Crossing Mason Dixon

When it Comes To Fathers

When it comes to fathers, I found the best.

I’ve told Tom the best part of being married is watching him be a dad. Or if I haven’t told him, I should.

The truth is, I give him a hard time; he’ll say all of the time, I say some of the time. Like this weekend, we were celebrating Father’s day with crabs (the best!), I ask Tom to get Tommy food. I was thinking a hot dog, watermelon, maybe coleslaw and a drink- on a plate, with a fork. Tom had his dad get Tommy a hot dog and that was it; no fruit, no vegetable, no plate, no fork. #dadlife.

Things like that baffle me. Or putting Tommy to bed without pajamas- like what? Or not putting him to bed at all and letting him stay up to watch tv. He’s two! I probably have a list but that’s okay. Apparently we aren’t the only ones who parent differently. Dads are special.

When it comes to fathers, they are kind of the best. And truthfully, maybe more fun than mothers. Maybe a lot more fun. Just saying.

When it comes to fathers I know the best: Tom, my own dad and Tom’s dad are some of the sweetest, laid back (in a good way) most fun people I know.

It must be a dad thing.

#HappyFathersDay

What are the funny things that your husband/dad does that you never would? I have a whole lot more but like I said, he is kind of the best.

-Emily

Our Hope Is Not False

hope is for realWhen you have a high risk pregnancy like ours- carrying two babies with a fatal diagnosis, the idea of false hope is something other people think you should avoid. Just don’t have false hope they say.

But our hope is not false.

The first time I heard it, the person I was talking to sighed and said:

“I just hope you and Tom don’t have false hope” I just said “oh, no- we don’t…” and stumbled through the rest of my explanation.

I hung up and stared at the phone.

We do have hope. We have tremendous, peace-giving hope.

Until recently, I have only been talking about the hope I have for my babies with other christians.It’s way easier to talk about hope with people who know the hope you are talking about. Like friends from church or the group of moms I meet with for Mops. And of course with Tom. Definitely not our doctors. How sad to be seen as the parents with false hope.

But in real life, I am asked why I would carry babies with a fatal diagnosis- if that is a wise decision. In real life people don’t know the hope we have and they feel so sorry for us.

In the space in conversation that sometimes feels enormous, I don’t say anything about hope because I don’t want our hope to be perceived as false.

But our hope is not false.

Hope saved my soul when I was seventeen and Tom’s when he was five. Life transforming, soul saving, never-be-the-same hope.

The only thing crazier then worrying about being perceived as having false hope is the idea that our hope could ever be false. People who don’t know the hope we have, don’t know the hope we have.

They don’t know. Tom pointed out the other day as I was going on about people and this false hope thing. Oh man, he is right.

The hope we have for our babies is not because we are religious and follow a code that says don’t abort your babies no matter what. The hope we have is not because someone told us about Jesus or because we believe in acts of healing and soul saving that happened thousands of years ago. We believe in those for today. Right now. We have witnessed them. Actual healing and actual miracles. Our babies are not beyond that. God can. When Jesus saves your soul you are never without hope.

And even if God doesn’t, heaven is our hope.

Our hope is not false.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us. Along with the great peace God has afforded us we believe a covering of prayer is helping us see things we may otherwise not see about our babies and this pregnancy. Things we may otherwise become bitter to- like this idea of false hope. But we aren’t! We are so grateful to each of you who are praying with us and for us for our babies.

All that hope,

Emily

 

21 week anatomy scan and all of your prayers

You guys are praying for us, like really praying for us and we can feel it.
We are so humbled by your prayers.

Thursday was our anatomy scan for our twins and even though we get ultrasounds every week, this was the big one where the doctors look at all their fingers and all of their toes- which they have!

Our doctors are still giving us the diagnosis of limb body wall complex (or something similar), which no baby has survived but we go to each appointment with an open mind that anything can happen.

I intentionally shared about the babies on facebook the day before thinking maybe some friends from church would pray with us.

