Christmas Celebrations

I've typed out a paragraph or 2  and deleted them several times. This Christmas might not be what Luke & I had envisioned years ago when we started planning for a family. I've always asked to just go away on a trip to Hawaii, hang out on the beach or go to NYC and walk around in the snow and just be with us for a few days. I would love to get together with family the week of Christmas and do board games, make cookies, go see a Christmas movie, go to Christmas Eve service together, go work at a soup kitchen together, or go look at lights. I'd love to have a house with a massive dinning room filled with a long table, a lot of food, and family over to celebrate with us.  We've usually tried to squeeze in our Christmas and an extended family Christmas on the 25th. And then we've celebrated Christmas with the other side of in-laws a day or so after Christmas. Last year we tried ( after a few failed attempts previous years) to squeeze in all 3 Christmas celebrations in one day. We drove to and from Nashville in one evening. And we also had family in town from Florida that we celebrated with as well.
Growing up, for me, we did extended family on Christmas Eve night with Christmas dinner and presents and trivial pursuit, and then just stayed at our house all day on Christmas. Sometimes family would come back over Christmas evening for a big Christmas dinner. My mom is from Florida, and some years we would travel down and spend some time there.
 I've been listening to different families talk about all their different traditions. Just now, as I'm typing, Ella is trying to take a morning nap, the kids are upstairs playing, and I have on the Today Show ( THAT IS ALWAYS SO EXCITING TO ME TO HAVE ON A NON-KID SHOW!!!!), Kathie Lee was saying they always did only 3 presents for their kids. I've heard this more and more this year, and am not sure I have heard of it before. She also said at Thanksgiving this year they were sitting around saying what they were most thankful for, and they were all so happy for family. They made a pact that they are doing no presents this year, they are just being together as a family. I hate to say that Luke and I tried to suggest that one year for Christmas(just no gifts or silly gifts with extended family), and were told CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT PRESENTS!!!! It didn't go over so well. Maybe in a few more years.
Luke and I decided before we had kids { maybe even just the months before Landon was born} that we do not want the emphasis to be put on presents. This year the kids went with me to help with some crafts for the KidPower Christmas party at church for the 2nd and 3rd graders. They didn't know they would get to watch the kids rip open gifts that had been donated for them by others. We got a good lesson in there, and they even got to help clean up afterwards.

Our Sunday school class did our rotation at  Room at the Inn at church last week. The kids got to witness and be a part of preparing food, serving food, and eating food with the homeless & seeing where they would spend the night. They see homeless men and women all the time, and there are certain ones we try to take food to on the way to church on Sundays. They look for him at his spot EVERY week. They understand ( the best they can) what it means to help others when they are down. We tried to get in another service lesson there.

Lucy also finally 'understood' the NICU a little more this year. In the past we've taken hats, and this year we took 27 blankets and cards to the babies in the NICU. One of our favorite nurses was working that night, and we got to get in some hugs and take the nurses some snacks too! Lucy has seen her NICU shadowbox hanging in her room, but doesn't get it really. She saw 2 babies and said AWWW THOSE BABIES ARE SO LITTLE! Her nurse Leslie told her she was much smaller than those babies. She got to see other babies sleeping where she use to sleep ( of course we only got to stand at the nurses station because it's RSV season) and put together that she actually lived there--as much as a little 3 year old can. We tried to get in a little lesson there too.

We've tried to emphasize everything BUT presents this year. The other night we asked Landon what Christmas was about, and not one thing was about presents. He said the words 'family' and 'bringing joy' a lot. I've never thought more about this than 3 years ago. We were not all together and it seemed to be the Worst Christmas EVER {click here to read} =(  Luke and my sister had seen me a week before go through a seizure and watch the medical team getting ready to intubate me, Luke had been told his wife would have brain damage, and we had seen and ( I had) held a 2 pound baby and not know her future. I have never been so sad on Christmas before. Nothing mattered more to me but to be with my baby.

