What A Difference a Year Makes

Today is my 31st birthday.

A year ago, I was turning 30, and ready to embrace all of the amazing things this new decade in my life would hold.

Until life had other plans, and my 30th birthday did not go as planned.

Unfortunately, this was just a preview into the way the rest of the year would go as my husband searched for a new job, we sold our house, we moved 10 hours away from Richmond and made a temporary home in a 2 bedroom apartment. None of it was easy; the job search was a disaster, our house unexpectedly sold in 3 days, leaving Richmond and my job was much harder than any of us thought it would be, and our move turned out to be a move from hell. One for the books, really.

The past year was a lot more about surviving than living, and when you are struggling just to SURVIVE, it’s hard to remember to write about living. Because trying to get through each day isn’t the same as enjoying and reflecting on each day. 

In the midst of it all I was pregnant, and I felt guilty about not ever writing about this pregnancy. But pregnancy takes a toll on you emotionally and physically in ways you can’t really describe. I didn’t write about this pregnancy because I didn’t have time to focus on it in the midst of our entire lives changing. And it’s strange to talk about pregnancy after a miscarriage because instead of a celebration it feels like a secret you have to protect. And for me, the trauma of my first pregnancy bleed so strongly into this one that I couldn’t tell where one stopped and the other began. Five years apart and still emotionally scarred, I didn’t feel like writing about the deepest fears and secrets of my motherhood, or admitting how much I hate being pregnant even though I know I lucky I am to get to carry my children.

So I dropped the blog and lost some freelance work (bad move) and let the laundry and the dishes pile up and in the midst of every single faucet of my life changing in the past year, I simply survived it. Every day.

I didn’t write during the year of my life that had the best stories. And maybe that was a mistake, but telling stories about fear and things going wrong and changing every day don’t feel like stories, that feels like complaining. It didn’t feel worth it to document months worths of complaints.

But today, I am in a much different place than I was a year ago. We sold our home. We moved to GA. I stopped working and let go of my usually stringent to-do lists. My husband started a new job. My son started a new school. We are making due with a 2 bedroom apartment. My oldest turned 5. I survived my pregnancy and my delivery and we have a beautiful one month old baby boy. And for every second that I hated my pregnancy I am loving every second of being a new mommy, and getting to be a mommy again has been indescribably healing. Though I hope to try to describe it, because it’s much easier to reflect and tell a story than it is to narrate while you are in the middle of it.

Thirty is over. One of my dear friends texted me today and said her money is on 31. Mine too, sweet friend. I’m ready to take it back. Because as much as I hated the last year of my life and as much as my life is not perfect right now, I am, in this moment, completely in love with it. All of it.

I celebrated turning 31 by taking my baby to the doctor for his one month appointment where I learned that he is already 12 pounds, 2 ounces, and in the 95th percentile! Then I took the time to put on make up and do my hair (a luxury for new mommies.) My husband and son bought me beautiful flowers and my 5 year old drew me the sweetest card. We attempted our first dinner out as a family and made it a full 45 minutes before the littles had to go home. My 31st birthday was uneventful and completely child focused and absolutely perfect.

Here’s to 31. This is going to be a good year.



Redecorating with Wall Art from Minted.com

Yesterday, the weather was gorgeous. My son and I actually got to spend some time outside and take a neighborhood walk, which was such a welcome reprieve from the cold snowy winter we’ve had.

And then, today, it snowed. Again. This time, starting early in the morning and it hasn’t stopped!

Stuck inside again all day, I’ve started to mentally redecorate this house. I love our home, usually, when it’s clean and we are free to come and go and not stuck in it every single second of every single day. But lately, I’ve just felt like the walls are closing in om me and I’m just so tired of the same old look we have going on in this house.

Since I’m quickly growing tired of my scenery, I was thrilled when Minted.com reached out and asked if I’d like to do a post about their new wall art. I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I am a HUGE fan of Minted, especially their stationery and party decor. And now they have just introduced the most adorable collection of wall art.

How cute would this vintage inspired print be in a kitchen?

I love the modern print and black and white contrast of this print.

And how sweet would this be for a patriotic themed little boy’s room or nursery?

I also kind of love this playful chair print for a powder room.

The best part is, Minted’s limited collection of art prints starts at only $25, making it affordable for anyone’s price range.

