Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Little Update + Three {New to me} Shops

I wanted to pop in and thank you all for your prayers and encouragement over the past week.  The silver lining of going through hard things such as this is all the love I've felt from friends near and far.  I've been so touched by the many people, some of whom I haven't talked to in ages, who have checked in and offered their support.  Thank you so much--strangely California doesn't feel so far from home because of all of you dear ones.

Actually, let me allow Mary Graham to thank you herself.

Her sweetness makes my heart ache.

Since I last wrote, Philip discovered the newly opened Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders Program through University of California San Francisco's Benoiff Children's Hospital.  Eosinophilic Esophagitis is one of four disorders in which they specialize and we were able to get a referral and a quick appointment--next week in fact!  Praise God!  We'll have allergy testing done next week.  I'm both grateful for the hope of answers from the testing and anxious about what we'll learn.  After much consideration, I chose to continue exclusively breastfeeding Mary Graham in the meantime.  Her weight seemed stable enough to justify it, and the benefits of breastmilk are obviously not to be discounted.   I did decide to take out more foods from my own diet (including many of the ones Wade has avoided for years), while we wait for allergy testing, which has proved very challenging.  I'm just really hungry.  Right when it begins to feel like it's just too hard, I watch my sweet baby drift off to sleep while she gazes up at me nursing, and I'd trade just about any food to be able to keep doing it.

trying out the bumbo (and sporting a sweater handmade by one of her great-grandmothers!)

Switching gears, I wanted to share three new (to me) online shops that have me so excited!  It just occurred to me that they all involve monograms! Ha!  All I have to say is this southern girl sure is glad these sweet things are available online!

Celerie & South

This beautiful shop was just opened by an online friend (btw, online friends are totally legit.  In case you were wondering :) who has fabulous taste.  She has a passion for monograms, so she is offering a collection of classic pieces for sale, all with the option to monogram of course.  You must check out all the monograms she has personally designed!  I think her site will be a go-to spot for me for gifts.

The Beaufort Bonnet Company

I discovered this company through Instagram and let me tell you--one look at their photos of sweet baby after sweet baby in a classic little bonnet and you will just die!  They sell other preciousness too, but the bonnets!  Oh the bonnets!  I may or may not have plans for my daughters to match on Easter!!!

The Threadbare Hare

Another discovery via Instagram.  Sara creates the most darling belts and dog collars!  I believe she has recently changed her business name, so she's still working on getting things situated on her etsy site, but definitely check back!  Ordering a belt for Wade is on my list!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Update on Our Littlest Love {Prayers Needed!}

Oh friends, how we need your prayers.  Many of you know that Wade was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis when he was twelve months old.  EE is a complicated allergic GI disease that typically involves a long list of food allergies.  It's difficult to diagnose and to effectively treat.  The road to diagnosis for Wade was a really long and difficult one.  He was diagnosed as "failure to thrive," as he slipped farther down on the weight percentiles.  He would not eat, despite the trauma that was feeding therapy.   He saw several different doctors who had different approaches to this disease until we finally found the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA.  There, Pediatric GI and Allergy work together and more importantly, we respected their approach to treating patients with EE.  They were willing for us to try and work solely through food elimination vs. medication (there really is no medication indicated to treat EE, some are just used to control symptoms) and praise God, it worked!  Wade's eosinophil count essentially went away based on food elimination alone.  Granted, it was 18 foods, but we were so grateful.

Fast forward four years and we are fearing our precious Mary Graham may have EE.  Here's why:  At around four weeks (much sooner than Wade), she began to exhibit eczema on her cheeks.  I removed dairy from my diet, which seemed to help, but the eczema has come back and been harder to keep at bay.  The biggest sign that points to EE though is her dramatic drop in weight.  At two weeks, she remained in the 50th percentile in which she was born, by eight weeks, she had dropped to the 10th percentile, and by 11 weeks, she was in the fifth.  She is now considered failure to thrive, so the question remains as to why this is happening.  In almost all cases, the problem is intake (of milk), so the first thought is typically the mother's milk supply.  Our pediatrician raised this question at Mary Graham's eight week check up, but I felt sure that my milk supply was more than adequate.  I have pumped 3-4 ounces, and I experience all the signs of a strong milk supply.  What I have noticed more recently is that Mary Graham does not feed for a long time at each nursing session and often times it is not in a calm and satisfied manner.  She just does not take all that is available to her.  Our pediatrician was able to observe this at her most recent appointment.  This suggests she is uncomfortable and for whatever reason is choosing not to eat sufficiently.

