12.03.2019

DIY Mini Tree Garland


About a week ago, an Instagram account I follow that posts awesome Walmart finds shared a picture of mini Christmas garlands that you could drape over letter boards. I thought they were super cute and was immediately inspired. One was made of little pom moms, and one had tiny bottle brush trees all across it.

I went on the hunt for the tiny bottle brush tree garland but with no luck. I couldn't stop thinking about how cute it would be to have a tiny garland to decorate my letter board with for Christmas, so I got creative and made my own.

This project isn't anything earth shattering, but I hope it reminds you that if you see something you like, you can most likely find a way to make your own version of it, which, in my opinion, is even more fun!

I went to Hobby Lobby and scoured all the 50% off Christmas craft trinkets until I found these tiny acrylic trees. (They did have tiny bottle brush trees that I could've used, but once I saw these acrylic trees, I decided to go that route.)


Now...break for the tiny hands that invaded my acrylic tree photo shoot.


I obviously didn't pay attention to the quantity of trees in each package. Twenty is more than enough - too many actually for this project - so one package would've sufficed to make one or two garlands.

All I did for this project is hot glue the trees to some bakers twine I already had. Boom. Easy.

I didn't measure out the space between each tree; I just eyeballed it and tried to get close, knowing that a little imperfection only adds charm.


There are so many cute variations of trinkets at Hobby Lobby you could use to make your own tiny garlands. I saw cute candy canes, stockings, felt Santa faces, and so many other options that made me want to make aaaallll the tiny garlands.


I had quite a bit of excess garland, so I used small pieces of painters' tape on the back of my letter board to hold the garland in place how I wanted it.

Let me know if you get inspired to make your own tiny garland! I'd love to see what you come up with.



11.25.2019

Advent Verse Cards Printable

Hi all! Long time, no see. Er, talk? Long time, no type. Hello.

Today while Audrey napped, I created a set of 24 verse cards for Advent. There are many to be found on Pinterest already, but I was having trouble finding something I loved.


The cards I made are framed in pink and are adorned with fun, whimsical Christmas clip art. They are bright and cheery, and for good reason: all of the verses are focused on LIGHT. Jesus is the light of the world, and I think that's a beautiful aspect of him to focus on as we prepare our hearts to celebrate his birth.


So my gift to you this season is a free download of the Pages file I created. The cards are sized using standard business card measurements, approximately 3.5"x2".

They fit perfectly in Kraft brown mini sacks from Hobby Lobby, linked here, which I taped to the big chalkboard over our kitchen table.



The stamp kit for the numbers I used on the envelopes are linked here.

Get creative with how to use these cute little cards! I would love to see how you display or use them in your own home to countdown to Christmas!





And while you're at it, have yourself a merry little Christmas!

12.08.2018

An Unhurried Life

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the concept of living an "unhurried" life. Not in a "We're always going to be late" type of unhurried; but rather an "I don't want to miss this moment or these people" kind of unhurried.

Unhurried as in choosing to do my life the way my heart desires - leaning into what feeds my soul - and away from what steals my joy. Evaluating my obligations and tweaking my schedule. To me, this looks like not spreading myself so thin, not filling every free moment, and making it a priority to be home more.

Reading more and scrolling through Facebook less.

Making my home a cozy sanctuary by straightening up before going to bed, having a cup of coffee while watching a Hallmark movie, and lighting candles even if company isn't coming.

Going room by room and decluttering anything that feels like clutter or decor that I don't love anymore.

Crafting more. Baking more. Dreaming more.

People pleasing less (this one is really hard for me and one I need to work on).

Quality over quantity when it comes to friendships.

I don't want to fall into the trap of "this is just what we do" when it comes to being busy.

I don't want to be overwhelmed by stuff or obligations.

I want to teach Audrey the beauty of an unhurried, simple life. Of conversations where we look in each other's eyes instead of at our phones. Of questions asked and time spent learning about the answers. Of joy and contentment. Of snuggles in blankets. Of imaginations at work. Of peace.

I've always been attracted to simple things, but I always thought I had to apologize for it.

God made me an introvert who loves hugs, quiet, creativity, and simple joys. I'm learning to unapologetically embrace that girl instead of trying to morph into someone who needs the world's approval.

Have you ever stopped and thought about what type of life you crave?


9.20.2018

To Audrey

Dear Audrey,

Tomorrow will make it three months since God gave me the most precious gift: You.

I want you to know that when I look at your face, I feel inexpressible joy.

There were so many things I prayed for you to be like, that I used to joke that God was probably thinking: I get it; you want a perfect baby. But EVERYTHING I prayed about has been fulfilled. And no, you're not perfect (because no one is) but you are everything my heart has ever desired in a baby.

I was not the only one who prayed the word JOY over you. Friends and family did as well. And the joy that you bring to your daddy's and my life is over-abundant than any joy we've ever felt before.