Woah, you guys. Woah. I never thought so many people would respond. And you all are still praying! To be honest I was nervous about telling our story on facebook because so many people have questioned why we would keep this pregnancy if the babies have a fatal diagnosis.

21 week ultrasound Fetal Therapy

The answer is, God is in control and He is good all of the time. Tom came home from work Wednesday night and I said, “Tom, people are praying, like really praying.” His response was what did you expect? I guess I don’t know.

Tom was able to go with me to the anatomy scan and I will always be thankful to his boss for that.

21 week Ultrasound

Truthfully, most of the time we have no idea what we are looking at on ultrasound. But it is precious time with the babies. Funny thing: at one point our ultrasound  said, “well no hands then”, because one baby’s hands were in a little fist and she couldn’t quite see them. I didn’t even flinch, just thought- add it to the list, we will pray for hands. Limb body wall complex means abnormal findings like no hands, no legs. But then she said, “today”. Meaning baby A has hands but she just couldn’t see them ‘today’. I guess it’s not funny at all but it was to me. Our babies have both arms, both hands, both legs and both feet- that is amazing.

Another funny thing that is maybe not funny at all- we never got to talk to the doctors about the results of our anatomy scan.

21 Week Ultrasound Twins

The scan took two and a half hours. But I had another appointment to go to. I am pretty sure they still think both babies have limb body wall complex or the equivalent as our maternal fetal medicine told us- no change, one baby has fluid in the abdomen but it’s not concerning and one baby may have a cleft palate.

Still not sure if they will live. Still not sure if they will die.

And that was it. The appointment took all day. But we got to see our babies, we had lunch together (shout out to flamers chicken, our go to at Johns Hopkins’ cafeteria) and best of all we felt God’s grace all around us. All around us.

As I was jogging down the hall trying to find a bathroom, I saw a precious girl standing on her IV being pushed by her mom down the hall. She looked so sick. I stopped right there and felt the weight of it. All of this. What parents will do for their children, what doctors will do to for their patients. And I started praying for her, I said God, give her all of the prayers we are getting, give her all of the healing we are asking for. Give them to her and her mom. We even haven’t met our babies yet but that mom has a little girl alive and she is suffering-  it was hard but as God stopped me, He reminded me, there is enough for her and me and the babies and all of us. Oh Jesus, there is enough for all of us.

God is so good you guys. We are thankful for our doctors, for being able to go to Johns Hopkins and for getting to see our sweet babies so often. And the power prayer is real. We are feeling it and witnessing to the truth that God hears our prayers.

Our hearts are forever changed,

Tom and Emily

Our second and third baby

Hi guys,

There is something I’ve been meaning to tell you.

In January, Tom and I found out we are expecting another baby.

In February we found out we are expecting twins.

In March we found out our babies had several abnormalities and were deemed incompatible with life. Specifically, both of our twins have limb body wall complex.

Now it’s May and I am 21 weeks pregnant with these sweet babies.

twin pregnancy limb body wall

At 12 weeks our ultrasound technician left the room quietly to get our doctor. I told Tom she looked upset. We already knew we were having twins, we already knew there was a chance they could be conjoined.

My OB sent us to a maternal fetal medicine doctor the same day. The doctor came in and the quietest voice, told us that our babies were incompatible with life. She listed off several abnormalities and showed us each one.

She explained that none of it added up to be any one defect or any one cause. She said they could also be conjoined at the liver, we just don’t know.

She asked if I had any questions. I looked at the screen, where I just saw two hearts beating and asked: “but they are still alive…so why are they still alive”?

She quietly said, “I don’t know”.

She got up to leave and told us to take as much time as we needed which sounded ridiculous.

Then, I looked at Tom and sobbed like I have never sobbed before. Good thing Tom was there to hold me because it was 20 minutes before I could walk again. As we cried, we both cried out to Jesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit became so thick in the room we could tangibly feel God all around us. We both walked out with a peace we still can’t explain. Except we can.

