Chattanooga Christmas Photos -A quick & safe last minute solution!

We haven’t taken family Christmas photos since Lukas was a newborn! (Reminder, he just turned 3 ๐Ÿ˜‚) It was definitely time to update ours but of course safety was a priority. Plus, last minute mama over here needed a quick turnaround time.

Helm Projects to the rescue! We were able to easily schedule our time slot online and choose between 3 reasonably priced options. When we arrived, Justin greeted us, showed us the variety of backdrops, and we got started. The photographer kept a mask on the whole time and did great with our lil guy, keeping him laughing and entertained!

We were in and out quickly and efficiently without having to interact or cross paths with other appointments. Overall we had a great customer experience and the photos are BEAUTIFUL. Plus we received them in 24 hours!

Hadn’t snapped up your holiday photos yet? No worries, they have some upcoming availability. Check out their site Helm Projects

We went camping!

We bought a tent last summer and intended in camping out in the backyard at least…fast forward to us now in a beautiful rental home (thanks tornado), with no backyard.

Lately with so much going on in the world I felt like we all needed a break but I’m personally still hesitant about travel with covid still going crazy. Camping was the ideal solution!

We looked around at different local sites and decided on a nearby KOA because we are camping newbies and they offered tent sites with electricity and water ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ We stayed one night for about $35. We brought Luke and the pup too! It was so nice and needed!

Saturday we checked and were greeted by friendly workers. We set the tent up while Luke drove his truck in rocks lol. After we were all set up we took him to the playground and sandbox. Dinner was up next and we kept it simple with hotdogs ๐Ÿ˜‹. Then Lukas got wiped down and put on his PJs for smore time!

We laid him down shortly after and chilled out by the fire. The next morning Tracy made pancakes and bacon while we watched some cartoons and his phone (lol yup a lil screen time! Oh well). After breakfast we packed up and went on a little hike. That wore lil man out for sure. He was sleep by the time we got home and the ride was maybe half an hour.

Overall we had such a great time. I cannot wait to check out more KOA sites and other places to camp. We even started eyeing RVs ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘€ lol But seriously, give it a try y’all, we had a blast!

Some quick camping tips!
– Do your research! Pinterest and blogs were my go to sources
– Bring just a few simple toys for kids, they tend to let their imagination run wild and that’s the goal
– Bring all the bug spray. This is your new perfume, get used to it ๐Ÿ™‚
– Battery operated fan and sound machine were a huge help!
– We used frozen water bottles instead of ice in our cooler and then had cold water to drink the whole trip
-Glamping = camping in my book, no worries if you prefer electricity and water hook ups! Just go get some fresh air and put down your phone!

Preeclampsia Awareness

I’m barely making the deadline but May is Preeclampsia Awareness month and I definitely wanted to take a second to talk about something so important.

Lukas arrived a little early due to preeclampsia. Our due date was set for early November but that’s not how it worked out. The night before we went to the hospital I worked a long night at school holding parent teacher conferences early since I’d miss them on maternity leave. I came home complaining of a headache and a little blurry vision but figured it was from the long day or dry contacts lol. I went to bed but woke up with the same headache and just felt off. I called my hospital which was literally minutes away.

They informed me that my symptoms sounded like preeclampsia making me high risk and meaning id have to go to a different hospital! I was distraught but assumed maybe I’d get the day off or get put on bed rest. As soon as we arrived and checked-in the nurse said “I know I don’t know you but I can look and guess you have preeclampsia”. At the time I was like ๐Ÿ˜ฏ๐Ÿ˜  “Whatever!” but I didn’t realize how round and swollen my face was.

As you could guess the test came back positive for preeclampsia and so began our 5 day hospital stay. We hadn’t even brought the car seat but of course we fixed that real quick.

I was induced but my stubborn baby boy want really feeling it ๐Ÿคฃ. We arrived on a Thursday, he arrived on Saturday. There was even talk of a C section but I asked for a second opinion thank goodness. The second doctor gave me a 18 hour window and baby boy came about 12 hours later. Even after he made his entrance and was cleared to go my blood pressure remained high, extending our stay.

Thank goodness we were eventually cleared to go home and we didn’t have any complications afterwards. I had NO IDEA about preeclampsia and was surprised it wasn’t really mentioned much before. My ankles and face swelled a bit but I didn’t really think much about it. I’m glad everything went well for us but I know things can get even more complicated and none of that was on my (mental) birth plan. God was watching over us for sure.

About 10 days before he came!

I hope that more mamas are made aware of preeclampsia and other complications that could arise during pregnancy. I also want more moms to know their rights like asking for a second opinion. Having a baby is magical and tough. You don’t need any avoidable issues! Do your research, stay healthy and stay prayed up โค๏ธ

Easter Tornado 2020

This month I thought I’d be writing a post to celebrate our one year anniversary in our new home. However, things don’t always go as planned!

