Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve. We have been at the Cahill's log cabin rental house that overlooks dale hallow lake in Byrdstown, TN since Saturday afternoon. The trees are bare so from the top of the hill we can see through the forrest to the glimmering water below. Unfortunately, most of the family has spent their time holed up in their own room with the nastiest fastest spreading stomach bug I've ever seen. Luckily Felix and I got it out of our system before coming here for christmas (one night of puking - saddest thing ever - one day of diarrhea and no eating, then one day of snuggling and recovery )so Rebecca and I spent the day away from the house with the dual hope of finishing up our Holiday shopping and avoiding catching the bug. 

Cookeville is the closest town to their house and it's an hour drive without holiday traffic. I kept hoping Felix would nap on the way into town, but instead he fell asleep 5 minutes from our destination. So Becca stayed in the car with him while I picked up stocking stuffers and few last minute gifts. We grabbed chick-fil-a for lunch and then headed back to the house after one final stop for Rebecca to get a gift for Teddy. 

The evening was low key. Cynthia whipped up a delicious beef stew and biscuits while we played with the children and read books in the living room. Most everyone went to bed early and we woke this morning to Emily and Gabriel's arrival and a big pan of bacon and eggs, bottomless pots of coffee and the sound of tromping kiddo feet in footie pajamas.

The house finally feels festive, fun and full of life. The only missing puzzle piece is my love. Josh, who is sick, had to go back to Franklin for a few days of work and some rest and healing from his bug.

I've been so excited about Felix's first christmas. I really had to restrain myself from buying too many unnecessary presents. I ended up buying a set of cars you can pull back and they move forward, a set of big lego blocks, a few wiffle balls (easy for his little fingers to grab), a hammer bench, and a book. Plus a few shirts and christmas PJs for his growing body. 

We let him open the hammer bench before we left for Byrdstown and it was so much fun to watch him learn how to tear the paper and then discover a new present. He turned the bench over and over and picked at the sticker on the side. Then I showed him how to use the hammer and he caught on so quickly - I was bursting with pride. He really is smart as a whip, a quick learner, and very coordinated. I know he will do great things far above what I could even imagine for him.

He has been LOVING spending time with family here at the cabin. He explores the house finding new things to pick up and discover and begs for food from anyone snacking on chex mix. He constantly brings books to Nana for page turning practice and just laughs and laughs at the dogs wrestling together. He has particularly grown in the area of other people holding him. He used to cry anytime Uncle John Paul would look at him and now he loves to lay in his lap and inspect new people's face. Some will even get the coveted head-hug of affection from him and it's completely heart melting.

Next year when Felix will be almost two I want to start a few family traditions that we continue to do every holiday season. A christmas advent activity calendar that includes reading the story of the incarnation in the gospel of Luke, watching white christmas, Elf, and Miracle on 34th street, setting out milk and cookies for santa on Christmas eve, caroling, fudge making, driving around to look at christmas lights, making hot cocoa, taking winter walks and on and on.

So for now, I'm going to snuggle up next to the fire and enjoy time with my extended family. Merry Christmas and warm wishes to you and yours this holiday season and many blessing in the new year!


A Typical Day

I can't believe how much Felix is growing. He is 11 months old now and just as cute as can be. Honestly, I'm convinced he gets cuter every day and this mommy thing is like a good wine or cheese - time makes it even better. A typical day looks like this...

Most days Felix wakes up happy as a clam. Chatting up a storm, pinching my nose, rolling around in bed between Josh and I, grabbing willow and laughing when she licks his face. About 10 minutes of pretending I'm still asleep, Josh either wakes up with Felix (Since I'm still up with him a couple times at night this is Josh's present to me) OR I will give Felix my phone to play some peekaboo barn in bed while I slowly wake to the day ahead of me. I love this morning time as a family all snuggled in bed together. It's one of my favorite times of day.
Felix at the grocery and felix eating lunch.
After we wake up, Josh will change Felix's diaper while I put myself together a little bit to get the day going. We all eat eggs & toast and Felix drinks water from a sippy cup while the adults suck down the coffee. Monday, Wednesday, Friday Felix and I go to the Chiropractor for regular adjustments. Felix used to HATE being adjusted, but now he does amazingly. He plays all around the office while I do my warm up exercises and jabbers up a storm. I'm pretty sure all the other patients get a kick out of him.

After that we either head out for errands or head to the gym. Another place where Felix is thriving. He used to be so sad at the YMCA childcare and I would stress the entire time during my 30 mins on the elliptical, but now he loves it and nearly every time the workers say what a cutie pie he is so I feel like I can spend a bit more time working out.

After our morning outing we head home for a 1-2 hour nap. I will get some work done around the house or on the computer and Josh often comes home for lunch during this time. When Felix wakes, he gets lunch and then we play around the house. I like to mix up rooms to keep things spicy, but often times we are in the living room. I'll sit on the floor while Felix brings me books and then plops down in my lap. Or I will pull out the guitar and we will sing and dance for a bit. Sometimes he takes every toy out of his chest and we look at it and then we clean it all up and start all over again.
Felix reading and felix playing.

Around 3:30 or 4 if I haven't already run to the grocery for dinner items Felix and I will pop over to Publix. No matter where we go, Felix makes friends. He flirts with all the ladies and smiles big grins at anyone who makes eye contact with him. After the grocery, we head home and I'll distract felix with snacks or  if he is tired I will wear him in the Ergo on my back and he will take a 15-20 min snooze while I start dinner.

If it happens to be a night we are eating out we skip the whole grocery trip and I'll fill some of our afternoon time with a park, library, mall, or target trip. We like to get out of the house, if you hadn't noticed.

Then when josh gets home around 6, we eat dinner, have family play time, Felix takes a bath and then heads to bed at 7:30/8. He has been sleeping decently and most nights I get 4-6 hours before his first waking. I should be heading to bed around 9:30, but honestly I'm a night owl and can't bring myself to do it! Even though I know how tired I will be the next day, I spend the evenings getting things done on my laptop (which is HARD to do during the day with sticky fingers constantly trying to grab the keys or pull on the screen - am I right fellow mamas?), hanging out with josh, watching a few shows, or reading. Midnight is my normal bedtime with a Felix waking at 2:30 and 5:30 (when I pull him into bed with me).

p.s. I realize all these photos are of Felix, but most of my day is spent starring at that beautiful child, I can't help but over share photos of him. He is beautiful, amazing, smart, fun, and so so sweet. Therefore, pictures...



