raising my ebenezer - how Moses saved Aaron

Yes, I realize that I have completed my story on our house and moving and all that.  But I keep feeling this nagging (or maybe it's a gentle nudging) to keep this series open ended.  After all, God uses each intricate detail of our life as part of a bigger story.  The details alone may not seem all that awesome but when you take the time to step back and look, you may be amazed at what you see.  So for now, as the stories come, from formation or memory, I will use this spot as a way to share the miraculous things that God has done for me and I hope it will encourage you to do the same, because He does indeed work miraculously in all of our lives.  
This story is a tough one for me to share.  It still makes me highly emotional and you will see why.  You may not know, because I don't talk about it much, but I wholeheartedly believe that Moses saved Aaron's life long before Aaron was ever born.  I fully believe that the details of Moses' birth set into motion actions that saved Aaron's life.

Let's start from the beginning.  I naturally went into labor with Moses.  We watched the season premiere of Lost with friends, with minor random contractions all through the show and went home.  We got home and the contractions were still irregular, I wasn't alarmed and pretty sure I told Doug "If this IS it, we will need our sleep."  So we went to bed.  I woke up at 2:30am to my water breaking.  Still no major contractions.  Got ready, went to the hospital and shortly after was informed that I was too far along for an epidural.  SAY WHAT?!  I am NOT a natural birth advocate.  I wanted drugs.  As far as I was concerned, unless a natural birth would make my baby cuter, my butt smaller and my baby weight FALL off, I was not interested.  But I was denied my precious epidural.  I hallucinated from the pain it was SO bad.  They did give me something that did NOTHING.  I felt every bit and Moses was born a very swift four hours after my water broke.  No one could believe he came so fast.  Every doctor that I have ever mentioned that to is shocked that a first baby came so fast.  They tell you that the first takes forever, in general.  Not the case here.  Little Moses was born at 6:24am or so.  He was also born with the umbilical cord cinched around his little neck.  Thankfully it wasn't too tight or too far gone and all was well.  Little did we know what foreshadowing we had just witnessed.  
Fast forward less than two years later.  Moses is awesome and we love him of course.  He's such an easy baby that we are ready to try again and get pregnant with ease. 

Now let me tell you, at this point my feelings on drugs with birth had not changed.  From the moment of conception, I knew I wanted an epidural when Aaron was born.  I am not kidding when I say that from my very first prenatal appointment with Aaron I advocated and BEGGED to be induced.  There was something in me that would NOT let my doctors ignore me or my requests.  It was more than just not wanting to deal with the pain.  Something more was pushing me to make SURE that I was induced.  Doug was working overnights and we were alone in Charlottesville.  God laid all of these details in our path to ensure that I kept begging.  I am sure that not a single visit went by without me bringing it up.  By the last third of our pregnancy it was the first and last thing I talked about with every doctor. 

I would relay how fast my first came, how the second is supposed to come twice as fast, how my husband worked nights, how I was alone with a two year old on those nights with no one to call.  I was insistent beyond any earthly reason that I MUST BE INDUCED. 

Finally they relented.  I don't know if I just annoyed them enough or what, but they finally scheduled my induction for a time that was before my due date but also safe for the baby.  And let me tell you people, all the while this induction was not for my convenience.  I didn't WANT a nice afternoon birth or it to fit nicely in my schedule.  There was something more that was driving me, and I am sure crazy pregnant hormones didn't help the matter but deep inside me I KNEW that it needed to happen this way.

So one happy day in February we got the call to come in, we left Moses at home with a sitter and went off to the hospital.  We got checked in and shortly after starting the induction they offered me my precious epidural.  I gratefully accepted.  I also remember them asking Doug if he would like to cut the cord and of course he did, just like with Moses. 

Things went smoothly, some pushing happened and Aaron was born.  Completely silent. 

Even in my stupor I knew something wasn't right. 
They didn't let Doug cut the cord. 
They didn't hand him over to me. 
They didn't even let me see him. 
Doug was by my side and I may have yelled for him to go to Aaron. 
They had taken him to the incubator to work on him.
I couldn't see what was going on.
Somehow I learned that the cord was around his neck and they were having trouble getting it off, it was so tight.  SO tight. 

