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 


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.

Baby Barrett #2 (30 weeks in the making)

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

How far along? 30 weeks, due May 6th (Baby is now the size of a large cabbage.)

Total weight gain: 12 pounds – Our lifestyle is totally different than what we had when I was pregnant with Lawson so we’re mostly eating pretty clean. I find myself craving fresh fruits and veggies this time instead of carbs and peanut butter. I feel amazing!! Most days, I wouldn’t even know I was pregnant – other than the round belly and the little kicks I feel throughout the day.

Maternity clothes? Yes.

Sleep: I’m sleeping pretty good, although I did have one night recently where I was just awake for no apparent reason. I feel minor heart burn when I lie down, but nothing compared to my pregnancy with Lawson. I also took a marvelous nap on Sunday, and I think this may be about to happen a little more often as I near the end of the pregnancy.

Miss Anything? I’m finding it to be a little harder to bend down and pick things up, which I am constantly doing with a toddler around. I also dislike not being able to cross my legs as easily in church… it makes sitting for a long length of time pretty uncomfortable.

Movement: I’m feeling lots of little kicks, and yesterday I felt him have the hiccups for the first time. Food cravings: A salad with lots of toppings like from Ruby Tuesday or Pizza Inn, a salad from Longhorns, and green beans from Bonefish Grill 🙂

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: maybe a Braxton Hick Contraction or two, but I really can’t remember how they feel so it might just be stretching of muscles

Belly Button: pretty much an outie most of the time now (It still really weirds me out.)

Wedding Rings: On

Happy or Moody most of the time: The moods seem to be leveling out.

Looking Forward to: Fixing up the nursery!

Next Appointment: Today, then every two weeks

We keep talking about “the baby” and telling Lawson about what’s coming, but I really think he has no clue. I’ve been nesting so we’ve been doing a little organizing in the nursery recently. He’s my little helper, and I keep talking about it being “the baby’s room”. Any tips on how to REALLY prepare him for what’s coming?? I’d love to know your input!

My Nursing Story & 2 New Rules for Myself

~Please read at your own discretion. This post contains my opinions and views of breastfeeding, as well as some intimate details of our nursing experience.~ 

Before Lawson was born, I did not intend on nursing him. To me, breastfeeding was just weird and I couldn’t imagine having a baby attached to me like that. However, I had heard all of the benefits of breastfeeding so I knew I wanted to give my new baby his mama’s milk. I planned to pump my milk to feed him, but as pregnancy went on and I felt more and more love for the baby growing inside of me, I decided I would give nursing a try. Now, you could probably consider me a “lactivist” because I’m so pro-breastfeeding!

What Changed My Mind
In our childbirth class, they showed a video of a baby doing “the birth crawl” after being placed on his mama’s abdomen immediately after birth. This precious little being managed to inch his way up to mama’s breasts and begin nursing with no guidance or interference from anyone else.  It had to be one of the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, and I so wanted to experience this with my own baby. Ya can’t get more natural than that, and it’s amazing how God designed our bodies to feed our babies and he designed our babies to know how to do that instinctively. Not to degrade this bond between humans, but just think about animals. They need no lactation specialists or proper techniques. It’s just natural.

Well my birth story with Lawson wasn’t how I had ideally pictured it, and I didn’t know how to speak up for these things that I desired so I didn’t get to experience that immediate bonding when Lawson was born. Hopefully my birth plan and new doctor will help me to get my wishes this time around with Linkin’s birth, but that’s a story for another day.

My Nursing Story
Nursing Lawson was not easy. It was a struggle. I felt so many emotions as a new mother, and it would’ve been so easy to give up and just give him formula… but I really didn’t want to. I wanted him to have mama’s milk. I nursed Lawson for about two months and then I began an in-home childcare business which didn’t allow me to nurse like I wanted. With the struggles of still learning to nurse, I didn’t see how I could do that and care for other small children at the same time. Somehow I managed to still pump milk, but I remember how difficult it was to find time to get away to do so, even briefly. I supplemented with formula and just pumped what I could for seven months. I did not want to stop giving my baby his mama’s milk, even if it was just a small amount through a bottle. I tried just about everything for increasing milk supply, but I would pump around the clock and only make about 12 oz. a day. Obviously, not near enough for a seven month old, and it was stressing me out working so hard for something that I wasn’t succeeding at. It was a very emotional decision, but I decided to stop pumping. Ever since then, I’ve had an even greater desire to do more the next time around. I want to be a pro at this with Linkin!

Let me now share with you my 2 New Rules for myself with nursing, and then I’ll get into the reasons behind them.

Rule #1 – I will NOT nurse my baby in a bathroom.