Like most people I love the holiday season. Parties, presents, twinkly lights, the incarnation of God and in the middle of it all I get to celebrate my birthday. Being at the end of the calendar year my birthday is a wonderful time for me to reflect, celebrate and set goals for the coming year. This year was the big two-nine. My last year before exiting my 20s and becoming an official 30 something.

Josh made my day extremely special. A hair cut and color the Friday before, breakfast out, a day spa treatment, lunch at Chick-Fil-A and a fancy dinner downtown Nashville at Sambuca followed by Jeni's ice cream. I was incredibly indulgent and reveled in being spoiled on my one big day of the year.

On the drive to and from dinner Josh and I talked about what a big year 28 was and what I hoped for in the 365 days to come. It was a bit of a hard question to answer, honestly. I felt a bit like I needed to have the perfect answer and like my thoughts needed to be sorted out more clearly. It took some time to form a response to the question of "What do I want in the coming year?" "How do I want to grow?" "What do I want to do?" "What direction am I headed as a person?"

Here is where I landed. I want to go deeper.

I want to know what it looks like to have deep unbreakable relationships. With Josh and Felix - being in tune with their needs and desires. Creating a home and safe space for their passions and personality to thrive. Genuinely listening and encouraging them to fully become who the Lord created them to be. And I want to go deeper with the community around me. Intentionally reaching out to those I care about. Praying for them. Listening to them. Having laugh-till-your-sides-hurt lunches and late night conversations over an open bottle of Pino Noir.

I want to go deeper in my understanding of myself. I want to know my triggers. know my weaknesses and strengths. Know my passions and direction. Know the calling that is placed over me and move deeper into that calling.

I want to go deeper in my walk with Jesus, too. I want to search out the hidden things of God and find them and I want the Lord to reveal new things to me and teach me how to feel his saturating presence in my life day in and day out. Making dinner. Doing laundry. Changing diapers. Photographing friends. Shopping at the grocery. Sleeping and waking. Feeling the the Holy Spirit's pleasure and closeness in every aspect of my life creating deep roots of faith and trust.

So that's it. No more shallow spread thin plans and ambiguously moving forward in life. I'm hoping for big things as I open myself up to allowing some roots to take place in the coming year. After all, this tree is going to grow pretty big over the next decade and the roots need to go pretty deep to keep things growing in the right direction.

Because if you can't post a selfie on your blog on your birthday...when can you?
(My last shallow act ever...? Nah...)


Tuesday Mornings

It's been a long morning already. Felix woke at 5:00 am and wouldn't go back to sleep so by the time 9:30 rolls around I'm groggy, I have a headache and my stomach is already ready to eat it's second meal. But lucky for me, Tuesday mornings have also become one of my favorite parts of every week. At 9:30(ish) a group of women from my church get together for shared breakfast, laughter, prayer, and reflection on a book we are reading together.

Childcare is provided and I'm able to eat some delicious - often times very healthy -  breakfast with both hands! (A small miracle for women with young children.) A lot of times we spend the first hour or so sipping tea and catching up on the past week. Laughing about something our kids did, sharing a recipe or talking about our upcoming plans. Then the last 1-2 hours we discuss all that the Lord is showing us and how He is moving in our lives. Places where he is pressing us outside our comfort zone or an area where we are finding breakthrough. A lot of times relating it back to the book, but sometimes just needing to have a space to process where people will listen and pray and encourage our souls.

It is deeply soothing to me to be around these women. Even when Felix won't stay with the sitter and I have to chase him around the room, there is no awkwardness. No judgement. No heavy sighs of having to listen to him babble on top of prayer time. I feel so comfortable and welcomed by these women. Each and every one of them unique and beautiful. SO beautiful sometimes I just listen in awe of each person. How strong they are and how God speaks to them in unique and wonderful ways. How vulnerable we allow ourselves to be with one another. How we can laugh to tears and then in the next breath unveil deep and weighty revelations.

I'm so thankful for this group of women. I look up to them. I care for each and every one of them. I love them all and I know the steadfast weekly and daily encouragement and prayer I receive from these ladies is smoothing out more in my life than I even realize. We have only been meeting for 4 months, but already I can feel the roots of community and friendship going deep.


Struggling for Balance

Smoke billowed from the oven and filled the kitchen and living room as the pie drippings covered the pan beneath and burned to a crisp. At least the smoke smelled like dessert and wasn't the coking insulation burning smoke that filled our house this past May. I spent the afternoon yesterday making pies with my little sister Emily. Cutting crisco into flour, pouring sugar and cinnamon over apples, whisking in eggs,  and sprinkling pecans. Her pregnant belly was covered in flour and I finished the process with one hand holding Felix in the other because he woke up early from his nap.

Opening the back door to let the ice cold air suck out some of the haze filling the first floor my mind wandered to my to do list. Preparations for Thanksgiving. Vacuum, sweep, dust, mop, pick-up, scrub, chop and brine. All things that need to be done before my in laws arrive in 24 hours and my mind drifted to how much I miss writing. I wanted to pour out ideas, and stories, and memories, and even just a stream of consciousness on to the pages of this blog, but struggled to find the time.

Or did I? Was it really a matter of finding the time, or was it a matter of fear. Not being good anymore. Loosing my edge because it had been so long and my creativity felt like it had been drained from me right along with any kind of self care or healthy habits. Honestly, it wasn't for lack of time that I wasn't writing. Life has been difficult lately.

I'm struggling to find a healthy balance of caring for Felix, Josh, extended family, obligations, chores and myself. I used to be able to clack away at my keyboard while he rolled around playing by him self or sat peacefully in my lap. Now the second the computer is opened his sticky fingers reach for the keys and I'll be damned if I let him rip off qwerty on my $2000 macbook pro. So I have to put off any kind of computer usage till nap time or bed time. It's good though. I'm more present.

I sit on the floor and show Felix how to put the shapes in each hole on his sorting cube. I lay down and he crawls back and forth over me. Sweetly chattering saying "dadadadada" wagging his tongue in and out of his mouth till it sounds like he is saying "willow" or "I love you" or something...an hour passes. I try to get up and get some work done in the kitchen and he screams following me with his stiff knee wobbly new walk. Then he hangs off my my leg crying as I rinse a few dishes. Another hour passes and I'm running out of ideas.  Try coloring...he eats the crayons. Try snacks...he feeds them to the dog. Try reading books...he squirms away. Try nursing...he bites me and laughs when I yelp.

