Friday, August 22, 2014

Hayden Paul

So it's been a while. I actually really needed a break from this blog. I had become overwhelmed and sad by it actually. But I missed it.

I tried writing elsewhere, retreated to a private instagram and FB account, and it wasn't the same. This blog is a sort of home for me. It holds all of my sweetest memories of Noah, our journey, and some funny times in between. It makes me happy to write here. So I'm back. I will probably keep things simple. Just documenting our lives, hopefully sooner rather than later. I need the outlet, especially now.

A lot has changed since my last post.
We ended up adding another boy to our little family.

So without further adieu, here's his story...


Tuesday night, around 11:30, I started having pretty regular contractions. They were about 10 minutes apart, but they weren't really getting much worse. The funny thing is that it took me a while to figure out I was actually having contractions. It felt more like someone was sitting on my chest. There wasn't much pain involved, just a weird tightness. Since I was induced with Noah, the only real contractions I'd felt before were insanely intense (thanks Pitocin...). Our buddy Chase was on standby anyway, just in case we'd have to go to the hospital. I really hated the idea of making him drive to our house so late just for me to say, "Whoops, false alarm!" He was super sweet though, and he reassured me that it was better to be safe than sorry. Plus he'd rather spend the night than have to come at 3am. :)

We all stayed up late talking, while both the boys kept asking how I was doing. The contractions started to taper off, and I finally got comfortable enough to fall asleep around 3am.

And then I woke up at 6am. Contractions were back, and they were getting stronger. I still didn't want to go in for a false alarm, so we hung around the house for a little while. Brad ran to McD's for breakfast and grabbed me a plain biscuit. I'd told him I didn't want anything, but I'm glad he made me eat. I would've been starving by the time I got to eat again. We called my OB's office, and they told us to go ahead and go to the hospital. Turns out my Dr was already there, so she said she'd check me when we arrived.

So we headed to Charlotte... a new system took over called Novant, but everyone from here still calls the hospital "Presby Main" (the big Presbyterian hospital close to downtown... and well, if you're not from here, you'll call it "uptown" haha). Basically everyone in my family was a "Presby baby", so that's where my babies will all be born hopefully.


We got to the triage place, where the nurse got me in a gown, I peed in a cup, all that medical stuff. She checked me, and I was only at 1.5cm, which is where I was at my last OB appointment. I was a little disappointed. No way did I want to go all the way down there for nothing. She also told me my blood pressure was a little high and I had a little protein in my urine (I'd had pre-eclampsia with Noah and had been fine up to this point with this baby). She suggested we spend the next little while walking around the hospital. If it really was labor, I'd progress. If not, the contractions would stop, and I'd get to go home.

So Brad and I walked the halls for a good two hours, stopping once for her to check me. I wanted to check out the nursery... you know, give me some motivation... but turns out, the nursery doesn't really exist there anymore. They now require all babies to room in with the parents, unless there's a legit reason they need to put the baby under observation of course. I love the new procedure, but I was still a little bummed not to see all the sweet babies lined up in their plastic cribs. After the second hour, I was feeling ridiculous. And frankly, I looked ridiculous. I was wrapped in two hospital gowns wearing my tennis shoes. Least unattractive outfit ever. I told Brad we were probably going to get sent home, and I felt like we'd wasted all that time. We came back to the room, and my OB followed us in shortly after. She checked me and cheerfully responded, "You're a 3!"

The triage nurse looked pretty shocked... I think she thought we'd be going home too. They prepped a room for me and got me moved pretty quickly. We spent the next couple hours in the L&D room just relaxing (well, sort of...). Lots of Farm Heroes Saga, instagram, etc. Smartphones should've been invented for this purpose alone a long time ago. Perfect distraction! Brad napped a little, and I chatted with my nurse. She was so amazing.

