MOPS Bucket List

Hi friends, you know how much I love my MOPS group. Who is excited for the To The Full theme at MOPS this year?  My group created  a To The Full Bucket List and I just wanted to share because it is so fun.

So how are we doing this? We gave each mom a copy of this list and we are going to hang a huge copy (34″X 46″) in our meeting room (as soon as I get it printed at staples) to check off as a group. Each time our group does an item (playdate at a new park, family game night etc) we check it off as a group.

Then every week (or every so often) we ask if anyone has completed anything on the bucket list and would like to share. We do this with highs and lows at the start of our meeting– there have already been cute stories! We also post challenges or opportunities to complete items on facebook in our private group (ex. create something and share it.)

It’s been so fun so we wanted to share. We were intentional about creating 52 things for the 52 weeks in a year. But we have no set week by week item in mind, our goal is just to encourage all of our moms to complete some of most of the list in the name of having more fun and living life to the full (no pressure).

xoxo,

Emily

Can we stop talking about bodies during pregnancy?

Can we stop commenting on bodies during pregnancy? Let’s just stop.

This is me twelve weeks ago. Sixteen weeks pregnant with twins. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone. But I did announce it, and you know the most common comments I keep getting? All about my body. Nothing about my heart.

My last pregnancy I carried babies with a life-limiting diagnosis and still the thing everyone wanted to talk about? My body. How big I was, how big I wasn’t, how much weight I gained, how much I didn’t gain. Rather than asking about my broken heart, everyone talked about my body.

And it was and is, so annoying.

Oh, I get it. It’s easy to tell someone who is pregnant, ‘you look great!’ or ‘look how big your belly is!’. I do it too. But what you mean to say is, ‘that baby you’re growing is a miracle.’

Then say that. The baby you are growing, is a miracle.

Surprisingly, it is usually women who haven’t had a baby in over a decade.

“Wow, I remember that feeling, it took me so long to lose all that weight.” “It doesn’t look like you gained much this time.”, “You look good, are you working out?”, “You know what helped me? Eating soup instead of big meals”,  and postpartum ” You lost so much weight!, “You’ll lose weight if you keep breastfeeding, it takes time.” What?!

Not once has a doctor ever commented on my body size or weight gained during pregnancy (and I’ve seen a lot of doctors)– so why does everyone else?

I think it’s like anything, it’s any easy thing to talk about. But really? That’s all we have to talk about?

Six months postpartum, a coworker cornered me in the hallway and said, ” we were all worried you would never lose all that weight you gained during pregnancy.”

I burst out laughing.

The thought of my coworkers standing around talking about my pregnant and postpartum body was (and is) absolutely hysterical.

Stop talking about my body.

There is so much more to talk about about carrying and birthing and caring for children. Ask me how my baby is (even if my baby is not okay, it’s okay to ask how they are) , ask me how I am, ask me how you can help me. Best of all– ask me how you can pray for me.

But seriously, let’s stop commenting on bodies during pregnancy, unless you are saying– how beautiful pregnancy is because truly it is.

Xoxo,

Emily

 

 

Fall Capsule Wardrobe For Toddler

Hi friends, I created this budget friendly toddler boy capsule wardrobe because I LOVE capsule wardrobes and I’ve been meaning to do one for Tommy.

Truth is we are always on a budget. I used to try to thrift all Tommy’s clothes but honestly guys, it’s a waste of time. Especially when Walmart has clothes for just $3.88.

*I should note that I do have clothes for him that were given to us (people are so nice) like coats, overalls and jeans that I didn’t put in here.

But, if I were going to start new for fall this year this is what I would buy. And the best part, you can find all of it at just two stores: Walmart and Target because this season of life is ALL ABOUT SIMPLE.

The first thing I do when planning a capsule wardrobe for me or yes, for Tommy too, is pick out a color scheme, it makes shopping and pairing things down SO much easier. This season (his 3T-4T season of life) I choose gray, cream, black and teal. Simple and easy but it works.

