My DIY Kitchen Makeover

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When we bought our current house, we liked the layout and the “bones” of it, as well as the location. There were MANY things that needed fixing/updating, but we figured we could do that over time. I mean, just call me Joanna Gaines…I got this! (ha)

One thing I really wanted done was the kitchen cabinets. We thought of paying someone and got a quote, but we hated to pay for it because we could do it ourselves and would rather spend that money somewhere else in the house. I mean I’ve painted a lot of walls, how hard can cabinets be??

Spoiler alert: REALLY stinkin’ hard!! When people ask for my advice on painting cabinets I say, “PAY SOMEONE!” But if you’re reading this blog about DIY painting kitchen cabinets, you’re probably like me and determined that you can do it. So since there’s no talking you out of it, I’ll share how we did ours so maybe it will at least make it a little easier for you. If you have kids, I highly suggest sending them to grandma’s for a weekend and knocking this out (and when I say “knocking this out” I mean plan to spend at least 12 hours a day, both days). Having a construction zone for a kitchen is not easy with little ones.

Let’s start with some “before” photos:

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I pretty much followed this tutorial I found on Pinterest. (Side note: I really think you can figure out how to do anything with Pinterest and/or YouTube.)  The only thing is I did not sand my cabinets very much because they aren’t real wood – they’re plywood. I just did it enough to make it a little “rough” to catch the paint. Then I cleaned them with Clorox wipes. I’ll be honest – I didn’t spend a lot of time on the prep. Here is a “during” shot. See why I said to send the kids to grandma’s?

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I did my set up pretty much like she did in the tutorial. I sat out 2x4s in the garage and the spare (empty) bedroom and did an assembly line.

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I did two coats of primer, two coats of paint, and two coats of clear coat….for every cabinet, front and back. If you’re good at math, you’ve figured out that is 12 coats of paint PER CABINET DOOR. Now do you see why I suggest paying someone??

Just looking at that picture gives me flashbacks. I felt like I was in prison with those cabinets for years of my life. Another tip: download a sweet album or a really good audio book so at least you have something with which to entertain yourself.

I often get asked if you have to prime. The answer is a resounding YES!!

Don’t go cheap on your supplies! Buy good painter’s tape and invest in a really good paintbrush. You will need one to make sure the brush strokes are not super visible.

I used Kilz Primer, Sherwin Williams Antique White paint (satin) mixed with Flood Floetrol to lessen the appearance of brush strokes, and Minwax Polycrylic for the final coat (I would just buy a quart of this. You don’t need much.). Some people use Polyurethane, but I have heard it will yellow over time, and I just get nervous using anything that’s not water based. I bought a glaze to do the “antique” look, but I could not figure out how to do it and it did not look good, so we just decided to leave them as is. I know my limits.

We bought the cabinet hardware from Discount Home Furnishings. It was significantly cheaper and we were very pleased with the quality.

It’s actually been about two years since the time we painted them to when I took the following “after” photos. I would say it has held up pretty well!

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 Other updates we did in the “after” photos include a new range and a new backsplash my husband installed:

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And although this wasn’t in the “before” pictures, we also replaced the cheap, bronze light fixture above our breakfast table with this chandelier I found at Magnolia Market since I am OBSESSED with Fixer Upper!

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Have any lingering questions? Leave a comment and I will do my best to answer! And if you paint your cabinets, please share your pictures – I would love to see!

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Filed Under: DIY

Outfit Details – Family Photos

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Does planning outfits for family photos stress anyone else out?? That is the main reason we don’t do pictures every year. I just can’t deal. But I have figured out a few “coping strategies.”

First, I pick the one thing that HAS the be in the pictures. Maybe it’s a prop, or a certain dress for me or the girls. Whatever it is, I build all the other pieces around it.

This year it was this chair. (Ignore the super cute baby for now.)

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I fell in love with it right when I saw it. If you live in Wichita Falls and have not been to Alley Cat Vintage Mercantile, you are MISSING OUT!! I could spend hours in that place. And the best part is, they have cats roaming the store, so my kiddos are entertained while I shop.

So I started out with mustard yellow, and figured burgundy and navy were good colors to add, so now I have a “theme,” which somehow makes me way less stressed.

The next piece I picked out was Arden’s outfit (above). I am a huge sucker for Matilda Jane (although admittedly usually buy it on sale or from goodlucktrunk.com), so I got her this adorable Jorie Knot Top. I LOVE the knot tops because with the straps being adjustable, they can wear them for so long!

