Elsie's Birth Story | Our Miracle Baby

February 13, 2019

On Saturday night, I felt a "stitch in my side", kind of like the ones you get after running. I rolled onto my stomach as I always did at night to better feel Elsie move. I felt her move enough to satisfy my anxiety and went to sleep. Only a couple of hours later, I was up, tossing and turning. I eventually moved down to the couch because I couldn't sleep. I watched some TV, tired to get comfortable. I kept thinking, " Is this the upper, right quadrant pain they are always mentioning as a caution at my Dr's office?" Surely not. It wasn't pain, just more obnoxious than anything.

By 5am Sunday, I had barely slept. I called the hospital to get advice from the nurse. I had been in the previous two Sundays, for worrying about the baby and blood pressure. The doctor on staff advised me to come in and get checked out...better safe than sorry.

I woke Ryan up and we decided it was probably nothing. I elected to drive myself to the hospital but that he would stay home with Zoe. I told him I would call with updates, but I would probably be back by noon (after being reassured nothing was wrong, and I was over-reacting)

I reached the hospital, went to L&D triage (where they decide if you are "actually" in labor). I got hooked up to the machines to monitor Elsie, got labs drawn, and sat to await the results. Previous experience had told me it would be about an hour.

The Dr. who I had spoken to on the phone came in and advised me that my labs had in fact increased from the two days prior, when I had them taken at my doctor's office. She said they were high enough to be concerning. She was admitting me. She told me that I wouldn't be going home until the baby was born, but she was going to watch me throughout the day to see if the proteins were increasing slowly or quickly. I called Ryan to come up and called my sister, Natalie to pick up Zoe.

I was moved over to L&D, given an IV (the worst), and again, sat to wait. During this time, I had called my uncle, Chris to have him come to the hospital to help administer a priesthood blessing to myself and Ryan. Because I was possibly going into labor they wouldn't let me eat or drink. At about noon, they decided to let me have some ice chips, because they had started me on magnesium, and I was extremely thirsty.

Elsie's vitals looked mostly good. We had a couple of deceleration's during this time that indicated she might be stressed, but otherwise she looked really good, lots of movement and good heart rate.

Around 5pm, the doctor's came in to discuss how we would proceed. We had a couple rounds of labs performed over the day, and unfortunately, my proteins were increasing rapidly, and my platelets were decreasing, I had developed HELLP syndrome. They indicated I would need to have Elsie immediately. I was under the impression, I had 12-24 more hours. They chuckled slightly and told me I was next in the OR. (We had previously decided that she would be delivered via c-section if she was before 32 weeks. Due to my platelets being lower than normal, they were hesitant, and urged me to try a vaginal delivery. I knew that my risk for c-section was extremely high due to my body not being ready and labor stressing out my tiny baby. I was insistent that I wanted the c-section and they relented.)
The next 30 minutes was chaos. I called my parents, Ryan called his parents. I video-called Zoe. I was really scared. I was more scared of the c-section, than having a 1.5 lb baby.

The anesthesiologist gave me an additional IV, in case of an emergency so they could put me under quickly. We moved into the OR. Ryan was in another room, scrubbing up so he could join me in the OR. A kind nurse helped me sit extremely still while I was given a spinal block. By the time Ryan came in the spinal block was already working. I couldn't see him as I was lying flat, but he was talking to me and reassuring me.

The nurse was getting things ready and pinched me really hard. She asked if I felt anything, and I couldn't feel anything, a sign we were ready to go! The doctors came in and I thought they were using iodine and marking where they were going to cut, however just moments later, they announced,

" She's out!"

I was stunned, I didn't know they had even started cutting. The first thing I asked was, "What color is her hair?"

They kindly replied, " Sweetie, she doesn't have any."