With our family history for EE, it seems to us there is likely no other explanation for Mary Graham's dramatic drop in weight.  As you might imagine, my heart is breaking.  As we have begun to put the pieces together, it has felt like I am living in a fog, really.  Having just come through the challenging past six months of moving out here, renovating our house, and having a baby, I hardly feel I can handle another huge challenge.  I feel very alone out here, on the opposite side of the country from the doctors we came to trust with Wade.  There is no convenient children's hospital out here that would be an obvious first place for us to start.  To think my baby is hurting and I'm unsure what to do for her is killing me.

My desire in posting this is for people to pray.  Please pray with us and for us.  Here is how:

  • I am planning on contacting Wade's old GI doctor back in VA first thing tomorrow morning to discuss Mary Graham.  We have not spoken in a couple years and she is a busy doctor.  Pray with me that a message can reach her and she will be compelled to call me back.  
  • I want to get Mary Graham in for allergy testing ASAP.  My earnest prayer is that her list of foods would be relatively short and manageable for me to remove from my diet.  I want to breastfeed her with everything in me.  I nursed Holland for two and a half years; breastfeeding is one thing I feel I do well and really enjoy as a mother, and the thought of having that taken from me is unbelievably hard for me to bear.  
  • While we wait to get allergy testing done, we are going to try and give MG elemental formula.  Please pray that she would take it and for my heart as I bottle-feed her.  As you might imagine, it's awful to try and nurse your baby fearing that it's hurting her to eat because of things that are in your milk.  
  • Lastly, please pray for our family as we wrestle with what feels like hard thing after hard thing for us out here in CA.  If we truly believe that God is always good and He is in control, then none of this is by chance.  It is all the willful doing of a perfect and gracious God whose ways are not our ways.  I want to really believe that and to give thanks in all things, even those things that feel truly heartbreaking.  Would you pray that we would cling to God's promises for us in this difficult time?

Thank you for reading and thank you for caring about our family!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mary Graham's Birth {The Backstory}

As I've been thinking about Mary Graham's birth, I'm finding that my mind can't help but go back to the weeks and months leading up to her birth and how memorable they were.  And let's be honest--the term 'memorable' is really a euphemism for intense, stressful, and challenging.  Granted, there were some sweet times too, but a cross-country move, a pregnancy, and a house purchase and renovation were never things I would have wanted to do at the same time.   Oh, and how about if we throw in the impending Christmas season too?

I was so excited for Wade and Holland to be at our 20-week ultrasound.

Sweet little peanut!

Somehow we made it through the fall, during which time we lived in temporary housing at Travis Air Force Base.  (I truly did not think I could make it another day in that place!)  My due date was December 23rd, and as the month of December plugged along, I basically begged the little one inside me for more time.  There was just so much to be done, and I knew how life changes drastically once there is a new tiny little person in the mix. This being my third child, with my other two having coming close to their due dates, I really didn't think I'd get a full 40 weeks out of this pregnancy.  Having had bouts of what felt like pre-term labor at 28 weeks (hello trip to Canadian ER and Labor & Delivery!) and again at 35 weeks, we were all expecting an early baby.  At 36 weeks, I had the midwife check me, and I was two centimeters dilated.

To post a picture like this I really must have no shame, right?  In my painting clothes, surrounded by chaos, and wearing a supportive maternity belly band, no less.  Livin' the dream!

Work continued to move along on our house, but with each day that passed, I felt like I was one day closer to reaching a deadline, at which point I knew everything would change.  Life felt anything but calm and settled.