While Christmas this year might not be what we had planned months ago or even yesterday afternoon, we are all healthy and together in our house. We are so very thankful for that! We are ready for Luke to be off of work for 3 days (  he's worked since last Friday) and head to church for the Christmas Eve service. They are so excited to go! We are trying to teach our kids so much more than presents on Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I am so excited for them to rip open their presents, they have NO clue what they are getting, and I can't wait to see them! They've also opened 1 present/book every night since the first Sunday in December ( the start of Advent). We have sat together as a family( although Ella has been asleep almost every night, and Luke has been at work a lot) every night and read each book after we open it. We've been thinking of Christmas and getting ready for the Christ child's coming for 23 days now. I hope Christmas is everything you've imagined it to be, but if it isn't, I hope you can still make the most of it & enjoy being with people you love! As Landon would say, " I hope this Christmas season brings you Joy!"
I'm going to add a few other pictures of the past few Christmases! How could I not be happy with these precious gifts?
Landon's 1st Christmas
Landon's 2nd Christmas ( 1 year old)

Christmas 2010 ( Lucy a week old and Landon 2 years)
Our first Christmas together ( Landon 3 & Lucy1)
Christmas 2012 (Landon4, Lucy2, Ella 1 month)

I will be back later to write about as we put the tree up this year, and all the memories were brought back up from all those ornaments. . . . .



Oh sweet Lucy, how much you have changed in the past year. Little by little I've seen worries and fears, that I've had since you worn born, fade away. Your 3 year old check-up last week was the first one we've been to where everything was perfect! Nothing was growing too big, nothing was too little, and there were no developmental delays still showing. Your percentages in height and weight are COMPLETELY average, right under 50%! Mommy has been crying all week. I've been thinking about the day you were born. I've been thinking about ringing the bell to get to see you everyday, and then scrubbing in, and then walking to your bedside. I missed you so much, and just wanted you home with us. I still sometimes get so sad when I think about you not being in our home for almost 8 weeks. I never realized what all I missed out on until I had Ella and got to cuddle and snuggle with her all day long. I love that you snuggle with me every night now. I love that you ask me to rock you. I love that you can just sit still and be with me now. I love that you can talk. I love that you can eat food. I love that you love make-up ( even if you continue to sneak in and ruin mine). I love how you say things are gorgeous and beautiful. I love your voice. I love your soft hair. I love your long little fingers. You are getting such a personality! You love to make up jokes, and the answer is always ' Because he ate baby food'. You are so cute. You are so smart. You love to mimic Landon word for word just about EVERYTHING he says or sings. You love to dance with mommy. You love to play with your babies and animals in your bed. I love how you line them up on your crib rail and make-believe with them. I don't know how you actually fit into your bed because you have so many animals in there! Right now, you love to have your Ariel blanket draped over your bed as a tent. I love getting it ready every nap and bed time. You are an amazing baby girl. You are my baby girl. I am forever grateful for you. I am forever grateful for everyone who loved on us and prayed for you after you were born. I'm so thankful you get to be a big sister. You love Ella so much. You are starting to have friends, and love to play with them. You love to give hugs. I love to watch your eyes light up when you get excited. I love the crazy face you make when you scrunch up one side of your nose and squint that one eye. You make us laugh. You are so sneaky, even when we are watching you, you pretend that we can't see you. You currently are going to marry Holden {at the Y} and Lincoln {at our farm}. We will figure that one out later ;) I love you. More than you will know. You have taught us so many things in the past 3 years. You are amazing. I'm trying my best, and will continue to get better at being your mommy. I will keep trying to see the good, and forget about any bad that we've been through. I will continue to give thanks for answers to the prayers I said over and over before I laid you in bed every night. I have never felt so strongly as I do about never wanting anything bad to ever happen to you. I will do everything I can to protect you. I'm so proud of you. You are becoming an incredible little lady ( but when I call you little lady, you state I AM NOT LITTLE LADY,  I AM LUCY!) You love to help. I can't wait to see how you will bless others as you grow. I know you will do great things! You are so sweet. You make my heart happy. I am so in love with you. I don't know what I would do without you. You are truly a miracle. Please stay little, and don't grow up too quickly.
I love you, Emmy Loo!

First dates

11 years (and a lot of pounds) ago tonight, Luke & I went on our first official date by ourselves. Well, that was OUR plan at least. I KNOW that our friends knew it was supposed to be a real date because they had been asking for weeks when we were going to go on one. But, as we started walking up to Opryland Hotel, they called my phone & said they had just parked ! Yep,they joined us on our first real 'date' ,& then we all went to Waffle House & another friend or 2 joined us.
I guess I never could have imagined all we would go through in the next 11 years. But here we are still together, driving towards Opryland hotel now. We are going to a movie first, and who knows if we will be awake enough to go look at lights after. We had planned to go every year, just us , on December 12th. Then we had kids (all within weeks of this day), we moved & moved again, and life has kept us busy.
We don't get the opportunity often to go out & leave the kids, so we are taking full advantage of our babysitter coming home for winter break!