You can order the prints with or without frames. I personally would go with the frame, so you have a ready to hang piece of art delivered directly to your door. Who wouldn’t be over the moon excited about that?

These prints would be perfect for personal redecorating or would make great gifts.

With styles ranging from traditional to contemporary, there is sure to be a print from Minted that you will fall in love with.

I would love to know; what Minted print will you chose for your home?

*I was offered a Minted credit in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. And I am totally going to use it to redecorate this house.*



Our Fire Alarm Is Overworked

It’s been quite a week, friends.

While I wish I had something of more substance to write, I realize that I’ve unintentionally neglected my blog for another week (again.)

It tends to happen that my writing sits on the back burner when real life starts to happen. (Do you do this, too?)

I’m so honored to have stepped up my responsibilities at Richmondmom.com as I’ve taken on some of the calendar content managing, and also get another role in the big Christmas show so intense rehearsals are already underway. Despite my brief emotional breakdown, I’m back on track with other real life things like parent conferences and keeping up with my son’s school.

I’ve also been busy getting ready to throw our very first Halloween party and trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m almost 30. Eek!

So instead of bore you will all the details, I’ll just tell you the story of how the fire alarm went off at our house. Twice.

It’s no secret that I can not cook, so last week I decided to be nice and have dinner ready for my husband and son when they got home from running errands. I went for pasta, a good stand by, and put the water on to boil while I went around straightening up the house. A few minutes later I smell something burning and go into the kitchen to see flames leaping up all around the pot. I picked up the pot to move it, which of course just made the flames rise up even more quickly. At this point, the fire alarm was beeping madly. I was clever enough to remember NOT to pour water on an electrical fire, turned the eye off, and stifled the fire with my near by container of flour. The entire container.

Crisis averted, I opened all of the doors and windows, turned on some fans, and then it was time for me to leave to go to rehearsal. I texted my husband with this picture and said, “Can you guess what just happened here? Also, we might need more flour.” 1268027_372716026192324_826887844_o

I also told him that I was leaving the house with the doors and windows open so I hoped there was not a robber in the house when he got home. I’m obviously wife of the year.

Then today, in our attempts to decorate our house for our upcoming Halloween party, my husband came home with a fog machine. Which he thought would be a really awesome thing to have in the house.  After a brief set up (which included him NOT reading the directions), we all watched carefully as….nothing happened.

“Why isn’t this working? This will have to go back,” my husband said in a frustrated manner. Meanwhile, the 4 year old had the remote control and was mercilessly pressing buttons. A few minutes later, after the fog machine warmed up (as detailed in the directions, ahem) the 4 year old’s button pushing resulted in a heavy stream of fog that quickly filled up our entire living room to the point that I could not see the coffee table right in front of me and our fire alarm was again beeping madly and incessantly. And the cats were running frantically around the house because they were terrified. Luckily, this time, we all got a good laugh. Followed by a round of can’t-breathe-from-the-fog-coughing.

The beginnings of the fog machine sensation.

The beginnings of the fog machine sensation.

I’m still voting the the fog machine goes back.

What has been going on in your world?


11 Years

The last picture I have of my Dad and I was taken in May of 2002. I was a senior in high school and was wearing all black and stage make up to perform in my high school musical. I had the leading role and would be going to college on a voice scholarship in the fall.

My Dad wore a red t-shirt tucked into his blue jeans and a belt; his signature style. 

We have our arms around each other and big smiles. 

Then, at 7:20 in the morning on October 5th, 2002, he would pass away.

I kept that picture in a small frame with pink metal flowers for a long time. With me in my college dorm room after I dropped out and returned, changing my major. With me in my first apartment and the first home my husband and I had together.

And somewhere along the way, with moves and with time, the little frame with the metal flowers and the picture of my Dad and I got packed in a box. Packed away as more of a memory than an item to be unpacked and displayed.

A lot changes in eleven years. Graduations, marriages, jobs, babies, moves.

Eleven years feels like a long time. It is a long time. Its an amount of time that allows a lot of things to change.

And people say that time heals all wounds.

I thought eleven years would be a long time.

But today, on the eleventh anniversary of my Dad passing away, I found myself in tears. Sobbing, hysterical tears. Not able to get out of the bed tears. Or talk to my son without crying tears.

