Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The 'Almosts'

There were a lot of names we threw around before deciding on "Adelaide". As a little girl I was constantly writing down baby names in a journal. It hasn't stopped since I've become an adult. It's funny how "Emmalyn" was never on my "baby name list" growing up. I actually thought I would name my first girl, Halle, and calling her "Hal". (I was slightly obsessed with Lindsay Lohan's version of The Parent Trap.) Emmalyn was 'almost' Olivia, a name I completely adored, but was too popular for us at the time. Also, I find it interesting that none of Emmalyn's 'almosts' showed up on Adelaide's potential name list. It's funny how things change.

 Here are a few of the top contenders that, while I love, didn't quite make the cut. Maybe next time...? ;-)

- Charlotte/"Charlie" {this was acutually her name for a couple of weeks until we decided it was becoming too popular}
- Fallon
- Maclaine
- Mackenzie
- Harper
- Teagan
- Tallulah {okay, so only I liked this name, but it was still on my list}
- Avery
- Stella
- Quinn {it became a middle name!}
- Addison
- Taylor
- Cordelia
- Scout
- Hayden
- Amelia
- Claire
 
I'm still very fond of all of the above names, but I can't imagine Adelaide being anything other than "Adelaide".
 
What names did you 'almost' name your child or children? What was the reason you didn't?
 
 
loyally,
katie

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

We are human

I've been thinking a lot lately about how far I've come as a mother. Most people know about my battle with Post-partum depression, and how horrendous it was. It may get deep here for a quick moment, so bear with me. Shortly after Emmalyn was born, I was convinced I was going to die--that something was terminally wrong with me. As time went on and I wasn't feeling any better, I wanted to disappear. I wanted to float away on a cloud, have my mom take care of my daughter, and return when I felt like myself again. Flash forward (to almost) four years, and I haven't returned to myself again. I've returned as a much better person.
 
Cognitive behavioral therapy helped me immensely. It aided me in becoming a better "me". I was at the lowest of lows. You can't get any lower than being brought to the emergency room, stating you're suicidal, then being admitted to a behavioral hospital. On the ambulance ride from the ER to the behavioral health hospital I kept demanding answers from God, "Why? Why is this happening to me? I'm a good person, so why? Why?! Why?!!"
 
I now know why. God challenged me in ways I never knew were possible. He was stripping down my insecurities and building up my strengths. He was doing this so I could be the best mother possible to my daughter, and future children.
 
My spit-fire of a (almost) four year-old (!??!!) challenges me nearly every day. She can sometimes make me question if I'm doing a good job as a mother. She can overwhelm me and get my blood boiling with her gold medal temper tantrums. But she's also tangible proof of my triumphs. She was put on this Earth by God to make me a better person.
 
I needed help. I couldn't do it on my own. Life isn't easy. It's hard! No one should have to carry all the burden and do it alone. Sometimes reaching out for help is the kick-start we need to becoming our better selves. I know it was for me.
 
The other day when we were putting Emmalyn in the car, my husband called her a "doll baby." Emmalyn shouted back, "I'm not a doll baby--I'm a human!" We laughed because it was so cute and innocent coming out of a three year-old's mouth, but it stuck with me on a deeper level--because it's true: We are human.
 
First and foremost, we are human. There are going to be days where we question if we're doing the right thing. That's "only human," as the saying goes. If you and your baby are fed, bathed, and clothed, you are doing the right thing.
 
We cannot be so hard on ourselves. I know I am doing the right thing. YOU are doing the right thing, my friend. Because after all, we are human.
 
loyally,
katie
 
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Make Friends: Building Your Community Wherever You Go

I've been fairly shy my entire life. The whole "putting myself out there thing" has always caused me quite a bit of anxiety. I used to get butterflies in my stomach whenever my dad would have me call someone on the phone to thank them for a gift. I'd silently wish for the answering machine to pick up instead. Just thinking about it now brings back those all-too familiar flutters.

When my husband joined the military, we knew moving around frequently was something our family would have to get used to doing. In just the past four years alone, we have lived in three different cities. I was born and raised in the same house for eighteen years, and only ventured forty-five minutes down the road to "go off to" college. To say I like being in my "comfort zone" is an understatement.