Budget Friendly Fall Capsule Wardrobe For Toddler Boy

  1. fluffy sherpa /  walmart- We already have a fleece jacket but if not this one was in my budget, it’s maybe on the thin side but comfy. The fleece jacket we have is the shell of BEST 3-1 jacket from Children’s Place. I bought it on sale on black Friday, totally worth it guys.
  2. henley / target- these are cute and comfy and stretchy. My goal is not to spend more than $7.00 per piece for kids clothes and they are $7.00 exactly.
  3. hat and mittens / target- I put it in his fall capsule instead of winter but to be honest, after I found these, I found gloves and hats at the Dollar Tree for a dollar that will work. Also, pro-mom tip, regular sized beanies work fine for kids.
  4. cowboy boots / walmart- so all my child wears is cowboy boots, it started out cute, but now he can’t pull them on himself (always get shoes they can put on themselves!!!) ugh. But they are work out really well for dress up or dress down, jumping in mud, stepping in chicken poop, all the things.
  5. fleece joggers / target- I like comfy clothes for kids, pants they can play in. Joggers look just a little bit nicer than sweatpants all the time (okay so they are sweatpants but still.)
  6. henley / target- same henley as #2, I got him two. They wash soft which I love.
  7. boys leggings / target- boys leggings! tell me your thoughts on ‘boy’s leggings’. I LOVE them for little boys, they  they can move in them unlike jeans or thick sweatpants. I layer them under joggers, jeans and overalls, and he wears them to bed too.
  8. pajama set– usually we sleep in regular clothes but I do love pj sets and Tommy wears them during the day or as a layer because why not.
  9. sneakers / walmart- we love these shoes. He has wide feet and these fit.
  10. long sleeve tee / target- I used to always look for cute graphic tees for Tommy but lately I’ve been making my own and actually, I really love just plain shirts, these are a good weight and wash soft
  11. long sleeve tee / target- same as #10
  12. joggers / target- you might notice I don’t have jeans on here. These joggers are soft and comfortable though and I like that he can wear them every day or we save them up for church
  13. raglan tee / walmart- I love raglan tees walmart had them cheaper then the old navy but not as many colors.

That is our toddler boy’s capsule wardrobe for fall 2019, I just realized Tommy is switching over to regular boy sizes very soon–eekk!

Tell me your capsule wardrobe successes and fails. Do you love the idea of a capsule wardrobe or find it too much to think about it. I like it because I find planning keeps things simple and laundry, way less laundry.

Let me know.

Love and pumpkins,
Emily

 

weekly round-up • peaches, fair, coffee & getting minimal

Weekly round-up!

This week I had no daycare kids. I missed them but it was nice to regroup, straighten the house, plan my fall ideas and have time with Tommy.

I went to my mom’s and she graciously taught me how to properly can peaches- amazing. Now I want to can all the things. She always uses the canning peaches method by Practical Self Reliance– her recipe is super simple to follow. We used the extra light syrup variation. Guys, I always canning was too hard but it’s not, it was actually super relaxing. Do you can? Do you love it? Teach me your ways.

We also went to The Great Frederick Fair this weekend, Tom had to work, I went to help him and Tommy went to try to convince Daddy to buy him a cow– it might have worked.

Back to the peaches. My mom bought 1/2 bushel of peaches from Pryor’s Orchard for $20 plus she bought me the canning jars (she’s so nice) which are the smooth sided quart jars, a 12 count for $10.34 which bumps the price to $3.71/jar (each jar is $0.86 and we used 7 jars).

A store bought jar runs about $1.76 for 15 oz so, $3.84 for the same amount and while it’s more work to do it yourself, two hours from set-up until we were finished these TASTE SO MUCH BETTER, I am calling it a win.

So I finally sat down to edit video about the babies. We’ve been documenting everything but holding on to it for– I don’t know why.

I have a youtube channel and this week I posted our twin gender reveal video and pregnancy update videos. Tom’s head totally got cut-off in the gender reveal but that’s what happens when you film it yourself. We did have a friend help us (thank you Ken) but he was manning another camera with our family’s reaction– turns out his card didn’t take– so I am thankful for the footage we do have.  Do you guys believe in gender reveals– I think any reason to celebrate a new baby is a good reason and I am so glad we got it on film.

This coming week I am going to post a ‘Baby Names We Love but Won’t be Using’ video and we’ll be sharing our twins’ names in a name reveal video.  I am just so grateful for this pregnancy and want to remember it. Should I tell you Tom thinks it’s our last pregnancy? Eeekk. I’m not sure about that.

 

I started drinking coffee again. I gave it up when I was newly pregnant. My doctor said I could only have 60 mg a day– does that sound right? I feel like she meant 150 mg. Anyways, I pour 1/4 cup  of regular brew coffee in a small mason jar, stick it in the freezer, then add milk, a cup of ice + a tiny bit of heavy whipping cream. Heavy cream makes all the difference. Man I missed it.

