Sunday, November 13, 2022

Sarah & Kory's Wedding & Weekend Celebrations Recap

I've said it before, I'll say it again...family weddings are just so fun and sweet, and my sis in law Sarah's was no exception! It was the perfect weather for Kansas for August-literally a dream day of not too hot, not too cold. All of our extended family (Maxwells) were there along with a lovely crowd of family and friends. 

Sarah and Kory met online earlier in the year and they are perfect for each other. We were all so happy for them both!

Speaking of meeting online, and since I'm writing this post anyways, let me give my single readers my unsolicited opinion here on online dating. =) That is this: God uses MANY different avenues to bring people together! The "husband delivered to your doorstep all wrapped up in a silver bow" concept that many people adhere to is neither biblical nor is it real life. =) It is so important to follow what God has for you individually and be willing to be brave in that no matter what the avenue may be! I'm super proud of Sarah for stepping out of her comfort zone and be open to meeting someone online! 
Things kicked off with the bachelorette party on Thursday night. The bride & bridesmaids all went and got our nails done and then stayed at the cutest little vrbo that I had found! We consumed large amounts of pizza and snacks and coffee and had the best time. 
Believe it or not it was my first time getting my nails done at a salon. (remember, my roots are farmer girl. Nails are just not my top priority typically!) It was a fun experience though and I enjoyed it!
Getting ready, wedding morning!
The bridal party

*The wedding photographer was Brittany Tarchala of Silverdoves Photography, and she did an incredible job! She kept everything moving right along on schedule and did fabulous working with the bridal party and the huge families on both sides! The pictures she got are beautiful! (all of the professional wedding pictures in this post are courtesy of her.) 
Sarah picked this beautiful Azazie Hadley dress in Amethyst for the bridesmaids, and we all got to pick our own shoes. (I ended up getting these sandals which were comfy, cheap, a little sparkly, but also practical for wearing again)
Got a quick shot of our little family!
The boys shirts were their Carters brand Easter shirts from earlier this year, that I bought last year on Kohls clearance for them. I got their matching shorts from Children's Place at the beginning of the summer. (they are on major clearance now!) Elliot is wearing thrifted Sperry's that Axton used to wear, and Axton is wearing thrifted Converse. Madeline's dress is Old Navy brand, thrifted, and her hair bow is from this set that she wears all the time! It was really fun to put their outfits together with stuff that I already had on hand. It doesn't always work that way but it is fun when it does. =)
When I see this picture I think "wow we have a lot of babies." =) 
This part of the ceremony was pretty cute. =)

Also cute was Axton's reaction when I walked in. He reached out into the aisle and said "mama!!" 
Melted my heart!
All the Maxwell grandkids with Sarah and Kory!
I love this sibling shot!
My mini me!! We keep hearing more and more that she looks like me. I was so sure she was going to be John's little look alike and I still think she looks more like his and Axton's baby pictures, but maybe she will be the kid that looks like the perfect mix, haha! (Axton looks so much like John and Elliot so much like me)
The dessert reception was lovely! The ladies from Sarah's church went all out with the details and poured a ton of time, effort, and love into making everything so beautiful AND delicious!
Elliot and Axton were all into this wedding. Axton kept saying, ahead of time, "after they get married, then we will call him UNCLE Kory!" =) 
Some of you might remember me talking about my friend Laura who photographed John's and my wedding! Her and Sarah met at our wedding and have stayed in touch since. She gave Sarah lots of advice on navigating online dating, since Laura and her husband met online as well! It was so neat to see both couples together at the wedding!
Our nieces were such a huge help with Madeline (and the boys) on wedding day!
Everyone let off the reception balloons for the sendoff!
That Saturday evening after the wedding, we invited out of town wedding family and friends to come over to our home to hang out. We ordered in pizza and had a very laid back, chill party unwinding and relaxing. It was a perfect time to connect with people over food and games! 
We also enjoyed a "wedding food leftovers" party at my in laws a few days after the wedding. 
Here, Maddy loved hanging out with great aunt Tami!
She also just loved the party time in general. =)
It was super special getting to host out of town friends who came for the wedding. Here we are (some of us!) headed to church Sunday morning!
So thankful for such a sweet sis in law and friend. It was an honor to stand with her in her wedding! 
The whole day was truly a celebration and answer to prayers. 
 I'll end with a picture of our whole Maxwell tribe! It was so lovely to have a family wedding again and all join together in celebrating Sarah and Kory.

