{His Mama’s Heart}


 Throwback to June 2013.

 He curls into my side, Mama George cushioning his head. Without prodding he turns the page, sending a wrinkle across an excavator’s scoop. Somehow it does not bother me tonight. There is no inward cringe or tamped down cry to “be careful!” This sleepy boy – my sleepy boy – unknowingly has me in the palm of his hand.

It started with me coming home to an empty house. Every room was blissfully quiet and as I climbed the staircase to the second floor nary a step dared to creak. This. This is what a tired, aching mama needed after a Monday at the office. While the boys grocery shopped for supper, I curled up in bed to rest.


Then the garage door sounded, another door swung open, and Chipmunk scurried up the stairs. In the hurry and excitement he did not see me waiting at the landing. But then he did see me and the grin lighting up his face made my heart stop. How do I bottle this sweet toddler adoration?

Ever so proud, he ecstatically pointed to the flowers in his trailing Daddy’s hand. Beautiful pink flowers. Ones Chipmunk insisted they buy for me. He would not leave the store without a bundle, resolute in his specificity. He wanted the pricey ones, that mama’s boy. As they went down the row, looking at bouquet after bouquet, Chipmunk shook his head and sounded an emphatic “no” for each one. Then the pink ones came and my darling two-year-old son knew they were the ones. And he was right.

Of course, how could any flower be wrong when given of the simplest and purest intentions? No other bouquet will ever compare to this one. Never.

He buttered me up, that smart boy. After two bites of salad I let him have a cupcake. What is my parenting coming to? Then the three of us curled up for snuggles and a movie, followed by pajamas; teeth brushing; and story time. A story time where our normally rambunctious boy curls quietly into my side and listens. His eyes droop. A yawn escapes. He softly mumbles words with me and haphazardly turns pages.

Quiet. Soothing. Wonderful.

In these moments he is still my baby. It’s an affliction he will never quite outgrow. For he has, in his tiny toddler hands, my heart. His mama’s heart. Forever and always.




{Little Gravel Road}


Between our subdivision and town is a gravel road. Just one. It curves its way through fields and rocky hills, over an almost-creek, and toward another subdivision. The beginning and end are far from country; yet the space in between is a slice of rural heaven. Husband grumbles his wish that it be paved every time we use it. But I – I secretly hope it never is. That the gravel road lined by horses and cows somehow never ages. For even in its beautiful Colorado state, this dusty, random path is a nostalgic slice of Kansas.

When I drive it I’m thrown back to childhood. Age five. It is summer and we are going to my cousins’ farm to play. The same farm where I hauled the barn cat under my arm like a football and insisted I always be carried inside because the sweet, harmless dog was somehow terrifying.

I am still five. We have driven a dirt road to Daddy’s childhood home and are now traipsing beyond it through the woods to the river. He knows them both like the back of his hand. Some days we hunt the woods for morel mushrooms. Others we find a sandbar to picnic. Sweat from the sticky Kansas heat molds my shirt to my back. We all smell of bug spray and sunscreen. This is how Daddy was raised – hunting, camping, and fishing on the land just beyond his doorstep. My young mind almost cannot comprehend it, but I am comforted knowing he is so strong and capable. I am proud.

Suddenly I am 15 and learning to drive. There is immense comfort in learning to operate a car without the pressures of city traffic. Dad is constantly reminding me to relax my death grip on the steering wheel. He occasionally reminds me to stop watching the road directly in front of the bumper and is terrified by my square turns, insisting he has never seen someone turn the way I do. It is on a maze of country roads that I learn to read them – to evaluate the looseness of the gravel, their washboarded depths, and sopping wet edges which bid us closer to companionable ditches. The hills scare me as I approach, filling me with worry that someone will fly over the top right in the middle, taking us out as it goes. Those Eastern Kansas hills. Some rolling and others steep, ensconced between the fields of corn and wheat.

Now I am 17 and a senior in high school. The angst of adolescence pushes me to those roads. Quietly driving them brings solace. They center me as I over-analyze every nuance of this chaotic existence.

I miss those dusty paths. My old stomping grounds. They cause me to crave our little Colorado gravel road. My beautiful reminder of the past. A small, unexpected piece of Kansas to share with my son. It’s a place rich in sunsets much like those of childhood. Shades of pink caress the hilltops and tuck in the fields for a long night’s sleep with Chipmunk softly shushing them from the backseat.

It never escapes me: the beauty. Whether the road pulls me to the past or keeps me solidly in the present, the quintessential allure is always there. Beckoning. Welcoming. Engulfing.

My little gravel road.



{Fab Finds Friday} Baby Girl Edition

It feels premature to do this post before Sissy’s arrival. Perhaps I will post version 2.0 once she is born and I’ve been reminded which items are the most helpful. We have few needs since this is baby #2, but I am enjoying the opportunity to buy pink, sparkles, and all things girly.

