Monday, December 26, 2016

PinkBlush | Giveaway

Winner of the Giveaway: Britney Thorne from Instagram!  Thanks so much to all who entered!

Merry (day after) Christmas!  I'm still working on our Christmas post - the most wonderful time of the year takes a lot of time to write.  Christmas was absolutely wonderful, Jude & Sloane had a blast, and I definitely had my fair share of lump-in-throat moments that tend to happen far more regularly than they used to.

In the meantime, I wanted to announce a really fun GIVEAWAY!  I teamed up with PinkBlush, who makes incredible maternity (and non-maternity) clothes!  I love their endless options because they're stylish, unique, and fair-priced.  Since this will absolutely be my last pregnancy, I've been very careful with my spending.  However, I have some fun weekends coming up in the next few months so I've scoured their site and found so many great options.

For instance... this tunic (part of their maternity collection) was right up my alley.

24 weeks!

My favorite part?  I will absolutely wear it once Holland arrives.  I'm all about oversized bohemian tops (one of the reasons I haven't had to buy much this pregnancy) so this fit right in with my style.

Now we all know I'm not a fashion blogger and posing by myself gives me all sorts of awkward anxiety, but I had a world-renowned photographer (Michael Haynes, I'm sure you've heard of him) take my pictures so it was pretty easy.

(Also - Right now take 25% off their entire site!!)

Giveaway: $75 to PinkBlush (Maternity or Non-Maternity)

This giveaway couldn't be easier.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post!  You can also tag some friends on Instagram (@meredith_haynes) for extra entries.  No need to follow, like, or repost.

In the meantime, check out PinkBlush's website or follow them on Instagram (@shoppinkblush).  Giveaway ends tomorrow (Tuesday) at midnight CST and winner will be notified on Wednesday!


Thanks to PinkBlush for sponsoring this giveaway and providing the tunic pictured above!  


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

(Almost) 23 Weeks

I can't believe it's been three weeks since my last update!  It feels like I wrote it a week ago, which is a perfect description for how fast this pregnancy is moving along.  23 weeks seems like no big deal and then I realize... wait, we only have 16 weeks left before she's here.

I went back and read my 23-week update with the twins and had a good laugh.  By this point we'd painted the nursery and assembled both cribs as well as the changing table.   I'd already had a baby shower in Fort Smith and we'd taken a hospital class.  

Here is what we've accomplished so far...
1.  Created life (hey, when you know the list is going to be short you include it all)
2.  Named the baby
3.  Switched hospitals
4.  Uhhh....

The nursery is still very much an office with no plans of becoming a nursery anytime soon.  Furniture hasn't been assembled... or purchased for that matter.  This second (third?) time parenting thing is very humorous. 

However, there have been some big decisions made in the last few weeks, which I'm excited to share.  As I said above, baby girl has a name....

Holland Claire Haynes

Deciding on Jude & Sloane was a piece of cake but this little lady has been very difficult.  We've both been fans of the name Holland since I was pregnant with the twins, but I know it's quite unique and I was a little apprehensive.  Is it too much?  Will she be "that kid" in class?  However, one day we started talking about other girl names to see if we could come up with something we loved more.  Michael touched my stomach and said, "Hi, ____" and I was absolutely disgusted.  No, it was Holland.  This is Holland.  

We also decided to switch hospitals.  My OB delivers at two hospitals in the area and without thinking I just signed up for the one where the twins were born.  Michael asked why I didn't opt for the one closer to home.  Never even crossed my mind!  At my appointment yesterday I went to the business office and made the switch.  Birthday will still be April 6 and now we (and the grandparents) have a much shorter trek!  I also pre-registered so we are officially ready to go!  

Everything else checked out great at my appointment.  I've gained the same amount of weight with Holland as I did with Jude & Sloane.  My bump is the same size as well.  And yes, I do find that mortifying, thank you.  At a recent Christmas party the photographer said, "You're about ready to pop!  Only a month or so left, right?"  Total flashback to my twin pregnancy when I started lying about my due date just to avoid embarrassment on both sides.  I may start telling people I'm due in February.  

Blood pressure was great, heartbeat was perfect, and she's still quite the mover & shaker!  I've been having a bit of pain from my previous umbilical hernia surgery, which apparently is normal and will hopefully resolve on its own.  Belly button is still an innie but I'm guessing it has a few weeks if not days left before its triumphant emergence. 

21 weeks
22 weeks (wearing their initials around my neck!)
23 weeks

I got a little teary reading my 23-week update with the twins because I refer to it being our only pregnancy.  At times I still feel overwhelmed and anxious with this complete surprise but I just feel so LUCKY we get to do it all over again.  It's such an undeserved gift and a chance for us to really shine as a team.  Some of my favorite marital moments occurred in those first six months so I think about that when I start reaching for a paper bag at the thought of having three kids.  Thank goodness for several friends with three little ones who have shared words of wisdom and encouragement.  

