8 days ago, we welcomed Brooks Alton Varnum into the world. He was born on September 18, 2013 at 4:00 am after a three day labor. Just had to throw that in there, folks. He weighed 8 lbs 11 oz, almost a whole pound bigger than Brant, and was 20 inches long. We are so in love and are starting to settle into a routine as a family of four. I will try to blog soon with my labor story and also keep this updated with what's going on in our newly expanded family!
Growing up, I was definitely not someone you would call a neat freak. My room was usually messy. I can remember my mom asking me, "How can you sleep at night in such a mess?" and having no idea what she was talking about. My sloppiness followed me through college. My mom would clean my toilet when she would come visit out of sheer horror, and how my neat and uber-organized best friend Kristyn lived with me for so long without killing me is truly beyond me.
But something happened when I got married and lived in my own house. I started caring a lot more about what it looked like. It wasn't long before I knew exactly what my mom was talking about because I couldn't sleep well if there were dirty dishes in the sink. Having and maintaining a clean home became more and more important to me. When I worked, I would wake up on Saturdays and get the whole house clean. Is that not the greatest feeling in the world? I love that feeling when you know every single part of your house is clean.
Then I had a baby.
Instead of one marathon cleaning session a week, I started cleaning every day during my downtime. When Brant started crawling, I began vacuuming every single day because of Copper's dog hair. While I always thought it would be easier to maintain a clean home if I didn't work full time, it actually became more difficult because we were always at home and creating a mess of toys, food, etc. Not to mention I had my hands full taking care of a baby. There was definitely a learning curve, but eventually I got pretty used to maintaining a decent home in the midst of chaos.
Then I got pregnant again.
Now, there are pregnant people out there who sail through those 40 weeks with a smile on their face and nary a bit of cellulite on their legs. As a general rule, I am not friends with those people. Being pregnant is HARD, people. It is a blessing for sure, but it sure can suck the life out of you. I can't tell you how many times over the past few months I've looked around my house wanting to cry at how messy it was, but lacking the energy to actually get up and clean it. From about 20 to 28 weeks, I felt pretty good and got a lot done around the house, but other than that - my family has been living in squalor and filth. At least that's how it feels to me.
This morning I felt like the walls were closing in around me. I couldn't remember the last time I dusted. There was a sticky spot under the kitchen table that seemed as if it were mocking me. There were two overflowing baskets of clean but wrinkly laundry in my bedroom. I started folding clothes, and before I knew it, there was a 3 year old jumping on my bed and the nicely folded laundry. So I did what any rational and mature person would do. I got down on the floor and cried. This was made even worse by the fact that when I was on the floor, I could see tons of dog hair on my carpet and remembered I needed to vacuum.
My first thought was, "Screw our budget. I'm going to get a cleaning lady through the rest of the year, and I'll just stop going to Hobby Lobby." A likely story. But after I had a chance to calm down and pray, I realized what I really needed was some discipline and structure. I've tried to follow cleaning schedules before, but none of them worked, because none of them fit my needs exactly. So I looked at a few examples online during nap time and made my own.
So this is what I made. For the month of August, I am going to do my best to follow this schedule. If I miss a day for whatever reason, then I just do it on the following week. For the most part, my every morning chores are what I already do each day, but I added folding and putting away a load of laundry. I want to see if doing one load each day makes it feel more manageable or if it makes me feel like I'm constantly doing laundry. And now, instead of feeling overwhelmed at the dust and dog hair surrounding me, I just complete the task at hand and tackle whatever is next after a night of rest.
This might help me feel more in control of the madness surrounding me, or it might be one of those many projects that I begin and never see to completion. Time will tell. I'm also blessed that I have a husband who really helps me. I know that left to his own devices, he doesn't care all that much if the sink is empty and clean at bedtime or if the beds are made each day (you should have SEEN the apartment he shared with his brother back in his bachelor days), but he does it to help me and because he loves me. I added the verse from Luke at the bottom because so often I get "distracted with much serving." I'll be cleaning or ironing or whatever and become so resentful because my back and hips hurt so much or because I'm so tired. I want my house to be clean, but I'm not willing to pay the price of spending time with and loving on my family in order to accomplish that goal.
So anyway, that's my experiment for August. Can I stick to this and keep a clean house? Or will I keep crying on the floor while Brant jumps gleefully on folded clothes? I know you're all on the edge of your seat to find out!