I'm not sure how long he was quiet but it was long enough to scare me.  I remember thinking SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM.  I waited and begged for him to SCREAM.

Then he did.  He did.  He did. 

The most glorious noise ever. 

It may have taken a few days or hours but eventually I was able to connect the dots.  If Moses' birth hadn't been so painful and quick we would have had no reason to insist on an induction with Aaron.  There would have been no reason for alarm.  No push to get it scheduled.   I would never even had considered induction. 

And I firmly believe that given another couple of hours or days at the most we wouldn't have Aaron today.  He was born just in time.  Just before the cord was too tight.  Just before he couldn't breathe anymore.  Just in time.   

Moses' hurried entrance into the world set into motion the actions we would take to welcome his brother just in time.  God used my pain for good.  And He always does.  He always does.   

pallet to coat rack - another pinterest win

It takes a while to get settled into a new home.  When we moved into this house there was no need for anywhere to hang a jacket or a bag...it was summer and we didn't use those things.  As school has started and the mornings have become cool enough for a jacket, it became apparent that we needed a better solution than the back of the dining room chairs or the floor by the door.

I started looking into tradition coat racks.  You know, the tall, weapon shaped, spears that were not only ridiculously expensive but guaranteed to be knocked over repeatedly.  My next stop in the search was pinterest.  I found THIS genius post by Shelterness and knew I had my answer...now where to find the perfect pallet? 
My husband to the rescue.  He came home from work with a pallet that was made not only for the project but also for the very space I had in mind to hang it.  All I did was spray paint it black, then white primer and then painted all the different colors.  Then I gave it a good sanding.  The black and white layers give it great texture when you sand it.  
Then I added a bunch of industrial type hooks and attached it firmly to the wall.  
Done in a day.  And now we have a great place for all the jackets and bags to come that can't be turned into a weapon!

my favorite...

I almost love the convenience and quality of my camera phone as much as my "real" camera. 

What's not to love about being able to capture a moment like this in an instant?

I'd love to see your favorite phone photo!  Hop on over to my FB page and leave it there for me to see or leave a comment with a link to your blog post! :)

Happy Wednesday!

what I made for Monday - no bake peanut butter and chocolate bars - (OH MY GOSH amazing!!)

You will hate me for telling you about these.  Then love me.  Then hate me.  Then love me.

But these may be the most amazing thing I have made for a Monday yet.  And I have made a lot.

Here's how you make them.  And it's imperative that you make them TODAY.

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
1 1/2 cup graham crushed graham crackers 
1 lb powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 sticks butter, melted.  I always use salted.
12oz of chocolate chips (one bag) 
1 spoonful of creamy peanut butter

Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, peanut butter and melted butter in a large bowl until combined. 
Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and press the mixture into the bottom evenly.

Melt chocolate and spoonful of peanut butter in a double broiler until melted and smooth.  
Pour chocolate over peanut butter mixture and spread out evenly.  
Place pan in the fridge just until set and then cut into bars.  Try not to eat them all yourself. 
Recipe adapted from the one I found at "Tell Love and Chocolate". :) 

Adding things boys love to things boys love - a sponsored post!

Recently my boys were sent some of VTech's new Switch & Go Dinos™ to test drive. To say the boys loved them would be an understatement! The new dinos combine two of my boys' favorite things...make that three things: cars, dinos and toys that transform! From the moment they got the toys out of the box a few days ago, they have been constant companions. They have made several trips to the store with us and have been carried (or driven) from room to room.

The boys love how the dinos "talk" to them and how the sounds that the dinos make add to the play they are already doing! For example, when one of them is transformed into a dino, when you roll it across the floor it makes stomping sounds like a dino would in the woods, another makes car noises as it drives. The LCD screen that shows different drivers and other fun details is also pretty awesome!