Skipping months!

I just realized that I skipped posting Ella's 10 & 11 month pictures with the chalkboard! After her party, we've still been going full speed ahead. The other two are having their party tomorrow! We had family pictures taken(I'm so excited to see them!), celebrated Thanksgiving, have been buying gifts to deliver to the NICU, making birthday party invitations, we've gotten the trees up, we've gone to our 3&5 year appointments ( I have a 5 year old now!!!!), and we've been opening a new book every night as part of our Advent celebration. BUT I did take pictures of sweet Ella the last 2 months with her board!


I didn't take a one year one. We did use the chalkboard at her party & then at her 1 year pictures, just like we used it to tell everyone we were expecting at about 17 weeks.
I can't believe how small they were! And I can't believe I have a 1,2, &5 year old right now!
I've got to go work on some more cupcake mermaid tails, a real mermaid tail, and clean up the house before some more company comes in for the party!
(no parties next year!)



One Year!


Sweet Ella,
        In just a few short minutes you'll have been here for an entire year! You have taught us so many things during your short 37 weeks in my belly and 12 months in our home. I've never felt such an immediate love and overwhelming feeling for a person until you came along. Mommy and Daddy were so scared and so worried when we found out we would be having another baby. We tracked every single day you were in my belly, and we were so thankful for every milestone we hit with you. We wanted nothing but the best outcome, and were so relieved after you were here and you had been laying on me for a few hours. You were an answer to our prayers and an absolute miracle in more ways than one.
     You are so loving. You would let us hold you all day. I think this is why you can't walk yet, and you don't seem to be interested in it either. When I am at the gym working out, more than half of the time someone is holding you. You will snuggle in anyone's arms. And everyone loves to hold you too! You have loved to let me hold you and smoosh your face against mine. You still do it some, and I love it. You slept swaddled at night until around 7 months old. We wrapped you tight, stuck that paci in, and you'd tuck your face into my arms and fall asleep as I swayed back and forth. Then you always wanted to hold on tight to our arm as we rocked you to sleep. I hope that you will always find this comfort in us. It is an indescribable feeling to know that I can provide this for you. You finally have just let me hold you upright like a big girl before bed. You like me to rock you now while you lay your face on me and wrap your tiny arms around me the best that you can. You are amazing.
    You have taught Landon how to be more protective. He is so proud of you! His face lit up the first time he saw you in the hospital, and it still does EVERY time he sees you! Lucy has grown so much since you have been with us. She loves to rock, hold, and kiss her babies like I do you. She loves you so much. I love that you have made her a big sister. She tries to sing her song to you any time she hears you cry, and she will do whatever she can to calm you down. I love to watch her love you.
    I can't wait to see you grow! You are such a happy and laid back baby, but yet you cry more than your siblings EVER did. We don't have that one quite figured out yet. You have brought us such joy, but you have brought me many more sleepless nights as well. You are just so sweet that all the crying and staying awake don't even matter.
     You have taught me so many things about life. You have taught me that I can feed, bathe,(nurse 1), and put 3 kids to sleep by myself multiple days a week and not go completely crazy. You have taught me a little bit of patience. You have taught me how nothing is in our timing or our plans.You have taught me how to let some things go, and I hope to keep getting better at things for you.
     I love your big blue eyes. I love that dimple on your left cheek, it was the first thing I noticed about you in the operating room. I love how dark your hair was when you were born, but is still getting lighter by the day. I love your frown. When you get very upset, you slowly start to frown with your tiny little mouth until it turns into a scream. I love how when you are so upset and crying, I can pick you up and you feel so safe and loved that you immediately stop.  I love how excited you get about so many things. You are absolutely adorable.You really saw snow today for the first time--on your birthday-- and your eyes were amazing! You are amazing.
    I could write you a book about how much I love you, but you have two older siblings who seem to always need me too. I have tried to divide my love between the three of you. I wish I could have spent more time with just you this year, but you were perfectly happy in your swing or bouncy seat or jumper when I needed to deal with your brother and sister. I pray that I have given you everything you have needed this past year. We love you so much! Please stay little and sweet forever!