A few days before Lawson turned a month old, my grandfather had a quadruple bypass surgery. I wanted to be there for it, but that meant traveling three hours by myself as a new mom with my newborn. We did it, but it wasn’t easy as we were still learning to nurse together. Getting him to latch was often difficult, and I felt it was just easier to get away to try and feed him. We asked some hospital employees for a place to nurse, and the only suggestion they had was a private bathroom. Looking back, I realize how appalling this was. What if we suggested they go eat their lunch in this private bathroom? Um, no. But anyway, that is where I went to nurse. Sometimes I would wait for the bathroom to become available, only to have people knocking every few minutes. It was the most annoying thing ever! During one of our feedings, the bathroom was occupied, so I opted to use the man’s private bathroom. Bad decision! I can just remember it smelling awful, and I must have been some kind of a terrible mother to make my baby eat in such a degrading way. Please don’t leave me comments telling me how awful I was. I feel bad enough already, and it’s in the past. That’s why I am vowing to never do that again, but for the remainder of our time at the hospital, I used a private waiting room to nurse Lawson. We were lucky that it was available for each of the feeding times we need it to be.

Rule #2 – I will not leave a place where I am allowed to be to go and nurse my baby.
I can just remember those first few days home with Lawson. People would come to see us. We’d visit for a while and have good conversation, but then it was time to feed the baby so I would take the baby to the nursery and feed him. All the while, I’m trying to see if I can still hear the conversation going on without me in the living room. I just didn’t like this feeling of isolation, in my own home.
I’m not sure what my reasons for leaving the room were exactly. It could be that I was trying to be respectful of our guests, or it could be that I just found it easier since we were still learning how to nurse together. I probably can’t promise this one as easily either… if my baby and I are still learning to nurse and he needs to eat, I’m going to feed him. I’ll try to use a cover and be as modest as I possibly can be (when guests are in my home or I’m in the presence of the general public), but I can’t promise that I be able to successfully nurse modestly under a cover with Linkin. I remember doing a lot of maneuvering under that cover with Lawson – it was not easy.
Gosh, I remember trying to feed him in a corner booth at Applebee’s. There was hardly anyone in the restaurant, and I was pretty hidden in the corner so maneuvering under the cover wasn’t as difficult. But since we were still learning to nurse, Lawson wasn’t latching on well. It led to screaming which drew attention our way. Something no one would have probably noticed me doing suddenly became “what is going on with that baby she’s got under that cover?!”. Since we were finished eating, I put up the boob and decided to finish feeding Lawson in the car… away from everyone looking at me. And yes, by this time he was pretty hungry and still screaming, all the while my milk is leaking everywhere as you can imagine. Lawson finally calmed down when he realized he could just lick the milk from my belly, and then we were able to finish nursing normally for the rest of the feeding. So you see, sometimes I guess I left because it was just easier for me. Maybe I didn’t like people looking in my direction while I struggled to get this task done. That wasn’t a special bonding moment for me, but a really funny story I can laugh about now.

All I can really promise is that I will do my best to nurse Linkin. I will try not to be embarrassed or shamed or feel like I am disrespecting the people around me by feeding my baby the natural way. I’m just gonna need some encouragement, and lots of it.

Baby Barrett #2 (25 weeks in the making)

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

How far along? 25 weeks, due May 6th (Baby is now the size of an eggplant.)

Total weight gain: 7 pounds… I think that’s a little less than I’m supposed to have gained at this point, but I have no doubts that I’ll be able to catch up! 🙂 I’m not using the “I’m eating for two” phrase to just eat as much as and whatever I want. We make healthy choices in our house (with a few splurges of course!), and I always eat when I’m hungry.

Maternity clothes? Oh yes, no going back now. Maternity clothes till the end!

Stretch marks? Not from this pregnancy, but some faint remains from the last one

Sleep: I’m still sleeping pretty good. Right now, I’m up to using 3 pillows! One night this week, my hubby stole one of my pillows (Usually “ours”, but during pregnancy I get possessive “mine”) so I laid awake thinking of a clever, but nice way to get it back. I knew he didn’t mean to take it and probably didn’t realize it, but I needed it. 🙂 I waited until he turned over and yanked it from under his head mid-turn and replaced it with a different one. That was the best I could think of, and then we both went back to sleep. Win!

Miss Anything? Hmm…. I missed my last pre-natal visit if that’s what you mean. It’s the one where my doctor told me “We won’t be doing much at this appointment – no tests or anything so it’s a good time to discuss your birth plan.” I took that as a good reason to not even schedule one this month – He never should have told me that. I’ve had no issues, questions, or complications so I figured it would be okay. It’s also a 45 minute drive for us and with me being a full-time SAHM now with no income, we thought it would be a good idea to save on gas. We’ll have the dreaded Glucose Test at the next visit though – yuck!

Movement: This baby seems a bit more mellow than with my first pregnancy, but I do feel him move all the time.

Food cravings: Peanut butter is tasting good again, just like pregnancy #1. I’m also quite fond of Wendy’s Frosties, even in this cold weather.

Anything making you queasy or sick: I gag a little when I brush my teeth. That’s pretty much it though at this point.

Gender: It’s a boy!

Name: Linkin Jude

Labor Signs: too early for all that

Belly Button: innie/outie (It weirds me out with this pregnancy too.)

Wedding Rings: On

Happy or Moody most of the time: Pretty happy

Looking Forward to: decorating the nursery! I just ordered a cubical shelf to organize the closet – woo hoo!