Not everyday is like this, but on the days where nothing seems to be going right, I'm counting down the minutes till Josh walks in the door. Then the second 7:30 hits and the kid is in bed for the night and I feel so done. Done giving to others. Done being touched. Done cleaning. Done. Done. Done. All I can muster (i tell myself) is a few episodes of one of my shows. And before you know it, it's 11 PM and I've barely talked to my husband and I'm telling myself I need to go to bed because Felix will wake up soon. So no good intentions are followed through on. Blogging? Nah. Songwriting? Nope. Working out? Forget it.

I very easily could have used my time in the evening on something productive. Why do I insist on this self-sabotaging behavior that ends up a cycle that leaves me a cranky, sad, unhappy mess. I really do LOVE this season of life I'm in. Felix is so cute now a days. He is sleeping better. Josh is having TONS of favor in business, but still I find myself in this rut. Jealous of those around me with time to pursue their dreams and I feel stuck.

That's my problem. And i'm not 100% sure I want out of the rut. It's a really unhealthy place and I'm aware of that, but it feels easier to wallow right now and to be mean to people and allow my default sinful human nature to take over. The ebs and flows of life are weird. Just a few weeks ago I was high on life. So excited about all the Lord was showing me and I could feel His presence on a minute to minute basis. I was happy. But I am so weak. Without warning, one bad afternoon has sent me into a spiral. And here I sit...le sigh...

How's that for an honest post?

I don't have a nice shiny bow to wrap this post up in, except that hopefully my sour mood dissipates before company arrives for the holiday tonight. We have a yummy menu of food I'm planning, so maybe that will be more interesting to read than my rants and negativity.

Brined and herbed buttered turkey with gravy
Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Butternut Squash with pine nuts and parmesan
Pan seared Brussel sprouts with feta and Pecans
Cranberry and Raspberry Chutney with orange peel and lemon zest
Classic Stuffing with Sage and Rosemary 
Cheesy Corn Casserole
Flakey giant Crescent Rolls
Spicy Cote du Rhone, buttery Chardonay and pumpkin ale
Cinnamon Apple Pie with homemade crust
Pecan Pie with vanilla bean ice cream

Ahhhh I feel better already. Happy thanksgiving.


Ewing Sisters

Today was the first real COLD day of the season. Some even say they saw flurries around our area this morning. I hummed Christmas tunes all day. At the supermarket a lady even wished me a Merry Christmas.  During lunch and Felix's afternoon nap I popped in Little Women - one of the classic movies I watch every year when the temperature drops. Since the whole movie is about a family with four girls I inevitably thought about my family and especially my sisters.

It is hard to not compare each of the Ewing girls to the March girls. My sisters may disagree, but I am obviously Jo - funny, writer, a bit impulsive and clumsy at times. Rebecca - though she is healthy as a horse - has a compassion and sweetness about her just as Beth does. Cynthia - more practical and hard working - just like Meg. And Emily - whether she accepts it or not will always be Amy in my head. A bit bothersome to my teenage self but blossoming into an incredibly beautiful and creative young woman. The one thing we all have in common with the March girls is a fierce loyalty to family.

Any one of us would go to hell and back for our other sisters. No matter how many proverbial manuscripts we may throw in the fire. No matter the twists and turns of life. No matter the political differences. No matter the miles that separate us and no matter long stretches between phone calls because life got busy. And if anyone ever hurt one of our cherished sisters we would do whatever we could to protect, stand up for and support and love her.

Which is part of why there has been such a silence here on my blog. I'm not making excuses, but honestly it has been hard to be honest here because so much of what is affecting my life right now, wasn't my story to share.

In July my little sister was attacked and raped at a bus stop on her way to work at a bakery in the wee hours of the morning. It tore at the seems of our family and we were all completely wrecked by the attack. I touched on it here and here, but then I diverted my attention to mundane posts because I wanted to honor the process for my dear sister to share and heal in a way she felt best. Even though she and her new husband are finding refuge in our house as they start baby stepping their way toward wholeness again. Them being under our roof has pulled my heart and daily activities far from where they were before the incident and made it confusing to find what to write.

Today she started a blog called The New Normal and her first post brought tears to my eyes. I'm so amazingly proud of her for beginning to share her story and for her courage to invite others into her healing process, allowing other victims to find her words as medicine for their aching souls.

So here is to story telling. To writing. To honesty. To finally letting the wound get air so it can heal even faster. And here is to my sisters, but especially, here is to the brave, brilliant, and beautiful, youngest Ewing girl -- Emily.


Happy Fall!

I have been swallowed whole by motherhood, fall activities, travel, and sheer exhaustion. Until a week ago I was still going to sleep each night dreading the inevitable 4-6 wakings before 7AM. And I would barely make it through each day because I was unsure if I would even get a nap out of my little buddy. At 3, 4, 5, 6, and even the beginning of 7 months I could hack it, but when we were rolling into 8 and nine months with nothing changing I couldn't put my fingers to a keyboard to write ANYTHING because I feared only negativity and complaining would spill out as I was rapidly approaching the line of insanity.

However, something in the last week has clicked with Felix and he is now only waking 2 times max and oftentimes can get himself settled and back to sleep rather quickly. Could have been he hit some large mile stones lately (steps, crazy crusing, feeding himself) or that as long as he wasn't really upset and was just sort of shouting and not really crying we would give him 5 minutes to settle and he oftentimes could do so in 2 mins or less or maybe it was that we had him adjusted at the chiropractor.

Either way, sanity is being restored to the Michael household and I may start to make a few more appearances here on this little blog instead of spacing out because that's all i could muster during my free time.

Here are a few things that have happened the last month while I was absent.

My blog turned 5. (Crazy)
My littlest sister got married!
Felix has taken a few steps.
Fall continued being awesome and my favorite of all the seasons.
We went to a wedding in Bloomington, IL
Felix and I visited the Cahills for 3 days
Felix is learning to master the art of sleeping
We attended a super encouraging conference in Campbellsville, KY
I have already started listening to Christmas music

We have a family themed costume planned for tonight. 