We have been on a path to minimalism for– years now. I made so much progress this week. Basically we’ve gotten rid of all the things (okay, I have, Tom just goes along with it–for the most part). Do you guys konmari? I do and now I want to minimize everything.  This week I finished basically the WHOLE HOUSE. I only took a picture of our bedroom but I’ll take more soon.

That’s it for this week. Except for a mom moment I had. Yesterday, I realized I hate being away from Tommy. HATE it. I know that sounds either obvious or obnoxious depending how you look at it but for the first three years of his life I worked every week day, (and lots of weekends). It was nothing for me to be gone from him for 12 hours at a time. Tommy went to Tom’s parents house for a the day while I worked the fair for Tom’s work and I hated not having him with me. It felt so weird. He’s my doctor appointment buddy, my work buddy, my cleaning buddy, my errands buddy, my library buddy– all of it. I feel like the luckiest person to stay home with him. My parenting confidence has sky rocketed since I quit my job three months ago. I just had to share because there was a time where I liked being away from him, having time to myself– don’t get me wrong I still do, but not for twelve hours!

That’s all guys! Weekly round-ups are my favorite thing to write because they help me remember all of the things. Hope you had a blessed week.

Always grateful, always thankful,

Emily

Thoughts on Having Twins After Losing Twins

twins after loss

Hi friends,

I have lots of thoughts about carrying twins after losing twins and most of it centers around– wow and— how. The rest of the world seems to think this is completely normal, people are excited for us, they say ‘you’re so lucky’ and ‘awe, how sweet’. I am the only one who is completely undone by God’s grace for us in this. And I am. Completely undone. There is a level of surrender I need to reach, the level that allows you to go about a day and not be completely unraveled by the miracles growing inside of me but I’m not there yet. And maybe I don’t want to be. I want it to be January so I can see these babies. It’s all I want. I know part of that is wrapped up in grief and disbelief. Last pregnancy God said, trust me. This time God hasn’t said anything. Just two healthy babies, two heart beats, beating at every appointment. An easy pregnancy. How could that be? Having twins after losing twins is– surreal. In a way it doesn’t make any sense. Medically, one egg split last time, two eggs were fertilized this time but– to my broken heart–two babies this time means, everything.

Friends, I will never make sense of this but to say that God loves us. He’s there in our sorrow and in our joy. He gives us the desires of our hearts and more abundantly. More abundantly so.

If you are praying for something, keep praying. The bible tells us, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..” Ephesians 3:20-21

Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. I am growing two babies that are proof.

Thank you for praying for us! I am fully convinced someone (or lots of you) were praying we would have twins for a second time and  God answers prayers.

Always thankful, always grateful,

Emily

I’m Pregnant…with twins again!

Hi guys, we are pregnant! And I am still getting used to this but we are having twins again. After carrying and losing twin girls last year, we knew we wanted to have another baby as soon as possible but we could not have imagined that we would have twins again. We’re not really sure who was praying asking God to give us two babies but it wasn’t us.

One healthy baby is all we were hoping for.

I was shaking going into the first ultrasound, one healthy baby, one healthy baby I kept praying. One strong heartbeat. There’s nothing they can say we haven’t lived through.

And then, the ultrasound technician let out a little gasp and said “honey, there’s two.”

TWO BABIES. All over again.

The doctor asked if I was going to be okay. I just cried and cried and nodded. Then I asked him over and over again, “are they okay, Are they going to be okay?”

“This isn’t last time,” he kept saying. “It’s never going to happen again.” But how could I be having twins again? How could that be. He just shrugged, “Congratulations, I’m happy for you.”

We are now eighteen weeks along. Our babies are healthy. They are healthy. I still can’t believe it.

Having twins after losing twins. There is only one thing that we can figure. God loves us. He cares for us. He knows every desire of our heart. God knew how badly we wanted to have twins. We prayed for one rainbow baby, God gave us two.

Here is my reaction to finding out about our second set of twins…

Thank you for praying for us! We are so very excited and blessed but also very, very scared. God gets all of the glory.

Always thankful, always grateful,

Emily

 

To Our Babies On Their First Birthday

Dear Eliza and Ensley,

I miss you so much babies. You are ONE today! I think about you all of the time and while it has been a whole year since you were born it really seems like just yesterday or at least last week.

I was thinking about what it would be like if you were here. What we would want you to know most of all. The thing your Daddy and I would want you to know most of all is who Jesus is. But you girls are in Heaven, with JESUS face to face. Your Daddy reminds me of that all of the time. He’s known Jesus since he was five so he’s better at remembering. With Jesus face to face, more fully alive than you would be with us. We celebrate that today, it’s a joy in our hearts that never goes away. Even when we miss you and especially when we miss you. The hope of heaven is all we can hope for and you are already there.

