My New Year’s Resolutions

I absolutely LOVE the new year, a fresh start. It’s like our minds and bodies magically reset once the calendar year turns over. And I LOVE making lists too. So naturally, new years’ resolutions are one of my favorite things ever!

So, here’s mine… (in no specific order)
–> Wake up early to focus spiritually before the kids get up (this means really early)
–> Drink half my weight in water each day.
–> Read & Pray – This one is always one of my resolutions because it’s important. This year I will be reading the One Year Bible
chronologically and studying in depth the topics of Christian Living, Marriage, & Parenting.
–> Sew more. I didn’t make this one strategic or attainable in any way. I know it’s vague, but it’s just a hobby so I won’t be mad
at myself if it’s not something I get around to doing. I do, however, have a few projects I’d like to tackle.
–> Move! a.k.a. workout 4x/week.
–> Run – starting with the Couch to 5K
–> Cleanse & moisturize my face daily.
–>Reach financial goals. One of them is to pay off at least one student loan this year.

Okay, so that’s it. Not too lengthy. Most of them are somewhat attainable. I actually have plans in action for just about every single one of them, so I’ll give myself a pat on the back if I can keep them up.


Learning Activity Shelf


I’ve been on the lookout for some shelves that I can keep a few learning activities out for Lawson during the week. I finally found the perfect one and with a 50% off sale at a local store, it was perfect timing.

currently have a closet with shelves that is perfect to store ALL of our homeschool things that I’ve hoarded in a very organized way, but with it being a closet towards the back of the house, the learning activities are often out of sight and out of mind as well, which in the recent past has meant that they don’t get used very often.

Enter this new shelf. I placed it in the living room in a corner of the room, and each week I’ll add a few activities from our learning closet. It’s perfect for Lawson to explore and play on his own while I nurse the baby. He can even grab a few books for me to read to him, without having to walk ALL THE WAY TO HIS ROOM! 🙂

This past week we had our toddler bible, our counting cans and a basket for the foods they contain, stringing beads, lacing cards, a stack of books, shape puzzles, a nesting doll, and a ring stacker. We were able to do all of these activities within the week, both together and independently.

It was a big hit!

Our Birth Story

~This post is open and honest, like a conversation I would have with other mommy-friends, so please read at your own discretion.~ 


Finally Home with Our Newest Addition

Our due date of May 6 came and passed with no baby arrival or even labor symptoms. To say that I was becoming impatient and growing anxious would be an understatement. I am a planner, and I had everything ready weeks before. The house was clean and organized. I’d finished all major projects, and I was just ready to have our new baby. He had other plans, and since my birth plan was a natural labor with no induction or unnecessary medical intervention – we let him cook a little longer. My last prenatal visit was Monday, May 12th, and my doctor made me set a date before 42 weeks approached to go in to be induced, although I really didn’t want to. Our plan was to still do it as naturally as possible and just see if breaking my water would get things going on their own without the use of Pitocin. We set the date for Thursday, May 15th, but I hoped our baby would decide to come on his own before then so I would know what real labor was like.

And he did! Here’s our Birth Story…

The very next morning around 12:30am, I could no longer sleep due to light contractions. I could feel them enough not to be able to sleep, but they weren’t really that painful either. I’m terrible at timing contractions, but I was getting “this feeling” every few minutes already. Normally this would be when they tell you to go to the hospital, but we’d already made a trip weeks earlier with a false alarm, and I was determined to do early labor at home to avoid any unnecessary medical intervention. My doctor advised me on this and told me to come to the hospital when I was hurting.

So around 2:30 I took a bath to see if these were really contractions or if they were braxton hicks. Justin heard me taking a bath and asked if I was okay. I told him that I was, but I was having consistent contractions. I wanted to let him sleep just in case this wasn’t real labor because he did have to work that day. However, after I told him that he couldn’t go back to sleep so he got up with me. We had an early breakfast around 3am together, and he could tell that the contractions were getting stronger because I had to stop and breathe through them more, but he was letting me wait to make the decision of when to go or whether or not he should still go in to work (He’s a personal trainer so his first client comes in around 5am.)

I called my mom around 4:30am to let her know what was going on, and she told me I needed to go to the hospital. She said “You never know – it could go fast.” But it felt more like a lecture. I let them know early because they live three hours away so they needed travel time. I went to the bathroom and had some bloody show so decided I guess we should go on in since we were pretty sure it was the real deal. Justin called his parents also to come and stay with our firstborn, Lawson.