VTech is challenging kids to "transform their imaginations", and these toys do a good job of catapulting my boys in that direction. You may think that a "tech" toy would dull the imagination, but these have done just the opposite.

The boys love the interactive noises and sounds (that have a volume control for us parents!!). They love that these are toys that they can play with and "do" all by themselves. There isn't much that is more frustrating to them then having to get help to use a toy right...that's not a problem there. They have gone between dino to vehicle many times all on their own. These are very kid-friendly, intuitive and easy to enjoy toys!
VTech is hosting a pretty cool "Show and Tell with Switch & Go" contest with equally cool prizes. You can upload videos from now through October 1:
Show – What does your child's Switch & Go Dino look like?
Let your child choose 1 of 3 ways to show-off their home-made Dino creation and record it on video:
o 1. Draw: They can use markers, crayons, paint or pen to sketch your creation on paper
o 2. Build: They can use foil, paper, cardboard, or any non-branded household items to build your Dino
o 3. Customize: They can update their own VTech Switch & Go Dino with accessories and fun props to give them a new image!
VTech wants to hear about the cool things your child's Dino does. What makes it large and in charge? Encourage your child to name it and share its roaring sound effects.
From October 8 through October 19 cast your vote for the coolest, most creative and fiercest video…
One grand-prize winner will get a kids lifetime supply of educational toys from VTech. And your video will air on a VTech commercial on Nickelodeon, which you can watch at your very own viewing party with your friends and family. And VTech will also transform your living room into the ultimate Dino den!

Give it a go and click here to enter!! For other bloggers' reviews and to see other customized Switch & Go dinos, visit the VTech brand page on BlogHer.

what i made for Monday - seven layer bars

So since we have moved, I have continued my "What I Made for Monday" treat tradition with Doug's new crowd of employees.  They love them are a very grateful and sweet group to bake for!  Even though I now bake for Wednesdays, I'll stick with "What I Made for Monday" as the title of the series.  Today I sent in Seven Layer bars.  I used this recipe from Mr.Food.  It's simple, easy and has amazing results!
Melt one stick of butter and pour it into the bottom of an 8 by 8in pan.
Spread one cup of crushed graham crackers on top of the butter....
On top of that, add a cup of coconut.  And yes, the number of portions I send to work with Doug have reached cafeteria lady proportions. :)
On top of that add a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. 
On top of that a cup of peanut butter chips.
On top of that pour one can of sweetened condensed milk.
On top of the milk add one cup of chopped walnuts.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 or until it begins to brown around the edges.  Let it cool completely before you cut them into squares.  I put them in the fridge for a while. 

one stick of butter melted
one cup of graham cracker crumbs
one cup of coconut
one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
one cup of peanut butter chips
one can of sweetened condensed milk
one cup of chopped walnuts

Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

Enjoy! They are so very good!

random things and etc.

First things first...bus riding is a success! He loved it.  It makes him so happy to ride the bus!  He's done so well and loves it so much that he's going to start riding it HOME too and not just in the morning.  This was a huge step for me...want to know the hardest part for me?  Guilt.  Pure guilt over letting someone else do "my job" and feeling like I was being lazy in "just" putting him on the bus. 

Once I had an inkling that I was doing something to Moses that was for my benefit and not his...well, conviction set it.  Not to mention a little harassing by certain relatives in my life. :)  
I've been making these adorable baby hats using a pattern from Oodles4Noodles.  It's a free, easy pattern that is great for beginners.  I may be adding them to my shop since football season is upon us and I need something to do during those endless hours.  :)  
Once I got the hang of her pattern, I altered it to make bigger sizes.  Hers is only for newborns but with a little manipulation, I was able to make a larger size.  Next up...kid-sized ones!
I am taming the endless stream of paper that comes home from school.  What I don't want gets thrown away immediately and the keepers get put in these new, clean pizza boxes and will be stored under a bed or in a closet.  Label it with name and year and limit yourself to JUST this much and your paper monster will be tamed!
Finally getting caught up with penpal packages!  I like to reuse empty Crystal Lite tubs!
And I am so thrilled to finally share this little bit of info...A few months ago my friends Aaron and Jeremy asked if I would start working with them at their photography business called Enigma.  I know I've mentioned them before and I have always looked up to these guys.  It was an honor to be asked to work along side them behind the scenes and I am thrilled to that part.  But THEN they asked if I would be interested in also doing infant and child photos for them as well!  I'm blown away by their trust in my abilities and I am so excited to learn and grow as a photographer.  Above is a favorite from my first shoot under their name. :) Enigma is no joke...they have been voted the number one photographer by theKnot.com three years in a row! You can see the rest of my favorites by visiting my Flickr page. 

