Tuesday, March 22, 2016

12 weeks with PinkBlush Maternity

Happy Spring! This is my favorite time of the year, a reward for surviving the winter. We spend so much of the winter stuck indoors so it's nice to get out again. Yesterday we went out for the day and even though the kids were stressing me out, it was still so nice to get out of the house as a family. It was a great way to pass the time while we await my MRI on Friday. And any stressful day can easily be turned around with a stop to get ice cream--it never fails!
 I can't believe how much of a belly I have already at only 12 weeks!! This is about how big I was with Desmond at 18 weeks. So I'm a little afraid of how big that means I'll get this time around. I'm nearing the end of the first trimester so hopefully that means I'll regain some energy soon. But with 5 other kids to take care of, I doubt that'll ever happen. I'll just have to embrace a life with little rest!
Maternity dress c/o PinkBlush Maternity// Denim jacket via Old Navy// Shoes via Lulu's (from a few years ago)// Belt (thrifted/Goodwill)

This dress from Pinkblush Maternity is the softest, most comfortable dress! Floral patterns are my favorite to wear during the spring and summer months. It can be easily dressed up for a nicer event or dressed down for a day out exploring with the family. If you read A Beautiful Mess, you may recognize this pattern as it looks like Elsie Larson's dining room wallpaper, which I am in love with! I styled with a denim jacket and a belt for a casual look for the cooler spring months. Since it is a sleeveless dress, I will be happily wearing it throughout the summer. And the best part of all? I will still be able to wear it as a non-maternity dress! 
PinkBlush is an online maternity boutique with so many cute options, including a whole line of clothing for women who are not currently pregnant! Not only are their clothes affordable, but they also run so many great sales. I currently have my eye on this cute maternity dress and would love to have one of their beautiful hospital robes for after delivery. Nothing feels better than changing out of that ugly hospital robe and I know having something pretty to wear afterwards will definitely help me feel better, no matter how silly that sounds.

PinkBlush has generously offered to allow me to give away a $75 gift card to their shop for one lucky winner! Hop on over to my instagram and follow the instructions for a chance to win!

(Pictures c/o the sweetest friend, Rachel Gunby!)

Friday, March 18, 2016

health scare

I think most people probably know about the health scare we've had this past week. I've already started getting questions and I know there will be many more (in addition to those who want to ask but are afraid to.) I had a really hard time 14 years ago talking about my health. But I'm finding it so much easier to be open and talk about it this time around.
While part of the goal with this post is just to fill everyone in with the details and how we're doing, I also think it'll be a really good post to have in the archives, for me to look back on. 

So of course I'll start with the fact, for anyone who doesn't know my history, that I had cancer when I was 14 years old. Rhabdomyosarcoma. The type I had was rare and aggressive. It came close to taking my life. But after chemo and radiation, I was diagnosed cancer free in 2004! That is obviously a super summed up story, but I wrote about it more in detail on this post.

This past Sunday evening, I noticed my right arm was bulging out more than my left. Over the years I've found many things to be paranoid about. But this time was different because Don noticed the size difference as well. I tried not to panic. I knew I probably should see a doctor eventually but I also know that I tend to make excuses and procrastinate when it comes to making phone calls and setting up appointments. I don't have a primary care physician or an oncologist so I wasn't sure who I'd call anyway.

a really attractive visual

That night I had nightmares and woke up many times worried about what was wrong. By the next morning, I knew I needed to get some answers that day. I called my OBGYN. He was out of town but they told me to either find a primary care physician (they referred me to a few) or go to urgent care. I ended up at urgent care but I was told that I would not be able to get answers there so they suggested ER. So that's where we ended up Monday night.

After a long wait in a full waiting room, they finally did an xray on my arm. The bone looked good but the doctor could see some swelling in the muscle. He said it could be scar tissue, but they can't be sure without getting a better look. They gave me the number of an oncologist. The next morning I called the oncologist and they were actually able to get me in that day. A new patient appointment had been cancelled for that afternoon and apparently that "never happens." So I felt like that was already an answer to prayer. 