We are closing in on Christmas and it's been so much fun to see it all through Jude & Sloane's eyes.  I believe it deserves its own post but, for now, here's (quite possibly) my favorite Santa picture to date!  

Polar Express in Grapevine - they loved it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

(Almost) 20 Weeks

Time for a monthly update on the little one - quite a bit has happened in November!

A few days after the twins' birthday party I noticed a bit of lower abdomen pressure.  I remembered a similar feeling with the twins, though it was not until much later in the pregnancy.  I went ahead and called the doctor that morning just to be safe and she had me come in for a quick ultrasound.  Michael was working from home that day so he was able to join me.

She did a few measurements and was able to ease my worries immediately - everything looked great and the baby was quite secure in its spot.  In my best nonchalant voice I asked, "While we're here, could you do a quick look at the baby and see if you can tell if it's a boy or a girl?"  She did and told us it looked like a girl.


From about 10 weeks on, I just knew it was a boy.  No real reason why, just a gut feeling.  I asked her how sure she was and she replied, "I wouldn't paint the nursery, but I'm pretty sure."  I had a quick chat with the doctor and we were on our way.  I kept looking at Michael and saying, "A girl!  Can you believe it?"  He politely reminded me I was the only one who was convinced it was a boy so a girl was very easy for him to believe.

The next two weeks were hard because I felt a bit in limbo.  I didn't want to start growing attached to the idea of a girl only to find out a few weeks later it was indeed a boy.  I swore I saw a little something during the scan so I almost convinced myself it was a boy and she was mistaken.

When I was 18.5 weeks we went in for the scheduled anatomy scan.  Michael was able to come to this appointment as well, which made me so happy.  She checked the brain, heart, kidneys, and spine.  Everything looked perfect and about a week ahead of schedule.  Not shocking as the twins always measured one if not two weeks ahead.  The baby was, once again, bouncing all over the place and gave us several great shots so we walked away fully confident it was a girl.

sucking her thumb :)

I was both ecstatic and a little sad, as I would've been regardless of the outcome.  I'd already daydreamed two difference scenarios - a baby brother and a baby sister.  Hearing that it was a girl made me so excited (if not a little jealous) for Sloane to have a little sister, but I also knew how wonderful it would've been for Jude to have a little brother.  Regardless, I know they will both be amazing older siblings and this little one is the absolute luckiest to have these two as friends and mentors. :)

Once the kids were out of MDO I drove them to a park near Michael's work so we could do the gender reveal as a family.   I'd made confetti poppers the night before and we had a quick run-through as to what they'd do.  As you can see, Jude got a little confused and forgot to actually pop it.  Meh, whatever works.

I'd told Sloane we could purchase a pair of pajamas for the baby once we knew what we were having so once we'd vacuumed up our confetti (yes, I brought a dustbuster to the park), the kids and I drove to the mall.  We found a pair we loved and then Jude requested we go to the boys side and get a matching pair for his little brother.  It was then I realized... he thinks all babies come in pairs.  I knelt down and gently reminded him there was only one baby and it was a little girl.  He immediately started crying.  "But what about my brother?  What about the other baby?"  It was incredibly sweet and heartbreaking all at once.

We ended up not purchasing the pajamas that day and instead went to the shop next door for cookies.  When in doubt, give Jude food and he will cheer up immediately.  We had our cookies and visited the Disney store before heading home.

So that brings us to today.  I'm almost 20 weeks and feeling pretty great!  I've definitely popped and now look very pregnant - about the same size as I was with the twins at this stage.  It's a little disheartening but I'm telling my ego to shut it and just be thankful for a healthy pregnancy.  I've put off maternity tops as long as possible but my non-maternity tops are getting fairly short. I ordered a few recently and have lots of plans for layering this winter.  I've gained 12 pounds so far, which puts me at the weight I started the twins' pregnancy so it'll be interesting to see how this continues!  I also finally felt her (for sure) around 17.5 weeks and now get swift kicks and jabs quite often.  It is, by far, my favorite part of pregnancy.

Moving onto far more exciting stuff - a NAME and a NURSERY!  Not ready to reveal either yet, but we think we may have a first name and are trying to decide on the perfect middle name (which is ridiculously hard).  I am very protective of this third child and want to make sure she doesn't feel excluded from the twins but also realizes she is so special and unique.  While I didn't want the name to sound terrible with Jude & Sloane, I also didn't mind if it veered away from the one syllable names we chose for them.  And if you're rolling your eyes because I thought through all of this for a name, join Michael's club.