Living in a new town requires you to put yourself out there and make new friends. This is something that has never been easy for me. I get so nervous approaching people. I feel as if I'm bothering them, or interrupting whatever it is they're doing.

However, over the years, I've come to realize that people are usually just as nervous as I am when it comes to making new friends. Just like me, they're waiting for someone to make the first move.

I admit, it's definitely less intimidating to meet new people when you have a child. It's a lot easier--in my opinion--to open up a conversation with "How old is your son?" rather than "How old are you?" But my problem wasn't necessarily starting the conversation, per say, it was building upon it. I would be at various children's play places and make small-talk with other moms, but that was the extent of it. I might bump into them again at another event and smile politely, or I might never see them again. I'd come home and my husband would ask, "Did you meet anyone new today?"

I'd tell him about so-and-so, to which he'd ask, "Well did you get her number?"

Umm, no... We would joke that making new mommy-friends was like dating all over again. My husband challenged me numerous times, "Why not? Why didn't you ask her if she works or stays at home? Why didn't you ask her where she's from?" and other various "get-to-know-you" questions.

Repeatedly my response was, "Well, I don't know. I guess I was too nervous."

My husband's response was, "Don't you think she may have been just as nervous as you?"

He made a valid point. I pondered a lot about it: If I was nervous and shy about striking up a conversation that lasted more than thirty seconds, maybe other moms felt this way too?

"Make the first move," my husband would say, "I think you'll surprise yourself."

So I decided to put on my Big Girl Pants, step out of my comfort zone and make the first move. And when I did, the results were amazing.

One of my first instances of "putting myself out there" led to some life-changing and memorable events. I used to take my oldest daughter, Emmalyn, to a weekly music class. There was another little girl there, the same age as Emmalyn, named Whitney, who usually came with her nanny. One day her mom brought her. I heard my husband's voice in the back of my mind say, "Just talk. Ask for her number. Just do it." When the class was over, I found myself conversing with this mom, who was super pleasant and equally engaging. She told me she recently quit her job to be a stay-at-home-mom and was looking to meet new moms. Ding! Ding! Ding! Hello, Opportunity.

I took a deep breathe. "We should exchange numbers and get the girls together for a playdate sometime," I spoke up.

And thus became the start of a beautiful friendship.

On our first playdate, we learned that not only did we attend the same college, but were a part of the same sorority--just a few years a part! Our friendship quickly grew over the next few months, as did our daughters'. They were soon calling each other "Ems" and "Whit" and telling everyone they were "best friends." Somewhere along the way, I too, found a best friend.

As our friendship was developing, I knew a move with the military was inevitable. It would have been easy to not let myself get involved, knowing we would be moving in just a few short months. Yes, it would have been easy, but it wouldn't have been fair. Friendships don't have to be One-Size-Fits-All. I can't imagine my life without Meri and her sweet daughter Whitney, and I know my daughter feels the same way.

My relationship with Meri is just one example of how putting yourself out there can have such rewarding results. When we moved seven hours away last year, I had to make new friends all over again. It still didn't feel "normal" for me to make the first move and ask for another mom's phone number, but I knew the importance of building a community. I didn't want my only friend to be my three year-old. It took some time and a few missed opportunities for me to realize how silly I was being. "Just do it," I could hear my husband say.

So I did. I began interacting with other moms at play places, eagerly exchanging contact information. It felt a little foreign and quite random at times, but it was so worth it. I've exchanged numbers with moms at parks, in department stores in the baby section, and at Story Times. When I would come home with a new mom's number, I'd be all giddy--like I was fifteen years-old again, sometimes even throwing in a happy-dance for good measure.

Building a community with other moms is vital. I've learned a lot from them, and I've learned a lot about me through them. It's fun watching our children develop friendships, but it's even more fun when we leave the kids at home and meet for breakfast after dropping them off at school, or grab a glass of wine for Girls' Night, or meet once a month for Book Club.

I'm so thankful I decided to abandon my inhibitions and anxiety over meeting new people.

Imagine all I would have missed out on if I hadn't stepped out of my comfort zone and introduced myself? A whole heck of a lot--that's what!

loyally,
katie
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Grateful.


