Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Lexi will be one in 2 weeks and it's got me thinking a lot about my girls and motherhood.

I remember thinking about "Christian names" when I was pregnant with Ava. I loved certain names, but the word "Grace" kept coming to my mind. I was pregnant with Ava when I was 25 and had learned what grace was really all about. I would say from 20-25 years old, I did a lot of personal growth, so when I got pregnant God really taught me about His Grace. I learned during those years that I'm not perfect and I don't know everything. That was really hard for me to learn. I had to give up a lot of control. I thought I had all the answers and could do things "my way," but I learned that there is a lot I had to let go. I remember loving the name "Grace" but deciding I would like it better as a middle name. Paul didn't like the name Ava that much, but one day on the way to church, I threw out the name "Ava Grace" and he loved it. Now, I have officially heard of twelve other Ava Graces. Which is crazy, but it is a name that means so much to me now, I wouldn't change it for anything.

When we got pregnant with Alexandria, or "Lexi", we were in complete shock. By shock I mean, I cried for a week and didn't even tell Paul. I thought I couldn't handle it. I thought, "Why would God let this happen when HE knows I'm not ready!" I emotionally was dealing with a lot still with my family and my parents' divorce. I thought, "How can I bring another person into this craziness?" But God really taught me faith during my pregnancy with Lexi. I learned that He was in charge and that it was ridiculous of me to think that I had any control. We also really prayed it was a boy so that our family could feel "complete" so to speak. When we found out it was another girl, we were speechless, but God tested our faith. He reminded us that He was in charge.

I had many names I wanted to name the new baby girl, but Paul couldn't talk about names for about month. It killed me not to have control of the name, but I was patient and finally Paul decided on one name he liked, Alexandria. I liked it, but it didn't fit my rule of a 2 syllable, easy to spell name. Oh well, I let it go. I knew we'd call her something else anyway.=)

So, we had Alexandria picked out but needed a middle name. I knew immediately that "Faith" would be a perfect middle name for this sweet surprise that God blessed us with. So, Alexandria Faith blessed our lives last January and has changed our lives forever.

We thought having a boy would make our family feel "complete" but we feel very complete with our girls. I am daily getting use to the fact that we have a family of 4. It feels surreal, but we are both (Paul and I) excited to start this journey as a family. We have been through a lot of transitions in our 8 1/2 years of marriage but we are ready to settle down now and raise this family.

I have had to take care of the girls a lot lately because of Paul's work, and tonight I took the girls to Blue Coast Burrito and Menchie's (frozen yogurt!). While we were sitting there and I was trying to feed both girls (and eat too), I was reminded of their middle names. I prayed right then for God to give me grace and faith during the times when I feel like I can't handle things (which is a lot lately). I was just touched looking at both of them and realized that God has really taken care of us and will for a long time.

I'm not perfect and would say that most days I don't have the faith I need, but I always pray that God gives me grace when I struggle to trust Him. I've been struggling a lot lately with "strongholds" in my life and things that have prevented me from healing from past pain. I prayed on Sunday at church that God would speak to me. I think He used my girls to speak to me tonight. It's funny how God speaks in unexpected ways, but I'm thankful for it. I am thankful to have the family I have, a family God has blessed me with.

I have been processing a lot lately and just needed to get it out.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My life is a movie...

Some days I feel like I'm watching my life from above as if it's someone else's life. The events that happen when one has 2 small children (or more) are so unpredictable!

Yesterday I realized that I suck because I haven't taken Ava to see Santa this year. I can't believe it's the week of Christmas and I'm just now realizing that she hasn't gotten to sit on Santa's lap. It's just been crazy, as life always is...so that brings me to today. I was determined that we would see Santa today! I decided that we would go after church straight to the ghetto, I mean Hickory Hollow Mall. This is the mall I grew up going to, had my first job at, and feels like home. I feel warm and fuzzy inside this mall...I know that sounds hilarious, but it's true. I decided we would do Hickory Hollow because it's dead. Now, I knew it would not have a lot of people, but on the Sunday before Christmas, I thought there would be a lot more people there than there were. We got to Santa and he was gone until a certain time, so we decided to hit up the Food Court. Well, the Food Court is pretty sad at HH now. WHAT the heck?! No places are open there now except a Greek, Mexican, and Chinese restaurant. So, Ava chose tacos, of course.

Ava and I went to order tacos while Paul and Lexi went to sit and wait for us. Remember, Ava and Lexi are both dressed up to see Santa in their cute Christmas outfits!

So, Ava and I walk back to the table and Lexi starts throwing up buckets! All over Paul and all over herself.

