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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Father & Friend



Alain Clark's music is a new find for us, and this song is just precious. (His sweet dad has an amazing voice, too!) It makes me swell with pride that we're having a son. I cannot wait to see Shawn as a daddy to a baby boy. :)

PS - By the way, Alain Clark was born and raised in the Netherlands... who knew?! His accent seems pretty perfect to me!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My job.

Ha! If only we all looked like Kate every day. :)
I am loving my job so far. I'm still technically in orientation for a few more weeks, taking more patients each shift, and I'm learning so much that it feels like I'm still in school. At the end of a 12-hour shift (which is usually closer to 13 hours), I'm pretty wiped out. I don't think it actually makes a huge difference that I'm pregnant. Pregnant or not, it's an incredibly tiring job.

If you're like me and have never been a patient in a hospital or had much exposure to hospitals, it may come as a surprise to you what nurses actually do. Take yesterday for example. While it involved the stereotypical giving shots, changing IV bags, checking on patients, reading up on their plans of care, calling doctors, etc. it also involved a whole lot more. Like cutting a patient's burger patty into bite size pieces. And emptying out the bedside commode for the umpteenth time. And untwisting sheets. And a whoooole list of other very non-glamorous things that I'd rather not write about. They involve bodily fluids, which I'm pretty sure I'll never get "used to" as so many nurses claim they do.

But then there were the beautiful moments peppered throughout the day that remind me I'm supposed to be there. They remind me that this is about so much more than what feels like a laundry list of menial tasks. It's about being a light to people in some of their darkest, most hopeless, most vulnerable times. I had the privilege yesterday of praying with a patient before his first ever surgery, with his family all in another state. And holding a patient's hand as she told me about her great-grandbabies and patted my belly, hoping to feel the baby move. And even getting a few thank you's from patients.

So even on the hardest days - and there will be lots, I'm sure - I'm so thankful for where I am... on a medical floor, at a sweet community hospital where everyone knows everyone and really seems to care about each other. I know God has me here for a reason for this season, and in the hardest days, that's really all I need to know.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sabbath rest.





"Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it." - Malachi 3:10

Shawn and I have been feeling convicted lately that we're not very good at taking a true Sabbath and truly resting from our work. Actually, that's an understatement. We're terrible at it. With two full-time jobs and a full-time business, it's easy to make excuses not to rest. And we have. For months. We've gone so long without a full day of no work.

This weekend was different, though. Not only is once-a-week Sabbath rest mandated in Scripture, it's a need for our bodies and souls. So on Saturday, we prepared for the Sabbath by sewing our little hearts out. Ten hours of sewing and six completed orders later, we knew that Sunday had to look a lot different.

And it did...
Pancakes with strawberries. French press coffee. Sunday worship with our church family. Soaking up the sun by the pool. Planting a garden (finally). Browsing books at the library. Seeing some friends. Watching the EuroCup.

That sounds like a lot, but the fact that it didn't involve Brighter Day was so refreshing. And here's the coolest part. Sunday was our biggest sales day for Brighter Day in all four years of its existence. Four large orders came through unexpectedly, and we couldn't believe that on the one day we haven't done a thing, God chose to bless us.

Lesson learned, Lord. We're about to start taking this once-a-week Sabbath a whole lot more seriously.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Little E's feet.


I'll start with the bottom line: We found out today at our high risk OB ultrasound that our baby and his feet are perfect.

Though these last couple weeks have been difficult as I've wondered and prayed against worry and tried to accept whatever the Lord has for us and our baby, I wouldn't have traded them for anything. So many friends, family, and so many of you have reached out to us with prayers and encouragement, and every single thought and prayer has meant so much. My time with the Lord has also been so sweet as I've read His Word and been reminded over and over again how lavishly He loves me. And how tenderly He must love this baby. Just knowing that is enough for me, no matter what was going on with Little E.

On the way to our first appointment this morning with a reproductive genetic counselor (somewhere no new parent wants to find themselves), I was thinking about our day ahead and tears came to my eyes. Not tears of sadness. Tears that I actually didn't feel sad, but that I felt complete peace. I know it's through your prayers for us and the sweet mercy of Jesus that we felt so at ease going into what could've been a nightmarish day.

