Monday, December 30, 2013

Currently

Hey guys!

I'm linking up with my sweet friends at A Mama Collective for a little update on what's going on over here. I've been a bit absent lately so this is a good opportunity to catch up!


Thinking about:
My father in law. Kemi's dad passed away on December 28th, and he's been at the forefront of my mind.
Reading:
"Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer.  It's my favorite book of all time, and I love to re-read it.
Listening to: 
My sweet girl and all her new words and phrases!  Last night, I was giving her a bath, and I stuck my feet in the tub too while I was washing her up. We played with her toys, tickled each other's toes, and then she started saying something that I could not understand-
Finally, I said "Evie, are you saying 'fun'?"
"Yeah!" She replied. 
"You're having fun with mama?" 
"Yeah!" 
Oh, my heart. She just wanted to tell me she was having fun with me. You mamas know there are days we feel like anything but fun. We feel gross, frumpy, boring, crabby, and tired. So to know she wanted to tell me she was having fun was such a gift.
Watching:
Parenthood! Are you guys as hooked as I am? I can't wait for it to come back. And I'm SO MAD at Julia. Get your s*&@ together, Julia!
Thankful for:
Family. There's nothing like loss to make you look around and appreciate your blessings.  So thankful for all the family and friends we have around us, supporting us, and loving us. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Around the Interwebs

Evie putting on her makeups

Thankful for Diana, and her words. And for a God who can handle the beatings we throw at Him.

This made me LOL.

Such a pretty fall color for nails.

If we ever have a son...

Intrigued by this site. Healthier eating in the new year for the Ndolos!

My mom gave me this for Christmas. I want to give one to each of my mom friends!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Keepin' It Real Monday

Evie found a tampon in my purse this morning. Then she lifted up her dress and (attempted) to demonstrate how to use one.  She has seen too much.

I will protect your eyes by omitting a picture.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ten Months

Today marks ten months since Celeste went to Heaven.

I'm finding this time of year to be challenging. There's something nostalgic, and a little bit sad sometimes about Christmas. Does anyone else find that? Maybe just a little more emotional.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there's more opportunities to think about your blessings, but that for me brings to mind those who go without. There's so many opportunities to spend time with family, but inevitably that leaves a spot in your heart longing for those who aren't with you this year.

I think about Celeste daily, and most especially when I'm alone.  The beauty, wonder, and excitement of Christmas has me missing her in such a deep way right now.  I can't help but think that this time last year, she was growing healthy and big in my belly.  This time last year, I bought two sets of matching Christmas morning pajamas, one tiny pair for what would have been my six month old Celeste, and a bigger pair her for big sister Evie. They still hang in Evie's closet.

I want to commemorate somehow, this first Christmas without Celeste, but I'm not sure how yet. I want to mark it somehow.  I feel her absence so painfully right now, and wish, especially at this time of year, that our family had all of us here.

Losing a child has been incredibly challenging. It challenges me daily, and I'm thankful.  God saw it right to take my daughter to Heaven at just 22 weeks.  And this side of Heaven, I will never understand that. But I have to abandon that. I have to let God be God, and reign over me. And it's a challenge. It is a challenge to trust your family planning, your life plans, to a God who allows such deep loss. But that's the cross. I will embrace it and carry it, and see my girl again. I love you, Celeste! Pray for Evie!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thankful

This past weekend, I was sitting on the couch folding laundry while Evie napped.  I was looking around our living room and my eyes landed on an engagement photo of Kemi and I.  I started thinking about our life, and the love we have for each other. Do Kemi and I have a perfect marriage? Not by a long shot. He's pretty close, but I have a whole lot of failings.  But we have such great love.  We have been blessed to hold and gaze at the face of not one, but two newborn baby girls. Half of him. And half of me. And we have felt a love for those babies so strong we thought our hearts would burst.


There are some who never know these feelings. Who live their whole life without the love of a spouse, without a baby in their arms, without a best friend.  There are some who suffer from depression or loneliness. And we have been so richly blessed. We've experienced loss. Deep, deep down loss. But we've experienced so much love.  And for that, I am thankful.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You're A Good Mama, Part 2!


My post from a few days ago has really stuck with me. Recently, during a meeting with one of my students parents, I put into practice my own challenge.  This particular mom was really struggling. Her son had been going through some really tough stuff at school, and I knew she had some pretty heavy obstacles in her personal life as well. Toward the end of an almost two hour meeting with myself, and the five other instructors from her son's class, I could tell she was just so heavy hearted. I stopped the meeting and told her "Listen. You are such a good mama. He is so lucky to have you. Every kid should be so lucky to have a mom who loves them the way you love him." And you know what? She didn't mumble or look at her shoes. She didn't think I was weird. She burst into tears. I could tell it was just so raw for her, you know? Like, in that moment, she really didn't believe it. Us mamas never think we're doing enough. We go through our days, beating ourselves up. Replaying in our heads all the days failings. We never stop to appreciate that we're doing ok. Because you know what? You're the only one who can be your little one's mama.  No one else can do it.  And you're pretty great at it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Keepin' It Real Mondays

Hey guys!

