1 month with Liam.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Oh Liam,
How has it already been one month?! I can't talk about it long, or I'll start to get teary (which already happened today when I realized you were wearing your very last newborn-sized diaper). 

I was thinking today about how it feels like you've been here forever... What was life even like without you? Though most of our days together consist of being spit up on, changing outfits a hundred times, doing laundry, wearing you while Mommy sews, and just trying to stay fed and happy - being with you is such a joy. And those smiles... though they're still mostly random, they are amazing.

It's been a full first month for you: meeting a host of family and friends, learning how to nurse (which has not been nearly as easy or natural for us as I'd hoped), and getting to know each other. My favorite times with you are sitting in your brown rocking chair, reading the Bible to you or praying for your salvation. For you to know and love Jesus is what your daddy and I hope for more than anything in the world.

We are smitten with you, little guy. We still can't believe you're ours!

Christmas giving.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On our first Christmas as a married couple, Shawn and I were - like many newlyweds - so strapped for money and time that we decided not to get each other any gifts. None. It seemed like a great idea at the time, and you'd never have known it with the abundance of wrapped gifts under our tree for family and friends. We had probably gone overboard for everyone else, and by the time we finished shopping for them, we were out of money, time, and creative energy.

But when we woke up on Christmas morning and had nothing to give to each other, it was kind of a sad moment. We got over it quickly, but I thought to myself, "We're not doing that again."

Since that year, we've adopted this idea: give each other 3 gifts.
Something to read.
Something to wear.
Something to play with.

It works well for any age and keeps things simple enough and organized. It also keeps expectations in check. And we figure if Jesus just received 3 gifts, why should we be getting tons more on his birthday?

For Liam this year, here's what I'm thinking... something to read, something to wear, something to play with. It's not like he'll even know he's receiving gifts, but hey. We'll make a memory anyway. :)

So I'd love to know... do you do something similar for Christmas? How do you keep gift giving simple but meaningful? 

Our Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our Thanksgiving this year was quiet and relaxing, which was just what we needed with our 3 week old in tow. Shawn's mom flew in from Germany for the week and blessed us with more delicious food than we knew what to do with... so many of Shawn's favorites growing up, and all adapted to be gluten-free. It was such a gift. Liam gave us the gift of sleeping through the entire meal, so his parents could savor every bite. :)

I hope your Thanksgiving was beautiful!

My cup overflows.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A friend commented yesterday on a photo of our little family and simply said, "Your cup overflows." I couldn't have said it better myself.

I look at my life... the grace and salvation God has given me through Christ, my two incredible guys, my wonderfully supportive family, clothes on our backs, food on our table... and I think, "my cup overflows." I have been given so much more than I ever deserved.

This week is about being thankful, and I feel the gratitude so deeply this year. So if my words are few and the pictures are many, it's because I'm simply relishing these amazing gifts God has given me. I hope you're able to step back this week and do the same.

Stocking your craft room: Sewing supplies

Friday, November 16, 2012

This week, I received this question on Formspring:
I'm looking to stock my future craft room in the next few weeks and was wondering if you have a list of go to supplies and tools.
I've collected a lot of craft supplies in the last few years, so I thought I'd start small with a list of my go-to sewing supplies. Maybe of you are planning to take up sewing and might want to add these to your Christmas list? Just a thought. :) So here are my go-to supplies that I use almost every time I sew. Take them or leave them... these are just some of my favorites! (Make sure you click on the links to see what I recommend.)

Pins - I use pins every time I sew and like these. A pin cushion or magnetic pin plate is also helpful to keep the pins off the floor and in one place. Or, if you're feeling crafty, hot glue a few magnets to the bottom of a small saucer and use that for your pins. That's what I use, and it works beautifully.
Scissors - A few good pairs of scissors are really important, but as you're starting out, there are two that I'd most highly recommend: a pair of dressmaker's shears (the big scissors you can use for large cuts) and a small pair like this one to snip threads. I'm partial to the Gingher brand because they're what my grandma uses, what I use, and if you use them only on fabric, they stay sharp forever. I also really love this pair for cutting small bits of fabric. In addition, I'd recommend getting a pair of pinking shears to prevent fraying for certain projects.
Iron and ironing board - You can't sew without an iron! I love this iron and wholeheartedly recommend it!
Fabric - Obviously. :) Here are some top places I love to shop for fabric:
Hawthorne Threads
Drygoods Design Online
Some of my favorite fabric designers include Amy Butler, Tina Givens, Anna Maria Horner, Joel Dewberry, and Heather Bailey.
A sewing machine - I have two. This Brother machine was my first real machine we purchased and served me very well for hundreds of purses. More recently, we purchased this Brother machine and love its speed. It doesn't have many bells and whistles (not even a zigzag stitch) but is incredibly sturdy and reliable.
Hand sewing needles - Any work fine. I don't really have a preference.
Thread - This Sulky kind is my favorite, but also love anything made by Gutermann.
Sewing machine needles - Schmetz brand is my favorite.
Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler - I have this one and love it. My sewing improved by leaps and bounds when I started cutting with a rotary cutter and measuring each and every cut. Making precise cuts will make your work so much cleaner and more professional looking.
Circle cutter - If you quilt or have to cut circles frequently, this is a great investment.