This  picture was taken at 38 weeks.  I remember asking Philip to take it because I thought I'd surely be going into labor soon, and I wanted to make sure I had documented the end of my pregnancy.  Little did I know I had plenty of time

There was also the matter of actually delivering the baby.  Now, I've had two babies before, so you might assume that the thought of having another one was no big deal to me.  Not so, my friends.  Giving birth is the most intense, hardest physical thing I've ever done.  I do think God graciously gave me a body that births efficiently, but still.  It's no joke.  I was also a bit uneasy about where I planned to deliver.  Holland was born at home with my wonderful midwife, Nancy Giglio back in Richmond, VA.  I would have loved to have been able to have another home birth, but unfortunately insurance made that choice cost-prohibitive.  I chose to deliver at the local hospital, where thankfully, they have a birth center staffed by midwives who truly do view pregnancy, labor, and delivery as a normal time in a woman's life and not an illness.  They didn't have many birthing rooms though (and only two had tubs), and one on-call midwife covered all the labor/delivery rooms as well as the post partum rooms.  Seemed like a far cry from the kind of intimate care I received from Nancy.

Made it to 39 weeks!

Well, my due date came and went.  The picture above was taken at my pre-natal appointment on my due date.  I was battling a bad cold and cough, and one of the midwives predicted baby may wait till I was healthy, as they often do.

My mom was already here, as evidenced by this photo she will likely love me posting :)  (We had just gotten pedicures :) The rest of my family arrived on Christmas Eve so that we could all spend the holiday together and they could meet the baby.  I will always remember the days leading up to Mary Graham's birth as time spent with my family, so I thought I'd share some photos from that time.

Here we are once everyone had arrived at the Sacramento Airport.

Uncle T!

Christmas Eve.

Brunch on Christmas Day.

Fun with Legos, a new obsession around our house!

Her delight over a special new bracelet from Mimi.

Impromptu push-up session for the men.  If you know my family at all, this kind of strange behavior isn't very surprising.

waiting on baby + grandparents in town = date night!

Too bad our new sofa hadn't arrived yet, as things got a little tight here.  I believe this crew was watching one of my dad's favorite movies, Roman Holiday.  

How could I leave out wrestling with Papa?!

It was great to have my family around, albeit a little strange knowing that at any moment labor would begin and I'd just go off and have a baby.  You know, no big deal.  Ha.  As the days ticked by, we began to wonder if they were going to be able to meet this baby after all.  Everyone was scheduled to fly out on Monday, December 30th, and baby seemed quite happy staying put.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Master Bedroom Progress and Plans

I hesitate to put pictures of our bedroom in its current state on here, but I wanted to show you all our new shams I mentioned the other week.  And also, for me at least, much of the joy of decorating is the creative process, figuring out the pieces of the puzzle if you will--and so it only seems fitting to share the journey, including the early stages.

I'm noticing that these pictures make the wall color look darker than it does in person...
As plain and boring as it may look right now, my new shams do make me quite happy!  I got them on major sale at Lands End (here is a link to them--they are no longer on sale and have since improved the fabric, according to the description.), and here is what I will say about them:  They are soft, the embroidery and monogramming are both done well, and I really like the style.  Here are my two critical observations, for those who may be considering them.  They wrinkle very easily (I know this because my five year old likes to build a fort with them and wrestle on them and do all sorts of things that I might imagine would honestly wrinkle even the most wrinkle-resistant items!) and the fabric is so soft that the edges don't stand up quite as much as I'd like.  It makes the rope detailing around the edges a little less pronounced.  But for less than $50 total, I'm calling it a day on my shams.

  • Here are my plans (as they stand today…always subject to change of course!) for the rest of the room:

  • Add a big bolster pillow in front of the shams to bring in some pattern/color.  I'm planning to get a couple samples from the new Tilton and Fenwick line for Duralee to try.  Right now I'm leaning towards soft blues/greens.  
  • Get a headboard.  Saving up for this…I have a few possibilities in mind.  
  • Paint bedside chests to match.  I'll probably keep the same color that's on the one on the right, but it needs a fresh coat in a bad way.
  • Add matching bedside lamps
  • Hang set of bird prints (already own) above bed
  • Bring in 8x10 rug (bedrooms need rugs!  It's no fun stepping out of bed onto a cold, hard floor :(
  • Drapes for the window.  I don't really have a plan right now…

I already own these two bolster inserts, so I figure I'll try and rig them up to be one long bolster to avoid buying a pricey feather-filled long one!