 This is an oldie, but goodie. I have several friends who could currently use some prayers and encouragement. I want to share this with them, and you. It's one of my favorites--from May 2011.

***

Have you ever tried worrying and being grateful at the same time?

Go ahead. Try. I’ll wait.

Did you do it?

Didn’t think so.

The antidote for worry is gratitude and well-being. It’s impossible to worry about something when you’re busy being grateful. Unfortunately, the same is true the other way around. You can’t be grateful for something if you’re too damn busy worrying about a million other things.

Have you ever been stuck smack in the middle lane of the interstate during 7AM traffic? Do you cope by blowing your horn, or huffing and puffing because you’re going to be late to work, only to get yourself so worked up, you actually break a sweat? And what does all that blood, sweat, and tears (I exaggerate. Kinda.) get you? A headache? Maybe two inches of black top, only to be cut off by a punk on a motorcycle? …aaaannnd, now we’re cursing.

Next time, instead of focusing on the negatives, why don’t you try being grateful? Katie, how can I be grateful for morning traffic?! Well, my friends (& I hope we can be friends!) it’s simple. You have to change your way of thinking and count your blessings: I may be sitting in bumper-to-bumper agony, but at least I have a car. There are people who have never even set foot in a car, let alone have paved roads. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful I have the money (at least for now) to fill up my tank. I’m grateful this seat belt is keeping me safe. I’m grateful I don’t have to walk to work. I’m grateful for my air conditioning & music to keep me company. And if, and only if, I’m stopped at a traffic light, I’m grateful for Facebook on my iPhone.

Have we forgotten about that punk on the motorcycle yet?

Good! And trust me, it works in all sorts of situations: Baby screaming? I’m grateful she has working lungs. Shins and calves burning after that two-mile run? I’m grateful I have legs to run on. With practice and determination, you’ll soon be riding the “Grateful Train” first-class to “Calmville.” Scout’s Honor.

Now how did I get to be all expert-y, noble & wise about gratitude?

{Hi, my name is Sarcasm. Nice to meet you.}

I am who I am today because of a nasty thing called Postpartum Depression; or “Hell,” for short. The past six months of my daughter’s life have been a whirlwind for me, to say the least. I, probably like most women, skimmed over the PPD sections in the baby books since ‘yanno… never thought it would happen to me. Ain’t that how the story goes?

Anywho… long story short: I found myself hospitalized for a week at a behavioral center. Most terrifying and astounding life-changing experience of my life! I’d like to share with you my personal testimony after spending an additional month in an outpatient recovery program:

Written on February 15, 2011

I have certainly come a long way in this ever so challenging journey. This has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. My dream has always been to be a mom, so when the foreign and nightmarish thoughts hit me like a brick, it scared the living day lights out of me, to say the least. The anxiety attacks were like nothing I’ve ever experienced or even seen before. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

The best decision I ever made was going to the hospital. Although it was absolutely terrifying at first, it was the right place for me to be. And PHP [the Partial-Hospitalized Program] has continued to help me tremendously. I have learned so much—especially about myself. I never knew I had so much strength and determination.

I learned that in order to gain massive momentum in my recovery, I had to get moving! That became my new mantra. I lacked a lot of motivation when I first stepped foot in here, but I soon realized it didn’t mean I couldn’t still do the things I used to love. I am capable. I am capable of so much. It took a lot of practice, but my mood is finally catching up.

I made a promise to myself to never give up no matter what! I wanted things to change, so with the picture of my husband and daughter in my mind, I knew the only way I was going to make that happen was to JUST DO IT! Even if I didn’t feel like it, I made myself do it because it was the right thing for my recovery. If I didn’t change my thoughts and behavior, then things were going to stay exactly as they were, and I definitely didn’t want that! I took my first step, stayed committed to my recovery, and things started becoming easier day by day.

Seven weeks ago, I was crying and screaming on the bathroom floor, begging to die; and now I’m playing flag football and caring for my daughter like I always knew I could. It’s hard to imagine I once thought about taking my own life, and now I would give it away in a heartbeat if it were to benefit my daughter.

I despised the fact that I got Postpartum Depression. I thought, Why me? Why is God punishing me? But now? Now, I see the beauty of this experience and how it has strengthened me. Every day I’m a little bit more of who I want to be. Every day I become a better person; and for that, I am truly grateful.