And finally.  I am forever being asked how I get so much done in a day.  I found this article by The Stressed Mom and it fits me to a T.  I could have written the post and follow all the "rules" she mentions.    I would also add that I don't watch TV during the day (or ever!) without doing something else at the same time...laundry, blogging, crafty stuff, etc.  I hardly turn on the TV during the day in the first place but sometimes I will watch a little Dateline while Aaron naps. :) If you implement these things into your life...I promise you will see a positive difference!

I hope your day is WONDERFUL and I am thankful for you! 


three pinterest pins for the win!

1) This amazing camera art...for $16 total including frame.  Frame from Michaels on sale 40% off and free art printed at Staples for about $3.77!  The folks at Design Editor offer the art for FREE!
2) Do you make bacon like this?  You should!  Bacon laid flat on parchment paper, place in cold over, warm up to 400 and cook anywhere from 15-20 minutes until it reaches your perfect level of done! 
Bacon was perfect!  Parchment paper caught ALL of the grease, when it solidified I just threw the paper away and didn't even have to clean the pans!  Idea from Martha!
3) See that scrubber?  It's full of half dish soap and half vinegar.  I keep in in the shower and use it while IN the shower to give the shower a once over.  Has made a HUGE difference and no having to clean the tub separately!  It works so well that I put one the in boys tub and now THEY clean the tub!

What have you done from pinterest lately? 

***Side note...while browsing and pinning away on Pinterest, please be sure that you dig into a pin until you get to the original source!  I try try try to do this, and yes I miss some, but if we can all take some time to make sure every pin we use is properly credited, then everyone wins!

happy monday!

Happy Monday to you!  I'm pretending that I feel like this...
...instead of like this!  

Moses is riding the bus for the first time ever!
Praying this isn't the start of another tearful day! 


daydream believer... {headboard from scrap wood}

After we moved a couple of months ago we went to set up Moses' bed only to discover that we had lost the hardware that we needed to assemble it!  I searched everywhere and was pretty disappointed in myself for not putting it with all of the other hardware stuff that we needed to assemble things (in my jewelry box!).  The other night I decided that I would just give up the search and go to Lowe's and get new bolts.  I went to look at Moses' frame and there was the hardware!  I had put it BACK into the holes it belonged in for safe keeping.  Apparently making myself too smart for my own good!

So anyways...Moses' bed got assembled and suddenly Aaron's bed looked naked.  He only had a frame, box spring and mattress.  I decided he NEEDED a headboard that minute.  And a couple of hours later...
Here it is!  Made entirely from scrap wood, paint and screws that I already had around the house!  It didn't cost me a penny more to make something that I completely LOVE! 
I used the same method as my "Oh Happy Day" sign but added legs that were the appropriate height to make it a headboard.  I can attach it to the frame if I want but for now it's just propped back there.  
I'm pretty stinking pleased with it.  And if we are ever done with it as a headboard I can just cut the legs down and I have a pretty cute sign! 
I love that it cost me nothing but a little time and digging around for supplies!

And...I just wanted to say that I think we are recovering from all of the changes we've had lately...you know, moving, kindergarten, new jobs, etc.  I have so many cool things to share with you and I am hoping that FINALLY we can have the kind of schedule that will help me be a better blogger. :)

In the mean time, thank you for hanging in there,  thank you for the birthday wishes yesterday and please let me know if there is something that I can do here that you would like to see! :)


meaningful newborn time - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too! 

