Asking for Prayers

Today I was going to post about something funny. Pregnancy related. Or maybe the potty training saga. But instead, my thoughts are with another family. And they need prayers. Lots. 

I've known Courtney since high school. We played basketball together. Spent afternoons listening to music after practice. Typical high school girl things. We were never especially close, but we were not far apart. After college as our families began to grow, naturally we connected again. We've been sharing blog inspiration and social commentary since. 

As my two-year-old Jack and I drove to my final doctor appointment before the arrival of our baby girl, I got a message from a close friend, "Courtney's son has a tumor on his kidney, having surgery today. She said it was cancerous." 

At 39.5 weeks pregnant and mother of one, tears soaked my cheeks. This was too close to home. Next door even. Courtney is an amazing mom. Seven-month-old Easton is a beautifully happy baby. Smiling in literally every photo she posts on her blog and Facebook. I guess lightening really does strike at any time.

"Mommy, you okay?" Jack's concerned voice interrupted my sniffles. I explained that Mommy's friend's baby was sick and I was sad for the family. 

Later I read Courney's blog post today, "My worst nightmare come true," discovering that baby Easton was having surgery today to remove the tumor and his kidney. 

So today I'm writing to ask that everyone who reads this prays for the Metzger family and Easton. Pray Easton recovers quickly, no cancer to follow. And Courtney and her husband Bryan keep the strength they've already shown all the way through. I'm a firm believer of faith in numbers. 

And let little seven-month-old Easton teach us all something about strength, family and not taking the little things for granted.


Dear Baby: 39 Weeks Pregnant

Today’s post is a continued series of my final weeks of pregnancy. I began to chronicle at 36 weeks to record my thoughts, progress and happenings until we meet our second baby. Due Nov. 29. Anticipated sooner.

Dear Daughter,

We're days away from due. Most are worrying about having the perfect turkey on Thanksgiving, I'm worrying about having a healthy baby. Most of my thoughts are consumed with your day. Labor. Delivery. Your brother's caregivers. Did I do everything? Are we ready? Some days I feel like I could run a marathon. But most days now I could crumble to the floor my legs & hips feel as if they are 40 years older. Lately I've been trying to coax you out. Every trick I can find. It appears you have your father's stubbornness already.

It's a typically late-November day. Dark, drizzly and brisk. I walked the block at lunch and realized all the leaves are gone from branches. The bark is dark with winter. I'm wrapping up work from the couch today. My last day before you arrive. The doctor advised last week not to travel to my Lansing office. I took that advice as I would see you soon. But, here we are still waiting. 

So here's a bit about what's surrounding our life today:

Your brother, who's just over two, can count to ten and is progressively singing the ABC's

Your Dad started a new job four months ago. He's working "with the cats and dogs," according to Jack.

Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tiger's all-star pitcher, was just named MVP

The Detroit Lions are 7-3, a remarkable achievement, since the team hasn't had a winning season in 30 years. Our state is buzzing with playoffs talk. Currently anticipating the Turkey Day game against Green Bay, 10-0.

Dance parties are a common occurrence in the house. Jack prefers hip hop. Think Lady GaGa, Jay Z, Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas. Your parents prefer Adele, Jack Johnson or some good country, but we usually have to wait until after bedtime.

Here's to hoping we meet in the next 24 hours.
Love you already,


Favorite Etsy Shops of Michigan

I love shopping Etsy. So unique. Reasonably priced. And it supports our neighbors. I previously furnished Jack’s big boy room and the new baby nursery with Etsy finds, but now my addiction has turned to clothing, boots and hats. An obvious reaction to Michigan’s upcoming bitter season. I’m a proud supporter of Michigan things, so I decided to browse Michigan Etsy for some kid items I need. Here’s a few of the favorite children shops I found:

Trendy Baby

Located in Port Huron, Mich.
Jack hates to wear his socks around the house. Don’t blame him. I’m not a fan either. Usually the two of us spend most days toting around in our bare feet. But the crispy weather is freezing Jack’s tiny two-year-old toes. Comfortable house shoes are a must. I discovered these adorable, trendy, multi-patterned soft-soled shoes made in the Mitt. No slip, machine wash booties. Perfect.


The Sewing Fool

Located in Lake Orion, Mich.
“Unique and Cool T-Shirts” is how this shopowner describes her products. From dinosaur silhouettes to trains, these tees for boys live up to their description.