God goes before us, He is always with us, He never forsakes us. God was already there.

And the same God who I walked into that exam room with, is the same God I left with.

His promises are real. And even in this I have joy.

God is bigger than all of my fear.

Our faith tells us God can heal these babies completely. And we know they are already whole and complete in Jesus. No matter how long we have them, we are their parents- stewards of their souls. If we lose them, we know that Jesus conquered death. So we have no fear. We only have joy.

I plan to post about our journey. Even the hard parts. Already, I have gained so much from reading from other parents who faced a similar diagnosis. Already God has shown up for us in ways we can’t explain but will try to witness too.

Will you pray our sweet babies and for us- believe with us for a miracle and trust God to do a work in us either way? We so covet your prayers. Thank you sweet friends.

Cherishing all of your prayers and forever thankful for these babies,

-Emily

Tommy’s Two Year Update

Our Tommy-man is two years old.

And he is just so funny. Whoever calls twos terrible, well I just don’t know but it’s pretty terrific.

Two Year Update

Two-year-old Tommy is a total goofball. Everything is funny, everything is fun except when he doesn’t get the snack he wants. Then maybe I do get it. #toddlerlife

Two Year Update

Really, Tommy is still sweet natured (just like his dad) but maybe a touch stubborn (like his mama) and now he comes up with the funniest things. Like how he saw the dog eating grass in the backyard and tells everyone Kiptyn eats poop and then laughs about it like it is the funniest thing he’s ever heard.

I love watching his imagination lately- it is out there (not the dog eating poop thing, that’s probably true).

Watching him grow into a two-year-old, he is more confident with most everything. He is not timid about anything and will let you know what he wants. Like cookies and donuts and playing outside.

Lately he has turned into a chatterbox, literally repeating everything we say. (Like that one time he told his dad to chill out.) His favorite word might be no, but I’ve heard it’s a toddler thing. He says a lot of other things the funniest being heavy- which he says with a weird accent- heeeavvvy. It’s the best.

He outgrew his dance to all rap music stage but I am sure it will come back right?

A big milestone for us is now at two he may have outgrown his dairy allergy. Hallelujah. Tommy had a whole piece of pizza the other day and did just fine so fingers crossed.

I just realized I have no idea how much he weighs or how tall he is so maybe I should get on that but he is in 3T clothes and I’ buying bigger shoes every week.

Here are some more of two year old Tommy’s favorite things.

favorite food : shrimp lo-mein (just like me)
favorite color : orange, he thinks everything is orange or pink
favorite book : Everyone Poops (I mean, it’s a classic so..)
favorite thing to do : be outside
favorite toy : toy shotgun
favorite sport : baseball
favorite tv show : PJ Masks on repeat (make it stop! jk)
favorite place : the farm
favorite animal : dogs
favorite dog : Ripken, his aunt Val’s yellow lab
loves : all things animals, balls and sports, guns
most used phrase : “what happened? or what is that?”

That’s all about Tommy for his two year update. I’ve got to say I love raising a two-year old. Especially this two-year old.

The luckiest,

Emily

The State Museum of Pennsylvania with a Toddler

The State of Pennsylvania Museum in Harrisburg has the cutest children’s museum for kids 5 and under.  When a friend told me she took her two year old and loved it, I was all about trying it out for Tommy. For something fun to do for a toddler, I definitely recommend making the trip.

Curiosity Center PA Children's Museum

Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for kids (ages 1-11). It is the general admission price for the whole museum so you get to see everything. Hours are Wednesday- Saturday 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM and Sunday 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM. 

The frugal in me would say $19 for a museum is expensive (even though it isn’t) but it is so worth it! They also have group rates and availability to book for birthday parties which would be fun. It was maybe a little smaller than I expected but there was so much to do that it made it worth it. They curiosity center can hold 45 kids at a time.

