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Friday, November 13, 2015

I am

I've reached 15k, a long stretch from 50k, but I doubt I'd have any words if it weren't for the challenge. While 50k doesn't seem plausible, I'm not giving up. In light of reaching 15k, here's an excerpt of an exercise I worked on to begin writing a few days ago. It's unedited, as I have little time for that at the moment; however, I figured if nothing else, you might learn something new about me. Enjoy! 

I am West Virginian at heart, Pennsylvanian by location. I am burs clustered on high-waters, thorn scrapes from blackberry picking, and creek-soaked tennis shoes worn with dirt-stains and a hole at the toe. I am tears from humbleness of love. I am an old soul. I am intuitive, an over thinker of sorts, sensitive to the spirit and to the broken. I am hands raised, head bowed, heart full. I am folklore and folk music. I am dribbling a basketball on a farm on a fall day while alone with my thoughts. I am lying in the grass staring into deep blue skies and puffy clouds. I am dark nights with shimmering stars. I am wife. I am mommy. I am sister. I am daughter. I am treasure hunter of bugs, rocks, leaves, and frogs. I am parades down the dirt road drive with a pot and a spoon. I am lizards caught by tails and salamanders scooped from ponds. I am frogs thrown on my terrified sister. I am sumac trees hiding imagined cowboys and indians. I am arachnophobia. I am pearly gates and a street of gold. I am music that makes you feel something within. I am wood-smoked coats and log-filled arms. I am tranquil silence at dawn and dusk. I am massive rocks sat upon with a good book or the good book. I am head-bowed deep in prayer. I am words uttered audibly to God while looking past branches into the sky. I am spirited. I am spirit-led. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Job Offer

God's my first priority, followed by family. I wanted to work, but I didn't want Emily in daycare all day for five days a week if it wasn't necessary. For my family, it isn't necessary. I'm humbled and grateful for my physicist husband who speaks a scientific jargon that rarely makes sense. He understands physics like I understand the written word. He's not into writing, I'm not into physics, but we are madly in love with each other, pursuing a relationship with a holy, matchless, powerful, all-knowing God who reaches down into our microscopic lives, granting opportunities from whispered year-long prayers. I'm humbled.

He hears our hearts desires, and answers them in His time, in His way. I've been praying for the past year, "God, if it's your will, allow me to find a job in which I can pursue my passions without leaving Emily elsewhere. That seems big, but you are bigger. No matter what, I trust you and your plan." 

I trusted Him, but I felt I had to take the lead. So I applied for many positions, ones that weren't even what I wanted to do, because I really didn't think an opportunity existed, especially without much experience. Adding the daycare stipulation to the mix, I doubted. It took months upon months upon months to come to a point where I had to stop. 

Stop. Relax. Enjoy what you already have. Don't worry. Don't stress. Let me lead. I am God. 

I wasn't letting God lead. I wanted to answer the prayer on my own terms with quick timing.

For the past few months, I lived the italicized words the best I humanly could. In that time, my bible began to open more, and His word anchored my longing soul. 

Six weeks ago, I felt lead to reach out to someone at my church regarding tutoring. I'm not sure why. I wrestled with asking. Tutoring wasn't exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew it was possible with our family and wouldn't require Emily going to daycare. She directed me to a contact for an online group in which a could post an ad.

Over a week later, after coming to terms with the fact that no one needed tutored, I was contacted by an academy twenty minutes from where I live. After meeting with them and exchanging a few emails in the last few weeks, I am overjoyed to announce that I will be grant writing as well as instructing students in writing upon certification. God's ways are bigger, far better than mine. He's allowing me to pursue two passions: writing and teaching. I never saw that coming after switching my major a few years ago.

I will be writing from home this year, and next year I'll begin instructing two days a week. And Emily? Daycare is provided at the same location in which I'll be teaching. God provides. He listens.

For those of you going through similar situations, trust Him better than I did. God is holy, matchless, powerful, and all-knowing. We speak this truth, believe this truth, know this truth. Today, let's live this truth. Let's live like God hears and answers the desires of our hearts, because He does.