I hope that helps inspire some of you to take the plunge and start sewing! There are so many tutorials out there (just search Pinterest for starters) that can really take you far when it comes to beginning sewing.

Anything I left out? What are your favorite sewing supplies? 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

I feel somehow less put together and more beautiful than ever, even when it means leaking milk most of the time, no makeup until at least noon, and spit up on my shoulder everything. At the beginning of pregnancy, I wasn't sure this mom thing was for me. But today, I know the Lord has clearly called me to it and I adore being a mom much more than I expected I would. 

A failed attempt at a photo shoot with the things his Gigi made for him before we knew he was a boy!
I love the look on Liam's face when he gets the hiccups: pure surprise at every jolt. 
... our house at a time like this. It is peaceful, quiet, and beautiful, and when we're all up at odd hours through the night, we aren't bothering any neighbors. I couldn't ask for a better backdrop for these new baby days.

With Poppy, hanging in the studio. 
I cry at the drop of a hat (hello hormones + exhaustion)!
... whenever a hymn is sung.
... at sappy commercials and Christmas music.
... at Shawn going back to work and feeling overwhelmed. 
... when I'm so happy I can't stand it.

Getting work done for Brighter Day, here and there.
I can't wait for Christmas, and all that it entails. It will feel so different with a brand new little boy, and I can't wait. 
... to have a bit more of a predictable schedule when it comes to sleep.
... for Liam to meet Shawn's mom (coming from Germany) and brother and sister (coming from North Carolina) this weekend!

I'm thankful for a husband who doesn't complain when I wake him up for the 4am feeding because I just can't. stay. awake.
... a good sleeping baby, when he's full.
... grandparents just a few minutes away who help us so much.
... the privilege of two date nights with Shawn already! Much needed for all of us.
... meals delivered almost every other day since he was born (and still going!). What a gift.
... for good health, so much support, and sweet friends. We are so blessed.

This little guy of ours is so, so loved. I have a feeling he knows it.

Back in business.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Brighter Day  and  Brighter Day Baby  are back!

Slowly but surely, I'm adding new items to each shop in time for Christmas shopping. Need a stocking stuffer? Grab a pair of earrings or two - or a set of baby boy bow ties for the little guy in your life. :) Or a clutch with an added personalized message (add a favorite quote, verse, or personal message) would be so sweet for your mom or sister.

All items will be sent in 1 to 3 business days once purchased. To ensure your items arrive by Christmas, please place your order by Friday, December 7. After that, because of the slower postal service everywhere, there's no guarantee.

Also, if you order before December 7, use the coupon code CHRISTMASTIME for free shipping (domestic orders only) for either shop!

Happy shopping!

Liam love.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Taking newborn pictures is so much harder than it looks. Out of about 100 photos I took today of Liam, these were about all that turned out. And he definitely fell asleep in the middle of our shoot. 

These last 12 days have been long and short, all at once. They're consumed with feeding Liam, changing him, receiving meals (an amazing blessing), showing him off to our many lovely visitors, cleaning house, doing laundry, feeding him some more, pumping milk, doctors' appointments, and then repeating the whole thing over again. We are loving getting to know his little quirks and how he ticks. We think he has his mom's eyes, his dad's profile (and just about everything else), and the sweetest temperament.

So if the blog seems suddenly consumed with Liam, it's because life right now is suddenly consumed with Liam. And for the first weeks of his life, that's just how it should be. It feels anything but mundane. It feels just right.

Sweetest moment.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I realize how blessed I am the moment I hear my husband tell my one week old son, 
"It's time to read the Word of God."
 Have you heard of the Jesus Storybook Bible? It was given to us as a baby gift, but is just as powerful to us as adults. The author, Sally Lloyd-Jones (who just so happens to be a member of Tim Keller's church in Manhattan), has an exquisite way of telling the stories of the Bible and always relating them back to the Gospel. 