I was recently introduced to the site Polyvore.  Have you heard of it?  I'd seen their fashion boards before, but you can create Home boards too.  Really quite fun for those of us who do not have Photoshop but would like to see our ideas together in one place (you can even add your Pins from Pinterest if you want to see what they will look like in a room mock-up.)

Some of the things on my board aren't the actual pieces I own, but I tried to give the overall feel of what I hope to achieve.

Master Bedroom Plans

Table lamp

West Elm rug

Duvet cover

Pottery barn bedding

Surya wall art

Bed frame

OKA white wood dresser
$1,355 -

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fabric Sale Alert

One of my favorite online spots for fabric, Lewis & Sheron, is having a sale right now, and I wanted to pass along the good news to any who may not be on their email list.  Apparently, they are snowed in over in Atlanta (where their store is based), and are offering 20% off your online purchase today and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday) with the code "SNOWSALE".  One thing I love about a sale is it tends to force me to pull the trigger on things I've been hemming and hawing over.  Anybody with me?

Their email was actually quite timely as I had just received an order of sample swatches in the mail from them.  I'm slowly but surely making plans to decorate Mary Graham's nursery.  I'm not sure yet how I'll use these fabrics, but aren't they just the sweetest?!  My two older kids used the same gender-neutral nursery, so I knew I was going to have to go full-on girly and pink for Mary Graham :) I can't wait!

Lewis & Sheron rarely do sales, so I for one am pretty excited to take advantage of the discount!  Happy Shopping!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kitchen Lighting {Our House}

I've got to make a decision about pendant lights in our kitchen!  But first, some backstory on the process...

The original kitchen had one center ceiling fixture and a light under the soffit above the sink.  By knocking out the wall that adjoined the living room to the kitchen, we knew we'd be gaining more light, but we still felt the kitchen would benefit from additional light sources.

You can't actually see the light sources in this photo, but it's the best I've got.

We opted to add five can lights and two pendants (you can see one possible pendant style up for consideration).  Two of the can lights light the "hallway" leading past the pantry/fridge into the dining room, two are centered in the middle of the kitchen, and one is directly over the sink.

Since we removed the soffit over the sink, I would have loved  to have done something like Edie from Life in Grace did in the space over the window:


or this:


However, knowing we will be selling our house in less than four years means I need to choose wisely what things I spend money on that I can't take with me!   Since I've yet to get that money tree growing in the backyard, I decided to save the money on those fixtures and just go with the solitary can light.  I'd like to eventually have a pretty roman shade mounted high over the window there…

kitchen by Urban Grace Interiors via Decorating Cents

So, this leaves me with needing to settle on pendants for above the peninsula.  You can see we have one option currently hanging and in need of a mate!  (My husband loves it when I have him hang things just to "try" them out :) )The lights will have to hang a little closer together than I would have liked due to where the electrician needed to wire them.

Here are some examples of different styles of pendant fixtures I love in some gorgeous spaces.

another gorgeous kitchen by Urban Grace



I love Brooke's pendants.  I hope she isn't cringing that I'm posting a picture of her kitchen before it was "done"!


Erika's {old} kitchen
So, here's what I'm thinking for our kitchen (and here's where I'd love your input!):

I could keep the existing brushed nickel pendant (and of course add a second next to it).  I like that the style is reminiscent of the much nicer ones featured in many of the kitchens I posted above.  At around $100/pop, I feel like it could be a good way to go.

My one concern is whether using this fixture just brings in too much brushed nickel.  My range hood, appliances, hardware, and stools are all a similar finish.  I love the idea of doing something with brass to add in a different finish in a warmer tone.  The problem is I haven't been able to find much in the way of attractive, inexpensive brass pendants.  Then again, it's not a large room by any means, so maybe sticking with the brushed nickel and keeping things consistent isn't such a bad idea.

I also can't decide if I think the scale of the current pendant is right.  Does it need to hang lower?  There are only a couple set options for length.

Here are a few other options I've been considering:

clockwise from top left: A, B, C, D

or I could just stick with what's up there right now.

Add caption

This fixture struck me, but I don't know if I'm brave enough to try it.

What do you think?  I would love to hear your ideas.  And if anyone has any sources for other inexpensive options, I'd love to hear!