I'm unworthy of the love God lavishes on a daily basis. The least I can do is share my humbling experience with you in hopes that you'll be encouraged to continue trusting Him.

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:" I John 3:1a 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Just Write

The Weekly Wonder posts aren't working. I'm not sure if it's the way I set them up or what, but they are actually keeping me from writing on here. You see, I typically like structure, and so I assumed this would be perfect and allow me to write every week. Right now, I just need to write without categories.

With that said, here are some things going on in our lives now.

  • Emily learned how to sit up on her own recently. She's a bit wobbly, but she'll get the hang of it soon enough. 

  • Wes and I decided to do something about the forest of weeds growing in the lower level of our yard where a pool used to sit. We've enjoyed campfires and s'mores with friends and family, and have spent time watching for shooting stars. 

  • We are getting involved with the teen group at church. Wes is going to help with worship, which is an area he's always felt led to help. I'm excited for the small groups that will soon begin. We want to serve for the glory of God. 

  • My parents came up and spent the day with Emily. I found them hanging out under the apple trees in our backyard upon returning from my interview. Picture worthy. 

  • I will begin working soon. I'll go into detail in a later post, but I'm thrilled for this opportunity. 

That's all for now. I'd love to write more, but, well, I'm an at-home mommy with plenty of things to accomplish. Here's to laundry, preparing our own baby food, unpacking the boxes that are hiding downstairs, and making memories with my daughter as soon as she wakes up from her nap. 

Enjoy your Monday, friends. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July's Monthly Musings

I've failed at writing weekly wonder posts on account of a busy life. I hope to have more posts in the coming weeks for you. Since I've managed to skip three weeks, we are already on the brink of a new month, leaving us with the Monthly Musings post for July.

I wake up to a fussy, teething, wide awake but still sleepy baby who wants mommy's attention. She's an early riser. I've never been fond of waking early, and the puffy circles under my eyes due to waking up throughout the night remind me that I need more sleep. But my job begins now, regardless of my readiness. I get dressed, put my hair in a ponytail, pick Emily up, and take her to the kitchen. Fixing my hair will happen later. Thankfully, babies aren't judgemental.

We eat and Emily goes into her swing for a nap. I'll stay just out of sight until she succumbs, because if she sees me, she'll insist on receiving my attention and will cry and stay awake longer than necessary. At this point, I take time to read scripture, to pray that I'll keep my sanity throughout the day, and to write a little. Before she wakes, I'll take a few minutes to finish getting ready while I begin thinking about what needs accomplished around the home.

There's always a running list to choose from. Vacuum, sweep, dust, clean kitchen countertops, scrub toilets, wipe mirrors, wash laundry, grocery shop, pull weeds, etc. Those will wait because Emily wakes up again and it's time to play and learn, eat, and change some diapers. Hopefully the day won't be quite as interesting as a few days ago when I realized that she pood while in her jumperoo, and it ran down her leg, onto her foot, and soiled the carpet. I cleaned her up as much as I could with baby wipes, plopped her in the bathtub that I placed in the living room and gave her a toy while attempting to clean the mess before a stain set in.

Once Emily's down for another nap, I prepare and eat lunch, and then focus on doing a few things around the house. After that, if she's still sleeping, I take about a half hour to work on writing. I may write a post for my blog, try a writing exercise, or study writing techniques in books I read at college. Emily will wake again and we'll listen to some music or go outside, read a book together, and work on sitting up. More diapers. More tears. More kisses. More "I love you's." More joy than I can sum in words. She'll take a very short nap before dinner and I'll take a very short time to do something for myself. This may be working on a craft, watching a show, finding cool ideas on Pinterest, or calling someone.

Wes will soon come home and if lucky, I'll have dinner ready. We'll eat together. One of us will bathe Emily while the other washes dishes. Eventually, it'll be Emily's bedtime, and then Wes and I will spend time together.