"The Bible is of course an adult book, so in order to make it accessible to children, by its very nature, as you retell it; you're going to have to reduce it down. Unfortunately, the danger is that you reduce is down into moral lessons. The entire Bible is hammered down into one long lesson on obedience. Almost like a Bible Aesop's Fables. Each story becomes a lesson so you can fix your behavior and become a better person. Children are then likely to be left with the impression that they must be good for God to love them. Disastrous and inaccurate. It's as if Jesus never came. So I wanted to write a children's Bible storybook that first and foremost told the Great Story of the Bible - the story running under all the stories of the Bible like a golden stream - the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. The Story that at the center has a baby, the child upon whom everything would depend - Jesus, the only, real true Hero of the Bible. I wanted a Bible Storybook that was, like the Bible is, not all about us and what we should be doing - but about God, and what he has done."
If you're looking for a perfect baby gift, we can't recommend it highly enough.

A dream come true.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dear Liam,

On your fourth day of life, your dad and I took you somewhere we'd dreamt of going since we knew about you: Radnor Lake. While I was pregnant with you, Radnor became like our second home. It's probably one of the reasons you came early and so fast! We'd meet there after your dad would get off of work on most days during the last few months of pregnancy and talk about you for miles. What would you look like? When would you be here? Would the leaves still be beautiful when you came? 

The moment we stepped out of the car and smelled the crisp air of Radnor, the tears came. I couldn't hold it in. I'm sure it was, in part, because of crazy hormones and not much sleep. But I know it was also because the last time we were here, you were kicking around inside and I was having strong contractions about 3 minutes apart. And now you're here - healthy, strong, beautiful. An answered prayer. Our little miracle.

So to be here - with you - was a dream come true. You, my little prince, are a dream come true. We love you more than you can imagine, and we can't wait to spend so many more days at Radnor with you. You make our favorite spot so much better.

Your mom

Liam's birth story.

Monday, November 5, 2012

While it's fresh on my mind and Liam is fast asleep on my chest, I wanted to write it all down: the story of Liam's birth. 

On Friday the 26th, I had my 39+ week appointment with my midwife and was told I was 2cm dilated. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for at least 10 weeks, and they were pretty steady - but it didn't seem like much was changing. So to hear I was 2cm dilated - that something was actually happening! - was so exciting. My midwife even told us,  "We could have a baby this weekend!" I'm not sure I really believed that, but felt encouraged nonetheless. After the appointment, Shawn and I headed to Maggiano's for lunch to celebrate the progress and said to each other,  "This might be our last date before he's here."

The Braxton Hicks contractions continued all day long at 6 to 7 minutes apart, but didn't feel any differently than they'd felt for weeks. But by around 11pm that night, the contractions began to pick up... rapidly... and by about midnight, they were coming steadily every 2 minutes. They still weren't painful, but seemed progressively stronger, so I called the midwife on call to see what I should do. Because the contractions were so frequent, she told me to go ahead and come in to the hospital so she could at least check me to see if I was really in labor.

We packed our things in no real rush, but by the time we got in the car around 12:30am, I had a better feeling that yes - this was real labor. Contractions were becoming stronger, to where I couldn't really talk through them, as we drove through mostly empty streets on a chilly, drizzly October night. We played Fernando Ortega's CD of hymns and I gripped Shawn's hand a little tighter with each contraction. As soon as we pulled into the emergency room entrance, another strong contraction came and I felt a pop and a huge gush of warm water. My water had broken right there in the car, and it was then that it really sunk in. We were having a baby. We wouldn't be leaving the hospital without him. Shawn dropped me off at the ER entrance and I walked in with my pants sopping wet, dripping amniotic fluid all over the ER floor. The staff didn't have to ask too many questions. They just looked at me - and my soaked pants - smiled, printed out my admissions forms and wristbands, and waited to ask their many questions between contractions.

Once Shawn met up with me, we headed upstairs to Labor & Delivery with our nurse for the night and were so thankful to get a room with a labor tub. By this time it was about 1:30am, and the midwife on call checked me. I was only 3cm dilated, but fully effaced, and the contractions felt so different since my water had broken. I still felt somewhat in control, but without the cushion of amniotic fluid, it felt a little more unbearable with each contraction. We took a walk around the hall, swayed a lot, and I hung on Shawn relentlessly. He was incredibly calm and supportive, reminding me to breathe, whispering prayers in my ear, and telling me how great I was doing.