But you got to know I still wish you were here.

If you were here, I would be making you a pink funfetti cake for your birthday. Your birthday outfits would most definitely match. We would be telling you we got you two babies for your birthday but you have to wait until January. I probably would have gotten you two baby dolls, a boy and a girl or maybe four so you wouldn’t fight over them.

We love you Eliza girl. We love you Ensley girl. We trust Heaven is better than a pink funfetti cake. Even if I made two. It’s better than all that we could do for you. It’s just hard for us to imagine because we aren’t there yet. We are here, without you.

We fought hard for you when you were alive. I tried everything I could to protect you. As soon was we found out you both had serious abnormalities in your bodies, I asked God what I was supposed to do every day. If God had told me anything other than to let you be born, I would have done it. To keep you safe. But God didn’t. Your doctors told me you might only suffer when came into the world and then you would both quickly leave.

Today is your birthday and Tommy is so excited to celebrate. We are making pink funfetti cupcakes. We are trying to teach him about Heaven. The day you both were born we held our breath, doctors told us what to expect but they never told us how beautiful you would be. Perfectly and wonderfully made. You didn’t suffer and we rejoiced as soon as we knew you went to Heaven. We hold you in our hearts forever and we’ll keep wishing you were here, all the while knowing you girls taught us more about Jesus and who He is than we could have ever taught you.

We love you, we always miss you and we praise God for giving us you both.

Always grateful, always thankful,

Mommy & Daddy too

Find Yourself a Moms Group

Find yourself a moms group.

My mom was the first one to tell me to go to MOPS.

I was asking her a bunch of questions about the baby I was about to have. “Just find a moms group, it will keep you sane.” I thought moms group sounded…awkward. I didn’t have a baby yet, I couldn’t relate. All the moms at my church already had babies and their babies were turning into teenagers, what would we relate on?

Oh you know, just motherhood.

I went to a moms group at my church out of desperation and I found my closest friends. Pregnant, I had the most conflicting feelings of fear, anxiety and absolute joy.  I felt really out of place at first. The moms were talking about school issues, conflicts with teachers, fights on the bus, my baby wasn’t even born yet. But I kept going. And kept going.

Some nights I didn’t say a word just listened to the moms talk. When would this would help me stop feeling lonely? Some days I would skip (they met every week) and Tom would say “you should really go to that moms group.”

Nah, it’s for real moms, I’m just pregnant, I can’t really relate. “Go anyway”, he would say.
That’s the key to moms group. Go anyway.

Find yourself a moms group. It is okay to shop around. But then go, and go anyway.

Go despite how you feel, despite who you connect with, despite if it means your family is eating McDonald’s for dinner (or breakfast)– just go.

It will be messy and uncomfortable. You’ll feel like the only one– the only one with a baby, or the only one with a teenager, the only one who parents the way you do, the only one who doesn’t eat organic, the only one who works– but you’re not. You are not alone. Most of all, you are not alone.

Find yourself a moms group for community.

If you find a moms group rooted in Jesus, you’ll find the women who will pray for you, who will pray for your children, and they will become the ones you can tell your biggest fears to and who will speak life over them and into you.

Wednesday night moms group was the first time I said, “I am really anxious and I think I need help.” It was another mom who told me how to get help. I had postpartum depression and anxiety. She doesn’t know it but she saved me and she saved my motherhood. Over time, somewhere between playing UNO, doing devotionals and coloring adult coloring pages (weird right?) I found my closest friends.

MOPS group Littlestown PA

The ride or die ones. The mom friend ones. The ones who have who have heard my messy heart, been in my messy van, seen my messy house and love me anyway. They love me even when I don’t text them back for days, they know not to call on the phone– who has the time– they love me when I don’t show up and they love it when I do.

Mom friends understand what it’s like to be a mom friend.

I am not like all of my mom friends, not really, I am still the youngest, still the least put together (for sure), I am still the one who refuses to eat organic food and only recently accepted essential oils into my life. But by showing up, over and over, on days when I didn’t feel like, from making them a priority, from making community a priority, I found what I was desperate for………mom friends.

Find yourself a moms group.