A little over a month ago on Easter night our home was badly damaged in a tornado. So badly damaged that it was deemed unable to repair and we had to demolish it! This has been one of the most difficult things we’ve ever dealt with but we are so blessed to be alive and well and even more blessed that Lukas wasn’t home that night! Read on for a recap of a crazy night..

Our Easter was awesome although a little rainy. We had an indoor Easter egg hunt which Lukas loved. Later that evening we went to visit my in-laws. During our visit Lukas informed us he was staying the night. We thought it was so funny HE was trying to make the decision but we ended up agreeing that it was fine.

We came home, child free! Tracy made some delicious chicken parm because I had been craving it. We ate dinner, relaxed & Tracy didn’t even play the video game!

We went to bed with no idea of any possible tornadoes. Nothing about severe weather had been said on any news, just thunderstorms. Then randomly around 10pm our neighbor came by to alert us to a flooding issue. We thanked him and went back to bed but Tracy was awake and alert after that.

I dozed off but around midnight Tracy bolted up out of bed and went to the window. He told me it looked bad and we instantly ran downstairs. Our goal was to make it our downstairs bathroom but we couldn’t. Suddenly it felt like all the air was sucked out of the room, our ears were popping and it was strangely quiet. As we made it to our kitchen all of the windows on the front of the house blew out (including the one in the kitchen).

We ducked around the wall into the corner of our dining room and stayed there until it ended. It was the SCARIEST thing. I could see an hear it raining in the house. All I could do was pray and cry.

When it seemed clear Tracy found some shoes, after cutting his foot, and went to check on our neighbors. That’s when he saw the house and knew it was pretty bad. Once we knew everyone nearby was okay we threw a bag together and left the house.

Even driving to my in laws house was treacherous. There were trees in the road and everything. We made it to their house and tried to get some sleep but it was nearly impossible.

The next day we went back to see the house in the light and it was heartbreaking. Some fireman came by that morning and painted a huge “X” on it which didn’t seem like a good sign. Sure enough we would later find out the home was unrepairable.

We are truly blessed to have insurance and amazing friends and family taking care of us. We are in a rental and will soon start to navigate the homebuilding process. (All tips appreciated!)

We told Lukas the house was broken and he said “It’s okay, I get my hammer and screwdriver. I fix it!” ๐Ÿฅฐ

More pics below

Try saying “Please”

I know based on the timing one may assume this is a Coronavirus post but I have no cohesive thoughts about that currently so switching gears!

Parenting toddlers is a beautiful mess! It’s fun and exhausting and inspiring and overwhelming and all of that. Lately we’ve been in the terrific two stage. Fits have been popping up left and right and I wasn’t managing well. It stressed me out and that’s how I responded which further ramped up the tantrum.

Then one day I tried saying “Please”. Instead of repeating myself over and over louder and louder I just added please. My son looked at me, sat up and complied. *Cues angelic music*

Now of course I know this isn’t always the answer. I also know that there will be tantrums no amount of “please” will solve. And when I encounter those I’ll be back to the drawing board. But in the meantime I’m going to try to remember my manners, even with my toddler. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re Home

We closed on our house in early May and moved in right after the end of school. We are so happy with our purchase and although the process was a bit overwhelming it wasn’t too bad overall. I think having a great realtor and bank helped out with that. Shout out to USAA and Grant @ Keller Williams ๐Ÿ™‚

We had our house warming party in late July. It was such a fun time. So fun in fact that we hardly have any pictures. That’s fine though! What matters most is how happy my heart feels about all the amazing people that filled our house that day.

Next up, trying to get the rest of the house together. I want more wall art, we have some little home improvement projects, etc. One thing at a time though, especially with the school year starting back up!

A few pics…

World Breastfeeding Week

Its World Breastfeeding Week! It occurs August 1-7 every year. I am definitely an advocate for breastfeeding! *Side note: Fed is best, do what works for you.*

I am so blessed that I was able to breastfeed Lukas for so long, 16 months to be exact. It was definitely harder when I had to go back to work but the struggle was worth it. I am also SUPER blessed because somehow he self weaned. He just decided one day he was good, and he never looked back.

Taking a small moment to give myself a pat on the back…

I’m so glad there is a lot more conversation and support around breastfeeding today. I’m hoping it encourages more mothers to seriously look into it, especially mommas of color. Breastfeeding isn’t easy by far but it is definitely worth it!

Homebuying 101

Our latest adventure started back in January. We are in the process of buying a house! It’s an exciting time but also a bit stressful. The level of adulting required is something I didn’t plan for. We have taken our time to educate ourselves on the process. For me this includes hours on Pinterest looking at “First Time Homebuyer” pins. But I wanted to share some tips we have discovered so far in the process.

1. Pick a realtor you feel comfortable with – Don’t just go for the first person who reaches out to you or the first realtor you meet at an open house. We met with 3 realtors in a weekend before making a decision. You need to pick someone you can reach out to with questions or concerns. They need to be someone knowledgeable. They also need to be someone who gives you a good vibe. You will be working closely with them throughout the process

2. Do the math – Zillow and similar sites will show you “monthly payment estimates” when you look at houses. Don’t assume this is actually what you will pay. There are a lot of factors that will influence your payment: credit score, type of loan, down payment. Play around with these numbers to see what is really feasible.

