Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ethan turns 1 and 1/2!

Today was your half birthday! It might be silly to most to celebrate things like that but I always want you to know you are special, and what better way then to have TWO days a year. Not only that but you are a Christmas baby and I never want you to feel "forgotten" in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. We don't go crazy, we don't sing to you, we just tell you that you are so big (I can't believe you are a year and a half!), get you a small gift, and a sweet treat. You loved every second of it. The second you opened your new movie you let out the coolest "Rawrrrrr" known to mankind and you ate your cake in more ways than I thought possible. You were even a little sweetheart and shared some with Daddy.  We love you Punky and I will do this 'til I kick the bucket…I promise!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Project Pinterest: Abstract Art

I wanted to start a new and fun segment on the blog. As much as I love writing about Ethan and Bubba I want to keep it fun and helpful too. So thus came 'Project Pinterest', where I will attempt (just keepin' it real) crafts, kids activities, beauty tips, and recipes. I will share photos, what worked, what didn't (and why), and what I would do differently, if anything, and the total cost of the project. I solemnly swear to even share my pinterest fails, because lets face it, its bound to happen. As you know we recently moved and so we are in the process of still making our house a home. I like to fill the walls and put our touch on things. And if any of you know anything about military housing then you know that they are all carbon copies of one another, give or take a room, so to do anything "unique" is a major plus and when I saw a list of things to keep a kid busy and this was on it I quickly adapted it to serve a dual purpose: 1. Entertain Ethan and 2. Home decor.

Materials Needed:
Paper Plate (we used a plastic lid)
Warm soapy bath (to rush your toddler into the second your finished!)

Total Cost:

I highly suggest doing this outside because if you are anything like my husband or son (highly uncoordinated) you will for sure have a mess on your hands. Open your paint and squirt a small puddle of each color on the paper plate, dip a marble into one color (or multiple…get creative!) and toss onto the canvas that your assistant (thank you to my darling husband!) should be holding flat. You can either fling the marble around with your finger or tip the canvas from side to side causing the marble to roll around. Keep doing this with all of the colors until you get your desired look. We let Ethan play with the marbles and put them on the canvas, he had more fun fetching them when the wind carried them away (the joys of living on the coast). This is a fun and quick project, a wee bit messy but most fun things in life are. :) Wipe your hands and run your toddler into that bath…STAT! 

The wall isn't finished, I want to add three separate signs in the blank spaces that say "Eat, drink, be merry", but it is definitely a far cry from what it was! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Name Reveal

Boy Mama

I would be an absolute fat liar if I said I didn't want a girl. I long to one day have someone to go shopping with, get mani pedis with, and to offer boy advice to (warranted or not) but alas my destiny is to be a boy mama. The good thing about having boys? They get to marry someone great (with my blessing) and provide me with granddaughters babies. Just kidding, there are a lot of great things about having boys and I thought I would take the time to share some of them.

Farts are funny; anywhere, anytime, and any place…just ask Ethan. There was once a time where I scoffed at those who farted and laughed, heck sometimes I downright got mad and left the room.  These days? Ha. I fart and laugh with the best of them.

Dirt dont hurt. This is something you learn right away. Just last week I watched a little bug land in Ethans pool and he noticed it too. His little finger slowly started to approach the pesky thing and I said "don't eat it, please don't ea---, oh, you're eating it." Table? Napkin? Plate? Mom, I will just eat right here off the floor thank you very much.

Special effects. If you can't master the dinosaur rawr in the Dover house you will quickly be exiled. My "truck" sounds still need work, I just stick to the basic but very effective "vroooom vrooom."

The penis is a toy. Are you broke? Is he bored with the same old toys in his boring little room you spent weeks making perfect for him? Take off the diaper and let him roam. Boys love being naked, not only do they love being naked but they love exploring down there, from day one. My mind flashed back to days where I would walk my high school and see my peers scratching/adjusting/playing pocket pool and now I completely get it.

The word no is not effective. Neither are spankings and time outs. Want to know what works? A distraction. Whip out a giant chocolate chip cookie or make up a new game on the spot and the issue is solved (kinda.) Basically what I am saying is boys are persistent but I can't hate it. That trait will get him far in life and if it weren't for his Daddy being persistent there would be no Ethan, there would have been no wedding.

These things are all fun and amusing from a female perspective but you know what the best thing about being a boy mama is? I am his first great love. I can pass up bows and ballet for that…any day of the week.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

20 Weeks


My due date has changed numerous times…which I am accustomed to because the same thing was the case with Ethan.  But today marks 20 weeks! My cravings are all over the place but the one constant is slurpees. I crave them all the time but generally settle for the freeze pops in the freezer originally bought for Ethan. I am busting out of all of my clothes…literally ripped a pair of shorts yesterday. My skin doesn't "glow" this time around either, in fact I am constantly battling a breakout or three. This go round is also a lot harder on me but I give all that credit to a monster who goes by the name of Ethan. Wish I knew if I could start decorating the room for a girl or another little boy but we have 12 more days of waiting…and yes its killing me. I am in no rush for this to be over though. I love you and cannot wait to hold a tiny little person again but I have a 17 month old who keeps me busy, I know my biggest challenge will be finding equal time for you both. I haven't taken many photos or spoke much about this pregnancy, mostly because I am so incredibly overwhelmed with your brother, the new move, and 99 other endless chores but know you are deeply loved…I rub my belly every night and so does your brother, often times he kisses you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


We have spent the past three weeks loving and learning with each other as we take on a new city and explore what it is to finally be a family, for more than 30 days a year. Home will always be a feeling for us and not so much a place. This is our first stop on our lifelong journey together and here is what its brought us so far in only three very short weeks.