I also made Arden’s headband. In fact, I’ve made a lot of hers myself. I bought the supplies from Hobby Lobby and Etsy and followed this tutorial. Easy peasy.

Now *I* needed something to wear. One of my favorite brands is Free People, because at heart, I am a college girl at Coachella. Of course in real life I am not that cool and drive a minivan and wear sweats 90% of the time. Whatever. But I’m not a fan of the price. I absolutely LOVED this dress but was not about to spend $200.

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Lucky for me, I found a VERY similar dress at one of my favorite boutiques for a fraction of the price…

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My boots? They are SUPER old (seriously circa 2010) Steve Madden. This is why I could never be a dedicated fashion blogger. Not only do I re-wear things all the time, but I also keep things I like for YEARS. But, y’all will be proud of me, I did buy a new pair of boots this season (with which I am OBSESSED!!). I didn’t get them until after these pictures though. And I always size 1/2 to full size up in Sole Society shoes.

Let’s talk about LIPSTICK! I’ve always worn nude, but since I no longer have to wear foundation I have felt like I could get away with more “made up” lips. I always go to the MAC counter because I love their stuff, and honestly it’s just easier to limit my choices. I told the lady to push me out of my comfort zone…but not too far. She recommended Twig lipstick, Whirl liner, and Dreamy lipglass. I LOVE all of them!! When I want a little lighter color, I use Brave lipstick with the same liner and lipglass.

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Something weird happened this time. Usually I can’t find anything to wear, but this time I was so torn between the above dress and another one. I bought the other at Nordstrom, and although it’s no longer available, I think this is pretty similar. I decided to wear that dress for a few family, but mostly pictures of just me and the huz.

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Now I needed an outfit for Avery, my oldest. I thought of putting her in a Matilda Jane piece too, but unless they were going to match, I felt like it would be too busy. I found her this burgundy dress at Old Navy. And her boots…Can you believe I got them at Walmart?? I think they are just the CUTEST, and they are on sale right now! You’re welcome.

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I guess I should say something about Rustin’s outfit. Y’all, I don’t even know. After styling three humans, I was at my max. I told him what we were wearing and said he could wear blue or mustard and Godspeed…

I would love to hear how you plan your family photos! It is still a daunting task to me. I’ll close with a few more of my faves…

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{Special thanks to my friend, Tressa, at Tressavent Photography for the lovely photos!}

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Christmas Lights in a Wine Bottle

So this idea was definitely not original with me. I saw this at a friend’s house and LOVED it and had to copy! (That’s right – I took a picture of it…along with a ton of other things in her house because it was SO cute!) So I thought I would share in case anyone else wants to do this.

Of course I went to Pinterest and there were tons of pins on how to do this, but almost all of them required drilling a hole in the bottom of the wine bottle, and a glass drill bit is just not something I have on hand. Plus with the way my plugs are located, it would be better for the cord to come out of the top to be even with the plug-in and therefore less cord would show. So I like to call this the lazy man’s way to do it…

I got some Christmas lights (after Christmas) at Garden Ridge for 50% off. Then I bought a bottle of wine – not for the type of wine – but based SOLELY on a cute bottle….of course.

There may be an easier way to do this, but this is just how I did it. Since I didn’t know how many lights to cut off, I shoved as many in there that would fit (I used one of my husband’s shish kabob skewers to push them down as I went, but a screwdriver would also work), then I counted how many excess I had.

Then I had to pull it all out and cut them off from the other end (the end without the plug). After I cut it, I wrapped up the end in electrical tape. Stinks because I had to pull them out and do it all over but, again, not sure of a faster way. And all in all this project did not take more than 20 minutes.

And this is the finished product. I feel like it adds that extra touch of warmth to the kitchen!

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Filed Under: DIY

He Grants Sleep to Those He Loves

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I have long since quoted Psalm 127:2 to myself. I really think I need more sleep than the average person, so of course with two little ones, my sleep tank seems to always be on E. But I would always remind myself of this verse when what I really wanted to do was just crawl in bed, what what I needed to do was clean up the mountain of dishes, fold the laundry, feed the pets, vacuum, etc. etc. It was sort of my pep talk. I would think, ok I’m sleepy but God is able to give me sleep. He is big enough to make the four hours I’m going to get seem like eight. I should trust Him on that. So I would feel guilty for resting when I needed to be doing other things because I felt like I wasn’t trusting God to give me rest. You following me??

