Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012...

Well, another year has come & gone again, but for some reason this one feels much different from the past.  Maybe it's because we experienced both the most exciting joy & deepest sorrow we have ever felt before.  Or maybe it's because the future we thought we were planning for in the early months, has been flipped upside down now and we are no longer sure what's ahead for us.  Regardless, I wanted to be sure to recap this year for my own benefit - to remember the good, the bad, and the ugly and more importantly, to hopefully one day see God's plan & reason behind what happened to us this year:

January - I started the year off with some hope & goals for the new, as well as a photo-a-day project that {I didn't know at the time} would continue throughout the rest of the year.  As with previous years, I also continued posting about some book reviews and shared more of my outfits through "What I Wore Wednesday".  I also shared my Leap List on the blog and completed my first item.

February - WIWW continued and I even started creating outfits from my Pinterest board.  I shared Sam + I's love story and a rare moment where we got to babysit my adorable niece for the day.  My photo-a-day's also continued with weekly posts.

March - More reviews, outfit posts, and photo-a-day posts this month, but I also completed another Leap List item {my first massage!} and we started on a big house project - installing laminate flooring throughout our house.  We also found out we were pregnant this month, although no one knew yet :)

April - This month didn't have a lot going on except trying to keep our baby news a secret, so I kept myself busy by seeing Wicked for the first time and hosting a Stella & Dot giveaway {which was a lot of fun & I'd love to host more in the future}.  I also continued my photo-a-day project.

May - Another relatively quiet month {mainly due to the unknown pregnancy - sensing a theme?} with the exception of my weekly photo-a-day recap posts, but we also had some fun this month.  Our niece turned one!  And we got away to Bend, OR for a little vacation between working on our floors some more.  Our families learned of our upcoming bundle of joy, although we continued to keep the blog world in the dark for another month.

June - The big baby news month!  Our niece helped share the news and in addition to sharing some pregnancy details, I also began my weekly posts about the pregnancy at 14 weeks.  I also posted a special shout-out to the fathers in our life because a new one {my husband!} would be becoming on in December.  Other notable posts from June - I updated my Leap List, continued photo-a-day recaps, and Sam & I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary!

July - We started out this month with a trip to Nova Scotia {at 16 weeks pregnant} to see my dad and ended it with multiple doctor visits when they discovered a problem at our gender ultrasound.  I filled the month with photo-a-day recaps, reviews, and a Pinterest project, but this month sort of seems like a blur when I think back on it.

August - I took a break posting about the pregnancy for weeks 19 & 20 of the pregnancy due to the news we received in July, but shared some medical details around 21 weeks when we decided to put our trust and baby girl in God's hands and her name around 22 weeks {Charlotte}.  Due to the state of our pregnancy, we became labeled as "high risk" and began seeing a specialist every couple weeks for monitoring, measurements, and tests.  Through all of this, I clung to whatever normalcy I could find and continued my photo-a-day project to find some appreciation of the little things in life.

September - If I was to describe my feelings this month in one word, I would probably say it was "hopeful".  We had met with a few different doctors concerning our little girl's condition and while we knew it was serious, we also hoped that God would fix her little body if that was His plan.  Notable happenings for this month include: sharing a little bit about what was going through my head at the moment; participating in a scarf swap; posting my photo-a-day recaps; and attending two baby showers out of town for Charlotte + I {posted about in December}.

October - Another somewhat quiet month on the blog, with the exception of photo-a-day posts, pregancy updates, and reviews.  One exception was where I felt more hopeful in September, the feeling of hopelessness surrounding the pregnancy overcame my thoughts in October, which I shared about around 32 weeks.  To take my mind off worrying, I started a weekly post called Friday Favorites {I featured Lisa Leonard & HelloBee this month}, which share some blogs & sites that have become must-reads for me throughout the years.

November - More pregnancy updates, reviews, Friday Favorites {iHeart Organizing, Influenster, I Love You More Than Carrots, Jonathan David Photography, and The Four Gift Rule}, and photo-a-day recaps this month.  We also shared Charlotte's scheduled birthday - 12.12.12 - around 36 weeks, after we were transferred up to Legacy Emanuel in Portland, OR for the remainder of our pregnancy.  And due to the nature of the month, I also shared why I was most thankful this year...

December - Also known as the month we've been waiting for!  I started out the month posting about the amazing baby showers that were thrown for us over the last couple months, as well as a Friday Favorite {The Dough Will Rise Again} and finishing out my year-long photo-a-day project.  Then before we knew it, we had made it to 39 weeks & the day finally came that we would finally be meeting our precious baby girl.  Charlotte René Grable was born on 12.12.12 at 2:35pm, but sadly, we had to say goodbye to her far too soon on 12.21.12 at around 11:30am, only 9 short days after we met her.  I tried to put our feelings into words and find meaning for why this all happened, but a lot of if is still in my heart, which is, honestly, where it might stay for the unforeseeable future...  However, I did want to document Charlotte's short, but love-filled life, so you can read about her here & here.

