Monthly Archives: May 2016

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

Dear Mom,

Today is your birthday.  Happy birthday to you!  I’ve probably already called and sang (in my beautiful singing voice) to you.  If not, then it’s coming.  So be prepared.  As I’ve gotten older, I have realized just how lucky I am to have a Mom like you.

You’ve taught me so much in my 30 years on this planet.  I could never thank you enough for all you and Dad have done for me.  I’m sure I wasn’t the easiest kid, especially when I was hungry.  I know I still have my moments when I’m hungry, too.  But I am working on that!

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You are the hardest working woman I know.  I’ve been telling you for years that you work too hard, but you never seem to listen.  That’s actually one thing you taught me at a very early age – it’s okay to be a career woman while putting your family first.  I know that I can juggle parenthood, family life and my career because I watched you do so effortlessly each and every day.  You’d wake up early, get ready then get us ready for school.  I’m sure it was a huge relief when we were old enough to dress ourselves and fix our own breakfasts.

You were there for me every time I fell, literally and metaphorically.  Which I fell a lot as a kid and spent many nights in the ER.  Thank you for never making me feel like it was my fault.  You’d teach me, but the most important thing was if I was okay.

You were always fair between us sisters.  You never took one’s side over the other.  As the baby I did like to push those limits, but somehow you always knew.  And somehow you and Dad were always on the same page.  If I asked Dad something and he said no then I would immediately try you – somehow you always had the same answer!  I could never get away with anything!

In high school our house was the best place to be.  I realize now that you strived hard to make it the spot.  We had the best snacks, music playing, swimming, and you never minded if I had friends over.  I hope to some day have the house-to-be for my child when he’s older.  That way I know he’s okay and where he is.  Of course, he’ll be oblivious just like I was.

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I hope your birthday is wonderful.  If anyone deserves a day dedicated to just them – it’s you.  Happy Birthday, Mom!  Thank you for all you do!

Our Organized Baby Dresser

Note: Some links in this post contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting my blog!

organized baby dresser

I love organization. Something about not having to think when trying to find something, just puts me at ease.  I have to be honest though, I’m not a perfectly organized person.  Just ask J anytime I’m trying to find my phone or car keys.  Don’t get me started on my debit card – I can never find that! 

Here’s my favorite ways to be organized:

My closet, for instance, is color coordinated. You open the doors and will see all the blues together, blacks together, reds together and so on. It’s pretty. Makes getting dressed easier in the morning since my most recent-worn items aren’t in the front. I can grab and go without thinking, “when was the last time I wore this top?”

My monthly bill system is organized perfectly for me.  Paid bills in one folder, need to pay in another, our check register is on Google Sheets and updated on a daily basis.  I also have a budget binder with a debt tracking sheet and monthly bill tracker.

The junk drawer in the kitchen is another story. It’s actually two small-sized drawers because I out grew one drawer. It’s on my to-tackle list, but it just hasn’t been a priority yet. You’re better off not even trying to find anything in those drawers. It would take forever and you’d probably make a mess just digging.

baby boy, motherhood, mommy blogger

Why I wanted an organized baby dresser.

With Baby here early and all of my plans for his arrival thrown around, I was really glad I had his nursery organized. I worked hard on getting the dresser perfect a few weeks before he arrived. I wanted to make sure it was functional and easy to use. Especially since it has a dual purpose of dresser and changing table.

I wanted diapers and changing products close-by without over taking the top of the dresser. I wanted burp cloths and frequently used items at arm’s reach that way I could keep a hand on him at all times while he’s on the changing pad.

Once the organizational plan was ready, then it was easy to follow-through with it. Now when laundry is done or diapers are purchased they have a home. Which means no piling or putting things off until later, which I am the queen of (hence the junk drawers).

