April 21, 2015

April 16, 2015


I love pregnancy, I always have, from the very beginning. What a gift to be able to not only create a life, but carry it, feel it, nurture and grow it, birth it, and then be it's complete food source. I love when Jim Gaffigan talks about a woman's body versus a man's. Men, you're great and all, but seriously, how amazing is a woman's body? I'm also one of those weird chicks that actually enjoys childbirth. I mean, I'm not throwing a party when it's happening or anything but I long to feel that alive again, those feelings I can only feel when birthing that baby you love so much. It's the most amazing, out of body, out of this world, journey.

I've been blessed with three healthy pregnancies, my fourth precious child through adoption, and our sweet baby number five who I'm currently a-growing. This baby was so very much prayed over and planned for. I couldn't wait to be pregnant again and add another crazy to our little family. We got pregnant in November, and somehow managed to keep it a secret until Christmas. Which a) IS SO HARD TO NOT TELL ANYONE. and b) if you're me, and look 6 months pregnant the minute you pee on a stick, how can you hide that bump? Ya can't, people, ya just can't. Amazingly enough, we surprised our families on Christmas and all rejoiced for the blessing of a new life.

Everything was going a-okay, minus the all-the-time nausea until I got this blood clot in my eye. I honestly didn't even know you could get a blood clot in your eye until it happened. We had this rigamarole going with my amazing team of midwives, some doctors, a hematologist, and an ophthalmologist -- mostly surrounding the fact that I am positive (heterozygous) for a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Liden. At first there was talk of putting me on daily blood thinner injections, but after going over everything we ended up settling on a daily dose of baby Aspirin and postpartum I will go on blood thinners for 6-8 weeks. That was the first minor bump in the road.

Fast forward a bit.

The night before I was going to leave for Hope Spoken, I got a call (I always, never fail, get these calls moments before I am going to fly across the country...bless.) The nurse, so sweetly, started the call with everything is fine! But... You know there's always a but when you get a phone call like this, right? You are going to have to go for a level two ultrasound to get some more images of the baby's spinal cord, the three vessel cord, and a shadow on the right ventricle of the heart. Cue my evening of crying and packing and praying. What a gift it was to be in Dallas with some of my favorite people in the world, worshiping our creator. There's no where I would have rather been, while in the waiting.

I tried to hold off on googling for as long as possible and did pretty well until a couple days before the big ultrasound. I've been to multiple ultrasounds in previous pregnancies where they had to continue to get more images of the heart, or the face, etc. I knew this was quite possible, but I also knew that this was how anything, that wasn't just an image or positioning issue, started.

The ultrasound happened on Thursday the 9th. We went to a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist and I had my, official, longest ultrasound ever. The tech was cheerful and explained what she was looking at, as she looked it. We talked about our children and she had us look away when it was time, so we wouldn't get a sneak peek of the gender. At one point she had me get up, walk around, and go the bathroom, as the baby would not move it's head off my hip, and she needed to get more images. After a good two hours she was finally done, and we waited for the doctor to come in, who would continue with the ultrasound and go over everything with us.

She came in and asked us if we knew why my midwife sent us there and I told her the reasons. She then said the spine and three vessel cord look great. I was so thankful she told us that right away, but What about the heart? was the obvious first question I blurted out. She said the 'shadow' on the heart wasn't really a shadow but a calcium deposit, or an echogenic focus. We could all clearly see a small white spot on the upper left side of the heart.

She explained that, in most cases, this goes away on it's own, and does no damage to the heart, or the baby. When seen with other "hard markers" it could be a sign for a chromosomal disorder but she did not see any other hard markers on our baby. Growth was right on target, etc. In my mind, I'm thinking Okay, so we're done? But we're not done yet, she said.

She recommended that we do a blood test, where they took 2 small vials of my blood from my arm, and send it all the way from New York to California to test for Trisomy 21, 13, 18 and a slew of other things, most I had never heard of. We agreed, and I sat in amazement that my baby's DNA could be extracted from my DNA to provide us with 99.9% accurate results of these chromosomal disorders. The results for this blood work will be back sometime next week.

After all of this, she wanted to look more at the baby's brain, what the tech was looking at for quite a while as well. The baby was still in the same position, and I moved from side to side, and back onto my back, and every which way possible to get the baby to move.

Nothing. This kid is stubborn. Must get it from their father.

Finally, she said Okay we're gonna stop. She explained that she was trying to get a view of the corpus callosum. This is, essentially, a bundle of nerves that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain. She couldn't see it, and at 23 weeks she should be getting at least a glimpse of it. It may be that the corpus callosum is absent, which is called agenesis of the corpus callosum, or ACC. She recommended that, at this point, we don't just schedule another ultrasound, because we need to find out for sure if this is there or not. She scheduled me for a fetal MRI. She said the biggest thing, is that she wants to get us started in genetic counseling asap, if it's absent.

