Our Vacation at Pensacola Beach

This week we went down to Pensacola, Florida to spend a few days at the beach with my husband’s parents and siblings. Since we all live in North Alabama and Southern Tennessee, we don’t go to the ocean very often. It was a several hours drive with a couple stops in between, and I was so pleased that Eden (15 months) did so well with the trip. There and back, she didn’t have a single cry-fest. Thank the Lord. (Her first trip — at 2.5 months — was to the Smoky Mountains, also a several hours trip, and that car ride was absolute terror.)

The last time my husband and I went to the beach was two years ago, and we’d just found out days before that we were expecting. I remember stepping into the ocean with her inside me, wondering when would be her first time to step in with her own two feet and see it for herself. So this was her first time, and she had so much fun in the sand! Being in the ocean was definitely not her thing, and I don’t blame her — it’s much more enjoyable to look at than play in.

My mother-in-law planned for us to all have our pictures taken on our second day there, and I am in love with how they turned out! The light blues and creams turned out to be great colors for sunset pictures on the seashore. Here are a few photos of our little family of three and some of Eden enjoying the sand. These were taken on a day she hadn’t gotten a good nap in, so she was not the happiest camper in the world by the time we were getting our pictures taken, but I think the photographer did a good job hiding the fact that she was squaling and squirming 95% of the time (but there I go, giving that secret away).

During our trip we also toured Fort Pickens, ate at some local restaurants, went go-kart racing and played putt-putt golf, and got to watch the Blue Angels perform and also toured the National Naval Aviation Museum. It was a great vacation and we got to spend it with great family. But no matter where I go, or how much I love the beach, there will never be a better place than home, sweet home.

Have a great day!
~Courtney Faith

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{Update #1} Our First Garden

We’ve had lots (and lots!) of rain recently, and plenty of sun the past few days, so everything in the garden has really shot up and is looking really great so far. The tomato and pepper plants have blooms on them now, the cabbage plants are huge, the peas are growing fast, and the carrots, spinach, lettuce, and fennel are sprouting up too. The other things we’ve planted are popping up, and it’s really starting to look like a good Summer garden now.

We’re super excited to be gathering food from our own back yard, and I’m so thankful we have this opportunity to show our daughter about God’s earth and how He makes it all grow.

 

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Eden by her garden.


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Sprouting!


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Carrots, lettuce, and spinach are popping up!

 

 

 

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Peppers, broccoli, cabbage, peas, beans, tomatoes, and the raised bed.


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Cabbage and broccoli.


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Tomatoes!


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“Clothes on the clothesline hangin’ in the sunshine, a garden growin ‘ in the ground.” -Josh Turner, “Way Down South”

Have a great day!

~Courtney Faith

 

Our Weekend

This past weekend the weather was absolutely perfect. And since we had been planning for a while to spruce up our front flowerbeds with an outside liner and new mulch, on Saturday afternoon we went to Home Depot and got the supplies we needed.

We were having problems with the old mulch that was already there when we moved here, because whenever it rained the mulch would wash out onto the sidewalk. The liner we put around the beds should hold the new mulch in now, and the landscaping fabric underneath it all will be nice for keeping the weeds from taking over.

The work didn’t take nearly as long as I expected, but we did wind up estimating a little low on how much liner and mulch we needed, so Hubby had to make a second trip to pick up more, but other than that (and the rain we unexpectedly got that evening which put our work off till Monday afternoon because we were gone all day Sunday) we finished up pretty quickly.

Here are some before and after pictures. Now that our flowerbeds are complete, we can put our full focus back onto the garden, which is growing quickly and beautifully! Soon we’ll have tomatoes and lettuce to make us some fresh BLTs. Yum!

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First step: Digging the Trench for the Lining

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One Side Dug and Lots of Dirt and Leaves Everywhere

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Lining Done!

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After: Right Side View

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After: Left Side View (with a Cute Little Addition to the Picture!)

Have a great day!
~Courtney Faith

Planting Our First Garden


This is our first Spring living in a house since we’ve been married, so since we now have our very own yard, we are super excited to be planting our very first garden together this year!

During the Winter we had to clear out a big spot in our backyard that was grown up and had basically been used as a dump by one of the previous tenants here, so that was a huge job itself, chopping down small trees and pulling up bushes and weeds and roots. My husband worked really hard at getting it done and then set to work tilling up the ground with a shovel and he built us a raised bed too. We finished the garden spot up by the time it was planting season, and now we have a small tiller which makes it so much easier to work up the soil for the seeds and plants to be put in.