Time passed slowly and quickly all at once. I had no sense of what time it was, and would only get a 30-second break between contractions. Sometimes the contractions were so intense that my knees would buckle, my whole body would shake, and all I could do was remember to breathe.

Within an hour of the first check, I was checked again to be 5cm. By this time, I was begging for relief. The labor tub felt miserable (I thought it would help much more than it did!) and really nothing but deep breathing did anything for the pain. I had not planned on getting an epidural, but was progressing so quickly that I felt I was drowning in the pain. After talking with Shawn and the midwife, I opted for the epidural.

And then another hour passed. No anesthesiologist in sight (other patients were slated to receive theirs before me) and I started to feel myself going into the incredibly intense labor period of transition. My body shook as I tried my hardest to breathe through the pain, but everything just felt so out of control and so fast. I had worried that the epidural would stall labor, but no one seemed to be concerned about that at all because I was progressing so quickly. The nurses were asking me, "What did you do to get such a short labor?! We never see this for first babies." It felt like a blessing and a curse.

Finally, I was able to get the epidural and feel some relief. I got the lowest dose possible so I could still feel the pressure of the contractions and could move my legs, but felt much less pain. And within just a couple hours, I was fully dilated. So in total, I went from 3cm to 10cm in just under 5 hours. Ouch.

Before and after the epidural, Liam's heart rate dipped a bit during the stronger contractions, so I had to wear an oxygen mask through the final few hours. It was probably due to the cord being compressed because my water had already broken. Being a nurse, I knew way too much for my own good and watched the heart monitor like a hawk. My nurse was so patient with me, calmly telling me to try to rest and let her worry about the monitor. She really wasn't all that concerned, and thankfully, the oxygen was helping.

So by the time I was completely dilated, we were waiting for my primary midwife to arrive. That, in itself, was an answered prayer as we had hoped and prayed she would be on call that day. I always thought as soon as you're dilated to 10cm, you start pushing. Isn't that what happens in all the movies? :) But my nurse told me to rest as long as possible to allow my body to move the baby down even further so I wouldn't have to push long. No one wanted me to have to push for 3 hours if I didn't have to.

So I was able to rest - and Shawn slept a little - and my mom came to visit as we waited for the pushing to start. At this point, I still felt uncomfortable, but felt much more in control and rested. I even put my makeup on right before the pushing so I'd feel a little better. I was thanking God for the epidural - though unplanned - because my birth experience was becoming such a more positive one than the hours of intense pain before.

When it was finally time to push around 9am, it was just four of us in the room: me, Shawn, my midwife Lauren, and our incredible nurse Emily. The nurse and midwife were both so peaceful, and really set the tone for a sacred experience. We set up a mirror so I could see progress, and with just the first push, I saw him crowning.

There's an Anthony Evans song, "Your Great Name," that I wanted to have played as he was delivered - so after about 20 minutes of pushing, Shawn started the song from our computer. We could see nearly all of his head, so we knew it was close. As the song played, tears streamed down my face... and Shawn's. It was such an incredibly powerful moment. No stress. No fear. Exactly what we had prayed. I watched in the mirror during my final push to see his sweet face for the first time. It was a gray-blue color, with the cord wrapped once around his neck, but everyone stayed calm as I was able to birth his body and Shawn pulled him out and up onto my chest. It took him a few seconds to pink up and begin to cry, and he cried just a tiny bit before just laying there peacefully looking at me. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful moment. I can't even put it into words.

We looked him over - 10 fingers and toes (and no clubbed feet!) - a mini Shawn with fuzzy blond hair. He was so calm and alert for the first hour as we drunk in his beauty. 8 lbs. 2 oz. (much bigger than anyone had guessed) and 21 1/4 inches long. He was so long inside my short torso that I literally felt him kicking my ribs as his head came out. A feeling I'll never forget.

About an hour after birth, my mom came to see him and then we were moved to our postpartum room where a couple friends of ours were waiting. He's the calmest, most peaceful baby. He loves being held and snuggled, and smiles in his sleep. He is the joy of our lives.

We were able to go home about 30 hours after his delivery, and it's been the most wonderful time getting to know him. We're elated, exhausted, and so in love with him. We feel so blessed to be his parents and we couldn't have asked for a more incredible birthday for Liam. God answers prayer.
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