Yup. Pilgrim, Indian and Turkey. Even though it's raining and most of the trick-or-treating is canceled, Josh and I still are still planning to go to Publix for their candy passing out and then dinner as a family to Carrabba's for $5 pizza night.

That's all for now! Happy Thursday that happens to also be Halloween.


August Daily Prompt Round Up

I ended up only posting once on my blog related to the Daily Instagram Prompts from Creature Comforts in the month of August. But, I really enjoyed thinking outside the box on the photos I was taking. It challenged me to look around and find beauty in little moments throughout my day. Here are the results.

I think my favorite one is "light" I spend so much time looking at his crib and not seeing it as anything beautiful, but on the day "light" was the prompt the morning sun came in through the window and highlighted the simplicity and loveliness of his bed from right where I sat nursing my son. It was a beautiful moment.


What's New

It's been a crazy couple of weeks! We spent two weekends ago moving my sister and her family into their new house 2.5 hours away. A lovely cabin in the woods overlooking a peaceful lake. The epitome of serenity and escape. I love a good cabin. One of the added perks was very poor internet service. Just kidding, that isn't a perk. I mean if you're into that whole "disconnect from the world for space and tranquility" kind of thing then it would be a perk...but i'm cool with that for about a day. And then watching that spinning icon at the top of my phone while waiting for my google searches to load and facebook feed to load pushes me over the edge...

I should work on that. I should get to the point where being disconnected actually is a perk....

Then last week I decided I was ready for it to be fall and I started knitting again. I always knit in the fall. Scarves and blankets mostly...who am I kidding, scarves and blankets only.... who am I kidding a blanket is just a big scarf. So I decided to knit my little sister and her fiance blanket for their wedding. Since they have lived with us the giant blanket I knitted last fall has received more use than it has in the last year.

So instead of blogging the last week I have been knitting up a storm in my free time. I'm hoping to find a bit of balance and not completely neglect my bloggy blog over the next few weeks while I'm making said blanket, but I really want to get it done before their wedding.

I've been spending a lot of time out and about with Felix during the day. Playground, Barnes and Noble, grocery, Costco, walks, pool, Starbucks. I've discovered he stays awake longer, stays happier and naps harder when our schedule is full. I absolutely love the age he is at now. We have so much fun together. He has such a sweet and content temperament, loves to adventure and discover things and is so chill! More on that in his 8 month (!!!) update next week.

In other news, Josh and I spent last saturday together for the first time in about 3 weeks. We went to breakfast as a family, took a walk downtown franklin, then felix napped, josh watched football and I found a few good deals at Goodwill for their 1/2 off first Saturday of the month sale. Saturday night Josh and I went to the pub across the street for drinks and more football and Emily sat with Felix after he went to sleep. It was all around a great Saturday.

Then on Sunday we got news that my sister in law was in labor! She delivered a perfect and beautiful baby boy on Monday morning at 3:45 am. Josh, Felix and I drove up in the wee hours of the morning to meet baby Elliot True and I spent the day in Kentucky visiting and holding my newest nephew.

That's what is new!
Row 1: Best friends, Jenni's Ice Cream, after a walk, Sister stroll
Row 2: Moving, family night out, knitting and Bartlet, Sisters
Row 3: Buddies, At the park, friends, Elliot True


Another Farewell for Now

Chips, salsa, queso and two cold beers sat on the table in front of us. There is not much in life that the Ewing family loves more than mexican food and it seemed right for me and my older sister to celebrate our last hurrah together in Franklin at our favorite little mexican restaurant - Pueblo Real.

The little hole-in-the-wall is half way between out two houses and it has become a tradition for us to meet there for much needed sister-friend time. The salsa ran out 4 times over the course of the meal, but it was so nice to sit together and linger chatting like it wasn't the last time we would eat there together in a long time.

This weekend the Cahills move to Byrdstown, TN. They have lived in Franklin for 3 years now and we have been through a lot together. Two jobs and stay-at-home-momdom for me. Two jobs for josh. Grueling residency for Cynthia. Early mornings and late nights at the farm for JP. Two precious Cahill babies and one much-longed for Michael baby. Countless belly laughs and late nights out and many stressful phone calls to vent or cry together and celebrations galore. We have fully lived life together letting each other into the ugliest and most beautiful parts of each others lives. They are not only family, but they have become our closest and dearest friends.

Spontaneous cookouts with sweet corn, roasted veggies and burgers in their back yard while the kids chase fireflies and splash in a baby pool. Football games on the big screen with spicy chili, cornbread and cookies. Movie nights. Game nights. Wine nights. Just-come-over-for-the-heck-of-it-nights. I'm going to miss them dearly.

Luckily they are only 2 hours away so instead of spontaneous nights together around their back yard, our new MO will be weekends at their cabin. Renting boats on the lake. Watching our kids sled down hills in the forrest, farmer's market saturday mornings in Franklin and Let's-meet-half-way dinners in Lebanon. I cherish the time we have had together and I know there are still many memories and good times that lie ahead in our future.

I know it's lame, but this was one of three photos that contained JUST the 4 of us and even though it's old and at a mini golf course it was the best one.


Expectant Mom Delivery Basket

I'm one of those strange people who love pregnancy. And I don't just mean the idea of pregnancy or seeing another person full of life and glowing...I mean I actually loved going through pregnancy myself.

My pregnancy was one of those special, not-a-lot-of-complications-no-morning-sickness-relatively-easy pregnancies. (I know, I know...try not to roll your eyes). Even stranger, not only did I like pregnancy, but I liked labor. Don't get me wrong, my 20 hours of intense contractions and 2.5 hours of pushing was the hardest thing I've ever done. But in that process I felt more connected to my body, more connected to my husband and at time more peace (in times) than ever. It was like little bits of heaven and God's grace meeting me in each intense wave of pain and getting me that much closer to meeting the sweet red-headed child of my dreams was even better.

But, the whole process of packing the hospital bag. The anticipation of waiting for those first real contractions. Talking through different labor techniques and distractions we will use. Birth classes, books, blogs, youtube videos, documentaries and more all designed to help us prepare for something that we couldn't possibly grasp or understand till we went through it ourselves.