My OB came in a couple hours later to check on me. I hadn't progressed any, so she decided to go ahead and break my water for me. And of course, that got things moving fast! Right after she did that, they went ahead and got my epi put in. Somehow I think I ended up with every top doctor and nurse that night. He was the head of the anesthesiology department. Also, my OB was named among the top 20 most influential women in Charlotte not long ago. I really lucked out.

Anyway, after my water was broken, things really picked up. After that miscarriage over a year ago, I realized how fragile these little unborn lives can be. Every visit at the OB, I would pray for a heartbeat. My heart would fall in my stomach if it took her a minute to find his heartbeat. So when my contractions got stronger, and his heart rate would drop in response, I immediately began worrying and praying. Brad assured me he was okay, just to breathe and get plenty of oxygen to him. So I did. Unfortunately it wasn't enough though. The nurse and my OB weren't concerned, although they did continue to monitor it closely. But I was nervous. As his heart rate dipped dangerously low a few times, they decided to put me on oxygen. It definitely helped, which allowed me to relax some (as much as one can relax in active labor...). Both my nurse and OB were amazingly calm and reassuring through the whole thing.  Brad was awesome and talked me out of a panic attack as well. :)

I think it may have been about 45 minutes between when she broke my water and when it was time to push. He was definitely ready to meet us! It only took like 3 or 4 pushes, and he was here. Beautiful and perfect.

And my OB knows me too well. As soon as I had him, and she told me he was beautiful, her next words were, "You're skinny again!" hahaha.

Because Noah had a rough birth experience, I didn't get to hold him immediately. This time, they didn't hesitate to hand my baby to me. It really does make a difference. It took a few days for me to feel bonded to Noah, if I'm being perfectly honest. We didn't get to do immediate skin to skin, nor was I able to breastfeed. So to have this experience was absolutely amazing.

And with that, I'd like to introduce you to Hayden Paul.
Hayden, because we're 80's/90's kids and watched a million Coach episodes while I was pregnant. And Paul after Paul McCartney. ;)

The stats:
Born at 7:51pm
Weihjed 7 lbs 5.5 oz
Length 21"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So What Wednesday

It's been awhile, but why not? Linking up with Shannon for "So What Wednesday"!

So What Wednesday

So what if...

- I used to think it was weird when parents would put pictures of their kids as their FB profile picture. Like they didn't have their own identity anymore. Now that I have a kid, I get it.

- I almost stopped blogging because of this constant feeling of being watched/judged/criticized... then I figured, it makes me happy. I've been blogging since college (before I knew that's what it was called) and keeping private diaries since I was a kid. I don't plan to stop anytime soon. I love the friends I've made through the blog world, and I definitely don't want to lose them. If people don't like what I post, there's a little X readily available at the top right of their screen.

- I had a moment of weakness during a particularly rough week last week and ate half a tub of Nutella. Straight out of the carton, with a spoon. I also was embarrassed and hid it from my husband in the back of the pantry behind the bag of ground flaxseed (which I probably should used instead...). I'm not proud.

- I could never go full-on Paleo. I live in the South... butter is in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I've been trying to apply the lifestyle as much as possible at home, but there's no way I'd be able to do it 24/7. Not in the land of Paula Deen and my MamMaw's cheese potato casserole. ;)

- I'm a big fat liar when it comes to limiting the amount of pictures I give clients in my photography packages. I get too excited and end up giving them more than what's listed. Maybe not a particularly smart business move, but I can't help myself. I've been lucky to have some awesome clients. Maybe if I ever get a big meanie one day, I'll stick to my guns.

- I'm kind of excited that the school year is almost over. It means no more driving Noah to therapy almost every day. He'll still be going once a week to the one we pay for. It's not like it even lasts that long. I'm just a hermit and would rather spend all day playing with my kid at home or the park or something than sitting in an office with a bunch of germy kids (seriously, we've been sick more this year than the last 4 years combined).

- I've been letting my kid go commando in our back yard almost every day lately. He doesn't like to be nakey indoors, but outdoors? He can't get those pesky swim trunks off fast enough. :) Thankfully, we have a big privacy fence, lots of sunscreen, and an umbrella.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lately (with an 8 second clip of Noah singing!)