I started packing my hospital bag weeks ago. With both babies I have kept a bag in the corner of the closet for me to throw random items in as I come across them. My OCD nature will probably have the process complete by 32-34 weeks. One item in the bag? These sweet hats. Two hats for $5.95 is one of the best prices I have found, but I am coveting these knotted hats from Gap. Newborns cannot regulate body temperature well so it is important (especially in the winter) to ensure they don’t lose too much heat via an uncovered head.

Having a January baby means preparing for cold weather. Tights and leggings so she can still wear dresses. A friend reminded me last week of how wonderful these side snap bodysuits are with itty bitty ones. I prefer them during the day. Matching up snaps is not for the fainthearted and bleary eyed, so zipping footy sleepers are my nighttime preference.

Muslin swaddle blankets. Versatile. All-weather.

3-ply prefold cloth diapers. I actually use these as burp cloths. Chipmunk had reflux so the cutsie, thin burp cloths weren’t absorbant enough. We had a sitter who refused to use anything but the thin ones (until I hid them) and they were disgusting by the time I got off work. Grossness warning: they were a crusty sheet of nastiness. We did not have that problem with the prefolds. Hopefully Sissy is not afflicted by reflux, but we are prepared if she is! If she is reflux-free, though, I wouldn’t mind something like this

Since I plan to breastfeed and will be returning to work, pumping is an almost certain part of my future. It’s exhaustive work but worth it. A hands-free pumping bra makes all the difference during those collective hours. It made such a difference last time. I used it with this pump.

We were big fans of the Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor with Chipmunk. Husband and I are debating between using it again with Sissy and transitioning to a video monitor. I have my reservations about the video monitor because of how easily they can be hacked. Husband is having a hard time convincing me it is the way to go. I’m sure he would welcome any arguments that might convince me to convert!

Then there are the fun, unnecessary items. Like a bunny sweater.

Or a chandelier for the nursery.

And baby headbands. A classmate from college runs this shop. She opened it in honor of her daughter, Nella, who was diagnosed with SMA Type I as an infant. (You can follow her journey here). WeAreCutieCouture has a wide selection and is another favorite of mine.

That’s probably more than enough for today. Enjoy your Friday and have a wonderful weekend!



{28 Weeks}

Hello, third trimester!

How far along: 28 weeks

Maternity clothes: Nice and comfy – although I’m loving my ratty ol’ sweatshirt from college.

Stretch marks: Not yet.

Sleep: I’m sleeping fairly well at the moment. Fingers crossed that it lasts for a bit!

Best moment of this week: When our dining room chairs were delivered. We can finally have people over for supper! Our table seats eight comfortably when it isn’t extended. It will seat 12-14 extended. It’s ironic that we have this wonderful space for entertaining when my family is eight hours away and Husband is an only child. I dream of hosting large holiday gatherings like those of my childhood. One day, I tell you. One day! Or maybe I’ll have to start throwing an annual holiday party…

Miss anything: Energy. Sweet energy.

Movement: Movement has gotten noticeably stronger in the last few days. She is one strong little girl!

Food cravings: Strawberries. Chocolate. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Chinese take out. The last craving has come and gone for the last few months and I’ve never satisfied it.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope. No sickness.

Have you started to show yet: Yeppers. I’m bigger every day.

Gender: Girl!

Labor signs: Nope. I’m sure I’m having Braxton Hicks but I’m not aware of them. It was the same story with Chipmunk. My doctor felt one with Chipmunk while he was measuring my stomach and I was oblivious.

Belly button in or out: Still a full innie!

Wedding rings on or off: Comfortably on.

Happy or moody most of the time: Pretty happy lately.

Looking forward to: Finishing all the painting and completing the nursery. The mobile arrived yesterday!



{Fab Finds Friday}

Happy Halloween, everyone! Somewhere along the way I stopped enjoying this holiday, but Chipmunk is breathing new life into it. This is his third Halloween but first time trick-or-treating. We are excited to see what he thinks!

Mr. Rogers talks to the Wicked Witch about being misunderstood.

This article is for me: 10 Halloween movies for scaredy cats.

This couple bartered their entire $80,000 wedding. So cool!

When parents feel the most intense joy.


And with that, I am off for a fun day with the kiddo. Have a lovely weekend!



{DIY Laundry Soap}

We are officially a DIY laundry soap family. My sweet friend Kristina at Joyfully Smitten tried to convince me to join the club just before Chipmunk was born, but I loved my Tide too much to jump ship. It’s what my grandmother always used. There is just something about freshly washed laundry that smells like Grandma was the one in the laundry room. Needless to say, I was emotionally tethered to the pricey liquid stuff. Now that we have transitioned, Husband and I both wish we had done it sooner!