Pickletoes Couture

Pickletoes Couture

Located in Port Huron, Mich.
A top pick for me. In fact, purchased a crocheted baby hat today. Planning to buy the matches boots very soon. Features super trendy crocheted hats and scrunched boots. Also love her patterns and prints.

Rosebud Boutique and Company

Located in Plymouth, Mich.
Features crocheted baby blankets, clothing and accessories. My absolute preferred are the itsy-bitsy baby boots. Cute baby gift idea too.

Tutu LaRue Couture

Tutu LaRue Couture

Located in Milford, Mich.
I support Michigan, but I also support former classmates. I’ve known the shop owner/mother of two since high school and she's a peach - pretty creative too. I've already made plans to order one of her unique tulle & satin-ribboned tutus very soon. Each tutu is made special-to-order and for all ages. Super special. Maybe a Chrismas gift?

Good Little Things

Located in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Absolutely, hands down one of my favorites. The most unique shoes and boots custom made for babies and children. Unfortunately for us, she’s not taking orders for three months. Sigh. One day my little girl will own the most stylish, custom-made boots ever.


Coffee Lady

Located in Utica, Mich.
Items are eco-friendly and made from new or recycled materials. Products include multi-colored wool leg warmers, trendy hats, wool sweaters, sweet felt boots and an overabundance of stylish hats.

Modern Totz

Located in Novi, Mich.
The Baby & Children’s Botique offers hip, fun and unique clothing and accessories for babies and children. Bonus, there are items for parents too!

Left Right

Located in Holland, Mich.
Anyone with little boys knows how hard it is to find cute clothes for them. The selections are limited, t-shirt or polo. This Etsy shop has organic baby and toddler clothing – hats, bibs, bodysuits, gift sets – and uniquely modern tees for boys.

Giggle Rainbow

Located in Livonia, Mich.
Accessories for all ages, but my favorite are the leg warmers. Made for babies, toddlers and kids.

Cyberoptix Tie Lab

Located in Detroit, Mich.
“Ties that don’t suck.” Hand, silk-screened neckties, bow ties and scarves for kids and their dads. Seriously, these ties are chic.

Let me know if you purchase anything from the shops listed above, I'd love to hear about the products! Also, please share in the comments below any Michigan kid shops I may have missed. Stay close for posts about specific shops and my ultimate all-time favs.


Wordless Wed: Apperciate Everything

Never underestimate your children.
Jack, our little helper, blowing leaves with Dad.


Dear Baby: 38 Weeks Pregnant

Today’s post is a continued series of my final weeks of pregnancy. I began to chronicle at 36 weeks to record my thoughts, progress and happenings until we meet our second baby. Due Nov. 29. Anticipated sooner.

Dear Baby,

Our journey together has lasted longer than mine with your brother. He was born at 37 weeks, 6 lbs., 15 oz., 22 inches. I believe you will be bigger, as we’ve consistently measured ahead of schedule.

I hope daily that you’ll bless us soon and show the world your beautiful face. I pray you will be healthy and happy. While I’m still experiencing inconsistent contractions, the pressure and pain has eased. Your movements have slowed to casual rolls. And everything is difficult for me, from picking up your 29-pound brother to washing my hands.

Strangers are just as curious about your arrival. Letting me know that you have “dropped.” Asking when you are due. Quickly adding that it will probably be soon. Grocery shopping the other day, the attendant wooed as I swiftly bent to reach items under the cart. “You’ll have that baby today if you keep moving like that,” she smiled. As I pushed the cart away, she said she hopes you’re here by Thanksgiving. Common thoughts I hear daily.

Our nighttime wakings are consistent. 2 a.m., 5 a.m., then roused by Jack at 7:30 a.m., although you seem to still be sleeping until about 10 a.m. I hope this continues when you arrive. Jack’s definitely a morning person. You’re mother is not. Despite coffee.

My bag is finally packed. Clothes, toiletries and excitement. Your Dad still hasn't added his necessities into it, but as you'll discover, he's a procrastinator. I've even outlined Jack's daily routine for whoever may be caring for him, and as you'll discover of me, I'm obsessively organized. 

Everything is washed and in it's place. Even the monitor is mounted. All we need is you.

Hoping to hold you very soon.


Preparing the Tot for Baby

Ask Jack if he’s excited to meet his baby sister.
“Yeeaaah,” he’ll enthusiastically respond. Drawing out the “aaah” with a bewildered smile.

While I don’t believe many responses the two-year-old has, this one I know for sure isn’t an informed one. He loves his six-month-old cousin. And helping with the babies at daycare. But this is different. This baby is entering his personal space. Suctioning his Mommy & Daddy time. And he has no idea.

