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When I was little, I never thought about my grandparent’s getting older, I just assumed they would be around forever. I remember looking at my grandma’s senior picture and thinking she looked like a movie star. I would imagine her in an old black and white t.v. show dancing with Fred Astaire.  I was her first granddaughter….she did anything for me (yes, I was spoiled).  Some of my best memories as a child were being at my grandma’s house. She would make me the best grilled ham and cheese sandwiches…and to this day, I still can’t seem to make one like she did. She hugged me, loved me, and watched me grow…all the while, she was growing older too. 
(wasn’t she stunning?)

me sitting on my grandma’s lap at seaworld
me sporting some braces while loving on my grandma
When I was in fifth grade, my grandpa passed away, and it changed all of our lives. My grandma got her license (yep, you read that right, she never drove until after he passed away). I’ll never forget the little white car she drove….very slowly (she was the classic old lady driver stereotype). Later, when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, her life (and my family’s) took another turn. Her hand started to shake, her fork would clink against her plate, her head started to bobble from side to side…it was hard for me to watch her not be able to control her movements. She would get frustrated at herself. Of course, as only family can, I would joke around with her and say she should work at a lemonade shakeup stand.

my grandma supporting me at a pageant….I was robbed of first place by the way, haaa

Time has a way of moving on whether we are ready for it or not.  It seemed like one day my grandma was living in her home, able to take care of herself, then the next moment she was moving in with my parents because it wasn’t safe for her to be alone. It was hard for her to say goodbye to her home, but she did it. My parent’s moved their bedroom upstairs and made my grandma a nice little living area….her new home. This past year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Because of her age, we didn’t think she would (or should) do chemo, but the doctor said if she didn’t, she would have other complications that would be painful and ultimately lead to her death.  She did several rounds of chemo. She lost her hair. She looks so fragile.  During the last few weeks, I’ve had to take care of my grandma in ways that I never thought I would have to. I don’t want to remember my grandma like this….I want to remember the strong woman that took care of me, that held me on her lap and sang me to sleep…but I know, I will look back and cherish these times, even though they are hard.

my grandma resting in her chair
a picture of my grandpa that sits on her dresser…
Her wig. It’s itchy, so she usually just wears a little beanie
Her precious moments that she has collected since I was a little girl…I’m pretty sure she has almost every one ever made….ever, seriously…ever, lol
Her hair is starting to grow back now….
Her holding my baby girl (on the left) and my niece….and showing off her beanie. 
I love you grandma, you mean the world to me and you will never know how much you have impacted my life. You took care of me and now, I will take care of you. You will always be my mimi….

 I believe the things we go through, whether good or bad, are to help others know God more. Unfortunately, when it’s “the bad” you have to go through, it sucks…big time.  I’ve been wanting to share a bit of my story with you for awhile, but didn’t quite know how. As I thought about it, what better way is there to show emotion and provoke thought than through photography?

I’m pretty sure every woman on this earth has struggled with her body image…but to some, body image is a demon that sucks the life right out of them. That was me….and unfortunately, it still has it’s dirty claws in my mind to this day.  I don’t really know what triggered my body issues, but I started dieting in 7th grade and it escalated to bulimia (or as I referred to myself, a “lazy anorexic”) in college. Although, I have a relatively “healthy” relationship with food now, I still have a daily battle with my mirror. Some days I win, some days the mirror wins. Anyone who struggles with an eating disorder or body image issues (or any issue for that matter), knows that it can feel like there are heavy chains binding you. You feel so lonely..and tired…tired of fighting the same thoughts over and over again. You know God’s truth about you in your heart, but it can’t seem to make it’s way to your mind.

….you feel like a prisoner to your own thoughts.