They immediately passed her through a window in the operating room, to the NICU. Ryan couldn't go with her, until after they had stabilized her,  he stayed with me while I got stitched up. This process was the worst part of the c-section.  I felt like I was riding an old, rickety wooden roller coaster. Up and down, left and right, I was pulled in all kinds of directions. Because of the HELLP Syndrome, I had to remain on magnesium for 24 hours after my delivery. Magnesium makes you have all kinds of awful side effects, hot flashes, weakness, nausea, etc. This meant I couldn't go see Elsie until I was able to get out of bed. There wasn't room in the NICU to accommodate a wheeled hospital bed, I had to be in a wheelchair.

Before they had finished stitching me up, they came to get Ryan and bring him to the NICU to see Elsie. They finished putting me back together and wheeled me to my room.

In my room it was quiet. Ryan was still with Elsie, and I was alone. Despite just having surgery, resulting in the birth of a baby, it felt oddly uneventful. I had just had a baby, but nothing had really changed. I was still numb from the surgery, so the pain hadn't set in. I hadn't even seen my baby. It was an strange and surreal time for me.

Thankfully soon after, Ryan returned to my room with a report. Elsie was doing well! A NICU nurse, Alisa, came with him and brought pictures. She came out breathing on her own, but they put her on CPAP to help her tiny body. Over and over they kept reassuring me that she was doing surprisingly well.

Ryan didn't stay the night. We both knew he wouldn't get very good sleep and there would be nurses coming in every couple of hours to take my vitals and administer medicine. I sent him home so at least one of us would have a good night's rest.

The next morning, early in the morning, I was determined to see Elsie. I mustered up some kind of strength and was able to get into a wheelchair. My kind night nurse wheeled me in to see Elsie. I was still so sick from the magnesium but I couldn't wait any long to see her. I only stayed by her bed for 30 seconds, maybe a minute, before I was light-headed and needed to go back to bed.

She was SO tiny. Tiny doesn't even begin to describe her size really. Until you have witnessed a baby that small, it seems truly impossible that a person that small could survive. 

What is almost more impossible than survival...is just 5 months later, she looks like this.

We never expected to have another child. Truly, we thought it an impossibility. 

Elsie has proven that miracles are real. Her existence alone is proof. Beyond just existence is her growth and strength, that are truly miraculous. She should suffer from many afflictions due to her pre-maturity and placental issues. Yet, other than her petite size, she is un-phased.

The Man Quilt | Turning Twenty (+5)

March 27, 2017

I'm finally sharing this masculine quilt I made for my husband. 

Over the years I've made many quilts. Most of them are lap to twin size, meaning about 70 x 80 inches or smaller. Many of them reside in a pile next to our couch or rolled into baskets around the house. We use them to snuggle or for picnics or when the power goes out. But last year, Ryan brought to my attention that 1) I had not made a quilt for him and 2) none of our current cuddle quilts were long enough to cover him head to toe. 

I just looked back on Instagram and I started cutting this quilt a year ago. Wow, that actually seems pretty fast for finishing a quilt. Usually it's a years (yes, plural) long process for something this big.

The pattern I used is called Turning Twenty. It uses 20 fat quarters, hence the name. Through various turning of the blocks, you can create several different patterns. To make the quilt extra-big, I added 5 extra fat quarters, making this Turning Twenty-Five.

The quilt is about 90 x 90 and perfect for my 6 foot tall husband. I quilted it with a light grey thread in a ripple pool type pattern. The fabric is Doe by Carolyn Friedlander. It is from 2014 but there are still many options to buy on Etsy and other online quilt shops. It's a gorgeous neutral palette with a few pops of color.

If you are making a quilt for a man or want a more masculine color palette, Carolyn's fabrics are usually a good bet. This is now in permanent residence on the couch in our family room. It gets used every single day without fail. Ryan wanted a blanket just for him, but he usually ends up sharing with one or both of the ladies in his life. 