I ran to the Mexican restaurant to get napkins, and I said, "My daughter just threw up and I need some napkins." The guy seriously gave me THREE! I said, "Could I have some more, please?" He still only gave me around 4 more. Oh well...

So I ran back and started cleaning Lexi up and Paul up. It was hiliarious...I mean, you either laugh or cry in situations like this, right?!!! So we got Lexi completely undressed down to her diapers. Ava said, "Lexi can't go see Santa naked!" I said, "You're right!" So, Ava and I went to go get Lexi a new outfit at Sears...yes, Sears is still open at the mall!

We changed Lexi into the new outfit, and we went down stairs to see Santa. We had 2 families in front of us in line, which was so nice, and Ava was thrilled when we saw Santa! Poor Lexi was asleep and we forced her to wake up for the picture. She looks exhausted and pale in the picture. It's sad what we force our kids to do! ha!

When Ava got to talk to Santa, she told him she wanted a scooter with 3 wheels, makeup, a kids camera, and twinkle toes. She was very serious about the scooter "with 3 wheels". She loved seeing Santa, it was very sweet.

When we were leaving, Ava said, "I love this day! It was fantastic!" I'm glad we made a special memory for her although it was crazy for me and Paul. I looked at Paul when we got in the car and said, "Well, that was eventful...let's get home."

This is the "joy" of the holidays, right?!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

a need to reflect

I have wanted to write a post for such a long time and wasn't sure what to write. From Feb. until around mid-July, I was extremely depressed. I went through some post-partum depression and was so uncomfortable talking about it. I didn't understand it myself. Lexi didn't sleep well, and I don't do well on no sleep. I require at least 9 hours. I've always been called a grandma for going to bed around 8-9 pm, but I don't care. Well, with Lexi...2-3 hours was the only amount of sleep I was getting! So long story-short...I went back to work in April and May and literally fainted in front of my students because of sleep deprevation and stress. I got through it...some how...just survival mode. I lived every day by just waking up, breathing, and surviving. People would ask, "How are you?" and I would simply say, "I'm surviving." I have many explainations for this stress and depression, but it would take too long to write. Let's just say...I've been through my own personal hell on many different levels in the past 4 years. None of which have to do with my girls, because they have been the happiest/most joyful part of my life! Family issues with my parents combined with some unexpected deaths has changed the make-up of who I am.

I have struggled so many days with being "happy". I have thought many times about what that means...to feel happy. I know that joy comes only from Christ and his great LOVE for us, but finding happiness has been tough for me. I am a Christian and have always considered myself "faith-filled". But honestly, I have struggled for 4 years with my faith. I can't understand why things that are so horrible happen to people. I know it's not God, but it's so hard to wrap my head around.

Paul and I took a trip for my 30th birthday in Oct. to Mexico. I literally cried my eyes out when we got into our room. It was like, all the stress and depression was something I was ready to release somewhere in Mexico. I wouldn't say it just disappeared, but the peace and calmness I felt in paradise left me feeling "lighter" on many levels!

I struggle during this season of Christ's birth to feel happiness. My life doesn't look the way I expected it to. It never will look like I expected it to again, but that's something I must accept and allow to happen because I have no control over that. I feel anxious about holidays and expecially Christmas. My focus for 4 years has been on Ava, and now this is Lexi's first Christmas. Now, the focus will be on seeing joy in my children's faces and knowing that God creates that joy! Not from presents, but from love. I just want to pour out love to my children and husband and find "happiness" in that.

I think we all struggle with many enternal issues that are deep and core issues. My goal now is to not try and figure things out anymore, but to just accept the way things are.

I'm going to continue to try and accept and love life for what it is. God is constantly opening my eyes to the blessings around me. My prayer is that he continues to reveal His blessings to me and my family.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Ava is changing everyday! Her vocabulary is incredible, and she is always saying something that makes me smirk or laugh! Here are a few things that she has done or said lately that I feel like I need to document...

  • A few days ago, Paul was changing Lexi in the morning before Ava was going to school, Lexi was screaming and Ava said, "Uh-oh, Uh-oh...Daddy, I'll go get Mommy!" Paul then said not to get me because Lexi just cries with diaper changes. It was so cute though that she felt like he needed my help.
  • Same day, Ava said, "You can take me to school, Mommy, because you can walk now!" (I couldn't walk in the hospital the first day and that was very strange to her!
  • One night we were watching Clifford, her favorite, and she started biting her big toe, not the nail, just the toe. We told her it was gross and not to do it, but she kept on. On Clifford, Emily Elizabeth, the girl, said "That was a great story, Clifford!" and Ava then said, "That was a great biting, Ava." So silly...
  • Last night we went to my sister-in-laws to watch the Super Bowl, and it was the first time that Ava and Lexi were in the car together. Ava said, "Why is my baby in this car?"

