Our favorite moments of the weekend.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Enough said? I think so.
We loved this day, just the two of us, a pontoon boat, and a sunny afternoon. Perfection.

Gluten-free in Chattanooga.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On our way home from Atlanta a couple days ago, we decided to take our time for lunch (translation: pregnant girl needed some time outside the car) and we found the best restaurant...

It's right across from the Aquarium and is very gluten free friendly. Our waiter understood my needs and I had a delicious salad with grilled chicken. It's on the pricier end, but for lunch it wasn't bad at all. Classy, unique, and with things we could both eat. Yum.

After lunch, we grabbed some coffee for the road at this most charming coffee shop in the Bluff View Arts District:
It felt like we were in Europe, and I have a feeling if we lived anywhere near Chattanooga we'd be regulars at this spot. They also had quite a few gluten free options (cakes, cookies, cupcakes, chocolates).

I know I have lots of gluten-free readers, so if you're passing through Chattanooga, don't miss these!

Sparrow Shoppe.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If you're like me, it feels like every one of your friends is pregnant or recently had a baby. Babies, babies everywhere! Which means a big need for baby shower gifts, right?

So here's an idea... my sister, Kelsey, recently opened up her first Etsy shop, Sparrow Shoppe, where she sells a variety of handmade, affordable baby things that she's made and that she uses for her two little ones.
(Click on the photos below to take you to the listings on Etsy)

There are patchwork burp cloths,

nursing covers,

personalized nursery wall hangings,


and a lot more. 

And if you like the design but want a different fabric to match your decor, let her know!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

(click on the book to take you to where you can purchase it)

Currently reading this:

Recently read this:
Definitely recommend both.

Have this and need to read it in the next 8 weeks: :)
The Happiest Baby on the Block
Blog posts:
"On getting followers" by Jami Nato. 
I get this question a lot, too, and couldn't have penned a better answer. I adore this woman's heart and raw honesty.

Jen is one of my favorite writers and I really think every adoptive or pre-adoptive family should read this. So beautifully, and again honestly, written.

What are you reading these days? 

My life in bullet points.

Friday, August 24, 2012

30 weeks!
• Baby boy is growing! He measured perfectly at yesterday's appointment with the midwife, which is a relief when they've been scaring me with the gestational diabetes "he's-going-to-weigh-12-lbs." spiel. He got a little startled when he heard his own heartbeat over the fetal monitor and started kicking my rib, then got a mad case of hiccups. I love him already. :)

• Last night, I had an incredibly vivid dream that I gave birth to a cat. Well, a kitten, actually - and it scampered under the hospital bed and someone had to trap it and hand it to me to nurse. Pregnancy dreams can be a strange, strange thing.

• We're off to Atlanta for the weekend! We're seeing friends, training someone to do some sewing for Brighter Day (hallelujah!), and then spending a couple days by the lake. Cannot wait.

• Thanks for the jalapeño suggestions! I tripled Pioneer Woman's restaurant salsa recipe (which is SO yummy) and it made enough for an army. I'll be trying some of your other suggestions soon. They look delicious!

Hope you have a great weekend, friends!

Harvest time.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

via Instagram (@whitneynewby)
We had decided not to do a garden this year, but at the last minute, we Shawn planted one anyway. It's completely overrun with grass and weeds (he prepped the soil, mulched, the whole bit! Nothing helped!) but it's still producing some pretty great stuff. Including 15 jalapeños that I picked yesterday off of one bush. What's a girl supposed to do with 15 jalapeños?

Anyone have a great salsa recipe that I could make and freeze? 
I will love you forever if you will point me to it. :)

Dear Little E.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting, waiting for your dad to get home

Dear Little E,

This past week has flown right by. Thanks in part to a record shattering month for Brighter Day - which I'm sure you're well aware of from the constant hum of the sewing machine - combined with added doctor's appointments, carb counting for this new crazy diet we're on, working at the hospital, and trying to savor these last few weeks of summer... it's been busy. But it's helping the time pass quickly before you get here, when I know the pace will change so drastically.