As soon as we finished going over any potential family history that may contribute to clubbed feet, we headed to the ultrasound room. Lo and behold, our radiologist had a daughter born with clubbed feet (of course!), so she definitely knew what she was looking for. She looked thoroughly at every system - the brain, the heart, the spine, the limbs. Then she took a good look at both feet.

"They look pretty perfect to me," she said, as I tried to hold back the tears. "If I'm looking for clubbed feet, I'm definitely not impressed because these look really normal. They may be barely turned in, but it's nothing that would ever require casting or surgery. And I don't even think they are." Those words and the confidence in her voice could not have been more reassuring. The baby is still measuring really big - also very reassuring - and the radiologist and the maternal/fetal specialist saw no need for a followup or anything apart from routine care with my midwife.

All that to say, thank you again for your sweet thoughts and prayers. I can't tell you how much they've meant! I feel like the dark cloud of "not knowing" has been lifted today, and we are rejoicing.

PS - Some of you have asked, and yes, we are about 95% sure on a name and it does begin with E. That's why we're calling him "Little E" for now. I'm one of those crazy moms who wants to see him face to face before we officially give him his name. :)


Saturday, June 16, 2012

What made today great.

Let me just say, today was rough. Tummy pains from a growing, shifting baby throughout my entire 12-hour shift made it the day feel nearly impossible. But it's over now and we have a beautiful weekend with friends to look forward to.
With that said, here were my top three moments of the day: 
1. A 5:30am date with Shawn. With full time jobs and guests in town, there hasn't been much time for just the two of us. So we snuck out of our house this morning and left seven sleeping babies and their mom and jetted to Starbucks. The weather was perfect, the conversation sweet, and the barista seemed impressed with our efforts to spend time together so early in the morning. :) We headed our separate ways around 6:20 - Shawn to Chattanooga for work, me to the hospital - but our mini morning date was perfect.
2. Because we had guests leaving this morning and new guests arriving tonight (and work and travel in between), my mom graciously offered to clean our house. I told her it would be so helpful if she could just wash towels and sheets and vacuum, but she went waaaaay above and beyond and even our bathroom, kitchen, bedroom... the entire house... is cleaner than it's been in a very long time. I walked in after a crazy day to a perfectly clean house, complete with hydrangeas from her garden on our coffee table, and she couldn't have given us a more wonderful gift. Thank you, Mom. We love you.
3. My favorite patient today (if I'm allowed to have a favorite?) was an older lady who was so excited to see that I was pregnant that every time I entered her room, she had more questions about the baby. Boy or girl? Is it your first? How are you feeling? What's the name? Whenever I'd lean over her to take her vitals or give her IV medication, she would pat my belly and smile. Sweet thing. And then she'd tell her family members in the room all about Baby E, including his potential name, which most of our family and friends don't even know! Lesson learned: Be careful what you tell patients. They will tell everyone they meet. Nice. 

What was your favorite moment today? 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Les Misérables.


I have this insane love for Les Misérables.

When my parents first saw the musical in London when my sister and I were in elementary school, they brought back cassette tapes for us to listen to, and Kels and I fell in love. We played those tapes until we'd memorized every line, and we hadn't even seen the musical. When we would sing through the entire first act together in the car (sans cassette tapes... impressive, huh?) I would always play the much more desirable role of Jean Valjean and give Kels all the weird roles like Thenardier, Javert, and the priest who has to hit the lowest notes you've ever heard. I was an awesome big sister, let me tell you. I even got grounded on vacation for making fun of her interpretation of "Master of the House" (one of Thenardier's songs) and had to make her bed for a week. On vacation. Where they make the beds for you.

Anyway, when we finally got to see Les Misérables in New York City and in Nashville, it felt surreal. Then later, when Shawn took me to see it in Chicago, he fell in love, too. I knew we were meant to be all along. :) I remember when he leaned over to me and said, "Jean Valjean just experienced the Gospel" and I knew he got it.

