Monday, August 31, 2015

Cousin Camp 2015: A Photo Recap

Okay - we are officially at the end of Summer as tomorrow is SEPTEMBER THE FIRST GOOD GRACIOUS so I need to hurry up and get this recap up before all the memories fade off into the oblivion of pregnancy brain. Cousin Camp 2015 was held at the Flying L Ranch this year and I took a few pics. One thing I didn't document well is the awesome water park at the Flying L. We spent 4 consecutive days at the water park and I didn't take pictures because I am giant and because I didn't want my phone to get wet but really it was quite amazing. Anyways, on with the pics!

Here we are, all packed up and ready to go! 

Grammy brings a cookie cake every year!

Each kid was given a gift bag with their cousin camp shirt, a cowboy hat, some sunglasses, a bandana, some little toys, a sheriff badge, and a lantern. They were pleased. Dean took his new role very seriously.

"Mommy? Listen. I needa tell you sumpin. I'm a cowboy."

One night, the ranch held our nightly dinner down at Ghost Town instead of the mess hall. This is an old western looking abandoned town that the kids really loved. When we found a jail cell, we locked 'em up and threw away the key. 

Their expressions were killing me. 

Grant was unable to stay for all of Cousin Camp because he had to go to a big work thing in California all week, but we got him for the first few days and I was so thankful. Isn't he handsome? Here we are with my pregnant face. 

Ropin' cattle. 

Hi, this is me and this is my belly. WHOA. THERE. 

One day the "big kids" and their parents went on a horseback ride. The grandparents and the preggo and Ellie and Grant stayed behind and explored. We found these cute ducks and a beautiful fishing spot. I love the Hill Country. 

Texas forever.

Every day after we would swim, Grammy had brought a little craft for the kids to do. This was a bandana they could color with fabric markers. 

My cowgirl.

I was finally able to document this silly face Ellie has been making lately when she's trying to make me laugh. She'll stare off into space, make this very serious little face, then stare off into the distance and slowly squint her eyes. Then she busts out laughing. She's a ham. 

Every night, the ranch would provide some kind of campfire entertainment. This night was "cowboy stories" - a real live cowboy gave us some cowboy history, and each night was topped off with a generous helping of s'mores. 

All the kids got to paint a letter and decorate it. Ellie brought her E home with her and is still quite obsessed with it. The other night she asked me "Can I sleep with my E from Cousin Camp?" Um, no. 

Aside from the mouse incident, it was an amazing trip and I'm so, so thankful for another summer of Cousin Camp memories!

Since Grant had left the ranch early, I got to ride home with my sister and Ellie was quite pleased with this arrangement. 

I just love those two little cousin buddies....

And, of course, shortly after we got home, we had to go pick up Moxie from Puppy Camp. I think these two were happy to see each other, don't you?

That's all I've got, folks. Happy Monday and have a great week!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

There Was a Mouse in My Room

Pull up a chair. Grab a cup of coffee. Let me tell you a tale of panic attacks and bravery, mystery and the heeby-jeebies, deep breaths and courage. Let me tell you about the mouse.

We spent most of last week at the Flying L Ranch in Bandera, Texas. We were there for our annual Cousin Camp with my parents, my sisters, their husbands, and all of our kids. We've been to the Flying L Ranch before and loved it, and we loved it once again this time around. The kids had a blast, they rode horses, and played in an awesome water park every day. It was a great trip. 

But I had an experience that needs to be shared with y'all. 

With my whole family there, we stayed in 2 different "villas" - little houses with a small kitchenette and a little living area. Essentially, we were in two different cabins. My parents and the "big kids" stayed in one villa, while my sisters and their husbands, as well as me and Grant and Ellie stayed in the other villa. Thankfully they were right next door to each other so we just walked back and forth a lot. 

One day, we were done swimming and I had gone back to my villa to get Ellie's change of clothes to bring back to the other house so I could just change her there. I was in the house alone. 

I stood at the dresser and opened the top drawer. I pulled out her little Bubble Guppies panties and a little t-shirt and shorts. It was while I was standing there that I saw something scurry from the closet across the floor, under the bed. 

I froze.

Okay. Okay. Okay. 

Something ran under the bed.

It's probably a roach. It's a roach. It's a big, Texas roach. We're at a ranch, it's a roach. Be a big girl, Jenny, and get a shoe and kill the roach. Just buck up and do it. 

I picked up my sturdiest flip-flop, because that's all I had. 

I lowered my pregnant self down onto the floor. I looked under the bed. There was only one thing under the bed. A little gray mouse. Staring at me. 

Oh. Dear. Lord. Help. Me.

I stood up. 

"Okay. Oh God. Okay."

