A Lovely Baby Shower

Last weekend my sister and mom threw me a baby shower!  

Everything was beautiful and the food was delicious!

My sister, the lovely hostess, with her little 18 week bump!

Me and Wyatt (we couldn't get him to look at the camera - his eyes were glued to the balloons).

Big eyes.

Wyatt with his grandma, Derek's mom!

My sweet boy was the life of the party, for obvious reasons!  A cute toddler in a room full of ladies?  He ate up all the attention.

My mom and sister did a game where everyone gave random nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc, and then my sister filled them into a story about how I go into labor and how this baby is born - it was fun and the story ended up being pretty funny!

Ashley and Olivia.

We also played a trivia game on the names of famous TV children - and I was one of the winners!  I got 16 of them right.  So I won some bath salts, which was a nice treat!

And of course, the string game, where everyone guesses how big around I am - a couple of them actually guessed really close, like within a couple inches!

And then there were presents!  

My sister made that beautiful baby blanket for me!  I know Baby Girl is going to love it!

My mom and me - my mom is paying for some of our maternity photos as her gift, and she gave me a few other items as well!

Thanks for taking pictures for me, Ashley!

We got so many wonderful gifts, including a bunch of cute clothes for our baby girl, booties, shoes, crib sheets, crib bumper, blankets, baby shampoo set, diapers, wipes . . . I'm definitely feeling more prepared for her to come now!

My friend Ashley and me.

Me and my sister!

Our baby bumps!

My sister, mom, sister-in-law and me!

I have pictures of more of my family and friends who came, but I figured I better just post pictures of the people that I know won't mind being shown here.

I felt so showered with love and blessings from everyone who came - it was a beautiful shower!  Now just to sort our gifts and organize them in her nursery!

How To Pick A Baby Name

Note: Any names that appear in the pictures in this post are not actually names that we are considering at this time - you didn't think I'd make it that easy to figure it out, did you?

Derek and I got a chance to really talk about some names on our vacation last week, and we officially have our name list for Baby Girl narrowed down to two possible names!  One that I've liked for a while, and one that came out of nowhere and somehow made it to the top two.  I love both of the names we have.  I'm not sure if we will pick one before she is born or if we'll just wait until the hospital and make the final decision then - most likely the latter.

To commemorate this milestone, I thought I'd write a bit about our name-picking process.  We followed the same route when looking for names for Wyatt, and now for this baby, and it seems to work pretty well for us!

Visit the Social Security Website

First, I just have to say that I've found modern baby-name books to be a waste of time.  Derek and I like old names, ones that have a history, and most modern baby name books (as in, published within the last ten years) are filled with either foreign names that we just wouldn't use, or names that I've never even heard of before reading them in the book.  I swear those "10,000 Baby Names" books are filled with a bunch of names that someone, somewhere, just made up out of their head so they could say they have a book with 10,000 names.  But I digress . . .

Since most baby names nowadays are just not helpful, I like to refer to the Social Security website to come up with a list of names.  If you visit this page you can print up a list of the top 1000 names from any given year, as far back as 1880.   I usually like to print up the list from the most current year (because I like to know what's popular right now), and then I usually print up the list from the year 1900 - mostly because I know I like old names, so it just makes sense.  If you like names from a certain era, pick a year from that era and go from there.

Cross out all the names that just don't do it for you.

I go through and cross out any name that I don't like, or that is just "meh" to me.  By the end of this step I usually have about 40-50 names.

Cross out all names that your husband doesn't like.

I do most of the hard work in narrowing down the list to this point, but then Derek narrows it down further by telling me which names he just doesn't like.  At the end of this step we usually have about 20 names.

Look up name meanings.

For the remaining 20-ish names I'll sit down with a name meaning book or my laptop and look up the meanings to all the names.  Name meanings are important to me because I want to make sure my kids have names that mean something nice - and some names do not have nice meanings.  So I throw out the ones that don't have the greatest meanings, unless it happens to be a name that I really, really like.  More on this in a minute.

Discuss, Discuss, Discuss.

This is where Derek and I sit down and discuss all the names on our list and come up with our top 3-5.  Usually some names just stand out more than others, and the ones that don't stand out as much (but that we still like) are put aside for possible middle names.

Some fun websites that you can also check out while you are discussing are:

-Baby Name Genie - This website will take a first name and match it up with possible middle names, or vice versa.