This year was tough.  As I mentioned above, we experienced such a range of emotions this year that I'm not sure how many I have left {except for indescribable sadness and desire to hold Charlotte in my arms again}.  As 2012 comes to an end, I pray that I never forget this year and what it brought us, but that I am also able to move forward and see Charlotte in everything beautiful ahead of us.

#fmsphotoaday The Rest of December

Sorry for the absence of these posts. It's probably obvious, but December was a busy month for us and after the first full week of the month passed us by, we were in complete baby mode. We welcomed our much-anticipated bundle of joy on 12.12.12, but sadly said goodbye all too soon to our shooting star on 12.21.12.

Some may wonder why I continued posting my photo-a-day with everything we had going on, but I wanted to finish something that I had been doing all year. So I did.

And now that it's the end of 2012, I think I will take a break from this project. It's been really good in helping me see the beauty in the little things and I hope I can continue to post pictures of those moments that catch my eye.

+ Day 10 - under {the Portland bridges on our way back to Salem after our last baby appointment}
+ Day 11 - sweet {a husband who gets up at 4am to make you breakfast before you can't eat for 8 hours}
+ Day 12 - hat {a seasonal one for our Christmas baby}
+ Day 13 - lights {dim & calm in the NICU}

+ Day 14 - green {my ID bracelet that gets me into the NICU whenever I want}
+ Day 15 - outdoors {the closest I've gotten in 4 days...}
+ Day 16 - something I made {with the help of Sam, baby C's little toes}
+ Day 17 - on the floor {lots of NICU equipment}

+ Day 18 - makes you feel merry {the care + love we feel from the Randall Children's Hospital NICU team}
+ Day 19 - something beginning with 's' {a sleepy daddy (Sam) with his baby girl}
+ Day 20 - weather {looks about how we feel right now...}
+ Day 21 - tree

+ Day 22 - decoration {my all-time favorite}
+ Day 23 - joy is... {my favorite niece in Christmas pajamas}
+ Day 24 - tradition {seeing a movie in Christmas Eve or Christmas Day}
+ Day 25 - lunchtime {snack}

+ Day 26 - mess {= me, whenever I look at this picture of Sam + Charlotte}
+ Day 27 - how I relax {feet up, under a blanket}
+ Day 28 - cold {walk}
+ Day 29 - hot {chocolate}

+ Day 30 - something that made me smile this year {spending 9 days as a family of three with Sam & Charlotte}

+ Day 31 - self-portrait {what a year it's been...}

Thank you to all of you who commented on my photos throughout the year.  This was a fun project and a good way to document the ups & downs of 2012.

If you'd like to follow me on Instagram, check out my feed here!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Charlotte's Life - Part 2

Because I don't want to forget anything about the nine days we spent with our little girl, here is an account of her short, but love-filled life.  Part 1 is posted here.

Along with Charlotte's change in breathing assistance, Saturday also brought my discharge. I was able to spend a hour with her while she was getting the hang of the CPAP, but had to leave before the doctors were able to test her on it. While I was gone, Sam & his mom stayed with Charlotte. My discharge felt like it took forever because all I wanted to do was get back to hold my little girl's hand, but when I finally got back up to the NICU, I felt like I was living my worst nightmare.  In short, Charlotte had stopped breathing on the CPAP and had to be intibated again after turning blue and hearing her heart monitor drop to almost nothing. It felt like eternity before we saw life come back to her, but once it did, we all could breathe again ourselves, even though we knew this didn't mean good news for Charlotte.

The neonatologist explained to us what had happened with Charlotte and said they would continue to try anything we wanted, but that Charlotte's breathing troubles appeared to be mechanical and wouldn't improve over time, due to her diagnosis.  Our world came crashing down in an instant, but we decided to take some time to think about things and shower our little girl with all the love we had.  And that night, Sam got his first chance to hold Charlotte and I fell in love with him all over again.

For the next several days, we took every opportunity to hold & love on Charlotte that we were given. We also had a couple more meetings with different doctors and staff who work in the NICU, but we were still trying to process our own thoughts and the only thing we knew was that we needed to have all of our family & close friends come meet Charlotte before it was too late.  And almost immediately, everyone dropped everything they had going on and came to be with us.

December 19th was not only our original due date and Charlotte's one week birthday, but it was also the day we came to a decision regarding next steps for Charlotte.   The neonatologist told us about another breathing assistance measure, which we decided that we would try on Friday. But along with this decision, we also made the hardest decision of our lives - we would not re-intibate her if this breathing measure was to fail.  Some may think we were giving up hope, but Charlotte had spent her whole (short) life being poked, prodded, and with tubes down her throat, all while being one of the most content babies I've ever seen, but when she cried and we couldn't hear a sound, that's when we knew her quality of life would never be what it should be and it wasn't fair to keep making her suffer.

There are no words to describe our feelings surrounding this decision. Not only were we sad & angry that our baby girl was most likely being taken from us way too soon, but Charlotte also brought us so much joy & happiness in only a short time. Praying was all we could do and ask of people. Of course we asked for a miracle, as we had been doing for the previous five months, but we knew that God already knew her future and if He had others plans, He would make them happen.