Halloween photos

It is almost a month later, and I am just getting around to posting Halloween photos! After quite a few weeks of interrupted sleep by the 11 month old, she is finally back to sleeping about 11 hours at night, a morning nap, and a great afternoon nap! I can breathe again! I can sit down in the morning while the kids play, CLEAN--it was getting BAD, fold laundry, and sit down at the computer--it's been a while! 
My friend had sent me a picture last year of a cute costume for Lucy.
$130 seemed QUITE a bit too much to spend on a costume! I ordered some 6" wide crochet headbands( about $.70 each), in black and red, and bought about $6-$7 worth or tulle. I still don't buy on the roll if I'm trying to save money. I get it cut from the bolt, measure, & cut my own strips. I also bought a piece of gold and red glitter fabric/paper. I'm not sure exactly what it is.( It has washing instructions on it, and it is thicker than paper.) I hadn't made a tutu on a headband before, so I had to look up some instructions. I found a few youtube videos and some other instructional tutorials.
I decided that I was just going to make her costume short, although the long dress was part of what I loved most. I also decided that Ella needed to be Alice in Wonderland. I ordered blue and white headbands with the others, and picked up just a little tulle for her little self. We already had a black headband and black bow to complete her outfit.

It took me a few minutes to decide just to sew the 2 crochet headbands together to get the red&black seem up the middles. I had thought about cutting them in half and then sewing, but then decided the thickness would help the fact that they are see through when stretched. And I was sure it would just all unravel once I made the first cut.
You don't have to turn the headbands inside out, just lay on top of each other. The red one had a little spot that was torn, so that became my 'inside' (outside while sewing) of the red. 

Flip right side out.
We have a small garbage can that was perfect to slide this over to work on the tulle.I like to usually use 2 pieces of tulle on each loop, but was planning on doing 3 layers. I only grabbed 1 strip for each loop this time. The seam also doesn't matter--crooked or not-- because you can situate once it is on your princess.
Before you make your loops, make sure you are NOT looping into the bottom thin row (elastic) on the headband.
It will scrunch up so you can't see it once you start looping, but it might break if you loop on them.

The loops are the same as you would do for an elastic or ribbon tutu.
I did 3 rows all the way around. This picture shows a gap where the gold is. I ran out and Luke had to bring me another half a yard on the way home from work. The gold paper/fabric on top is for her crown.
After all the rows were complete, I cut some hearts out of the red glitter paper/fabric & hot glued onto the tutu.
I found some Halloween black and white striped tights for Lucy to wear underneath. They were actually girls Small. They pulled all the way up to her chest, and made a perfect extra layer underneath the crochet headband! 

Lucy loves her 'mingo' I got her on the way home from Florida in the spring. 
The Queen of Hearts & Alice in Wonderland

Lucy with her friend at their Glam-O-Ween Party.

Tooth Fairy Mommy. Luke was a tooth. I found one I wanted to make, and then skimped on the details & it was not the most impressive thing ;)

I'll have to add more photos later from the other Halloween events. Some virus doesn't understand that my baby's birthday party is this weekend, and won't leave her alone. We're past the runny nose part and have moved onto gagging on drainage and throwing it up....4 times since last night. There wasn't much sleep last night, even though she was upright in the swing. She's got a cough that won't let her stop =(  She needs to feel better soon! Off to snuggle with her.....


Check it out....

Running for Home -- The founder of Graham's Foundation is running in a half marathon. His goal is $5,000. Graham's Foundation sends free packages to parents of Preemies and started Parents of Preemies Day. Check out his page Running for Home ( link above), & think about donating just $1 to help!


Vote,vote,vote !

VOTE FOR LITTLE LUCY! ( that's the link to vote!)

Every 24 hours until November 1st, vote for Lucy! The top 3 preemies in each age category will go on to be judged by a panel of neonatologist. There's a few prizes to be won, so go vote for Little Lucy daily :) You don't have to register, just click VOTE under her picture. I MIGHT have realized that I can vote on my phone AND computer =) I'm just leaving the tab up and going to it each night.
Thanks for your help!


I need some inspiration....