New York City | 2017 Tour

March 3, 2017

Last fall, after a particularly difficult day, I was greeted by a phone call from a dear friend back in Texas. After we exchanged pleasantries, she offered me a job. (There were a few more details than that, but I don't think anybody really cares about the nuances) I haven't spoken much about it on here, but essentially, I work as a tour planner and guide for educational tours. This job allows me occasional travel opportunities, and my first tour was in New York City.

If you follow me on Instagram (as you should) you will have seen most of these pictures. During the trip, I was working and exhausted. We walked about the equivalent of two marathons in 6 days. I didn't get a chance to post all my thoughts and feelings with the photos I took. But when I left the city, I had a few minutes, and jot down a few thing I was thinking/feeling.

"As I write this, I'm in a cab and can see the empire state building in the rear view mirror. I just wrapped up a 6 day trip in NYC and what a trip it was. 

I haven't talked much about my new job but it's pretty great. I'm a tour planner/virtual assistant/tour guide for an educational tour company. For the last 8 months I've been booking and planning these trips and the day finally came.

It's been over 10 years since I last stepped off the subway and into the chaos which is NYC. I instantly felt a smile coming across my face when the cool night air hit my face. 

I was tired that day from the coast to coast flight, and the little sleep I was able to get. On that day, I now realize I did not know the meaning of tired. 

Each day has been spent touring the city, squeezing every ounce of discovery and experience out of this opportunity. We have hit the tourist highlights and also had the freedom to happen upon the most delicious fettuccine Alfredo in Little Italy. I have encountered the beauty and grace of the New York city ballet, while experiencing the bizarre right in my hotel lobby.

But that's the best part about New York City, it truly does have everything.

I'm contrast with the last time I was here, I am now a wife and a mother. I don't know that my familial status changed much per se, but I think I see with different eyes now. Tears stained my cheeks many times the last 6 days. Tears for the freedoms I have, tears for the struggles of those who came before me, tears for the beauty and artistry I enjoyed, tears for the tragedies that befall us. 

New York is fast, busy, loud, dirty, crowded and the list could go on and on. But it is also quaint, eclectic, and full of life.

I feel more patriotic here, I'm not sure why that is. I wonder if everyone feels that way. Maybe it's because I feel like NYC draws visitors from other countries, and when I'm here I feel proud to be part of that pulse that is the city. "


Fields of Bluebonnets | Monochromatic

February 4, 2017

Have you seen the new Hazelwood line by 1Canoe2???

Butterflies, gingham, flowers....all the things I love! 

I'm so glad  I had the foresight to take pictures of Zoe in this field of bluebonnets. Last spring we didn't know we weren't going to spend another bluebonnet season in Texas. This field was about a minute away from where I worked and covered, I mean covered, in flowers. Zoe danced and twirled for several minutes among the tiny little buds, pure childhood joy!

This line is a knock-out for me. The page came together so quickly. The shades of blue and purple just make the most fantastic monochromatic look. Zoe loved the 3D butterflies. The trick to getting them to stick up like that is to bend them before you glue them down.


Kid's Art Smock | Here Comes the Fun Blog Hop

January 20, 2017

I'm so excited to finally share my Here Comes the Fun fabric projects. I was so shocked and giddy when Caroline asked me to be a part of this blog hop! 

If you have never worked with Art Gallery fabrics before, you should know there is something extra special about their fabrics. They are so vibrant and buttery to the touch. Sew Caroline's new line, Here Comes the Fun, is no exception. The bright colors and bold patterns, are perfect for so many projects, but the first thing that came to my mind was art class.

Kid art apron

My biggest concern whenever Zoe wants to do art or creative projects, is the mess. The mess on the floor, the table and her clothes. I made this vinyl art smock, to alleviate one of those mess factors. I actually let Zoe pick out the fabrics for this project, since it will be hers to use and love. She of course, chose the brightest and boldest colors.

The benefit of this kid's art smock vs. a traditional apron style is how high the neck comes up. It looks like it might be too tight at first glance but it really is the perfect shape to make sure no paint accidentally drips down the front of her shirt. By using the iron-on vinyl, the art smock is now easy to wipe off with a washcloth or paper towel for easy clean up. 