It's definitely a novelty to Ava to have a baby. She's very sweet about Lexi and very, very helpful. We have tried to include Ava as much as possible, which I think has helped!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nickname Change, sleepless nights, and doctor appointment

So, there is NO big story to why we changed from calling Alexandria "Alex" to "Lexi". But here is how we decided...
First off, if anyone knows about us and finding a name for a girl, you know it was a difficult experience! I had a list of 30 names for Paul to look at, and he had a difficult time liking any of them. He actually was having a difficult time accepting that it was a girl and not a boy. We had pretty much decided this baby would be our last, so when we found out it was a girl, we were both in shock. We just KNEW it was a boy, but God had a different plan for us, a better one!

Paul finally decided on a name he would be ok with, Alexandria. That name had one big problem for me...it didn't meet my "2-syllable rule" for names. I like 2-syllable names. So, we talked about nicknames. I loved Lexi or Allie, he liked Alex. I decided that since we weren't having a boy and that I named Ava Grace, he could have this name. So, we went for Alex.

Once we had her, we kept calling her "Ava" because she looks just like Ava and because of the "A" names. My mom kept saying how cute "Lexi" would be and easier for us to say. I didn't think Paul would go for it, but he decided that, yes, it was hard to not call her Ava. We just thought it would be easier. We've had great feed-back. I like it because it's more girlie, so it's now "Lexi". She's still Alexandria Faith, but we will call her Lexi!=)
We have had some sleepless nights...one night, Lexi screamed for 4-5 hours straight because she needed a good burp. How can a baby cry that long?! It was the worst night of my life (other than Ava's first night home!). We had my mom helping us and then we called Paul's mom to help us. Paul had to go to work the next day, so it was hard for him. That was only one night and hopefully won't happen again. She was not able to be soothed at all that night.

Now she is sleeping 2-3 hours after she eats, but when she wakes up after an hour or so, she is easy to console and calm down. No screaming nights again!! (I hope!) My nights are not normal, of course, but at least she hasn't screamed in two nights.

Today, Lexi had her first appt. with the dr. It was great! My mother in law took us since I can't drive or carry the car seat. Lexi has gained 5 oz. since leaving the hospital, she is now 7 lbs. 6 oz. The dr. was impressed with her weight gain! I nursed Ava for a year and plan to do the same with Lexi. Lexi is a great nursing baby. I am more confident this time, so it makes it easier. I have had some normal "bumps in the road" with nursing, but all in all, we are in a good place. Obviously she's doing well, because she's gaining weight really well! The doctor gave me great advice in a few areas I was concerned over, and I feel much more confident about how Lexi is doing.

She is a sweet baby! I had NO idea I could love my second daughter this much, but I do! Here are my precious girls! Ava loves holding her sister and simply adores "her baby" as she calls Lexi!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A surprise beginning!

So, many of you know I had a planned C-section time of 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The plan was to get up at 4:45 am and be at the hospital by 6 am. We were worried about the snow being an issue, so we planned to leave early!

Well, around 1 am, I started feeling contractions. I thought they were just uncomfortable and not extremely painful. I had these off and on for an hour. I tried to sleep, but just couldn't get comfortable. At 2 am, I felt like I was sweaty. Now, let me say...I sweat a lot at night, so this wouldn't have been abnormal. I got up to go to the bathroom because I was so hot and started to feel dripping down my legs. It was weird. I thought, "there's no way that's my water breaking!" But, it was...I got Paul up and told him, called Dr. K to see what she thought. She said to go ahead and get to the hospital. On the way, my contractions got worse and more consistant. Now, with Ava I never felt contractions, so feeling them was not fun! I wanted drugs!!! We got to the hospital, the nursing staff checked my contractions, then called my Dr. to come in. Dr. K came in, talked to me about the surgery, and then we got started. I was so nervous about this surgery. Last time with Ava, I labored for 12 hrs., then had a c section. I was so ready to get Ava out that I didn't have time to think about surgery. Well, I was anxious, but Dr. K was so great. The surgery went well, and Alexandria came out great! She had to actually be suctioned out, though because of my pelvic bone. (which is why I had to have a c sec with both) She came out and screamed and cried so loudly! I was so proud of her strong lungs!