After our last frost of the season (yay, Spring!), we planted several things– tomatoes, peppers, peas, onions, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and more. We’re a bit late planting a few remaining things, but with all the rain we’ve had lately it has put us a bit behind schedule, but hopefully the ground will dry up enough that we can finish the last bit of planting very, very soon.

I’m really excited to see how everything grows, and am crossing my fingers that I don’t let everything die. With the luck I have with house plants, it’s a wonder our garden is doing as well as it is at the moment! Haha.


So, that’s pretty much all I have to say about our little garden for today. I’ll try to post more updates as it grows and we start harvesting. We’re so looking forward to having fresh vegetables right from our own backyard!


Have a nice day!

~Courtney

I Had an Unplanned Cesarean and I’m Okay with That. (And Why You Should Be Okay with Yours Too!)

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When I was pregnant with my daughter, I could probably count on one hand the women I knew of who had Cesareans. But I didn’t talk to them about their experiences so I could get an idea what it’s like, in case I wound up having one myself, because “I’m having an all-natural, peaceful, whenever-the-baby’s-ready home birth, and there is no need to learn about the surgery or post-op recovery.”

WRONG.

Whether you’re pregnant now or will be sometime in the future, take this bit of advice from me, please: read up on Cesareans so you won’t have that fist-to-the-gut feeling I did when the doctor told me he suggested I have one. Get informed about the how, the why, and especially the recovery. You may never even need to have a C-section, but just in case you do, be prepared and at least know a little bit about it, unlike me.

Anyway. Back to what I’m trying to get at.

If two years ago you’d have told my pregnant self that I’d eventually go twenty-two days over my due date, have a failed induction, and then finally have no choice but to get a C-section, I wouldn’t have believed you. Because none of that was in my plan. Going overdue somewhat, maybe, but not the other stuff. Psh—no way.

I had hoped and planned for a home birth in Tennessee with my midwives, but as I kept going days and days over my due date, our time for my wonderful, ideal, dreamed-about-ever-since-I-can-remember birth was running out. Three weeks past due was the cut-off date, and so on the day I reached 43 weeks with no signs of labor starting anytime soon, we planned an induction at a hospital with a doctor for the next morning—already three things I never, ever imagined myself doing.

Long story short (you can read the full version HERE), the induction didn’t work because apparently my body and my baby STILL weren’t ready yet, and then my blood pressure was high enough to be concerned about, and the baby was assumed to be facing the wrong way (turns out she was), which could cause a problem later on if I delivered vaginally, SO we chose that last resort we’d never dreamed of: a Cesarean section. A full-on MAJOR SURGERY. (Okay, so I admit that part didn’t hit me till later on, but y’all—this surgery is NO JOKE and my heart and so much respect go out to each and every woman who has had this operation.)

Once I started coming off my newborn baby high (AHHH—the best thing in this world!) and I realized there was still a whole world out there with (gasp!) other people, and I was finally over the infection in my incision (O-U-C-H), I realized how very disappointed I actually was that I did not have the birth I’d always dreamed of, the one I’d been planning for nearly ten months, even rented the birthing house for. And I started hating myself for not being able to give birth like a “normal person.” I told myself I must have done something wrong, or not enough things right, to cause everything opposite of my plan to come about. What if I’d exercised more? I wondered. Or, What if I hadn’t eaten some of the things I did? How come So-and-So was able to do it but not me? A friend of mine from church had told me right after Eden was born to never let myself think these things, because I didn’t fail, and I did still carry and give birth to my child, and I was still just as woman as the one who delivered naturally. It was weeks later when I started actually thinking those awful things that I would have to remind myself what she told me. What she said was exactly true, but while I certainly felt that other women who gave birth by Cesarean were amazing mothers and women who had done only what was best for their children, in my heart I couldn’t believe it about myself.

I didn’t ever get depressed about the whole thing, but I did put myself down a lot whenever I thought about how my body couldn’t go into labor on its own, my body couldn’t get into real, good labor even with the help of Pitocin, my body “couldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t. It was also hard reading or hearing other people’s labor and birth stories, knowing I didn’t get to experience the real thing, wondering if I ever would.

A few months ago I spoke with a new friend of mine who had also within the past year given birth via unplanned Cesarean. We swapped our stories and they were almost identical! We chatted about the disappointment we felt when our bodies just wouldn’t do what we wanted them to, the physical and emotional sides of recovering, and our fears of ever having another baby and the same thing happening all over again. Beyond all, though, we are both thankful that we had the option of Cesarean for the sake of our babies, and for their well-being we would not have had it any way but the best way for them—which just so happened to be C-sections. By the time she and I met I can say I was very close to having accepted my daughter’s birth as a whole, but I think being able to talk about it (for the first time!) with someone who totally, absolutely understood exactly what I felt, was a huge weight off my shoulders and I think a big part of fully accepting.