You're still the talk of the town among my patients. They ask about you, and I tell them you're one long, tall active boy. I tell them you still have no name and no furniture. You do have some onesies, a set of cloth diapers, and a whole lot of love (which seems like plenty in my book). It's been fun to see their faces brighten when they see you have the hiccups or feel you move around.

I do think you've already chosen your favorite person: your dad. And that's ok with me. Whenever he starts talking to you, you do lots more thumping and squirming than around anyone else. It makes my heart jump. He's going to teach you so many things, that dad of yours: how to have good hair, how to strum a guitar and kick a soccer ball, how to give your whole heart and life to Jesus. I have a feeling your favorite part of the day will be when he gets home from work. I can't wait to see your face light up and your little feet kick around frantically until he picks you up. I can see it in my head more than anything else about you right now.

I've heard lots of moms say that they recognize their baby's movements outside the womb as the same movements they were making inside. So if that's true, I have a feeling you'll do a lot of stretching and yawning. At night, mostly, if I'm laying down, I can see my whole stomach flatten in the front and stretch out wide from side to side, then go back into position as you shudder and shake a little bit. It looks like you just had a great big yawn. You're adorable to me already.

This guy loves you too. A whole, whole lot.

9 more weeks in there, little guy! They say they'll make sure you come early - at least a week before your due date - because they won't let you get too big with this diabetes diagnosis. I say a hearty "thank you" to that because not only do you already feel like a giant, I'm just really ready to meet you.

I love you, E! (Or L... or S... we still don't know, but I know I love you!)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

After failing my 3-hour glucose tolerance test today, I received a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. It surely wasn't the news we had prayed and hoped for, and the six-times-daily blood glucose checks, diet modifications, and extra doctor appointments aren't how I would choose to spend the last 11 weeks of pregnancy. But the Lord is keeping my heart peaceful, and just knowing that He knows is so reassuring. What hope I have in those two powerful words: God knows. 

I'm sure you could recount your own stories as well, but I know for me, it's in the trials that He feels the closest. The pages of my journal during a summer in the Amazon are filled to the brim with reminders of His love for me because I desperately needed that truth. My first time away from Shawn, when I traveled to Vietnam, His presence was so real to me in the darkness of that nation that I often felt I could hear Him audibly. Through break ups, health scares, seasons of loneliness, difficult relationships, the death of loved ones... He shines. In recalling His faithfulness and grace to me in the valleys of my past, I am given so much hope for these last few weeks of pregnancy that I will only grow closer to and more reliant on Him.

This morning before I headed to the midwife's office, I read Zephaniah 3:17. Just one line of that verse is enough to floor me - but all of it? He delights in me? Rejoices over me? It feels like too much for a girl so undeserving.

So really, today was about so much more than a failed blood test and a less than wonderful diagnosis. It was and continues to be about His wooing love for me. In my weakness, He draws me to His strength; in my lack of trust, He reminds me of His perfect faithfulness toward me.

A picture and a request.

Monday, August 13, 2012

First things first, I loved finding these pictures that were taken almost exactly 25 years apart. On the left: me and my sister Kelsey, shortly after she was born. On the right, Kelsey's daughters, Charis and Siloam. See the similarities? :)
Second, a request. I didn't pass my one-hour blood glucose test at the midwife the other day, so I'm having to take the three-hour test on Wednesday (which seems a bit more miserable than the first test). I know that it's entirely possible to pass this test, even after failing the last one, and we are praying for just that.

Thanks, friends!

Be still.

Friday, August 10, 2012

When I graduated from nursing school 2 months ago, I thought to myself, "Things are about to get so much easier. Only 3 days of work? 4 days off?! Amazing!"