Friday seemed to arrive before we knew it. We spent the morning talking to Charlotte as we usually did and told her the same things we had been telling her her whole life - how much we love her and how much God loves her.  Then the neonatologist, nurse, and respiratory therapist came to switch Charlotte's breathing measure and we finally were able to see our beautiful baby girl's entire face without all the tubes we had become used to.  In preparation that this might be our last day with Charlotte, my SIL arranged for a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep to come take some family photos for us.  Shortly after the photographer left, we realized that Charlotte's breath wasn't as strong as it once was and the neonatologist confirmed that the breathing measure wasn't working as we had hoped. The next hour we took turns holding and rocking our precious child and praying God would take her peacefully to be with Him.  And around 11:30am on December 21, 2012, Charlotte René went to be with Jesus and she was finally safe & perfect in His arms.

There hasn't been a moment in the last week that we haven't thought of our baby girl.  People are praying and reaching out to help us and for that we are very thankful, but to be honest, the only thing I really want is to be holding my beautiful Charlotte again and unfortunately no one can give that to us.  We do have peace knowing she is finally pain-free and dancing up in Heaven with the one who created her, but being without her still hurts more than words can say.  This pain we are feeling is one I wouldn't wish on anyone and I pray that with time, God's plan & reason for Charlotte's short, but love-filled life will be revealed and we will rejoice in the fact that we were lucky enough to be around her for her life here on earth.

Thank you again to those who have prayed for us from our first diagnosis until now and will continue to lift us up in your prayers.  I feel blessed by the outpouring of love & support we have felt from family, friends, and even those who never had a chance to meet our precious little girl.  Thank you all!

Charlotte René Grable
December 12, 2012 - December 21, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Charlotte's Life - Part 1

Because I don't want to forget anything about the nine days we spent with our little girl, here is an account of her short, but love-filled life.  Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.

The morning before my c-section was fairly calm. We had gotten up early (4am) so I could have one last meal before surgery. We packed the car & prepared the house for our return as a family of three (which we were really hoping & praying would happen).  As I have mentioned previously, we knew that Charlotte had some hurdles to overcome, but the extent of them were unknown until she arrived.  The biggest hurdle being whether or not she could breathe on her own.

The reason for our scheduled c-section was three-fold: 1. Charlotte was breech; 2. her condition warranted the doctors wanting to be fully prepared to give her the best care possible; and 3. we would be having her an hour away from home at Legacy Emanuel in Portland, in order to receive the top care.  For weeks leading up to our scheduled due date, I feared my body would go into labor due to my high levels of fluid and we'd have to rush to Portland as fast as we could, but thankfully that didn't happen. But once I got checked in, I was informed that I was having consistent contractions, although I couldn't feel any of them.

Surgery prep seemed pretty routine - IV put in, monitoring baby + I, meeting the doctors that would be delivering Charlotte. Our family & friends came to wait for Charlotte's arrival with us and we said one last prayer together before I was wheeled to the operating room to meet our little girl.

The surgery itself wasn't too memorable, even with it being my first major surgery and all, but all my thoughts were consumed with the anticipation of what was coming (Charlotte).  Before they started the c-section, we were told that they were going to give her a chance to breathe on her own, but if she couldn't, the NICU staff would be ready & waiting to assist her.  Once I heard "here she comes!", I remember just praying she'd overcome all of the obstacles ahead of her and surprise everyone.  But when they pulled her out I held my own breathe waiting to hear her cry and when she didn't, I knew something wasn't right.

Charlotte Renè Grable was born on 12.12.12 at 2:35pm, weighing 6lbs 14oz and measuring just over 17in.

She was whisked away to a room off of the operating room and Sam went to be with her almost immediately, which was our plan if this happened. But when he didn't come back with her before they were done putting me back together, my biggest fears were all I could think about.  It wasn't until I was being wheeled to recovery when I was finally able to see our little girl for the first time, however looking at her was all I could do as she was already hooked up to a CPAP breathing machine.  My heart broke seeing her all hooked up to machines and then shattered when I went to my recovery room and Sam & Charlotte went to the NICU, instead of joining me.

Like surgery, my recovery wasn't too memorable either. The only thing I recall is my deep desire to hear what was going on with Charlotte, so I put on a happy face for those who came to check on me, but the only place I really wanted to be was with my husband and little girl.  Finally, after my two-hour recovery time ended, I was wheeled up to the NICU to see Charlotte before going to the Family Birthing Center.  Sam met me at the door of the NICU and we had a chance to talk to the neonatologist about Charlotte's status, which was what we thought - she was having trouble breathing. I was informed that the CPAP wasn't working for Charlotte and they had to intibate her instead, but the neonatologist still felt encouraged because she was out breathing the machines.  The tears I had been holding back for hours finally came pouring out, a mix of fear and a love I had never felt before.  Before I knew it, I had to leave again and the tears returned, mainly because I didn't know when I would see my newborn baby again.

