Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gastroschisis Awareness Day Celebration, Texas Style

So, I'm sure you've heard me mention a time or two that my daughter was born almost two years ago with a birth defect called gastroschisis. That is where the abdominal wall doesn't close in utero and the intestines (and sometimes other organs) are outside of the body at birth. July 30th has been recognized by a few states as the official Gastroschisis Awareness Day, so we had our annual celebration yesterday. It was held at Cook Hospital in Fort Worth. 

Over 120 people showed up, we filled that entire room. 

Three full bags of things were donated. Thank you to my reader Amanda who sent in some headbands to donate! 

Yup! Gastroschisis Awareness Day is officially recognized in the state of Texas, thank you Governor Rick Perry! 

These are the gastro kids that were the stars of the event. 

Daddy and his princess. She's wearing the official color of gastroschisis: green! 

Oh so thankful for this little girl. 

The Carter blood drive van was on site. 21 units of blood were donated, which means that it can save the lives of 252 babies! 

It was a great time, and it was nice to finally meet the other gastro parents in the area. It was a definite reminder that gastroschisis isn't a "one time and done" thing, there were a few kids who still had tubes attached to them and others that still have on going complications. So say a prayer for these kiddos, and hug your kids tight, moms. They're a precious, precious gift. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bella Pouch Review and GIVEAWAY from Pink Stitches!

So, a couple of weeks ago, Bonnie from Pink Stitches asked for volunteers to review her Bella pouch and do a giveaway, and I totally jumped at the chance! As a mom to 3 girls with one on the way, I knew that having a little purse pouch in my arsenal of patterns would never go to waste. 

The pattern comes with 16 pages with great pictures and instructions. I was a little hesitant when it came to sewing the outside to the inside fabric and flipping it, but I just followed the instructions exactly and was so excited when mine looked like it was supposed to! 

The only things I did differently than her pattern was I didn't have any batting on hand, so I used some fleece that I had, which worked out fine. And I didn't have any button snaps, so I used velcro, and again, it worked out fine. I love that I can enlarge the pattern if I want to make a bigger purse for my girls. The size it is now is perfect for my makeup and to throw in my purse. 

Want to see how mine turned out? It didn't need a ton of fabric, which was awesome! The outside was made with one fat quarter. 

My oldest daughter has already claimed this one as hers! You can pick up this pattern at Bonnie's Etsy shop for the super low price of $6.50, but one of you lucky girls is going to win a pattern for yourself!

Want to win? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bubble bib necklace GIVEAWAY from Groopdealz!

I know you've heard of Groopdealz, right? It's an awesome site that send you an email every day with a stellar deal, priced up to 70% off! Sometimes it's jewelry, sometimes it's clothing, other times it's stuff for your house or for your rugrats. Whatever it is, it's always fabulous and priced at such a steal! I love Groopdealz, and it's one of the few emails that I always open immediately so I don't miss out. Adorable things + great prices? Score!

Even though I know it's Monday, so let's start it off right. I have such a treat for you today! It's one that will make all of your friends (and your favorite blogger, yours truly) completely and utterly jealous! Up for grabs is a super adorable bubble bib necklace! It's being offered at $19.99 on Groopdealz right now, but one of you lucky people is going to win one!

One thing I noticed recently in my "Outfits I heart" pinterest board is that there is always a statement piece of jewelry, either a huge chunky necklace, or blingy earrings, or lots and lots of bracelets. So yes, statement necklaces are so hot right now! 

This is just a quickie giveaway, so don't delay! Don't you love giveaways, when you don't have to wait forever to find out if you've won? This giveaway ends this Wednesday at midnight! They're so pretty, I'd have a hard time picking out a color. Maybe the turquoise one! Or the magenta! Or the black? They're all fabulous. 

So for all of you lovely LCW followers, here is the rafflecopter! I know you want to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 20, 2012

Family Pool Fun

Remember when I said that I got a new camera? My goal has always been to use it to it's full potential, which means getting it out of auto mode. Yesterday was the first time I've been able to use it outside in the sunlight. 

I'll admit, I've been really frustrated so far. Indoors, I just can't get the lighting right without making it grainy. But talking to a bunch of photographer friends, apparently it's really hard to do without an external flash/studio lighting. So I started feeling better. These are what I shot yesterday. I'm happy with them, but know I have a lot to learn. 

After I snapped these, I did put the camera in the car and hop in the pool with the family. And yes, I'm one of those preggos who will rock a two piece the entire pregnancy. Belly bump and all ;P

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Maternity Photos

Yesterday I hit 29 weeks pregnant. I can't believe I have 11 weeks left, it feels like I've been pregnant forever. It's funny, on facebook, someone will announce that they're pregnant, and it seems like the next month, they're in labor and having a baby. Meanwhile, when YOU'RE the one who's pregnant, it feel like years. 