I didn’t think eleven years would have felt like that. So I decided to have a regular day. I had 8 hours worth of rehearsal today. And I went to them, just like I was supposed to. And I made a spectical of myself and cried the ugly cry and had to explain that even eleven years later, the passing of my Dad felt as if it had just happened.

How even eleven years later, the wound was fresh and I could remember the details of the entire day. Like the hole in my heart had just been created.

The first few anniversaries of his death I gave myself permission not to do anything. I would skip class and spend the day crying in bed. Perhaps not functional, but it was my own version of therapy and it allowed me to avoid the inevitable embarrassment of public crying.

The anniversary in 2006 was the first one that I actually went about as a normal day. I was teaching in England, and I got up and taught. And the day was actually good.

There have been other anniversaries like that. Where it wasn’t so heart wrenching; it just WAS. I dreaded last year’s the most; the tenth anniversary seemed like such a milestone and a significant time period. My mom, brother, sister and I wanted to commemorate that occasion so we went on a weekend get away, just the four of us. It was a lovely weekend and the perfect way to celebrate and remember.

This year didn’t feel so significant. Eleven isn’t even a significant number. I had rehearsals and regular life on the calendar.

And yet, as it tends to happen with grief, this anniversary took me by surprise and left me inconsolable well into the afternoon.

The people who came to tell me it would be ok at the church rehearsal were older ladies who would say, “I lost my Dad a couple of years ago. I know what you’re going through.”

And I appreciate it. I do.

I can’t imagine that losing a partner would be easy at any point in life.

But we all know that this happens. We know that we grow older and pass away. We know that as we age our parents age, too. We must expect that at some point, in their old age, our parents will pass.

I feel like it’s entirely different losing a parent when you are young. They didn’t get to live their entire lives. They didn’t get to do everything in their careers, or travel everywhere they wanted, or become a grandparent. They didn’t get to be there for all of the things in yours. They missed your graduations, your wedding, and your baby.

I don’t think you know what that’s like unless you’ve experienced it. To have your heart entirely broken and then pieced back together again, every so slowly, and then every once in a while it loses one of the pieces all over again and you feel that you are starting over.

Starting back at the beginning of the most vulnerable time when you lost a part of yourself.

The truth is, I hate this day.

I hate the way that it always makes me remember losing him. I remember the good parts and the bad parts and our family and who he was as a father and a husband. But I remember those parts everyday. Those are the parts I can tell to my son when something makes me think of my Dad, or when I look into my son’s eyes, because I am lucky enough to have a child with my Dad’s eyes.

I hate that it makes me ponder all of the things that could have been different; SHOULD have been different if he were still here.

I hate that this day makes me remember the details of the day we lost him. The sting of that realization, the exact moment when you are told that your whole life is forever changed.

And I hate that I will never know, for the rest of my life, what days it will strike like this. What days the grief will become so overwhelming that you just can’t plaster on your usual smile and get through your day. That being comforted by someone who says “It’s ok” and “I know what you’re going through” seem meaningless because you are absolutely certain that no one knows exactly the extent of your pain or your loss.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. It lessens them, perhaps. I’m not grief stricken every day. It’s not as intense as it was at first, or as paralyzingly hard as the very first anniversary.

But when the grief comes washing over you, it unavoidably takes you back to that first place. The first time that you felt yourself break.

And sometimes there’s nothing you can do but to live there until it passes.

I can’t believe it’s been eleven years. I miss you every day, Dad. I love you.

My Dad 2002

My Dad 2002




The Fourth Birthday Party: Ninja Turtle Style

tmnt birthday collage

I love birthdays. I love planning them, celebrating them, and building up to them. This year was my husband’s 30th birthday and my son’s 4th. In all honesty, my husband’s birthday has largely been overlooked since the birth of our son, but the big 3-0 was something not to be missed. We celebrated with a sibling beach trip, followed by a trip to GA to visit family, followed by my son’s 4th birthday party. I was really thinking I would go more low key for my son’s party this year, but as it turns out, that’s just not my style.

My sweet little boy has gotten really into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which I hate because it’s just so BOYISH and rough. I was not allowed to watch that show when I was little and I am not completely in love with the idea of my son watching it. But as it turns out, I am not his only parent, and the ninja turtles were childhood favorites of my husband’s.