Today is my sister-in-law's due date. She is expecting her second boy and when we went to visit them a few weekends ago I got all excited thinking about her labor and adding another little boy to the Michael family tree. So before we left for our visit I put together a little goodie basket for her labor, delivery, and postpartum time in the hospital.

It was mostly snacks for her to keep up her energy during labor, but there were a few extra things as well. A headband, hand cream for her hubby to give her a lovely distracting hand massage during some rough contractions, a back massager, chapstick, tea for a sore throat postpartum, cold packs, tucks pads, nursing pads, some emery boards for the baby (hospitals don't provide files or nail clippers so it's a good thing to have to avoid baby scratching their own face), and some travel sized hygiene essentials so she can use them at the hospital and then leave them when she goes.

All of these items were really inexpensive or things I had around my house already. The new baby is usually the one getting all of the attention and gifts, but it's totally rad to think about the mommy and all her body, heart, and mind will be going through as well. If you have a friend who is getting ready to go into labor, a little basket like this might brighten her day!


eucharisteo: simple thanks

eucharisteo: simple thanks is a weekly post where I compile all my notes of thanks from the past days and share.

Medicine for my sick little
Sunflowers brightening my kitchen and my day
Giant pots of spicy curry veggies over quinoa
A spice bottle providing 20 minutes of entertainment for Felix
A husband who balances out my bad
phone catchups during a morning walk
Safe travels
Car naps and my husband the road warrior
Wildebeest (aka willow)
BBQ made by my brother in law at Brothers
Giant chocolate chip cookies
Big pregnant bellies full of life and ready to burst
Little pregnant bellies, just as full of life and glowing with anticipation
Housemate dinner around homemade pizzas
Freedom to stay home with my son
Sister wedding plans and excitement
afternoon thunder storms and listening to raindrops hit the tin carport
Free gourmet bagels
Homeopathic remedies
Dinner on the patio
Felix enjoying pizza crust
A stretch of 6 hours of sleep for my wee one!
Sunny pool time
Baby pulling up on everything and learning how to get back down

top: my men, colorful playground, afternoon treat, baby led weaning
middle: grass discovery, hearty lunch, worship snuggles, gift wrapping fun
bottom: labor love package, adventurer face wounds, yummy affordable vino, unexpected benjamins. 


9 Sick Baby Essentials

Let me preface this by saying I am not a medical professional. In case there was any confusion on that issue, I want to clear the air before writing this post.

That being said, the last 4 days Felix has been fighting a really nasty cold. As every new mom knows there is nothing sadder than when your baby is sick. You feel so helpless and worried. The wee one can't communicate what hurts or how you can help, so all you do is go about your day guessing giving them what you think is best.

This is only the 2nd time in 7 months that Felix has been sick and I'm so thankful that both times it has only been a cold and not something more serious. Now, there are some people who refuse to see a doctor and think that medicine is bad, end of story. Then there are other people who medicate at every turn and use a pill for most answers to pain.

Josh and I fall somewhere in the middle. We always try and use homeopathic remedies to solve problems first, but if that doesn't work we turn to medicine. With that in mind, here is my list of sick baby essentials if your little one is dealing with a cold or minor virus.

  1. Organic Baby Vapor Rub - Make sure you read the label and get one that only has ingredients that you can pronounce. This is expensive, but should last you for a while since you are only rubbing a little bit at a time. I know vapor rub helps me when I'm not feeling great, so it has to do some good on the little ones when they have a stuffy nose and a cough.
  2. Boogie Wipes - I discovered these from my mother in law. Its a really gentle solution to the dry tissue that leaves noses feeling raw. It does have a few chemicals, but to me is better than a plain tissue that hurts Felix's nose. If i have time in the future I might try and make my own at home to keep on hand. I found a good recipe here.
  3. Humidifier - Super good to run and keep the air moist and relieve stuffy noses and sore throats while sleeping.
  4. Nosefrida - Ok...I know this device seems gross and before being a mom I would maybe have thrown up a bit if I saw someone using it. Only a mom who is hurting for her sick child can understand the awesomeness of this thing. The standard aspirator is so ineffective and can really cause additional irritation to the nasal passage if you aren't careful. Nosefrida solves those problems. Even though it's gross, just use it. Trust me.
  5. Nasal Spray - Along the same lines...you should spray a bit of baby friendly saline, or even better if you are a super squirty boobie lady, then some breast milk squirted up the nose to loosen a dry stuffy nose is helpful about 15 mins before suction.
  6. Hylands Cold Tablets - These things are some what magical. I used them on the most recent cold and after following the instruction rigidly for about 5 hours, Felix showed serious improvement. He regressed at night and still was stopped up the next morning, but after using them again the next day he seemed to start feeling better again. I'm convinced they are necessary now.
  7. Lactation Support Pills - Speaking of squirty boobies...don't forget to take care of yourself and your milk supply while the little one is sick. Nursing is key for your babies health and your milk will even start to product the specific things your baby needs to get over the cold! So you don't want your supply to dwindle just cause baby's nose is stuffed up and they can't nurse for as long a period of time. Another good thing to keep on hand is a breast pump. If baby is too sick to nurse, pump and feed milk to baby through a straw.
  8. A snuggley blanket - When I'm sick there is nothing more important than to have things around me that make me feel comfortable. A warm blanket. Hot tea. pillows. Cozy socks. So why wouldn't baby want the same kind of treatment. Babies are people too.
  9. Mommy's lap and a pile of books - Since baby isn't feeling good, they may not want to be as active playful on their own. They may seem needy and clingy and that's ok! Consider it a good time for you to relax and snuggle and put your to-do list on the back burner for a day. I think I've read all of Felix's books 10 times each the past few days. Little Blue Truck, Furry Friends, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar are some of his favorites.

Hope your baby gets well soon!


My Kind of Kind

This week has been tough. I feel the continuing strain of finances. I have been extra sleep deprived and cranky. Plus I am struggling with finding my rhythm and daily groove with two new housemates and on top of that, Felix is sick.

He isn't super sick, but he has a yucky cold accompanied by a stuffy nose, making it hard for him to nurse and a low grade fever hovering around 100 degrees. Nothing sadder but also more cute than a sick kid. Breathing heavily through his mouth. Snuggling me at every chance he gets. Not able to sleep on his own for a nap. Wanting to sit in my lap and read books all day.