I started talking to myself, out loud. Because I am a sane person, and because there was a mouse in my room. 

So, after standing there silently for about 8 seconds, I did what any normal person would do. 

I shut the door behind me and ran out of the house.

Grant had already left the ranch to go to California for work, so naturally I ran straight to my dad. 


My mom and sisters responded appropriately with their panicked expressions and the comments and the sympathy.

Dad quickly responded with "Well, a mouse isn't going to hurt you, Jen." I know this. I know a mouse isn't going to attack me. Regardless, I'm gonna need someone to remedy this situation.

Dad called the front desk of Flying L and they said they would send someone out with a trap.

They later called back to tell us that they were going to just go ahead and move me to a whole different villa. I found this to be an excellent solution. Except for one thing: I had to go back into that room (THE ROOM WITH THE MOUSE) and get all my stuff and Ellie's stuff out. I had to return to the mouse room. 

Grant called in the middle of all this drama to check in and say hello. I told him that it wasn't a good time, that I was about to have to move to another cabin because there was a mouse in our room. 

"Babe, a mouse isn't going to hurt you."


Mom bravely volunteered to go in there with me to help me throw my things in bags. We just threw things into various duffle bags, shaking everything out piece my piece to make sure we weren't going to be transporting a mouse to my new cabin. My heart was racing. 

I had to reach my hand behind the bed to unplug my phone charger. 


Then, Mom and I high tailed it out of there and into my new digs. There was no mouse in there. 

Later in the week though, I opened the door to my parents' villa to find a snake coiled up on the front step. 

You've never seen someone slam a door so quickly. 

And then, later in the week, my nephew Dean got stung by a hornet, SO IT WAS TIME TO LEAVE THE RANCH. 

I loved Cousin Camp (and will do a full post with pics later this week!) but I think I had met my outdoor time quota. I love all of God's creation but there was a moment that I felt like me and nature had had enough of each other. 

It was all very traumatic as it brought back memories of the Great Frog Incident of 2014 that you may have read about before. 

Would you have slept in a room with a mouse? Tell me I'm not alone here....

Monday, August 10, 2015

I'm Not a Good Summer Mom

I'm just going to go ahead and admit to all of you that I'm not doing my best parenting between the months of May and September. To be frank, I'm not doing my best at much of anything during those months, and I never have.

I'm not very tolerant of heat. Never have been. Not even as a kid. I don't enjoy beach days or hours upon hours at the pool. I burn so easy as it is, and I hate the greasy feeling of sunscreen. I don't enjoy being covered in sand and I don't like to sweat.

Don't I sound like so much fun?

I'm a blast.

So, now that I have a child, she requires lots of things and attention and physical activity and THE HEAT IS TOO MUCH, Y'ALL. We can either play outside early in the morning or right before bed time, but other than that, I'm not doing it.

Also, can we just have a moment about this week's forecast here in the great city of Houston, Texas?


And the worst part about it is that is not even the "Feels Like" temperature... that's the actual temperature. The "feels like temperature" is somewhere between 107 degrees and death.

So, what does that mean for my poor sweet little Ellie girl? It means lots of movies. And trips to the bookstore. And iPad. And LeapPad. And movies and Amazon Prime. And going to visit friends and play at their houses and playing with toys and coloring. And yes, I'm aware we have a pool, but it is essentially a hot tub and does not bring much refreshment at this time.

We have no school right now (and won't until the day after Labor Day) so I am just running thin on ideas.

I see all these women running their kids all over and just lathering them in sunscreen and carrying on with life as usual. But I just can't. Plus, the plastic slide burns my child's legs. It's all very traumatic.

And have I mentioned that I'm now in my third trimester of pregnancy?


I'm so thankful for this beautiful world that God has given us. And I'm so thankful for the sunshine and the blue skies and summer time memories with our kids. But I'm also real thankful for air conditioning. Yes and Amen.

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Week In Review

I have nothing planned today. I don't know quite what to do with that, because it has been a busy week around here. Let's break it down:

Matilda Jane
On Monday, I helped my sister with her Matilda Jane release. My sister sells Matilda Jane Clothing (DARLING clothes for mamas and little girls) (She is Trunk Keeper #615, if you need anything!) and the first Monday in August is the big Fall premiere. I always block off this day in my calendar to help her because the Matilda Jane hard core mamas are INTENSE and she has about 14 seconds (or at least it feels like 14 seconds) to get all her orders entered in and things sell out in about 7 seconds so it's just kinda like a short burst of madness over there. Anyways, this week my version of "helping" included bringing Sonic to her and her children and keeping them entertained and out of her hair while she entered in her orders. My favorite part was the cheese tots.