So we began packing the car and getting ready to go. We arrived to the hospital around 6am. They monitored me in a triage room for about an hour, but there was no doubt this was real labor by that point. I honestly HATED being in that room because I was strapped in by these monitors and stuck in one position in that bed – so uncomfortable during labor. They checked my cervix, and I was dilated to 4-5cm – a progression from our appointment the day before where I was only 3cm. Then, they allowed me to move to a room, and I walked VERY SLOWLY down the hall a little bit to our new room, stopping for contractions along the way.

The contractions were intense by this point, and I was really having to concentrate and breathe through them. I’m not going to lie – it was painful just like they say it is, but I was still determined to do this naturally. I changed into the night gown I’d purchased, and it felt so much better than that hospital gown. The fabric was cooler it seemed. Once we were in our room, they allowed me to be off the monitors to do this labor this however I wanted. It was such a relief too. Sitting on the toilet was probably the favorite place for me to be – I could sit upright or lean back into a contraction and didn’t have to worry about if my water broke because it wouldn’t really make a mess there. 🙂 Funny how that’s the things I was thinking about.

The nurse came in and asked if she could check me so I moved to the bed. I was already 8-9cm! Hearing this news gave me that extra boost of confidence I needed to know that  I could do this naturally. Just knowing that my contractions were actually working to progress my labor and that I’d already made it this far all on my own – there was no way you could convince me to get an epidural or wimp out with any pain meds at that point! I kept breathing through the contractions, and a little while later my doctor arrived and asked if he could check me. He asked me again if I was sure I didn’t want him to go ahead and break my water. I told him we could just wait to see if it would break on its own as I felt it would be unnecessary still. I overheard him tell the nurse that when my water breaks the baby was coming so call him right away (He had to leave to go to the clinic, but he would come back when it was time.) He said it would be 5 minutes if I let him break by water, but probably 20-25 since we were waiting for it to break on its own.

So I labored on, but never moved from the bed this time after being checked. It’s like i really didn’t have time in between contractions enough to move. I told the nurse that during contractions I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom (#2), but she said it’s probably because I was still on my back and the baby was putting pressure on that area now so she helped me move on the bed to my hands and knees. She said that I would start to feel like that even when I wasn’t having a contraction soon. She was right. She asked if she could check me again, but I never could get myself to move for her to do so between hurting so she never did. I told her I really felt like I should push and asked her if I could. She said if I wasn’t fully dilated yet, it could cause swelling and make delivery harder so I tried not to.

Then, my water broke on the bed, and I could see that it was green which meant that the baby had already had his first bowel movement of meconium. When my water broke, I really felt the urge to push and told the nurse I really couldn’t NOT PUSH. They helped me move so they could clean up the bed, and I moved onto my back again. I told them I was going to push, and they told me I could but told me after his head was born to stop pushing so they could suction his nose so he wouldn’t breathe in that meconium. I saw my doctor come in and felt relieved that he made it back in time.

With two pushes, Linkin’s head was born. They suctioned his nose, and let me push again for him to be fully born. The doctor put him right on my tummy, and that was an incredible moment I’d waited for. The moment where I knew I did this – the ultimate challenge! I had a baby all on my own, with no medical intervention and no pain meds. I felt like a champion!

Linkin didn’t cry right away so the doctor said he needed to cut the cord and move him to get him breathing, and of course, I said okay. As soon as they picked him up and laid him on the table beside me, I heard him cry. They went ahead and did his footprints and checked his weight, but gave him right back to me.

Linkin Jude was born at 8:32am. He weighed 7 pounds even, 20 inches long and perfect in every way. For the next hour I nursed him, and the three of us bonded. Then, we swaddled him. I got up to clean myself up a bit and got dressed. We were ready for visitors! Yes, you read that correctly – having a natural labor meant that I felt incredible afterwards. Yes, I was a little sore, but I think that mostly came from the horrific hospital bed – not so comfy. I took two doses of Tylenol after my delivery to help with that soreness but never even got the prescriptions filled – so different from our first birth story. I would recommend natural birth to anyone who’s willing to give it a try. This really was an amazing experience for us, and I’m so glad I stood my ground for what I really wanted.


Linkin Jude


When our boys first met


First Family of Four Selfie


Ready to Leave the Hospital


Coming Home

Baby Barrett #2 (38 weeks in the making)

(Read with caution. Pregnancy Posts may have T.M.I.)

How far along? 38 weeks, due May 6th

Total weight gain: 27 pounds

Maternity clothes? Of course, although some are getting tighter.

Sleep? Occasional heartburn disturbances, insomnia for about an hour or two every night, and occasional sciatica pain – One night this week I couldn’t change positions because the pain was so bad. Thankfully, it’s only occasional, and almost over.