I've been so overwhelmed lately. It's not really just one thing either. It's lots of little things that have piled up and are making me feel like crawling into a corner and crying. Or inhaling an entire gallon of ice cream (which is why I haven't bought any...).
And I feel like I'm going to let somebody down. No one in particular. It just seems inevitable. If I focus on getting one thing done? Something else is going to suffer. For example, I'm doing pretty well trying to keep up with my business stuff. Photos are edited ahead of schedule, and I'm in the process of rebranding (which is stressful enough in and of itself...). But my house? Yeah, it looks like a family of 15 just ate at my house... then tried flushing an entire roll of toilet paper. And spilled veggie smoothie all over me. And picked at blue chalk, so there are little chalk bits on the floor. Oh, and the 15 people also decided to have a party all night long. Except those 15 people? They happen to be one toddler.

I just feel like there's not enough of me to go around.
I need like 3 more me's to make my life work out a little more smoothly (can I get an "Amen", mommas?!).

Noah had his IEP meeting Monday, and it went well. It's very laid back compared to what I've heard most meetings are like. His speech therapist wasn't even there for it. But I was happy with it overall. I think they sort of get a decent idea of where he's at. However, they're only with him for 30 minutes a week, so they don't get to see all of the successes we have at home. While I was there, I had Noah say his little phrases like, "Oh no, George!" and sing songs for them. They were stunned.

Seriously, where he is at this year compared to last year at this time? It's like having a completely different kid. He no longer lives like he's just existing in his own world, but he's present. He gives us spontaneous hugs and kisses. If I give him a choice between milk or water, he'll answer, "wa wa". If I give him simple directions, he's following them (for the most part... he IS still a toddler, after all. ha). He's added like 20 new words to his vocabulary in the last few weeks. I'm still waiting for "Ma-ma" to surface again. :)

Seeing as how the words are starting to come, we've decided to pay for private speech therapy, especially since school will be out soon. After next week, he wouldn't be getting anything until September. So after his IEP meeting, we had to run to the same place where his OT is at for a speech evaluation. Because he was sleep deprived, he wasn't quite on his A-game. But she did get a "ready, set, go!" out of him. :) I'm really excited about it, because she uses sensory integration as part of her speech therapy, which is perfect for him.

So that's where I've been. Add in a hospital visit for Brad a couple weeks ago (he's okay!), a much needed girls' night, Mother's Day, and Noah's sleep getting all messed up again... and well, that's why I haven't been blogging. Dude, I haven't even been reading blogs. I've missed my blog buds. :)

Hopefully I'll be back before another 2 weeks passes by.
And with that, I'll leave you with a quickie video of Noah singing. The song is from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (which, fyi, has been a total gift from God... his speech, social skills, and self-care skills have totally blossomed because of this show).

It goes, "I like you, I like you, I like you.... (then Noah finishes) Just the way you are!"

Saturday, May 11, 2013

To the one who made me a momma...

There's this necklace I want very badly. It was made for us; it already has your name on it.

The fact that it has, "Love has no words..." etched into the silver? Well, it hits something deep in my heart. Because the fact is, Little Man, I haven't heard the word "Ma-ma" dance across those sweet lips of yours in a very long time. But the coolest part is that I don't need to hear it to know when you need me. In fact, even though I do a little dance with every new word or phrase that you surprise us with? They don't compare to the completely unprompted kisses you give. Or the way you still bury your head in the crook of my neck like an infant. Or how you reach those little arms around me when we hug, tugging as if I there's any possible way we could be any closer. When those beautiful eyes light up at the sight of me, it makes this mommy's heart soar.


Your sweetness knows no limits. Even those quiet little split-second fits most people would call a "tantrum" are cute. Your smile brightens even the worst of days, and people are automatically drawn to you. The Starbucks barista even lights up when she sees you coming for your weekly pumpkin bread, which she keeps in stock especially for you.