***

You can’t have a testimony without a test, right?

A fellow patient—a mom, who lost her twenty-six year-old [former soldier & current police officer] son, to a heinous murder as he was called to a robbery, told me I inspired her. Well if that doesn’t humble your heart, I don’t know what will! If she had the courage to dust herself off, then I surely didn’t have any excuses. I could hold my baby in my arms—she no longer could.

Life isn’t always easy. But it sure is worth the fight.

So that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! I’m Katie. A devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, who strives to be the best I can be, every day, for all the right reasons.

loyally,
katie


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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy 2 Months, Adelaide Quinn!

It's only been two months, but it seems like Adelaide has always been in our family. People have asked me how I could love someone as much as Emmalyn. My answer to that is this: when you have another child, your heart just instinctively knows how to expand to make room for more love. It's like lighting candles... the flame doesn't burn out when you light one candle to the next, but rather ignites more flames. My heart ignites more love.

It may sound cheesy, but I am seriously obsessed with Adelaide! I just want to hug, hold, and kiss her All!Day!Long! The first three weeks were difficult because I felt like a never-ending milking-cow, but after she grew out of her cluster-feedings, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I also felt an even bigger weight lifted off when I stopped nursing from the left side (because it was so painful!!) and just continued on the right only. Holy goodness, that was the best decision I made. I cannot tell you how great it made breast-feeding for me. I am so so s-o-o-o glad I didn't give up! And really, THANK YOU to everyone who supported and encouraged me--whether by person, phone, or text! I couldn't have pushed through it without all of y'all! Thank you a hundred times over!


Adelaide is such a wonderful baby. She basically only cries when she's tired, hungry, or needs to be changed. She's also a major cuddle-bug! Her favorite spot to be is laying on mama's chest. (It's my favorite place for her to be, too!) Just this past week she's really started to smile when you talk to her. And she even had a conversation with her big sister ;) At bed time the other night, we were reading books in Emmalyn's bed when she started cooing. Emmalyn would imitate her back, then Adelaide would coo again. It went back and forth several times, and both Emmalyn and I got a huge kick out of it. Adorable!


Speaking of Big Sister, Emmalyn is adjusting quite well to her new role, although I must admit, she can drive me a little insane sometimes. Like me, she's also obsessed with her little sister and won't stop touching her. The problem is she wants to touch her while she's sleeping. And it's not just a little peck on the feet or a soft touch, it's a full-on Hugging & Kissing Frenzy! I've tried so hard to give her softer alternatives to showing Adelaide affection, but alas, she won't listen. (Big surprise there... she's three!)


The experience of having a second child is so much different than the first. I'm not nervous about anything (except what Emmalyn is up to if I have to run to the bathroom real quick!). With the first, I remember being nervous about going to Target, changing blow-out diapers, feeding at the right time, giving baths, and even just putting her head through a onesie. But the second time around, I feel like a pro. Also, Adelaide has no choice but to just go! go! go! With Emmalyn I was so nervous about public germs. However, once you've witnessed your child licking the metal poles in line at Sea World (can I get a barf bag?!), you learn to let loose a little. Hand sanitizer is still my best friend, and I try to keep Adelaide covered in her car seat when we're out, but I'd go stir crazy (and Emmalyn would, too!) if we didn't venture out practically every day. Adelaide has been to museums, the library, shopping, parks, church, and friend's houses multiple times.

She is still sleeping in her "Rock-n-play" sleeper next to our bed, and I don't plan on moving her any time soon. I love having her sleep next to me. I love hearing her breaths, snores, and baby pterodactyl-like noises. I love that in the middle of the night I can just reach over to nurse her. Adelaide is still wearing newborn clothes and diapers. She doesn't mind "tummy-time" and holds her head up remarkably well. At night, she even scoots herself almost all the way over onto her side. She loves listening to Emmalyn sing, dance, and play the guitar. We've nicknamed her "Bright Eyes" for the way she watches everyone around her. Next to her older sister's, you can definitely see that her eyes are blue. I just wonder if they're going to stay that way?
My two girls have taught me the importance of living in the moment and slowing down. With Emmalyn, I tried so hard to do things "by the books". I moved her into her own room at three months, and I didn't want her to get used to being rocked to sleep, among other things. But they're only this little once in their lives. I can't believe Emmalyn will be four in a few months, and I cringe when I think about Adelaide growing as fast as she already is. I wanted to rush the infant stage with Emmalyn, and now I never want Adelaide to grow out of her newborn clothes! It's amazing how your perspective changes.