Enter the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 4th Birthday Party. (Which actually was adorable and a lot of fun!)


This year I went for simplicity and just did an evite:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Invitation


The main event this year: a teenage mutant ninja turtle moonbounce. Perhaps a bit extravagant for a 4 year old’s birthday party, but oh so much fun! The company we worked with was great and it was so nice to have entertainment for the kids (and adults) built in instead of coming up with a lot of home made party games as I’ve done in the past.

The kids also played on our swing and slide play set in the back yard and I had a bubble machine running and lots of green balloons they could play with in the yard or the moonbounce.

ninja turtle moonbounce and bubbles


This year, I kept the decor simple. A few party essentials from Target like Ninja Turtle plates, cups, napkins, tablecloth and a banner made decorating easy.

I ordered two shades of green balloons and grouped them into sets of four, hanging them in the front yard, back yard, and in the dining room. I taped on printable ninja turtle masks purchased from Etsy.

A few chalk drawings and we were all set!

tmnt party decor


Mmm, one of my favorite parts. His party was at 4:00 (because he was turning 4 years old) so we were ready for dinner. Everyone knows that the ninja turtles love pizza, so 3 large pizzas from Mellow Mushroom, a few dozen pretzels and a salad were our staples. We had juice boxes and water for the kids and beer and wine in ice buckets outside for the adults.

I also made “turtle ooze”: green, lime flavored jello cut into the shape of a four.

(No pizza pictures…but it was so good!)

jello turtle ooze

The Cake: 

I love the way his cake turned out! I ordered the cake with specific colors from a local bakery and added the turtle heads and sewer cross hatches at home.

teenage mutant ninja turtle cake

Probably my favorite picture of the night

Probably my favorite picture of the night


Target made party favors easy. Everyone got a plastic cup, bubbles, a pen, stickers, and ninja turtle tattoos.

ninja turtle favors


Last year for the yellow birthday party we asked all of our guests to wear yellow. This year there was no outfit requirement, but my son did have a ninja turtle shirt.

family picture tmnt party

Me and my birthday boy

Me and my birthday boy

I love the way his birthday party turned out! Who knew the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles knew how to party?

Want to see more?

Check out the First Birthday Party: Blue and Green and Cupcakes

The Second Birthday Party: Curious George

The Third Birthday Party: A Yellow Party

*Updated September 26th, 2013: I am so honored to have received the “Best Decorations” badge from Party Pail.com for this party! I had so much fun putting it together and am so excited to know that other people liked it, too!*

Party Pail

Hurricane Preparedness at The Home Depot

Tracking Pixel

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

hurricane statistic


In August of 2011, my husband, son and I returned home from a week away for my sister’s wedding to our home in Richmond, VA to find it devastated by a hurricane. We were one of the lucky ones; our house was still standing, our cars were not damaged, and though there was a power line down in our back yard, all of our trees were still upright. Many homes, people and animals in the VA area had been harmed. Hurricane Irene ripped through VA and other parts of the North East with devastating winds and rains that left people in various states of disarray from being without power to being homeless. We were safe but we were without power for 10 full days, having to survive without the simple luxuries of light, cooked food, air conditioning, or hot showers for a week and a half.

We were not at all prepared for the magnanimity of the storm or the lifestyle of having to face 10 days without power. When we tried to go to stores for food and basic supplies like flashlights, the stores had no power and the few that did were out of all major supplies. My mom shipped boxes of flashlights, batteries, and battery powered fans up to us from GA.

We were completely unprepared for hurricane season, but you don’t have to be.

This weekend I attended the Colonial Heights, VA Home Depot Hurricane Preparedness Workshop.

You might not be prepared for hurricane season, but The Home Depot is!

the home depot

My experience at The Home Depot was warm and welcoming. The Home Depot staff had a wonderful display set up with a lot of information on everything hurricane related, ranging from what you need to be prepared to the different categories of hurricanes and the type of damage they cause. Storm experts from FEMA were there to discuss your concerns and they even had popcorn, candy, and door prizes. Who doesn’t love that?

hurricane categories

hurricane door prizes

As an added bonus…we actually won this door prize!