I feel bad some days. Jack’s heart is easily readable. His feelings are extremely hurt when I don’t instantaneously respond to “Mommy look! Mommy look!” after he’s stacked spiders a top each other.

We’ve tried to “prepare him.” But how much can you prepare a toddler who has no concept of time and no clue what a “sister” is? He’s still learning to count. Can’t tie his shoes. Just mastered undressing & dressing himself. So how do we expect him to understand what’s about to happen?

So far, here’s what we’ve done to “prepare” him:

1. Every night we read The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby. The perfect present, Jack received it from my Aunt Kathy for his birthday.

2. Constantly talk about the new baby. Every time a new pink item arrives, we discuss how it’s for the baby girl in Mommy’s belly.

3. Had him help renovate the nursery.  From masking off the trim to putting the baby toys away (which he claimed as all his), Jack pitched in every place he could. Anyone who comes over gets a tour of the “baby’s room.”

4. Continuously reference to the “baby in Mommy’s belly.” Seems to have worked. He asks to feel the baby move all the time. When I put away the bottles last week, he asked “for the baby in Mommy’s belly?”

5. Moved him out of his crib many months before my due date. In fact, when we put the crib back up, he didn’t even blink.

And here’s our plan for after the baby arrives:

1. Present a gift from the baby once he meets her for the first time. Not sure why, but I’ve heard this works. Makes him feel special, right?

2. Let him help with the new baby any way he can. Giving the pacifier. Helping rock the baby. Putting a blanket on her. Whatever satisfies his little desires.

3. Arrange special alone time with the Nonnas, Papa, Mommy and Daddy. Just so he doesn’t feel so un-special.

4. Constantly compliment him on what a great older brother he is. He devours praise.

5. Try our hardest not to let the baby’s needs always come before Jack’s. Just because the baby is sleeping doesn’t mean Jack can’t go play outside. And if the baby cries, a few more minutes of ball with Jack won’t hurt before responding. Jack’s still important. He needs to see that.

So, that’s the plan. We’ll see how much it works once the reality is here. I remember all the things I said I’d never do as a parent. And, well, that’s a whole other post!


Dear Baby: 37 Weeks Pregnant

Last week I began to chronicle my final weeks of pregnancy. In theme with a new weekly tradition, I will record my thoughts, progress and happenings until we meet our second baby. Due Nov. 29. Anticipated sooner.

Dear Little Girl,

Another week passed. Last week I was raking and leaping in leaves with your brother. This week I can barely walk. The Braxton Hicks contractions are now undeniable, and at times taking my breath away. Sometimes a nerve is pinched when you adjust, making me jolt to yoga poses to ease the tension. After sitting a day away at work, my ankle bones aren’t visible. And you could make maps of the lines surrounding my belly button.

Still, your presence makes me feel more than lucky. Your feet constantly roll across my belly by the minute. Your behind still firmly pressed against my right side, although noticeably lower than past weeks. Hiccups and tiny hands tickle me daily. And I can pinpoint exactly where you’re moving at all times.

Every evening is now capped with a bowl of Life cereal and cup of hot chocolate. And my morning routine has lengthened, despite your Dad pitching in with dressing Jack and unloading the dishwasher.

At this point in pregnancy with Jack, I was induced three days from today. I was placed on bed rest weeks ago with preeclampsia and high blood pressure.  Because of the high risks to both Jack and I, we were induced once he was considered “full term” at 37 weeks. I was swollen. My calves were hard with fluid. And the heat he produced could keep a room warm. If this pregnancy is any indication, you and Jack are completely different.

Your room is ready, aside from a special wall creation by an overwhelmingly artistic friend. Sometimes Jack and I read books in the glider. I cradle him. Remembering the tiny baby he once was. Dreaming of the newborn smell all over again.

Looking forward to you.


Unique Sleepwear for the Cool

Typically our two-year-old wears sweatpants and a tee to bed. But as the weather turns to ice, I’ve realized – like I did last year – Jack needs long-sleeved jams to keep him toasty. Reason No. 305,293 Jack is like his Dad: An active sleeper. He twists. Thows the blanket. Talks, laughs. Tugs up the blanket. And ends up sleeping sideways on the pillow. The need for reliable pajamas is a requirement.

Carters are everywhere. Everywhere. And although some are worthy (Jack has three pairs this year, one pictured to left) and decently priced, I’m completely over the bubble-eyed animals. So, as usual, I’ve begun my journalistic dig to find nifty jams that won’t sacrifice Jack’s “coolness.”