How to Organize Your Baby's Dresser

The first thing to start with is the perfect dresser.  I received mine as a Christmas present from my parents.  Originally it was going to be my dresser and my old one was going to become the baby’s.  However, that didn’t happen.  Being super pregnant by the time we finished the nursery left me no motivation to switch dressers and move them all over the house.  So instead the baby got the new dresser.  I think it works out better.  The drawers are a bit deeper, which means they can hold more baby clothes.  Especially right now with his clothes being so tiny, they don’t hang very well.  I found this dress, a nouvelle dresser that is similar at Wal-Mart that is right on budget for a inexpensive nursery makeover.  

organized baby dresser, organized nursery

Top Drawers:

Miscellaneous hospital papers and keepsakes that will end up in Baby’s memory book is in one drawer.  The other drawer holds his diapers and wipes.  That way when we’re changing his diaper, we don’t have to stretch or bend to reach a new diaper.  Plus it keeps the clutter on top of the dresser to a minimal.

Upper Middle Drawers:

I keep the most used items in the next two drawers so I can reach them without having to bend if he’s on the changing pad.  I placed all of his bibs, burp cloths, receiving blankets in one drawer.  The other one holds his current-sized onsies and socks.  We also put his swaddles in this drawer.  He isn’t a big fan of the swaddle now that he’s a bit older.  It’s still nice to have in arms reach, but we don’t use them as much anymore.

Lower Middle Drawers:

I do get into these drawers a lot, but usually when he’s in his crib or if J is around.  I put his sheets and waterproof mattress protectors in one drawer. His towels and washcloths are in the other drawer.

Bottom Drawers:

Here is where I placed any clothes that are too big right now.  I have them organized by sizes so when he grows into them I can just move them up to the other drawer.  

How do you have your baby’s dresser organized?

I also have plenty of room in his closet for hanging clothes, but he was so little at birth that most of his onsies wouldn’t fit on the baby hangers.  He’ll eventually grow into needing clothes hung up, but we’re not there yet.

Motherhood: What I’m Meant To Do

motherhood, unite in motherhood, baby boy, newborn

I’m only a little over a month into this whole motherhood thing and I have to tell you – it’s hard. Really hard. But it’s also worth it, every second of the sleepless nights, the skill with balancing a baby while making a bottle and the art of the quick diaper change – it’s all worth it.

Last night while up at 2 am feeding Baby I realized that this is why I’m here. If you would have told me at 20 years old I would have felt fulfilled sitting in the middle of the bed with one dog at my feet, the other taking over my pillow while soothing a fussy baby because he’s hungry, I would have said you were crazy. I didn’t grow up wanting a child. I really thought a life without a family is what I wanted. I was young and stupid.

I’m so glad I found J and we decided as a couple to start a family. This little boy frustrates me in the best possible way. I’m becoming a baby whisperer and finding strength when I didn’t think I had any. During his NICU stay I rallied and was able to take in what the nurses were saying, curb the tears and be strong for him. I wasn’t strong for myself, I was strong for my child. He needed me and I couldn’t let him down.

This is what life is all about. Motherhood. I know I have a lot of learning to do and I know he will take joy out of scaring his poor mother one day, but right now I will hold him and snuggle him tight every chance I get.

motherhood, unite in motherhood, baby boy, newborn

As I write this post, Baby is sitting in his rock ‘n play after tummy time.

The last pediatrician appointment I was informed that Baby has a mild case of Torticollis. Which is similar to a crick in the neck from how he laid in my womb. It’s mild and she recommended we go to physical therapy to learn some exercise to help.

We had our first physical therapy appointment earlier this week and I learned that Torticollis is very common and his case is very, very mild. So with appointments and exercises at home, he should be fine.

But it’s scary. I want one doctor’s appointment where everything goes well. The first we were admitted to the NICU. The second was his circumcision, which went fine so I guess it was a good appointment. The third was a checkup and his umbilical cord wasn’t healing great so she put some medicine in it to help dry it out, which caused his belly button to be rubbed raw and another visit the next day to make sure everything was okay. The last appointment was when we were told about his case of Torticollis.

I want one appointment where everything is great – his weight, his belly button, his neck, everything. I know it will come and I realize how lucky we are. These issues could be severe. I know that. But, ugh, just one appointment where we don’t have to come back the next week or go to another specialist. That’s all I want.

motherhood, unite in motherhood, baby boy, newborn

Being a new mom is hard. I never realized just how stressful and fearful being a mom is until I became one. I think I took advantage of how strong my mom was while I was growing up. Even when I was delivering Baby and had to be rushed for a C-Section. My Mom was worried about me, her baby. I get it now.