In addition to the fun and welcoming environment, my husband and I learned a lot about what we would actually need in the event of (another) hurricane. Did you ever consider that a chainsaw would be a hurricane must-have? What if a tree fell down in your driveway blocking in your vehicles? You may have thought of flashlights, but what about duct tape to help secure windows? And you can never, ever have too many batteries.

chainsaw and batteries

My favorite take away tip from this workshop was to keep all of your supplies in a Grab and Go bucket and make sure everyone in your household knows where it is. It’s not enough just to have emergency supplies in your home, you also need to keep them together and know where they are so you are able to quickly utilize them if necessary.hurricane survival kit...a must-have!

The Home Depot staff was very informative about the different types of generators and the type of power they put out. They offer free in home consultations so you can determine what generator would be best for you and your family. We signed up and are looking forward to our consultation so we don’t ever have to be without power for 10 days again!

full house generator

What a full house generator looks like…so you will never be without power.

Hurricane season is fast approaching, as it typically runs from mid-August to late October. As the workshop director at The Home Depot told us, “Hurricanes are not something you think about on a bright and sunny day like this. But when it happens, you HAVE to be prepared.”

Are you prepared for this hurricane season?

The Home Depot prides itself on providing their customers with the knowledge and supplies that they need to keep their families safe during the hurricane season. Through free educational seminars and ensuring that stores are well stocked with hurricane essentials when the need arises, The Home Depot is there for you and for your family during the hurricane season.

To get connected with our local The Home Depot store, visit their Facebook fanpage at http://on.fb.me/15h2DzR

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Tooth Trouble: The Whole Story

My son started teething a bit early, around 4 months old. We did all of the things we knew to do; teething rings in the freezer, let him bite our fingers, gave him Tylenol, tried the homeopathic teething tablets, and gave him lots of cuddles.

By 6 months teeth coming through had become normal for us and by 9 months he had quite a few teeth.

We were moving from our apartment in Augusta, GA to our first home in Richmond, VA when he was 9 months old. At his final check up with the GA pediatrician, she was concerned about his teeth. “They seem to have some deformation,” she said. “I recommend you take him to the dentist immediately.”

Really? The dentist at 9 months old? Aren’t you supposed to have the first appointment at age 2 or 3? And we were in the middle of moving so it didn’t make sense to try and establish a connection with a dentist when we had one foot out the door to move 10 hours away. “Then the first thing you need to do when you get to Richmond is call a pediatric dentist.”

So I did. We moved when my son was 9 months old and at 10 months old we were sitting in a pediatric dentist’s office, my son in my lap, while the dentist looked at his mis-formed teeth.

The thing was, they actually CAME IN YELLOW. This wasn’t a case of poor dental care, this was a child whose teeth came in yellow as a baby. The pediatric dentist started grilling me about my pregnancy. Had I abused drugs? What was my alcohol intake? Did I have a complicated pregnancy? Was there a family history of poorly formed teeth? Basically, what did I do to make this happen? (Answers are no, none, yes but I don’t know how that would have affected his teeth, I don’t think so, and I have no idea why are you making me feel oddly guilty?)

After more questions about his diet and eating habits and making me feel like a terrible mother I was told that there was nothing we could really do (he was still too young to even brush teeth) but we might need to start wiping his teeth with a wet rag after he eats. Oh, and I needed to stop breastfeeding.

There is actually a lot of evidence that shows the health benefits of breastfeeding, including the positive effects on oral development and dental health. Discontinuing breastfeeding was not something I was willing to do. I left the office feeling deflated and angry for the way I was made to feel that his teeth were somehow my fault.

Some family conversations later my husband and I find out that some distant cousin/relative on my husband’s side had enamel deficiency. Some strange ultra recessive gene?

We wiped my son’s teeth after eating and he had a diet of breast milk and mashed fruit and veggies. At the next check up, three months later, the dentist’s views were much of the same. There had been no improvement in my son’s teeth but he was still too young for them to do anything, and they again urged me to stop nursing and questioned what happened during my pregnancy. I also hated the way they handled my son, making me hold him down in my lap so they could pry his mouth open and take a peek. It was difficult for me to physically maneuver him and to emotionally hear him scream. The verdict was the same; let’s wait and see what happens.

Three months later, we got a different dentist. A young, very nice resident who treated my son with care and didn’t make me feel terrible about his yellow teeth. She said that not only had there been no improvement in his teeth, but it actually looked like they were beginning to further deteriorate. She recommended that we put my son under general anesthesia to perform a dental surgery. She said the condition of his teeth would continue to deteriorate, and we could choose to intervene now or later but now would be best.

