A Summer to Remember

This summer has been beyond wonderful – and we haven’t even gotten through my favorite month yet! When I found out I had the opportunity to stay home with Paisley this summer and wait to start my job until September, I was so excited! I knew we were bound to have a great time together, and we definitely have!

Being home with Paisley has been awesome and I am so thankful I was able to have this special time with her. Watching her learn, grow, and change is something I am amazed at every day. Spending all of this extra time with her has been my favorite part of this summer and I know things won’t be the same once September rolls around.

In addition to spending extra time with my little girl & sweet husband, there is another big reason this summer has been so great – we have had LOTS of visits with LOTS of people we love from Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Charleston, Columbia, Michigan, & Myrtle Beach!

This summer began with my college graduation…so, I guess you can say it started out on a pretty good foot. My mom, dad and sister along with my grandma and Jacqui came to town for my pinning ceremony & graduation! My Uncle Todd & Aunt Christine drove all the way from New Jersey to be there for my graduation and to spend time with us! We had a great time together and I am so grateful they were all able to come visit and spend time with us.

In June, my mom came back into town for a week while I studied & took my state boards. I took my test on June 15th and found out that I passed on June 17th! It was so helpful to have my mom here (she’s always a huge help) and we loved spending extra time with her. The following weekend, Holley, Dave, and their kids came to visit us for a couple of days! After that, we had a really nice visit from Becky & Al and their adorable doggies!

In July, we got to go to Myrtle Beach and spent 4th of July weekend with the Tally family from New Jersey! They were so kind to open up their own family vacation to us and have us there for the weekend. We also got to spend time with John, Marie, and baby Emma in Columbia on our way to Myrtle beach & back. When we got back, Rena came into town for a sleepover! Next, our cousin, Rachel, came all the way from Michigan for a wedding and stayed with us so we got to spend extra time with her! After that, we were invited to spend the weekend in Tallahassee at Jake and Heidi’s house with them, their kiddos, Jake & Ann, and their kids! Then, when we got back into town, the Bond family came to visit from NJ on their way to Florida for their family vacation! To top it all off, Grandma Deb & Papa Pokey came to visit us for a couple of days this week on their way home from their month-long vacation! On Thursday, our little family of three is flying to Florida for 10 days of family time where we will get to see even more family and friends we love!

Whew – we sure have been busy and we’ve loved every second of it!!! As I think back on all of these fun visits and fun times over the summer, my heart is just so full of gratefulness. Living away from family is really hard sometimes, and thankfully the Lord has been so good to us to provide lots of great friends who live in the area who have become like family to us! To also know that we have family & friends who love us and take the time to come visit us or invite us to spend vacations with them means the world!! We have truly been blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people we love. I am so thankful to each and every person who came to visit with us this summer and to those who opened up their own homes to us. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.We made so many special memories. This has definitely been a summer to remember.

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“Holding Your Tongue” Isn’t Enough

Gossip: I hate it. I also really struggle with it. (Maybe you do too, I don’t know). What I do know is that for me, personally, it’s something I’ve participated in way too many times and it is a specific area of my life that God has been showing me really needs to change. For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard gossiping being excused away as something that “all girls just do.” I’ve commonly witnessed (and even been guilty of) someone being negatively talked about in a conversation and tacked onto the end of all the negativity is, “All that to say, just pray for ______, they’re really struggling.” That’s terrible, I know. It doesn’t reflect our Savior and it doesn’t bring any glory to God. It seems like every time I’m faced with the fact that my gossiping needs to stop, a new opportunity for me to gossip or talk negatively about someone rears its ugly head and I’m right back where I found myself too many times before. I want to bring glory to God and gossiping is definitely not a way to do that. I also want to be a good, Godly example to my daughter and I do not want her to hear her mommy speaking negatively about other people, who are made in God’s perfect image. It’s discouraging and disappointing when I fail at my attempts to stop talking negatively about someone. But that’s just it – they are MY attempts….my imperfect, human attempts.
Recently, I did a devotional that completely changed my perspective on this subject. I have been going through the She Reads Truth Women In The World: Old Testament Bible study. It has been so eye-opening for me and challenging to my life in a number of ways. On June 12th, I read Day 12 of this specific Bible study and God started working in my heart about specific changes that needed to happen. That day, I prayed that God would help me to not say anything negative when faced with the opportunity to gossip. Sounds easy enough, right? WRONG. First of all, many of those attempts failed. I found myself giving into temptations more often than resisting them. It was discouraging to say the least. Secondly, the truth is that I didn’t fully understand the need for a heart change. I simply prayed that I wouldn’t say anything negative. So if a group of my friends are talking negatively about someone and I don’t say anything, yet in my heart I’m only thinking negatively towards someone – does that make it wrong? ABSOLUTELY. That concept changed everything for me.