Less clothing.


  Fun adventures.

New food. 

A stronger Father-Son bond.

A deeper Mother-Son love.

New friendships.

More sweets.

We cannot wait to see more, do more, feel more, and fall into this family love even deeper.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cancer Scare: A Guest Post on Why You Should Avoid Tanning Beds

 My name is Lana and when Amber approached me to share this story about my personal battle with cancer I knew it was something I had to do, if it prevents one of you from choosing vanity over health then that is more than worth it.

To the disgust of my former sixteen year old self, I have always been pale. I have the kind of ivory skin that pairs well with brown hair, blue eyes, and freckles. To its defense, my skin does have the ability to tan, although not very well. In high school, I would sit in my seat staring down at my legs in shorts; my legs were glowing with all of their white glory and I enviously compared them to the brown, tanned legs of the girls sitting near me. I hated the way my skin did not fit the status quo: tanning was in, what I had going on was definitely not. Therefore, from the time I was sixteen, I went to the tanning bed three to five times a week for a few months at a time to prepare for shorts and tank top season.

When I was just nineteen years old, I made a discovery. I was shampooing my hair and felt a small scab in the part of my hair. Unfortunately, I did not think much of it and picked it off (Yes, picked it…if you say you have never done that, I am calling you a dirty liar). A couple days later, I was brushing my hair and noticed the same scab in the same location and picked at it again, hoping that it would finally heal in a few days. To this day, I am not exactly sure why it never occurred to me to have this scab checked out by a doctor. I think it was a combination of embarrassment (who gets scabs in their head? Gross), absentmindedness caused by the stress of college classes, and a mindset that there could not be anything wrong with me (I am a robust, healthy nineteen-year-old and I am invincible for crying out loud). This cycle of picking and rediscovering it repeated for probably two months.
Summer rolled around, the stress of finals and resided, and my wonderful brain finally came to the realization that the scab was not healing. It was actually becoming larger and larger. I told my parents and an appointment with a dermatologist was set. I just knew that the doctor was going to tell me to switch shampoos because the one I was using was irritating my scalp, or that I had developed some kind of weird, almost-incurable, contagious eczema from living in a dorm. However, she took a cursory glance at my scalp and coldly informed me that I had skin cancer— basal cell carcinoma to be exact. I was completely floored. You know how in movies, when the main character gets shocked by information, the background becomes blurry, background noise blends together, and the camera zooms in on their open-mouthed gaze? Yep, that is a pretty accurate depiction of my reaction to my diagnosis. The doctor was droning on in an I-told-you-so voice about tanning beds and throwing out words like surgery and radiation while I was slowly reaching up to touch the scab on the back of my head. This cannot be happening to ME, I thought. Will I have a huge bald spot? Will I have to have chemotherapy? Will I have to wear a WIG???
I had two options to remove the cancer growing dangerously close to my brain: general surgery or Mohs surgery. In general surgery, the surgeon would cut out a huge hunk of meat from my head and we would just hope that all of the cancer was removed. I pretty much crossed that off the list before anyone ever explained to me what the other option was. Mohs surgery, on the other hand, is performed by a dermatological surgeon. The surgeon would cut small slices out of my head, examine the skin under a microscope, and redirect the cutting as needed. Therefore, the smallest amount of skin as possible would be removed. I decided on the Mohs surgery since it sounded like the best option to keep most of my head intact.

My first surgery did not go so well, to put it mildly. Most people sit in a special, rigged-up chair and have the Mohs surgeon make the first removal on a small area on their nose/forehead/neck (places most exposed to the sun). They will have had a shot or two of that miracle numbing medicine (seriously, it is aaaamazing) before the cut is made. Afterwards, they will sit there for approximately twenty minutes while they wait on the surgeon to analyze the skin under the microscope. The surgeon may have to go in a second time to make another cut, or in some of the “extreme” cases, a third time. Because I let the cancer spread for such a long time (or maybe mine was more aggressive), the surgeon made five large cuts to remove the skin cancer from my scalp. Each time, I sat in the special-rigged up chair and had to keep my hand on a silver, metal-thingy that was supposed to keep me from bleeding, but failed. Because the skin removals were over such a large area each time, it took the surgeon at least forty-five minutes to analyze my cuts. During this time, the blood from the growing hole in my head was dripping down the back of my neck and the numbing shots were becoming less and less effective. Because the surgery took so long and my numbing shots had all but worn completely off around the time of the fourth cut, more numbing shots were injected into my scalp. Because these numbing shots cause swelling, by the time the surgeon was finished, my scalp was too swollen to close the wound with sutures. I left the clinic with a gaping hole in my head.