There's joy in these little things that add one upon another into a full day. Her toothless grins and giggles from tickling combined with her desire to be snuggled up and held when she's sleepy and upset brings tears to my eyes as I write, realizing that I couldn't ask for any better.  I love the life I live.

Here's to July: I'm learning to live in the moment that I've been given. I don't want to wish it away or desire more than what Christ has given me in the here and now, carpet stains and all.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Weekly Wonder: July 4th

I didn't have a post last week as we were spending time with family for July 4th, so this is a combination of last week and this week.

1. Two weekends ago we attended my friend's wedding, and it did my soul good to watch the bride and groom unite in a godly marriage, serving as a reminder of what marriage encompasses. On a side note, I hoped and prayed that our daughter wouldn't get fussy during the ceremony. She had plenty of toys to keep her occupied and she waited until after the ceremony to cry. Parenting win!

2. Thanks to the Hommes wedding, we learned that Emily is fascinated by bubbles.

3. Our new neighbors invited us to have dinner with them. They are a nice couple who go to church nearby and have three little girls. Before we left, their oldest drew a picture and gave it to us. So sweet.

4. My heart was heavy last weekend for reasons I will not go into detail on; however, our pastor preached a difficult message that helped confirm my stance on things. I'm serving the God who lives, who is unchanging, who doesn't compromise on anything. My hope was renewed, and I'll continue holding onto that until God answers my prayer.

5. I had a wisdom tooth consultation for the first time ever and the assistant was certain I'd have to get them pulled, but the doctor said otherwise. I'm beyond thankful that I won't have to endure a painful week due to removed teeth. I've never had braces and my wisdom teeth can stay. What more can a human ask for?

6. We had an enjoyable Fourth of July weekend with Wesley's side of the family. It was nice to visit and relax. We also went to see Wesley's grandpa in the nursing home. It was great to meet him.

7. A cat was ran over on the main road in front of our house. That same cat got into our trash and while cleaning up the mess in the rain before heading to the grocery store, I fell on the driveway and soaked my jeans. How is that wonder-filled? Well, this week a girl I went to college with found out that she wouldn't be able to have her sweet baby, and that is some of the worst news one could receive, but she's handling it much better than I ever could. So, do you think my situation is awful? No. No, it's not. Pray for the real situations-like this sweet couple dealing with the loss of a child, and don't complain when small events pile on top of each other and try to create a difficult day, because it's really not difficult in comparison.

8. Our bathroom sink fixture is no longer an ugly gold faucet, and I was able to help with that process. By that I mean I was under the sink taking the old faucet apart. I'm clearly not a girly girl, but I like to be girly if that makes any sense.

9. Verse of the week: "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast..." Hebrews 6:19

10. Video of the week in honor of the Fourth of July, the poor kitten, and to cheer up a friend.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June's Monthly Musings

I have been going to church since I was seven years old. I gave my life over to Christ at thirteen. I have read much of the Bible, highlighting key/popular verses. Somehow though, I never sat down to read through one entire book (with multiple chapters) this entire time nor have made opening God's word a routine.

June 2015 marks a significant change. Each morning during the workweek, I get up and grab a bowl of cereal, a glass of water, and my bible. I sit at the kitchen table, eat breakfast, and then delve in to Hebrews.

The change began with the realization that I was spending more time focusing on the posts and comments written on Facebook than I was in my Bible. I'd use my phone to scroll through my newsfeed for at least five minutes every hour. In a 12 hour period, that is an entire hour wasted focusing on the lives of others while forgetting to focus on my own life, especially my spiritual life. I'd like to say that I only spent an hour on Facebook in a 12 hour period, but most hours included 10-15 of wasted time.

I went through the month of May with a gut-feeling that I needed to delete the Facebook app on my phone, but I used one silly excuse after another. It wasn't until the first weekend in June during a technology deprived Women's Retreat that God used someone else to speak to me. That evening, I turned on my phone and deleted Facebook. I needed to show my dedication to God, not to man. Step 1 was deleting the app, and Step 2 was routinely delving into scripture.