Today, I went back and read that same devotional again. This time, I ended not with a prayer that God would help me to refrain from saying negative things, but instead that God would change my heart. It isn’t enough to simply hold my tongue when I have a heart full of negativity. God knows the true intents of my heart. Even if I’m “holding my tongue” and not verbally participating in gossip, if in my heart I am feeling negative towards someone or thinking negative thoughts about them, God knows. He knows the depths of my heart and in fact, the Bible tells us that God actually searches the heart! (Jeremiah 17:10). Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” This verse really struck home with me because both the concepts of our words AND our hearts are mentioned and should be pleasing to God. I don’t know about you, but that really put things into perspective for me. When we have a heart change – a true, genuine heart change that only comes from God – we can glorify Him with our words as well. Now, that’s not to say we won’t fall or struggle, because we will. That’s the Christian life… and that’s the beauty of His GRACE.

“Change my heart, O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God;
May I be like You.”
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How Clubfoot treatment can be FUN!

What? How can clubfoot treatment be fun!?
I’m writing this blog post for the expecting parents who may have recently found out that their baby will be born with clubfoot. I know how scared you feel and how worried you must be for your baby. I’ve been there. (You can read about our experience here). My daughter was born with bilateral clubfoot and we are currently in the 12-hour wear phase of our treatment. It is definitely a long, hard road at times – If I didn’t mention that aspect of the treatment I think I’d be lying. At the same time, like any situation, it is so important to find the good aspects of a difficult time.
Let me start by saying that thanks to medical advances and incredible doctors (specifically, those who have been trained in the Ponseti method) our clubfoot babies can receive excellent and extremely successful treatment. That being said, I want to encourage you by telling you some of the good things you may experience during your child’s clubfoot journey!

1. Your baby will most likely want lots of extra cuddles and snuggles after cast changes. Yes, it is difficult to see them uncomfortable and fussy, but those extra cuddles and lots of loving will mean so much to you as parents.
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2. You will have the opportunity to meet lots of other clubfoot moms, dads, and babies who have gone through what you’re going through! It is so good to know that you’re not alone and talk to other parents about the journey if you have questions or concerns. I have met several parents of babies with clubfoot and this journey would be a lot more difficult without them!

3. You can dress up the casts and make them fun! (Yes, even for boys!!) We used cute little leg warmers, coband wrap, and cute socks to dress the casts up. Before my daughter was born, I was so worried that people would stare and ask me questions about her casts. Well, they did – but instead of being embarrassed or ashamed, I would happily tell them about my daughter’s condition and use the opportunity to spread clubfoot awareness. We rarely (if ever) encountered people who were rude about my daughter wearing casts on her legs. No one thought she fell down the stairs or that I did something wrong (irrational as it sounds, those were some of my fears). People were, for the most part, genuinely curious and had very kind responses.
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4. You will be so proud of every single milestone your clubfoot baby reaches. Yes, every mom is beyond proud of their child for meeting milestones like rolling over, crawling, walking, etc!! There is just something extra special about the clubfoot baby who has overcome so much in their young life in order to make progress. Our daughter is crawling EVERYWHERE now and we are so very proud.

5. You can make up cute little songs and rhymes for the “bedtime shoes” when you get down to the 12-hour wear phase – and you WILL get there. It may seem like it is forever away at times but you’ll get there. I was very worried that our daughter would hate having her feet confined to the boots and bar at night but she doesn’t know any different! She knows it is just part of her bedtime routine and she does wonderful with them!

6. Your clubfoot baby may make you laugh a lot by some of the hilarious positions they learn to sleep in. Imagine if you had to sleep with special shoes on and a bar connecting those shoes. Sounds uncomfortable, right? Well, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the clubfoot kiddos! Our daughter sleeps in some of the most hilarious positions and somehow, she finds it comfortable with her boots and bar. It makes us laugh every time!
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7. You will have the opportunity to meet and get to know some incredible doctors, nurses, and cast techs along your journey! We absolutely love going to Shriner’s and getting to see Dr. Gibson and Stephanie! We are so thankful for everything they’ve done to help our daughter through treatment!

8. You will look back at pictures of your baby’s feet before their treatment began and you will be overwhelmed with happiness for the progress you’ve seen! (Also – make sure you take before pictures, you will be glad you did). These babies are so tough and resilient. It is incredible.
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Imagine your clubfoot baby running around one day on their perfect feet! The clubfoot journey is difficult and seems impossible at times, but it will be so worth it!!