Miss Anything? Not really, just ready to get into our new routine with a new baby

Movement: a little less active now, baby due to size or position low low low and ready to come out 😉

Food cravings: Shrimp Po-boy all because of a coupon text I received this morning.

Gender: It’s a boy! We actually found out at 15 weeks because it was OBVIOUS! If they told me girl at 15 weeks, I wouldn’t have believed them,  but with a boy, it’s pretty hard to deny. We announced it to our family on Thanksgiving.

Name: Linkin Jude

Labor Signs: I have felt a total of one contraction. That’s it. Just one. I’m thinking this one may just surprise me with his timing. We are, however, already 3 cm dilated and just waiting at this point. Baby Linkin is sitting really low, and he’ll let us know when he’s ready I guess.

Belly Button: It’s an outie, but I’m used to it now so it doesn’t bother me. Some of my friends comment things like “I love your belly button,” which is super odd to me, but funny I guess.

Wedding Rings: On

Happy or Moody most of the time: Pretty happy, anxious, and excited! A little jealous of friends who’ve just had their babies tho… I just CAN’T WAIT until it’s my turn!

Looking Forward to: The challenge of a natural & drug-free labor – prayers appreciated!!

Next Appointment: Next Thursday, if we make it until then 


My Hospital Bag for Labor & Delivery

*This post is very detailed with feminine topics so please read at your own discretion. 

Knowing what to pack in your hospital bag for labor and delivery can be quite the task – especially if it’s your first hospital delivery. I remember with my first, I packed WAY TOO MUCH (just in case, you know). This time I think I’m a pro!

Here are some links that I found helpful in this process…
Hospital Bag Checklist
What’s in a Bag

Here is my bag all packed and ready to grab and take with me to the hospital when I go into labor. The bag is the Suite Success Tote, a hostess exclusive from Thirty-One Gifts. It’s a fabulous bag with LOTS of storage and organization. It has SO MANY pockets, even a thermal pocket to keep things hot or cold and a place for a laptop. It’s amazing! In fact, it’s so amazing that I just replaced my entire set of Vera Bradley luggage with this one bag! I love my Vera Bradley, but it just doesn’t have the organization I needed, and this bag holds a ton of stuff!

I’ve included pictures and descriptions of what I’ve packed with a complete list at the end of this post for your convenience.
I’m not a big fan of nightgowns, but a cute nightgown and robe is definitely preferable compared to that awful hospital gown. I think this is going to look so much better in photos, because I do want to be in photos with my newborn. I was in very few when Lawson was born due to being self-conscious about how I looked after delivery so I’m trying to avoid all that this time. I also bought a new, cheapo pair of flip flops to have in my bag to take with me. I have my favorite pair of flip flops already, but I wear them pretty often so I can’t really pack them. If they’re available when we get ready to leave for the hospital, I’ll probably grab them… but the last thing I want to be doing when I’m in labor is searching for my misplaced favorite flip flops. Baby brain is a real thing, folks, so I’m prepared just in case.
Tip: Be sure to try on any new things you buy to see how they fit you. The cute nightgowns I found were all really low-cut (like this one) so I attached a safety pin to the tag to have with me so I’ll be more comfortable.

Mostly self-explanitory…
-Sample tinted moisturizer (from a magazine): This is what I use as my foundation so even if I forget to grab my make-up bag, which is one of those last-minute items, I’ll still have a little saving grace.
-Rubberbands to pull my hair back
-Sample size Deodorant
-Sample size cleanser
-Lip balm
-Sample size facial scrub
-Hand sanitizer
-Pack of gum – I don’t remember from my last delivery, but I read somewhere that we moms develop extreme bad breath during labor so this is for me to help my nurses out 🙂
-Sample size lotion
-Sample size toothpaste
-Sample size body wash
-Sample size shampoo
-2 brand new toothbrushes and travel tubes (One for me, and one for hubby – so we can continue to use our current ones and not forget these when the time comes.)