She was basically hovering over me as I finished sewing the art smock, so anxious to give it a whirl. She is most excited about the small slot pockets on the front to store her many paintbrushes. The bigger pockets on the sides, can be used to store extra paints, markers, pen and pencils, or hands. 

 Don't forget to check out the rest of the projects over the next few days and check out the giveaway to win some of your very own Here Comes the Fun fabrics and scissors from Fiskars!

Aubrey Plays
Two Blondes and a Sewing Machine
A Jennuine Life
Izzy and Ivy Designs
Holly and Company {That's Me!}
Elle Lee and Me
Lilly Shine Boutique
Simple Life Pattern Co
Happiness in the Making
MADE Everyday
Little Bit Funky
Sew and Tell Project

For more details on the pattern I used and adjustments I made, please see below:

I used a pattern from All Our Days as my base design, but added a row of pockets on the bottom section. If you would like detailed instructions on how I added the pocket, Please click on the button below. You can find the original pattern on All Our Days

Caroline was kind enough to let me do not one but two projects! Click on the image below and you can read all about our fun and crazy coloring book leggings!!

DIY Coloring Book Leggings

January 20, 2017

When I saw this cozy knit fabric from Sew Caroline's new line, Here Comes the Fun, all I could see was a canvas to color. I know most parents are anti-coloring on clothes but hear me out for a minute.

I started with a yard of Art Gallery knit fabric and used this tutorial by Dana from Made Everyday.  Just the leggings alone are adorable and the perfect neutral pattern for everyday wear. 

Here is where the fun comes in!

We opted for washable markers so we can enjoy the coloring fun over and over again. I am going to have Zoe wear these on our next road trip for what I'm sure will be hours of fun. 

{After I took these photos, Zoe continued to sit on the floor and color in her leggings!}

If you wanted to go to the custom colored leggings you could use permanent markers. This knit is so great, the colors did not bleed through at all. I know it seems counter-intuitive to let your kiddos color on their clothes but Zoe was so tickled to color them and then throw them in the wash to get them ready to color again!

What do you think? Would you make leggings for your kiddos or even yourself to color on?


Seaside Windows Quilt | Finally Finished

January 12, 2017

I finally finished this beautiful monster.

I started working on these blocks about 5 years ago. I got about halfway through making the blocks and then this project got sent to time out. 

Let me explain...Do you ever work on a project that you start out loving? Then part way through, you encounter problem after problem, and you start to hate it? Yeah, me too. Those projects go to time out. Sometimes it's for a day. Usually a few months. Well this one got sent to time out at the bottom of my fabric bin, only to be re-discovered upon moving for the 9th time in 8 years. 

Along with a few other projects I'll be sharing soon, I decided to rescue these quilt blocks and make them into something more useful. My experience and ability in sewing has increased in the last 5 years, so I had to clean up some of my former mistakes. Lots of trimming and re-sizing to get these blocks to be actual squares. 

This quilt is also a queen size quilt. Big quilts are oh so fun to snuggle, but a beast in the final sewing stages. After several weeks of rehab, this quilt top was finally done. 

I had enough foresight to snag up this clearance fabric a couple years ago, when I was working at Fort Worth Fabric Studio. I had a bright idea to make matching lobster pajamas for family for Christmas, and use the leftovers for the backing on this quilt. Well, as projects sometimes go, the quilt was completed first. {But I look forward to the day when I will be wearing my lobster pajamas and snuggling under this quilt. }

The binding is pieced from strips of the little bit of leftovers I had, this cabana stripe is my favorite fabric in the whole quilt. Sometimes I feel strange about all the scraps I keep, but I just can't bear to part with beautiful fabrics, that sewn together, could be useful. I still have some leftover blocks from this quilt, that will eventually become throw pillows. 