A couple of weeks ago, hubby and I had my maternity photo shoot. I was 27 weeks, when you're obviously big enough to look pregnant, but you don't feel like a whale just yet.

I didn't want the cutesy maternity photos. You know, the heart over the belly, Daddy kissing the baby bump, the shoes on the belly. We did those last time with Ava, and while I think they're adorable, this time I wanted something different. I found this picture on Pinterest and knew it was the way I wanted to go. 

I hired my favorite make up artist, she's done my make up on a lot of my photoshoots (and did the make up in my blog profile pic) and I think she's awesome. Even hubby got a bit of concealer and bronzer :) The photographer came over to my neck of the woods, and went to the field that hubby and I had scouted out the week prior. And these are what we came up with. I adore them. 

Thanks for letting me share! Holy cow, I'm so freakin' excited to meet this kid.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Gastroschisis Awareness Day is coming up

So, if you've been following me for any amount of time, you'll know that almost two years ago, my daughter Ava was born with a birth defect. Her birth defect is called gastroschisis, where the abdominal wall doesn't close in utero and the intestines and sometimes organs are outside of the body at birth. I won't do a whole recap, but if you're interested, click this link to read up about our NICU experience.

 Ava spent 66 days in the NICU, and had 4 surgeries to fix her gastroschisis. We weren't even able to hold her for two weeks after she was born, so we wouldn't hurt her. She spent most of those two weeks sedated to keep from pulling on the silo bag/incisions.

July 30th is Gastroschisis Awareness Day. A few states have officially made it "Gastroschisis Day", which is awesome since there is no known cause for gastroschisis, and the rates it occurs just continues to grow. It used to be a 1 in 5000 occurrence. Then it was 1 in 2200. The rates just continue to rise.

So on July 28th, we will be joining a few other gastro parents in Fort Worth for the 3rd Annual Gastroschisis Awareness Celebration. Avery's Angels is the organization that provides so much help and information to parents. One of the things they do is send out care packages to parents, and as always, they are looking for donations. Some of the things they're looking for?


See all the wires that Ava was connected to? NG tubes, monitors, Gastro babies can't wear regular onesies, since they need a way to keep the wires free and it needs to be easy for the nurses to check surgery sites.

So one thing that Avery's Angels is always looking for is new and gently used button up onesies. A button up onesie is like what Ava is wearing in the picture. We also had good luck with two piece outfits (the tee or tank top with little shorts or bloomers). Just something that the wires can come out of. 

They are also looking for socks and mittens. The socks are great, not only for chilly feet, but they keep little fingers from pulling on their wires. I can't count how many times Ava pulled out her feeding tube or her NG tube, and it would be so stressful to her for them to have to reinsert it.

They are also looking for little hats and hairbows. You get so focused on all those wires and surgery sites, and it's nice to have a little accessory to make you feel "normal". I remember when our nurse put this bow on Ava, and it really brightened up our day. Instead of looking at all of Ava's wires, it was nice to be able to ohh and ahh over how adorable she looked.

Other items they're always looking for? Small toiletries for parents are always wonderful. Sometimes you spend hours up there in the NICU, and it's nice to be able to step out for a minute, rinse with some mouthwash and feel like a new person. Little notepads to jot down questions for the doctors are great too. Nothing is worse than waiting all morning to see the doctor, you see him for 5 minutes and completely forget what it was you needed to ask. Lastly, food and gas gift cards are amazing. We drove 80 miles round trip every day to see Ava, and that isn't cheap. Plus, hospital food gets old, and it was nice to be able to go through a drive through and get something to eat. 

Dear friends, will you look through your old baby stuff and see if there is anything you can donate? It'd be a good excuse to finally clear out all of that stuff that you've been meaning to go through. If you do run across something to donate, you can mail it to me (message me for my address) and I'll bring it with me to the celebration to donate. 

Every little thing like this makes a horrible situation just a little bit easier. Trust me, you don't know how hard it is until you've been there, and anything that helps is immeasurable, mentally and financially. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

So, I'm pretty sure that makes me a "real" blogger now

So, I've been blogging for a year and a half now. And I'm always looking for ways to improve. But when you read through different blog posts about how to make your blog posts better, the main thing you see over and over and over is that you need "great pictures". 

Well, my iPhone 4 and my little point and shoot just weren't cutting it. I haven't used my point and shoot in auto mode in forever, but even so, the pics weren't bright and crisp. And no amount of photoshop was going to make them much better. 