DIY Laundry Soap

It cost approximately $25 to make.The picture above shows the laundry soap after more than two months of use. It lasts for ages! I’m estimating a year for this batch. Tide is super expensive and we replace it every month or two. Suffice it to say, this has already become a major money saver for us. We have a front loading HE washing machine and this detergent works great with it. We have not experienced any problems with it.

Around the time I decided to make this we started having our groceries delivered by Wal-Mart (this isn’t advertising – just a fact – we are actually fairly dedicated Target shoppers). First, I do not plan to return to grocery shopping ever again. Having a week’s groceries delivered when it is convenient and without dragging a toy-hungry toddler through a store is fantastic. Second, the timing of my grocery delivery discovery was perfect because I was able to add all the laundry soap ingredients, including the glass jar, to my delivery order. It appeared on my front step and 20 minutes later I had a jar of laundry soap ready to go!

There are several DIY posts out there on how to do this, making mine one of many, but they are all essentially the same. I personally started with this version. Because of the Borax, this was not a Chipmunk project. It is a good idea to do this when little ones are napping or otherwise occupied.

1 – 4 lb 12 oz box borax
3 bars Fels-Naptha soap
1 – 4 lb box baking soda
4 lbs Oxiclean (store brands like Up & Up work just as well)
1 container scent boosting crystal like Purex Crystals, optional

Five gallon bucket
Trash bag
2.5 to 3 gallon sealing storage container

1. Line a five gallon bucket with a trash bag.

2. Grate the Fels-Naptha soap into the bucket. I bought a cheap grater from Ikea to avoid combining anything with our food via the kitchen’s grater.

3. Combine all other ingredients (borax, baking soda, Oxiclean, scent boosting crystals) into the bucket. In the picture you can tell we added the scent boosting crystals as an after thought a few months later. It did not get evenly distributed.

4. Transfer the mixture from the the five gallon bucket into a sealing container of your choice. The jar we bought from Wal-Mart does not seal, which is a problem. Moisture causes the dry ingredients to clump and harden. We are on the hunt for a gasket to adhere to the lid.

5. If you so desire, label your detergent container. Since presentation is so important to me, we used a vinyl label I found at Etsy’s bwordy. It cost $5.00 and was shipped promptly. It came with application instructions and even an extra, slightly flawed vinyl label to practice!

It only takes a few tablespoons of soap per load. After almost three months of use, we are hooked on the detergent. Even Husband, who loved the smell and feel of our laundry when we were dedicated to Tide, is raving about it. We still add our own fabric softener to the washing machine, so we are not saving there. Dryer sheets are cheaper, but they don’t do the job as well as liquid fabric softener. We also aren’t fans of finding wayward dryer sheets in our clothes during business meetings or in the middle of medical calls. Liquid it is!

Do you make your own laundry soap? Have you ever been tempted?



{27 Weeks}

How far along: 27 weeks

Maternity clothes: I’m pretty well in maternity clothes now. There are still some non-maternity shirts. I have no idea if my pre-pregnancy jeans still fit. Once the paneled skinny jeans I ordered came in, I was hooked. The maternity jeans are loose but oh, so comfy.

Stretch marks: Nope. The old stretch marks from Chipmunk are looking a bit red, though. I can’t tell if they are just more noticeable or perhaps stretching even more. Stretch marks are the pits.

Sleep: I sleep hard but rarely get through the night without needing to pee. We also have a dog who refuses to stay off the bed, so I’m yelling at him multiple times a night. At 80 pounds, he is far too big to snuggle! I do not have a pregnancy pillow and do not feel the need for one. I am also sleeping on my stomach still. It will be interesting to see how long I can do that this time. Chipmunk was born at 37 weeks and I slept on my tummy the night before he was born. That confession is shocking enough. Being able to do the same with baby number two would be even more shocking. I’m not expecting to be so lucky twice, but I am thankful for this long torso that allows for extended tummy sleeping!

Best moment of this week: Chipmunk blowing raspberries on my tummy. He has started doing it every night and I can’t help but laugh – which, of course, encourages him. I love watching him bond with his sister while she is still in the womb. And, let’s be honest, he’s already practicing ways to torture her. Is it bad that I’m letting him get away with it?

Miss anything: Sleeping through the night. Cold cut sandwiches. Coffee. Energy.

Movement: All the time. She moves more dramatically than Chipmunk ever did. Maybe we have a dancer on our hands.

Food cravings: Strawberries. Delicious!

Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope. No sickness.

Have you started to show yet: Yeppers.

Gender: Still a girl.

Labor signs: Nope.

Belly button in or out: The belly button is in.

Wedding rings on or off: I’m still wearing my wedding rings. They are slowly getting more snug.

Happy or moody most of the time: Moody. It’s just been one of those weeks and I am emotional about everything. Husband is starting to tread a bit more lightly. He’s probably living in fear of the tears.

Looking forward to: Finishing all the painting and completing the nursery. I just ordered the cutest mobile to put above the crib!

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