I am lucky to have a dear friend, who during the Christmas break, let me spend several days at her house helping me quilt a few projects on her huge long-arm machine. I quilt most of my quilts on my own machine, but this one was just too big to do at home. It took way longer than expected and I have so much respect for quilters who make a living by quilting at home. I mean we weren't quite sweating, but it definitely got warmish. 

This beach coloring quilt now has a new home on our guest bed and will snuggle all those who come to the middle of the desert to visit Chateau Humbert. Right now it's cold and rainy outside, but whenever I walk past the guest bedroom and see these bright colors, I'm reminded that sun-filled Spring days are right around the corner.


Free | One Little Word 2017

January 1, 2017

If you are unfamiliar with One Little Word, it is essentially a word that is your theme for the year - mine for 2017 is

Let's get real here for a minute. For the last 5 years, we have been struggling with infertility. For the last 5 years, I have struggled with varying degrees of depression and heartache. While some may not define heartache as a medical or emotional illness, it had the effects of both on me. 

I have fought, and fought hard to regain peace and joy in my life. I have clung to my faith only to lose it and then find it again. I have discovered you can actually survive one of your worst fears realized. I have carried around chains forged of guilt, fear, anger, resentment and bitterness. 

And now, finally, I am ready to be free.

Healing hasn't come all at once fore me and I don't believe that my broken heart will ever quite be the same. My heart however, has transformed into a newer, softer, more empathetic version of it's former self.  I have known that 2017 would be my year of free for a few months now. I felt it. Much like the anticipation of graduation day, my whole being was ready.

Free is taking on a two-fold mission for me this year, free from and free to

Free from is all the things I'm attempting to let go of. Those chains I spoke of earlier, we are throwing them overboard without looking back. When I say we, I am referring to Me, Myself, and I. While we have not permanently closed the door on growing our family, it is time to move forward. I'm letting go of the fears that have held me back. The inadequacy that taunts me from the far corners of my mind - as of today, she has received an eviction notice.

Free to is in reference to all the things I want to do. All the projects and ideas bounding in my head, that have been riding the bench for far too long. Guess what? They are all going to get a chance to play this year. The light is green to take chances, to grow, to explore. Freedom to be something other than what I thought I would be. Free to change, free to try.

How light I feel just writing those thoughts down. Just saying out loud that I've giving myself to fail without consequence of the peanut gallery of doubt chiming in, is invigorating.

Yep, I'm ready.

You better watch out 2017 because I am coming for you.
{But in a good way, like I'm going to do all the things, conquer the world, in a sassy, girl boss kind of way}



Life Goes in Cycles | From the Archives

December 12, 2016

2016 has been a year bursting at the seams. As this year comes to a close, I've been reflecting on the last 12 months, and how cyclical life is.

Since moving back to California, we struggled with Zoe's new school and teacher.  Thanks to many friends locally and a far, we have made a decision to pull Zoe out of her traditional public school and transition to a hybrid home school program.

This change is going to have a large impact on our family, and more specifically, my daily routine. As a small child, Zoe was in daycare full time. It wasn't until we moved to Idaho that I got to be home with her, part time. I found this page I made from 2011, reflecting on the fun I had finally being able to get some time at home with her. For the last few years, the tables have flipped and she has been in school full time. We are now going to be circling back to her at home. 

I've been praying that we are making the right decision and that I won't go too crazy spending so much time together.  As I read the journaling on this page, I'm taken back to that tiny apartment, the bitter cold winter months and being snowed in for days. Remembering those days is comforting - knowing that now, we will have school work to do, sunny days, a fenced yard and a park across the street. 


Milestones | Simple Design

November 28, 2016

Earlier this year my Grandmother turned 90 years old. We delayed the celebration until the 4th of July when all our families could be together to celebrate. In attendance, she had her 3 sons and wives, 8 granddaughters and 7 husbands, 17 great-grandchildren. We were only missing 2 people, my brother and my cousin's husband. All together we have benefited beyond words because of this amazing woman. It was truly wonderful to celebrate her life with all of the lives she helped create.