Sam continued to stay in the NICU with Charlotte as I was staying in the Family Birthing Center. For a couple of days, all we could do was touch Charlotte while she lay in her bed. Sam had a chance to change some diapers and assist in other care for Charlotte, but my visits were limited due to recovery and my medication schedule.  It wasn't until Friday afternoon when I was finally able to hold my baby girl for the first time and while it was a little challenging due to all the tubes and cords, it was hands down one of my top three moments of my life!

Friday also brought some meetings with the NICU staff. First, we met with the geneticist, who had looked over Charlotte's bone scans and confirmed her diagnosis - campomelic dysplasia. Then we met with the neonatologist again and he said that since Charlotte was doing so well on the breathing tube, they wanted to try the CPAP again, in hopes that she would do better than she did at birth and hopefully she wouldn't need further extensive breathing assistance.  This was planned for the following day and to be honest, it was hard not to hope for the best...

Friday, December 28, 2012

One Week Ago...

One week ago, was probably the worst day of our lives.

Back in August, I mentioned a little bit about our sweet baby girl's condition. But, to be honest, I kind of pushed it aside and decided to turn to prayer, in hopes that a miracle might overcome any hardship she had ahead of her.

However, God had other plans.

Instead of figuring out life as a new family of three, Sam & I were faced with having to say goodbye to our first born only nine days after we said hello. Something I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Now we are back home, trying to find our new normal, yet all we can think about is our precious Charlotte! A future we once hoped & prayed for has been ripped away from us and I find myself in tears at the mere thought of her and what life might have been like.

Currently, I am holding Revelation 21:4 close to my heart in hopes that Charlotte is pain-free & perfect up in Heaven...

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Thank you again to all who have been sending up prayers and thoughts on our behalf.

Monday, December 24, 2012


“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”
Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

If I could pick one word to describe the last twelve days, it would be bittersweet. Sweet that we got to spend 9 days with our precious daughter, holding and loving on her every second we could. And bitter because she was taken from us all too soon {in our opinion}, after she wasn't able to breathe on her own. There are a lot of emotions we are feeling, but mostly I feel sad. Oh what I wouldn't give to hold her in our arms again and see those beautiful brown eyes looking up at me...

Please bear with us as we grieve & process what this new future looks like and if you're the praying type, send one up for us & our families.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Brighter Option - Crest Whitestrips

My teeth have consistently been something I have tried to hide my whole life.  No matter how many times I have been told how much people enjoy my smile, even after years of braces and other dental surgeries, I still know my teeth are not perfect and straight like the movie stars' and while others might not be able to tell, I sure can.

Enter Crest Whitestrips.  If you have been around the beauty aisles over the last few years, you know that the whitening strips are not a new product, but have become a go-to of mine year after year.  Whether I'm in the need of a white smile for a specific event I am attending or I just want a little brightening for every day life, Crest Whitestrips help me achieve my desired outcome - whiter teeth.  I have only really tried the original strips myself, I have also heard great things about the full kits as well.

And thanks to P&G new eStore, Crest Whitestrips (and many other well-known products) can be ordered from the convenience of your home, whenever you would like.  Plus, for the holidays, the P&G eStore has many offers they are currently promoting:

  • 15% off on a first-time order from a new customer, using promo code: A9Z-MN5-KY3-ISA
  • Free Shipping on orders over $25
  • Free Samples with every order

So for this holiday season, if you're looking for a little something that will brighten up any occasion, I would suggest ordering yourself a box of Crest Whitestrips and trying them out for yourself!  And while you're ordering those, why not take a look at some of the fun bundles P&G has put together just for their eStore customers, including brands like Gillette, Pampers, and Duracell.

What products are you using this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

39 Weeks! A.K.A. Delivery Day!

How Far Along: 39 Weeks!

Size of Baby: a watermelon {19 to 22 in, 6 to 9 lbs} according to What To Expect.

Maternity Clothes: Same as before and from what I hear, I'll probably still be in them for at least a couple more weeks.

Gender: a sweet baby GIRL!

Movement: If moves around as she is during our ultrasounds, then we've got a very active one on our hands.
  I think I'm going to miss her little kicks, but it'll be a whole new world to feel her move around on the outside :)

Sleep:  I got a decent amount a sleep this week.  Between the anticipation & nerves of today and the body aches, sleep is hard to come by, but I'll take whatever I can get.

What I miss: Not much right now... I think I'm just ready to meet our little girl and see what's next.

Cravings: Very little.  Actually, I've really noticed my appetite decreasing over the last week, which from what I hear is normal.

Other crazy symptoms: Pretty much the same as the last couple weeks - body aches, swelling feet, etc.

Best Moment this week: Taking time to get ready for today & enjoying Sam's company as much as I can as we'll have a new being to compete with as of 2pm today!

Thank you all for your prayers & thoughts throughout this pregnancy and I can't wait to introduce our little girl to you all soon!

