Vi’s Birth Story

This blog post contains some watermarked, professionally taken photos. Special thanks to Natalie Joy Photography for beautiful pictures that we will cherish forever!

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but suffice to say it’s been a bit busy around here as we adjust to being a family of FOUR. Today I finally had some time to sit down and catch up a bit so I thought I’d write a recap of August 23, 2019 – the day we met our daughter.

Meet my sweet Vi.

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The morning of the 23rd was pretty surreal. Because we had a planned c-section scheduled, we woke up knowing it was going to be our child’s birthday. We heard LJ wake up and Justin went to get him from his crib and brought him back to our bed. We snuggled together as a little family of three and I tried to soak up every minute, knowing soon our little family was going to change forever. It was a little bittersweet but oh so special and I’m so glad we started the day out just the three of us. ❤

We spent the rest of the morning nice and slow. Justin’s parents and sister had come into town the night before so they could be with LJ while we were in the hospital so we all hung out together. Justin and I danced around and played goofy songs with the word “baby” in them.  I was able to get one last Expecting and Empowered workout completed, which was the perfect way to feel capable and strong going into surgery!

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Finally, it was go time. We said goodbye to LJ and took a final picture as a family of three and then Justin and I headed in to the hospital.
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This time was so different than LJ’s birth. With him, I labored 25 hours before having a c-section. Because this time it was planned, we arrived at the hospital, checked in, and were escorted to our pre-op room. It was so much calmer!

The nurse got my vitals and walked me down to a nearby bathroom so I could change into the hospital gown. On the way, we passed by a mom and dad taking a walk around the labor and delivery floor with their brand new baby in the bassinet. I saw the baby’s pink hat and my eyes welled up. The nurse noticed this and asked if I was having a girl and I told her that we didn’t know, but seeing that little pink hat made me realize I might soon have a little girl and something about that made me so emotional!

Another thing that struck me during that hallway walk was just how much I was about to go through, all for the sake of safely delivering my baby. I knew a VBAC could have been a potential option but Justin and I had discussed with my OBGYN the specific risks for me personally based on how LJ’s labor went. Together, we made the decision that a second c-section was the best option for me and baby. That being said, I was still admittedly very nervous. I was about to have a pretty major abdominal surgery. Half of my body would be numbed. My muscles, nerves, uterus would all be cut open. And because I had already experienced it once, I knew what to expect in terms of soreness and recovery. It was more than a little daunting! As I was walking, I very clearly had this thought: “I am BRAVE.” Even though I was nervous, I knew how much I already loved my baby and how badly I wanted him or her to arrive in my arms safely. Yes, I was a little scared of another surgery but even knowing that, I was going to DO. IT. ANYWAY. It’s hard to describe how a feeling of empowerment overwhelmed me in that moment. This was the strength of my love as a mother. This was the courage brought by how fiercely I loved my baby. This was the resiliency of my mind and body for all I was willing to do to meet him or her. I knew I could do it.

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Right at 1:00, it was time for surgery. I was taken into the room to get my epidural and once I was positioned, they let Justin into the room.

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Again, I was struck by how different this surgery was from LJ’s – after 25 hours and 2 sleepless nights, Justin and I were both emotionally and physically exhausted during LJ’s c-section. This time, we were alert and prepared. We chatted with the nurses. Everyone in the room took a final guess on gender. I heard the nurse who walked me down the hallway say “I hope it’s a girl because of how you teared up seeing that other baby!” The c-section began and Justin and I held hands and eagerly anticipated baby’s arrival.

I didn’t have any desire to have them drop the sheet, so Justin kept me updated with what was happening. Soon, baby’s head was out. Justin stood up to get a better view, the doctor lifted up the baby, and Justin exclaimed “It’s a girl!”

And this was my reaction.

Awestruck. Overcome. SHE was here!

She quickly got cleaned off and then Justin brought her over to me for skin to skin contact while the doctor worked on closing me up. There were a lot of cords in the way, but those first sweet baby snuggles were just the best!

After the surgery was finished, I was taken to the recovery room and got to breastfeed for the first time. Everything went much smoother than I had anticipated. Even when the nurse had to press on my stomach to make sure my uterus was shrinking back down, it wasn’t as painful as I remembered from my first surgery. The whole thing was a really positive experience!