I think he is out of the woods with the cold, but a couple days ago, when he wasn't doing well and I was feeling sad I called Josh on my way to the grocery store and gave him an unnecessary and unprovoked earful unnecessarily.

I'm so mean sometimes. I didn't need to take it out on him, but I was feeling so overwhelmed by life and as the person who is closest to me he receives the brunt of it.

Even after all that, he texted I love you.

Then around 5:45 he pulled into the carport early as a surprise and as an added bonus had sunflowers and spicy dark chocolate from whole foods.

This is why I love him. On my worst days, he is steadfastly, unconditionally in love with me. He forgives easily. He sharpens me and makes me better with gentle support and encouragement . He listens to an earful on a bad day, laughs deeply with me on the good days and he is constantly putting my needs above his. This man embodies friendship and kindness to me. He is my kind of kind.


Felix - 7 Months

You are 7 months old! This month has been particularly eventful in your development. You learned to sit up on your own from laying down position. And you went from rocking on your hands and knees to pushing up into downward dog and falling on your head quite a bit to eventually CRAWLING! It happened just before your 7th month birthday. You learned to crawl right when we got home from a really long car ride on the way back from the beach (9.5 hrs in your carseat). I think you were just ready to get things moving after sitting still that long.

The first bits of movement forward you made were directly towards books and then you sat up and started looking through the pages. So cute! This milestone has been so exciting and has made for some pretty awesome changes. You play by yourself really happily for long stretches of time, but I can no longer even step out of the room to grab something, without taking you with me. At first your crawling was slow and involved a lot of rests so I could still pop in and out checking on you ever 30 seconds or so, but now your a fast little bugger! You can make it across a room in about 5 seconds and I'm not gonna lie, you found your way up 2 (TWO!) stairs at one point before I realized you even were on the stairs. I'm going to need to drink so more coffee and stay a bit more alert with my little mobile man now.

Two days after learning to crawl, you decided it was time to learn how to pull yourself up, so for the last week, that's pretty much been your favorite thing. Crawl across the room and then pull up on mommy's lap, on the couch, on your play table, on the stairs, trashcan, toilet, cabinets, kitchen island, TV stand...you name it. Standing is the name of the game. In fact, it's evening time right now and I laid you down for bed around 8:30, and an hour later I heard you cry. I went in there and you were standing on the side of the crib. Holding on to the rails. It was so sad and cute. You just want to practice your new trick even in your sleep and then you wake yourself up.

This month has been one of my favorites so far. Your personality is emerging even more every day and you are such a happy, content, lovely baby. With so much adventure and boldness and smiles that are contagious.

Daddy and I have made a point to pray over you more often. You were dedicated this month and establishing a daily and natural involvement of the Lord in your life is important to me. I sometimes will read you scripture verses while you are nursing and Daddy will whisper prayers over you when we are snuggling before bed. Worship music fills the space between these walls. I want you to feel God's presence in our house and be at peace here.

Your middle name is Fire for a reason, my son. At first we chose the name because it seemed cool. It was a very unique and strong name. But after you were born the meaning of Felix Fire settled in. I prayed that the Lord would make you passionate. That you would be a person of great emotion and feeling with strong convictions and an energy for life that people would be drawn to. That you would have a fire in your heart for God. And when I held you in my arms the Lord showed me that He spoke to his people in a burning bush and led them with a pillar of fire and He was going to use your kindness and charisma to lead people to Him.

I love watching you grow. I love being your mom. Happy 7 months my little buddy.


WLWL: When Things Don't Go As Planned

A few weeks ago the perfect storm happened.

The week leading up to that Sunday I was on a little family vacation to the beach. I had mentally prepared the set and just needed to throw it into WorshipTeam.com adjust the keys and notify the team. Late afternoon on Thursday I sent it out. Friday I heard from my pastor that there was a last minute addition of communion and kids blessing (for the start of the school year) and my pastor wanted to do an "up" song after the blessing right before his message. So after getting home from my trip on Saturday, the night before the service I was rearranging the set, adding in new songs and changing up a couple of the keys. Apologizing profusely to the team sending out a totally new set at 8:30 PM the night before. (I try to rarely spring things like this on them)

The morning I was leading worship Josh and I followed our usual routine of Felix night nursing up till about 7:00AM. Then I nurse him right before I leave for rehearsal, however this week, I didn't feed Felix before I left for church. I was running late. I needed to print charts and I was already rethinking the new set...4 songs or 5?

Rehearsal was a bit bumpy, and that was to be expected. We landed on a 4 song set (which I flow better with anyway) and completely cutting the "up" song after the blessing. People trickled in around 10 and we started a bit late around 10:05. I really felt the presence strongly. I knew God was stirring something in my heart and in the heart of the congregation as we lingered in sweet moments of faith and praise.

Normally I find a nice cord progression to float through and sing prayers over the congregation in these open moments. Except that morning my fingers kept sticking. Didn't want to move and change cords and even in spite of my limited guitar skills The Spirit continued to move sweetly.

After worship Josh and I decided since Felix was in a good mood we should put him in the Nursery for the first time. The message was good but towards the end I started feeling antsy. it was 11:30 and I knew Felix hadn't nursed since 7:30. I knew he would be hungry. Then I heard it. The shrill panicky cry of my son coming from the nursery. He was hungry and angry.

I darted out the back door of the sanctuary knowing I had a very limited time before I needed to lead worship for communion. Wailing with big tears running down his face I grabbed Felix and headed to the nursing room. There was a dad with his daughter in there and Felix was in such a state that I really needed alone time with my little man. I ran to the bathroom, leaned against the wall and pulled my son to my breast.

Just as he started nursing I heard the music start up in the sanctuary. I needed to be on stage that very moment. In an instant I evaluated my options. Let my son cry or head in to lead songs during communion. I stayed. Knowing the team could handle a few moments with out me.  2-3 more minutes Felix calmed down and pulled off with a big smile on his face. Super stressed I left the restroom and handed my Felix to Josh.

I scrambled up the side of the stage grabbed my guitar and quietly flowed into the song that the team was playing. During the song I couldn't focus. I kept wanting to cry thinking about my son who was cut short on his nursing session. Even though I knew he was happy, I felt like a bad mom. I felt like a bad leader. I felt like half of my heart was in each place. Ultimately I found a good time in between songs to scoot over to Kitty and tell her I needed to go care for Felix. The ministry time was winding down and my family had to come first in the moment.