Monday, December 10, 2012

#fmsphotoaday December Week 1

December feels like a big deal for a couple reasons - 1. {the obvious that I can't stop talking about...} this is the month we get to meet our much anticipated & prayed for baby girl, 2. it's the final month of the year, which is usually a busy one with holidays & whatnot, and 3. it's my twelfth month of participating in Fat Mum Slim's photo-a-day prompts.  I've probably said it once a month, but this might be my last month for at least a little while.  I am hoping I can finish out this month to say I did the whole year at least, but my guess is life is going to be extra busy in just a few short days... Stay tuned to see what happens :)

+ Day 1 - 8 o'clock {making cookies}
+ Day 2 - peace {by the Christmas tree; comforted by all the prayers for our little girl by people who haven't even met her yet}
+ Day 3 - something I held {frozen yogurt after our 38 week appointment}

+ Day 4 - black & white {& yellow all over}
+ Day 5 - looking up {many hours spent propping my feet up, even at work}
+ Day 6 - where we live {our living room}

+ Day 7 - stars
+ Day 8 - someone I love {Sam + Lily}
+ Day 9 - out & about {actually just out at the in-law's house, sitting by their tree}

If you'd like to follow along daily on Instagram, check out my feed here!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Favorites - The Dough Will Rise Again

As an avid and daily blog reader, I have quite the collection of starred posts in my Google Reader that fit into one of two categories: 1. they either speak to me or 2. they are make me want to {try to} DIY or 3. they introduce me to a new product.  Sometimes I go back at reread these posts and other times I just forget I’ve starred them at all.  So instead of letting them pile up in my Google Reader, I thought it’d be best to share some of my favorites with my readers, especially since I know how much I enjoy being introduced to new {to me} blogs that peak my interest and keep me coming back for more.

Since getting married a couple years ago, my love for the kitchen has grown.  Maybe it's because it's our own space and I know where everything is, but regardless it's been a place to create.  Unfortunately, I am not creative enough to come up with recipes on my own, so I turn to others to share their favorites and one of my go-to for new recipes is The Dough Will Rise Again.

Written by two friends who love to cook/bake, The Dough Will Rise Again is full of delicious recipes that will not only make your mouth water, but provide simple-to-follow steps that help you create these meals at home.  From appetizers to main courses to desserts, there is bound to be a recipe that will fit your needs & wants.

What I love most about this blog, and others out there like it, is that it's not written by paid chefs, but every day people who just love food.  I don't feel like I'm going to have to search for an ingredient or tool that I've never heard of, but rather use what I already have in my own kitchen.  A big plus for someone who works full time and isn't spending her days in the kitchen {although that would be nice :)}.

I'm still working my way through several of the starred recipes, but from the ones I've tried, I know that the others are going to be just as good.  If you're looking for meal ideas written by two women who love to cook, check out The Dough Will Rise Again and start tasting your way through.

A few of the recipes currently making me hungry include:
Jalapeno Bacon Cheeseburger on Pretzel Rolls
Honey BBQ Meatloaf
Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Soft Pretzels 

Where do you go to for your favorite recipes?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

38 Weeks!

How Far Along: 38 Weeks!

Size of Baby: a watermelon {19 to 22 in, 7 lbs} according to What To Expect.

Maternity Clothes: Just rotating through my limited closet of clothing options, with the only big difference being that I'm wearing the same pair of boots almost every day due to my swelling feet...

Gender: a sweet baby GIRL!

Movement: She's still moving & I'm so thankful for that!  I've heard stories where the movement starts to slow down at the end due to lack of room, but our girl keep letting me know she's still in there {and will hopefully stay in there for another week :)}

Sleep: Some days I feel more rested than others, but on average things are alright, besides constantly trying to find a comfortable position to be in and getting up to go to the bathroom multiple times a night, of course.

What I miss: Sleeping... comfortably, on my stomach, through the night.

Cravings: Looking back, I haven't had any major cravings.  Some foods sound better than others, but for the most part, food is food.  I have definitely noticed my appetite isn't what it used to be, but I'm just adjusting as needed.

Other crazy symptoms: The feet are still swelling, as I mentioned above, and the little one is still hanging out on my right side about 90% of the time, so those symptoms are still going strong.

Best Moment this week: Having a good appointment on Monday and getting to see our girl once again.  As we near the end, I have been thinking a lot about the ups & downs of this pregnancy and while it hasn't been without it's scares & tears, the fact that we've seen our little girl at least every two weeks for the last few months has been a blessing for me.

One more week to go...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Showered with Love

When we received our difficult news back in July, I wasn't sure I wanted to have any baby showers because I was afraid they would make me sad or disconnected.  But after much thought, I realized that all my family & friends wanted to do was shower us with love + gifts so we could be the most prepared for this new adventure ahead of us {whatever that may look like}.

To say we were blessed by each & every guest who attended would be an understatement.  Family came together from far and wide.  Friends who I hadn't seen in years showed up to join the fun and festivities.  And everyone told me how much they already love our baby girl and are praying for her every day {which was by far the best gift we could ever receive!}.

Our first shower was held in Bend, OR --- a place filled with childhood memories.  My mom reserved a table at one of our favorite breakfast spots and people I've known for over 20 years gathered together for a couple hours of good food and even better company.

The second shower was held in El Dorado Hills, CA at my aunt's house.  This shower was mainly for Sam + I's family who are located in California.  Grandmas, aunts, cousins, and friends gathered together for a poolside party thrown by my mom + aunt.