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And just when I thought things couldn’t get any sweeter, we were taken to my room and LJ came to meet her. Oh my heart.

Welcome to our family my sweet baby girl. We’re so very thankful that you are here. ❤

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Final Baby Prep

10 days.

I can officially count down the days until baby comes on my fingers. Ahh!!

The nice thing about having to schedule a repeat c-section is that even if baby does decide to come early, there is a definite eviction date. Baby will no longer be in my belly after August 23 – I am just so excited to meet this little one!

I’ve shared before that it took quite a while for my nesting urges to kick in this time, but once they did, they really did. In the last two weeks, Justin and I have worked to transform an old dresser, paint the walls, set up a crib, and get some semblance of a nursery together. Whew! Now that we have the hospital bags ready and a little nursery, I feel as prepared as I can be for baby to arrive!

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I kept the nursery preparations very simple for baby #2 for three big reasons. First, we kept LJ in a bassinet in our room for the first 8 weeks and plan to do the same with this baby. Because of this, the nursery really isn’t going to get used for the first two months of baby’s life. Second, since we did not find out the gender, I didn’t want to do too much decorating in advance. Once baby comes, I’ll be able to customize it a little better and actually hang things on the wall. And third, all baby NEEDS right away is a source of food and a place to sleep. Once we had that covered, I decided not to stress too much about anything else.

Today I thought I’d just share a little glimpse into what we did for the simplified nursery.

Enjoy!

Baby #2’s Simplified Nursery

So up until about two weeks ago, the nursery still looked like this:

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Brown walls, random furniture, and an air mattress because we had been using it as an extra guest bedroom. It doesn’t exactly scream “welcome, baby!” does it? I had at least started to sort some of our newborn clothes though 😉

My #1 goal was to lighten up the room. I wanted something bright and airy, so after we primed the walls, for the first time in my life chose to paint walls white. Normally I’m not a fan of white walls, but since we didn’t know the gender, I decided to go this route this time. Eventually, I plan to make the wall behind the crib an accent wall of some kind. For now, simple, crisp, clean white will do.

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Next, I wanted to create a cute little dresser for the wall on the opposite side of the room to give a little color to the room. I found this fairly ugly dresser for $10 on Craigslist and knew I could transform it to just what I wanted. I enlisted Justin’s help (I was more of the visionary, he was more of the laborer ha!) and I’m so happy with how it turned out! We sanded it down, primed, two coats of paint (Sherwin Williams Green Tartan), and added some new hardware. Then Justin used dowel rods to create legs and give it a bit more height. I also had him add a stained board to the front because the piece of plywood that was there was very flimsy and cheap. Plus, I thought it gave a little more character. I love it now!

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Dresser: $10

New hardware: $18 total (including tax and shipping)

Paint: $13

Wood + dowel: $7

We had the primer, stain, and brushes already. So the total cost of this dresser was right under $50 total. Win!

A friend had an extra crib but it did not have the ability to adjust mattress height for a baby, so we put that crib in LJ’s room and moved his crib to the baby’s room. Another friend is done having babies and was ready to part with her glider. I added a simple piece of artwork that was previously in LJ’s nursery, hung blackout curtains in a shade of minty green that will complement pink or blue, and brought in our trusty sound machine and salt lamp for once baby is ready to sleep in the nursery. And done!

It’s definitely very simple, but I’m so happy we decided to freshen up the room and I cannot wait to see our little one in it so soon!

Baby #2 Hospital Bag

Friends, tomorrow we will hit a big milestone.

37 weeks. In the world of pregnancy, this is a big deal because it means baby is considered full-term.

FULL. TERM. We’ve made it! Honestly, I am both super excited and a little bemused – like how are we here already? But also…I feel like I’ve been pregnant a loooooong time. Ha!

Even though I do have a repeat c-section scheduled, I went into labor early with LJ so I’m mentally preparing just in case this baby decides to surprise us early too. Yesterday, my new diaper bag arrived in the mail and it was just the kick start I needed to start to physically prepare for delivery by organizing and packing up things for mine and baby’s hospital bags. Today I thought I’d share what I packed this go-around (with LJ I packed WAY too much – typical first time mom, right?) This is just a list of what works well for us and our needs; it might not be exactly right for you, especially depending on what your hospital provides, but I hope it’s still helpful for anyone else who may need to be prepping for labor soon!