And that's my little recap on their wedding. Hope y'all enjoyed this post! Have a wonderful week!
-Chels

Note: All of the items linked in this post, unless otherwise noted, are items that I own and love. Amazon links are affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure here

Friday, October 14, 2022

FisherPrice Toddler Seats & My Meal Time Favorites for Littles

This picture is my favorite part about this post because GOODNESS they are cute and I love them more than life itself!! I'm sure every parent says this about their kids but I am convinced mine are genuinely the sweetest and dearest little souls I have ever met and I cannot believe I get to be their mama. So blessed.

On that note of being a mama! I have these three babies ages 3, 2, and 1, and I have never owned a highchair! Guess what, you don't have to either! =) These simple little FisherPrice Toddler seats are incredible! They come with straps so they are safe even for your "just learned to sit" babies. (I usually start using them soon after the babies start to eat solids and are sitting well by themselves) These little seats not only strap to your baby but also to the chair, very securely. We take ours with us when we travel also, and have been known to use them at weddings, in restaurants, and when we are invited to friends' for dinner. 

This is what we have used from the beginning of our parenthood journey just a few years ago and I cannot recommend them enough. In my opinion, regular high chairs are overrated and unnecessary and just a completely bonus space hog and expense. =) I'm all about minimalism in most areas, and I still can't get over the simplicity and versatility of these little things!

We got two of ours on Amazon and one off Facebook marketplace. (I feel like garage sales would be a great place to find them too but I haven't had that luck yet) We even had an extra for a while when Axton was a baby. We would keep the spare in the trunk of the car for when we were out and about, and then bring it in to our house if we had guests who had a toddler. Having it always in the car meant that we were prepared anytime we needed it!

Here are a few other things that are my mealtime favorites for littles:

Silicone baby bibs. Literally the best invention ever. These save spills and so much more! 

NUK Sippies. This is all we use for sippy cups for all the ages and they are perfect! Highly recommend! 

NUK toddler silverware. I love these because they have a plastic handle which is great but the actual spoon/fork part is stainless steel. 

NUK infant spoons. This is what I use for Madeline and the boys before her, for those first few months of learning to eat solids. I love them! 

Toddler plates/bowls. Ours were gifted to us years ago and were from Ikea, but these look identical. I really really love how simple they are-they fit perfectly on the trays of the toddler seats, and there is a plate and a bowl option depending on what we are having. 

If you are reading this and are a mama, how many kids do you have, and what are your favorite tips for mealtimes?

Happy Weekend! 

-Chels

Note: All of the items linked in this post, unless otherwise noted, are items that I own and love. Amazon links are affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure here

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Madeline in a Year

August 2022, 13 months!
Headband: gifted 
Polka Dot Bodysuit: thrifted
Navy Bloomer Shorts: Carters clearance 

I've been waiting to share these "Madeline in a year" pictures, until I took the last one of her at one year! I took these with the boys as well, almost every month, from newborn until one year. It has been a fun little tradition. I did miss several months with Madeline but got in a few extras too! 

We were given these Cuddle and Kind dolls as baby gifts from some sweet friends, and we used them for the monthly pictures with each of them. They are super high quality dolls and so soft and cuddly. I highly recommend them for special baby gifts or just for fun for your own kiddos. They are one of our little ones' favorite toys! 

The one Madeline has in all these pictures is the Charlotte doll. SO CUTE!

Also for fun, I'm sharing her little outfit details since I love to hear where other people find their children's clothes, and some of you might be like me. =)

First off, because I missed taking these pictures the first few months, here are a few without her doll. 
September 2021. 2 months old, the day we brought her home
Headband: gifted
Sleeper: gifted
October 2021, 3 months old
Headband: from this set
Outfit: gifted
November 2021, 4 months old
Headband: gifted from a friend 
Auntie Onesie-gifted from Auntie Anna M (all three kiddos have worn it!)
Leggings: thrifted
 