We were blessed to have our third shower in Salem, OR.  As soon as I walked in, I knew this one was all about the details.  There were delicious breakfast foods + drinks, a onesie decorating area, and decor to match.  It was simple, but beautiful, and in my opinion, I feel like it could give Pinterest a run for it's money :)

Our fourth shower was thrown by my SIL's in Sandy, OR.  Another shower that didn't skimp on the details, this one was all about the bows + buttons for our little girl.  The decor was bright and the games were fun.  And yet again, I felt blessed by all the people who showed up to love on us.

The last shower was also in Salem, OR and put on by some good friends I've made at work {I forgot to take any pictures!}.  It was a simple, open house, yet I cherish this one a lot because as I have realized, you truly do spend a lot of time with the people you work with and thinking back, they have seen much more of this pregnancy than most of my family + friends.

I hope it's obvious, but if not, let it be said that we are blessed!  Not only do I feel like we've got a good start on what we need to provide for our little girl, but the love + prayer that we have all around us makes me feel like we can overcome anything that comes our way! 

Thank you to those who attend one or more of these showers and a special thank you to those who took the time to put each & every one of these showers together.  We love you all!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Favorites - The Four Gift Rule

As an avid and daily blog reader, I have quite the collection of starred posts in my Google Reader that fit into one of two categories: 1. they either speak to me or 2. they are make me want to {try to} DIY or 3. they introduce me to a new product.  Sometimes I go back at reread these posts and other times I just forget I’ve starred them at all.  So instead of letting them pile up in my Google Reader, I thought it’d be best to share some of my favorites with my readers, especially since I know how much I enjoy being introduced to new {to me} blogs that peak my interest and keep me coming back for more.

This week's favorite is a pin that I found on Pinterest months ago and felt like it was just what I was looking for.  A little backstory --- every year around this time, I find myself finishing up my Christmas shopping and doing everything I can to find the perfect present for everyone on my list.  And I will be the first to admit that I live to spoil my loved ones with everything they want/need!  However, in a time where money is a little tighter and people don't always need more "stuff", my gift giving direction has shifted a little from the past and this year I am giving The Four Gift Rule a try.

Easy right?  In a world where consumerism is at an all time high, the simplicity of this list is what really attracted the idea in the first place.  And while the intention is for kids, I think it can really be a guide for anyone on your list.  It can be big or small, but instead of stressing over tracking down a pile of gifts that someone may or may not truly enjoy or just buying whatever is on their wish list this year, The Four Gift Rule allows expectations to remain in check and opens the doors to a little creativity on the buyer's part.

Here are a couple posts from other bloggers I follow on their Christmas plans:
Elm Street Life - Christmas Giving
Where My Heart Resides - A Simple Christmas

What are you doing for Christmas gifts this year?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

37 Weeks!

How Far Along: 37 Weeks!

Size of Baby: a watermelon {19 to 22 in, 6.5 lbs} according to What To Expect.

Maternity Clothes: *insert similar response to the last several weeks*  But if you follow me on Twitter, you might have heard that I'm down a pair of maternity jeans...

Gender: a sweet baby GIRL!

Movement: The movement is still there and she's still hanging out on the right side, but I've noticed it's not as often as I believe she's got to be running out of room in there.

Sleep: Much less than before, but still able to function from day to day.  I read somewhere this week that maybe it's baby's way of preparing you for what's to come.

What I miss: Back to being painless --- this last stretch feels like it might go on forever...

Cravings: Citrus & chips.

Other crazy symptoms: In the last week, my feet have become more swollen and after trying everything Dr. Google says to do, I think I'm going to pick up a pair of compression hose on my way home tonight and pray for some comfort in these last two weeks.

Best Moment this week: Spending time with family and reflecting on what I am most thankful for!

Monday, November 26, 2012

#fmsphotoaday November Week 4

Last week was busy --- between going up to Portland for a baby appointment, having family in town, celebrating Thanksgiving, and helping the economy (a.k.a. Black Friday shopping), the week flew by!  Even though we have Charlotte's birthday on the books (12.12.12) and some say time will slow down, I'm not so convinced.  I'm afraid things won't slow down and things won't get done.  I hope I can remember to enjoy the small things in life before our small little one arrives.

How was your Thanksgiving?

+ Day 19 - something awesome {seeing our little girl in 4D and scheduling when we will get to meet her}
+ Day 20 - work/play {while I was working, my mom was playing/shopping for Thanksgiving}
+ Day 21 - what I wore {a favorite pair of Toms & hello baby bump :)}
+ Day 22 - grateful {to host family at our house for Thanksgiving}

+ Day 23 - black {Friday movie date with Sam, my mom, and brother}
+ Day 24 - a sound you heard {Saturday college football games all day}
+ Day 25 - sky {clouds as far as the eye can see}

If you'd like to follow along daily on Instagram, check out my feed here!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Favorites - Jonathan David Photography

As an avid and daily blog reader, I have quite the collection of starred posts in my Google Reader that fit into one of two categories: 1. they either speak to me or 2. they are make me want to {try to} DIY or 3. they introduce me to a new product.  Sometimes I go back at reread these posts and other times I just forget I’ve starred them at all.  So instead of letting them pile up in my Google Reader, I thought it’d be best to share some of my favorites with my readers, especially since I know how much I enjoy being introduced to new {to me} blogs that peak my interest and keep me coming back for more.