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Baby’s Hospital Bag

I have blogged many times about my diaper bag and while I loved it, I knew that I needed to get a new one for life with two kids. For one thing, my old one has been used so much over the past 21 months that the front zipper pocket is completely broken which renders the pocket pretty much useless. For another, with two kids to pack stuff for, I wanted something with just a few more interior pockets. After what felt like endless research, I settled on this backpack style bag and so far, I’m loving it!

For baby’s hospital stay, I am packing the following items:

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-Halo Sleep Sack (we loved this for sleep with LJ and used it exclusively until he could roll over)

-Swaddle Me velcro swaddle (another option for baby’s sleep, a little less fabric than the sleep sack for a cozy sleep)

-Two burp cloths

-One long sleeved onesie (the same one LJ wore in the hospital – I can’t wait to see this baby in it!)

-One plain short-sleeved onesie

-Two pairs of leggings

-Two sleepers

-Two pairs of socks

-Aden + Anais muslin blanket

-Flannel blanket

-Beautycounter balm (the hospital does provide ointment if needed for diaper rash, circumcision healing, etc. but I prefer to take this stuff along)

-A blue striped hat + a few headbands (can’t wait to find out which ones we get to use!)

And that’s it! Honestly, I still feel like this is probably too many clothing options, but since I will probably be in the hospital 3-4 days, I wanted a few choices. Everything is gender-neutral because we didn’t find out gender with LJ and we don’t know with this baby, which actually makes it pretty easy to pack because it’s the same stuff as before! Our hospital provides diapers, wipes, stuff for bathing, etc. so we didn’t bother to pack any of that this time around.

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And it all fits perfectly in the new diaper bag!

Mommy’s Hospital Bag

Clothing

For my bag, I packed the following items this time around:

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-Black flip flops (I like these for the shower/bathroom)

-Postpartum Support Leggings (an old pair I got off Amazon and wore with LJ and a new pair from Bao Bei that I am very excited to use!)

-Postpartum bloomers (the hospital provides pads + mesh panties, which I will also use, but I’m excited to have something along that also gives extra support)

-My cozy robe

-Fuzzy socks! I hate having cold feet.

-“Slipper” socks. Someone gifted me this dark gray pair of fuzzy slipper socks when I was pregnant with LJ and it was my favorite thing at the hospital. They are easy to put on and off and they have grips on the bottom so I didn’t slip around at all. I kept them by my bed and wore them walking around my room and hallway, they kept my feet warm and felt like a treat, and they got popped in the laundry as soon as I got home. Loved these!

-A cozy gray cardigan

-Loose fitting black pants (alternative to compression leggings when I need a looser fit)

-Four nursing tank tops (mostly from H&M)

-Two nursing sports bras (I love these from Motherhood Maternity)

Toiletries

The hospital does provide basic toiletries, but I feel much more like myself if I bring along my own things so this is what I prefer to do. Basically, I pack like I would to go on any trip (my shampoo + conditioner, Wet brush, extra hair ties, my morning and evening skincare products, toothbrush, contact stuff, deodorant, dry shampoo, and my basic daily makeup) but I do have a few specific additions. I make sure to take along a small handheld mirror so I can do my makeup from bed, nipple balm (because those first few days of nursing – ouch!), and washable nursing pads.

Mommy's Hospital Toiletries

I have a large travel toiletry bag that all this fits in and for the next 17 days all my stuff will be in it on my bathroom counter. This way, I can still have access to use it every day but it’ll be ready to grab and throw in the suitcase quick if baby decides to come early.

A few extras

I will also take along my trusty Boppy breastfeeding pillow (this was SO helpful to have in the hospital with LJ!) and my cell phone + charger. Justin and I share a suitcase for stuff and my half is now packed. He is on his own to make sure his stuff gets packed in time. 😉

What are your hospital bag musts? Even though I’ve done this before, it’s been 21 months, so if I’m forgetting anything crucial, please share below!

Virginia Vacation 2019

Good morning!