Well I went to a mom’s group yesterday and the speaker talked about this verse in a whole new way. First of all, she quoted the whole verse (hint: the graphic is only the part I was reading). The verse in its entirety says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grands sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:2

The speaker took this verse in a whole different (more correct) direction than I always had. She said that when it’s time to rest, we need to rest and trust that God will take care of all the things we feel like we have to get done. In fact, it says waking up early and staying up late is in VAIN! I was looking at it all wrong!

So I thought I’d try it out last night. I really can’t describe the condition of my house. Hoarders worthy maybe? I knew the next day was going to be hard because my husband was out of town camping and I really needed to take advantage of the time when my kids were sleeping to clean up. But I just wanted to go to sleep. So I did and trusted that God would intervene and magically wash my dishes (kidding…sort of).

The next morning was awful. My four year old woke up only speaking one language – whine, and when I went to get my one year old out of bed, I was almost knocked to the floor by the stench coming from her room. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say she had thrown up. Nothing like having to do an immediate bath and laundry to wake you up on a Saturday morning. At one point they were both crying and I looked at the clock and it was only 8:30am. I seriously wondered how it was possible for me to make it through this day. And, in case you were wondering, God did not do my dishes while I was sleeping, so the house was still a mess.

And then a text came in… my in laws wanted to know if they could pick my oldest up to run errands and hang out with them. My answer – “Umm YES!” So while she was out having fun, my youngest took a good long nap (she’s obviously not feeling well) and I got ALL THE THINGS done!! Yes I said it – ALL.THE.THINGS!

It served as a reminder to me that I need to “cease striving.” I think that I have to do all this stuff and it’s just burning me out, and it’s not working. I need to trust that God will provide the things I need even if it is just a bit of sanity time. He is bigger than my mess of dishes.

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DIY Framed “Dry Erase Board” & Thoughts on Goals

I published this post last night then started worrying (story of my life) that it wasn’t worded right or people would misunderstand what I was trying to say, so I reverted it to a draft. Then this morning when I went to Bible Study Fellowship, the hymn we sang was “Jesus Paid It All” and I knew I needed to publish this. (You’ll see why.) 

I am not one of those people who makes new year’s resolutions. In fact, I refuse to. No one (including me) ever keeps them. BUT I did decide to set some goals for myself this year. I am a pro at wasting time if I don’t have something pressing to do, so I wanted to set goals to make the action I needed to get there, well, pressing. I also wanted a place to display them so I would see them every day. (Side note: I created a daily schedule for myself to also help me not waste time, which I’ll share in another post if anyone is interested.)

This may be common knowledge to everyone else, but did you know you can easily write on glass (and mirrors) with a dry (and wet) erase marker and it comes right off?? I discovered it when I tested out some memory verses on our bathroom mirror.

So I went to Hobby Lobby to get a frame, which led to hours of me wandering around the store in craft heaven. What I really wanted to do was get an unfinished wood frame and do some cute stuff with it myself, but I have learned my limits and when to say no.  So I bought one that looks distressed and I’ll just pretend I did it.

Next, I needed a background. You could use anything – scrapbook paper, colored paper, or heck – even a brown paper bag! I chose a page from a hymnal and chose this hymn specifically. I wanted it to serve as a reminder that even if I accomplish the goals I have set for myself, it is not my doing, it is Christ’s ALONE. All to Him I owe. He is the one who gifted me with whatever inherit personality traits will get me there, and I always want to remember that.

So I took the page and placed the glass over it to cut it to fit. Normally I would trace on the back, but I needed to see exactly what would be showing in the frame so I just traced very lightly with pencil.

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Then I stuck it in. If you don’t want to write anything on it, it looks great as is. Find a cute frame and put your favorite hymn in there!

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Because, as you can see, I ruined it with my 3rd grade boy’s handwriting. For real – is there a class you can take on how to get cute handwriting? If I wanted to spend more time I could have printed something out and traced it, but that was too much effort.

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In church last Sunday the pastor referenced these verses, and I started thinking about them in relation to my goals. I’ve read them before, but this time they stuck out to me in a whole new way (funny how that happens all.the.time.).