Little boy, you are such a gift. God is going to use you in amazing ways. You fill our home with lots of joy (and Curious George and cars and dirt...), and I'm just so thankful I get to be the one to help raise you. Thank you for making me a mom and giving me a reason to feel extra loved tomorrow.

Love you to the moon and back, sweetpea.

Friday, April 26, 2013

friday fiddlyfart

Brad and I are convinced that every night before he goes to bed, Noah plots new ways that he can destroy our house. New places to dump an entire bag of Baked Lays and crush into the carpet. Better techniques of pulling every cushion off the couches. Y'know, that kind of thing.


I'm usually pretty strict about Noah's diet, especially since he's such a picky eater. It takes a lot of extra creativity and effort to sneak those veggies into him, but it's doable.
I've always preached that if you don't buy it, they can't eat it. If all they have to choose from is healthy food, then they'll eat it. Kids won't starve themselves. The same is true for adults. Watch the Biggest Loser, and that's usually one of the first things they address... get the junk out.

However, I'm not immune to letting it slowly sneak into our home. I'll buy ice cream, just for fun, because Noah loves it so much. Brad will grab Noah a bag of Lays potato chips (NOT the baked kind...) while strolling through the cracker/chip aisle.

The real kicker? When Noah started reaching towards a bag in the chip aisle. I couldn't figure out what it was he was asking for, so I got him out of the cart to show me. He walked right up to a bag of Funyuns. He's never even HAD a Funyun before! I've never had a Funyun before! Frankly, I don't even know what a Funyun is... is it an onion flavored chip? An actual onion?

So yeah. We came home from the beach, promising each other not to buy any more treats for Noah. He was refusing to eat anything else. We were excited if he ate a few bites of banana.

Now? Just a few days later? He's back to eating healthy. Apples, bananas, raw pumpkin, and about 8 smoothiesicles a day. Once he figured out that all the "fun stuff" was gone, he started asking for his healthy foods again. Thus my point is proven, by the pickiest eater in the world.


I have another wedding I'm shooting tomorrow. Honestly, the photography world needs to come up with a better word than that. I feel all weird every single time, saying I'm going to shoot a family or whatever. Sounds creepy.


Brad came home from work yesterday with his eye in an insane amount of pain. I'd had dinner plans with a friend of mine for last night. Instead I ended up taking Brad to Urgent Care. He has a "corneal abrasion". We're still not sure where it happened, but even if it happened at work, there's no real way to prove it. While waiting in the lobby, Noah (of course) ended up having a poopy diaper. The diapers were in the car, which Brad had the keys to. So I spent the next 20 minutes apologizing to whoever happened to sit in our stinky vicinity.

I told Brad I think he did it on purpose. The man has been to Vegas, a guys' night with coworkers, and is going fishing with his dad next week. The last time I was out alone was at a photography workshop about three weeks ago. And even though it was a blast, I came home exhausted.

I need a girls' night.
And yes, I know I'm whining while my husband's eye feels like it might fall out. Wife of the year right here. ;)

Happy FRIDAY!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I've discovered one of the best ways to cope with national tragedies and this sometimes scary world we're in... point your car towards the nearest ocean. Turn off the news, hold your family close, and stick your toes in the sand.
And that's exactly what we did.

The few days leading up to our beach trip, Brad was actually in Vegas. He turns 30 this summer, and his brother offered to take him for a bro trip to celebrate. Last week just so happened to be the only time it'd work for both of them, so they took advantage.
I know I'm going to sound insanely na├»ve, so if you roll your eyes at what I'm about to say, I totally get it. But while most wives would be worried or stressed about their husbands being in Sin City, I didn't have any reservations about Brad going. I trust him, completely and totally. Frankly, he's too much of a stick-in-the-mud to even think about getting into trouble. haha. His type of fun is goofy fun... throwing soap in a fountain or some other high schooler prank type thing... not the Hangover type trouble. All he wanted to do was try his hand at Texas Hold 'Em. Turns out he was really good and actually brought home a little money. Go figure.
They checked out the famous hotels, saw the Blue Man Group, and met some cool people. So yeah. That's about all there is to tell on that end.