Lunch Dates
Ellie and I had lunch with my friend Kari this week at Newk's so I got a side of macaroni and cheese which was amazing. It was almost as amazing as the company :) Kari and I have been trying to have lunch for weeks and it just kept not happening. It's always fun when it finally happens and you get that face to face time with one of your sweetest friends. And you let your kid play on your iPhone the whole time because you are an awesome parent.

The Blog Post
I posted a blog this week about being a different kind of mom. My text and email and messages and comments have been blowing up. People are being overwhelmingly nice and encouraging. I know a few people see things a little differently, but everyone is being so respectful. I hesitated to write it, but now I'm so glad that I did. I put this on Facebook already, but it just means so much to me that y'all read my words and you encourage me to keep writing them. I really love my readers, and I seriously mean that. Thanks for being here. For reals. Wasn't that eloquent?

The Head Injury
On Wednesday afternoon, RIGHT AS WE WERE HEADED UP TO TAKE A NAP, MIND YOU, Ellie tripped and fell and smacked the top of her head on my my metal bed frame. Y'all. IT WAS LOUD. It was so loud and she screamed immediately and I just KNEW there was going to be blood. I flipped her over and she was crying so hard she couldn't breathe. There was no blood and no goose egg. However, as I felt it, I felt a DENT in her head which started wigging me out more than I can even explain. And, of course, the pediatrician's office was closed for lunch. I texted some mama friends and a dear, sweet friend of mine who is a pediatric triage nurse who is always there to help me assess the situation. I didn't lay her down for a nap right away (hi, concussion.) but I did eventually let her go to sleep (she was asking) (why is this blog post so heavy on parenthesis?) and she woke up okay. She does now have a big bruise and when I dress and undress her the neck of her shirts pushes on the bruise and this is very upsetting for my Ellie Paige. It was all a little traumatic but it's over now and she seems to be no worse for the wear!

The Stella & Dot Party
About 3 hours after the head injury, I had some girlfriends over for a jewelry party! I love Stella & Dot and I also love any excuse to bring my friends over and visit in the middle of the week. Grant and Ellie went fishing at a pond in our neighborhood while my girlfriends came and we played with jewelry and had wine and snacks (pretty sure I ate that queso all by myself) and escaped from our littles for an evening. It was too much fun! My trunk show is still open, so if you're interested in getting some earrings or something, send me a FB message or an email and I'll get you the link to my show! There are some darling trunk show exclusives. I'm still deciding all the things that I want - but one thing I'm getting is my kiddos initials engraved on a necklace. Hooray! And YES, little man HAS A NAME! More to come on that later.

Play Dates
My sweet friend Kristen and her two darling girls came over yesterday to play with Ellie. Kristen and I sat at the table and had coffee while the girlies played with pretend food and argued over a LeapPad. They also begged us to go outside and play which we did for about 6 minutes and then we brought those girls inside because Y'ALL IT IS HOT. Houston is going through a heat wave where we are told that it will be over 100 every day this week. With no chance for rain. So yay for that. Anyways, I'm so glad they came over!

Birthday Parties 
We went to a birthday party for a friend last night. The parents sat downstairs and ate fajitas and a homemade chocolate cake (GLORY) while the kiddos played upstairs. We stayed waaaaaay too late and drove our 3 year old home, wide awake, at almost 11:00 at night. As we pulled into our neighborhood, Ellie said "Hey, Mommy? I'm gonna take a little nap at home." Yes, you are, child. Yes you are. It's 8:00am right now and she still isn't awake so I'm hoping she wakes up fully recovered from her late night, party animal parents.

And here we are at Friday morning. And there is nothing on my calendar today. Which means I plan on staying in these pajamas for a sweet forever. God bless the weekends... I hope yours is wonderful!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Different Kind of Mom

I was induced. I had an epidural. I had a c-section. And I didn't breastfeed. 

There, I said it. 

Only one of those things was intentional. Of those 4 statements, the only one I knew about beforehand was the epidural. Everything else was a surprise. 

And, you know what? I was okay with all of it. 

I've felt lead to write this for quite some time but I just get nervous every time I start to write these words. However, after a lot of thought and prayer and discussing it with other friends, I knew that somewhere out there is a mama like me. A mama who, for a long time, wondered if something was wrong with her. And I'm here to tell you that there isn't anything wrong with you.

In its most basic form, I thought I was weird because I had no expectations going into childbirth. I really, really didn't. I didn't take classes. I didn't read books. I didn't have an idea of what I wanted the delivery of my child to look like. Even throughout my pregnancy, I would touch my belly and feel her kicks, and I would fantasize about holding her and I ached to look at her sweet face. I yearned for her. But never, not once did I think about the birth. 

I just didn't. 