To someone who hasn’t had a Cesarean, I probably sound like a big sissy for having worried so much for so long about how my baby got here, as long as she’s here, safe and perfectly sound—and maybe it is silly—but it’s something a lot of women have to work through emotionally, and I think there are a few big things that can help them get past the disappointment and embrace the truth that this did happen, that their plans can change in a minute, and that they are still every bit of a woman as the one who delivers naturally, or vaginally with an epidural. I may never have that “normal” birth, but that is something I’ll come to grips with if and when the time comes, and since I’ve done this before, I think it will be much easier if I go through it again.

Four things that I believe can help a lot are:

  1. Just be grateful, first and foremost, that your baby is safe and in this world, and that there are doctors out there who know what they’re doing when it does come down to major surgery in favor of the baby’s (and your) health.
  2. Write out your birth story, or record yourself telling it. Just simply getting it all out and off your chest (and reliving the glorious moments!) can sometimes be the best medicine.
  3. Talk to someone who understands, who’s been there. After having my daughter I was surprised at how many friends have had Cesareans, and I didn’t even know it before, but talking to them about it can be so helpful. Talk to someone who will let you spill out your frustrations, but who will also tell you it’s okay, you did amazing, and now you need to suck it up, buttercup. (Because friends don’t let friends throw pity parties.)
  4. Encourage other people. When you talk to a mom who is down about her C-section experience, you can thank God you also went through it, because now you can let her cry on your shoulder, you can tell her it’s gonna be all right (because you know it is), and you can show her what it looks like to pick yourself back up and smile, because you’ve been there, you’re strong, and she is too. I think this was the biggest thing for me to being able to actually be thankful for my C-section (besides the obvious fact that my baby is safely here). I can be thankful I went through something hard like this because when someone else has gone through it and needs encouragement, I can now be a help to that person.

There may still be days here and there when I’ll look down and see my constant reminder, that 6-inch battle scar on my abdomen that may fade but will never completely go away, and I start to think, What if—? but I’m going to stop myself right there, because it’s just a scar, that was just a C-section, it was just a thing I had to do, and I’m okay with it now. I am grateful.

And you can be, too.

Pink and Gold First Birthday Party

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A few weekends ago we had our daughter’s first birthday party. For weeks I’d been planning this thing, and having a blast brainstorming and browsing Pinterest for more ideas. I wanted to do mostly pastel pink and throw in a bit of gold here and there, and luckily that’s kind of what’s in right now for little girls’ birthday parties, so there were a TON of resources for ideas, products, etc. so I had zero trouble getting that.

There were a few things I knew for certain I wanted: a pretty backdrop behind Eden’s high chair, a tutu for her AND a tutu for her high chair, a simple cake, and a very simple yet feminine style. We wound up with all of those things and more, and with some pinning, shopping, crafting, and tons of help from my mom, we achieved exactly the perfect little girly party theme I’d imagined.

THE HIGH CHAIR TUTU

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The high chair tutu was something I definitely never imagined using, much less making, for my daughter’s first-ever birthday party, but the more and more I saw those poofy things on Pinterest, the more and more I liked them. So I decided it couldn’t be too hard to make one, so I bought two different shades of (sparkly!) pink tule from Walmart, and cut the strips the length I needed them, then tied them to an elastic band. I used Velcro stickers (the hard side) on the sides of the high chair tray, and stuck the tule to those and the tutu stuck securely. Super simple, tons of fun, and way cute!

THE CAKE TABLE

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For the cake setting, I used a pale pink table cloth from Walmart, and some matte white Mason jars I painted a couple years ago which wound up being perfect for holding straws (pink cake pop sticks from Walmart) and flowers (also from Walmart). Pink and white plates and white napkins came from the Dollar Tree, the white cake plate and gold cupcake liners from TJ Maxx, and gold candles from Walmart. I also printed out a black and white photo of Eden I had taken recently, and framed it in a pink frame I got at Aldi and displayed it on the cake table. While looking up “pink and gold birthday party” I came across some super cute FREE printable banners/buntings, plus a ton of other things to match (like invitations, water bottle labels, etc.) from The Paper Trail Design and was extremely please with it. I used an old window for a background and hung one banner from it and a tiny little bunting across the cake, strung to two cake pop sticks.