It's almost Halloween. Not only am I still slacking on making Ella & Lucy's costumes, I have no clue what Luke & I are going to be. He hasn't agreed to any of my ideas yet. I think I posted last year all of our previous costumes, but was looking through today & couldn't find it. I think I might have lost one year, and I can't remember what it was, but here are most of ours since we have been married:

One year we were Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. We looked better than the pics. Loved it.
One year we were CJ & Mitch from Baywatch:
A long time ago =) I was a Hooters' girl & Luke was Joe Dirt-- can't find that picture.
When I was pregnant with Landon, we were the couple off of Juno:

When I was pregnant with Lucy, about 6 months, I just accompanied the cutest football player ever:
Landon & I painted my belly that year, as well as when I was pregnant with Ella Ruth:
And since I'm posting old pictures, I need to throw in Landon's first year as Elvis:
And the kids as pirates:
And the  costumes from last year:
Landon painted up 2 times with no mask, and then had a mask another outing with no arm and leg paint =)

So, I've got the kids costumes decided for this year. I need a little help figuring out Luke and me. I just thought of something a little earlier , but throw out some suggestions in case Luke won't go with it!




There's only 1 of me most nights at bedtime. Luke is away a minimum of 65 hours a week at work and including travel time to and from work. Especially now, with me working a few hours a week at the farm, he has to close more nights a week. I just don't have the patience or hands to have a good bed time routine with all three. Ella is still nursing right  before she heads off to bed on most days. She is very distract able. I put Lucy's pajamas on her, and put her in her bed to read. I then send Landon to get himself ready for bed, and then he usually can sit in my bed or on the couch and watch a show after he has gotten the rest of the toys put away. He loves helping put those last few toys away that Lucy missed; he  knows he is staying up later, and he thinks he is big stuff. I get Ella ready for bed, feed her, send Landon to his room, and then stick Ella in her bed to fall asleep if she hasn't already. Landon waits in his bed for me. Tonight Lucy was SCREAMING TAGGIES ARE IN THE CAR!TAGGIES ARE IN THE CAR! She had taken her tag blanket with use earlier to the post office, and was just devastated that they were still in the car. I sent Landon to tell her to be quiet two times while I was feeding Ella  ( and she was trying to drift off to sleep), but she was not having any part of me forgetting about her blanket in the car. By the time I got back to her room, turned their light off, and got Ella into her bed, I told Lucy just to lay down & I'd go get them. When I came back in, I just threw them into her bed & told her sweet dreams. I whispered into Landon's room as I passed by, and headed straight to get the clothes out of the dryer, move the wash over, and vacuum the living room. Then I turned off the vacuum and went straight back to Lucy's room. I just needed to hug her and rock her before she went to sleep. I sat down & just started to cry .FLASHBACK to New Years day--18 days old:

Oh I just see that tiny body and long head with tubes when I hold her sometimes in the rocking chair. Sometimes I'm stuck mentally in the WHAT IFs still. I just know something else is going to pop up. I just know everything really isn't fine. I just know once she starts school we will see more things showing up. The part of this that Luke doesn't understand is the part of me that was intended to hold that baby, grow that baby, provide a safe place for up to 42 weeks--that part of me failed. Whether I had any control over it or not, I will always feel like whatever comes from the 29 week birth will always come back to me. My first thoughts when visiting her for the first time ( that stick with me) were that I had no clue what would come of this. And if my poor baby had a disability, a delay, any problem, and someone were to make fun of her for it, I would just want to die. My poor baby had no choice, it was my body. She didn't deserve any pain--physical or emotional--and I hated that it wasn't her fault.
I look at her now, and I just cry thinking back. The first 2 years were HARD. But she is doing great. She is wonderful. She is smart. I tell her every day that she is not allowed to turn 3 in a few months! She is too sweet right now at 2, and I don't ever want her to grow up!
I want to be able to rock my babies EVERY night. I want to read them all books and sing to all of them and lay with them in their bed or crib. Some nights I just don't.
Tonight I am glad I did. And tonight I am so thankful that I don't have to wait on someone to get my baby out of her bed. I'm so thankful that I can hold her whenever I want and for however long I want. I'm so thankful that I'm not worrying about oxygen tubes being kinked. I am so thankful for my Lucy!


Candy Corn Cuties

My friend Leslie has done applique and embroidery and monogramming and all that fun stuff for a while now. We decided to get together and sell some things( We've done this before with tutus and bows and monogramming, but we've had 5 more kids since then and were a little busy). First up:
Candy corn appliqued shirts, legwarmers, and
a headband to match.
We did a little photo shoot with the girls ;)
If you've got a daughter, niece, granddaughter, friend, or anyone who you think could rock this candy corn cutie set ( or in need of anything monogrammed or appliqued or need a matching headband or bow for an outfit), let me know!