To all of us in the bonds of Motherhood. The stress and fear isn’t going to get easier, but hopefully we can lean on each other for support without judgment.

Our Debt Tracker Tool (Free Printable)

track your debt payoff, debt tracker

We’ve been knocking out debt left and right.

We’re debt ninjas over here! These past few months, J and I have been making some excellent progress on taking down debt.  Our goal is to be as debt free as possible so all of our extra money can go into building our dream home.  We’re still years away from it, but I know that with out these monthly expenses we would really save up a good portion towards our new home.

One way I keep track of our debt and our money is by having a budget binder.  I keep it in my desk so when I pay bills, I’m able to update it that moment.

In our budget binder I have:

  1. Our monthly bill tracker so I never miss a payment.
  2. Recent copy of our monthly budget so I can keep track of our spending.
  3. Our debt tracker tool.
  4. Our debt record keeper.

For our debt record keeper here’s what I do:

Each debt has it’s own sheet of paper. I write out the starting amount for each debt, then I add our monthly payment and the date it was paid.  After that I write down our new balance.  This way I’m able to see at a quick glance how we’re doing on paying down our debt.  I no longer have to log-in to each individual bill to get an idea of our most recent balance.  It’s all right there in my budget binder.

I’ve even made our debt record keeper free to download, too.  Click here to get your copy.

My favorite part of our budget binder is our Debt Tracker tool.

Debt Tracker Tool

I created a simple thermometer. Then when we pay a debt off in full, I had the original amount to the tracker.

The thermometer’s max is the total amount of debt we owed when we started really working towards paying it all off. I love seeing how much money we’ve put towards are bills and the progress we’re making.

It’s such an eye opener to see it!

I wanted to share my Debt Tracker Tool with you all. So feel free to download and print a copy for yourself. I kept the totals empty, so you can add your total debt to the top then equally split the amount to create benchmarks.

You can even do something fun when you hit each mark. Of course whatever you do should be within your budget or free so you don’t incur more debt while you’re celebrating getting out of it!

We like to splurge and use some of our eating out budget on a nice dinner out. Or sometimes we just like to tell others. My family is a huge support for us. So once we hit a mark, I usually send a mass text to my parents and sister letting them know. Their words of encouragement are enough celebration.

What do you do when you hit a milestone when paying off debt?

My Favorite Newborn App

favorite newborn tracking app

I wanted to share a piece of my sanity while juggling a newborn with first-time parenthood.  I’m not going to lie – it’s hard having a newborn at home when I have never had a child before.  Everything is new and scary.  Plus, my brain has turned into mush.  Days run together and I can’t keep track of feedings all that well.  

I shared his birth story last week and talked about the trip to the NICU, I’m very aware of his feedings.  I want to know how much he’s eating, how often he’s eating and then his diapers.  I want to make sure there isn’t anything out of the ordinary that I should be worried about.  

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but both of my best friends had babies recently. I’m so lucky and excited to have shared this time with them even though we all live hours apart, it was nice to have someone to text my crazy thoughts or fears to.

One friend had her little girl a few months ago and she has always been the planner of our little group. So I was so excited when she was due months before me because it meant I could learn a lot from her. And boy have I!

One of the first tools she recommended was a newborn app called Baby Daybook. I downloaded it before our son was even here just to get familiar with it.

newborn app, baby daybook app

Now I want to pass on the recommendation to you!

I can track how often he eats, how much he’s eating, diaper changes, tummy time, baths, playing, medicine, breastfeeding, pumping, and so much more.  I use it mainly for tracking diapers, feeding, and medicine.  Baby Denton is taking vitamin D on a daily basis and with my mush brain it’s nice to have something keep track of it for me.  I don’t want to skip a day and this Baby Daybook app really helps.

Not only does it tell me what time he ate, but it has a counter so I can quickly glance to see the last time he ate was 2 or 3 hours ago.  I love that feature!  At 2am it’s nice to see how long he’s going between feedings without having to do the calculation myself.  

favorite newborn tracking app

newborn app, baby daybook app

I’m sure the more familiar I get with his routines and the more comfortable I get as a new mom then I may stop using this app as much.  But I may use it for a good long while since it gives me comfort.  

If you’re expecting or have a newborn go download this newborn app. It’s wonderful!