You can only see lies in the mirror. Lies that say you are useless,  pathetic, and fat…..no one will ever really love you. 
But you have the power, through God, to change the words that stare back at you in the mirror…
You are God’s child and it’s your choice to ignore the demons that are filling your head with rubbish
God sees you differently than you see yourself. If you spend time with Him, you will start to see yourself in a different way too. 
 Don’t let your chains bind you. Pray daily that God will give you the strength to see how amazingly, beautiful you are. 
model: Chelsea Miller
Sometimes when the mirror is winning, I think of this song and start doing some fist pumps at the mirror….yeah, that’s right, I’m the boss.
(video from you tube…)

It was October 23rd, I was going in for what I hoped would be my last o.b. appointment.  I had a feeling my body wasn’t showing any signs of going into labor, so I wasn’t too surprised when the nurse practitioner said I was only 1cm dilated.  I figured I would come back in a few more days and see if there was any progress, but my doctor informed me that she would be going out of town and  she wanted me to be induced…that night!   My third son was a cesarean (because he turned sideways at the last minute and wouldn’t budge), so I had my hopes set on doing a v-bac (a vaginal birth after a cesarean).  Because of the risk of uterine rupture during a v-back, it’s not the best thing to induce, so I started to freak out. Would the pitocin be too much for my uterus? What if I died or my baby died? Was it worth it, just because I didn’t want to have another c-section?? Ahhh, I was so conflicted. The nurse called the hospital to arrange my induction and they told her they were ready for me right then…..right then! Unprepared and alone, I drove across the street to Dupont Hospital and went up to the birthing center. I called Ricky at his work and told him what was going on and asked him if this was the right thing to do. The nurses assured me they would take good care of me and I gave the situation over to God.  Ricky came as soon as he could (after stopping at home and getting the hosptial bags…and some of my makeup of course).  I started pitocin around noon and went through about six hours of contractions before I got an epidural.  Let me just say, I’m all for moms who go natural, but I love me a good epidural! I was progressing, but very slowly; I thought it would be sometime the next day before I met my precious baby boy or girl. I called my photographer (the talented Janelle from Happinest Photography) to let her know that it would most likely be awhile and I’d keep her updated. It wasn’t too long before I felt like I should be checked and sure enough, I went from a 4 to an 8 in just a few hours…I called Janelle and she came as fast as she could.  Once Janelle was in the room, I gave two small pushes and the baby was out (11:45 p.m.)!!  I couldn’t wait to see what the sex of the baby was (since I have three boys, of course I wanted a girl, but the most important thing to me was a healthy baby).  The expression of the nurse told me it was a girl before I even saw her!  As soon as they said, “it’s a girl!”,  the tears started pouring…I couldn’t believe it, it was like a dream. A baby girl…A GIRL!!  Adley Rose is perfect in every way, I’m so blessed. I feel great, and am beyond happy that I had a successful v-bac.  Now I just have to keep reminding myself it took me nine months to gain fifty pounds and it’s going to take more than two weeks to lose it!!

my momma taking a pic of her granddaughter..

My lovely friend Lindsay came over today and snapped a few pics of Adley with me and the family….

and of course I had to take some pics of my baby girl!!

I’m so very blessed and grateful to be pregnant with my fourth child (most likely another boy, but we are waiting to find out the sex until he/she is here). With all of the wonderful things a pregnancy brings, such as laying in bed and watching my belly move…there are some not so great things that happen to me….