I was in tears at the prospect of my son facing a surgery. My husband was not at all comforting, since his specialty is anesthesia and he thinks of it as a routine procedure. He did not seem to fully grasp what it meant to face the prospect of putting your own child to sleep for a surgery. I felt alone in my concerns and scheduling the surgery became a task of it’s own, requiring multiple calls to the “scheduling coordinator” who was in charge of coordinating the procedure with the dental office, insurance, and the OR, as well as the anesthesia team.

We were going on our first family vacation in May and would have the procedure done in June. While we were on vacation I got a call about rescheduling the exact day. Also while we were on vacation, the deterioration the dentist was afraid of came true.

We made our way to the beach prior to going to GA to visit family. While in GA, my son started running a temperature and seemed to have some facial swelling. We took him to a pediatrician in GA who said maybe it was an allergic reaction or that sometimes there can be swelling with colds and fevers. My son was in pain, and later that evening we discovered why.

His gums had abscessed. Whatever it was that made his teeth yellow had caused an infection that had spread to his gums, causing his gums and face to swell. We had to call the dentist and have her call in a prescription for an antibiotic to GA. Depending on his condition when we returned would depend on whether or not they could perform surgery, since they do not like to put children to sleep if they are running fevers and on antibiotics.

After returning home, and 2 courses on antibiotics later, the swelling was down, fevers were gone, and it was time for the surgery.

I had had a few weeks to process, so I thought I was in a good place about the surgery, and it was very apparent that it was necessary. The morning of the surgery my husband, son and I woke up extremely early and got ready to go to the hospital. I spilled my chai tea all over the kitchen floor so perhaps I wasn’t as put together as I thought.

We made it to the hospital my 6:30 AM and I followed my husband through what seemed like a maze before we arrived. We took my son to a small room where they weighed him and talked to him. We had to sign a bunch of papers. People came to talk to my husband. We met the dentist and anesthesiologist. And then they gave my son an oral medication that would make him sleepy. It really made him incredibly loopy.

I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with a drunk baby before, but it was incredibly strange. He got really happy, and as my husband said in his take away message, “At least we know he’ll be a fun, happy drunk in college!”

Then they took him away.

There were no tears from my son when they took him, which is good, and I think part of why they give him the oral meds when we’re there with him. So it wouldn’t be as scary.

My husband and I walked down to the cafeteria. I ordered a chai. “Don’t you want anything to eat?” he asked me. I’m never one to pass up good breakfast food.

“I’m not hungry,” I replied.

We walked in silence back to the waiting room, where we sat, crowded with other moms and dads waiting for their child and a lot of other families waiting to even go back into the little room to get started. My son was the first surgery of the day.

“You know, it’s not normal to have to hand your child to someone and watch them take them away to surgery,” my husband said. It had finally caught up to him.

We passed the time with people watching. I briefly gazed through a magazine. TV blared in the corner. We laughed about something, but I don’t remember what.

“Hembree?” We jumped to attention. “He’s doing fine. The procedure went well. He’s just in recovery now. We’ll come and get you when you can see him.”

The dentist came out shortly after. “He did great! We were able to cap the bottom two teeth and do a thorough cleaning. We used the base of his top two teeth to construct caps around them to resemble full teeth. Unfortunately, the infection was too deep to save the other top two teeth, so we had to extract them. I would like to send them off to a research facility in North Carolina. I’ve really never seen anything like it.”

At 20 months old, my son had undergone general anesthesia, had fake teeth, and had two teeth extracted.

Seeing him in post-op was heart-wrenching. His mouth was in gauze and covered blood. He was extremely disoriented in a hospital gown and over-sized orange hospital socks. His face was a bit swollen and there was sticky residue over his eyes from where they had been taped shut. He was calling for Mommy and Daddy and we were right there but it was hard to comfort him because he was so unaware of his surroundings.

At some point they brought him a snow cone (a cup of ice with syrup.) We tried to help him take small bites.

Soon we were released to go home. We carried him all the way to the car and drove home as quickly as possible.