He was supposed to come back home Wednesday night, and we were going to leave for Kiawah Island on Thursday. Unfortunately, the Midwest blizzard put a damper on those plans. His flight was cancelled, so we were scrambling around trying to figure out the best option.

So Thursday morning, I packed everything up and headed towards Charleston with Noah on my own. Brad caught the next flight into the Charleston airport, and Noah and I picked him up on the way down to the beach. It worked out perfectly.

After 15 years, my dad (and his two other buddies) have decided to put the place on the market. Brad started going to Kiawah with my family back in high school, so it will forever have a special place in our hearts. He's proposed to me a million times on that beach. We stood at the edge of the ocean at 19, worried we'd never be back there together again right before he left for his mission. And we've watched our baby play in the sand there.

So anyway, we're trying to squeeze as much time out of that place as we can before they sell.
I only took a few shots with my fancy camera, mostly because I wanted to be present. Also because I forgot to bring my battery charger. This is when I'm thankful for camera phones.

My parents joined us Friday night, and my stepsister joined us Saturday (she had to work in Mt Pleasant over the weekend).

(seriously, I look like a 7th grader in this picture. You'd never know I had a cute Anthro top on underneath that sweatshirt, but it got cold. Oh well...)

If any of y'all remember our last attempt at this, you know it was terrible. We didn't sleep at all, because Noah was so thrown off by the whole thing. This time, I decided to bring his entire crib with us. We put it in our room with us, because we realized he didn't want to be left alone. And it was magical. He slept and would wake up every morning giggly and happy.

So yeah. We had a great time.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Lately, the weather has been gorgeous. Warm, breezy, and perfect for keeping a 3 yr old plenty busy. It was even warm enough to start playing in the water again.
Noah doesn't really like the feel of swim diapers. In fact, I think he hates them. He never wants to play in the water when he has them on. So finally last week, I decided to let him do what every toddler loves to do when it's warm... play with no pants.

Lately, I'm thankful for Spring (kind of related to the above, but just go with it). I've decided that it's impossible for me to have a favorite season. They're all my favorite. But if I had to choose, I'd say Spring... simply for the colors and general happy moods of everyone around.
The only ones who aren't as happy are the carpenter bees buzzing our heads. Thankfully, they never really seem too bothered by us. However, they were not pleased I was closing in on their flowers. Apparently, those are off limits. I'm sure my neighbors got a good laugh at seeing me try to grab some pretty flower shots while dodging dive-bombing bees.

Lately, I'm thankful for friends, bonfires, and smores. Some friends of ours have the best back yard for get-togethers, so I always get excited to get one of their invites. The whole thing is usually super relaxed... we all bring a snack, sit by the fire, check on the babies. With Noah, parties are a hit or miss thing. Sometimes he gets overwhelmed and hides in the corner.
But I discovered what makes the difference for him last weekend. If we're the first ones to arrive, he has time to adjust to the surroundings and the extra people trickling in, instead of walking in to lots of commotion. When he needs a break, he finds himself a spot to be alone (this time it was a spot of dirt next to the bunny run). In any case, it was so nice for me to just relax and watch him have so much fun.

This is what is known as a "Kemper face". They all have it. It's this natural look they get that says, "Dude, what the heck is wrong with you?" when they think someone is being stupid. They can't help it.

Lately, I'm thankful for family. I know a lot of people dread family reunions, but I love mine. My (great) aunts are hysterical, along with my grandmother. They crack me up. I'm also a little partial to this particular one, because it's called the "Hailey Reunion". :) And this time, my brother's little boy, Bentley, got to come. He loves Noah so much and follows him everywhere.
I love this one. Noah's all, "Dude, calm down..."


(my MamMaw is the one on the far left... and yes, that's my sister photo bombing it)
Happy Monday!!