I’ve never been a skinny pregnant person, you know, the ones that just have a cute belly and don’t gain weight anywhere else…I gained 65 pounds my first pregnancy and around 45-55 for my next two. I’m short, I have about 9 pound babies, my body likes to get fat….(sure, my addiction to fast food, iced coffee, and twix candy bars doesn’t help, but that’s beside the point)…. I struggle with my reflection in the mirror, especially now that cellulite is encrouching my legs and butt this time around. I’m really trying to love my growing figure, but I can’t stand it when my thighs rub against each other, I swear, in this heat I will need to put some vaseline between my legs to prevent chaffing. My husband reassures me that I’m beautiful, so I am really trying to look at each new dimple as a gift…(hopefully a gift that stops giving, but a gift none the less)
If I would have known what my body (specifically my upper two women parts) would like now, I would have seriously enjoyed them much more before I had children. I went from a perky B-cup to a wapping G after giving birth, I could have fed a neighborhood with my milk supply. I had over 250 4oz bags of milk stored in two months, aside from nursing! And after a year or more of nursing, my ladies didn’t go back to their perky B….they were more like skin folds wadded into an A cup. Right now, I’m embracing their once again fullness, but am sure they will not stay this way long. I guess I will have to invest in some great bras that make them look halfway normal.
And sorry if this is too personal….l need to address the H word…that’s right “hemmies” otherwise known as hemmorhoids. It’s pretty embarrassing when you are walking like a duck in meijer because your rear end itches and you are trying to relieve the itch without drawing attention to yourself. What’s worse is when it comes to a point you have to stop pushing your cart and go buy some tucks pads and run to the bathroom before you can continue shopping!!

Along with my changing body is my changing mood…I am a walking ball of emotions. It seems like if I’m not crying, I’m yelling…why? I have no idea..but I just snap, so I’m sorry if you have been at the end of my emotional flare ups, they are not intended and I’m hoping I return to a more stable emotional state soon.
I’m not intending to scare anyone away from having children, I just wanted to share the things that people don’t generally tend to talk about and hopefully draw some humor from them…I can honestly say, I wouldn’t change anything… the result of my suffering on the outside, is a beautiful, wonderful life. A gift God formed in my womb, a gift He knew before I did. If I have to endure saggy boobs and nine months of constipation for my children, then by all means, bring on the victoria secret and miralax…it’s worth all of it.

My van was over on miles and I hate taking the boys to the dealer to get an oil change, so last week after church, my husband picked up a filter and some oil so we could do it ourselves. The next evening we trekked the short mile to my parent’s house to change the oil. Ricky had about thirty minutes or so to change the filter before Lane had to be dropped off at baseball practice..so I thought, what better time to delve into memory lane and get into the attic in my dad’s garage…yeah, I know, it wasn’t my best decision, but I thought it would be fun to look at my old toys from when I was a kid. I climbed up on my dad’s boat and tried to hoist myself into the attic…um yeah, I’m not that strong, so I yelled for Ricky to come and boost me up. In the meantime the kid’s were in the boat (sorry dad, I swear they didn’t touch any buttons…um maybe), and they were wanting to see everything I found. I needed Ricky’s help to get down, he had to finish the oil and then he loaded up the kids and took them to Lane’s practice. I stayed back at my parent’s to walk on the treadmill….and it wasn’t more than ten minutes that I received a phone call from my hubby saying I needed to pick him up, there was something wrong with the van…..long story short, with all the chaos and rushing, my husband forgot to check to make sure he got the old filter seal off. Well, the old seal wasn’t off and the new filter didn’t stay on when he started driving, all the oil came and out, and the engine light came on……so, what should have only cost us around $30 for an oil change is now going to cost us roughly $1426.61 to fix the damaged motor.

So, what’s the point of the story? We were pretty darn upset about the whole thing, I mean, how could one silly mistake cost that much money?? When Ricky came home from work, he told me he was complaining about it to one of his coworkers… then his coworker shared with him they just found out his wife has multiple sclerosis. After hearing about his friend’s wife, Ricky felt pretty selfish complaing about money…it really put it in perspective. You see, we may have to fork out unnecessary money, but at least Ricky and I aren’t sick, our children are all here and healthy, and life is pretty good. It just made me start thinking of all the ways God has blessed our lives. We take so much for granted, I even take God for granted. The first thing I want to do when something goes wrong is complain or ask God “why now” (or purchase a dozen homemade Amish cookies from the gas station up town and eat them on the four mile drive home). Instead of saying “whoa is me!”, I should be saying, “thank you God!” I may not know what His purposes are when things go wrong, but I know He will use it to grow me more like Him. It’s easy to praise Him when things are good, can you still praise Him when things go wrong?