The difference with this spot and the lump I found 14 years ago is that that one was a hard lump; I assumed a knot in my muscle. And it hurt. This time, I don't feel any mass/lump. The only way to describe the way it feels is that it feels bigger than the other arm (and this time it doesn't hurt.) After the oncologist looked at it, he said that it's likely that if it is anything to be concerned about, it looks like it was probably caught early. He ordered an MRI for asap but because I'm in the first trimester, it has to wait until next week. I'll admit that I was pretty discouraged about that, but I also want my baby to be safe and want to take those precautions as well. So now we wait.

I'll admit that those first few days I had many thoughts of me dying. My children are going to grow up without a mother. My husband is going to have to work and take on the responsibility of raising 5 children without me. I also thought a lot about having to do chemo again. After the first time, I swore I would never do it again. I never wanted to go through something so hard again. But I have my little family to think about, and if that's what it took, I would definitely go through it. But I could barely function the first time around, how am I supposed to also take care of a family? 

But then I reached out to friends and family through email, facebook, and instagram. I was immediately flooded with messages, comments, texts, emails, etc.--just filled with encouragement, love, and lots of prayers. And by Wednesday, Don and I both felt so much less worried. I think it was a definite answer to prayer. The day before, I had been terrified and (secretly) had broken down crying multiple times. (This will be news to Don because I didn't want him to worry even more about me.) But by the next day, I was so encouraged and at peace. And each day since then has been just as easy.

So yes, we're still scared. And there are still numerous "what ifs." Especially during pregnancy. If the MRI shows something to be concerned about, they will be performing a biopsy. And that could mean that I (someone with a needle phobia) may have to have surgery while I'm awake. But we are trusting that whatever happens was already in God's plan. We aren't spending our days worrying about what might be. We're just trying to get through one day at a time. 

Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouragement! We feel so so so loved and cared for. And I am so thankful I decided to reach out. So many people (even many that we haven't even met) have been so kind, and it's just humbling. 
I want to be open about our journey because you never know who it could help, or who could come along and potentially be able to help me. Yes, I'm being selfish. But if there's anyone else who has been through a similar situation, it's always comforting to have someone to talk to.

So I hope that answers some questions about what has happened this past week. It's a bit of a wordy post. But if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!
Thank you again for your love and prayers during this scary time!

EDITED TO ADD: Although I updated in a later blog post, I thought it would be good to come back to this specific post and update the outcome of the MRI. It was clear! We will be following up with another MRI after the baby arrives. Such amazing news!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tubby Todd review (treating eczema)

I'm very excited about today's post! When I come across a product that I love, I want to make sure everyone knows about it. And that's exactly how I feel about the Tubby Todd All Over Ointment.
I want to start by saying that this is in no way a sponsored post (they don't even know I exist.) I say that so you know this is a 100% honest review of a product I purchased and loved. I don't want it to sound like a sales pitch. I want to simply spread the news in case you are also struggling with treating eczema or other skin issues!

When my oldest, Liam, was about 3 months old, he started getting horrible, red, dry, itchy patches all over his skin. It was diagnosed as eczema. Little did I know that I would be treating eczema for the next 7 1/2 years (and counting) on 5 little bodies. Over the years, I have tried all kinds of treatments and remedies with little success. The most improvement we ever saw before was with a prescription steroid. But as this thins the skin and can cause issues down the road, I didn't feel good about applying it to my babies multiple times a day. 

When I say eczema, I mean their skin is usually cracked and bleeding from all the scratching. When it showed up on Desmond a couple of months ago, I knew I needed to find something that would be effective.
After debating between an essential oil and this Tubby Todd ointment, I ultimately decided on Tubby Todd because it is odorless (I heard that the oil had a strong smell) and I thought it would be easier to apply because he had so many patches, and also chapped cheeks. I thought that an ointment would be better near the eyes.

I read many positive reviews about the ointment and how well it treats eczema. I admit that I am a skeptic at heart...about many, many things. So I wasn't sure how I'd really feel about it. But I was so fed up, I thought it was worth the price to try it out.


I took the "before" pictures last Thursday right before I applied the ointment for the first time. I took the "after" shots today, before I applied. I also forgot to apply yesterday. So this is technically only after 5 applications! I decided to experiment by only applying once a day, and not applying directly after a bath. Can you imagine the improvement if I was more aggressive? I just wanted to test the effectiveness at the "lazy mom" level. And I think the pictures prove how amazing it is!

Sorry if it's a little hard to compare between the two sets. It's pretty difficult to take pictures of a crawling baby when I have no one around to help me. But I hope you can see the improvement anyway.