When she was out and screaming, I was crying so much. I had so many emotions running through. I first felt incredibly blessed! I thought, "God, you are SO good to us!" I thought about how God's plan is always perfect. I didn't want to be pregnant this time around, but when she came out, I loved her so much, that there was no question that God had a better plan than we did. I thought about how many babies we know that have not been healthy and how truly it was a miracle for Alex to be so healthy. While they were finishing sewing me up, I layed there thinking about my life the past 3 1/2 years with Ava. I have been through the hardest time in my life for 3 years because of my parents splitting up after 35 years. I layed there thinking that this daughter's first 3 years will not be surrounded my her mommy's sadness and anxiety. That she would have a happier mommy, and I felt full of joy thinking about that. What a blessing she is!

So, everything is going so well. Alexandria Faith is precious. She is just beautiful and sweet. She is nursing so well, and now that my milk has come in, she is doing well even on that. I am thankful for my milk coming in during my stay at the hospital so I could have help! With Ava, my milk came in at home and it was horrible!!! I didn't know what to do and felt miserable! BUT-Alex is doing so well! I am SOOO less stressed with the 2nd one...I feel like things have gone smoothly, and I feel totally overwhelmed and blessed. I have cried so much from feeling blessed! (of course, my hormones are out of whack!)

Big Sister, Ava, loves Alexandria!

[ps-This is what is on the door at the hospital! I asked my mother-in-law, aka Saint Janis, to bring a little something to put on the door. I just wanted something that said, "Alexandria" on it so visitors would know it was her room. My wonderful mother in law went above and beyond, as she always does, and made this sign. We are blessed to have such amazing parents!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Closing a Chapter...

I have been thinking all morning about doing this blog post. I have always valued reflection. I think it's important to look at the past to see how far we've come. We are on the brink of closing a major chapter in our lives. Ava will not be our only child anymore. For 3 1/2 years, she's been what our world has revolved around, and now she will be sharing us with Baby Alex. I am excited and starting to feel anxious. I have cried off and on all morning thinking about how much I love Ava and how proud of her I am. She wears us out like crazy, but the love we have for her is like nothing I can even describe! How are we going to love another child this much?! I am getting nervous about that, but I know that God will give us the love we need for this new child.

We are closing a chapter and opening a new one soon...here's how this chapter of Ava's life began:

The kitty, lovey that Ava has with her name on it was given to her in the hospital by The Pullen family from our church. She loves this kitty and sleeps with her every night! I can't believe how brand new kitty looks in these pictures! The pink "blankie" was given to her by her "Auntie Lori" and she also sleeps every night with that! Ava was a wonderful newborn. She slept well, and ate well (after the first, stressful week home). She started sleeping 5-7 hours when she was 5 weeks old. It was great! She was such a blessing to our home.

Ava grew to be a BIG baby! People always thought she was older than she was because of her size. She was a chunky baby, and we loved it! She was very healthy and we were so proud to show her off! Here is Ava at 6 months old at Christmas time, with her BCF (best cousin forever), Alana! Look how little Alana looks! She's 2 here.

Once Ava turned a year old we started really seeing her personality! She loved to play, laugh, and smile with people. She was very social with people whether she knew them or not. That really made us laugh. Here she is in Michigan at a year old. She loved to swing then and still would rather swing than play on a playground even now! At one and half, it was Christmas time. She loved her kitty and added Elmo (after we took her passy away!).

Ava was in her first wedding, my best friend, Lindi's when she was almost 2. She was beautiful! She loved wearing the dress, the wings, and walking down the aisle. She did really well walking down, but once she was down the aisle, she was a loose canon. My mom took her during the wedding because I was the matron of honor and couldn't leave.

Ava was a spunky 2 year old! She soon taught us that things should be "her" way, not "our" way. We learned how truly strong-willed she was during her 2nd year.
Here is Ava and Daddy at Christmas. Ava was 2.5 years old. She was in the Christmas program at church that year and stole the show! She was very animated and loved being the center of attention.
Ava and Daddy dug a huge hole in the sand this summer at Hilton Head. It was our first (and probably only) trip with just the 3 of us. I was pregnant and feeling sick, but Ava had a blast. It was fun watching the joy on her face at digging in the sand and playing in the water!
Ava is 3 now and just beautiful (I must say!). She makes me laugh harder than anyone else, and sometimes she makes me want to pull my hair out more than anyone else. She pushes buttons that I never thought I had, but I love this girl so much! Ava is thrilled at becoming a big sister. It will be a new adventure for all of us. All we can do now is pray for strength and guidance during this new chapter we are all about to embark on.
I love you, Ava Grace Morel!