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

I just loved that. And it spoke to me about something I have been struggling with lately. I feel weird even saying it. I have known for a LONG time that I struggle with fear of failure, but lately I have realized I also have a fear of success. That somehow if I succeed in my goals/dreams that it will automatically mean I won’t be as close to the Lord or that I’m selfish or evil or prideful. But these verses don’t condemn the wise man for being wise or the mighty man for being mighty or even the rich man for being rich (disclaimer: I am in NO way saying *I* am wise or mighty or rich). They simply say don’t boast in those things. YOU didn’t get them for yourself. I realized that not going for things that God is calling me to do based on my fear of success is the same mistrust in God that my fear of failure is.

I don’t know what next year holds, but whatever happens, my prayer is that I would hold fast to the Lord and serve Him wherever He leads me – whether it’s into success or into failure.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

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Is a Blanket Scarf Really a Blanket?

Ah! My first “fashion” post. I’ve always been a little scared of doing these because what if someone doesn’t like my style?? I finally figured- if they don’t, they probably aren’t following my blog. So here goes…

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This is a classic outfit for this season and each of the pieces can be paired with so many other things! Let’s look at each one…

The Blanket Scarf – I figured I should start with this one since it’s in the title. Am I the only one who didn’t really know what a blanket scarf was? I thought maybe it was named that because it felt like a blanket? No. It is literally as big as a FULL SIZED ADULT BLANKET! I had wanted one for a while and just couldn’t find one I liked. Well I happened to find this one while out to dinner with friends in the Bishop Arts District. If you don’t know about Bishop Arts, let me fill you in. It’s an area in South Dallas that is being revitalized and is also the main hangout for hipsters. I really didn’t feel cool enough to even be there. First of all, they don’t even make parking spaces big enough for minivans. It’s like they’re saying – look if you’re not driving a smart car or Prius, then get out of here. Well I didn’t heed the warning, double parked the minivan, walked through several crowds full of man buns, and soldiered on. Ok I may sound like I’m making fun of it, but it really is a cool area. I mean – how awesome is this sign?? (And yes, there’s a baby with us. Is it really that surprising?)

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After dinner (at Eno’s Pizza) we walked to a few shops and I got this scarf at a place called the Laughing Willow. I was sort of obsessed with that boutique and imagine it is what mine would be like if I owned one. The owner refinishes furniture and used cool things like old doors as the displays. So of course that was a sign that I had finally found my soul mate blanket scarf. When my husband saw it the next morning he asked (in all seriousness), “why did you buy a blanket?” I don’t blame him. The thing is huge. Thanks to the good ol’ Internet I was able to figure out how to wear it without it accidentally suffocating me.

The Tunic – I am obsessed with long things. The longer the better. After two kids my stomach, butt and thighs like to keep things under wraps. And this one is LONG. It is from one of my favorite Instagram boutiques – Belles and Whistles (@shopbellesandwhistles). They also have free shipping all the time, which somehow makes me feel like I am getting a smokin’ deal. Amazon Prime has ruined me. And yeah it’s sort of wrinkled in the picture. I ironed it for church, it got wrinkled while I wore it, and I didn’t have it in me to iron a second time in less than 24 hours.

The Tights – I am so easily peer pressured. A friend told me these tights were the most comfortable things in the world so I immediately jumped in my car, headed to Bed, Bath & Beyond and made them mine. Ok, I made three pairs mine. I think they’re like $12, fleece lined, and yes, oh so comfy!

The Booties – Please do not ask my husband how many booties were ordered online, sent to our house, and sent back. It may trigger his PTSD he suffered when dealing with the “bootie saga.” I am SO picky and could NOT find a pair that was perfect…until this one. I saw it online at Nordstrom but they were sold out of my size. No fear, I simply googled the brand and bought it from their website – Sole Society. Warning: these fit SUPER small. You need to order a half to full size up. I wear a 7 or 7.5 and these are an 8.

Hope you like the outfit! How do you wear your blanket scarf?

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The Hobbit and The Velveteen Rabbit

{from January 4, 2013}

I’ve been a little sad and introspective after Christmas this year. I think several things happened together to make me feel this way.

Every year on Christmas I get a little sad that it’s not magical like it was when I was a little kid. I remember waiting ALL year for Christmas. We would make these rings out of paper and take one off each day until Christmas and it seemed like an eternity. I would beg my parents for weeks to let me open just ONE present. My brother and I would always sleep in the same room and take turns waking each other up during the night to see if Santa had come yet.