I also created a secret Pinterest board and went to town on her nursery.  When we first found out we were having a baby I was all, "Psh, we'll just throw something together last minute."  Ha.  HAAAA.  That plan lasted a few weeks.  She will be in the office, which is a tiny room with no closet.  We're going to have to get really creative with space.  I'm excited because it's super close to our room, has a large window (which has its drawbacks for a nursery but for someone who loves photography it is THRILLING), french doors, and pretty crown molding.  I'm fairly sure when we're done it'll be my favorite room in the house.

That's about it for now.  By my next update we will (surely?) have a name to share.  While the first trimester was painfully slow, the second trimester is flying by and I feel like I hit a new week every few days.  April 6 will be here before we know it!

ps.  If you were curious, I did end up getting the pajamas we picked out that day.  First purchase for our baby girl!


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Jude & Sloane | 4 Years

The longer I go between updates on Jude & Sloane, the more anxious I get.  There's so much to share!  What if I leave something out?  Is it even possible to capture their personalities in a blog post? (Absolutely not.)  Regardless, I know one day I'll want to sit back and remember what this age was like and I imagine they might find it entertaining as well.  So kiddos, I apologize now for not being able to capture the true spirit that is you.

Height: 42 in (85%)
Weight: 39 lbs 4 oz (78%)
Clothes: 5T
Shoe: 10.5

Height: 42.5 in (95%)
Weight: 36 lbs 8 oz  (64%)
Clothes: 4T tops and 5T pants
Shoe: 9.5

Jude Sullivan

Jude has the energy of the sun in a 4-year-old body.  He doesn't walk, he runs.  He doesn't jump, he leaps.  His kisses are powerful and his hugs make you lose your breath.  He feels with every fiber of his being.  Those who truly know Jude adore him.  He is crazy and all over the place, yet he remains one of the sweetest humans I know.

Jude had a rough start to school this year.  He's not a fan of change and as we walked past last year's classroom he let me know he was not interested in new teachers or a new environment.  No matter how much I encouraged him, he would have none of it.  He had a rough few weeks before finally settling in with the new schedule and now he's absolutely thriving.  His teachers have a funny story about him every time I pick him up and they recognize the amazing boy hiding under the cloak of crazy.  :)

Jude's speech continues to improve and while he's still difficult to understand at times, he will repeat his need/story/joke as many times as it takes for you to understand.  His heart belongs to Sloane and his adoration for her is so apparent.  It's incredibly sweet but I sometimes worry he will grow comfortable in her shadow.

He's still a picky eater and can be downright lazy at times.  He has zero interest in getting dressed on his own - he'd far rather me do it for him.  Now that a baby is on the way, I'm cracking down and not helping him as much.

Jude is very stubborn and has no problem throwing a loud fit if he's not happy with the situation.  He does not enjoy time-out so the simple threat of "Do you need to go to time-out?" is typically enough to calm him down.

This kid loves to dance.  His favorite show right now is Mickey's Monster Musical and he has the entire Monster Boogie memorized.  It's so fun to watch and I hope he's always that carefree.

His blonde hair has darkened a bit but it's still fairly light.  His bright blue eyes have little sunbursts and he has two freckles on the side of his neck that I adore.  He has his dad's lips and my eyes.  Those who knew me as a child think he looks like me but everyone else thinks he's all Michael.

While I know he doesn't grasp the magnitude of this new baby, he talks about it all the time and has become far more gentle around me.  If he kisses the baby too hard, I let him know and he tries again until he gets it right.

Jude is a total daddy's boy.  When Michael is around Jude wants nothing to do with me.  He loves to hold Michael's hand when we're running errands and sit in his lap if we're in the living room together.  It's hard not to feel a little jealous at times but I'm also so grateful for their sweet bond.

He loves his new fast race track and fire truck but he would watch television all day if we let him.  He loves the weather ("Mama, a storm is coming!") and the moon.  He's still scared of dogs (thanks neighbor) but loves pretending to be a cat.

I cannot imagine life without my precious son.  His laughter is still the best medicine ("Mama, I'm lappin!") and his love is something fierce.  What an amazing four years it has been!

Sloane Elisabeth

Every time I tell a story about Sloane I'm laughing and shaking my head. She is the funniest, sneakiest kid I know.

Michael and I don't really think she has a photographic memory but it's pretty darn close.  The other day I read her a 20-page book that she'd never seen before.  When we finished she turned to the first page and told me she wanted to read the story to me.  "I'd love that, Sloane."  She started "reading" and it was word for word what I'd read ten minutes prior.  Pretty amazing.