Last week, Justin, LJ, and I loaded up our minivan and headed east to visit his family in Virginia. His parents have a timeshare at a resort there and we were excited to get to spend lots of time with Justin’s parents, his sister, brother, sister-in-law, and our nephew and nieces. It was a wonderful week full of lots of fun: swimming, fireworks, games, and just spending lots of time together. Rather than a full recap, I thought I’d just share a few pictures that give a glimpse into our week. I honestly didn’t take a ton of pictures because I was absorbed in family time but these at least give you a little look at our week. Enjoy!

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LJ absolutely loved getting to hang out with his six-year-old cousin. They are the only two boy cousins (for now – we’ll see in August if another one is joining!) and their bond is just so so sweet. Our nephew dotes on LJ and LJ wanted to do everything that he did. Look at how cute this little reading moment was! ❤

We spent a LOT of time swimming and hanging out with the kiddos at the pool. There are currently 4 cousins ages 6 and under so it was fun to see them interact and play.

One day we spent the morning at a little children’s museum and even though there were SO many cool activities for little ones, LJ mostly just wanted to hang out at the train and plane tables. He knows what he likes! I honestly think he could have stayed there all day and happily played. 😉

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We stopped for ice cream after the museum – LJ loves ice cream just like his mama!

No missed workouts on this trip. I’m thankful for Expecting and Empowered which kept me on track with a couple workouts in the gym and a few cardio stroller walks in the morning.

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Another day, another pool. 🙂 LJ loved this pool because it had a nice big shallow place for littles and he loved running in and out of the water. I just love how he’s perched here on his little sibling – nothing like a 32 week baby bump to use as a seat!

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This is a side note, but I gave this stuff a try last week and loved it! It gives just a hint of a bronzy glow, which is nice because I never wear makeup to the pool, it goes on smooth, doesn’t feel greasy, and it doesn’t have lots of yucky ingredients. Win win!

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Pool time with my babies. I’m so thankful that I’ve had a pretty enjoyable third trimester so far and felt great during the vacation.

We spent a day at the waterpark, which LJ absolutely LOVED. He had so much fun sliding, splashing, floating the lazy river, and just playing. It was such a great day!

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Mommy and baby spent lots of time floating the lazy river and it was wonderful!

LJ is super into exploring right now and he loved finding little treasures (aka rocks) outside and point me in the most interesting direction. I can just hear his little mind going “come on mama!”

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Reading material for the week. This was an excellent read that I’m excited to review in my monthly post!

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At dinner one night, the restaurant had a little fish pond and our nephew was so sweet to hold LJ up so he could see. Melts my heart!

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We loved our time away with family – it was such a great week of memory making!

Third Trimester Update

Good morning!

It’s been about 11 weeks since my last pregnancy post so I figured it was time to give a little update. This pregnancy is just flying right along! I am currently 31 weeks pregnant and solidly in the third trimester. If you’re curious about how the first trimester went, you can check out my blog post about it here. I also blogged a “halfway there” 20-week update which you can find here.

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Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

I am thrilled to say that I’ve been feeling pretty good up until this point in pregnancy. My whole second trimester was pretty dreamy – I had tons of energy and felt great! We went on a babymoon a few weeks ago and it was honestly the perfect time in pregnancy to go. Our travels went really well and I was feeling really good so the whole vacation was enjoyable. I definitely feel that third trimester slowdown now. I’m having to listen to my body more and take things a little big easier, and I’m definitely feeling much more tired by the end (or, let’s be honest, the middle) of each day.

Energy/Workouts

One thing I have really loved doing this pregnancy are the Expecting and Empowered at-home workouts. The co-founders do 10-week accountability challenges somewhat regularly and this really helped me stay on track with my workouts. I think this is a BIG reason why I feel so good. I haven’t gained as much weight with this pregnancy and I think these workouts do help me stay fit and strong. I’ve also been trying to keep up with my weekly YMCA cycling classes, although due to our vacation, my grandmother’s funeral, my sister’s wedding, and the fact that the timing of the class is pretty inconvenient for LJ’s current schedule, it’s been harder to consistently make it there.

Food Cravings & Aversions

I’m SO incredibly thankful that this pregnancy is kinder to me than LJ’s was with regards to food. With LJ, I couldn’t drink milk or eat dairy products without feeling sick and I developed some pretty strong food aversions to things like cooked vegetables. This time around, I don’t have any aversions and I don’t get sick from dairy. Hallelujah!