So, for anyone who doesn't know, we are having another boy! Yes, I was totally convinced we were having a girl, and yes, I was totally wrong. When we found out it was a boy, I was really stressed out about two things. How would I decorate his room, and what would we name him? It took me a couple of weeks to come up with a good nursery idea that I was excited about, but it took MONTHS for us to agree on a name. In fact, we just decided for good last Saturday. We were definitely naming the baby after my Grandpa in one way or another, and I really wanted to tell him in person. So during our last hour with my grandparents, Justin and I were texting each other under the table at Acme trying to decide on a name!
Here he is at 14 weeks, when we found out he was a he!
I'm very excited that we are naming our baby boy Brooks Alton Varnum. Brooks is a name we both liked a lot (for totally separate reasons, but whatever works!), and Alton is Grandpa's first name. I love that he is named after one of the greatest men I have ever known. Now that we have our baby named, I can tell I'm getting more and more excited about having another little boy. I hope that Brant and Brooks grow up to be so close. I was so shocked when we found out we were having a boy, but my friend Kristi helped me put it in perspective. She suggested that maybe having a brother was a special blessing God had planned for Brant all along. And while this squeamish, indoorsy, clean-loving girly girl never ever ever thought she would be a boy mom, I know that if God has called me to mother these precious boys, He will also equip me to do so.
We have had a few more ultrasounds, one at 18 weeks and another at 20 weeks. Everything looks good, but one of his kidneys is slightly enlarged. We are continuing to monitor this throughout the pregnancy, and hopefully it will turn out to be a non-issue. For reasons I can't explain, I feel a total peace about his kidney. I know that God knows everything about Brooks already and that this kidney is totally known and taken care of by Him. Other than that, everything is great. I was VERY sick for the first 20 weeks but finally am feeling back to my normal self again. One thing I hate is my lack of energy. There's so much I want to do, but only so much energy and time in the day! I hate having to rest so often when I'm dying to do fun projects. Also, I take my glucose test in about three weeks. They say if you have gestational diabetes with one baby, you're more likely to have it with the next, so I'm trying to prepare myself for the worst. And speaking of the worst, being pregnant during the summer is just as horrible as I thought it would be. It is so dang hot, and I cannot stop sweating. It's gross. I eat a lot of popsicles and hang out at my friends' pools a lot. But it will all be worth it - in just a few months it will be fall, football season, and I will be holding my sweet Brooks in my arms! I can't wait!
My grandparents planned a trip to go to Pensacola for a week or so and were going to come spend the night with us. My mom helped me convince them to stay for two nights instead, and while they were here, I got them to agree to come stay with us again on their way home. I love having houseguests, and I love my grandparents, so I'm a happy girl!
I told them before they got in town that I had a "to-do" list for Grandpa to do. Maybe they thought I was teasing. I clearly was not. This picture was taken the first morning they were at my house - Grandpa brought his Monsanto coveralls and set to work on our fireplace flue, which hasn't been working since January. Brant helped. :)
Now that they've relocated to the Midwest, my grandparents miss good seafood from the Gulf! So the 48 hours they spent with us was like a seafood tour. We ate at Morton's for lunch on Friday, and the Rusty Pelican for dinner that night! Fried oysters for lunch and crab cakes for dinner. Not bad!
Saturday our seafood tour continued with lunch at Acme. We ate with them here the last time they visited, and they remembered how good it was!
I love my grandparents! I am so thankful to have them in my lives. So many people my age have lost their grandparents, and I just feel so blessed to still have mine and be so close to them (even though we live far away). My grandparents really are two of my favorite people in the whole world.
Saying goodbye! Brant was SO sad that he couldn't go with them to Uncle Dale's house. But we'll get to see them very soon when they come back! We love you, Grandma and Grandpa!
Admittedly, I was pretty pooped after a vacation, DIY project, and hostessing a baby shower, but the next day was the beginning of VBS!
Brant was pretty excited about Bible School! At least, he was until we walked into the doors and he saw TONS of strangers at church. He freaked out a little, but he was fine soon afterwards. VBS can be a little overwhelming for sure!
Brant at VBS last year. Where does the time go?!
I had the privilege of being Christa's assistant Bible teacher. I felt bad because she totally ran the show, and I was content to let her do just that. But I DID bring her Starbucks every day. And watching her teach was truly inspiring. This girl has such a gift. We teach 2 year old Sunday School together, so I already knew she was awesome, but I was really blown away by her giftedness. Plus we had a lot of fun!