Lessons learned. The team can indeed function without me, but having a backup plan with the co-leader would be a good idea. 9 times out of 10 people won't notice my mistakes. My missed timing, my botched chords and my need to  step out every now and then to care for my son, God is so much bigger than that. And even when it felt like a perfect storm and a failure, that Sunday more people told me they felt encouraged by worship than the last 4 times I led combined. And that's what it's all about. People connecting to the heart of the Father and feeling the Father's love in worship.

Also, ALWAYS feed Felix during the sermon right after worship when I'm the leader, better safe than sorry.


A Visit with Framily and some Maternity Pics

Yes...you read that right. Framily. We like to make up words here in the Michael household and Framily is one I just now came up with. It applies to 99% of the people I'm related to who also happen to be my friends. (I'll let all your ewing/michaels fret about whether or not your fall into that 99% or if you are the 1% that I consider a Fameney - family/enemy - jk)

This past weekend we visited some of our favorite framily members...Josh's older sister Andrea and her husband Mike and sweet almost 2 year old son North.

We had a nice time staying up way to late drinking wine eating cheese, trisects, chocolates, frozen pizza, and gigantic cookies. Saturday we went into Mike's new place of work - Brothers. It's a fabulously awesome restaurant in the heart of downtown Campbellsville, KY. The menu features down home cooking with an upscale vibe. Half chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket served on a toasted bun with sharp cheddar and an onion ring, hand cut french fries, spicy gumbo washed down with a coca-cola classic all in a rustic modern vibe dining room with hardwood tables and stainless steel accents. Delicious.

After Mike got home from work I snapped a few maternity shots of my sister in law who is due in 9 days with baby #2. I really enjoy maternity shoots. I haven't done many photo shoots in general, but of the ones I have done I think maternity are my favorite. Expectant women are a beauty to behold. The way their bodies expand and make room for new life is nothing short of miraculous. And even at 39 weeks pregnant Andrea is gorgeous. Here are a few highlights.


Salt Water, Housemates and Crawling

Josh and I just came back from 2 days of salt water winds, sandy feet and gorgeous sunsets off the back balcony of our porch. We left for the gulf right after josh got off work and we drove into the night down back country roads of Alabama and Florida with Cape San Blas as our target. We ate soft shell crab, calamari and oysters, walked on the beach at every sunset and took turns staying in the condo while Felix napped and the other took some kid-free chill time in the sun.  It was the perfect get away for our family to relax and prepare for what is ahead.

This past Tuesday, my little sister and her fiancée (Gabriel) moved in with us! We are headed into yet another season of playing host to some lovely family members as they transition into a new phase of life! They plan to get married this coming October, and I'm so happy that we get to live with them during this time.

It's so great to get to know Gabriel before he joins our family. Things I have learned so far - he sings to himself a lot. When you think he is outside having a conversation with the neighbor he is most definitely singing to himself. He drinks more coffee than anyone I've ever met. This photo was taken at 10:00 PM at night and that is black coffee. He is willing to sleep in a closet for my sister Emily. One of our house rules is that they don't share a room till after they tie the knot and since Felix is in the nursery, Josh and I are in the master and Emily is in the guest room, that leaves our closet for Gabriel to live in. It's a large closet, but still...that is true love. But, so many jokes so little time.

In other news - Felix is crawling! Life just got a lot more interesting. The first thing he crawled to was a pile of books. At first, he was super slow and didn't move more than like a 3 foot radius, but over the last couple days things really changed. He can pull himself up on almost anything, tries to climb the stairs at least 3 times a day and has a crazy attraction to everything he is NOT supposed to play with. (flip flops, wires and cords, dog toys). What is WITH that!?

The weather has been amazing in Tennessee lately. Slightly cool. Highs in the low 70s, mornings in 50s. We took a house walk around the neighborhood this morning, Me, Emily, Gabriel, Josh, Felix, and even Willow. It continues to make me more and more excited about the coming Autumn. Not much else to say, just life!


eucharisteo: simple thanks

eucharisteo: simple thanks is a weekly post where I compile all my notes of thanks from the past 7 days and share.

Anointed Worship Songs
Friends and Family gathered round praying for and supporting Felix
Good picnic weather
Sunshine carrot cake
refreshingly happy family time
Little ewing turning 21
Peach and banana covered cheeks
strawberry blonde eyelashes
warm comforting lunchtime hugs
girls night out
friends that help you laugh in the hard times
free mexican food
a tall handsome man that i get to call my own
messy top buns and dangly earings
babies in cowboy PJs
curling up on my couch reading bread and wine
clean sheets
felix staying happy for two long car rides
gas in our tank
silky smooth baby skin
watching my boy try new things
the mister organizing the attic
Consignment finds
baby in downward dog inching forward
Frothy Monkey vanilla latte
Scorching Hot Sun
lull of ocean waves
open communication
holding hands on a beach walk
baby sleeping on my back
brilliant neon pink sunset
sliver of moon disappearing over horizon
melty s'mores
community and sharing life with people
King bed perfect for late night snuggles
Safe travels
spicy jalapeno cornbread
books that help me grow
fresh salads after days of junk food
bedtime stories
itty bitty froggies (like the size of a nickle!)
sipping coffee on the porch overlooking waves
the table where community happens
Proud mama moments - felix crawling
bare baby bottoms
heavy afternoon rains
giant blue little girl eyes with heavy lids 


WLWL: Take Heart

Worship Leading While Lactating (WLWL): A series about my experiences as a mom and a worship leader.

The past few days have been heavy. Full of burdens for those I care most about. Full of more things falling apart in our condo. More financial strain. More sleep deprivation. More snipping at the people around me. More stress and worry.

Which then led to one entire day of ridiculous consuming.

I ate. I watched. I read. I played silly games on my phone. I laid on the couch like a blob completely spaced out looking at Pinterest. I did absolutely nothing productive at all.

And I felt like crap about it. I bemoaned my full belly laying in bed that night, telling Josh I felt sloshy. (you know the feeling) Struggling to fall asleep in such a engorged state and then right when I started to drift, Felix woke up.

Well the next day wasn't much better. Some bad news from the auto repair shop (like twenty-five-hundred dollars worth of bad news) left Josh and I reeling a bit on what to do next. We chatted on the phone very nonchalantly about the issue and said we would both think for an hour and call one another with what we think we should do.