I still check my newsfeed using my computer, but I have to intentionally open and turn it on which makes it more difficult to access. This hasn't come with some struggle. For instance, I've told myself that using Safari to check Facebook was completely different than using a Facebook App. But, no, it's not, and I have to remind myself of that often.

All of this will sound silly to some, especially those who rarely use social media. However, addictions come in all shapes and sizes and don't always have to be considered bad to the mainstream in order to be an addiction. Addictions keep our eyes off Jesus and our eyes on ourselves and others. I don't want anything to do with something or someone who distances me from the Lord, and that's exactly why a change was necessary.

I'm excited to continue reading Hebrews. I'm only on chapter 7 because it's deep and takes time to digest and understand, but I'm finally spending more time with God than on social media, and I'm 100% thankful for that.

Refine me, Lord. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Weekly Wonder: Retreat

There is always something, great or small, that leaves me in a state of wonder. A few of those wonder-moments for this week are listed below. 

1. I attended a women's retreat this past weekend. Little did I know that it was exactly what I needed to quiet the inner critic inside of me. You know, the one that says "you can't" to everything, while lists of excuses tumble one upon the other. I'm not listening to that critic anymore, and when it creeps in, I'm going to hit it with Philippians 4:13.

 2. This place left me feeling ultra-close to God.

3. I call them "mini-concerts." The drive from the town I grew up in to the town I live in now lasts nearly 3 hours. I fill those hours worshipping in song as I drive, and they just might beat any concert I've attended. The real kicker is the fact that Emily slept for two of those hours. I'm thankful for moments like those.

4. Every time my daughter wakes up, I'm greeted with sweet smiles.

5. Just as the pediatrician finished Emily's 4 month check-up, she asked if she could pray for her. After an enthusiastic "yes" and a prayer, we talked and she explained that while on a missions trip to Jamaica, the Lord impressed upon her to pray for patients at her workplace.

6. This week, Wes and I discovered that we have not 1, not 2, but 3 cherry trees in our backyard. We thought they were apple trees this whole time! Between the cherry, pear, apple, and peach trees, you'd think we'd be set. We also have strawberries and raspberries growing too! I know we'll be sharing.

7. Each week, I'll post a video that I love.  I watched this video three times. There's something about a baby giggling over silly antics.

8. Each week, I'll also post a scripture that resonates with me. Right now, I'm reading Hebrews, so you'll probably see Hebrews verses for the next few weeks. Here's this weeks: "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest;" Hebrews 1:10-11a

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Blog Changes

Dear Readers, 
Thank you for bearing with me through the process of updating my blog. I've done so to make your experience much better! 

Here are the changes:

  • You'll find new tabs just under my blog title. The new ones are "Parenting, Pregnancy, and Prayer", "Weekly Wonder", and "Monthly Musings." I'm excited to bring content to these pages very soon. 
  • If you used the pages before, don't worry! On the right hand side of my blog, you'll find a "Labels" section. Just click on the subject you are looking for, and posts related to said subject will appear. 
  • Also on the right side of my blog, you'll find a blog archive right under "Popular Posts." I'm most excited about this.
  • I've added more links and blogs that I love just below my blog archive. You should definitely check them out! 
  • Finally, I've changed my "About Me" page. New to that are some fun facts. 

That's all for now. I appreciate each and every one of you! Feel free to share my blog with family and friends, and don't forget to like my Facebook page for updates. 

God's Blessings,
Shelby Hughes

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Home Reflections

We moved out of our apartment today. While I'm incredibly thankful to be moved into our first home, Apt 1A will always be special. It was the place we spent our first anniversary, discovered we were expecting our sweet girl, prepared for her arrival, and brought her home in February. It's where the little note on our fridge said "Happy Birthdate Emily" for an entire three months after her birth because we were too busy or too nostalgic to change it. Our plans were exchanged for God's plans and goodness knows now that His were so much better than ours. And now we move forward with His new plans. I'm thankful that His ways are always good, that He's always lavishing love on us in incredible and undeserving ways.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

5 things you should remember about being a mom and 5 things you shouldsay to your mom on Mother's Day.

