free themselves from the buggy and destroy the bathroom. I mangled to wrangle them one-handed back into their seats with only minor threatening, which I considered a success. Once Ford was finished, I foolishly thought “that was easy enough, now let’s shop some more.” FATAL ERROR, JESSICA. FATAL ERROR.

    Once again, we managed to get back to the same corner of the store (school supplies, no less), when Ford promptly lost his cool. All the way lost. Of course, by this point, the section is crawling with quiet families, happily shopping for pencils and dry erase markers. All of which, by the way, are pointedly glaring at me. So, I took Ford out of the carrier again, and tried to jiggle him around. Jiggling really pisses off babies that are tired, FYI. We are nearing nap time, but I just needed to get a new notebook for Bible study. Just one, tiny notebook. “Jesus wants me to have this notebook,” I think. I need it. It’s for holy purposes. Certainly I can just grab one really quickly. Nope. The sight of notebooks is enraging to Ford. I reach out to grab one. I am throwing it in my cart when I see “wide ruled” emblazoned on the cover. WHY DO THEY EVEN MAKE WIDE-RULED NOTEBOOKS???? College-ruled or bust. I frantically start scanning the mountains of notebooks for something with thin-lines. Ford’s screaming is reaching a fever pitch. The eyes of Target people are boring into the back of my head, and I start sweating. Notebook Gate 2016 is becoming a real thing. For the love of all of the things, WHERE IS THE COLLEGE-RULED SECTION?!!! Frantic, I just pushed the cart out of the section, my wailing baby serenading us all the way. As we move to the front of the store, Ford gets quiet. I look down and see the totally red face of a baby that has let loose into silent cry. You know the one. They are so pissed that their cry has lost it’s sound, which only means that in approximately .467 seconds, the loudest cry possible will emerge out of their mouth.

    S.O.S.

    I knew what needed to happen. This baby needed to nurse IMMEDIATELY. I was still halfway to the checkout section. There was no way I could make it back to the family bathroom in time. I looked around and saw it: the empty furniture aisle. I shoved the cart down the aisle just as Ford started to hysterically scream. All I could think about at that moment was that crazy video where the man at Target starts berating the women for breastfeeding her baby without a cover, and I could not be the newest viral breastfeeding story: “Mom beats man senseless when he tells her to cover up, story at 11.” Because of course, I had left my cover somewhere, so I did what I had to do:

    I went into the shelf.

    IMG_5378

    There, between a barstool and a side table, I scootched all the way back, shielding myself with a cart of children (who at this point were beating each other, gladiator-style, with boxes of Legos) and nursed the baby. Peace (except for the gladiator children). I was hot and sweating and praying no crazy breastfeeding-haters would stumble upon our shelf spot. Once it looked like Ford was asleep, I got up and practically ran to the checkout. Well. All the running woke the baby, who once again realized that he was in Target.

    You can guess what happened next.

    Every checkout lane had a line. BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY DID. So I had no choice but to wait. Sandwiched between a blonde lady, about my age (with no children because she was probably smart and got a babysitter), and a lady around the age of my mom, I stood holding a baby that was irate and screaming at the top of his voice. By the way, that’s really loud. My two biggest are asking for Kit Kats and Push Pops and all of the processed foods, and at this point I am like “GET WHATEVER YOU WANT, HEALTH IS STUPID” and pathetically trying to load the conveyor belt with one hand. The blonde woman keeps looking at me, and finally, she can’t help herself…

    “Would you like some help?”

    I opened my mouth immediately to offer a sweet “no thanks, I am fine,” but instead what came tumbling out was “yes. Yes I would.” So she and the woman behind me jumped into action, unloading my cart and then, taking it a step further, talking sweetly to my angry baby, who promptly stopped crying and smiled at all of the grandma-like attention he was getting from the woman behind us.

    It hit me then as I stood there with happy kids piling candy onto the belt- why don’t we say “yes” to help when we need it? I always feel like I have to fake control and make people believe that I have it all together. Let me tell you something right now: I DO NOT HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. And sometimes, I need some help. I need a nice blonde lady to unload my cart and someone else’s grandma to sweet-talk my baby because I can’t do everything perfectly, all the time.  I don’t know about you, but faking it for someone else’s sake doesn’t actually make anything happen for me aside from filling me with anxiety and making me a little sweaty. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with other people: motherhood (and being a woman, in general) is messy, and it’s hard. God designed us to live in community- to build each other up and pour into one another. Sometimes we are the ones pouring out, and sometimes we’re the ones getting filled up. It’s an ebb and flow, and it is okay to accept the filling. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. I am thankful today for two women in Target that showed me kindness and taught me that it’s okay to say “yes.”