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My appetite is still growing and I find myself needing a snack or small meal every 2-3 hours, so I’m trying to keep lots of healthy-ish options around (although, if I’m being honest, I’m craving all the sweet and salty things!)

Sleep

Sleep is becoming a difficult thing, and that’s been hard for me because I’m someone who has never been able to function well on reduced sleep. I’m having a hard time getting comfortable at night and I frequently wake up tossing and turning. Our bedroom also doesn’t have a ceiling fan (YET…it’s #1 on my list of small home improvements to tackle!) and even though the temperature of the house is the same as it was before, I’m getting so HOT at night. Last night Justin brought a fan up for me and I tried a new configuration of pillows and I actually slept SO much better so I’m hoping that I’ve found the magic formula and my sleep improves a bit from here on out!

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I’ve also been trying to listen to my body if it needs a nap. It’s hard for me to take a break mid-day because LJ’s nap schedule has been inconvenient lately so when I finally do get him down, I want to tackle my to-do list. I’ve had to remind myself that growing a human is the biggest thing on my to-do list right now and if I’m feeling tired and worn down, I need to listen to my body and rest! The other day Justin was home and I was able to take a nice long nap to recharge and it was heavenly and made the rest of my day go much smoother. I’m going to try to make sleep and rest a top priority for the remaining weeks.

What I’m Looking Forward To

Justin has been able to feel baby kicks and we’re getting SO excited to meet this little one!  I’m looking forward to getting a few things around for the nursery. By this point in pregnancy with LJ I was mostly done with his nursery, but with this baby, I haven’t done a single thing. Second child problems, right? I plan to have baby sleep in a bassinet next to our bed like LJ did for the first 6-8 weeks so a nursery isn’t urgent, but it does help build anticipation and help me feel a little more prepared.

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Boy/Girl Predictions

A friend of mine swore the Chinese gender prediction chart was accurate with all four of her pregnancies, so we looked it up and the chart told us we’re having a boy. Who knows! I still have no gut feeling or mama sense, so it will be a genuine surprise either way.

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LJ’s Awareness

LJ still pats my belly when we ask “where’s the baby?” and he’s started GIVING IT KISSES. Oh my heart. It is just the sweetest thing. I’m so so SO excited to see him in the role of big brother. My in-laws came to town this past weekend and brought a little book about a kid getting a new sibling so we’ve been looking through it with LJ. I still think he has zero awareness of what any of this actually means, but it’s just so sweet to spend some time prepping him as much as we can.

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As for the fur babies, they definitely have no idea what’s about to happen. But if their love of LJ is any indicator (they mostly love that he drops food, hence Macie waiting patiently for a sample of donut above ha!) then they will be awesome siblings to this baby too!

Misc Stories

Baby has a (most likely) birthday! My labor with LJ did not go as planned, and long story short, after laboring 25 hours with incredibly slow progression, I still hadn’t quite progressed to 10 cm dilation. I essentially got “stuck” at 9 cm for 5 hours and baby’s heart rate was starting to be concerning. Ultimately, Justin and I along with our doctor agreed that a c-section was the safest way to get him out. My doctor is not opposed to me trying a VBAC, which I initially very strongly wanted. The more we discussed the pros and cons, it became clear that because of the way my body progressed last time, I’m not exactly a stellar candidate for a successful VBAC. We made the decision as a team to schedule a c-section, but if I go into labor before then, we will let things progress first and see how labor goes before jumping right to a c-section. While a VBAC is still possible, I am mentally preparing for another c-section. So, unless baby has other plans to join us earlier, we will meet our little one on August 23! Having an official date in mind makes it seem so soon! Just over 8 weeks left – ahhh!!!!!!!!!

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Oh and also…passed my glucose test! Thankful for that nasty drink to be over! 😉

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I plan to do one final pregnancy recap before baby makes his or her debut – stay tuned!

First Haircut + Easter Weekend 2019

Good morning!

This past weekend Justin, LJ, and I packed up the car and road tripped out to Virginia to spend Easter weekend with Justin’s family. Since they live so far away, we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like so it was wonderful to have lots of quality time together. I more or less unplugged from social media, which was also a nice change of pace. Today I thought I’d just share a few pictures from our weekend.

Before we left on Friday morning, we stopped in at a local men’s salon for…LJ’s first official haircut! Insert all my mama emotions here.