I'm writing this specifically for you, and I know you'll read every word because you are my greatest support! But I hope it also reminds others why Mother's Day is so important and what should at least be said on this one day. Becoming a mom myself has probably allowed me to recognize some of these, but there are some that I've always known and never recognized you for. 

1. Giving birth was intense. 
You gave birth 3 times! Right now, I'm still recovering from my first pregnancy and can't really imagine going through that again, but we'll see. I probably owe you one more sweet grandchild as difficult of a child as I was. You were induced and gave birth naturally, and the weeks of recovery were far from enjoyable. But in those weeks, you focused least on that and spent hours watching me, in awe of creating life. Yes, you created life.
2. Sleepless nights occurred often. 
Let's not sugarcoat the time after I was born. You faced many sleepless nights so you could wake to feed me and change my diaper. That wasn't the end of sleepless nights either. Growing up, there were plenty of times where you stayed awake when one of us were sick. As teens, I'm sure you stayed awake worrying about where we were, but you also gave us the space for late nights, treating us like adults even though we were a little ways away from earning that title. 
3. Panic happened a few times a year. 
Between the three of us, you had your hands full. I'm sure there were plenty of times when you felt like you were having a mini heart-attack. From asthma attacks and busted baseball lips to skinned knees and common colds, no matter the severity, it set off a panic button on the inside even if you didn't show it. 
4. Patience was your virtue. 
Specifically with me, patience had to be your virtue. Every day was a battle with my attitude, always back-talking and trying to prove my point. I'm sure I kept it interesting, and I'm certain that it took a lot to keep your cool through those days. There were times you lost your cool, like any parent is bound to do, and you'd have to get the courage to apologize. Those times of losing your patience allowed be to realize that we are all human, that we won't always do things perfectly, and that it's important, crucial even, to apologize.  
5. You always put me above yourself. 
Always. I can't think of a time when you put yourself first. I remember one point when Amanda was taking piano lessons, I was in a choir, and Lyle was playing baseball. You took us all over the place and never complained. 

Here are five things I always wrote in cards I made for you. They are simple words that I never explained, maybe because I didn't know how to explain, but you knew exactly what I meant. You took those homemade cards and saved them in a special box, making me feel proud of the crayon drawn flowers and glitter glue stars. 
1. Thank you for always being there. 
In middle school, I struggled with making friends. I cried everyday when I came home after being made fun of often. It was a hard time, as middle school is for just about anyone. You'd come to my room and hug me while I sobbed, encouraging me between pauses, and I'm certain that's why we have such a great relationship. You were always there lifting my spirits and reminding me that I was unique and special. 
2. Thank you for attempting to understand me. 
Let's face it, I've always been headstrong, not afraid to state my opinion. But you always listened, always trying to understand my point of view, and from that I've learned to do the same with others. 
3. Thank you for everything! 
This needs no explanation. Thank you! 
2. You're the best. 
Everyone says it to their own mom, so it's hard to tell who really is the best mom out there, but to me, that person is you. 
3. I love you. 
Even on the days we weren't getting along, I still loved you, and in the grand scheme of things, I'm thankful that you held your own, not letting me getting away with just anything. 

Thank you for being there. Thank you for understanding me. Thank you for everything! You're the best mom in the whole world! I love you. 

Happy Mother's Day, 
Love, your daughter. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Birth Story

On February 3rd before falling to sleep, I prayed that God would allow Emily to arrive without being induced, and that I'd be able to give birth as naturally as possible, if possible. I declared my prayer in faith, knowing that He could do all things, and would do this too. I just didn't expect it to be answered before the night was up!