THE CAKE

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The cake was made with white cake mixes from Aldi, which I made by the box’s directions the night before the party and then froze overnight. Before pouring the batter into the pans, though, I greased some parchment paper and lined the pans in that, so the next morning when I was ready to ice the cake, they just popped right out of the pans with no effort and NO sticking. That fluffy pink icing was a Pioneer Woman recipe for cream cheese frosting, which I added just a bit of red food coloring to to make it that perfect shade of pastel pink. Let me tell you, that icing was DELICIOUS. I just love Pioneer Woman. The cake topper was super simple to make; I just printed out a little bunting from The Paper Trail Company, cut out the little gold pieces I wanted, and wrote letters on each one with a fine-tip marker to spell my daughter’s name. Then I glued them closed, onto a strand of white embroidery thread, and tied that to two cake pop sticks, poked them into the cake, and voila! I also added one single gold candle in the middle and sprinkled some pearl candies over the top. For the “smash cake” I just left some cake batter out while making the big cake and baked a cupcake for Eden to eat. I spooned the icing on kinda sloppily, sprinkled a few pearl candies, and poked a candle in the center. She didn’t feel 100% the day of her party so I didn’t take her smash cake pictures till a few days later when she could thoroughly enjoy it.

THE BACKDROP

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This was super simple and kind of not thought through very much until I ran across a hot pink, light pink, and gold banner kit in the Valentine’s Day section of Walmart. It could be made up to 6 feet long, and I made it just a bit shorter than that. I hung it on the wall behind where the highchair would be and at just the right height, and then I got out my light pink and white streamers (also from Walmart) and started that tedious job. I started in the middle of the banner and taped one end of the streamer just behind that, and ran it down the wall to the length I wanted, then twisted it to get the spiral, and cut and taped the other end to the bottom of the wall.

THE FOOD AND DRINKS

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The food was so much fun to do, and my mom helped me a ton with this part. I knew I wanted pink finger foods to go with the theme, so we opted for dipped pretzels and sugar wafers, homemade energy balls with pink M&Ms, plus the pink cake and cupcakes. I made a big batch of chili in the slow cooker and my husband made four FANTASTIC pizzas. My grandparents surprised us by bringing deviled eggs and chicken wings and some pink coconut-covered snack cakes, so we were not lacking in food for everyone, that’s for sure! For drinks, I made pink lemonade and pink punch (recipe to come!), plus coffee– which is not pink, but absolutely a necessary for our bunch.
…And that’s how we did Eden Lily’s first birthday party! How did you celebrate your child(ren)’s first birthday(s)? Did you have a theme or color scheme? Did you go all out or keep it simple? I’d love to hear your experiences!

For all of the awesome sources I got some of my ideas from, follow my Birthday Girl board on Pinterest here!

~Courtney Faith

Be There

   

   

This day and age we all have smart phones, or some type of cool camera that we’ve got on hand 24/7. We’re practically attached to our electronic devices, virtually glued to a screen.

I go to the park, to the library, to the grocery store, even, and see moms on their phones while their kids are playing, talking, laughing. A lot of times the mom is on her phone because she’s taking a picture or video of her lovely kids.

I get it. I’ve been there. I’m there a lot. Now that I’m a mom myself I love snapping photos of every little milestone or cute face or fun activity I don’t want to ever forget. I find myself taking a dozen or more pictures a day sometimes, and several videos frequently.

But as I watch others doing it too, it strikes me– are my efforts to capture precious moments on my camera actually robbing me from truly soaking up the moment to treasure in my heart forever? Am I really spending those wonderful moments with my daughter, or am I simply her paparazzi and videographer?

Even if I remember every moment I snap a picture of, will she remember? Or will she only remember her childhood filled with Mommy’s face hidden behind an electronic device?

  
I’m not trying to say that we should quit taking pictures or videos. No, I’m all for saving those sweet moments of our growing children. I’m just saying (to myself!) that maybe I should make less pictures and more memories. Maybe I should put down the phone and camera and pick up my baby. Maybe I should use my fingers more for tickling and playing than for typing about all my kid’s sweet and silly antics to post on Facebook or Instgram.

None of these things is wrong, but I want to try to use my screens in moderation, and love and play and make memories with my daughter in liberation. You’ll still see me holding my camera, not able to resist the urge to capture a memory with film (or whatever it’s technically called these days), but I want to take more of those chances to witness the whole scene with my own eyes, uninterrupted by an electronic device.

  
I don’t want to just witness and record my baby’s growing up– I want to be there when she does.

~Courtney Faith