3. Don’t over do it in the open houses – We went to a good deal of open houses as we started looking. Although it is helpful to get an idea of what you want, over do it and all the details can start to run together. You also want to look at houses that are within your budget, otherwise you could be heading towards disappointment.

4. Stay organized – Keep homebuying details together. When looking at open houses I made a google spreadsheet and shared it with our realtor. As we meet with our realtor or talk with lenders I keep my handy notebook with me so I can have everything together.

5. Shop around for loan rates – We were so excited to get preapproved and it was with a bank I was very familiar with so we didn’t think much of shopping around. We recieved an email saying it’s best to shop around within a two week time frame because it wouldn’t affect our credit score but we disregarded the info. Now we realize what a difference lower rates can make and we are shopping around again, but we are out of the 2 week window so we had to accept the fact that we would have another credit inquiry, lowering our credit score slightly. In our situation we decided it was worth the trade off. But if we could have avoided it that would have been nice.

Our top 5 baby items – Newborn Edition

So we are 5 months into this parenthood thing. We are still learning something new EVERYDAY for sure but we have developed some favorite baby products. Read on to see what items are making our days a little easier!


See the source image

  1. Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard With Nearby Napper Seat (Portable Rocker) & Changing Table
    This Pack ‘n Play has been awesome. Our little guy slept in the nearby napper for the first few weeks home from the hospital. The portable rocker was a cute little seat to keep him in when we would hang in other parts of the house. I could just pop it out and carry it to another room or downstairs. Now that he’s bigger he sleeps in the bottom part of the pack ‘n play at the raised level. When he gets bigger we will lower it and use it as a play area for him. We still use the changing table but he is starting to outgrow it sadly. Dude is getting tall! Either way I love how this item grows and changes with him. Definitely worth the purchase.See the source image
  2. Fisher-Priceยฎ My Little Snugapuppy Deluxe Rock N’ Play Sleeper
    Staying on the topic of sleep, this little guy has been a lifesaver. When he was younger he slept in this right next to the bed. Now this rocker is typically what Lukas naps in. We keep it downstairs and keep the Pack’n Play in our room. This is also what we take when traveling or spending the night at grandmas. It fold up nicely and is easy to transport when needed. We only use the vibrate feature on occasion but it works well to get him back to sleep if he startles himself awake.See the source image
  3. Hatch Baby Rest- Sound Machine and Night Light
    I promise this entire list isn’t sleep related but as a new parent sleep is crucial. This is especially true once you get past those few heavenly days when your little one will sleep for hours on end and regardless of the noise around them. This little gadget is awesome because it has a huge variety of sounds and lullabies you can play. It also lights up in various color and you can adjust the brightness. This really came in handy for late night nursing sessions. The TV seemed so bright and a lamp at 2 am was not ideal. The most convenient part of this item is the fact that you can control it from your cell phone. You can set timers, program different sounds and lights to come on at specific times, change between favorite programs, etc. It has been ideal for getting Lukas to settle down to sleep on his own. And if he wakes up in the middle of the night I can just cut it on and set the timer. It usually lulls him back to sleep.
    *Another cool feature is that you can just tap the night light to turn it on and tap between your favorite programs!*
    See the source image
  4. Diaper Genie Complete
    Some parents may say this thing is overrated but I am a major fan of the Diaper Genie. We keep ours in the bedroom and we never smell a stinky diaper, even the really strong ones! Not much else to say about this one besides, register for it; its worth it!
    See the source image
  5. Spectra S9 Breast Pump
    *Funny note: I was asking hubby to help me come up with this list of baby essentials and he recommended this one. Who would’ve thought!*
    So I ordered a Spectra S2 for free through my insurance. I really liked it overall but lugging it to work everyday was not fun. I needed it at home because I pumped once in the morning, but also needed it at work since I pump twice at work. I knew I wanted another pump but didn’t want to spend a lot. I lucked up and found one for a great price on Facebook Marketplace. Since Spectra is a closed system, no milk goes into the tubes or the pump itself. I just bought a new set of flanges and bottles and was good to go. Now I am able to keep this small one at school and keep my larger pump at home. Another major plus is that this one can operate without being plugged in! #momwinSo that’s our favorite baby items as of now. I’m sure this list will change as our little guy grows older. What are your favorites for baby?

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Catching up

Well it’s been a little bit since we’ve blogged but man we’ve been busy. We moved to a new place and that is tiring enough but even more so when you’re 5 months pregnant. Thank goodness my parents and our good friend Chuck came through to help.

We were also without a computer for a while but it decided to come back to life so we are hanging in there!

I admit I’ve been on Summer break as a teacher and thoroughly enjoying it but honey has been working non-stop. And cooking in his free time. We’ve really got to try to get some of his recipes up here to share.

Next up on the agenda is planning an anniversary trip/ baby-moon.