The spots have definitely faded! When I mentioned to Don over the weekend that Desmond seemed like a much happier, content baby all of the sudden, he brought up the fact that we had just started using the ointment and maybe that was the improvement. I really do think that it has helped reduce the itching so much that he has become a happier baby. Happier than he's been in months. Maybe it's a coincidence, but I really do think it was because of this change.

A little bit of ointment goes a long way. So this jar will last me quite a while. All products from Tubby Todd are 100% natural. They are created by a mom with sensitive-skinned babies in mind. One of the biggest selling points to me was that this is a small business. I love supporting small businesses and I'm even more excited when I find one that I love. I will definitely be purchasing more products from them in the future! (Like their hair and body wash and their bubble bath!) 
If you have a sensitive-skinned baby, I definitely recommend them! Also, if you sign up for their newsletter, they will send you a code for a 10% discount. If anyone else tries it, I would love to know what you think!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

February iphone and kids say

February was a pretty interesting month. I knew about my pregnancy the entire month but waited to announce it until after I had my ultrasound (for personal reasons.) I can't really complain about the amount of sickness I've had. Compared to others, I have it easy as far as that goes. But the exhaustion and taking care of 5 other children is what's really doing me in. But even then, I am blessed to have it relatively easy.

Anyway, just sharing my pictures from February. And if you follow me on instagram, I'm pretty sure these are all repeats so feel free to just scroll on down to 'kids say.'

There's a new (free) iphone app called A Color Story for editing photos. I use it for all of my photos now! I absolutely love it. I did purchase the bundle but even the free filters/tools are awesome. They had a little color challenge back at the beginning of the month--here are some of the photos
(obviously orange, yellow, green, blue)

You have no idea how many years I've driven by this purple building and wanted to take a picture. Finally made my dream come true! You can bet that you will see more pictures of us here in the future. Also, we painted Evangeline's room pink! Her choice, not mine. But I think I'll love it. It's not exactly how it looks in the photo below..

a few Valentine's shots

love these two! (also, that's a more accurate portrayal of Evangeline's wall color. It's a bit overwhelming right now with all the pink but hopefully once we start hanging up some wall decor, it'll tone things down a bit!  

Always lots of sweets in our house. The elephant cookies in the first photo are from a giveaway that I won on instagram :) And the cadbury mini eggs? I literally almost cried when I realized they were back on store shelves. I'm obsessed!

1) I love this picture of us. 2) Those socks are my favorite!! I pretty much want to revolve all her outfits around them now. 3) Evangeline's BFF, Legacy, turned 3 last week. It's adorable to watch them play together. 4) It was 77 degrees a couple of weeks ago so we had popsicles on the front porch....in February!! C'mon spring!!

Don--"Night night, Evangeline. I love you."
Evangeline--"No. Call me 'pink ninja.'"

Evangeline--"Are you washing the dishes?"
Evangeline--"Is washing a dishes makes sense?"
(Umm, does that question make sense?)

Kingston--"I'm starting to get a headache."
Evangeline--"I'm going to start getting a headache too."

I asked the boys (Liam, Kai, and Kingston) to go pick up a burger for me.
Liam--"We can't drive."
Me--"It's not too hard. One of you can push the pedals and another one can steer."
Liam--"There's an age limit to drive. You have to be like 8 or 9."

Kai--"This is not a night night kiss..."
***gives me a kiss****
"....its just because I love you."

Watching a video from 5 years ago...
Kingston--"Where am I in the video?"
Me--"You weren't born yet."
Kingston--"I was in Daddy's tummy?"

Me--"Kingston, can you make some cake for us?"
Kingston--"No. You should make it because you're the big one."
"....you're a big person. So you should make cake....because you're like that."

Evangeline was talking about her daddy moving into her room with her.
Me--"Well where would he sleep?"
Evangeline--"Right here" **points to her crib.
Me--"In your crib? I don't know how he's going to feel about that."
Evangeline--"He's going to feel nice."

Evangeline--"Mommy, I have sneeze in my hair." (Snot)

Kingston asked me to read the bottom of a Star Wars toy for him.
Me--"It says 'Hasbro' and 'China.'"
Kingston--"Kai, this guy's name is 'hashbrowns and chino.'"
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