We went for Tommy’s second birthday, Tom, Tommy and I, in the middle of the day on a Friday. I have heard it gets crowded but it was pretty fine while we were there. Oh my goodness, Tommy had so much fun. 

Toddler Fun PA State Museum

The whole children’s wing is interactive, it’s kind of like a big play center with real life toys- totally my thing. And it’s all farm stuff, or some of it- oh my gosh. 

Riding Sheep PA Children's Museum

We train hard for mutton busting. 

I loved the mixture of toys and how everything was interactive and could move anywhere without a lot of fuss about if someone took something from one area to another. Carrots were thrown on top of school buses and squirrels were coming out of lego bins but it was all good because kids were playing. Books PA State Children's Museum

Feeding rabbit, PA Children's Museum

For the most part it was a really relaxed atmosphere. Educational and fun. Best of both worlds. Tom and I played with Tommy and also let him explore on his own and there was so much to do, we could spend all day there. 

PA State Children's Museum

Tommy was kind of the cutest and did everything there was to do.

Building a truck PA State Children's Museum

Afterward, we thought we would take a look around the bigger museum since we were there and Tommy loved that too! 

Mastadon PA State Children's Museum

They exhibits were well done- we loved the mammal hall, with taxidermy of native mammals to America and Pennsylvania, there was a dinosaur hall- I’ve never seen my child’s eyes get so big. And also a car and plane area, which maybe less exciting but still fun for him to see up close. All in all for a toddler’s first trip to a museum it was kind of the best. 

For good family fun near Harrisburg, especially when you have a toddler, check out the PA State Museum. 

 

 

 

Wear a dress to work

Guess what! I did number eighteen on my 30 while I’m 30 bucket list:

18.) wear a dress to work. I did it and it was completely normal. 

Is it wrong to be impressed with myself? 

Here is the day I had enough courage to wear a dress to work and I had to document it: 

wear a dress day

It kind of looks more like a tunic in this picture but it is this jersey knit swing dress from Old Navy. They had them on sale for $10 the other day. I bought three in different colors because I thought they are casual enough to wear to work. 

I’m sure I have worn a dress one or two other times for work presentations but never all day long and never out in the field and never as a regular part of my wardrobe. Now I didn’t go wrestle any pigs or anything in this dress but I did do a chick inspection this day and I don’t think anyone thought anything of it. 

Because I wore bibs over it- you guys, this whole time I’ve been afraid of wear fancy clothes to work I forgot that I wear coveralls 98% of the time. Hahahahahha. 

So yes, I am someone who can successfully wear a dress to work and I feel all sophisticated. Like something normal women do. 

I totally packed extra clothes in my truck just incase because #fieldworkgetsmessy but otherwise it was not even a thing. No one even said anything.

 I did it again the next week: 

wear a dress to work

And I think ‘wear a dress to work’ is going to be my new thing let’s be real, it’s just like pajamas but acceptable. I feel like a just learned a thing. Like this is what grown-ups do. 

#welcometo30

Also, stay tuned because I’ve been inspired to start a capsule wardrobe and I think it’s going to change my life. Lots more dresses for sure.

How I Met My Husband

Gosh I love ‘how I met my husband’ stories so here is mine.

….

I met Tom while showing sheep in 4H. The true truth is Tom and I met briefly in 4H while showing sheep. Our friendship grew five years later when I moved to Pennsylvania to be with another boyrfriend.

While I completely remember the moment I met Tom, Tom says he doesn’t remember it at all. whomp whomp.

how I met my husband

It was 2005 at a sheep weigh-in and it was my first (and last) year showing sheep at our county fair. I was an odd ball to be sure. Most kids start 4H when they are eight, I started when I was sixteen. 

But I’m glad I joined because that’s how I met my husband.

At that sheep weigh-in, Tom grabbed both my lambs by the halter and yanked them out of the bed of my truck. He was helping me because I had no idea what I was doing.

I will remember it always. 