You probably have choices of mom groups to join but I am really biased and say go to one with moms who love Jesus. MOPS International is a group for moms founded in the Christ. I stumbled into MOPS because my church has one, (with free childcare– I know right!). But if you want to find one near you– look here: www.mops.org/groupsearch/ and if you want to join mine, send me a message and I’ll look for you there.  We have coffee. And childcare. We’re a messy bunch but we will gladly be your mom friends.

 

I QUIT my job

I QUIT my job.

Friends, this is such a big deal to our little family and before you think, wow girl, must be nice, let me tell you how heart-wrenching, painstaking, fear evoking hard this was. Not just was, still is. We are a working class family. Blessed but we both have to work kind of family. When I first had the idea to stay home it wasn’t, “yeah we can cut out some extras and make it work”, it was more like “well we won’t have groceries but…

The other painstaking part is I loved my job. Like really, really loved it.

I was a livestock inspector– I got paid to drive around and do disease investigations on farms.

But as much as I loved it, something changed on March 16th, 2016. Tommy was born. Work did not become optional, I carried our insurance, my paycheck paid our mortgage. I had to go back after 12 weeks but after Tommy was born, work became impossible. In a way I can’t explain, working motherhood became my deepest struggle.

In my circle of friends no one seemed to struggle with not being home the way I did. Something felt really, really wrong and I didn’t know what to do. So I complained about it a lot. And I thought of all the ways I could make money working from home.

Talking about leaving my job and ALL of my business ideas turned into a major pain point in our marriage. Tom supported me but for sure thought I was going crazy. (Because I was). I became very torn, very money focused and very into the idea of ‘what I wanted to do next’. Something big, something important. Start a business, build my blog, make $5000/month. And yet, nothing happened.

I’ve been building websites since college but I couldn’t seem to make any for profit. Everything was impossible. And I was losing my babies.

Ten months ago, I was sitting in a hospital room, mourning the fact that  I wouldn’t have three kids at home when I ran the math of what we would have been paying in daycare. That’s my salary I thought. Then I thought it again, that is my salary.

It was exactly my take home pay.

I immediately told Tom– I could do in home daycare and quit my job and stay home with Tommy! He didn’t just say no, he said NO WAY. He said I was trying to replace our babies. He said our house would never be clean, he said I would go crazy. He said, you almost just died and you carry our insurance. I felt defeated. I asked my two closest friends (both who do daycare) to pray for him to change his mind.

Seven months later, out of the blue, Tom called me at work, “Hey”, he said, “you know that daycare thing? Why don’t you do that? Do you still want to do that”?

Now, I know God can do bigger miracles than changing Tom’s heart but at that moment, there was nothing more surprising to me.

What I want you to know about quitting my job is that it wasn’t easy. No one told me I should. No one told me how I could. No one told me it was a good idea. It was more than a little bit crazy.

But there is one reason I quit my job. His name is Tommy and he is three.

Life After Infant Loss

Hi friends, I haven’t written much since the birth of our babies in August so I wanted to let you know how we are. All I can say is God does miraculous things with broken hearts.

When I thought about life after infant loss, I thought about all the things I would not be able to do–
get out of bed, go to work, have another baby, be a good friend, be a good wife. I forgot that God does miraculous things with broken hearts.

Getting out of bed is hard, forget about work, and having another baby? We are terrified. I am not a good friend, daughter, or wife. In fact our marriage has never been harder. Yet, here we stand, safe in the love of Jesus.

God does miraculous things with broken hearts.

Recently I was talking to someone who lost his daughter just weeks after we lost our daughters.
He said when people ask him how he is, he wants to say;

“how the hell do you think I am”?
I nodded with tears.
I said “but Jesus right”?
He looked at me.
So I said it again, “but Jesus”.
He shrugged.

I know exactly how he feels.
But Jesus still.

I thought this part, life after infant loss, would be the easier part. Easier than preparing for our babies to die. But it’s not. I asked Tom why. He said maybe it is because we aren’t clinging to God like we were when I was pregnant. I think he’s probably right.

We have hope, and still we have joy. But our grief is so normal now. Like it will never go away, probably because it won’t. I was struggling with that but the bible says;

1 Thessalonians 4:13: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Yours is a grieving with hope. Theirs is a grieving without hope. That is the key difference. There is no talk of not grieving. That would be like suggesting to a woman who just lost her arm that she not cry, because it would be put back on in the resurrection. It hurts! That’s why we cry. It hurts

To be grieving and still hopeful, to have sorrow and abundant joy; it’s all part of the miraculous things God does with broken hearts.

Always grateful, always thankful,
Emily

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