-My favorite pajama pants, a large maternity plain tee (which will be easy to nurse in), and d.i.y. nursing tank I made
-My least favorite pairs of underwear (in case they get ruined because that’s very possible after delivery)
-2 Nursing Bras
-2 Pairs of Socks
-Yoga pants and Nursing Top to wear home (I should probably pack some matching shoes for this outfit, lol.) bag3
-Boppy Pillow (for nursing support) – Some say these aren’t the greatest for nursing and actual nursing pillows are a must, but it has always worked just fine for me.
-Nursing cover – I can’t even begin to tell you how many doctors and nurses came in while I was nursing Lawson when he was born. At least this way, I can keep some of my dignity.
-Lanolin cream
-Pouch of nursing pads, including the gel soothing kind
-Dermoplast Spray -This may or may not be provided by the hospital, but it definitely helps with the healing process.
-Squirt Bottle – This may be provided too, but it’s nice to have for bathroom trips after baby is born as the area is quite sensitive.
-Chocolate reward for mama
-A few sanitary pads – Just a few, these are provided by the hospital too.
-My pill crusher – I can’t swallow pills after very many attempts and tries throughout my life. I’ve accepted this fact, and I’m okay with crushing pills and mixing them in ice cream or something. However, one of my PP nurses made me chew up my pills after I had Lawson. It’s a terrible memory I have of a terrible nurse, so I’m trying to avoid that this time.

-Notebook and Pencil – for writing down any instructions from my doctor or nurses when we leave the hospital and also for keeping up with feeding sessions and diaper changes. I used an app on my phone with Lawson, which I mostly loved, but it gave me headaches from time to time, when my phone froze and I couldn’t recall the info I needed so maybe pencil and paper will be more reliable.
-My Birth Plan – As you can see, it’s one-page and very simple. I think my nurses will appreciate the fact that it’s direct and to-the-point so it will be easy for them to glance at and follow.
-My index card with a few last-minute items we don’t want to forget


What I’m NOT packing in my Hospital Bag…
-My breast pump – My lactation consultant told me that before my milk comes in, there isn’t really enough to pump anyway so it’s kind of pointless. I happen to agree, and it’s one less thing to remember.
-Laptop, magazines, anything for entertainment purposes – We had no time for any of this with Lawson’s birth and delivery so I doubt we will this time either.
-Photo props and outfit for newborn photos in the hospital – Believe it or not, I did pack these things with Lawson, but I didn’t like the photos taken at the hospital. Even with their best setup, there were things in the photos like the belly-button tie, hospital bracelet, and prick of the foot that I did not wish to have documented. I took the newborn photos again myself after we returned home.
-Baby Book – They sent everything home with us that I needed/wanted to include so there was no need to bring the actual book. I just kept it together and worked it into his book in the following weeks after his birth.

What I’ve Packed in my Hospital Bag…
-Nightgown, Robe, Flip Flops, Tinted Moisturizer, Rubberbands, Deodorant, Cleanser, Lip balm, Facial scrub, Hand sanitizer, Moisturizer, Pack of gum, Lotion, Toothpaste, Body wash, Shampoo, Razor, 2 brand new toothbrushes and travel tubes, My favorite pajama pants, a large maternity plain tee, Nursing tank, my least favorite pairs of underwear, 2 Nursing Bras, 2 Pairs of Socks, Yoga pants, Nursing Top, Boppy Pillow, Nursing cover, Lanolin cream, Pouch of nursing pads, Dermoplast Spray, Squirt Bottle, Chocolate reward for mama, A few sanitary pads, My Pill crusher, Notebook, Pencil, My Birth Plan, and an Index Card with Things Not to Forget that we’ll have to grab last-minute since we use them daily

My “Don’t Forget” List…
Hairbrush, Blow dryer, Straightener, Makeup Bag, Pillows, Blankets, Boppy Pillow, Wallets, Phones, Chargers,  Big Bro Shirt, Big Bro Prize, Nurses’ Gifts, Snacks, Car seats, Linkin’s baby bag, Lawson’s overnight bag, and Daddy’s bag

Well there ya go! This wraps up my post about my bag for labor & delivery. If there’s time before I go into labor, I’ll be posting about “What I’ve Packed in Baby Linkin’s Hospital Bag” and Baby Linkin’s “Fleet Little Fox” Nursery Tour. Stay tuned!

Baby Barrett #2 (36 weeks in the making)

(Read with caution. Pregnancy Posts may have T.M.I.)

How far along? 36 weeks, due May 6th

Total weight gain: 23 pounds – (That’s 20 pounds LESS than I weighed at the end of my pregnancy with Lawson!) I have and still do feel fabulous… I think it’s because I’ve kept it under control with cravings and not “eating for two” this time around. I learned my lesson with how hard it is to lose the pregnancy weight afterwards 🙂 I still have a healthy weight gain for this pregnancy, and my doctor says that there’s nothing to worry about.

Maternity clothes? Of course, although some are getting tighter.