Really, it's just such a beautiful picture of the Gospel and of grace to me. If you have a chance to read the book or see the musical, I can't recommend it enough. Aside from reading my Bible, it's one of the most spiritual experiences I've ever had.

All that to say, Baby E has officially been introduced. He might as well, seeing as I'll be playing the soundtrack on repeat in his nursery in just a few short months. (Ok, maybe not... prostitutes singing about their hard lives might not be the most soothing or appropriate music.) While I sewed today, he and I listened to the entire musical and I sang along with all the important songs... the ones he will surely learn.

Any Les Mis fans out there? Favorite characters/songs?
I think Eponine has the best songs, Jean Valjean is my favorite character, and the scene where the priest  gives Jean Valjean his silver brings me to tears every time.

If you haven't seen it, I'm sure I'm coming across like the craziest girl ever. But hey, you get the chance to see it soon! In movie/musical form! It's coming out in December in theaters and isn't just a movie version but incorporates the music as well. It might just be one of our first leave-baby-with-Mimi-and-Poppy dates for Shawn and me. I. Cannot. WAIT.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cutting the cake.

I love that we have this on video and can't wait to show E someday all the people that loved him before he even arrived!


Some favorite parts...
Papa filming with his iPad
Our friend Justine starting to cry in the background (so sweet)
Erica (white shirt) who had driven in that day from Charlotte, NC and back home the next
The Winkler's who had come from Kentucky just for the day to be with us
Shawn: "Victorious!" and flexing his muscles
My mom thinking for sure it was a girl

It was all so perfect.

Thanks to Tony Williams for taking the video, to Jennifer Breland for making the gorgeous cake, and to all our friends and family for rejoicing with us. We love you guys and are so, so blessed.

PS - Though the original plan was for Shawn and I to find out with everyone else, the ultrasound technician accidentally let it slip when she was looking back through photos and we saw "boy" printed across the screen. So had we found out at the cake cutting, I'm sure we would have hugged each other first! :) This was just a fun thing for everyone else to find out, even though we already knew.

Monday, June 11, 2012

An update.

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your sweet comments about our baby boy, and mostly for your prayers. When I started blogging, I never imagined stumbling into such a sweet, supportive community - and I'm so thankful I did. I feel like I know so many of you through your comments and emails over the last couple years even though we've never met. So thank you for loving me and our son so well.

A quick update... I've been scheduled for a more in-depth consultation and ultrasound at Vanderbilt Children's in a couple weeks where we'll see a maternal fetal specialist and learn more. According to the original radiology report, it looks like both feet may be turned or clubbed, but the first ultrasound was so inconclusive because baby was kicking like crazy the whole time. My midwife has assured me and reassured me that everything else measured perfectly, and their only concern is the baby's feet - nothing chromosomal or anything. So that helps me breathe a huge sigh of relief. If the baby does have clubbed feet, we'll meet with an orthopedic doctor about the serial casting process that he'll have to undergo beginning in the first couple days of his life. Picturing our newborn in thigh-high casts for the first months of his life is equally sad and cute. God knows. 

We did hear that Little E is not actually so little... he's measuring in the 95th percentile for length. He's truly Shawn's son (who is just under 6'5"). So no wonder I've popped so fast. I'm growing a giant. :)

Still, we're praying for a miracle. Praying that conversations of casts and surgeries and specialists will only be hypothetical, and they'll see straightened out feet and give us a clean bill of health. But if that isn't God's will for us and for E, pray that whatever is wrong would be very clear to the perinatologist. I'll be sure to keep everyone updated. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Because He loves us.

I lay on the table in the dark ultrasound room, glowing at the first sight of our squirmy baby. The head, the heart, the kidneys, the tiny hands. It all looked perfect, and the baby even measured bigger than expected, moving my due date forward five days. Shawn and I turned our heads when the ultrasound technician looked for the gender, and when I asked her if she could tell, she said, "Oh, I can definitely tell." We peeked at each other and smiled.

As she was finishing up her measurements, the ultrasound technician seemed to be very intent on getting a clear picture of the left foot. The legs both looked great, but she couldn't tell if the left foot seemed turned in a little. At first, it didn't worry us at all. But as the clock ticked on and she had me change positions a few times to get a better look, fear began to creep in.