 

*I was not paid to discuss my love of the Baby Daybook app.  It’s just an app that has really helped a new mom deal with the stress of everything.

Our Little Boy’s Birth Story

birth story, preemie, nicu, birth announcement

I feel like it’s been months and months since I’ve logged on to write a new post. You see, I’m a planner and I had planned on having our little boy on or really close to his due date. I had all these posts scheduled or just needing finishing touches so it would seem like I wasn’t missing a beat. But this little guy had other plans. He arrived 3 weeks early.

Yep, I had a preemie, something I never thought would happen.

Here’s the story of our little Baby Denton. A lot of our friends don’t even know all the details about his birth or how he was admitted to the NICU at 5 days old. But I’m finally strong enough to talk about it without breaking down in tears. Here’s his birth story…

The start of labor.

On Thursday morning I woke up around 1am thinking I had wet myself. I went to the bathroom so confused. I had heard of women having leaky bladders, but I hadn’t experienced this at all. I thought it was odd that it hit so fast in the middle of the night. I cleaned myself up and went back to bed. Within 30 minutes, I felt it again. Then again 20 minutes later. Finally I decided not to go back to bed. I googled what was going on, which is something I tried not to do the whole pregnancy because Dr. Google can really freak me out!

It sounded like my water had broke from what I had read. I wasn’t having any contractions and felt fine other than slowly leaking fluid. At 8am I called the doctor’s office and was told to come on in. The nurse was telling me that about 99% of the time women think their waters have broke, but in reality it’s just urine and nothing to worry about. The nurse practitioner came in and took one of those Ph papers to test it and it instantly turned bright blue – amniotic fluid.

The doctor had me go to the hospital to check myself in – today was the day our baby was coming! I called J and told him, called my sister, my mom and dad and my best friends. Luckily I had packed our hospital bags the weekend before so that was one worry off my mind.

J and I got to the hospital at the same time and I was taken up to the labor and delivery floor. I hadn’t dilated any and my contractions were weak and far, far apart. They decided to give me a low dosage of pitocin and monitor the baby closely. Every time I would have a contraction, his heart rate would dip a bit. I was told that it wasn’t a concern since they were timed with the contractions.

The delivery.

Flash forward 24 hours and I was barely dilated to a 7am and every time they tried to increase the pitocin through the night, Baby D’s heart rate would dip. So they had to back off of the medicine. The doctor came in around 11am on Friday morning and said that if the heart rate dips too much after a contract that would be a concern he might be under distress.

I understood what he meant and decided to just get comfortable for a long day. Then I had a big contraction and his heart dropped a lot afterwards. I was scared. The doctor came right in and said it was probably time for a c-section. Within seconds I was signing forms and being told what to expect.

I started crying. Not because I was scared, but because it was happening so fast. Really fast. I knew I would be okay with a c-section, I knew it was probably the best option for our baby to be delivered healthy and I knew I was in the best hands. It was just overwhelming.

Within 12 minutes of the doctor coming in, our baby was born.

birth story, preemie, nicu

He was a healthy baby. He was little since he was 3 weeks early, but he was healthy. We found out why his heart rate was dipping during each contraction – there was a true knot in the umbilical cord. A true knot is not just a twisted cord, but it’s when the cord is actually knotted and cannot be undone. So every time I had a contraction his supply was being cut off.

So scary! After talking with the doctor that if I would have declined the c-section to keep trying, our little boy may not have made it. I still cry thinking about it.

The first doctor’s appointment.

We were discharged on Sunday and had our first pediatrician appointment on Wednesday. I went to the first doctor’s appointment thinking everything was going to be okay, but it wasn’t.

birth story, preemie, nicu

He had lost 16% of his birth rate, he was yellow and super dehydrated.

The NICU stay.

We were rushed to the NICU over an hour away. He was quickly admitted and hooked up to all of these monitors. I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. Here was my precious baby boy hooked to all of these machines.

birth story, preemie, nicu

I learned that breastfeeding was working for us. He wasn’t getting the nutrients he needed and we needed to supplement.