December 2021, 5 months old
Headband: from this set
Long sleeve bodysuit: Carters clearance 
Pink leggings: thrifted
December 2021, 5 1/2 months old.
Headband: from this set
Long Sleeve Bodysuit: thrifted
Leggings: thrifted
Boots: thrifted
January 2022, 6 months old
Headband: Gracious May
Shirt: gifted 
Jeggings: thrifted
Booties: from Ross, worn by her brothers also! 
(one of the only clothing items I've used for both genders)
March 2022, 8 months old
Headband: from this set
Hooded Bodysuit: OshKosh sale
Leggings: thrifted
April 2022, 9 months old.
Headband: from this set
Floral Bodysuit: thrifted
Leggings: thrifted
April 2022, 9 months old
Headwrap: gifted, similar here
 Floral Bodysuit: Carters clearance
Leggings: thrifted (also worn by her brothers!)
May 2022, 10 months old
Headband: gifted
Outfit: gifted
June 2022, 11 months old
Headband: gifted
Shirt: thrifted
Pink Bloomer Shorts: Carters clearance
Current: Almost 14 months and "GROW AS FAST AS I CAN AND NEVER HOLD STILL". =)

This weekend, it will be exactly a year since we brought her home from the NICU. What a gift and joy her little life is to our family!! I will never take for granted her healthy and happy little self!
-Chels

Note: all of the items linked in this post are items that I own and love. Amazon links are affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure here.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

The Birth Story of Madeline Sue

Today, July 9th, 2022, is Madeline's first birthday and I am just now publishing her birth story. I started writing it literally the day after she was born, and added little bits here and there since. Reading and finishing this post has brought back so many memories all over again. She had such a rough and early entrance into this world, but how thankful I am that she made it and that she is here, happy and healthy, today. 

Her birth story really starts on Tuesday July 6th, 2021, three days before she was born, but I will start with the events of Monday the 5th....

I had a great day; no morning sickness and plenty of energy. The morning was spent at home and then the afternoon I spent in "the city" by myself, with coffee and lunch, a midwife appointment, and some fun shopping, while my amazing husband watched the boys at home. Everything was great. I got to hear a super strong little heartbeat at my appointment, and I had a lovely time chatting with my midwife and then enjoying a little solo time out and about.

Tuesday morning I was hit with morning sickness. This was nothing unusual for me in the third trimester-with both of the boys I have had morning sickness right up until 37 weeks and this pregnancy was on track to be just the same. But after throwing up, I still wasn’t feeling better and developed a stomach ache as well, so I ended up going back to bed late morning. Thankfully John was working from home for the day and was able to take care of the boys. I didn’t eat much during the day but I managed some yogurt, chili, and a few other things, and then lost it all that evening after a hot epsom salt bath. It was very strange-I don’t normally throw up at night, with morning sickness, but that night I did. (Note: Later in the hospital I tested negative for any kind of sickness -and they tested me for EVERYTHING-so it obviously must’ve been morning sickness, just unusual for me that it was in the evening) 

Morning sickness continued into Tuesday and by Wednesday I got dehydrated because I was struggling to keep anything down. I developed a bad cough (that we now know was directly related to my heart condition) and that is what ultimately caused the contractions to start. 

On Thursday morning I woke up around 5am to hard contractions. I already had two labors/births under my belt, and I knew the signs, and I knew it was WAY too early to be experiencing what I was definitely experiencing. (I was 30 weeks pregnant, so only 3/4 of the way through, technically)  This wasn't just a few Braxton hicks; this was definitely the real thing, and they weren't slowing down. As the morning went on contractions continued, quickly building to five minutes apart. Under normal circumstances I would've been even more worried, but I was too sick to be able to think about it too much. All I knew was that it was way too early to have a baby, so obviously something was very wrong, and hopefully I would get better and it would all be "fixed". John was in touch with my midwife and we (they) finally decided we would head into the hospital to get me IVs for hydration and try to get contractions to stop. 
(we got a selfie right before we left the hospital that afternoon. Little did we know we would be back so soon.)

We went to the same hospital where I delivered Axton and they got me started on IVs for fluids right away. We were there for several hours and the contractions slowed down and I started to feel better. Before we left I ate part of a banana and drank some ginger ale and it all stayed down which was a first since Tuesday night! The contractions got light enough that I was able to talk through them and the nurse and John couldn't even tell I was still having them unless I told them. We prepared to leave and I was just so thankful everything was okay and I was feeling better!

I was so relieved that everything was settling down. We got in the car and headed for home. Ten minutes into the drive, the contractions started up again. We both thought that surely they would stop, esp with feeling better and getting meds that would help me keep food down. We stopped by the pharmacy for the prescription, and then once we got home, John made me a smoothie to take with the meds, and headed over to my in-laws to pick up the boys. While he was gone, I drank the smoothie and took the meds…and then lost everything all over again. Contractions were back to normal and stronger than ever. My cough was continuing and worsening as well. At this point I was still in denial I think-I knew I was totally in labor, there was no doubt of that, but I kept thinking "surely they can stop it at the hospital. Surely. Now that it's really serious, surely it will get stopped. Babies don't come this early. It's got to stop." 