This post is all about interacting with that new little one in your life in a way that is meaningful to both you and him!

I don't know about you but I think interacting with newborns is one of the most natural things in the world. They make excellent listeners, and they love the sound of your voice to boot! If you are worried about making meaningful connections, don't be! It's as natural as any good relationship you have. All you have to do is talk. It doesn't matter what you are talking about so long as you are following all the normal "rules" of conversation.
Look at your baby while you guys are chatting it up. Talk about how nice the produce is that day at the grocery store or how excited you are about the deal you just got. I always used this time to add in a little counting and color identification. You know, "Mommy is buying three, yellow bananas"...that kind of thing. 

Sing to your baby during bath time and when you put him to bed. He doesn't care if you sound like a pro or not, he loves the sound of your voice. And guess what? "Baby voice" is totally optional. If you are like me and you aren't a fan of the baby voice, just talk to him like normal, using your happy tone.
During your daytime feedings you can chit-chat about whatever comes to mind. I never talked during the night because I didn't want then to get the wrong idea about what nighttime was for. My boys even loved it when I was on the phone but pretended to be talking to them. 

The best way to interact, in my humble opinion, is to hold that baby! I am in the camp that believes you cannot hold a baby too much. I held my babies every minute they would let me, and they never had any trouble sleeping through the night or starting school or any of those things they tell you will happen if you hold a baby too much. In fact, I believe it increases their confidence and overall well being. 

How do YOU interact with your newborn in a meaningful way?
Be sure to check out all my other baby advice posts HERE. Worth a read, for sure!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.

oh the agony...

A few short months ago I gave birth to my first born son.  He was beautiful and tiny and perfect.  People cooed over how beautiful he was.  I'll never forget my friend Martine telling me "He is beautiful Crystal.  No really, in the world of babies he is just gorgeous".  And he was.  He was a delight as a baby.  Each transition was easy.  He slept through the night early, took to foods well, potty trained quickly and just this morning walked into a big, new school all by himself.

Oh wait.  It's been nearly six years and not six months.  It just feels that way. 

I didn't think that today would be hard.  I'm not one of "those" moms.  I never tend to be over emotional about much of anything.  In fact, I'm a little convinced that at the precise point in development that you learn how to cry at sad movies and other sappy things, something traumatic must have happened to me because I just don't have that trait.

But this morning.  This morning.  This morning I took my first baby to kindergarten.  I left my whole heart there with him.  I watched him get out of my car, on his own and walk to that big new building.  I watched him turn around and wave at me with a smile and skip happily on his way. 

I listened to him say "No thanks" after I asked if I could walk him in.  He saw other kids being walked in by their parents and he wanted no part of it. 

I'm honestly a little shocked by how hard this day has been.  I'm grieving over the change.  It's a huge one.  I'm thankful for every day of almost six years that he has been with me at home.

I'm so grateful for a husband who would do anything he can, and has, to make sure I could be the one taking care of our kids at home.  I know that because of that, I was able to be there for everything, not missing a moment of his precious little life.  A gift that I don't take lightly.  Though the trauma to my heart is great at the moment, I know it will pass.  For now, I have to fight the urge to just go get him.   
I pray fiercely for his tender heart and sweet disposition.  I pray that he makes friends easily and that he is a friend to those who need one.  I pray that the love of Jesus pours out of him onto others.  I pray for his protection in this world that is full of evils.  I pray that this next phase only changes him for the better.

And I offer a warning to the mamas who have not gone through this, because they are still cuddling that snug little baby: It's true that time flies.  It's vicious and cruel but true.  You may look at that baby and think you have years but the truth is you have moments.

First they walk, then talk, then make friends.  A wave of first things will follow: sleepovers, preschool, new siblings, first Christmas, first birthdays and first ice cream cones.  They all blur together in a fury of time.  Before you know it, in a weeks time they learn to ride their bike with no training wheels, swim 20 yards on their own and walk into kindergarten with all the confidence and bravery you've prayed for them to have.  At least that's how our last week has gone.