    “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” -1 Peter 3:8

    P.S. I got  home and realized: I forgot the notebook.

    Hope Remains

    One of my best friends lost her five year-old this week. After almost two years of seizures, comas, hospitals and specialists, Walker is finally resting in the arms of Jesus. I keep thinking back to when all of this started. Trevor called me that morning and told me about the medical call they ran the night before. The call where his captain turned their firetruck into our friends’ neighborhood. Then onto their street. Then pulled up at their house. Each step of the way, Trevor said he kept thinking “Please don’t let this be their house.” Only it was. Karie, my dear friend, called me from the hospital and told me about the first seizures. They came out of nowhere and suddenly their vivacious, smart, talkative three year-old was having an MRI while we all prayed and wondered how to make sense of it all. Many months later, we still can’t make it make sense. Babies shouldn’t suffer and die. Parents shouldn’t have to beg for their children’s lives. These things shouldn’t happen.

    Everyone is so amazed they kept going. Not just that Andy and Karie carried on, but that they did so with immense faith and never failed to point out that God was in control. They had something bigger than their fear: they had hope. Here’s the funny thing about hope- it won’t let you give up. It’s more than just a feeling or an idea; it’s a bridge that carries you from a place that doesn’t make sense into one that does. To a place where details like autoimmunity and encephalitis don’t matter, but one piece of truth reigns over everything: that Jesus Christ is Lord. He suffered and died so that when our loved ones suffer and die, it isn’t the end. His kingship rules even over death, forcing it into submission to a mighty God that loves us recklessly and without condition. A God that fights for us even beyond death. He wants more than life for us: He wants eternity.

    Walker may be gone from his earthly body, now, but his short life was not without impact. More people heard the name of Jesus through Walker’s story than I could begin to count. He mattered. He still matters. He will always matter. His life has led people to surrender theirs to Christ, to trust in God’s goodness even amidst tragedy. His strength and his parents’ strength have made us stronger.

    Living in this sin-wrecked world has its perils; death is one of them. When the world has gone to pieces, we can’t expect things to make sense all the time. But. Even amidst all of the uncertainty, the fear, the all-too-human questioning, one thing stands out: love. The love of a God that made the ultimate sacrifice- his own son dying on a cross so that we, along with our own sons and daughters, can live together forever in paradise.

    His love gives us hope. The world is broken, but our God is unshaken. For that, we can all rejoice, knowing that He can do infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine. He is holy. He is sovereign. He is alive. He is good. He is our hope.

    How I Became a Minivan Mom (aka the end of all things as we know it)

    So, life with three kids is pretty amazing. The biggest difference was our travel situation. We had finagled three car seats into the backseat of my Ford Edge (two Radians and a Chicco KeyFit 30). They fit, but man alive it was TIGHT. I didn’t love how snug things were back there, in terms of the seat installation, and let’s not even talk about how annoying it is to buckle in kids when you’re having to lean over one to reach another. We’d been talking about a new car for a while, but we were pretty (read: extremely) upside-down in my car and would have to make a humongous down payment. We wanted to wait a while to see if it was really something we wanted to do before forking over that much money.

    Well.

    I’ve never been more thrilled to give someone all of my money. Except maybe when I got an epidural. After a few weeks of three in a row (more power to those of you that make that set-up work for your families!), I had enough. So, we sucked it up and laid down some moo-lah and became the proud owners of this:

    IMG_1490

    Y’all, never say never. I swore up and down that I would NEVER EVER EVER drive a minivan. Funny thing happens when you add a third kid to the mix, you guys. Just combine amazing safety ratings, tons of space and a billion amenities for a family and you get a brand-new appreciation for all things uncool and mommy-like. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it is. Like, I am obsessed with this minivan. I  went to the car dealership and was all “power doors, GET IN MY LIFE.” The convenience so far outweighs the cool factor, I can’t even. The children have room. There is no poking of one another or choruses of “he’s took my toy!” They can’t touch each other if they want to, which, thank you so much, Toyota. Knox sits in the way-back and can now buckle himself in and out of his car seat (life-changing, I tell you). Brody and Ford sit in the bucket seats in middle. I sit in the drivers seat and sing the praises of Japanese auto makers. I have Bluetooth. I can talk on the phone as if by magic without touching anything. I can stream music without plugging anything in. There are two glove boxes. There are air vents everywhere. Our floor mats are all-weather, which means you can hose them off if someone vomits or poops on them – there is even room to change a diaper on the floor without having to put your baby under the drivers seat. And don’t even get me started on the back-up camera. I can park correctly for the first time in my life.  It’s like a whole new world.