I love his wispy blond hair but it was just getting sooo long – it was getting in his eyes and was starting to look a little mullet-like so we decided it was time.

The place we went was amazing! They had him sit on Justin’s lap and turned the little TV in the booth on to Paw Patrol so he was pretty mesmerized the whole time. He’s a little ticklish around the neck so there were a few flinches but the hairstylist was so patient with him and we’re really happy with the end result. Overall, LJ did way better than we expected! They gave him a little certificate for “graduating babyhood” with his first haircut. Beforehand, I’m not sure I would have said this was “the step” to no longer being a baby but afterwards I see where they’re coming from because he immediately looked SO. MUCH. OLDER. Justin and I could not get over how he looks like a full-fledged toddler now.

After the haircut excitement we headed out to Virginia. LJ did great on the trip and we made decent time. We arrived Friday night and left Tuesday morning. It was a fantastic weekend with family! A few highlights include:

A mega Easter Egg hunt! Justin’s brother’s church puts on a giant egg hunt for the community and there were SO many people there. Do you see all the people in the grass? This is just the 4 years and under hunt – it was crazy! LJ and his youngest cousin (bottom of the left picture) were more fascinated with the chaos happening around them and we really had to work to get them to focus on picking up an egg. It was pretty hilarious actually. By the time they caught on, the eggs were mostly gone. LJ got three eggs which honestly was two more than I was expecting him to get so overall it was a success.

We also spent a ton of time outside. LJ was obsessed with the basketball hoop and we spent hours out there playing. It was so sweet to see him with our 6-year old nephew (middle picture) who is so sweet to him. They are the only boy cousins so far and they already have a special little bond.

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Can’t forget about our sweet 4-year-old niece who also loved playing with LJ. In this picture they are heading off to find the cat that is hiding along the edge of the woods. 😉 Since none of my siblings have children yet, these are LJ’s only cousins and I just love watching their little relationships blossom. Plus, I feel like this picture just captures something magical about spring evenings.

My little growing family attended my husband’s home church on Sunday. It was extra special because my sister actually lives in the area and she was able to join our festivities!

Easter Sunday is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. The music is always so worshipful and inspiring and I love celebrating the fact that Jesus not only died for our sins, but also rose again and we now have eternal life in Him. It brings me to tears every year!

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And last but not least, it was pretty hilarious to watch LJ open his Easter basket – in true toddler style, he only cared about the tissue paper. 😉

 

Easter always feels like the true kick-off to spring, so I’m excited for warmer weather, blooming flowers, and more and more time outside!

Spring has Sprung!

It seems like Indiana has finally decided that it is spring and we have been loving it! Today I thought I’d just share a little peek into our life lately and how we’ve enjoyed the outdoors the past few days.

First of all, it bears mentioning that this was the weather on March 31. In like a lion, out like…a stubborn lion?

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It felt like spring was never going to arrive. And then, just a few days later, the weather improved and we’ve been enjoying it ever since! Here’s what we’ve been up to:

LJ “helped” with cleaning up the flower beds. We trimmed back bushes, picked up the dead leaves, and just spruced up the beds so they’re ready for new growth.

Justin loves to golf so when he saw this little golf set at the store he couldn’t resist buying it for LJ. It was so cute to see them work on this together! At first, LJ just wanted to pick up the balls and throw them but after a few days he got the hang of it and now will whack the club to try to hit the ball. Looks like I’ve got two golfers in my house now. 😉

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One day when Justin was off work we walked to a park; LJ loved the swing and slide!

There’s been a lot of playing in the dirt too. LJ likes to dig in the little flower boxes we have and when he finds treasures, i.e. clumps of dirt, acorns, pieces of mulch, etc, Mommy is the designated treasure holder. There is something very sweet about him bringing me these little items and I’ll hold just about anything for him (here’s hoping he never finds a worm though).

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So happy to be outside! I didn’t get pictures, but a few days after this pic was taken he finally got the courage to step out on the grass and he has been racing around the backyard with the dogs ever since. He is go-go-go and just wants to be outside all the time. In the morning he walks to the patio door to try to open it and go outside and whenever we come in from the outside, even if we’ve been out for hours, he cries. He loves being outside and something tells me we are going to have a really fun summer!

I hope your April has started off as fun as ours has! Has spring finally come to your area?