Sloane is a storyteller.  She has a vivid imagination and is so curious about her surroundings.  When she asks "why" she's not just trying to pass time, she genuinely wants to know why.  Be as specific as you can (and be careful) with your answer because she's holding onto every word.

She is so dramatic.  When she gets upset about something she crosses her arms and furrows her brow.  Lately she's added a distraught, "Hurumph!"  It's adorable and infuriating all mixed up into one.

She loves to help in the kitchen.  Whether it's mixing pancake batter or baking pumpkin muffins, as soon as she sees I'm up to something she grabs her stool and stands right beside me.

Sloane is very tall and lanky (with a belly!), has blue eyes that are bordering on green, and the world's slowest growing hair.  It's a bit of a mess at the moment but she loves how "long" it is getting and is still convinced she's the next Rapunzel.

She enjoys her toys but has far more fun making up her own stories and playing pretend.  She's easily entertained and manages to get her brother to play right along with her.

Sloane is quite the athlete and tends to pick up skills fairly quickly.  She is quick and agile but still a bit of a klutz (no clue where she gets that, ahem).  She loves soccer because it's daddy's favorite sport.  She always asks, "Which color are we rooting for, dad?"

As I said before, she is sneaky.  Those who are around her think she's incredibly sweet.  And she is, but it's not always genuine.  She knows exactly what she wants and will say whatever necessary to get it.  It's troubling to us because neither Michael nor I are like that and we're not exactly sure how it came to be.  Nature is a powerful force, I suppose.  We've both agreed to do everything we can to harness her power for good and not evil - ha!

She is SO EXCITED about becoming a big sister.  I'm not sure how she'll handle it once the child actually arrives (there is nothing Sloane loves more than being the center of attention), but for now she is its biggest fan.  She sings to it, reads to it, and talks about how cute it's going to be.  "It's going to have the cutest little feet!"

When I'm having a rough day, she's the first to pick up on it and is at my side comforting me until I tell her all is well.  That part of her is genuine to the core.  Her heart is big and bold.  When God created her he gave her far too many gifts and I pray she never takes any of them for granted.

I know when she's a teenager I'll have to keep this part a secret but she is the best friend I could ask for and my prayer is our bond will deepen and strengthen as the years go by.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Jude & Sloane's 4th Birthday Party

After Jude & Sloane's first birthday we decided we'd only do parties on odd years and let even years be family only (at least while they were still young).  That was the plan and we stuck to it... until this year.  Turns out when you have a baby on the way you start considering the sweet moments you have left with your current kiddos.

Michael wasn't excited about this new arrangement so I promised him a few things.  1. The party would be simple.  2. The party would be inexpensive.  Neither of these have applied to their previous parties so I knew it would be a challenge.  I'm usually pretty good at sticking to a budget until the week before when suddenly there are 8,000 items we need for the party and all 8,000 items cost way more than I would ever consider paying had I found them one month prior.

Challenge accepted.

The theme was easy.  Jude & Sloane adore pajamas.  Sloane adores pizza.  I didn't think "Hummus and Pajamas" would bring in the masses so Jude didn't get his say in the food category.  I designed the invitations on PicMonkey and texted them to party-goers.  If that isn't cheap and easy, I don't know what is.  Point for Merd.

They already had plenty of adorable pajamas so I didn't need to buy new birthday outfits.  Once again, Michael would tilt his head and say, "Need?" but let's be honest.  I ordered their cake from Market Street  - if you live in Texas and are near a Market Street, I can't recommend them enough.  They are cheap and delicious.  We picked up the pizzas from Dominos, using coupons to keep the cost down.

Cake topper by Ladada Designs
Biggest splurge: Fruit (isn't it always?) and popcorn from Uptown Popcorn.  Michael grabbed the Dill flavor (YUM) and Confetti (meh).  We popped our own butter popcorn at the house.

We still had plates, napkins, straws, and cups from last year's party so we were all set there!  We always have a giant number balloon so I kept with that tradition and added six more basic balloons to the order last minute.  Come on, I'm no saint.  Since the party was at night, I grabbed glow sticks for favors.

And that was it!  Pizza, fruit, popcorn, and cake.  Seven balloons.  Glow sticks.  DONE.

The kids had a blast.  The weather was perfect so we spent a good portion of the party in our backyard.  I don't think Jude & Sloane stopped moving the entire time (except when we sang to them).