I woke at 3am to a damp snoogle pillow. Oh man, I didn't make it to the bathroom in time. That was a first. I heard of pregnant moms having bladder trouble, but this was my first encounter. I used the restroom and went back to bed, throwing my snoogle on the floor and trying to snuggle with a flattened pillow. My tummy kept tightening, as though someone were hugging my waist, but the feeling was so faint that I assumed I was overthinking things. They wouldn't let up, so I woke my husband and told him I might be having contractions and that my water might've broken. I walked downstairs, drank a glass of water, and began timing them.

8 minutes.
5 minutes.
7 minutes.
9 minutes.
4 minutes. 
7 minutes.
5 minutes.
4 minutes. 

If I wasn't in labor, my stopwatch thought differently. We called the hospital, telling them that I might be in labor. Might. I find that hilarious now. It's so hard to know what to expect when you're a first time mom. I was convinced that this wasn't the real thing. They told us to come in. I swallowed down some cheerios, orange sherbet, and two glasses of water before we left, knowing they wouldn't allow me to have anything but ice chips. 

I didn't have a birth plan, and was a little worried. We'll go with the flow. Wes knows what I want and if I can't tell them, he will. We made it to the maternity ward where they placed those crazy straps around my stretch-marked tummy. After monitoring, they let us know that this was indeed the day, so with that, we called our parents. 

They asked us what our plans were. 

"Natural, if possible," I quickly answered. Fast forward to 3pm. I was 6 centimeters dilated and certain that I would need an epidural. I wasn't sure how much worse it could get. Wes and I had begun the short quick breaths through those contractions. While I thought I'd need the epidural, I still didn't want it, so I asked for my mom. She had three of us naturally. She will know what to say. 

"I don't think I can do this mom. You're stronger than me." She listened, reminding me that it was okay if I got an epidural, but also reminding me that I could do it naturally too. The nurse came in and asked if I wanted to watch the video on epidurals. I said yes and after watching it, I was certain of what I wanted to do. Mom left the room and I whispered a prayer. You've got to help me through this Lord. There is absolutely no way I can do this without you. I looked up at Wes and told him I didn't want an epidural with complete certainty. 

A few minutes later, a contraction hit, and a verse of scripture that I had learned a very long time ago flooded my mind, bringing me to tears, and speaking truth into the situation. I wish I could remember what it was. I'd love nothing more than to share it with you. I'd love nothing more than to write it in her baby book. However, I don't remember what it was. Hopefully I will remember one of these days. I'm sure I'll know when I see it.

God answered another prayer. He was going to be there and help me through contractions one verse at a time. Each time a contraction hit, I'd breath with Wesley, and when the contraction was almost too hard to handle, I'd quote a verse. It was almost like a game. Let's see how many verses you've memorized over the years. 

Around 8pm, there was little rest between contractions. My hands were squeezed tight and it was all I could do to focus on my husband, who was entirely committed to helping me through this process. I prayed silently for hours. This prayer was certainly nothing fancy, most of my prayers aren't. In fact, most of the prayer consisted of me simply repeating "Oh God, help me" about a thousand times. 

Finally, I couldn't wait any longer, and I told the nurse. She determined that I was ready to push. All of the waiting with contractions had finally come to a halt. I could actually do something beneficial! I'm not sure how it is with an epidural, but the delivery part was the best and most painless part of the whole day. After it was over, I told Wes how easy it was and that I was glad it only lasted a half hour to which he responded, "That was an hour and a half!" 

I saw her, all 8 pounds and 11 ounces of her, head full of hair, and a cry that sounded like a lamb. No, not kidding. No, not just some weird mother/baby bond. Nurses, family, and friends made the comment before I ever said a word about it. 

As the doctor finished up, I watched the nurses clean her and watched Wesley. I've never seen someone so happy before. They finally gave her to him and he brought her over to me. I become speechless at this point, completely unable to describe the joy of meeting our daughter for the first time. I just remember crying and the smiling at the same time, the whole fiber of my being focused on her. It's difficult to explain, but I felt such a closeness to God then. I could imagine Him looking in that hospital room smiling while thinking "I know the plans I have for you." But that's another story for another time. 