    IMG_1499

    The moral of this story? Give in to the magic. Minivans are awesome. All the cool people think so.

    P.S. Here is an obligatory cute baby picture of my TWO MONTH OLD. How the heck did that happen in five minutes?!

    IMG_2247

    Okay, one more. IMG_2242

    Ford’s Nursery within the Master Bedroom

    When we found out we were expecting a third baby, thoughts soon turned to where he would sleep. We wisely just finished our forever home with only three bedrooms, not thinking another baby was in the near future. After talking it over, we decided that at first, Ford would sleep in our room.

    Our master bedroom is spacious enough that we were easily able to accommodate a crib and dresser, allowing Ford his own nursery space within our bedroom. I have to say, I am over the moon with how it turned out. Our first two boys  co-slept with us forever, so this may actually work better than him having his own room at first, anyway. I went with a calming neutral palette with rustic touches that would blend in with our room, but be appropriately “baby” enough for Ford.

    Here is the view right as you enter our bedroom:

    IMG_0138 IMG_0139

    And into Ford’s space…  I love this sweet crib. We were going to re-use Brody’s crib, but it was HUGE, so I decided we needed to get a new one. I’ve always wanted a white crib, and I love the classic look of the Jenny Lind. It fits so much better in this smaller space, and I’m so glad we got it!

    IMG_0140

    IMG_0143

    The over-the-crib art was a source of a lot of brainstorming and re-brainstorming. My original idea was messed up when we moved the large armoire that stood in this space (that now lives in our closet) and re-discovered a huge outlet hole in the wall. I planned something more airy with the wooden bunting letters and a rustic ladder, but since we needed to now cover a big hole, it was back to the drawing board! Luckily, I found this Bible verse art at the ever-amazing Hobby Lobby (on clearance for $29!) and made it work. I like it even better than my original plan.

    IMG_0144 IMG_0145 IMG_0146 IMG_0166 IMG_0147

    I love a good gallery wall. Maybe that’s why they’re all over my house! This one was a lot of fun to put together- I wanted something that would be able to transition easily back into an adult-only space when Ford moves in with a big brother down the road, and I think this fits the bill. There are lots of Bible verses in this space, which I love. This baby is a direct reminder to me of God’s amazing grace, generosity and provision. Some of these prints and pieces, I’ve collected over time and have no idea where they’re from, but the ones I do know I’ll add to a source list at the bottom of this post.

    IMG_0149

    IMG_0155 IMG_0157

    IMG_0158

    IMG_0159

    IMG_0164

    IMG_0150

    I love how this space came together, and I cannot wait to welcome Ford in just a couple weeks (more info on his early arrival coming soon)!

     

    Source List:

    Crib: Jenny Lind in white
    Sheets: Pottery Barn Kids Harper Clover Geo in Navy
    Crib skirt: Pottery Barn Kids Preston (no longer available)
    Dresser: DIY refinished
    Hamper with liner: TJ Maxx
    Over crib “Bless the Lord” art: Hobby Lobby
    Wooden name letter bunting: Hobby Lobby
    Frames: Ikea
    Wooden frame with bow: Kirkland’s
    Metal teal arrow: Hobby Lobby
    Arrow: Target craft section, “stained” with acrylic paint and water wash by me
    Burlap and metal “W”: Kirkland’s
    Wooden Star: Carolina Pottery (for $3!!)
    “Live a Quiet Life” print: Gracelaced
    Changing pad cover: Summer Infant Ultra Plush
    Changing area basket: Wal-mart (a few years back)grace
    Diaper bag: Pottery Barn Kids Black Harper Tote
    Curtains: Amazon Tahari Home
    Wall color: Revere Pewter by Sherwin Williams