I was awake and conscious for a five hour surgery that left me with this result. During the next six weeks, my life revolved around the healing process and The Wound. The Wound had to heal from the bottom up. The Wound had to be kept moist at all times (this meant that a gob of Vaseline was placed on it twice a day underneath a bandage). No matter how often my hair was washed, the Vaseline inevitably worked its oiliness through every strand of hair. This made me look like I had not taken a shower in weeks. Speaking of showering…The Wound had to be properly washed and cleaned each night. Since it was in the back of my head, I could not do it myself. I had to sit naked in a bathtub every night while my momma, bless her heart, carefully and tearfully shampooed my hair for me. If you want to break the spirit of a nineteen year-old, take away her ability to give herself a shower, shampoo her hair, brush her hair, and dry her hair.
It was during one of these nightly shampoo sessions a few weeks later that Momma noticed a red line streaking from the bottom of The Wound towards my neck. She told me, her voice shaking, that she thought we needed to make another appointment with the Mohs surgeon. I exploded. It was ALL her fault, she should NOT have found it, I just got through ONE surgery I shouldn’t have to go through ANOTHER one, why did she have to FIND it?! However, it is hard to be an effective angry person while you are naked and shampoo that you cannot rinse out yourself is piled in your hair. Anger quickly subsided to frustration and sadness. Both Momma and I cried the entire time she rinsed out my hair that night.
The red line turned out to be skin cancer, again. The second Mohs surgery was almost identical to the first. However, it was “only” four times of cutting and skin removal this time. Except during this surgery, I was determined to speed up the healing process (I desperately needed a quicker recovery time and less shampooed-by-someone-else nights). As stubborn and independently-spirited as ever, I opted to not receive as many numbing shots—ensuring The Wound could be closed at the end of surgery. I left the doctor’s office the proud owner of a sore jaw (gritting your teeth to keep from screaming from pain actually works) and eleven staples.

Fast forward to almost present-day. In October of 2013, a kind Mohs surgeon located in Columbia, South Carolina (he shall remain nameless) was performing a check-up on my scalp for any signs of basal cell carcinoma. We shall call him Dr. A for Amazing. At this time in my life, I have a large bald spot caused by the scar from the previous two surgeries in my scalp. Because the previous Mohs surgeon was forced to use staples to close the large wound, the scar has since spread out and flattened over time (staples do not do well at closing skin together). No matter how I fix my hair, the bald spot is visible (I told you the bald spot was LARGE). Thankfully, Dr. A found no signs of skin cancer during the check-up. However, he was so touched by my story and the size of the scar, he offered to do a FREE scar excision surgery to make the area smaller. I jumped on the opportunity—he removed the majority of the scar tissue (shown in the picture below), and closed the remaining skin on each side with sutures.

Now, three surgeries later, I am finally skin cancer free AND scar free. I would give anything to be able to go back in time and tell my sixteen year old self that her skin is beautiful the way it is. But, if she absolutely must be tan, to use self-tanning products. I would tell her that the tanning bed will just damage her health drastically. Although this journey has made me such the strong, resilient person I am today, my hope is that I can prevent it from happening to anyone else. I do not tell my story to scare anyone, but to inform you. Do not think you are invincible. If you go to the tanning bed, you will develop skin cancer at some point in your life. If you are “lucky” like me, it will just be basal cell carcinoma. If you are unlucky, it will be melanoma, which is life-threatening. That mole you have had for years but is changing shape since you’ve been going to the tanning bed? Get it checked out. That freckle that is a strange color that you never noticed before, but come to think of it, it developed right after you started going back to the tanning bed? Get it checked out. Your health is in your own hands and I just hope that you will be smarter about protecting it than I was when I was sixteen. I am nowhere near as "tan" as I once was but I am healthy, happy, and feel beautiful in my skin.


I am so blessed to know someone as strong and intelligent as Lana, and so selfless in wanting to help others. If you absolutely MUST be tan I highly suggest self tanning products, my personal favorite is million dollar tan, it goes on white and gradually (over a few hours) becomes a natural and beautiful looking tan. Tips on using this to its fullest potential: exfoliate really well in the shower with a body scrub (you can use a homemade one with brown sugar, lemon juice, and coconut oil!), dry completely, and apply the lotion evenly and rub in well. I recommend doing this after your morning shower because if you sleep after applying and sweat in your sleep you could wake up looking a bit patchy. I cannot recommend this product enough, especially from someone who used to frequent tanning beds herself, the bottle seems small but it goes a long way. Also 20 dollars is a lot cheaper than tanning memberships and the "fancy" lotions. Also you are more likely to avoid medical bills this way.