When we got home he desperately wanted to walk and play, but he was stumbling and falling. The anesthesia still hadn’t fully worn off and he was incapable of walking. He screamed and cried when I had to hold him and finally threw a large tantrum, escaped my grasp, and crawled to the middle of the living room floor where he promptly fell asleep. That was certainly a first. My husband and I sat in the living room with him and watched him sleep away the beautiful summer day.

Hours later, when he woke up, he was fine. We gave him Tylenol and used teething ice packs for a few days and that was it. Tooth drama over.

We tried the tooth fairy thing that night and left money under his pillow. The concept was lost on a 20 month old.

I was worried that only having two front top teeth would affect his eating abilities. It didn’t. I was worried that missing two front top teeth would affect his speech development. It does, but this did come into play until earlier this year when it was brought to my attention by his preschool teachers. I was worried about what it would mean to his peers to be missing his front teeth. His baby teeth are gone, and his permanent teeth will not come in until he is 6 or 7, about first grade. I just hope this never causes him to be made fun of in school. Luckily, all of his peers will be losing their baby teeth at some point so maybe it won’t be an issue.

Then on September 1st, 2011, my son’s second birthday, we received a bill in the mail for a total of $13,500 for my son’s dental surgery. Insurance was refusing to cover it. It was unclear why. One call resulted in the claim that the procedure “was not medically necessary.” Another stated that the pre-approval had been improperly filed. Yet another inquiry informed me that the billing code was incorrect. In the mean time, we were not paying any money for the surgery as I fought with the insurance company, and the hospital billing sent our file to collections, so we were receiving threatening letters. Though this is a long story and could be a post all on it’s own, the summary is that I called our insurance company EVERY WEEK for an ENTIRE YEAR. We went through two appeal processes. I dealt with the insurance company, collection agencies, the hospital, and the dentist office. Finally, right before my son’s third birthday, the appeal was accepted. After my very strongly worded letter (I wanted an award for that thing) and a very thorough appeal packet which included reference to legislation supporting the procedure, photographic evidence, and many documents, our claim was accepted. I had spent a year of my time on it, but our outstanding $13,500 bill was brought down to only a $30 co-pay.

Summer turned to fall and my son started his first experience at preschool. Then that November, my husband and son were going up the stairs to change a diaper. Someone pulled too hard and someone let go, and somehow my son fell up the stairs, cracking his top front tooth. He was in a lot of pain and it seemed the fall had not only cracked the tooth, it had pushed the base of the tooth into his gums. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and by 5:00 we were sitting in the dentist’s office, the staff was staying after hours, and they were strapping my son down in what they call a “papoose” and pulling his tooth. No drugs or anesthesia involved.

I couldn’t watch, but I could hear his screams down the hall as my husband stayed calming with him and I cried from afar.

When it was all over we drove home with a popsicle from the dentist and a child with only one remaining top front tooth. He was barely 2 and was missing three teeth that will remain missing until he is 6 or 7.

Then it was over. We diligently brush his teeth twice a day. All follow up checks up have gone well. We thought we were in the clear.

Two weeks ago my son had a dentist appointment. I left completely defeated, as they discovered that he had 4 cavities and they are now suggesting another dental surgery to fill them and do a thorough cleaning, asking that he go on a sugar free diet, and saying he needs to brush his teeth after each time he eats.

We have not scheduled the second surgery yet, because we are trying to find a time that my husband in actually home to come with us and waiting on a pre-approval from the insurance company (we have since changed companies so hopefully it will be better this time.) In the meantime, we are starting a sugar free diet and doing a lot of teeth brushing.

I’m am so exhausted from tooth drama.

I know that in terms of health problems, we are incredibly lucky that his health problems are limited to dental. The only thing is, it spills into other areas of his health such as his speech development and we are in for a lifetime of dental work and braces. One of the points of baby teeth is to be spacers for permanent teeth, and since he does not have baby teeth to hold the space, braces are inevitable. I just REALLY hope his permanent teeth come in with out deformities.

Has anyone ever experienced anything like this?


The Beauty in a Story Pillow

Remember how I told you that there was an adorable pillow I wanted to tell you about for Father’s Day?

Without further ado….

Daddy and Me Pillow


How cute is that? (And yes, it is propped up on a Pirate Ship for the picture.)

And the precious pillow counterpart….

Noah's Story Pillow

Story Pillow Back


How much do you love these pillows?