Old Navy: I’ve always loved Old Navy’s sleepwear.  Trendy patterns. Unique twists. And a classic touch on kid favorites. I prefer the fitted leg, then maybe we can squeeze a little more life-length into them. Gap Kids also has unique holiday sets right now.

Hatley Collection: Adorable – kinda pricey – sleepwear for all ages. Girls, boys and infant are offered in many categories include footed for infants, nightdresses for girls and big boys for boys (among many other styles for each).

Pottery Barn Kids: The holiday collection of warm, classic comfortable sets. The line features one of my favorites, the red solid classics.


Hospital Bag Essentials. 2nd Time Around.

During my first pregnancy, I packed the world in my hospital bags. A two-page itemized list stuffed into two giant duffle bags. The only things missing were most important – like extra underwear for the hubs. I was completely packed at 32 weeks pregnant. Nursery clean. Laundry complete. Car seat in the car. Ready.

Now 37 weeks pregnant (I delivered Jack at 37 weeks), I haven’t even considered my bag. The nursery is still in progress. The bottles and nipple shields aren’t washed. Car seat is still in the basement. And my new breast pump is still in the box. The humorous part is I’m not stressed. They say the second time is different, but not one ounce of me has been the same. 

So here's my take on packing for the hospital after having lived through it before. No need for trashy magazines, books or such.  Anticipation of meeting the family newbie is interesting enough. I’ve also crossed off underwear, bras, nightgowns and much of the other “suggested” items to bring. The hospital provides outfits and underwear, a godsend after delivery. Pretty sure last time I lived in them longer than my three-day hospital stay. They also have a complimentary toiletry kit, so no need for shampoo/conditioner, body wash or toothpaste.  Trust me, moments after birthing a baby you won’t care about salon products. Here’s my essential list:

The Hospital Bag

For Me:
Sports & nursing bras (just one each)
Comfortable “going home” outfit (pants, tank, sweatshirt)
Basic toiletries: toothbrush, hairbrush, lotion, hair ties, deodorant
Basic makeup: like mascara and foundation
Chap stick
Nipple shield

For Hubby:
Shirt, pants & sweatshirt
Cash (food)

For Baby:
Four PJs (Jack threw up a lot last time. Lived in his diaper.)
“Going home” outfit
Warm blanket

Ipod & Speakers
Camera (charged)

Last-minute throw in:
Wallet/Insurance card/ID
Cell phone (which has pediatrician’s number)
Laptop (if we remember)

Newborn Jack, who's now two.


Dear Baby: 36 Weeks Pregnant

Dear Baby Girl,

Your debut into this wide world is nearly here. At 36 weeks pregnant, I’m nervous we are miles from prepared, but so anxious to kiss your beautiful face. I wonder if you’ll have the captivating eyes of your brother, a trademark of my Mom’s family. And I pray you have more patience than the rest of us, although your aggressive kicks and jabs near mealtimes tell me otherwise.

The room in the womb has grown tight around you. But that hasn’t stopped you from pressing your tiny butt against my ribs or firmly pushing your entire back against my stomach, making me feel as if my skin could split in seconds. Still, I can’t complain. You’ve made our time as one much more enjoyable than your brother did. I’m 40 pounds lighter. Still wearing my wedding band. And comfortably enjoying most of my flat shoes.

I dread sleeping now. The pains of high pressure is unbelievable. My hips feel like they need desperate repair. And our trips to the bathroom are multiplying. Usually at 6 AM, your two-year-old brother crawls in bed, making me crave a king-size bed. Two kids, two dogs, a Mom and Dad aren’t sardines. Lou, our Beagle mix, has already given up. She now dozes in her over-sized dog bed.

Despite my unpleasant of pregnancy, I’m still more than thankful to have you. Every day I dream of who you will become. I picture you at five. Riding a pony, dressed with pink, a smile as attractive as your Dad’s. Or at 12. Your interests changing, maybe ballet or softball. I hope you enjoy dancing. Sports too, but there’s something beautiful about a little girl spinning on stage.

I promise not to compare you to Jack and always support your desires. And although I wish you could stay with me forever, I will let you explore every inch of the horizon. I hope you learn my compassion. Take your father’s humor. And enthusiasm and independence of your brother. I know you won’t hide in Jack’s shadow or look for my hand forever, but find the good in everything. Be gentle to all. Never underestimate yourself. And love with your heart.

I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be

XO's forever,

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