Ever since I can remember, pictures have held an important place in my life.  When I was younger, my walls were covered in pictures of friends and family.  Then when it came to what areas to spend our money on when we got married, photography was something that I was willing to splurge on to get something that will help us remember that day for years to come.  Unfortunately, taking pictures has become more obsolete over the last couple years {unless you count your iPhone pictures}, so I have tried my best to get at least one set of annual pictures of Sam + I to remember where we're through different life stages.  And our unofficial photographers seem to continue to be the husband-wife duo that make up Jonathan David Photography.

You might recall me writing about them last year when they took our pictures with Sam's side of the family, but our love for these two have not gone away one bit.  And they have knocked it out of the park once again with our maternity shoot.  To see what I'm talking about, head over to their blog now!

In a time when I know a lot people who are doing photo shoots, some remain at the top of my lists of favorites and that's where Jon & Rachel currently reside.  Not only do I appreciate their attention to details, but I love that whenever we get together with them, we pick up just like old friends.  Plus, they have pulled out some of our best, most genuine smiles throughout the years, and for that I'm so grateful!  And with Sam working on his own photography business, they have been not only been supportive, but willing to give him tips they have learned over the years.

Some of our past photo shoots:
Us + the pups
The Grable Family

Do you try new photographers each year or do you like to go back to the same one year after year?

Thursday, November 22, 2012


This year has been one for the books and when I think back on what I'm most thankful for, one thing instantly comes to mind --- our baby girl, Charlotte.

When we first decided to expand our family, it was fun to dream of the future.
When we were told we were pregnant, excitement was one of our top emotions.
When we first heard our baby's heartbeat, everything felt more real.
When we first saw our baby via ultrasound, we began to imagine the life ahead of us.
And, unfortunately, in an instant, our life changed with news of complications and nothing we ever envisioned was now becoming our reality. 

Back then {around 19-20 weeks}, it felt like all the odds were against her and even now, 3 weeks out from her debut, there are still concerns they won't have answers for until she's here, but I feel like I can sit here today and tell you all how thankful I am that I got to carry her this long & provide the safest place for her to grow regardless of what her future holds.  And that is what I am holding on to this Thanksgiving.

I have to also throw out a quick, but heartfelt, 'thank you' to our family + friends who have cried, rejoiced, and prayed with us this year and who I know will keep doing the same as long as we need them to.  We love you!

What are you thankful for this year?

Check out our past thankful posts: 2011, 2010, 2009

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

36 Weeks!

How Far Along: 36 Weeks!

Size of Baby: a watermelon {19 to 22 in, 6.5 lbs} according to What To Expect.

Maternity Clothes: If you see me on a daily basis, you might feel like you're seeing the same thing every week (I know I am starting to feel like that...), but I am trying to just use what I have and hopefully it will carry me through.

Gender: a sweet baby GIRL!

Movement: I love the little kicks & jabs I feel throughout the day and at our last ultrasound, there were many comments about how active she is in there, so there may be some I don't even notice :)

Sleep: Some nights are better than others, but trying to find a comfortable position is getting pretty difficult, so any sleep I get I am thankful for.

What I miss: Being comfortable.

Cravings: Still loving the Cuties!

Other crazy symptoms: I feel like I can't possibly get any bigger than I am, so the skin stretching is getting kind of itchy.  I keep putting on lotion as much as possible and hope that it can cure some of the itch.

Best Moment this week: Scheduling a date to meet our little girl - 12.12.12 via c-section!  With only 3 weeks to go, I am amazed at how fast most of this pregnancy has seemed. 

Any last minute tips for this mom-to-be?

Monday, November 19, 2012

#fmsphotoaday November Week 3

If I thought the weeks previous were flying by, I think I'm about to feel like we're in warp speed.  We have our first baby appointment up in Portland today and they might be telling us when we're going to meet our little girl {how surreal!}... Then we've got family coming to town for the holiday weekend full of eating + shopping :)

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

+ Day 12 - drink {Burgerville pumpkin shake after our maternity photo shoot}
+ Day 13 - where I slept {deja vu from day 10...}
+ Day 14 - man-made {my lopsided belly}

+ Day 15 - in my bag {the usual - wallet, sunglasses, receipts, and an ultrasound pic from today's appointment}
+ Day 16 - the view from my window {our rainy backyard}
+ Day 17 - last thing I bought {something for the nursery from Kesha}
+ Day 18 - happened this weekend {decorated our Christmas tree}

If you'd like to follow along daily on Instagram, check out my feed here!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Favorites - I Love You More Than Carrots

As an avid and daily blog reader, I have quite the collection of starred posts in my Google Reader that fit into one of two categories: 1. they either speak to me or 2. they are make me want to {try to} DIY or 3. they introduce me to a new product.  Sometimes I go back at reread these posts and other times I just forget I’ve starred them at all.  So instead of letting them pile up in my Google Reader, I thought it’d be best to share some of my favorites with my readers, especially since I know how much I enjoy being introduced to new {to me} blogs that peak my interest and keep me coming back for more.