I thought I had years...but I really had moments. 

And now I'm clinging to the knowledge that the love and concern I have for Moses is just a flicker compared to the love and concern that the One who created Him has for him.

big doin's

To say that we've been having fun since being home is an understatement.  Yesterday pretty much sums up our time home so far where we spent the whole day party hopping.  From one fun place to the next, I'm positive that we spent more time with people just yesterday then we did our entire time in Charlottesville. It was a good day.  We ended it with the Hokie's welcome back picnic.  Moses LOVES anything Virginia Tech so being able to eat dinner and rub elbows with the football players was pretty fun for him (and all of us really!).  At the end of the event I talked my sister-in-law into going down on the field to talk photos of our kids sitting there.  We're a pretty good team because I'll explore any idea and ask any question and she knows all the right people to ask!     
While we were waiting for the speakers to start, the football players filed through the stands.  Aaron stood in this spot and gave most of the football team a high five when they passed through.  
Then he got a little pat on the back from Frank Beamer.  Pretty exciting stuff if you're a Hokie.  
My adorable nephew got in on the action too...
...cutest baby I've ever seen on a football field.  :)

An awesome day for sure.  I'm hoping that tomorrow sets the stage for a new, calmer and more organized routine because.... Moses starts Kindergarten!!!

So pray for my heart and pass the tissues!

crazy making cure.

Things that make me crazy:
microsoft word
spelling a lot "alot"
double negatives 
strangers who touch you 
when people don't hold the door for the person behind them
when the couch touches the wall. 

That last one...all day long I was fixing it.  You know, because my children believe that in order to sit on the couch you have to get a running start from the other room and then HURL your body head first onto it.  Made me crazy in a special way.  Pinterest to the rescue.  Specifically this post from Shoestring Sophistication.   
The original post used a 12in wide board, stained and cut to the length of the couch.  I used a 4in wide board, spray painted.  I just wanted a little something back there and 12in would have been way too much.  
This size is just right to hold a drink, or prop some photos on.  Not sure yet what will live there but I'm thrilled with it in it's naked state. 
Most importantly the couch is not smoooooshed up against the wall.  
The windows caused a bit of debate as to whether or not to put a little shelf there or not.  In the end we chose to do so and I think it looks great!

Now to get those hideous pillows covered...

exciting happenings.

2012 has shaped up to be a pretty epic year for me and my little business.  I could never have imagined all the awesome things that January 1st would open the door to.  I've had an amazing flood of features, so many that I've literally lost count.  I'm thankful and blown away by each one.  These two however, landed in my mailbox.  Chatelaine is one of the top Canadian magazines and Readers Digest is pretty high up on the most circulated magazines list both here and in Canada.  Both of them recently featured my wooden spoon project.  
Amazingly fun to see MY work and MY name and MY website in print...in some pretty popular magazines to boot.  
I already have some more features lined up for 2013 but I can't mention those yet...but just as big and awesome. 

I've also been recently featured on Babble, Wired and so many other fun places. 

I'm overwhelmed with gratefulness. 

I'm amazed at my blessings.

I'm motivated to push more. :)

40 ideas - Number 13 - Moon Dough!

Moon dough is something that I bet many of us MEAN to do but never get around to.  Let me tell you...get around to it while the weather is warm enough to hose your kids off because, while this will win you major mom points, it is an OUTSIDE activity.  Unless you are one of those awesome moms without OCD (or CDO) tendencies who don't mind messy, messes...then you are awesome and can have fun with this year round. 
 All you need is 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil.  Mix together.  Play (outside)!.
That's it.  I doubled this recipe and the boys played for hours.  There was even enough left over when they were done for me to put away for another day.
Something about the texture just makes you want to pat it, run your fingers through it and play with it.  
Bonus is that your kids will smell good when they're done. 

But like I said...it's messy.  Good news is that it hoses off well.  

Make it happen today!  Your kids will love it and you'll get major mom points!
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