Sorry I forgot to post my Keepin' It Real post last week. It wasn't for lack of "real" mom moments, believe me!

So what's going on with us, you ask? Well...

Kemi's been out of town for a week, so getting out the door with Evie alone every morning has had it's...challenges.  I kind of lost my game with Kemi off the road recently, and forgot how much planning it takes to get out the door with her every morning by 7:40. Not to mention what we're packin':

2 Breakfasts (hers and mine)
2 Lunches (hers and mine)
5 cloth diapers
1 Macbook and charger
2 Sippy Cups
1 Water Bottle
1 change of clothes (hers)
2 Elmo dolls
2 (at least) blankies
2 (at least) binkies

The other day I pulled in to work with Evie in tow, and took a quick look in the rearview mirror before going in. Good thing I checked:



I had put my hair up with a bobby pin to wash my face and put on makeup and planned to brush it, and just forgot.



But don't worry, because we had time for this charade. Evie found her infant car seat in the office and insisted that it sit next to her in the car with her bear in it.  Love this girl, even when she's just such a toddler.  That's perfectly motherhood, isn't it? I'm wearing a tee shirt with peanut butter on it and she's got a pristine Mini Boden outfit on with coordinating tights. I forgot my cell phone at home but we remembered her infant car seat and bear.  Oh, this girl just owns me. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

For My Girl

Sweet girl. After we lay you down for the night, sometimes your Papa and I just miss you. We always say that we want to go back in and get you for more hugs and kisses.  And some nights, we almost do.


Sometimes Evie, I worry. Ok, a lot of the time, I worry. And when you're a mama, you'll worry too and then you'll understand. I worry about the choices I make for you. That no matter how long I think and pray, and despite the fact that I would do anything for you, that I'm making all the wrong decisions. I worry that I need you more than you need me. You're growing and changing so quickly before my eyes, and I want to stop and hold you close and hit pause for awhile.  You've had a little bit of a cold. A  few nights ago you cried out for me, and I came in to find you standing up, arms outstretched, yelling "Mama!" My heart burst.  I love when you need me, because truly I need you too.  I love you in such a profound, deep-down love that sometimes it scares me a little.  I want to be just perfect for you. I want to be the perfect mama to you, because you deserve nothing less, and yet, somehow I know I can't be. I can never be perfect.  But you'll take me anyway, the way I am. And I'll take you too. I'll take you, just the way you are. I love every bit of you.  Everything. I'm yours, forever.

XOXO

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It Works! Wrap Product Review

You've probably noticed the It! Works! button on my sidebar. My friend, Jamie, is an Independent Consultant with It Works! and a sponsor of Track 8.  When she offered to have me try their super-popular Ultimate Body Applicator and Defining Gel, I jumped at the chance!


It Works! claims that the Body Applicator Wrap tightens, tones and firms using a botanically-based cream.  The kit comes with four applications.  It is basically a large cloth covered with cream that can be applied to any area of the body...stomach, legs, arms, etc.  You unfold the wrap, and apply it to whatever area you have chosen.  You are supposed to smooth it on, and then wrap saran wrap around the applied area to make sure the wrap stays put and against the skin.  They recommend you apply the product for a minimum of 45 minutes, every other day, until all four are used.  On the off days, you use the defining gel.

I chose to apply the product to my stomach. Two pregnancies, just three months apart from each other, really did a number on that area! 

I took my measurements, as recommended before starting.  Initially, I didn't love the way the product felt. It is really cold when you put it on, so you have to be prepared for that. The other thing that I didn't anticipate was that it tingles a bit.  If you've ever used a "plumping" lip gloss, it feels a lot like that.  Although It Works! says you can sleep wearing the product, I tried and it was impossible because of the tingling sensation and the squeaky saran wrap.  So my advice: don't apply the wrap at bedtime and plan on sleeping in it!

So, now to the part you've all been waiting for...the results!  

Overall, I lost one inch. I did notice an overall "firming" effect, which was great.  I expected to lose an inch or so, but I didn't expect that my stomach would feel more toned, like I had been doing sit ups (uh, I hadn't.).  It Works! doesn't provide much info on how long the results are supposed to last, just that they vary from customer to customer.  I would say the results lasted 2-3 days for me.

Would I recommend the product? Yes, if I knew anyone who needed a quick and non-permanent solution.  Would I purchase the product? Probably not. I'm not a "quick fix" type of girl, and I find the price tag a bit steep for a temporary solution. But, like I said, I think it's great for women looking for a quick fix to slim a "trouble spot."