But God is good and he rebounded so fast. His levels normalized within no time. They were able to remove the bilirubin lights on Friday and they warned me that he might go back a few steps without being under the light, but he didn’t. His numbers actually improved! They removed the feeding tube Friday, too since he had 7 meals eating on his own without needing the tube.

nicu baby

The hospital was so great and had a lactation specialist come talk to me. She helped me try to breastfeed, which wasn’t easy. Then helped me pump. I wasn’t getting but an 3 ounces a day from pumping. My milk is jacked up!

I never left his side – I slept in the NICU, I showered there and ate in the cafeteria. I would break down anytime I had to leave his room. I was so worried about our little guy.

We were lucky – he was lucky and had God looking over him. It could have been worse. He only needing a feeding tube for a short time and bilirubin lights – that was it. He was discharged on Saturday afternoon. He has been thriving ever since!

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Now fast forward and he’ll be a month old in 3 days. We still can’t breastfeed and my milk supply has just continued to drop. Now I don’t even get an ounce a day. I’m taking herbs, drinking teas, drinking lots of water, but still nothing. I’m not giving up though. Every little bit of breastmilk helps and is good for him.

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At first I was sad about supplementing with formula, but I realized that as long as our baby is growing and staying healthy that’s all that matters. I can’t punish myself for something I can’t control. I don’t want to be judge by these breastfeeding nazis because I tried. My son is gaining weight, he’s healthy and happy – that is what’s important.

Let’s Celebrate My Husband

My darling husband is turning 30 today! I want to wish him the happiest of birthdays – he deserves it!

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J and I are so much alike in some ways and then complete opposite in others.  Maybe that’s why we work so well together.  I’m logical when it comes to everything but my emotions – that’s when J steps in.  He keeps me calm and level-headed when I start to get overwhelmed. He lets me complain when I need to, but knows when enough is enough.

One of the first qualities that really attracted me to him was the fact he didn’t let me walk all over him. He’s strong-willed and I appreciate that so much in a man. He didn’t let me get away with anything (not like I tried that much!) and always made me think before I acted.  I know it’s crazy to think I was really attracted to him because he put me in my place, but it’s true. He stood up to me when no one else would. He wasn’t afraid of hurting my feelings when telling me the truth, but he always had a pretty-kind way of letting me know I had crossed the line.

Another quality that I love about him is his tenderness.  He’s sweet to me and he’s sweet to the dogs, which is a huge plus for me. Especially when I see him becoming a Dad.

habits to better your life

During our first New Year’s together I had invited a bunch of friends over to my apartment to have a low-key night. After some wine and beer drinking, a glass had shattered on the floor. I was trying to get it cleaned up and remember my dog was walking around. I was worried that she may hurt her paws on the shattered glass. I looked up and there was J, he had scooped up my precious Maggie into his arms and was carrying her around so she wouldn’t hurt her paws.  He was even telling her it was going to be okay so she wouldn’t get overwhelmed by all of the chaos.

My heart melted. Without hesitation, he knew the most important being to me was Maggie and he took care of her.

gender reveal party ideas

I know he will do the same for our son and I can’t wait to see how great of a Dad he will become.

Happy birthday, J! You are the man I want to spend the rest of my days with.  I can’t wait to continue to grow and become a stronger family unit.  You are the best!  Happy 30th!

In the Name of Blogging

 

in the name of blogging

I’m sure if you’re a blogger than there are things and stunts you’ve pulled all for the sake of a good post. What have I done, that I never thought I would, all for the sake of blogging?

Here’s what I’ve done for my blog:

– stood awkwardly in public while trying to get my picture taken
– rearranged a whole room for one simple picture, just to put it back like it originally was
– become more of a list maker (what I need for each post, post ideas, image ideas, and so on.)
– check Instagram way too often through out the day

meredith rines

Here’s what I’ve needed for my blog:

– pretty, colorful plates
– light reflectors to get the perfect shot
– photography how-to lessons
– photo editing – I use picmonkey and canva for most of my images
– clean images of my Mac laptop
– social media scheduling platform, I use Hootsuite
– a new cell phone with a better camera

You see, I could probably go on and on with what I NEED for this blog. But I think most bloggers feel my pain. One of these days I’m going to get smart and spend a whole day creating a bunch of different stock photos for my posts and Instagram shots. But that day hasn’t come yet.

What have you done in the name of blogging?