Well, it hasn't been quite as easy as I thought. (You nurses are probably thinking, "Umm, of course not!") Yes, I only work 3 days (and more recently, only 2). But those days consist of 12 and a half hour shifts on my feet the entire time. Sure, I try my best to sit as much as possible - which, being 7 months pregnant, is obviously a good idea. I try to eat and drink throughout the day to make it a little easier, but the reality is that I work on a busy medical floor with up to 6 patients of my own at one time who might all need something at once: a bedpan, a breathing treatment, their anxiety meds. I'll be in one room all gowned up and up to my elbows in the middle of a procedure when the phone rings in my pocket letting me know that patients 2, 3, and 4 need me right away. It's a lot for this chronic people pleaser to handle.

All that to say, I'm on a sharp learning curve when it comes to prioritization - because it just can't all be done. At some point, too, I have to take a break. By law. So I try to get loose ends wrapped up as much as I can, and then I break. During that 30 minutes, anything could happen. But I have to choose to get away for a little while to eat and clear my head.

I guess why this all surprised me so much is that being a nursing student felt so different. During clinicals, you'd take vitals, do an assessment, have one or maybe two patients, and then try to look busy for hours on end. It was still exhausting, just in a different way. The bottom line: you really had no real responsibility. It all ultimately fell on the nurse, and I'm feeling the weight of that now.

Last week, my days on the floor were completely non-stop and one night, I came home sobbing - not because it was a horrible day - but I think more because I'm realizing just how hard this job really is. (I'm sure the exhaustion and the hormones didn't help.) Is it gratifying at times? Yes. Tough? Always. It worries me that if it's this tough at 7 months pregnant, how much harder will it be when I'm even further along? And then after the baby when I'm running on a few hours of interrupted sleep? With my midwife's permission, I plan to work as long as I can. I'm just realizing it's going to be quite a feat. Thankfully, my co-workers have been amazing at stepping in and helping where they can. It's just the nature of the job that's so tough whether you're pregnant or not.

On the way to work each morning, I've been listening to Michael O'Brien's "Be Still My Soul" CD, which a friend sent me a few months ago for the baby. I love this CD and highly recommend it, and it's been so good to hear hymns on my way to work that quiet my heart before a very busy day.

The lyrics of Be Still My Soul - one of my favorites - have been convicting and encouraging these past few weeks.

Be still, my soul. The Lord is on your side.

Do I really believe that? That He's on my side? That this never-ending work and exhaustion is not because I'm being punished, but that He loves me? That He's even brought me to this place?

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.

It feels like there are so many changes at once right now. A new job, a new baby, a new season in our very busy home business.

Then later in the hymn, this line:

Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

He not only stills the winds and the waves, He quiets my heart. I know that this physical and emotional exhaustion I feel is just a symptom of the state of my soul... I am so far from trusting Him that this path, this season, is the right thing. I'm often so far from really resting. He may guide me to make some changes in the near future - especially once baby comes - but right now, I rest in the fact that He's brought me to this place, at this time, for a purpose. Getting it out on paper helps remind me of His goodness.

You're invited!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The options for this oversized carry-all bag are endless.... add pleated ruffles, an inside pocket, a magnetic snap. It can easily be reversible, too. I'll show you how to do any and all of it and we will have so much fun! I can only accommodate a maximum of 6 to 8 people, so please email me soon if you know you'd like to come.
PS - Because this original bag pattern is not my own, I won't be able to do a blog tutorial after our sewing night. However, I'll definitely link up to where you can purchase the pattern and make your own!

Registering for baby.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Last week, Shawn and I set foot in a Babies 'R Us (that happened to be in a less than wonderful part of town) and it took less than 5 minutes to make us a.) completely overwhelmed (does a baby really need all this junk stuff?!) and b.) take one half-hearted lap around the store and walk right out the door. Baby registry FAIL. We didn't scan one item and basically just pointed out all the stuff we didn't want. Awesome.

So I've taken to registering online, both at Target and at Babylist, which is a great way to compile finds from Etsy, Amazon, anywhere online, and put them into one place. I've just started working on them and still feel completely clueless as to what exactly baby's needs are.