Then you get older and it loses its magic. Of course part of it is lost when you discover the truth about Santa. But then also you start asking for more expensive presents so you really only get a few and you know what they are. Also when you’re older, you can go and buy yourself something whenever you want (to some extent). You don’t have that freedom when you’re a kid, so you HAVE to wait until Christmas (or your birthday) to get that really cool toy.

(Yes, yes the point of Christmas isn’t what toys you get, but that isn’t the direction I’m going with this post.)

As I went to bed on Dec. 24 with no real anticipation for the next day, it made me a little sad.

So I was already feeling this way then one of Avery’s presents came in the mail. I ordered The Velveteen Rabbit for her. Each Christmas I get her a book that I love and Rustin and I sign and date it, so when she’s older she’ll have a collection of great books representing each of her Christmases. Last year we got her The Polar Express.

Anyway that is one of the books that always makes me cry a little – especially this part.

“Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.” 

I guess it just reminded me of when I was little and had stuffed animals and truly loved them. Loved them so much that I really felt like they were my friends and whenever I went somewhere they couldn’t be left behind.

And then…. I went to see The Hobbit. I LOVE The Lord of the Rings movies so I have been anxiously awaiting this one. Well it was great – as expected – and sort of took me back to being little. I was all caught up in the make believe world. But then it made it even harder to come back to real life.

So it got me thinking – what is that inner longing for our childhood? Since God made us, He must have put it there, but why? Did He always intend for us to lose our imagination and sense of humor (to an extent) when we grow up and start caring more about money, bills and cleaning?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that’s how it was originally designed. In the Garden, before the Fall, Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed. Well if you look at little children who have not “grown up” yet, that describes them exactly. They run around the house without a stitch of clothes happy as they can be.

Because of that, I like to think that we will be restored to that child-like innocence that breeds such joy and excitement in heaven. But also here on Earth, I don’t think it is completely lost. I think God lets you experience that joy again when you have kids and see how excited they are. And then if you’re lucky, even again in yet another different way when you have grandchildren.

So instead of being sad about it, I’m going to look forward to the years ahead when I get to see Avery’s joy and wonder and wait for the day when we get to experience the ultimate joy and wonder when all things are restored in Heaven.

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What I’ll Do Different Next Time

I am a planner, perfectionist, Type A… you name it, and when it came to pregnancy/baby that was no different.

When I got pregnant, I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I followed all the rules about what to eat/ not eat, etc. I wanted to do everything exactly right. So after I had the pregnancy thing nailed (yeah right), I thought I should start studying up on what to do with this little baby once it was actually here.

I figured this would be a somewhat easy task. I mean people have been having babies for millennia, and we live in an age where information is so readily available and medicine is quite advanced. So I assumed people had this whole “raising a baby” thing figured out by now and all I had to do was read a few books and I’d be set.

I started out with recommendations from friends. The first book I read was Happiest Baby on the Block. I really liked it and what he said made sense. Of course it was focusing mostly on the first four months, so I moved on to another recommendation – Babywise. Much to my shock and confusion, not only did it have a different overall philosophy, but some of its points were completely opposite!

This wasn’t how I wanted this to go. I wanted a black and white plan to raising a baby. That way I could easily tell if I was doing it right. But then as I read more material, my eyes were opened to the fact that there are two totally opposite camps on baby rearing who both have professionals, doctors and many moms in their corner. So who was I to believe??

Well this just threw everything off, and I went through several months of constantly feeling like I was failing because at least one of the philosophies was telling me I was doing it wrong. (If I nursed my baby whenever she wanted to, that was wrong because I was spoiling her. If I put her on a schedule for feeding that was wrong because I was starving her, etc. etc.)

I went through a long period of constant anxiety, frustration and feelings of failure. So looking back I wanted to write down things I want to do differently the second time. Obviously I haven’t figured it all out and although we don’t plan to have three kids, if we did, I’m sure I could also write about what I would do different the third time. (I feel like I should note here- I am NOT pregnant.)

1. Listen To Your Gut!
I hate starting new jobs. I hate feeling overwhelmed and like I don’t know anything and the uncertainty of exactly what is expected of me. But that’s how I felt when I got the job of “mom.” I felt like everyone had to know more than me because they were either doctors who had studied it for years or moms who already had kids and lived through it.