Going overboard in the past with food or decorations or party favors or birthday outfits... our kids didn't care.  In fact, I think we all had a better time this year because I was far less stressed and far more present, which I know they pick up on as well.  Good lesson for me.  :)

One other thing I feel I must disclose.  Sloane.  Oh my goodness.  She talked about her presents the entire time.  We always open them after the guests leave, which I told her before the first guest arrived.  So what did she do?  Waited until I was chatting with approximately seven moms before blurting out, "Are they going to leave soon so I can open my presents?"  And that wasn't it.  She went up to my friend Elizabeth and waved at her.  Elizabeth asked, "Oh, are you ready for me to leave?"  "Yes!  Bye!"  She also brought Ryan her kids' shoes toward the end of the night (without Ryan asking).  Needless to say, we had a long talk about patience and gratitude the next day.  Fortunately everyone found it funny, but her dad and I did not.

And so wraps up their 4th birthday party!  I'm so glad we did it and am so grateful for the sweet friends who came.  I can only hope we're all still close when these kids are celebrating their 14th birthday!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

(Almost) 16 Weeks

Well my first update happened around 12 weeks so it's been almost a month.  Monthly updates are better than nothing, right?

I did this questionnaire a few times with the twins so let's bring it back from the vault.

How far along? 15 weeks, 5 days
Total weight gain/loss: 8 lbs. Yowza!  Even with a 4-year break, my body remembers this whole pregnancy thing quite well and I feel like it's sort of showing off at the moment.  My bump is bigger with this child than it was with two.  My mom likes to remind me it's because I'm old.  
Maternity clothes? Maternity jeans for sure!  I'm still wearing non-maternity leggings and joggers but they're getting a bit snug.  Most of my tops are pretty loose (flannels, boho style) so I should be good for awhile.  
Stretch marks? Nope!
Sleep: The sleep is great.  The waking up three times a night to go to the bathroom is not my favorite.  Michael is closer to the bathroom and I told him as of next week I'm taking over his spot.  Walking alllllll the way around the bed is just too much at 3 am.  ;)  I still take a short nap almost every day but my energy is slowly returning.
Best moment this week: Hearing the heartbeat at my appointment last Thursday!  It took my doctor a while to find it but she was laughing from the start so I wasn't too worried.  When we finally heard it (such a great sound) she said, "I couldn't find it because this baby won't stop moving.  All of the noises you heard were kicks - it'll have no problem keeping up with its siblings."  
Movement: I don't think so.  I've felt some flutters that may or may not be the baby but I'm not certain.  Can't wait! 
Food cravings: Where do I begin?  Cake.  Brownies.  Dill pickles.  Cottage cheese.  A lot of JUNK.  I had Taco Bell for the first time in years and then I had it two more times that same week.  Could not get enough!  
Anything making you queasy or sick: I still have to make sure I'm eating every few hours.  If I go too long I start feeling pretty gross (and then no amount of food makes me feel better).  
Have you started to show yet: Absolutely (see above).  I'm large enough that a few girls actually touched my stomach at a birthday party last weekend.  You know it's a sizeable bump when people are that confident.  
Gender prediction: I'm almost positive it's a boy.  We find out in three weeks and I can't wait!  We have two names we love for each.  
Belly button in or out?  In. Remember how I had umbilical hernia surgery to fix my poor belly button?  I did that because we were DONE having kids - whoops!  The doctor said there is a chance the mesh will keep it in place but I don't have high hopes.  I imagine I will have an outie by 20 weeks.  Sigh.
Wedding rings on or off?  On! 
Happy or Moody most of the time:  I feel like I'm just overly emotional.  I'm very happy - wouldn't say I'm too moody - but I cry at the drop of a hat and Michael knows to approach with caution, especially if there is a sweet commercial on tv.  
Milestones: Having a complete stranger congratulate me on my pregnancy;  first flight (to Chicago!) for the baby
Jude & Sloane's Responses:  The kids are so excited for this child.  Sloane talks and sings to my stomach and Jude loves to give it hugs and kisses.  Sloane says she can't wait for it to "pop right out" so she can babysit.  They make this entire experience so much fun for us.  They also ask if it's awake or asleep and if I say it's sleeping they whisper and play quietly. Needless to say, this baby sleeps A LOT.  ;)  
(Juno & Bleeker at a benefit last weekend! 15 weeks)

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Today is Michael's and my nine year anniversary!  I started this blog when we were engaged so it's been a pretty great journal of our lives... up until 2012 when it turned into the Jude & Sloane show.

I went into our marriage thinking we were a great couple.  Several years of wedded bliss confirmed my suspicions.  I wish I could say once the kids arrived things just kept getting better - and in some ways they did - but my blog isn't the only thing that turned into the Jude & Sloane show.  

I've done a few posts on what I would tell my 16-year-old self so I'm going to dedicate this year's anniversary post to nine things I would tell my newly married self.  Because, oh my goodness, she didn't have a clue.