I've been talking to hubby for a long time about wanting a new camera. In the past couple of weeks though, we've really been discussing it. Not only the price, but what I want. I put a post on FB (I have a lot of photographer friends), asking their opinion on Canon vs Nikon, what to look for, etc. The general consensus was to just head up to Best Buy and hold a few of them, see what felt "right". 

I ended up liking the Nikons better than the Canons, and narrowed it down between two that I wanted, the D3200 or the D5100. After doing a lot of research, I decided on the D5100

The prices online were better than in the store which they price matched (gotta love the 18 months no interest financing), and we went with the bundle package. The camera body with the 18-55mm lens, a 55-300mm lens, a memory card and a bag.
Holy crap, I love it, although it is totally making me feel STOOPID. I don't want to just use it in auto mode, so I've been trying to learn the manual modes, but hot dang. Fancy = complicated. 

So I'm hoping to start having some better pics for ya on this blog. If I can ever figure it out and the "hey dummy" question mark stops flashing at me on the screen. :) 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Origami Owl Giveaway WINNER!

Thanks so much to everyone for entering in my giveaway and making Jennifer from Origami Owl feel so welcome! The winner of the $25 credit is.......

And the winning entry was...

Megan, I have sent you an email! As of today at 7am CST, you have 48 hours to respond, or I'll have to pick another winner, and you'll be super sad! Don't let that happen!

And folks, when you're entering these giveaways, please make sure you're following all of the rules! There was originally another winner picked by Rafflecopter, but she unfortunately didn't do the required entry of leaving a blog post comment of what her favorite charm is :( So sad! And yes, us mean ole' bloggers do check these things, it's the only way to keep it fair for everyone else who followed all of the rules. Don't let this happen to you! 

So Megan J, respond to you email! I know you'll love your necklace as much as I love mine! Congrats!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Family fun day at Six Flags

You only have a few days left to enter my giveaway to win a $25 credit to Origami Owl! Have you entered yet? 

 So, on Friday, we took the older girls to Six Flags. They have been looking forward to it for months. At their school, they had a program called "360 minutes" and if you read for 360 minutes in whatever amount of time they gave you, you got a free kids ticket to Six Flags. I tried to save money where I could, knowing that it'd be an expensive day, so I purchased our adult tickets for myself, hubby and my father in law online to save a few bucks. So Friday morning, we headed out early, went to breakfast, dropped our toddler off at my mom's, and then drove to Six Flags. 

Want to know how to make a pregnant chick cry on a fun family day? Have her realize when you're 5 minutes from Six Flags and over an hour from home that she forgot to grab the kid's fee tickets off the bulletin board. Thankfully my father in law paid for the kid's tickets when we got to Six Flags, but anyone having to spend $92 because you forgot something would be enough to make anyone cry. 

Thankfully it wasn't too busy. We (meaning the girls and the men) were able to get on quite a few rides with no waiting. Being 28 weeks pregnant, I didn't ride much, just a little boat ride in Looney Tunes land, and a little ride where kids got to drive a car. Poor Jasmin, my middle child, wanted me to go on ALL the rides with her. 

I freaking love when we have someone else with us, so I can get out from behind the camera and actually be in a pic or two. 

I noticed that Jake and I always end up dressing in the same color, totally unplanned. Hubby says that it means that we've been married for too long. :) 

My oldest got to ride her first "big girl" roller coaster, the Texas Giant. Jake loves roller coasters, so I was glad that she was able to ride a couple of them with him.

Jasmin was able to ride a roller coaster too, the Shock Wave. I wonder how they determine the height requirements on roller coasters. She wasn't tall enough to ride the Texas Giant, but she was tall enough to ride the roller coaster with two loops on it?

One of the two rides that I did ride, a little antique car that went all of 10 MPH.

We stayed until 4:30, and then went to pick up Ava and go out to eat. There was no way that I was making dinner that night. 

In case you couldn't tell, someone loves her Grandpa. 

Overall, it was great day, but it totally kicked my butt. But it was worth it to see the smiles on my kids faces. <3

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th from LCW!

Have you entered the giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to Origami Owl yet???

Did you have a great fourth of July? I did. My father in law drove down from St Louis, and we had a BBQ with him, my parents, and some friends of ours. 

We had so much stinkin' food. I taught my 9 year old the art of making deviled eggs, so she spent most of the party asking everyone if they liked the eggs. :) We did burgers and dogs, cucumber salad, corn on the cob, strawberry pretzel salad and of course, deviled eggs. :) My friend Candace brought some yummy baked beans, and my mom brought macaroni salad.

A shot of the famous deviled egg maker herself with her sister.