But “back in the day” they didn’t have books or articles or, in some cases, even doctors. So how did moms and babies survive then? I believe God put in each mom an instinct for caring for her baby that can’t be replaced by anyone else.

I did not like my first pediatrician at all, but since I’d never had one before, I kept going to her because I thought maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. I knew something was wrong with Avery. She cried all.the.time. I mentioned this to the doctor and she would tell me that it was normal, she’d grow out of it, etc.

Well at 6 months, when I took Avery to a new pediatrician, she was finally diagnosed with reflux and given meds, and then at a year it was confirmed she was in fact lactose intolerant.

When I was nursing, the doctors told me I probably didn’t need to give up milk. And I thought maybe I was going crazy and just thinking she was more fussy after I ate dairy. Next time I’m just buying some soy milk even if there’s no reason for it and going from there. I don’t mind the taste and I’m not going through that again.

They also made me feel crazy for putting her on a hypoallergenic formula (alimentum) which was $30 for a small can (ugh). But now I know she needed it.

Next time if I suspect reflux, I am demanding meds. I believe if I would have done that from the beginning, she wouldn’t have stopped nursing and the first six months of her life wouldn’t have been the hardest six months of mine.

Which leads me to #2

2. If you feel like your pediatrician isn’t listening to you – switch…NOW! Don’t let them make you think you don’t know anything. You’re the mom. I’m so happy I finally switched, just wish I had done it sooner.

3. Choose your schedule (or no schedule) and don’t let anyone else make you feel bad for your choice.

I think/hope that moms don’t intentionally set out to make other moms feel bad for not following their “way.” I think that certain things just work really well for certain moms. I know moms who have loved the scheduling/Babywise way and moms who have loved attachment parenting.

I think when you have your first kid and you finally figure out what works for you, you’re so excited and want to share it and assume that it will also work wonders for everyone else’s baby too.

But that’s the problem – nothing works for every baby. I had several moms just tell me to do Babywise – it was the secret. I tried and tried and constantly felt like a failure. But it wasn’t because I was doing something wrong, it was because that didn’t work for us.

Anyway I would be a complete hypocrite here if I said one way was better than the other. My whole point is that it’s not. They are all fine, it’s just all about what works for you and your baby.

So don’t let others (or Internet articles) make you feel bad for the way you’ve chosen, and when it’s your turn to give advice, don’t do the same to others.

4. It gets better.

I remember the first two weeks and waking up every 3 hours to nurse her and feeling such despair because I thought it was always going to be like this. I will always be this exhausted. Then that stage ended.

Then she refused to nap and I thought it would never change. Then it did.

Then she was teething and constantly fussy and wanting my attention and waking up at all hours of the night. I didn’t think I could make it through, then it was over.

When you’re in each stage, it feels all-consuming and like it will always be this way. But remember the old saying – “this too shall pass.”

5. Don’t get caught up in the competition.

Some moms are just competitive and it carries over into child rearing. They think their kid is the next Einstein or Michael Jordan because he hit (insert whatever milestone here) early. Also many parents find their identity and worth in how well their kid performs.

Avery has hit all of her milestones late. Not so late that it was out of the “normal” range, but on the late end of that range. At first I worried and felt like I had to compete with other moms, but not only is that bad for me – it’s bad for Avery.

She is who she is and I NEVER want to make her feel “less than” because she’s not doing what all the other kids are doing. I want her to be confident in who she is and not feel that her worth is found in how she measures up to others. (Eventually I want her to understand that her worth is found in who she is in Christ, but we’ll get there.)

I hope they don’t mind me sharing this story, but a friend of mine’s brother was going to be tested for mental retardation at 2 years old because he hadn’t talked yet. Long story short, nothing was wrong with him and he is currently in grad school at an Ivy League University.

I don’t believe on any of my college entrance exams or in any job interview anyone ever asked me at what age I walked, learned my ABC’s, learned to count to 10 etc. … Because it doesn’t matter.

I know the competition thing will only get worse as she gets older and is in school and sports, but I hope to constantly remind myself to not get caught up in it.

Well I feel like I’ve written a novel, yet only have 5 things listed. I’m sure I could go on but this post is long enough as is. If I think of anymore to add, I’ll write a new post. Hopefully this will encourage someone.