On Tuesday we had the MRI... my first one ever. A lifetime seemed to pass from Thursday to Tuesday. I learned more about the brain and waiting on the Lord in the past six days than maybe my whole life. I was prepared for what was to come.

. . . . . .

April 10, 2015


I got to sneak away a month or so ago for a surprise overnight for my dear friend, on her 40th birthday. Surprises are kind of my love language. I don't even need you to give me one, I just want to give you one, always.

I found The Springwater Bed & Breakfast on good ol' google and it's reviews were amazing and, after the shortest while, I knew it was the place to be.

I wanted somewhere local, that was the perfect combination of cozy and dreamy, with an amazing breakfast included, and boy did we get it. Would you believe this was my first time staying at a real life bed & breakfast? I questioned if I should even put my shoes on to go downstairs for breakfast (Don't worry, I did.) I need to find the secret list of rules for B&Bs.

Can you even handle this bathroom?

No. You can't.

We curled up, fire going, and watched St. Vincent in bed. Please watch this move immediately. Thank you.  Do you know what it's like for two mamas to be sans 10 (almost 11) kids for a solid stretch of time? Oh it's good. Real good. I slept so good I woke up with the sleep lines across my face. I don't get them ever really, since "deep-drooling-sleep" is no longer in my dictionary with children who love to bust in every hour on the hour, but I got them here alright. Yes I sleep with makeup on. I wish I could say it's a secret to great skin but I'm just lazy... and still waiting on great skin.

The owners here are the sweetest mother and daughter team. The mom, living at the bed and breakfast and her lovely daughter, down the street. They dreamed of doing this together and now they cook together, host together, hear countless stories together, and live that dream. I couldn't help but think of doing something like this, one day, with my mom... or my daughter... or both. Maybe in what seems like another lifetime, but one day.

What a gift it is for them to meet so many different people from so many different walks of life. To prepare their food and hear stories collide together over breakfast. It's holy ground, really. To have them come back one more time and fill you in on their latest travels, how big their children have gotten, what their new job is, and favorite pass times. They'll request that favorite breakfast you made that one time, a couple years back. Oh, it's dreamy.

Breakfast was delicious and they even brought out a birthday scone for the birthday girl. You know I'm still thinking about the breakfast potatoes and fresh grapefruit juice.

Springwater B&B, you did us so good. Until next time..

April 9, 2015


I'm really excited to share about Shining Light International with you today! Hope Spoken was so blessed to have them as a sponsor for our event this year and I couldn't love their mission more. They focus on education, training and development for the oppressed in Northern Pakistan. They are truly changing lives through programs like Shining Light Academy, Life Stitch Manufacturing Facility and  Remote Village Development. Below are ways you can get involved to make a difference!

"Shining Light International exists to empower oppressed communities in Northern Pakistan by meeting practical needs and offering hope for a brighter future.

We believe that illiteracy, poverty, abuse and injustice all contribute to the oppression of people that keep them in a world of darkness without hope. Shining Light provides help and hope by focusing on high impact education, women’s vocational training and community development initiatives that transform entire communities in Northern Pakistan. We envision a world where light dispels darkness, hope overcomes despair, help empowers the helpless and prosperity replaces poverty making a much brighter future for many.

Ways to Get Involved:

- Donate to the programs of SLI that most resonate with your heart here.

- Join the Ray of Hope Club by giving as little as $10 per month.

- Host a Scarf Party with your friends. You can involve your friends by talking about girls’ education around the world and shop with a purpose! More details here

- Become a Blogger Advocate. If you have your own blog or online platform, you can use your voice to raise awareness about SLI and what we are doing and become a part of our team

Hear more of our story here and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter

Giveaway: Kimono of winner's choice

The Kimonos are made by women who have graduated from our women's vocational training program and have now come to work for at Life Stitch Manufacturing. This manufacturing center is completely run and operated by women and providing employment to women who otherwise had no economic opportunities. (To purchase these online you can visit our partner's website. Yobel International helped provide design and entrepreneurial training for the graduates of our program and have helped create several beautiful products for Life Stitch) 

April 7, 2015


Happy April, friends! How is it even April? I'm sure glad it is! This month the boy who made me a mama turns SEVEN, I turn twenty nine, and I'm more than halfway through this pregnancy, so in other words: party month!

It's been a while since free printables. I'm trying to get back into it, as I love creating them for you. Here's five new pretties. They are all sized at 8x10 and will print perfectly on your standard printer paper. OR you can upload these to a flash drive, bring it into Staples or the like, and get them professionally printed for around $1 each on pretty heavy duty card stock or linen paper. I'm having a love affair with linen paper right now. Click the link below each image to print these in high res. Happy April, my friends!

Click here to print. 

Click here to print. 

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Click here to print.