I went about my day. I played with my baby on the floor. I ran to the post office. I sat in traffic and through it all I prayed. I asked God how, and why, and what questions with little response. I fed Felix peaches and banana for lunch. A big heaping bowl, because the peaches were going to go bad on account of the broken fridge.

He was sweetly taking bites and squirming about like little 6 month old boys do. Trying to see anything and everything that is behind him and avoiding looking forward at all costs, but still opening his baby bird mouth for bites at his leisure. I was in no hurry. I spaced out and started starring out the window. "What is going on, Lord?" I asked again for the umpteenth time. "Where are you in this? What do you want us to do?" 

And without thinking about it, I started singing. I started singing through songs of his strength. Songs of His faithfulness. Songs of His Lordship. Songs of Him reigning over all things. Songs of His goodness. And 15 minutes later I had pretty much compiled the entire set list for worship this Sunday all while Felix finished his little green bowl of lunch.

I felt a great amount of peace and I felt God's sovereignty over my life. Sometimes the worship set comes that easy. Often times it comes easy when my heart is fertile. It comes easy when I'm in a posture that is ready for seeds to be sown. Ready for water to be poured. Ready for the winter to be over and spring to come. So I'm leaning into the one thing that has come easy this week, building the set over mushed peaches.



In every persons walk with the Lord there are milestones. Big events that you cling to and use as a reminder of God's goodness and faithfulness. The day you decided to follow Jesus and the day you declared that decision to the world through testimony and baptism are two of the big ones, for sure. But for a lot of people who grew up in the church those aren't the touchstone moments. Those aren't the vivid memories that stick with them forever.  Church camp and conference highs, fabulous worship services and an anointed sermon oftentimes make the list of intense emotional experiences that will carry you through for a while, but often times it seems it's the smaller moments of life that stick.

It's the small moments that are brought back around as a reminder of God's constant presence in our life. A worship song that seems sung directly to your heart. An encouraging text from a friend at just the right time. A flop open of your Bible to lay eyes on the exact promise you needed to cling to. A prophetic word that seems as if the person was reading your mail. A feather under your car windshield or on your keyboard at work reminding you He is near. Hearing the Lord's voice while scrubbing dishes at the sink or vacuuming your living room floor.

These things stop us in our tracks and stick with us for years to come.

This past Sunday Josh and I were surrounded by family and friends and we dedicated Felix to the Lord. I know he won't remember the moment and I know it wasn't a wild and passionate encounter with the the Holy Spirit. But it was a radical moment.

I don't know if you know this or not, but radical means of or going to the root or origin. Fundamental. Forming a base or a foundation.

It also means drastic or extreme.

That morning we laid a foundation in the history of our family of three. We gathered round with hands laid and outstretched and words of life spoken over our little boy. Nothing dramatic. Nothing hyper emotional or crazy happened, but August 4th, 2013 is an important date in my book. A radical moment in Michael family history. As mother and father we are trusting the Lord to protect, nurture, draw near to, bless, move through, speak to, hold, cover, and love our first born son.

A radical moment indeed.


The Daily Instagram Prompt

Over on Creature Comforts they are doing a daily instagram inspiration prompt for the month of August. I plan to participate daily on instagram (@katmichael) and blog about some of them from time to time. At the end of the month I'll post all my pictures in a collage. I think this a great idea to get the creative juices flowing daily and help me think outside the box. (read: outside the "taking-pictures-of-my-kid" box.) Here are the lists of prompts if you want to participate!

1. Patterned
2. Solitude
3. I’m grateful for:
4. Vibrant
5. The Happiest Color
6. Wild
7. I’m Passionate About:
8. Joy
9. This is home
10. Adventure
11. The last thing I bought
12. Light
13. Dark
14. Wonder
15. The Last thing I Read / Tasted / Heard:
16. This is beauty
17. Happiness is:
18. One (or a few) of my favorite things:
19. Kindness
20. Growth
21. Color outside the lines
22. Friendship
23. It’s the Little Things
24. Homemade
25. Keep it Simple
26. My view from here
27. Delicious
28. Collected
29. I’m Proud of This:
30. A beautiful mess
31. Reflection

Here is my photo from yesterday - SOLITUDE. Felix was taking a nice long afternoon nap and I stole away a moment of quiet and solitude with a piece of dark chocolate cozied up on my couch.


eucharisteo: simple thanks

eucharisteo: simple thanks is a weekly post where I compile all my notes of thanks from the past 7 days and share.

long sunday afternoon family naps
my husband making a delicious dinner
sweet dinosaur PJs covering long baby legs
ice for cold drinks on hot days
women ministering with the Lord and speaking directly to my heart
rest and surrender
God providing through the generosity of others
blue belle mint chocolate chip ice cream on sale
Baby feet resting on the crossbar of the stroller during a walk
feeling more comfortable nursing with confident baby at 6 months
baby cracking up at finger puppets
super good looking husband who makes the perfect fried egg
perfect weather - 80 with a slight breeze
bright flower bushes decorating the houses along my walk - pink, red, purple, white
Poems of love in various forms
felix's head slowly resting on chest and lazily closing eyes for a nap at the pool
dark chocolate as a surprise from hubby
chubby babies in swim trunks
finding a great deal on a new fridge to replace our broken one
finally catching up on my blog reader
delicious homemade chicken salad
little boy learning how to pull himself up in his crib and then beaming with pride
bedtime snuggles with a wandering conductor hand and glazed eyes starring out at dusk light
down time to rejuvenate during baby's 3 hour nap
the smell of home made bread filling our house
gentle thunder stoms
chia tea from Teavana
stacks of good books at Barnes and Noble
good report on mom's knee allowing her to come visit this weekend
technology allowing me to stay in touch with loved ones
Baby laughing and smiling on bench swing at the park
little boy playing in the grass
evening light on strawberry blonde eyelashes and big blue eyes
the one hair that sticks straight up on the crown of Felix's head
strong hands holding mine...holding me together
unprompted encouragement from 2 friends within 10 minutes of each other during a hard morning
coffee. strong. filled with cream.
dancing in my kitchen by myself to Ray LaMontagne You are the Best Thing
Excited baby at bath time- splashing water all over the floor
a son after my own heart who loves reading books.