Most days Brant and I came home, ate some pathetic excuse for lunch, and hit the sack. One day, though, we went out to eat with our friends and had a great time! I love these girls SO much. I couldn't make it without them! (left to right, Traci, Greta, me, Christa)
We actually had two kid tables (Traci's herd took up their own!). It's so nice to stick them together with some french fries and get to have some grown up conversation!
Greta snapped this picture of our babies lovin' on each other one day. I think Brant and Ella totally look like siblings! Brant was in a different class than a lot of his little friends, but apparently during Kids Praise each day, he and Ella would find each other and just hug!
Our verse for the week was 2 Timothy 1:7. For God has not given you a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement. When I found out I was pregnant with Brant over 4 years ago, I was petrified. This verse helped calm my fears and know that God would equip me to the task of raising a little person, even though I felt far from ready. It was just a neat thing to have Brant wearing that verse on his shirt years later. God is good, y'all!
And I'm happy to say that we all survived VBS 2013! Now the countdown to next year begins...
A few months ago, my friend Jeanne told me she was pregnant. Now, there are those friends that tell you they're pregnant and you say, "Oh that's so exciting!" and there are those friends who tell you they're pregnant and you immediately have to fight joyful tears because you are so genuinely happy for them. Jeanne's pregnancy was definitely the latter. I remember asking her a few weeks later if I could throw her a baby shower, and she didn't even want to discuss it until she was out of the first trimester. So as soon as she got to that week 13, we picked a date! I was so excited to shower her and Baby Grayson with lots of love.
Jeanne is such a cute little mama!
The cake table. When I told our friend Cindy that I was throwing a shower, she immediately asked how she could help. Without missing a beat I said, "take care of the cake!" I enjoy cooking and decorating, but baking, not so much. And she brought this truly stunning cake from a local bakery! She actually took the invitation to the bakery and had them base the cake off of that. It was the hit of the party. AND - it tasted amazing. The bottom layer was chocolate peanut butter, and it was incredible.
The spread. I owe a lot of this to my dear friend Greta. She has a gift for hospitality, and I knew she could help me come up with the perfect brunch menu. She totally did, and she also let me use all her gorgeous pewter serve-ware! All of mine is white, so it was exciting to get to use something new and exciting for once. Yes, I get excited about platters. This is my life, folks. :)
Our drink station. Using my Big Mama's buffet makes me so happy!
The mama-to-be, Cindy, and me! I love these gals! Also - Cindy JUST had a baby about a month ago. Jeanne is due in August, and then it is my turn!!
I blogged about our foyer about a year ago here, when I learned how to strip wallpaper and used painters tape for the last time EVER. (Seriously, I've since figured out how to paint without tape, and it has totally changed my life for the better.) Anyway, here's how the foyer looked to begin with:
And then after I worked on it last year:
Here's the problem, though. I never liked it. I was talking to a friend once about how unhappy I was about the way it turned out, and she asked me what I specifically didn't like about it. I looked around and said, "it just looks a little too crayola-y for me." I just wasn't happy with the way the color block look turned out in real life, and I never felt like it was "me." It drove me crazy. So finally, I did something about it. And I'm SO glad.
First, I painted below the chair rail. I just used the same color I use for all my woodwork and doors.
Second, I bought molding at Home Depot. My MIL had sent me a sweet card with a Home Depot gift card for Mother's Day. WOOO! There is no better gift in my eyes! Anyway, I used a miter box to make all my cuts. My friend's husband lent me his nail gun to install the wood, but I had issues. If I turned it too low, the nail wouldn't go all the way in, and if I turned it higher, the gun would dimple the delicate molding. So I had to use liquid nails instead. I was SO sad. Using liquid nails was super easy, but I was so disappointed not to get to use a power tool! (Also, you can see in this picture that the liquid nails seeped out from behind the molding. No worries - I just painted right over it.)
Then I caulked all the sides and corners. That made a HUGE difference.
Finally, I painted over all the molding, and voila! I am a million times happier with our entryway now! I still need to get a new rug and light fixture, but for now, I am so pleased.
I plan on continuing this through our dining room, but I am going to need to borrow an electric miter saw before I can do that. I really underestimated how much man power it would require to manually saw this molding on a miter box. And I had really skinny molding! My shoulder and arm hurt for days after this project. But in the end it was totally worth it! I love my foyer now and can't wait to see how my dining room looks with the same wainscoting!