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Confessions Part 1

I wrote this when my first daughter was less than a year old (in May 2012), and pretty much all of it holds true for the second one…

Sometimes I feel like every other mom but me has it all together. It seems they have perfect babies who never cry and sleep all the time. What has been my saving grace is my ONE friend who had a baby as difficult as Avery. Hearing her stories make me think that maybe I’m not such a bad parent.

Anyway I thought I would write this post in case there’s any other not-so-perfect moms out there in hopes it might make them feel better. So here goes…

– Avery cries. Not too long ago a friend said to me that she can’t remember the last time her baby cried. Mine cries several times a day. Not for long periods anymore (the first few months it was non stop), but it happens. I don’t think a day has passed since she came home from the hospital that she hasn’t cried.

– For the first 5 months of her life I had to bounce her on an exercise ball until she fell asleep, then put her (swaddled) into her swing which was already turned on full blast. Usually she would wake up and the process would need to be repeated several times. If she didn’t sleep in her swing, she slept next to me. And no, it did not create a bad habit. Now she sleeps unswaddled in her crib every night and for every nap just fine.

– Her naps are usually only 45 minutes. This used to drive me insane. I read every book and Internet article I could get my hands on. I tried everything they suggested. Nothing worked. To go along with that – she is not on a perfect schedule. I tried it. I’m not anti-Babywise, it just didn’t work for us. Avery just does not have the temperament to be on an exact schedule. I started enjoying life a lot more when I stopped obsessing about it.

– I was a hermit until the last few months because she cried at the top of her lungs any time I took her somewhere. I just got the guts to take her to the church nursery last weekend…at 8 months old. People who don’t have difficult babies probably thought I was anal. But I just knew that she would cry and wouldn’t stop until I got her home and put her down to sleep.

– I’m not a health nut. Yes, I try to eat healthy but my diet consists of more than just organic fruits and vegetables. Growing up I remember eating “sugary” cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Fruit Loops and loving them. We didn’t go out to eat or eat fast food much – my mom mostly cooked- but to this day she still cooks veggies with grease. But neither my brother nor I have been obese or had health problems. I like to eat donuts on Saturday mornings every now and then and nothing tastes better on a hot day than an ice cold Coke. Having Big A has made me want to eat healthier and of course I’m not feeding her McDonald’s or anything, but will she at some point eat a Happy Meal? More than likely. Will we go out occasionally on Saturday mornings for donuts? Absolutely. If God chooses to let me live a long life but I go at 87 instead of 88 because of my meal choices, so be it. Enjoying my food was worth it.

– I feed her formula. I talked in a previous post about why she stopped nursing so I won’t go into it. But I feel like that’s the #1 thing moms judge other moms on.

– I failed at making my own baby food. All my friends talked about how easy it was, but it was stressing me out. Also (this may sound weird if you don’t know me) but I have this disease where my esophagus is really small and I choke easily, and I think Avery has the same disease. I couldn’t get the food pureed enough and she started choking. I also don’t buy the most expensive organic baby food. It’s all Gerber in this house.

– She has a pacifier. She probably will for a while.

– I hold her when she wants to be held. Some of the books say it creates a bad habit. All I know is that there will come a day when she won’t want me to hold her anymore. She’s only little for such a short time. I already miss when she would take naps with me.

– I watch TV. I don’t sit in front of it all day (who has time?) but I have it on while I’m playing with Avery. I guess since we’re home by ourselves, the noise makes me feel connected to the rest of the world. I haven’t let her watch TV – as in shows for her like Baby Einstein. I’m trying not to until 2 years (not sure that will happen) but after that, yes she will watch some TV. When I was little, I had all Disney movies memorized. I don’t have ADD and I know how to interact with others.

– If we’re in a public place and she’s not happy – anything goes. She can chew on whatever I can find in my purse if the toys aren’t fun anymore. I have also been known to feed her tons of puffs. But one serving is like 80 pieces so that’s ok right??

– I am usually wearing no makeup, workout clothes, and hair in a ponytail. I don’t have the energy to get dressed up to just be at home or go to the grocery store. Showers usually happen at the end of the day when she goes to bed.

– I nap when she naps. I know I should be cleaning or doing laundry or some Pinterest project. I don’t. I sleep.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m not sure there will be other confessions but just in case, I wanted to leave it open. Hopefully this encouraged another “not-so-perfect” mom out there.

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