I honestly was really worried. At one point when John came in to check on me, I asked him to read me Psalms 91. For some reason I kept thinking of that Psalm (I memorized it when I was a child) and just needed to hear it. He read it to me and and I remember just grasping to the words even though I was in and out with the contractions...

John got the boys down for the night and called his sisters to come over and we put a few things in an overnight bag and headed out again. I was in a lot of pain with the contractions and being so wiped out from constant vomiting and the previous weakening from dehydration, and even getting out the door was rough. On the way I called my mom. I didn't really say much but for some reason I had this strong desire to hear her sing to me. When I was a child, she often sang Steve Green's "When I am Afraid" song to us and I wanted to hear her sing that song again. I was in the middle of a strong contraction as she sang it over the phone but it brought such peace to me, even at that time, and I will never forget it. (thank you, mom!)

We got checked at the hospital again which felt strangely reminiscent of Axton's birth, the main difference being that I wasn't pushing yet, and I definitely wasn't expecting to have a baby yet. My contractions were close together and super hard by now and I was absolutely in full blown labor, but no one except us seemed to realize it. All I could think was "they are going to get everything slowed down." The nurse was super chill and relaxed. (in hindsight, I’m pretty sure I maybe wasn’t as out of control as her normal laboring mama patient and so I don't think she quite realized what was happening) 

A doctor came in and checked me. “You’re only dilated to a three. That baby is so high and settled in there, you’ve got nothing to worry about. She isn’t going anywhere. We’ll get these contractions slowed down and you’ll be out of here in no time.” 

It was a relief to hear that. But instead of success with getting everything slowed down, contractions picked up, and labor kept progressing. I started vomiting again. (Again, in hindsight, we now know I had hit transition-I always start vomiting during that point of labor. But because I had been vomiting already for several days, neither John or I realized that it was indeed transition) The nurse came in now and then but mostly we were left alone. Details at this point are a bit fuzzy for me but after several hours and then this vomiting at the end, John went to get the nurse and was very insistent that something had to be done, since labor wasn't slowing. The nurse checked me again and was shocked: "oh my, you're fully dilated!" 

It is still so crazy how I got to that point so fast. Everyone was confused because it wasn't normal, but it was too serious for anyone to be confused for long. I suddenly knew it was time and said “I have to push!” Apparently that was the final word to get everything really moving.  The nurse: “oh no, you can’t push, you need to wait, we've got to get the doctors in here.” Thankfully for her I didn't have the energy or stamina to get mad at her or I would've totally lost my temper. Instead I think I said something like, "I actually can't wait.” At that point she turned to John and said, "Go get help." 

I tried to wait but as any mother knows who has had a non-medicated birth, there is nothing more true than "when ya gotta push ya gotta push". It isn't exactly a time for a pause button! Things are still super blurry to me but everything moved so fast at that point. In no time there were nurses and doctors and NICU team everywhere. My water broke first and kinda exploded everywhere (it was so foggy in my mind and at the time I don't think I realized that was what it was, but I asked John later “was it my imagination or did my water break right before she was born?” And he said “yeah, my hoodie got wet”. =)) 

Two pushes and our daughter was born. Technically the easiest birth ever in terms of pushing and size but not in any other way! I was extremely weak and felt terrible and other than the time pushing, it was my hardest birth yet. The doctor laid her on my chest for just a few seconds but I was so weak and having a hard time breathing and I barely even could see her. I think I touched her but again, I was so out of it and she was so tiny and looked so so fragile and the whole thing was just so different than the typical relief one feels after their baby is born. It was not at all like the euphoria after my boys’ birth and felt heartbreaking in so many ways, specifically afterwards.
She was only there for a matter of seconds before they whisked her away to be worked on by the NICU team in a corner of the room.  (above picture, I think my midwife took it) At this point I really don't remember much except that the nurses and doctors were saying I had to have oxygen and I was fighting them tooth and nail. I felt like I couldn't breath (which I couldn't!) but somehow in my foggy state I was associating that feeling with the oxygen mask they were trying to put on me. I felt like the mask was hindering my breathing. PTL my midwife was there with me (she was waiting and came in immediately after Madeline was born) and encouraged me to just keep it because that was best. I trust her implicitly so I remember basically thinking I would try for her sake. If she hadn't been there I really don't quite know what I might've done. I was wheeled away, still in my bed, for a CAT scan and John stayed back to be close to Madeline. 