1.  Travel before you have kids.  This is one I think we nailed.  We didn't go anywhere too crazy, but Michael and I went on several trips before kids and they are some of our fondest memories.  The furniture and new cars were nice, but nothing makes me smile more than talking about our trips.  If you love to travel I can't emphasize this one enough.  I think we always thought we'd continue traveling once we had our first child but when you have two at a time, logistics make it quite difficult.

2.  SAVE.  Going from dual income/no kids to one income/two kids was a swift kick in the pants.  So many times we've looked at each other and asked, "Where did the money GO before kids?"  Of course we remember where it went... Fancy sushi dates on Tuesday nights.  Late night movies with giant popcorns and cokes.  Do I regret the fun times?  Meh, I don't think so.  But going from no budget to a very, very, very tight budget was so hard.  Maybe just share a popcorn.  And save the sushi for a special occasion.

3.  Fighting does not make you a bad couple.  This has been a hard lesson for me.  Why?  Because Michael and I don't fight.  I need two hands (maybe one?) to count the number of true fights we've had in nine years of marriage.  I always wore this as a badge of honor.  What I didn't realize is this often means crucial words are left unsaid.  Grudges held.  Fights don't harm a relationship as long as you work through it.  Silence hurts.

4.  You are not #1.  I think this is an easy rule in the beginning.  You are so excited to be married and you want the world for your spouse.  You didn't want to spend your Sunday afternoon watching football?  Who cares, he's happy.  You didn't want to shop till you dropped?  Who cares, she loved it. As the years go by and kids arrive, it's very easy to make the kids your #1 priority.  And in the early days, I think that is to be expected.  However, there comes a time when they get a bit older and are more self-sufficient.  When that happens, remember to put your spouse first again - not yourself.  Once I realized I could finally take a breath, I put my needs first and didn't look back.  I felt like I'd earned it.  Terrible idea.

5.  Date Nights Are Important.  With twins we didn't have people knocking down our door to babysit.  No clue why.  :)  Also, due to budget restrictions mentioned above we didn't get out much.  I wish we would've realized how much we could do once the kids were asleep.  I read about this all the time - keep the date nights up - and I completely agree.  Even if you don't leave the house.  Even if it means eating cereal for dinner and watching a made-for-tv movie together.  Have a date night.

6.  Embrace the Mess.  The physical mess, the mental mess, the metaphorical mess.  When you get married, offer your partner grace.  When you have kids, offer yourself grace.  Grace upon grace upon grace.

7.  Pick Your Battles.  As I mentioned above, Michael and I rarely fight.  However, that doesn't mean we were lovebirds constantly complimenting each other.  I picked every battle.  Rather than be grateful for all the things he did, I noticed the one or two things he didn't.  Teachers always tell us to offer more positive reinforcement than criticism with our children.  I think that should be the golden rule for all humans.

8.  Don't Lose Yourself.  I've written about this multiple times.  Some of the strongest marriages I know are two individuals who have their own passions, jobs, friends, etc.  It doesn't mean they don't make time for each other, it simply means they never lost who they were.  At some point I lost who I was.  It came after kids and it wasn't a pretty revelation.  I've since gained some direction (still have a ways to go) but I wish I'd never let it get to the point where I barely recognized myself.

9.  Eye Contact, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation.  Look each other in the eyes when you talk.  Hug as often as you can (even if - especially if - you don't feel like it).  Don't just tell your spouse you love them, tell them WHY you love them.  I'm a firm believer that saying it out loud affirms them and reminds you what a special gift you have right in front of you.

This past year was the hardest we've experienced yet, mostly because of the reasons above and mostly because of me.  Fortunately, rather than turn away from one another we chose to turn toward each other and became stronger because of it.  It wasn't pretty.  It wasn't easy.  But it was necessary.  And, as with all things on this dear blog, it's very much a work in progress.

In plenty and in want
In joy and in sorrow
In sickness and in health

Here's to year 10...

Friday, October 7, 2016

Jude & Sloane's Reactions to #3

There are two things about this pregnancy that make it so much more fun than the last: Jude & Sloane.  Yes, technically they were a part of the last pregnancy but they didn't say too much and were (if I'm being honest) a bit boring.

Michael and I decided to wait until my 11-week appointment before we shared the news with the kids.  Sloane is basically another adult in our house and we didn't want her to have to think through things if this pregnancy wasn't meant to be.  This doesn't mean they were oblivious to the changes happening to me.  Sloane saw my stomach one morning and said, "Mom, you've been eating A LOT of food lately."  When Jude realized it'd grown a bit he immediately wanted to kiss it (this trend has continued and the baby now receives 8-10 kisses at a time from Jude).