We talked for a minute and it only took a minute for him to invite me to his house near Gettysburg, to shoot guns. Random right? It was totally fate. 

Tom stood out in 4H because he was he was tall and had red hair and was homeschooled. I ALWAYS had a thing red headed guys. He was also nineteen and still helping out the sheep program for 4H. Who does that? And most importantly, he loved Jesus and talked about it. He still does. 

That is how we met. 

And then one day he came to our FFA banquet and I had the strangest sense that I was so excited to see him, that I could talk to him forever. He started telling me about his civil war musket hobby and I told him my dad would love it. Who knew, now my dad is on his musket team. Fate you guys.

We both dated other people but he friended me on myspace (myspace!) and I remember thinking how much we had in common. After college, my boyfriend broke up with me right after I moved to Pennsylvania to be with him. I soon realized the only person I knew near me in Pennsylvania was Tom Taylor from 4H who lived near Gettysburg. I messaged him on facebook. First I checked to see if he was still single.

Thank goodness he wrote me back. 

I asked him to meet me at a diner in Hanover because I wanted to see if he was as cute as I remembered. I remember how good he smelt, I remember not wanting to stop talking to him, that night or ever. And he is really cute isn’t he?

But, as stubborn girls do I insisted for months all we would was friends. He was that kid I knew from 4H. #friendzone

So we were just friends for months. The whole time I was denying having any feelings for him. One night we were laying on a hammock in my parents backyard (because that’s what ‘friends’ do) and I gave him a list of reasons I could never date him. The first being he was too nice. He asked me why that was bad and I am sure I stumbled through some reason but the truth was I was already in love with him. 

And I was scared he wouldn’t love me back.

But he did. 

In a warehouse at his job one day while I sat on a forklift watching him sweep the floor, Tom told me either I had to be his girlfriend or we had to stop hanging out. He had sent me a long text about the same thing the night before and I hadn’t answered him. He asked me to pray about it. Tom was the first person who ever asked me to pray for God’s will about something so specific. When I prayed God didn’t tell me to date Tom but He told me I would know who my husband would be by August. It was June. I figured I better get on it.   

Three years later, Tom Taylor asked me to marry him. And what a long three years because I knew that August, he was the one I wanted to marry, just like God said I would. 

Those years from us first meeting in 4H as kids to deciding to get married were some of the most impatient of my life. I was always over thinking, over analyzing, and over pushing myself into other relationships, giving my attention to people and things that weren’t meant for me. And rushing everything. Our relationship almost didn’t turn into marriage. I was too impatient and too critical of what we were and where we were going. Did he really love me? He seemed perfect but was he really? My impatience and lack of trust in God really hurt us for a time. But by God’s grace and Tom’s patience that I got over myself to see what was in front of me- my husband. 

It’s worth noting that 2005, was not only the year I met Tom, it was the same year I gave my heart to Jesus. And that’s not a coincidence. Neither is how I we met or the fact that I spent years thinking of him only as a friend. It is all evidence of God’s perfect plan and sense of humor. Now our friendship and our marriage is more beautiful than I could ever imagine.

That’s how I met my husband. 

I love hearing all the ‘How I met my husband’ stories so tell me yours in the comments or on facebook. 

always grateful,

-Emily

7 Years as a Livestock Inspector

Today marks my seventh year working as a state livestock inspector.
Gosh it’s been fun. I can hardly believe they’ve let me stay at this job for this long.

I’m feeling all nostalgic so I thought I would share what I’ve been doing for seven years.

It’s been seven years of pretty views…

seven years of pretty ewes…

sheep at stockyard

seven years of rusty trusty trucks…

MDA truck

seven years of really good luck (flu strip negative- always good).

flu strip in the field

seven years of checking gates…

working a stockyard

seven years of working late…

four states livestock auction

seven years of sample runs…

samples from chickens

seven years of cinnamon buns…

fair cinnamon buns

seven years of ruffling feathers…

testing turkey

seven years of crappy weather…

field work in the cold

seven years goofing off…

mega mower

seven years of don and doff…

field staff in tyvek

seven years of cattle tags…

metal cattle tags

seven years protecting ag…

dairy steers

seven years of co-workers who became closest friends…

field staff

that’s seven years I would do again.