Paisley Grace: 11 months

Well, this month’s milestone is an exceptionally hard one for me. (Maybe other parents can relate?)
11 months. Wow. Only one more month until our sweet little baby is a year old!
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At 11 months old she:
– Is such a content, happy little girl. She smiles and laughs a lot! She also makes the most hilarious faces.
– Has 12 teeth! And she sure likes to show them off, too! She cut two of her bottom molars at the same time. Let’s just say we had one pretty rough week.
– Had a special visit from her Aunt Holley, Uncle Dave, and her cousins! She had a blast with everyone and especially loved playing with all of the kids.
– Loves to dance. As soon as she hears music or if we sing she starts to smile and dance and it is just so cute!
– Has started to talk A LOT more than she ever has before. She just loves to babble and she’s even started using her hands to gesture when she talks. I love it!
– Had her first beach day! (Yes, we got into the ocean despite all of the recent shark attacks – don’t worry, we survived and had a blast). We all got to spend a wonderful family weekend together with her Great Uncle Brian, Great Aunt Jenn, and her cousins on vacation at Myrtle Beach for the 4th of July!
– Doesn’t like diaper changes. At all. They are a daily struggle.
– Has gotten very comfortable walking around the furniture. I love seeing her take baby steps with her little feet. I know I sound crazy but it makes me very proud of her!
– Wears her beautiful silver bracelet from her grandma Deb every day. She doesn’t even try to take it off anymore!
– FINALLY got to meet her little friend, Emma (whose mommy was my roommate freshman year)! We got to spend time with baby Emma and her wonderful parents on the way to and from Myrtle Beach. Emma and Paisley are only 3 months apart and they played so well together! It was a great visit with people we love.
– Got her first boo-boo on her head. She was crawling around and bumped her head on the coffee table. (Hence the bruise on her head in her 11-month photos). She only cried for a few seconds and then went right back to playing. She’s a tough cookie.
– Loves playing with all of her stuffed animals. She talks to them and has just recently started giving them kisses!
– Enjoyed a fun visit from Becky & Al – and their puppy dogs, too! We had a great time with them and found out that Paisley Grace absolutely loves dogs! She constantly wanted to play with them.
– Loves all things related to the water: baths, pool time, the beach, washing her hands. It’s adorable.
– Has loved spending the summer with her mommy!! And we recently found out that we will get to spend ALL summer together until I start my job in September! This is a huge answer to prayer.
– Loves to FaceTime her grandparents and Aunt Kassidy. She lights up as soon as the video screen comes on!
– Has a newfound love for books. She loves flipping through the pages of her books and just sits there with her little ankles crossed as she “reads” them!
– Is so beautiful and is growing up way too fast!

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Being your mommy is one of my favorite things in the whole world.
Happy 11 months of life, little one!
We love you to the moon and back.

I won’t forget you, 22

Twenty-two is definitely going down in the books as my favorite age (well..so far, anyway).

On my birthday last year (which, by the way, was spent in the hospital on our vacation in Florida due to a bad stomach bug + pregnancy) I had no idea what the year would bring. Looking back at everything that has happened this past year, I am completely overwhelmed by the goodness of God and His grace in my life and the lives of others.

At the age of 22 I became a mother, a college graduate and a nurse. It was the year so many of the dreams I had for my life came true. I grew a lot as a wife as my husband and I started adjusting to our new roles as parents together. I had the privilege of watching my loving husband become a daddy (I still find myself watching him in awe sometimes as he fits the “daddy” role so unbelievably well). I developed a faith in God like I’ve never had before. I realized how fortunate we are to be surrounded by so many amazing friends and family members.

It definitely wasn’t a perfect year. It was filled with plenty of ups and downs, its own set of trials, lots of tears and some heartache. There were times I was discouraged, completely sleep deprived, running away from God, and even miserable at some points in the year. But… It was a year I will never forget and God used those hard times to teach me lessons I never would have learned otherwise. The ups were great and the downs were bad, but God saw us through it all. Even when I lacked trust for my faithful God, He took care of us. He taught me so much about Himself this year. He showed me that even when we lack faith, He is still in control and He is still God. He gave me grace for every day – even when I wasn’t necessarily looking to Him for it. I learned that His plan is far better than my own, even when I think I know it all (which, let me tell you, I definitely don’t). He is good regardless of our circumstances and He will continue to be good despite our failures and human imperfections.

22 was a year full of a lot of milestones & life lessons.
I am so excited to see what God has planned for 23!