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nine Months, and an Untold Story

Today marks nine months since Celeste went to Heaven.  We would have a five month old.  We miss her every day.


Several months ago, I was babysitting my niece for a few weekdays while I was on a school break.  One day while she was at my house, she and Evie were reading books in Evie's room.  Sophia chose a book about the Saints, and wanted me to read the story about Mary.  We read about Mary being Jesus' mom, and that she was very sad when he died, but she was happy again when he came back three days later.

A few hours passed, we ate lunch, played with toys, and out of nowhere, Sophia said, "Auntie, when is Celeste going to come back?"

Like a kick to my stomach.  And I knew she had been thinking about the Mary story.  I didn't know what to say...I wanted to be honest with her, but not scare her... I told her Celeste wasn't going to come back, that Jesus wants her to be in Heaven with Him. We looked at pictures of Celeste, and I showed her that Jesus wanted us to just get to see Celeste for a little bit, and then he needed her to come back to Heaven to look after all of us and pray for us.  We talked about God having a special plan for everyone, and that that was God's special plan for Celeste.  I assured her that Jesus wanted her baby sister to grow big and strong, and that she wouldn't go to Heaven for a very, very long time.  She seemed satisfied with that, and not upset, but man.  Trying to explain something to a child that I don't understand myself was just so hard.  I don't know how I'll explain it to Evie as she grows.  I worry about being honest and transparent with her, but not upsetting her.  Celeste, show me how.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homemade Play Dough

Evie has been loving playing with the play dough at my school, so this weekend we set out on a mission to make our own. I had done it with my students a few times before, so it wasn't completely foreign. I actually really like homemade play dough! It lasts a really long time, is super easy, and is just as soft (if not softer!) than the store-bought version.

I used this site for my recipe. The ingredients are super cheap and simple:


 You basically dump the ingredients in a saucepan, put it over medium-low heat, and stir with a wooden spoon until thick. Even if it has lumps, it doesn't matter because you can work them out later.



 You can add whatever colors you want to the dough after that.



And then it's playtime! It literally took five minutes start to finish. No joke.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gift Giving Guide: Toddler Edition


Mini Book of Names and Faces
This is my number one pick for Evie this Christmas. She is always asking us to hold her up next to family photos on the wall so she can point to each person as we name them. This book is a bit pricey, but I think it's something special she will absolutely love, and something we'll keep forever.
We've been wanting this one for a long time.


Evie LOVES these tiny rockers whenever we're at a friend's house that has one. I like that it comes in a gender-neutral color too, for future Ndolo kids.




Kid's Table and Chairs
We've been enjoying having friends with kids over for dinner once in awhile, but we never have enough seating for the little ones. I think this cute little table and chairs fits the bill. It's cheaper than the Ikea set, and has amazing reviews.


Blabla Knit Animal
Sad story: These were on a flash deal site a while back, and were an amazing price. I had one in my cart, and debated for too long whether I should purchase it. You know where this is going. They sold out so incredibly fast, and I missed my chance. I know they're ridiculously expensive, but they are SO precious, aren't they?! I just love shopping for Evie, even if it's window shopping. I love these little dolls.  My picks? Mirabelle the Bunny or Josephine the Elephant.


I think Evie could get into this!


Wooden Jungle Animals Set
Evie's been into animals for awhile now, and these are so cute I could display them in her room on her shelf too!



What about you guys? Any toddler gift ideas?

Monday, November 4, 2013

You're a Good Mama

I read this article recently through Cup of Jo, and it really got me thinking. How much would it mean to have another mom tell you you're doing a good job? And not an off handed "I don't know how you do it" but a real, look-you-in-the-eyes "You are a good mama. Your babies are lucky to have you" kind of moment.

I saw this video recently and it broke my heart. Why are we so hard on ourselves? I think we could all stand to hear more of the "good mamas" and fewer of the critical voices in our own heads screaming about sleep training, food dyes, and who knows what else!



I am blessed to have an amazing woman (and a great mama in her own right!), whom I have known for years, look after Evie at the school during the day while I work.  She is always so affirming to me, and truly one of the most heartfelt, genuine women I know. She instituted these really great "About My Day" sheets to keep me updated on what went on with Evie while she was in her care. Sometimes she includes the sweetest notes, like this one:


So what do you guys think? I dare you to tell one mama that she's doing a great job this week! She might look at her shoes and mumble something, but I bet it will change her whole perspective!

Keepin' It Real Mondays


This is what happens when Kemi hangs out with Evie at the school while I'm working:




BUSTED!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Keepin' It Real Mondays

Well, the fact that I'm posting this on Monday at 10 pm is probably a good Keepin' It Real start already.