Many, many thanks for those of you who went out of your way to offer encouragement or to let me know you were praying for us. We love each and every one of you! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

23 Things I've Learned Since Becoming A Mom

Its been almost three months since giving birth to my sweet daughter. In that short time span, I have learned more than I have in a lifetime. Below are 23 things I've learned since becoming a mom.

1. Crying is okay.
No really, it's okay! I tell myself this at least 10 times a day. Sometimes I can do everything for her and she's still crying, and I'm just left with holding her. But really, it's okay. She's okay. You're okay. Everything is okay.

2. Blow-out diapers equal healthy baby. Be prepared!
I never ever changed a diaper until I became a mom. Don't judge. This morning, I fed her and as I went to burp her, she blew out the back of her diaper. Then she spit up all over the skirt I was wearing. I didn't have a burp cloth or a diaper nearby because I had taken her upstairs. Luckily the church had size 1 diapers and wipes under the changing table. Thank you Pennsville!

3. Parenthood should be changed to Patiencehood.
I've learned more patience since becoming a mom than I have in my entire life. Parenthood places patience on a whole new level!

4. She's learning, too.
I watch right now as she looks around, jabbing her tiny fists into her mouth, occasionally finding her thumb. I smile at her and she immediately smiles back. I listen to her coo as she waits with expectation for me to acknowledge her again. Yes, she's learning, and I knew she would, just not so quickly.

5. Laughing happens often.
I've laughed more since becoming a mom, and this is perhaps my favorite part of parenthood. Emily's personality comes out each day, and we are always laughing at things she does.

6. Embarrassment will occur.
The first time Emily tooted in church, it was all I could do to hide the shade of red appearing on my cheeks. It was so loud, and I'm pretty sure the entire church heard. That's not the only embarrassing moment, and I'm sure there are many more to come, especially when she starts talking.

7. Listen to advice, but don't attempt all advice.
Some are wives' tales, and some are opinion, but everyone loves to give advice. And I actually don't mind it, because some of it has helped. However, there are other times when I can only listen but silently disagree. For example, Emily doesn't do socks. She kicks them off as soon as they are on her feet. So no, socks aren't going to help her sleep better. Not everyone likes socks. I personally can't sleep with socks on my feet either, while my husband can. I sweetly disagreed out loud on this one, and the woman was surprised that Emily didn't like wearing them. Regardless, I'm thankful for people who state their advice and opinions, as long as they don't stare over you, waiting to see if you put those socks on, and thankfully, she didn't.

8. A piece of your heart lives outside your body.
Without this little girl in my life, a piece of my heart would be gone. As soon as I met her, I knew I'd do just about anything for her.

9. Sleep-deprivation is a thing.
Sure, I've pulled all-nighters to finish papers for school. Not even those times compare to the deprivation of being a mom, especially in the first month. It's gotten much better, although I still yawn several times a day.

10. The first month of breastfeeding is crucial but cruel.
Dear Lactation Consultants, I don't care who you are, the first month of breastfeeding may be painful even if you're doing it right. I honestly considered switching to formula, but I was so set on breastfeeding, just like I was set on giving birth without an epidural. I MUST be crazy! I continued to breastfeed despite the grueling schedule and the pain. If it weren't for that one person who warned how painful and frustrating it would be, I probably would have given up. Thank you! You know who you are.

11. Everything is 10 times more difficult to do.
I'm lucky if I can grab a shower in the morning without her waking up and crying. When leaving the house, it requires a good twenty minutes of planning before we are heading out the door. Writing? I barely have time for that these days; however, when I do write, I have way more to say than I did before.

12. Her smiles are the best!
She has the sweetest little smile in the whole world, and my smiles have become less fake thanks to her.

13. Soaking in scripture is important.
I'll be soaking in scripture until I have granny fingers! (Yes, I have a lame sense of humor. :P) Seriously though, I couldn't make it through the day without spending at least a few minutes reading God's Word along with a devotional.