Sleep? Heartburn is only occasional and not too terrible (it was awful with my first pregnancy), and I have only had one nightly leg cramp throughout this pregnancy (I had MANY with my first pregnancy). I’m sleeping fairly well, although sometimes I wake up for a snack or to use the backroom. If it’s one of those nights where I just can’t fall back asleep right away, I get up and do something productive like sewing!

Miss Anything? I guess I miss putting on my own shoes. I’m asking hubby to do it these days, and he wishes I would just wear slip-ons instead of my cute sandals. 😉

Movement: IOh yes, all the time.

Food cravings: Salads have been amazing this pregnancy, and lately I’ve been craving milk too.

Gender: It’s a boy! We actually found out at 15 weeks because it was OBVIOUS! If they told me girl at 15 weeks, I wouldn’t have believed them,  but with a boy, it’s pretty hard to deny. We announced it to our family on Thanksgiving.

Name: Linkin Jude

Labor Signs: Not a single sign of approaching labor… I’m mentally preparing myself for a late baby just in case. 🙂 I thought I might have felt a braxton hick contraction a few weeks ago, but I really think it was just some gas pains. My doctor will begin checking for dilation soon, but I’ve asked him not to tell me how I’m progressing if any at all. I think it just messes with my mind a little, and I get over-excited too soon. I’m patiently waiting until my little man tells me he’s ready to come out!

Belly Button: It’s an outie, but I’m used to it now so it doesn’t bother me. Some of my friends comment things like “I love your belly button,” which is super odd to me, but funny I guess.

Wedding Rings: On

Happy or Moody most of the time: Pretty happy, anxious, and excited! A little jealous of friends who’ve just had their babies tho… I just CAN’T WAIT until it’s my turn!

Looking Forward to: The challenge of a natural & drug-free labor – prayers appreciated!!

Next Appointment: Wednesday, then every week after that

The nursery is pretty complete, except for the glider that I am re-covering. My bag is packed, and I’ve stocked up on household goods like toilet paper and detergent so we won’t have to run out to get those things with a newborn. I guess I’ll try to do some freezer cooking over the next month and just continue to grow in excitement for our newest little one’s arrival.  I may practice some “big brother” things with Lawson to get him ready for this big event in his life too.

Now…. we wait! Stay tuned for a post of our Nursery Reveal and a post about what I’ve packed in my hospital bag.

Tot School: Ff for Foot (Body Parts Theme)

~Lawson is 19.5 months old.~

Each week… We’re using the Tot School Printables from 1+1+1=1 as well as anything else I have in my stash that goes along with our theme. We also begin each day with what’s called “Bible Class“. This is the interactive curriculum for babies and toddlers that I stumbled upon on Pinterest, and we use in our church nursery. I’ve adapted it to fit our Tot School. It’s great to begin our day with a little worship time!

Before the week begins, I’m pulling all of the resources I plan to use with Lawson including books, activities, toys, etc. I try to make sure things are mostly age-appropriate and on his developmental level, but I’m also not afraid to challenge him a little bit. I think children learn best when they are challenged slightly – not so much that they become frustrated, but just enough that they are eager to figure out whatever it is that is set before them. I make a list of all of these things so that I don’t forget the things that I’ve chosen for the week. I’m a natural list-maker, and I have lots of resources so my lists can be VERY LONG! If I don’t get to all of the things on the list during the week, it’s totally fine. We can save it for our review week or for another day in the future. I highlight through the items as we complete them, and it’s just one list for the entire week – not individual days. This keeps it simple for me, as I don’t want to overwhelm myself with the planning process.

This Week’s Focus: 
letter – Ff
object – foot
theme – Body Parts
color – Blue
number – 3
shape – triangle

This Week’s List of Plans:
*Main letter sheet with dry erase marker
*Vocabulary Development Page with dry erase marker
*Shapes Page with our Melissa & Doug Shapes Puzzle
*Numbers Page
*Dot paint the number 3
*Dot paint a triangle
*Trace left to right from F to f
*Sequencing Page
*Colors Page
*Colors Page to color with crayons and glue to paper
*Dot paint the feet; trace the letter page
*What starts with Ff page
*Shadow Matching
*Trace and color a triangle
*Dot paint the letter Ff
*Play-doh with letter F stamp
*Play-doh with triangle cutter
*Paint with triangle cutter
*Learning Resources Letter Construction
*Stringing/Lacing Practice
*Wooden Blocks (The blocks we have are “Foundations” by Kid O City and Country, purchased at TJ Maxx.)
*Beginners Walking Program
*Bible Class (daily or as often as possible)

Photo Dump from the Week: 

f f2 f3 f4 f5 f6 f9 f10

Linking up at Gathering Place