My favorite blog link up is Memories Captured. It’s a sweet link up hosted by Alison and Galit that celebrates capturing your latest memories. It is so fun to participate, share your memories and read and see the sweet moments of other families. If you enter, you have a chance to win one of the amazing prizes they offer at each link up.

I was lucky enough to be selected as a winner of a Story Pillow by Moving Stories at the January Memories Captured link up. I was asked to send some personal information and some pictures and Michelle would handle the rest.

Oh my goodness, did she. Not only did she incorporate the pictures I sent her into a unique design, she also included a quote that I always say to my son, and mine and my son’s very favorite feature is the sweet surprise Noah Bear puppet that she made to fit in the pillow pocket. I have been calling my son Noah Bear since he was in my tummy and he adores the little bear that looks like him in his special pillow.

Noah Bear

And then there’s this gorgeous Father’s Day pillow that my husband and I both LOVE! Michelle surprised me with the making of this pillow, and when I saw the pictures of it in my email I just had to buy it. She did not even know, but we are HUGE University of Georgia fans and having a pillow with my boys on it in UGA colors is priceless. And I adore the pom poms. It already has a very prized placement on our living room couch.

The cats love it too.

The cats love it too.

Michelle was truly a pleasure to work with. She was very patient as I sorted through pictures to send and was very detailed in her emails about the progress of the pillow. These pillows are hand sewn and the attention to detail is just beautiful. I hope that my son’s pillow will be one he treasures into college and adulthood. How neat is it to have a pillow of your family and your nickname brought to life to snuggle with every night?

I am so excited to be the recipient of these pillows and they came just in time for Father’s Day. I have to admit that I had never heard of a Story Pillow before, but I am absolutely in love with this sweet idea.

Surprisingly, Story Pillows are not even the main part of Michelle’s business! Moving Stories specializes in movie making and can capture your moments for personal stories, business presentations, or documentaries.

If you are interested in working with Michelle to make your very own story pillow or to explore all of the creative services Moving Stories has to offer, head over to www.movingstories.biz.

I can’t wait to see what you create!

*I received a free story pillow as a prize from the Memories Captured link up. I purchased the Daddy and Me pillow for Father’s Day. All opinions and recommendations are my own.*

Memories Captured Spring 2013

Twice a year, we set a date with our favorite photographer.

I try to coordinate outfits and spend a lot longer than I normally do on hair and make up. We leave behind stained shirts and toddler snack crumbs and capture our family as we are in that moment in time.

I thought about skipping the spring session this year, but my husband insisted.

I’m oh-so-glad he did.

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I love seeing ourselves through someone else’s eyes and capturing these fleeting moments when my son is little and we are young. I love that these pictures capture my son’s defiance and cuteness, because it’s a perfect reflection of who he is at this age; charming and infuriating and adorable all at once. And I realize, with bittersweet certainty, that my sweet little boy is all of a sudden not so little.

Linking up with my absolutely positively very favorite blog link up that only happens twice a year, Memories Captured with Galit Breen of These Little Waves and Alison of Writing Wishing. What beautiful memories have you captured lately?


Pictures courtesy of Amy Robinson at Amy Robinson Photography in Richmond, VA.


Vacation Week 2013

Once a year, we leave our regular routine of life and enter into a vacation world of just the three of us.

Work is finally on hold, dishes and laundry are left until we return, we don’t worry about coordinating with family or friends, and we are able to just focus on fun as a family.

My husband gets three vacation weeks a year and we always spend two of them traveling to see family in GA. We so rarely have family time in regular life and date nights happen only twice a year. So this one week of just us is always cherished.

This year, we spent the first bit of vacation time doing house projects. Perhaps not relaxing but my goodness did we get a lot done! I can never go out of town if the house is a mess and I had a lot of small home improvement projects on my list so we knocked them out.

Then we spent a day at the Great Wolf Lodge. I was a bit nervous about taking a three year old to a water park but he LOVED it!!

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Our next stop was VA Beach. We had a great time in the sun, sand, and pool.

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To end our week we went to our very first baseball game in Richmond. We were lucky enough to go on a night with fireworks and “kids run the bases.” We had a great time!

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Vacation always seems to go by too quickly, but every year I cherish that small break in routine and busy for a few days of fun.