14. Soaking in a shower is also important.
At least once a week, I take a shower in the evening while my husband watches Emily. It allows me to think, relax, and have a little ME time.

15. You need ME time.
Yes, ME time. It's important. Crucial. I'd be burnt out without it. This might involve taking a long shower, hanging with friends for a couple hours, shopping, or in my case as well, writing. Whatever you enjoy doing, try to find a half hour to 2-hour slot just doing something for your own well-being once or twice a week.

16. Life is way better with a little girl.
Need I say more? Dresses. Headbands. Cute little shoes. I love having a daughter. I'm sure having a little boy has its perks too.

17. "Your life will never be the same."
I already knew this, but the words didn't have much meaning until Emily was born.

18. I am stronger than you thought.
Twenty hours of labor and Emily finally made her grand debut. It wasn't until giving birth that I realized how strong I was. I had never even spent the night in a hospital, so I had no idea what to expect. I also realized how strong-willed I was when I refused the epidural just as I had set out to do. Believe me though, I almost asked for it, and had I gotten it, I still would label myself strong.

19. Carseat+Baby=Muscles.
Who knew? The bigger she gets, the more toned my muscles get. Fine by me.

20. I  respect all parents. Single, young, old, etc.
If you are putting your child first and doing your very best to raise them, you have earned my respect. Do I still think it's best to be married? Yes. Do I still think being a teenage mom isn't the best idea. Yes. However, all of you who are doing this parenting thing on your own or at a young age have my utmost respect.

21. Every baby is unique.
I still hear of parents who go for a car ride to help their baby go to sleep. "They love it." "It's great!" Not for Emily. She cries at the sight of her carseat, and going anywhere can be a hassle when it's just her and I. She clearly is her own individual.

22. Don't say you won't until you cross that road.
I said she wouldn't get a pacifier, but when her foot had to be pricked for blood one too many times in the hospital, and the only thing that comforted her was a pacifier, you bet we gave it to her.

23. Your relationship with your mom changes.
A few hours after giving birth, my parents came into the room. After the commotion was over, I just looked at my mom in complete awe, big crocodile tears threatening to streak down my face. I never understood her love for me, my sister, and my brother until that moment.

I'd love to hear your stories! What have you learned since becoming a mom? What do I have to look forward to? Let me know in the comments section! Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

4 weeks old

Our sweet daughter is a month old today.  Time flies when you're not 8 months pregnant! 

Emily is ten times more alert than she was a month ago. In the midst of all the crying, she smiles so much! She already has such a personality that I know will only develop over the next year. We have yet to hear her laugh while she's awake. We've tried being silly, but we typically get frowns. She likely thinks we're crazy before she's even reached her teen years. 

This little girl makes my life a thousand times better and brighter. Nothing compares to being a parent.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

3 weeks old

I'm getting to see the world from my daughter's perspective as she focuses so much attention on little things. I love when she looks up at me and a smile spreads across her face or when she calms right down for a few moments when Wes holds and talks to her. Today she spent quite a bit of time on her playmat and I watched as she kicked the dangling toys and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was fussy last night and her and I didn't get much sleep, but I wouldn't trade these moments for anything.

In other news, Emily attended her first church service on Sunday and did so well! We also made it to bible study tonight and she slept right through until we got back home. Wes and I are looking forward to raising her in church and teaching her about God's unconditional love toward her. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2 weeks old

When you have a newborn, it's the little things that get you through the day. What were those things today? Well every evening, it's that hot 15 minute shower. I don't remember the exact words, but the extra push through the day was when my mother-in-law encouraged me and told me that I was doing so well as a mom. Thanks for the sweet words mama Hughes. It meant a lot! Lastly, it's those little facial expressions that Emily makes or her focus on something new that brings a tear and a smile. She has my heart. Happy 2 weeks little Em!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Baby has arrived!

This is just a short update letting everyone know that Emily arrived on February 4th, 2015 at 10:40pm weighing 8lbs, 11oz. She has gorgeous brown hair and beautiful blue eyes and we are absolutely in love!

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