I would read things on my pregnancy apps about birth plans and hospital tours. I never did those tours. I didn't make a birth plan. I guess you could say my birth plan was:

1. Drive to Hospital
2. See what happens from there

I just had no expectations. 

I knew that God knew when my child would be born and how my child would be born. And that was kind of all I cared about. I knew I had no control over these things so I wasn't going to even try to grasp it. The whole thing overwhelmed me and I knew that women have been having babies for a very long time and nurses and doctors would be there to coach me through it and people in the 1800's weren't going on hospital tours or taking childbirth classes. So, I chose to forego.

Plus, sometimes it seems that the more information I have, the more I tend to panic. So I chose to not get a lot of information.

Also, during pregnancy, I didn't ever think about breastfeeding. Again, I had no negative feelings about it, but it just wasn't something I thought about or longed to do. The only thing I ever thought about was holding my baby. Everything else was just non-existent in my mind. 

I should go ahead and admit the fact that I always knew that a c-section was a likely outcome for me. Women in my family have been having c-sections for a loooong time. My mom had c-sections. Both of my sisters had c-sections. None of them planned. We're tiny people and things happen. It wasn't out of the ordinary for me and I had no negative opinions about a surgery. I was definitely going into the whole thing expecting to deliver vaginally, but when I knew things were going wrong, I didn't feel let down or disappointed that she was going to come out of me a different way.

After I had a c-section, someone said to me, "I'm so sorry." I found that statement to be odd. I didn't feel like I had experienced anything bad. Then, I spoke to a girlfriend who in a moment of encouragement shared with me her grief at the fact that she was also unable to deliver vaginally and the heartbreak she felt because of this. 

It was then that I realized that I was different. 

Was something wrong with me? Clearly, all these other women have this innate desire to have a specific kind of birth. Is it weird that I kinda didn't have a preference one way or the other? Am I not maternal? These women felt that, while their c-sections were necessary, that they had missed out. They felt like something had been taken from them. They genuinely believed that. Why didn't I feel that?

Upon talking to another girlfriend who brought up the "skin to skin" experience... I asked myself if I was sad that I didn't get to experience that. And the answer was no. I really didn't feel like I missed out on something. I continued to question why I wasn't like other moms. Why didn't I care? 

Was I not bonded with my baby? 

After a few weeks, when I realized breastfeeding was not going to be an option, I again wondered what was wrong with me that I wasn't upset about that. I started out breastfeeding, spoke with lactation consultants, and tried for several weeks. After she had formula for the first time, I knew instantly that this was the best choice for us. She ate so fast, she slept for hours, she didn't cry for the first time in days, and I was sane. The day she had formula was the first day I didn't cry. I was totally fine switching to formula. But wasn't I supposed to be upset about this? Wasn't I supposed to feel like I was losing a special time with my newborn? Wasn't I supposed to grieve this? 

Ellie is now three years old. She has been a champion sleeper since she was a newborn. We have been well bonded from the get go and I could not be happier with her development. As I prepare to deliver my second child in a few months, I am 100% content with my decision to have another c-section. I am also choosing to start with formula right out the gate, as I have what I like to call "faulty equipment" and I don't desire to experience that drama or excruciating pain again. 

"Aren't you worried you won't be bonded with your son?"

No, I'm not. 

I am his mother and he is my son. We are bonded. And, even if I can't do skin to skin or breastfeed, I really believe that God is bigger than any ideal situation and can bridge any "distance" between us. I know women whose children were in NICU for months and months and they were unable to hold their babies. I don't think they are not well bonded to their children. 

I spoke with someone the other day who got married recently and explained that she had never dreamed of her wedding day. She never thought about what her dress would look like or what it would be like to be walked down the aisle. She never envisioned her first dance with her husband or throwing a bouquet to her girlfriends. It was foreign to her and she had a very simple wedding because she kinda didn't care how it happened. She just wanted to be married, and she was willing to go through the necessary hoopla but really didn't care if her bridesmaids wore purple or blue. I was different than that. I wanted every detail planned, every program tied with the right shade of gold ribbon, every cake stand carefully selected. My friend and I were different in what we wanted our weddings to be like. 

I am writing this to say, there are some moms who place great importance on the day they give birth and how they want that to happen. They want to experience childbirth. I validate them and I understand that this is incredibly important to them. If you are pregnant, and you have a birth plan, I certainly hope that you get everything you have envisioned for the day your child is born.  If you already had a baby and it didn't go according to plan, I'm so sorry that you were disappointed for something you had dreamed of for so long. However, I also want to say to you, dear reader, if you are like me and you kinda don't care either way and you have no expectation and you just want to hold your baby even if they have to pull him out of your knee, that is okay too. 

It is okay if you're a different kind of mom. 

You're still a really, really good mom.