If you took a look through my Google Reader, I believe that you'd find that at least 50% of the blogs I read are "mommy bloggers" or mom's who blog about the ups & downs of parenthood through their eyes.  And while, I've only just begun to wrap my head around my upcoming role as a mother to someone, I have starred a number of posts throughout the years from these type of bloggers, in hope that their advice will aide me some day.

One of these blogs that has recently caught my eye is I Love You More Than Carrots, written by AP, a mom of two little boys who shares life's little moments in a honest and hilarious way.  Sometime in the last year, I was directed over to ILYMTC through a couple other blogs and, as usual, found myself diving into her archives to read more of her posts that I've missed over the years {this happens with almost any blog I start following}.

As someone who has no idea what life is going to look like in a month, I appreciate the reassurance that life isn't always "perfect", but that other moms are facing struggles and living through it to tell about it.  And that's one of the main reasons I look forward to AP's posts because even if I'm not going to through it at the time, it's nice to know that someone has possibly navigated through it in the past.

So if you like honest and funny stories about being a mom and juggling life, check out ILYMTC and fall in love with AP & her adorable family!

A few of my favorite {recent} posts include:
Flying By The Seat Of Our Pants And Telling Our Own Stories
You Worry Too Much
On Blogging, Judgement, The Un-Blogger And Why I Blog

Any mommy/family blogs you'd recommend? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

35 Weeks!

How Far Along: 35 Weeks!

Size of Baby: a large cantaloupe {19 to 22 in, 6 lbs} according to What To Expect.

Maternity Clothes: Lots of basic tees & maternity jeans, with a few dresses mixed in if I'm feeling a little more fancy :)

Gender: a sweet baby GIRL!

Movement: Still moving, although I'm not sure for how much longer considering I thought she was out of room a couple weeks ago...

Sleep: Good sleep - what's that?  Yeah, sleep is not as good as it was for the previous 30+ weeks.  However, I am still getting a few consecutive hours of sleep, so I can't complain too much.

What I miss: Being painless... {see below}

Cravings: This week, I've been eating as many Cuties as I can get my hands on.

Other crazy symptoms: Still a lot of back & rib pain {due to her, I believe, sitting as far on my right side as she possible can}.  I'm seeing my doctor today so I'm going to make sure it's "normal" pain, but boy is it hard to find any position that doesn't leave me in pain.

Best Moment this week: Getting the chance to rest as much as possible.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#fmsphotoaday November Week 2

As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, I think you could find me lying down almost all weekend {the third trimester tiredness is no joke!} and I'm thankful for the lack of plans we had so I could rest without the guilt.  But alas, I'm back at work and by the looks of my calendar, I'm almost afraid to blink in fear that all the time I thought I had is going to fly by...

Can you believe we're almost halfway through November?

+ Day 5 - 5 o'clock {heating my aching back}
+ Day 6 - a favorite thing {trying new samples from Influenster}
+ Day 7 - reflection {@ 34 weeks!}

+ Day 8 - something I do everyday {drive}
+ Day 9 - small {-est diaper I've ever seen}
+ Day 10 - can't live without {my body pillow right now}
+ Day 11 - night {by candle light}

If you'd like to follow along daily on Instagram, check out my feed here!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Favorites - Influenster

As an avid and daily blog reader, I have quite the collection of starred posts in my Google Reader that fit into one of two categories: 1. they either speak to me or 2. they are make me want to {try to} DIY or 3. they introduce me to a new product.  Sometimes I go back at reread these posts and other times I just forget I’ve starred them at all.  So instead of letting them pile up in my Google Reader, I thought it’d be best to share some of my favorites with my readers, especially since I know how much I enjoy being introduced to new {to me} blogs that peak my interest and keep me coming back for more.

This week's 'Friday Favorites' isn't a blog that I currently follow per se, but a program that I was introduced to through social media that has introduced me to some new-to-me products that I might not have checked out on my own.

Influenster is a "free-to-join community of invited trendsetters who live to give opinions of products and experiences" where they send out different boxes of samples based on your interests for you to try & give your thoughts on.

I've only been a member for a few months, but I have already received my second box* of samples to try and let me tell you, they don't hold back.  I've been given some of the nicest samples or some cases, normal sized products to try and give my opinion on.

For example, this box contained the following:
  • Bath & Body Works® Fall Mini Candle
  • NYC New York Color IndividualEyes
  • Kiss® Ever PRO Lashes
  • Not Your Mother's® haircare products
  • Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin 
  • Vitabath® Fragrance Mist
  • Boots No7 Beautiful Skin
I am really looking forward to trying these out because in some cases, I have seen them at the store and wondered how they worked and now I get to try them out myself!

If you'd like to try this out for yourself, let me know in the comment section & I will send you an invitation to get signed up.  Easy, right?

*Besides receiving a box full of products, my thoughts & opinions are all my own.