She left the room at the end of the ultrasound to meet with the radiologist and discuss her concerns. Thankfully, the radiologist didn't feel the need to come in and look any further, but said it did look like the left foot was turned slightly. At the same time, it could be nothing. It could be as bad as a clubfoot (which is actually a very common, treatable condition), and as little as an odd position in utero where baby's foot just got comfortable against the placenta.

After walking out of the office, Shawn headed to work and I drove home, feeling somewhat deflated. This moment I had dreamed of hadn't gone as planned, and no new parents want to hear that there's something concerning about their baby. When I got home to my quiet house, I sat on the couch for a while staring at the ultrasound pictures and allowing my heart to wander into dark territories of fear, distrust, pity, and guilt.

What if this turned left foot was the sign of something bigger, like Down's or spina bifida?
What if he's never able to play soccer like his daddy?
What if it's because I'm a small girl growing a big baby and he's cramped?
What if, if, if?
What if's are deadly, as if I hadn't learned that by now.

I had to prepare for lots of out of town company coming in to celebrate our gender party that afternoon and evening, and I felt so guilty for not being excited. I was trying, and I was thrilled to find out we were having a boy, but all I could see was that turned left foot.

Shawn and I both prayed for peace - and our family prayed for us as well - that Satan would not be allowed to rob us of the joy of our son. And the Lord was faithful to give it. The fear still came in waves for me, but I was determined to enjoy the beauty of so many family and friends gathered to celebrate this new life.

But then something happened that I never could have expected. At our gender party after the big reveal, our 7-year-old friend Olivia (the daughter of the pastor who married us) brought me a gift. I unwrapped a small square box with blue ribbon to find this:
A cookie cutter in the shape of a tiny left foot. And the words on the paper below... "A gift from heaven above." I can't even type those words without tears in my eyes.

I thanked her for the gift and as she didn't know anything about our baby's left foot (only a few people did), she had no idea of its significance. I felt so loved by Jesus in that moment. I'd been dwelling all day long on a tiny, turned left foot, and He shows up through a cookie cutter to remind me that He knows. He cares. He has purpose and displays glory in all of His creation, even if it doesn't look so glorious to us.

I know that we're going to be ok, no matter what the outcome. I type those words with full confidence because I feel peace in a way that doesn't make sense apart from Him. Last night was such a reminder to me that not only is our son so loved by his grandparents, his mom and dad, and a thousand friends who would do anything for him... our son is loved by Jesus. What more could we ever ask for?

I know that so many of you who read this are prayer warriors. As you think of us, I humbly ask you to please pray that the Lord would continue to guard our hearts and protect us from worrying about the unknowns. And pray for a miracle... that at my followup scan, they wouldn't be able to find what they'd seen before, and the foot would straighten out. We will deal with what comes by the grace of God because He loves us. We know that full well.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, 
for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness." 
Lamentations 3:22-23

It's a...

We spent tonight surrounded by our incredible family and friends, celebrating our very loved baby BOY. :) Though the day didn't go exactly as planned and Shawn and I found out the gender at the ultrasound (a slip up by the technician... oops) it was still SO fun feeling the excitement of these people we so dearly love. 

Little E, 
You're a boy! And a very loved little boy at that. You don't know it now, but you have an army of aunties and uncles waiting to hold you and kiss your cheeks until you can't stand it. Your dad and I are pretty excited for that, too.
Love,
Mom

Friday, June 8, 2012

Is baby a boy or a girl?

Source
We find out TODAY if we're having a baby boy or a baby girl!

Here's the plan...
We have our ultrasound this morning at 9:00am, but we're asking the technician not to tell us the gender (and hopefully we can't tell!). A friend of ours is finding out for us and will bake a pink or blue cake that we'll cut into later tonight, along with about 50 of our close friends and family. That way we can all find out at the same time!

We've asked our friends and family to wear pink or blue... whatever their guess is. I'll be wearing pink, Shawn will wear blue, though neither of us really have a clue.