You're like my little best friend. We are together every day, and in the morning when it's time to wake you up, I almost get butterflies anticipating the big smile I know you'll present me with.

Holding you in my arms and kissing the hair on your head is my happy place. When I'm with you and your daddy, I'm at peace. I'm fulfilled.

You are a little nugget from heaven -- a tiny glimpse at the goodness of God and the JOY that awaits us there.

I want you to know I'll always be your safe place. I will ALWAYS love you, no matter what. No matter what choices you make, no matter if you're with me or far away...my love for you will never end.

I pray not only that you will come to understand your need for Jesus at a young age, but that you will crave a real relationship with Him that goes way past just the guarantee of an eternity in Heaven with Him.

I want you to believe with all your heart that He is so very good. No matter life's circumstances, He is good and sovereign. Sometimes He allows things to happen that you won't be able to understand, but our minds aren't made to be like His, and his reasons aren't always revealed to us while we're in this world.

Your name Audrey means "noble strength" and your middle name Quinn means "wisdom." I pray these characteristics over you as you grow from a baby, to a child, to a young woman and so on.

You are good enough just as you are. God formed you so intricately and perfectly while you were in my womb. The world might try to make you feel like you fall short or that you have to change something about yourself to be accepted, but that's a lie.

As you grow, you might find yourself thinking that the rules your Daddy and I have in place for you are unfair. You might be tempted to think at times that we just don't understand. But sweet girl, we understand so well. We were once your age and went through the same struggles and emotions that you some day will.

Everything we ever do or say to you will be out of love for you. It is our job in this world to not only fiercely love and protect you, but to teach you important lessons and cultivate character traits in you that sometimes don't come easy to us as imperfect humans.

I pray for you to carry yourself with a quiet confidence, to have an unshakable faith in Jesus, and to always know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, Sweet Audrey, I love you more than words.

No matter how old you get, you will always be My Little Joy.

Love You Endlessly,
Mama

You were 8 days old in this photo.

7.08.2018

Audrey's Birth Story



On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, I turned 39 weeks pregnant and went to the hospital at 5 am to be induced.

Once we got checked in, we were shown to our room and I was instructed to put the hospital gown on. We filled out some papers, and my IV was started. Because I was a carrier of Group B Strep, my antibiotic regimen began, along with pitocin to get my contractions started. I was dilated to a one upon my arrival to the hospital, and had been for the past three weeks.

It was probably around 10 am when I elected to go ahead and get the epidural because the contractions I could feel were about two minutes apart and starting to get uncomfortable. It was a strange sensation receiving the epidural and apparently made me more nervous than I was even aware until I was told we might be too close to a blood vessel and might have to redo the whole thing and I started shaking all over. Leave it to me to have an anxiety attack during an epidural. I started crying, which embarrassed me. I remember Leslie gave me a reassuring thumbs up and reminded me I was ok and doing good. Thankfully, we didn't have to redo the epidural and once the effects started taking place, getting checked (and stretched) became much more tolerable.

My doctor came in around 11 am to break my water and check me.

Some troubles I had was that I was dilating slowly and my contractions kept amping up then falling off the map. They weren't staying consistent, so at one point, the nurse turned off my pitocin and restarted it about 30 minutes later in an attempt to help, but unfortunately my contractions never did stay consistent.

The nurses and my doctor noticed I was swelling in my lower region, and that concerned them. They also observed that Audrey's little head was starting to swell due to dropping lower than my pelvis had widened enough for. (My doctor and I both knew going into this that I had a narrow pelvis and might have trouble getting wide enough for Audrey to be able to easily pass through.)

By the time the evening came, I was growing weaker and anxious about not having the strength to deliver a baby (having not eaten since 4:15 that morning). Around 9 pm, the power in the hospital went out, including the a/c, and the fire alarms were going off. Nurses told us there were fire trucks all around the hospital but no one knew why. Cue more anxiety from me, terrified there was a fire somewhere in the hospital.

Around 10:15 pm, I threw up.

My doctor eventually came in and told us that she was fighting to keep us at the hospital but she was being ordered to transport us to a different area hospital.

We finally received word that a transformer had blown on the first floor of the hospital, causing a lot of smoke, which brought in the firefighters. 

My doctor eventually let us know that we were getting to stay put at the hospital, and that by that point (around 11 pm) I had dilated to a seven but the rate of progression was so slow, and due to the culmination of aforementioned issues, she thought a c-section would be in our best interest. I was relieved to hear this as my body was already depleted from the day, and I was just ready for Audrey to be born.

Because the a/c had been out, we had to wait for the operating room to cool down again before my doctor could perform any c-sections.

I was given Benadryl through my IV to help with my swelling issues, and that Benadryl knocked me out. I fought to keep my eyes open when I was finally brought in for my c-section a little after midnight on Thursday, June 21st.