Once we were given the green light we did our typical bedtime routine and told them we had some news.  Michael recorded the whole thing and I had an idyllic vision of how it would happen:  I'd share our news and they'd jump on their beds while telling us this was the best day of their lives.  Instead, Sloane immediately furrowed her brow and said, "I want to name her Sloane and we need to build her a crib."  Jude listened intently and immediately changed the subject to Paw Patrol.

Ah yes, exactly how I pictured it.

Since then, they have taken on the roles of big sister and big brother quite nicely.  Sloane constantly asks how the baby is doing and how I'm feeling.  She talks to it often and tells me she's going to be "the best big sister in the whole wide world" (I think she may be right).   Jude has become much more gentle around me and loves to rub my stomach.  He always smiles and says, "It's going to get a whole lot bigger!"  Yes, yes it is.

They both think they have a baby in their bellies.  I'm too tired and they're too young for "the talk" so I'm just letting them think 3/4 of our family is pregnant for now. We'll cross that bridge later. We've only had one "How did it get in there?" and we dodged that bullet like a pro.

I've been a little concerned with the age difference as they will be 4.5 when the baby arrives but I also think it could be great for our family.  I'm also nervous this baby won't have a plus one but then I remember 95% of kids have the same issue and deal with it quite easily.

All in all, it's been a pretty smooth transition so far.  I know this is all a little too abstract for them but my hope is to make it feel as normal and natural as possible.  While the baby is obviously a part of our lives already, my plan is to spend the next 26 weeks reinforcing how special Jude & Sloane are to us.  And if I don't do it enough, I'm quite positive Sloane will remind me.  :)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Number THREE!

Whenever I disappear from this dear blog it's typically because we're up to something big.  I think you could say that this time as well...

We posted the announcement on social media yesterday and the amount of comments that started with "Whaaaaat?" was hilarious.  Surprised?  Yes, so were we.  I'll rewind a bit and tell you about the last few months.

In mid-August, I took the best nap of my life.  I told Michael about it that evening because the kids had to shake me to wake me up.  I was groggy and out of it for a long time afterward.  While I am no stranger to naps (ask anyone), this one was magical.  I didn't think much of it and just chalked it up to having 3-year-old twins who are exhausting in every possible way.

The next few days are foggy.  I honestly don't remember what led me to take a pregnancy test but I remember walking to the bathroom already knowing what it would say.  It took less than three seconds for two lines to pop up.

Regardless, I was absolutely shocked.  I looked at it 10 times.  15 times.  I'd walk away and then come back a minute later to peer at it again.  I started pacing around our house (I do not pace) until Sloane started asking what was wrong with mommy.

When I finally processed the information, I sent Michael a quick text, "Please call when you get a chance."  I waited 30 minutes (actual time: three minutes) before calling him.  I never call him at work so he picked up after the second ring and had to listen to me spew nonsensical garbage before I finally said, "I'm pregnant."  He started laughing and told me he was so excited.  That night he came home with lemonade and Oreos, the two things I craved most with the twins.

Most of you know our story.  Before Jude & Sloane we suffered two miscarriages.  Thanks to one round of clomid, they arrived healthy and happy.  Due to these circumstances, I firmly believed I could never carry a child to term without intervention.  Once I fully embraced our news, I realized the chances of this baby surviving were pretty small. I hoped for the best and expected the worst.

I called my doctor and went in for initial blood tests.  I told Michael I expected my hCG number to be around 300-400 because I knew I was further along than four weeks.  The next day my mom and I loaded up the kids and drove to Waco for a quick overnight trip.  While we were driving I received a call from the nurse.  My progesterone (which has always been very low in the past) was perfect.  And my hCG?  27,000.  I'm sorry, let me say that again.  27,000.  I asked the nurse what that meant and she said I was further along than I thought.  Or....  "Marissa, promise me it's not twins."  "I can't promise you that, Meredith.  You need to prepare yourself..."

One phone call gave me more hope for this child than I ever imagined.  I wouldn't need progesterone supplements and this baby was STRONG.

Michael and I went in for an appointment the next week and saw our singleton.  Yes, JUST ONE.  We asked her to triple check.  It turned out to be a few days older than I originally guessed but we weren't as far along as they assumed based on the high hCG.  We saw the tiny heartbeat and were told to come back in a month.

The differences in this pregnancy and my last are pretty severe.  I've felt gross since six weeks.  My energy is shot and I can only eat bland comfort food (which just so happens to be my favorite food so no complaints there).  Even at 12.5 weeks, I struggle if I don't drink enough water or eat every two hours.  Since I never suffered morning sickness with the twins, I fully expected this pregnancy to be a breeze. NOPE.

A few weeks ago we went back for another check-up and ultrasound.  I was 11 weeks and we saw the cutest little baby bouncing around.  Michael was blown away by the details.  The hands and feet were already perfectly formed - I think he expected to see another white blob on a black background.