So what do you think?
Boy?
Girl? 
Vote below, and I'll come back later tonight or tomorrow and update the post to let you know! (If the ultrasound tech is able to tell, of course.) :)


Are we having a boy or a girl?

  • Boy

  • Girl


Thursday, June 7, 2012

FAQ

Source
Hi readerfriends. 
I've realized in the last few months that there are several very common questions that people tend to ask over and over... and while I love hearing from you through email (I really do!), I get a bit overwhelmed answering the same questions. So I've answered them here! Hopefully it's helpful to all of us! 


I've just started a gluten free diet, and am wondering, what do you eat? 
Grocery shopping and meal planning for gluten free can be tough at first (and expensive). I honestly don't buy a lot of specifically gluten free foods because they're costly and not all that tasty; I mainly try to find new foods to replace them (i.e. I don't buy bread very often, but eat rice or potatoes or millet or quinoa as a grain instead). This article by the Gluten Free Girl and the Chef is a really helpful place to start.  I wish I would've read it on the beginning of my gluten free journey... and I agree with everything she says. I hope it's helpful to you too! She has some great recipes, too.

For baking (which I love), the best mix I've found is Pamela's Baking Mix that I buy on Amazon here. Basically you can substitute it for flour in normal recipes (and they have lots of great recipes on the back of the bags) for things like muffins, quickbreads, cakes, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, etc. It has been a lifesaver.

Because I'm now working 12-hour shifts at a hospital and have a really short lunch break (with an awful hospital cafeteria downstairs), I've been packing my lunch. I use Udi's gluten free whole grain sandwich bread (I buy it at Trader Joe's but it's also at Whole Foods and other places) to make sandwiches for lunch. I honestly can't taste much of a difference even though it's gluten free and it's nice not to have to make my own bread. I also pack things like salads, yogurt, fresh fruit, or leftovers from the night before. I use our crock pot quite frequently and have found lots of gluten free recipes on Pinterest for that. 

For breakfast, I'll eat a piece of toast, gluten free oatmeal, smoothies (with frozen fruit and orange juice and spinach), or even cereal. Many Chex cereals are now gluten-free and other cereals and granolas too. I also use Pamela's Baking Mix for pancakes and will make lots extra so I can freeze the leftovers and reheat them in the morning.


How do you take good pictures? 
This is such a vague and difficult question to answer because there are so many factors, but here's my take on it... simplified. 
1. The camera really does matter. I have my dream camera, a Canon 5d Mark ii, and it's worth every penny in my opinion. But for four years before that, I had a Canon Rebel XTi that I learned on and loved. Any DSLR that's a Canon or a Nikon is a safe bet, and we spent less than $1,000 for a great lens and camera to get started about 5 years ago.   
2. The lens really does matter. The lens I most often recommend is this one. Such a great value for what you're getting!
3. Manual mode is best. Read your camera manual and just play around with different settings and you'll learn so much.
4. Lighting matters. Please, please, please turn off your flash! Try working with natural light (a shady place is best), and your photography will improve dramatically.


Would you do a photography tutorial?  
Umm... probably not. :( I'm really no expert, I don't know the lingo, and teaching photography isn't really my thing. There are so, so many blogs out there that would be great to see photography tutorials though! Try starting with a Pinterest search.


What sewing machine do you have? 
This Brother Project Runway 420. I love it.


How do you have time for all that you do? 
I don't. At the end of the day, I am exhausted and usually haven't gotten something on my to-do list done (or lots of things on my to-do list, actually). But I function a lot better in a higher stress, faster pace lifestyle than if I don't have things to do. We don't watch TV, so that probably helps! I also blog 1-2 days a week and set the blogposts to post throughout the week. So even though it looks like I'm on here every day, I'm actually probably sewing, running errands, or making dinner while you're reading the blog. :)


How's the adoption going? 
Still waiting for Vietnam to open up!


Can I sell the bags I make from your tutorials? 
Yes. At first I said no, but I realized quickly that people would sell your designs whether they had permission or not. I've gotten at least 20 emails now from people very kindly asking to sell the bags and I've been saying yes. So yes! Sell away!