I snapped this quick photo while we were singing "Happy Birthday" to her. I thought about including it in my 4th of July spreads, but I felt this milestone deserved it's own page.

This page came together so quickly. Normally, I spend half an hour just sorting through supplies, pulling items I may or may not want to use. For this page, I knew which papers I wanted to use. I grabbed them and a few star embellishments and I was off to work. Since I was only using one photo and little embellishment, I used depth to add visual interest, in the form of pop-dots behind the photo.

The crepe paper circle is actually from a Valentine's Day embellishment. I ripped off the heart sentiment and covered it up with the chipboard star. I love being able to re-purpose supplies, These inkable Heidi Swapp alphas have been a new favorite of mine. A little gold ink and voila! A perfect color match.

I still need to add journaling to the page, but it will most likely go on the back, because there are just too many words to fit on the front. Plus, I feel like the words would take away from the design in this instance.

Do you ever favor design over journaling?


Freckles | Hodge Podge

November 16, 2016

If you follow me on Instagram, you have heard me talk about Zoe's freckles more than once. See I don't have cute freckles. I have a husband with cute freckles and a best friend with cute freckles, but I just have random freckles/beauty marks/moles. I've always wanted freckles sprinkled ever so perfectly just on the bridge of my nose. Thankfully, because of her father and his cute freckles, Zoe has inherited the perfect amount.

When I say down to scrapbook this picture, I pulled out some of my favorite things. Some of them I have been saving for years and some of them have recently popped into my stash. Guys, I'm not saying that any of these elements really go together, but I am saying that I love how this page turned out. 

There was really no rhyme or reason to this page, just lots of moving things around, gluing them down, ripping them off, then moving them around again. It's a hodge podge and proof of why I think kits can be such a great place to start when scrapbooking.

I no longer subscribe to any kit clubs, but that's because I have so many supplies from years of subscribing. I miss it though. I found kits so easy to work with. I remember when I first started using them, it was hard for me to get over the idea that everything had to match and be from the same line of products. 

I do still use products all from the same line, but I think manufacturers and designers have more diverse products in each line than they used to. And by used to, I'm talking like 2009-ish. 

As I've been cleaning up my craft room, I've been working on organizing my layouts into different albums. I have gone back through oodles of pages and some of my favorites about about seemingly unimportant things, like freckles. But that is what I love about scrapbooking. Documenting ordinary things that are of value to me. 

Each page like this I make is like a mini love letter to my favorite parts about Zoe. I hope when she gets older that she sees them as such.


Dust it off | Using Orphan Supplies

November 7, 2016

I've been scrapbooking on and off for well over half my life. Wow. That's a little crazy to type out. Well over those years I have collected supplies, which involve many fads. I've had some supplies so long they have gone it and then out of style, only to come back in trend again. 

I, like many, got heavily into wood veneer. I had many alphabets, tons of shapes and even phrases. I still like the look of the wood shapes. They are versatile and can be colored to suit any page. However, years of use have left me with random letters and shapes, that I struggle to use. So they sit in my Ikea Raskog cart and gather dust.

The inspiration for this page actually came from knocking over the container of these orphan pieces. I sighed deeply as I knelt down to clean them up. As I was looking at them scattered all over the floor, I thought they looked so cool just all random. I scooped them all up and go to work making this page.

Originally, I wanted to cover the entire page, but after just doing this section, I decided that would take way too long, so I opted for a column. I like the way it turned out. It adds lots of dimension to the page, while sticking with the topic. I used some coveted Studio Calico striped paper for the edges and some Christmas stamps from Elle's Studio. I got the ombre ink effect using two different colors of ink. Look for that tutorial coming soon.

While I was able to use these old supplies, I still have some leftover. I will either do something similar again, maybe soft by letter, or give them away. I recently did a major supply clean-up and found lots of orphan supplies that will be getting used up soon!

What do you do with random supplies? Do you try and use them or give them away?

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