My due date is April 14 but we've decided to have a c-section so they will take the baby at 39 weeks - April 6 at 7:30 am to be exact!  We'll find out the gender at 20 weeks and already have a few names we love.

As far as my emotions?  I'm still shocked.  And to be completely honest, I'm terrified.  I've always felt like Jude & Sloane maxed us out so the thought of adding another one to our family... how are we going to do it?  Will I be able to keep up?  Surely I will lose one along the way?!

I'm also thrilled.  Elated.  Grateful & humbled.  A third child is something I've always thought sounded amazing but never believed was in our plan.  But this baby is a fighter.  It's already proven this by surviving against so many odds.  And that?  That makes me want to fight just as hard.

As always, we covet your prayers for a safe and uneventful pregnancy.  While I guarantee I won't be as faithful to this blog as I was with the twins, my hope is I can journal through the pregnancy so this time won't be lost.

2017 is already shaping up to be a pretty great year.  Cheers!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fashion Sensory - GAP

Hey, hey!  I'm back for the third installment of Fashion Sensory.  I'm still not sure about the name but I do like the play on words since I'm talking about fashion sense and Jude's sensory therapy.  :)  Meh, let's consider it a work in progress.

If you missed last week's post, you can CLICK HERE to read what this is all about.  While you're there, check out some great finds from Old Navy or CLICK HERE for great pieces from Nordstrom!

Now let's get to it!  This week I'm featuring...

This is especially exciting because right now they have 40% off almost everything on their site (ends Monday at midnight)! Woohoo!

I think Gap has finally learned they excel with the basics.  You aren't going to find a lot of truly unique pieces but you will find some great staples, which are perfect for building a classic wardrobe.  I walked around the store and found several items I wanted to take home.  What impressed me the most with their current collection is how soft everything feels.  Lots of cotton/linen mixes, which felt amazing.

I have this fitted boyfriend chambray shirt and I wear it with everything.  Skirts, wide-leg pants, shorts, and white jeans.  I also wear it so many different ways... untucked, half-tucked, knotted in the front, you name it.  I still can't bring myself to wear it unbuttoned over a tank because I have flashbacks to sixth grade and I'm just not ready to go there, but you feel free.

Below I've shown three different bottoms to pair with this classic top.  I also own these jeans and they are (by far) my favorite white skinny jeans.  I've tried many that are too thin and others that lose their shape after a few hours. These are perfect!

I love to mix a neutral top with a pop of color bottom so I chose hot pink linen shorts and a neon yellow midi swing skirt for a fun effect.  Either of these would look amazing with this top.  Make sure you roll the sleeves - it is summer, after all!

Fitted Boyfriend Chambray Shirt   |   1969 True Skinny Ankle Jeans  |  Linen Surf Shorts  |  Midi Swing Skirt
(Unfortunately, I don't believe the jeans are on sale...)

For those of you who are always cold (me!) or live in the north where summer lasts two weeks, I included this marled summer sweater.  Pairing a relaxed summer sweater with cuffed shorts and cute sandals or sneakers is my favorite.  Easy and effortless!

The 3/4 sleeve eyelet top is lightweight and so pretty!  Try an all-white look by pairing it with the white jeans above or consider it with the hot pink shorts!  I saw the linen cami dress in the store and fell in love with the color.  It just needs a pendant necklace and some cute sandals.

Baby Gap is one of my favorite places to shop because they are not afraid of color or prints.  And in the summer, I can't get enough of either.  The sleeveless chambray shirt would look adorable with either the plaid bubble shorts or the terry dolphin shorts.  When I was in the store the other day I grabbed the terry shorts immediately - I couldn't help myself!  I begrudgingly put them back but they are the cutest!

These dresses are so easy for summer.   I also love the tie in the front of the second dress - perfect to go with your tied chambray shirt above! ;)

Here are some great tops for your son!  Whether you go with a tee, polo, or button-up, Gap has the best colors!

I also included two different styles of shorts that you can mix and match with the different tops.

I couldn't narrow it down to three so here are FIVE fun items from Nordstrom - all on sale right now (thank you, half-yearly sale)!
Ray-Ban 59mm Aviators  |   Splendid Crossover Back Tank  |  Lush Knit Maxi Dress  |  Tory Burch Sandals  |  Ella Moss Ruffle Cami (just checked and this is no longer on sale! boo!)

Looks like those TB sandals went FAST!  So here's another pair on sale! :)

Disclosure - every outfit above contains an affiliated link(s), which means we are paid a small commission for each purchase made.  This is my personal "fundraiser" to help pay for Jude's therapy, while also sharing my favorite finds with my favorite people!  Thank you so much!


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