So that's where you come in (I hope!). What are one or two things that you found were really helpful with your baby? And what's something you really could live without? Is there a brand of stroller you love? A baby carrier you've had a great experience with? A type of bottle that's been your favorite?

I'm definitely a minimalist with this kind of thing, so I'm trying to get a handle on what our needs will be. The baby's room is literally about 8 feet by 4 feet, so there's really not extra room for fluff. I'm also thinking I won't be registering for many clothes or toys because people naturally buy that anyway?

But hey, I'm no expert... I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Our newest family member.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Last Tuesday, my sweet little niece Siloam Hope was born. We didn't know if she would be a niece or a nephew (though we all had strong suspicions that she was, in fact, a girl) and she couldn't be more precious. She looks so much like her daddy to me. We're all thankful my sister was able to have a successful and uneventful VBAC, too. 
I'm one proud auntie!
It'll probably be November before we get to meet her because she lives in Cleveland, but I have a feeling the 3-months-apart-cousins (Siloam and our Little E) will be the cutest duo ever.

Congrats, Kels & Zach!

On working from home.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Love this clean, simple sewing room.
Lately, I've been working many more hours from home than outside the home, and I've picked up a few tips along the way that have made my work so much more efficient. I know I'll need these when I take maternity leave and am only working from home, so hopefully I'm creating some good habits now. Here they are, in no particular order... I hope it encourages some of you who are in the same shoes!

1. Schedule the day the night before. I love doing this. I typically write out my day in 30 minute to one hour increments and I find that if I'm able to cross off the to-do's as I go, I am so productive. My work feels purposeful, not aimless. I also add in little to-do's (like scheduling a dentist appointment) when I know I'll be in the car and have a few minutes to make the call. As a loose example:
7:00 to 8:00am: Eat breakfast, read the Word, get ready for the day.
8:00 to 8:30am: Return Etsy convos from overnight.
8:30 to 9:00am: Make Joann's & grocery list.
9:00 to 10:30am: Errands (Joann's, grocery). Schedule dentist appointment.
10:30 to 11:30am: Finish 1 Etsy order and package.  
2. Wake up at a decent hour, make the bed, and get dressed and ready for the day. This is highly important for me. If I stay in my pajamas all day, I'm not likely to get much done.

3. If you have errands to run, do them first thing. This is purely a personal preference, but I find that if I get out of the house early in the morning, I am generally more motivated to be productive the rest of the day.

4. Schedule time for rest. And people. If I don't have time for either of these, I feel exhausted and sad. I have to make sure I get a good dose of both somewhere in my day/week.

5. Take a Sabbath. This has been one of the hardest things for me, and yet so valuable. Sundays are our days to rest, and we don't work on orders or do anything work related for the entire day. It's difficult - especially when lots of customers are writing in with questions that could be easily answered. But we believe that honoring the Lord by not working is not only commanded in Scripture, but it goes rewarded. It's incredible how refreshed Shawn and I both feel on Monday mornings when Sundays have not involved work.


Friday, August 3, 2012

God's incredible art in our backyard this week.
If this week is typical of my life, I should rename my blog: "Whitney sews. All the time." Or maybe "Whitney tries (and fails) balancing all that's on her plate." That's a little what it's felt like. With orders coming in left and right (which I'm so thankful for) on top of working at the hospital, on top of keeping my house clean, on top of the Olympics (yeah!) etc. etc., I haven't balanced much very well lately. I woke up this morning with a nearly empty fridge, a craft room that looked like a tornado had gone through it, and a blog that hasn't been touched for almost a week. All that to say, I really can't complain. This busy season for Brighter Day is a complete blessing, and I would much rather be busy than bored. This weekend will be a time for much needed catch-up, and I'll be back to blogging next week!

Hope you have a restful, end of the summer weekend (can you believe it?!). Our plans include the Franklin Farmer's Market, a birthday party with friends, helping in the church nursery, painting some furniture, and our weekly date night. I'm so ready.
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