Every Saturday morning the three of us make pancakes together. Pancakes for Evie, coffee for mama. I guess Evie was just needing more Pumpkin Spice in her life, ya know?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Know-It-All



A few weeks ago, I was talking to my daughter's pediatrician about my thoughts on vaccines, and why I've made the decisions I have. I found myself struggling to explain the research I had read that led to those decisions.  I felt like I wasn't prepared to defend myself.  I kept wanting to shout "I have degrees too! I can read medical journals too!"

Now don't get me wrong-I'm not stupid. I know I'm not a medical doctor. But I'm the one ultimately responsible for Evie's care, so I take the decisions pretty seriously. I'm the one that has to live with the consequences.

I am the type of person that has to know everything there is to know about a subject before making a decision. When I became a mom, this trait became magnified exponentially.  Something as simple as choosing a sippy cup had me weighing every option for hours (Glass? Stainless steel? BPA-free plastic?) Forget choosing a car seat. Cut to me full-on reading consumer reports, customer reviews, and grilling the 17-year old employee at Buy Buy Baby for an hour.  It's insane. 

Do any of you ever feel as though you have to be an expert on everything? The vaccination debate! How much television is too much?! Fluoride-toothpaste or non-fluoride? Homeschooling or traditional school? How high should a fever be allowed to go? At what point do you give Ibuprofen? OR AT ALL!? 

It's daunting. I often feel like I have to be a medical doctor, Nutritionist, Educator, Dermatologist, Scientist, and child development expert all at the same time.  I guess it's just the pressure of it, you know? I don't believe anyone can make a better decision for my child than I can, and really, it's no one's responsibility as much as it is mine.  I'm just not the type to blindly trust our pediatrician, dentist, WebMD, whatever.  I trust them, but not as much as I trust myself. But I am not an expert. So I have to become one. On every subject. It's exhausting! Am I the only one who feels this way?!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Keepin' It Real Monday

Evie and the Altoids.

Anyone else have toddlers that are just little weirdos?

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some pictures from a month or so ago of Evie sleeping with a tin of Altoids. Well, the other night, she was sick, so Kemi went to Walgreens for some ice cream for her (I KNOW! He's such a softy!) and came home with ice cream...and Altoids. And my beautiful little weirdo chose the Altoids. And I know what you're thinking. "Oh, she doesn't actually eat them." YES. She does. By the handful. It really is a problem! She insists on carrying that tiny tin around, opening and closing it, eating a few, trying to ration them out to herself like some kind of tiny addict. And then she spills them. Altoids go flying, she's screaming...you get it.  After one evening of pulling Altoids out of the couch cushions, dusting them off, putting them back in her tin and declaring them "all better!" I looked at Kemi and made him swear no more Altoids. Never ever again.


Notice she's choosing Altoids over pancakes. Also note that half of them are in her lap.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Paint With Ice

I was on fall break all last week, so decided to try to make up for some working mom guilt by fulfilling all my Pinterest-Mom dreams. First up was a colored ice cube thing I had seen.  I let Evie sit on the counter and put the dye in the water herself, which, to be honest, was almost more fun for her than the painting itself.

It was a super easy, fun project...and practically free! I made two trays of ice so we can do it again. It would be a nice project to keep in the freezer in the summer to pull out when you're looking for a quick and easy way to entertain the tots.




Monday, October 14, 2013

Keepin' It Real

Kid fit in Target.
Evie has started laying down on the floor of stores when she doesn't want to leave.
So, that's fun.


Does it look like she's rolling her eyes at me? Yeah, I thought so too.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Eight Months

"Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him..."
Job 13:15

Today marks eight months since our girl went to Heaven.

It still seems so surreal in so many ways.
My grief sneaks up on me, and that lump still forms in my throat and my eyes start to sting when I'm reminded of Celeste.  I'm thankful for these reminders though, because I'm happy to think about my girl. Even though it hurts me, even though it stings and makes me feel tired and old and makes my eyes burn, it is my blessing and joy to think about my second daughter, and especially to think about the day I will hold her again.  I have one foot in Heaven and my thoughts are never far from you, my sweet girl.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Delia's Shower


I was honored to  host my sister's shower a few weeks ago along with my mom.  Any day now she will be welcoming her second little girl, and I can't wait! I'm so excited to see this little one! 




Delia didn't want us to fuss too much since it was her second shower, so I kept the decorations light. I really liked how these little pom pom clouds turned out though! 


The youngest guests made themselves comfortable around the cookies ;)




My mom didn't hold up her end of the "keeping it light" plan and went all-out by making from scratch these amazing french macarons!




Too bad they weren't any good. Yeah, right! Evie ate eight. That's not an exaggeration.





Sophia decided to give the new baby some of her old baby toys :)

Four Generations!


New baby Salas should be here any day!!!