How do you put words on your pictures? 
Photoshop


What editing software do you use for photos? 
Lightroom


For more questions and answers, please see my Formspring!
Or if you have a question for me that I missed, feel free to write it in the comments and I'll try to add it to this post!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A night at the ballpark.

To celebrate my dad's birthday this year, we headed to a Nashville Sounds minor league baseball game. It had been at least 15 years since I'd been to one, and it brought back so many memories. (Kels, I couldn't help but remember you running up the steps with your hands in your pockets, only to fall and hit your head on a stair. Is it bad that that's my most vivid memory of this place?) :)

We enjoyed the cool night, one happy dad, a couple funnel cakes, one famous guitar-shaped scoreboard, and a win! Go Sounds!

 Happy birthday, Dad!

Jay & Katrina Erickson

Reading this article hit close to home because this sweet missionary couple that was killed a few days ago in a plane crash went to college at Moody Bible Institute in Spokane, another branch of the Bible school Shawn and I attended. I firmly believe they met Jesus face to face doing exactly what they were called to do.

I've posted the link to the article below because it's such a needed reminder that our time here is short, and it's amazing to see how the Lord was preparing them before their death. As Jay recently wrote,
"... there is nothing sad about the death of a Christian. The only sadness (and I do not intent to belittle this aspect) is in the loss of companionship by those left behind. And yet, to contrast this, the level of tragedy is so vast for the passing of an unbeliever." 
The fact that this was Katrina's first time to accompany her husband on a flight...
the fact that they left two small children behind...
and the fact that they were doing so much good to so many people...
these befuddle our finite minds, but are no mystery to God.

As you read about them, pray for their children, families, and that God would be glorified.



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Adjusting.

The other night, Shawn and I were hiking through a local park - one of our favorite things to do - and it hit me hard. These days of just the two of us are coming to a close.

Pregnancy hormones took over, memories flooded in, and tears filled my eyes. I felt so overwhelmed by sadness that "Shawn and Whitney" would not be so spontaneous anymore, just taking 2-mile hikes through the forest at the drop of a hat. And I felt guilty for not being happy that another person will be joining the party soon. I like it just like it is... I could do this for another 30 years.

Yes, I'm excited to add a little one to the mix. But having a baby was never something we needed to become a family. I would be so, so content with just me and Shawn for the rest of our lives. We never felt incomplete. It just kind of happened and a baby became part of our very near future.

The feelings come in waves - at times, I feel baby kicking and squirming inside of me and can't wait to hold him or her in my arms. And at other times, I feel much more detached and am so grateful we have a few more months to prepare. I know the moment baby arrives, we will both feel overwhelmed with a deep, abiding love that will replace the sadness I feel now. I'm sure you mothers out there who are reading this see a much fuller picture than I do.  And I'm sure I'll look back in a few months and think, "If I only knew how amazing it would be." For now, though, it's just a big adjustment.

The spontaneity, the quiet, the coffee dates, the sleeping in, the long walks. I couldn't be more thankful for the past 3 and a half years of just us.

Monday, June 4, 2012

DIY Keychain Wallet: Sewing Tutorial

I thought it was time for another sewing tutorial!

If you've tried the Bow Clutch Tutorial, this one has several similar steps (and is a bit simpler) so you'll feel like a pro. :) This little keychain wallet was one of the first things I made once I figured out how to make my own patterns, and I've used one on my keychain for months. I love how convenient it is to stash a lip balm, some hair ties, or even a couple cards if you're just running a quick errand.

I created this tutorial for beginners... even if you've never sewn a zipper! This technique allows you to put the zipper in without a zipper foot, which I think is a much easier way to do it. Also, I used a zipper that's much longer than what's needed, and I cut it to size near the end of the tutorial. It's what I had on hand, and if you use a zipper that's at least 6" long, you'll be good to go.

Supplies you need:
+ iron, pins for sewing, and sewing machine



Attach the keyring and that's it!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! If you make one of your own, I'd love to feature it on the blog. If you'll email me (whitneynewby@gmail.com) with a photo of your keychain wallet, I'll post some photos from readers in the next few weeks. Please let me know if you have any questions or any steps that need clarifying!

Happy sewing!