I'm absolutely loving being a mommy to my two beautiful girls. It truly is the great thing I've ever done! It's cliche, I know, but I can't remember life before Adelaide. By the Grace of God, she was meant to be in our family.

And as Emmalyn would say, "Can we keep her?"

Yes. We can keep her. She's ours forever...


loyally,
katie

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life Lately, in Bullet Points



- I joined a Book Club. So far I've read The Fault in Our Stars and The Glass Castle. It's nice to be involved in something that requires intellectual thought instead of nursery rhymes, for once!

- I think I've got this whole breastfeeding thing down. I now feel completely comfortable nursing in public. I really didn't think I would last as long as I have. And while I don't have a set goal, I have no intentions of stopping soon. I'm just going to continue until it doesn't work for our family anymore.

- Adelaide had a blow-out at a restaurant the other night. I prayed to the diaper bag gods that I had a change of clothes for her. Hallelujah! I did!

- Emmalyn fell off the side of the steps in the pool and went straight into her float, called for help, and grabbed the wall. We were both so proud.

- Three year-old tantrums S-U-C-K! Big time.

- I'm doing July's #independenceARMy & #SunsOutTeekiBumsOut Yoga Challenge on Instagram. It's been so great getting back into yoga... even if my time is limited and I sometimes have a three year-old crawling all over me. {see: Instagram video} I guess it helps me practice patience, eh? You can follow my journey on my Instagram: @katievanbrunt & at #loyallykatieyoga It's fun and challenging!!

- Adelaide is an incredible baby! She only cries when she's wet, tired, or hungry. She sleeps anywhere from 6-8 hours a night. {don't hate.} She's a true joy and I love having her in our family.

- Emmalyn is obsessed with Adelaide. It's almost a little too suffocating. She has a tendency to wake her up with extra hard hugs and kisses. Like, multiple times a day. UGH. Honestly, I've tried everything I can think of to get her to stop and nothing is working. Help?!

- I can't believe school is starting back again. So soon! I just bought Emmalyn's school supplies. This year, she will be going to school three days a week. I'm excited for her.

- Adjusting to two kids was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Sure, it's difficult when both are crying, one is in the bath tub, and the other needs to be fed, but we make it work. The chaos is totally worth having two daughters.

- I said I didn't ever want to be pregnant again or have more kids than I have hands, but now I'm not so sure...

- I am thoroughly blessed I did not get postpartum depression the second time around. Praise God!

- Having a baby in the summertime is difficult. It limits our daily activities significantly, but we're making it work.

- I never want Adelaide to grow up! I'm absolutely loving having a baby in the house!

So how has your summer been so far?!

loyally,
katie
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our Newborn Photo Shoot

Adelaide at 6 days old 
+
Adelaide crying for over an hour
+
New nursing mommy who doesn't know what the hell she's doing
+
Emmalyn with a fever
+
Adelaide peeing on Hubby's formal uniform
+
One really patient photographer
=
Our Newborn Photo Shoot

It was a stressful one, folks!

I was very adamant about capturing newborn photographs because I never did them with Emmalyn and have truly regretted it, still to this day. Therefore, it was super important to me the second time around. Our sweet family photographer was patient with us for three hours, while I nursed Adelaide three different times, Blake changed in and out of his uniform twice, and Emmalyn tantrumed (yes, that should be a word) and basically refused to participate until we bribed her with chocolate (which I never do)! But desperate times called for desperate measures.

I'm sad we didn't get pictures of the sisters snuggled together in bed with big matching hair bows, like I envisioned, but Hey! That's life! Right? I was way too exhausted--'yanno, with having given birth six days prior--to try and make everything "perfect."

I am, however, super grateful for the pictures we were able to capture, and even more importantly, that the people in them are healthy and mine and perfect.

Forever.





{hey--at least Indy cooperated! hehe}

loyally,
katie
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