Still can’t believe this job! If you are interested in becoming a state livestock inspector or the work we do, send me an email, I could talk about it for like, seven years. 

-Emily

#MDAanimalhealth 

My 30 before 30 Bucket List

 Today is my 30th birthday! Not to be all sentimental, but I truly believe the best parts of life come after 30. I was thinking about that today when I remembered that when I was 29– this time last year– I made a list of 30 things to do before I turned 30.

Spoiler alert I only did 11 outta 30. BUT, since 30 is going to be #mybestlife, I am going to call this my 30 while I’m 30 list and keep checking stuff off. Also, for the sake of accountability and blogging all the things, I’m going to write a blog post for each thing on the list– because this is important stuff. I mean, I’m 30.

 

This is going to be long so feel free to skip but this is my list summary so far:

01. Buy a house // we bought a house- yay!
02. Read Every Book In The Bible // I’ve read from every book in the bible, so that’s a half check.
03. Start a Business // I started a business– today actually. So does it count as before or after 30?
04. Eat Raw Oysters // I think I did but I can’t remember so I’m going to put it back on the list.
05. Learn to use a DSLR // I’m super comfortable with my camera so I’m calling it a win.
06. Go to a Conference // I went to a Joyce Meyer conference and it was so fun I want to go to more.
07.  Share the Gospel with 30 people // I have shared Jesus with people but I don’t know about 30. It may seem weird to put a number on it but it reminds me to share Jesus with people, like everyone.
08. Pay for Someone Else // So I think I thought I would pay for someone in a drive-thru, or at the grocery store and I haven’t yet so I will definitely have to.
09. Liquid eyeliner // why is it so hard? Someone teach me.
10. Grind Coffee Beans // I just love coffee so there’s that. Do you need a special machine? Yikes.
11. Sew a Piece of Clothing // And wear it.
12. Geocaching // Why is this on here? I have no idea.
13. Be A Mentor // Yes. No pressure.
14. Host a Dinner Party // This sounds so fancy but it might be #tacoTuesday.
15. Capsule Wardrobe // I feel like this is going to be a huge one for me.
16. Build a Website // Holler. I can build a website from scratch. No biggie
17. Blog Consistently // Hello, 2018.
18. Wear a Dress to Work // This is one that feels like will never happen but I’m going for it.
19. Dye my hair Red // I did this once and am doing it again this week.
20. Apply For a Patent // Y’all are going to be like ‘what in the world’ but go big or go home. If I could only figure out what for…
21. Meet Another Blogger // I need blogger friends, hit me up.
22. Start Something in the Community // I started a neighborhood facebook group but I’m going for something bigger…
23. Take Tommy to the Beach // We did and it was so fun.
24. Get Rid of Everything We Don’t Need // (aka KonMari) I’m so close I can feel it so I checked it.
25. Sell a Piece of Artwork // I did, on a t-shirt and it counts.
26. Find My People // I got to say, I thought this would be the hardest thing– but I found them, and they are my soul sistas. I have more friendships now than ever and I love how I don’t feel like I can have too many.
27. Plan a Date // This is going to make me sound… but I haven’t planned a date just for Tom, ever.
28. Scrapbook Tommy’s First Year // My goal is to do it before his second year…
29. Plant a Field of Flowers // I wanted to plant them and sell them too but at this rate I might just throw some seed out and hope for the best #farmingainteasy
30. Build a Piece of Furniture // Life goals.

Here we go! As I complete something from this gripping 30 while 30 goal list, I’m going to write about it and link it here so stay tuned.

Happy 30. What would be on your list? Or just your normal bucket list, like normal people do?

xoxo,
Emily

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