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Paisley Grace: 10 months

We fall more in love with this sweet girl every single day.
I cannot believe 10 months has already gone by!! 
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At 10 months old she:
– Crawls EVERYWHERE. And she’s a quick little girl, too!! We are constantly chasing her around.
– Loves to clap her hands, dance, whistle, and laugh.
– Stands up all the time! She has even gotten brave enough to walk along the furniture and take steps with her walker but no steps on her own quite yet!
– Makes the funniest faces! She especially loves to copy the faces/noises of other people!
– Dropped her late afternoon nap and is now takes 2 naps a day.
– Has NINE teeth. That’s right, nine. (4 on top, 5 on the bottom) She is always smiling and showing them off. Oh & she’s in the process of cutting at least 3 more right now!
– Loves the songs “PaddyCake” “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.”
– Got to spend a special week with her Grandma Sparkles when she came to visit us!
– Is such a little ham. She’s always trying to make people laugh and show off all of her little tricks.
– Waves “bye-bye” and “hello.” Even to strangers at the grocery store.
– Is such a curious little girl. She is always getting into everything. She definitely keeps us on our toes.
– Has a mommy who is now officially a Registered Nurse! (Paisley went back to her daycare for a couple of weeks so she could have fun while I studied – it paid off because we found out on June 17th that I passed my state boards).
– Is NOT a big fan of cuddling. Unless you’re giving her a bottle, she’s extremely tired, or she’s not feeling well, good luck getting cuddles from Paisley Grace.
– Thinks it’s so funny to try to climb up the stairs. (Don’t worry – we have a baby gate now!)
– Weighs 23 pounds! She’s in the 60th percentile for weight and the 20th for height.
– Still won’t let us keep bows or clips in her hair. (Hence the crazy hair in most of her 10 month pictures)
– Loves to say “Dada.” That’s all I hear all day long. “Dada. Dada. Dada.” She will say “Baba” sometimes and has pretty much  stopped saying “Mama” altogether. So, she’s just all about her daddy right now!
– Is wearing size FOUR diapers and is in 6-9 month & 12 month clothes.
– Really, really likes to eat. We have yet to find a food she doesn’t like!
– Got to go to the zoo on Memorial Day!
– Is currently in 12-hour wear with her brace. She only has to wear her boots and bar through the night until she’s 4! She’s such a trooper & her feet are still looking great!
– Loves anything that involves being outside. The swings, the park, the pool – you name it. She’s our nature girl.
– Is such a huge blessing to us and we absolutely love being her parents
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Paisley Grace – we love you to the moon and back!
Happy 10 months of life, little one!

Paisley Grace: 9 months

Paisley Grace is 9 months old. Unbelievable.
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At 9 months old she:
– Loves to eat Cheerios. Well really, she loves food in general…but especially Cheerios!
– Learned how to shake her head “No.” It’s pretty adorable and she knows it makes people laugh so she does it all the time!
– Can stand up! She started pulling herself up on furniture this past week! (May 12th!) Now she tries to stand up all the time — exciting, but dangerous!
– IS A CRAWLER! She actually started crawling on April 18th at 8 months old! (Only about a week after she figured out how to roll around all over the house) Now she’s a pro and she crawls everywhere. She’s a quick little thing, too! She keeps me busy for sure!
– Is wearing a few 6-9 month clothes but is mainly in 9-12 month stuff now. She’s also in size FOUR diapers. WHAT?!?!
– Had her LAST DAY at daycare on May 8th. We were so blessed to have an amazing teacher at a daycare we loved who helped care for Paisley Grace so I could finish school.
– Loves to to make people laugh!
– Says “Mama” “Baba” and “Dada” – I think she’s starting to use those 3 “words” with meaning behind them. She will say “Dada” when I show her a picture of him and when he comes home from work she says it a lot!
– Has a mommy who has officially been pinned as a nurse and is college graduate with a bachelor’s of science in Nursing! The most exciting part about that? We get to spend more time together!!
– Won’t let us put headbands on her head any more…She always pulls them off. Only hair clips for now!
– Got to spend a lot of time with special family members who traveled to SC for graduation! She got to see her Grandma & Grandpa Jennings, Aunt Kassidy, Great Grandma Gill, Uncle Todd & Aunt Christine (all the way from NJ) and Jacqui! She even recognized her Grandma and Aunt Kassidy from Facetime. It was precious.
– Makes a hilarious “smile” face that looks more like she’s going to scream but she’s just happy as can be. I can’t get over her funny faces she makes!
– Isn’t the biggest fan of men she doesn’t know. She gives them a mean look and if they say hi to her or get too close she’ll freak out.
– Had a wonderful first Mother’s day Holiday with mommy. We went out to breakfast with all our family before they headed back home. Then we had a relaxing day at home and went out for Sushi with mommy & daddy at their favorite sushi restaurant in town.
– Is such a HAPPY baby. She is always smiling with her 4 big teeth (2 top, 2 bottom).
– Brings so much happiness and laughter to our home. She is such a joy to be around.

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