After the CAT scan I was taken to a room and my midwife was still with me and stayed with me for the next ten hours. (so grateful for that!!) I managed to get a few hours of sleep in there. Around noon they finally let me be off the oxygen which was wonderful. I hated having those tubes and wires everywhere (I had EKG stickers all over my chest for days as well) because it just made me feel claustrophobic; I was so not used to stuff like that! (don't get me wrong-I am ultimately so thankful for them because they saved my life and everything was a part of the process. It was just hard at the time) 

My sister in law Melanie came in and stayed with me for the rest of the day when my midwife left. John and I couldn't be together until the end of the day because we wanted one of us with Madeline and I couldn't be with her until all of my tests came back clear. (they were certain I had covid or pneomonia or something and honestly I don't blame them-I looked and sounded and felt terrible and it would've been extremely unwise for me to go into the NICU with as sick as I had been) 
It was amazing to have Melanie with me. She had experienced several NICU babies herself so it was known territory to her. Since I didn't have John there, I was so thankful to have someone who could answer questions/talk to the hospital staff, help me get started with pumping, and overall just be my advocate in a time where I really couldn't function or make decisions for myself.

I don't remember a whole lot from that morning but one thing I do remember was BEGGING for a shower. =) I wanted a shower so so badly. With both of the boys births I was showered and clean and had makeup done when I went into labor. With Madeline, I hadn't had a real shower all week (every time I had tried, I ended up vomiting) and I literally looked and felt so so rough. I don't think I've hardly ever had a shower that felt SO GOOD as the shower I was finally allowed to take around noon that day!

While John and I couldn't be together, we texted back and forth talking about a name. We had just found out in May that our baby was a girl; we definitely did NOT have a name yet!! It didn't take too long to chose her name-Madeline was one I had jotted down on a random list a while before, and John liked it too. For middle names, we have used a short family name with the boys. We decided on another family name-Sue-which is Melanie's middle name also. 

By afternoon the immediate tests were cleared and John was able to come see me. Our pastor and his wife came in and prayed over us and that was a beautiful moment. I think we were all in tears. There is nothing like having your baby's life hanging in the balance to make one realize how fragile and short life truly is. We were in the scariest time of our married life thus far and to be surrounded by our church, our families, our friends, and even people we didn't know, was such a blessing. I'll never forget the literal feeling of those prayers and countless others, holding us up. 

Shortly after that, I finally got to go to officially meet our daughter. Still makes me tear up just to write this to remember how I wasn't there with her after she was born, and for so much of the months following. John pushed me down the long halls in a wheelchair. We got to the NICU, got passed to enter, washed up at the wash station (we had to scrub for several minutes, a specific process, every time we went in) Then he wheeled me around the nurses station and into Madeline's little area with her isolette. 
(this is the first picture I have holding Madeline, that day)

Having her finally in my arms, for real, was so hard to describe. One doesn't realize all the things one takes for granted with life and birth, until one doesn't have them. In the moment, all I knew was that I was thankful that I was able to hold her, I was thankful she was okay for the present, and I was thankful that I knew our boys were in such amazing care while we could not be with them.
And that was the start of little Madeline's life. Obviously if you have been following along on her journey for the past eleven months, then you know the "rest of the story" of her NICU stay and the amazing progress she has made. If you are a new follower, you can read all about that by clicking on the "Madeline" tab over on the left hand side of the blog. (If you are reading via your phone, simply scroll to the bottom and click "view web version" and that will show you the "labels" section on the left hand side where you can chose the Madeline label)
                 
(Tiny, tiny fingers....)

I'll end with a two pictures-the first picture ever taken of her, and then a recent picture I have of her, from the other day. Such a transformation in a year! So thankful for all God has done in her little life and the ways we have experienced His love and grace for our little family during her birth and through the following months. 
This was the first picture we got of Madeline, soon after she was born. She actually looks pretty good in this picture; the ones taken in the following days, like the first one at the top of this post, show better how truly scrawny and tiny she was. 
                     
                          
Ending with one of me and her. Goodness, I love this girlie. I guess I need to do a whole post of recent pictures of her because I have so many good ones! (anyone want to see a post like that?!)

And that is the birth story of little Madeline Sue. She had rocky start to life, but she is making up for it now by being a super determined and feisty fireball of a little lady! We are so glad she's ours!

Have a wonderful weekend, all!
-Chels