Audrey was born at 12:24 am and was just as alert, healthy and HUNGRY as could be! She came out trying to eat her little hands. They laid her face next to mine, and I swear her eyes looked right into mine. I was still fighting to keep my eyes open (and failing miserably at this point), and I slept all through the hour or so I was in recovery.

As we were wheeled back to our room, the nurses asked me if I wanted to have skin to skin time with Audrey, and I said yes. As soon as she was laid on me, she frantically tried to nurse and as soon as she found the right spot, she latched on and I remember feeling shock and awe that I was actually kinda sorta breastfeeding my daughter!

We practiced a little bit longer in our room, and I was given some graham crackers to eat. Then around 3 or 3:30 am, our amazing nurse offered to hang out with Audrey at the nurses' desk so that Leslie and I could get a little sleep. She kept Audrey for about 3 hours while we slept.

We got to go home after about 38 hours. I had amazing nurses who were so helpful and kind, and of course my doctor is and was amazing as well. But it was so nice to get to go home where no one was knocking and coming in our room every hour or so.
___

As I type this, Audrey is 17 days old, and we are all doing great. I feel about 97% healed from my c-section, have been cleared to drive (even though I haven't yet), and Audrey is nursing beautifully.

Leslie still has about two weeks left of paternity leave, and I'm so thankful. This time we've gotten to spend together at home getting to know our daughter and unplugged from our jobs has been heaven. 

Audrey is a good sleeper at night. She typically sleeps for 4-5 hours before needing to be fed, then falls back asleep for another 2-3 hours before we get started on our day. If we don't have anything going on, we sometimes lay back down for another 2-3 hours.
___

Sometimes I just stare at Audrey - her hair and perfect little tiny face - and can't believe she's the one God gave us. She seems too good to be true. To think that she's the one embryo that survived from our IVF cycle...she's the one and only perfect one that God had in mind for us.

I can't wait to keep spending my days with her, playing with her, taking her places, teaching her about Jesus and loving others.
___

I've learned that it's so important to me as a mom to surround Audrey with peace and gentle love. I want our home to be a sweet sanctuary that she always feels safe in. I want her relationship with her daddy and me to be comprised of honest but loving conversations, always with a respectful tone. I take my role as her mommy very seriously and can't wait to teach her things and pour into her little life.

I call her "Mama's Little Joy," and joy is a word I pray will be all around her always. May she exude it, give it away, and feel it in our home. May joy be a constant, no matter our circumstances.

Thank you, God, for Audrey.

6.19.2018

Audrey's Nursery




















>> sources <<

crib: delta cambridge convertible crib in rustic grey
dresser: serta northbrook dresser in rustic grey
pouf ottoman: amazon
gray floating shelves: hobby lobby
wire hamper for stuffed animals: amazon
llama canvas print: amazon
alpaca canvas print: amazon
canvas laundry hamper: amazon
white floating book shelves: ikea
glass closet door knobs: hobby lobby
pug print: gingiber

----

EDIT 3/25/2019:
I have not been able to respond to comments for several months now, so I wanted to answer a few questions real quick.

The paint color is light gray and is Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams.

The letter A inside the hoola hoop wreath is from Hobby Lobby. It was a brown color and I painted it white.

11.10.2017

Our Story | The Browns

The thing about infertility is that it's so very common, but every story looks different. Our story was one of seven years marked by belief that our God could, but not always knowing if he would bless us with our heart's desire. I eventually learned to be content in the waiting, trusting that God was using this time to shape our story into just what he wanted it to be. 

Then we began fertility treatments in Spring 2016, and with renewed hope came surprising disappointment with our first failed IUI. After three more unsuccessful attempts, the realness of a barren womb became a reality that I knew I had to come to terms with and learn how to live a full, joyful life despite of.

The community of friends that God surrounded us with over the past few years made an unbearable journey bearable. They prayed over us, wrote our names in their Bibles, encouraged us to pray big prayers and not hold back out of fear. They desired a baby for us, acknowledged us on the hard holidays--such as Mother's Day and Father's Day--and dreamed with us.

When we decided we would set up a GoFundMe account to help us afford IVF, they showed up again, making financial sacrifices on our behalf. 

I'm more thankful than I could ever put into words for these wonderful friends God blessed us with. They were pillars of faith and stood firm on our behalf when we were too weary to even talk to God.

I've learned that God's timing is both mysterious and wonderful. We are often ready for something long before He's ready for us to receive it. It's in the waiting period that we can choose joy, choose to trust, and allow our faith to be molded into the dynamic testimony He desires it to be.

Praise be to the Giver of Life. All praises to His Holy Name for this long-awaited miracle.




"Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,"
says the Lord.

Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread out to the
right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities."

Isaiah 54:1-3