My beautiful friend Candace. She is the one who threw my baby sprinkle. She's an awesome crochet maker. Crochet person? Crocheter? Her blankets on etsy are adorable. She's making a blanket for Alli, and I can't wait to see it. Turquoise and red chevron? Gorgeous!

That night, we went to a local church to watch the fireworks. Lucky for me, with the father in law in town, means that we get some family pics with all 5 of us.

Do you know happens when the person holding the camera says "Act like you like each other?" 

You get this photo --------->

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Origami Owl: Sponsor Review + GIVEAWAY!

So, have you noticed something new on my sidebar?? I know you couldn't have missed the pretty ad on the right side, showing off a gorgeous locket. That locket comes from Origami Owl, and I had the pleasure of working with Jennifer (awesome name by the way), an independent designer for Origami Owl. 

"I have been an Independent Designer with Origami Owl for five months. I love the personal connection I get with my customers when I help them create a locket that tells their story. In addition to Origami Owl, I work full time at a major food manufacturer and am the mother of a three year old daughter and wife of a very supportive husband."

The lockets and charms inside are like wearing your own personal story. You first pick your locket, either medium (holds 4-7 charms) or large (holds 7-12 charms), and the color (plain silver, silver with bling along the edges, gold or rose gold) and then you choose your charms. And that's where I had the hardest time. There are SO MANY charms to choose from. Everything from birthstones, to initials, to numbers, to hobbies... the options are endless.

After much thought, I finally picked out 5 charms I wanted. I went with a "hubby" themed locket. A "J" and a "D" for his first and last name, a charm that says "Love", a blinged out heart, and a birthstone for April (the month we got married in). Don't they look so pretty together? And look how shiny that locket is, you can see the reflection of my iPhone case. :)

The package was sent to me in a gorgeous little container, and it was super easy to put in the charms. The front and back of the locket are connected with a hinge on one side, and a super strong magnet on the other. I just popped it open, inserted my charms, threaded on the chain, and VOILA! It was ready to wear. Even hubby loved it and said it's so much prettier than he expected it to be.

So, how many of you are jealous of my new pretties? Raise your hand because I know you are! Wouldn't you like to have one for yourself?? Jennifer has offered to give one LCW follower a $25 gift certificate! Booyah! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 2, 2012

Not a baby shower, but a baby sprinkle!

I had the privilege of being the guest of honor at a Baby Sprinkle yesterday. 

Oh, you haven't heard of a Baby Sprinkle before? It's basically a baby shower for a mom who has had a kid before. Ya know, where you already have all the big stuff like the stroller, the crib, etc. It's usually smaller and more intimate, just close friends and family. Cause every baby deserves to be celebrated, not just the first one. :)

One of my very best friends, Candace, offered to throw it for me. She kept it simple. Carnations in milk glass vases, strawberry lemonade in mason jars, doilies as clouds with paint chip sprinkles coming down. It was so simple, but pretty. 

 A few friends showed up (my mom was sick and had to miss it, which was a bummer), and every one brought something to eat. Sandwiches, pasta salad, cup cakes, chips and dip. It was really nice to have everyone over and just have some girl time. 

After eating, we did presents. Remember the wood cut out alphabet wall I showed you in my birthday wish list? A few of the ladies chipped in and bought it for me. 

You can't fake this excitement :) I was freaking THRILLED when I opened the box. How awesome was it of Candace to remember a post that I made forever ago about some letters that I'd like, and then make it happen? Love her!

Besides much needed diapers, some soft toys and a Target gift card, bloggy buddy Julie personalized some stuff for Alli with her heat press. Love the numbered monthly onesies! But now I'm whining to hubby that I need a better camera to be able to do the onesies on Alli justice. Hubby says I'm not allowed to be friends with Julie anymore if it's going to cost him hundreds of dollars in new toys that I now "need". :)

Another part of the main gift? Decorating supplies! Stickers, buttons, scrapbook paper, paint, and ribbon. And a couple of other ladies brought their art supplies too. Each guest painted a letter for Alli. It was so funny, fielding all of the questions from my non-crafty friends. "Do you prefer this blue or this green? Which buttons do you like better?" I just answered "yes" to all questions so they'd have to make all of the crafting decisions on their own. I'm mean like that. :) 

And I'm pretty sure that Alli knew that the party was for her. She spent the whole time doing barrel rolls and back flips in my tummy.

And yes, even my beautiful friend Candace was able to feel Alli rolling around and practicing her kung-fu in my belly.

And the letters my amazing friends made? I love them! I just have 21 more to go (yes, I know the alphabet is 26 letters, but there is also an ampersand to paint)

Thank you to my amazing friend Candace for throwing me a sprinkle, and to my sweet friends who were able to make it. Love you all!