-Baby Name Wizard - Check out the Name Voyager.  It will tell you the popularity of any given baby name as far back as 1880 using a fun graph.

-Nymbler - This takes your current kids names and gives you possible sibling names.  The names we like didn't happen to pop up when I entered Wyatt, but it's still fun.

-Finally, Nicole wrote a blog post recently about baby names too, and referenced a section in the documentary Freakonomics on baby names - her post was really interesting and worth a read!

Middle-Name Match-up.

It's like a game!  I sit down with our top 3-5 names and match them up with different middle name combinations.  Usually from here 2-3 of the full name possibilities stand out to Derek and me.

Final Decision Time.

This could come at any time, really.  For Wyatt, it came in the hospital when I looked at his little face for the first time and knew that he was a Wyatt.  We were kind of leaning toward Wyatt before then, and when he was born I just knew.  For this baby - it could come before she is born, or we might make that final decision in the hospital again.  We shall see!

There are also a few tips I'd like to add . . .

On Picking A Middle Name

Make sure you like the look of the first and middle name together on paper, and make sure they sound good when you say them aloud. Some of my middle name choices had to be throw out because they were just too hard to say with the first name - for example, if the sound at the end of the first name and the sound at the beginning of the middle name are the same sound, that gets hard to say.  

On Initials

If any of you have seen "You Again" you know what I'm talking about.  Make sure the initials are nice and don't spell out anything unflattering.  Poor Marney and her "M.O.O" initials come to mind.

On Name Meanings

If you really love a name but aren't crazy about the meaning, there are things you can do.  
For one thing, the same name doesn't mean the same thing in all languages.  For example, I knew I loved the name Wyatt, but I kept coming across websites that said it meant "Son of Guy". That's all good and fine, but it wasn't the most meaningful meaning . . . so I kept searching, and I found out that the French meaning for Wyatt is "Little Warrior", which I loved because I hope and pray for him to aspire to be a great spiritual warrior for God's Kingdom!  I also found another website recently that gave the meaning "brave or strong" for Wyatt too.  So if at first you don't like the name meaning, check a different website.

If all websites seem to give the same meaning, this does not mean you can't still make it work.  Are there any Bible verses that fit along the same theme?  Pick a "name meaning verse" for your child.  Kids like to know what their name means, and if it doesn't mean something significant, just make it significant for them in an encouraging way.

On Breaking the Rules

Any "rules" you come across out there are really more like guidelines.  Treat them as such, and go with your gut.  

Speaking as a former kid, I think they just like to know why you chose the name you chose - if you had their name picked out years before they were born because you loved it, tell them that. If you never even considered a name before and then it just felt right when they were on the way, tell them that.  If you couldn't decide, couldn't decide, and then looked at their face and just knew - tell them that too.  
Regardless of the name you picked, it'll make them feel special to know just what you went through to find that perfect name for them.

On Praying About Your Choice

I get a little overwhelmed picking names, because I feel like I'm not just picking a name - I'm picking part of who my child is, who they will become.  My child will have to live with this name for the rest of their life.  That's a big responsibility.  

With a decision as big as choosing the name of another human being, I think it's important to pray about your choice.  After all, there is Someone who already knows their name.  He knew it before you even considered it, and He knew your child before they even existed.  I think He'd like to be in on your decision-making process, even though He already knows.

What process did you go through to pick your children's (or future children's) names?

Don't Vote

Confusing title considering a few months ago I wrote a post on why I think it's important to vote, right?  I wrote that post as the primary elections were coming up earlier this year, and now that the general election is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to book-end that post with this one.  


Don't vote without being informed.  

And yes, this might take some effort and research.  But I discussed in my other post why I think it is not just a privilege but a responsibility to be informed and vote accordingly.  You should know where you stand on the issues, know which issues are most important to you, and know who best represents your position before voting.  

Don't vote for candidates based on "likability" alone.  

If you like the candidate you are voting for as a person, bonus!  But national elections are not American Idol, and they shouldn't be treated as such.  You should consider your values and vote for the person who you think will uphold them best (this is where that research comes in), not for the person that seems the "coolest" person to vote for.  Which brings me to . . .

Don't vote based on who you think is going to win.  

This is probably the silliest way I can think of to pick a presidential candidate, but I have really heard of some people voting for the person they think is going to win anyway.  I know we all want to be on the winning side, but really?  The choice of president is huge in determining the direction our country is going to go - take it seriously and make an informed choice!

Don't vote against your conscience.  

This all rolls back around to what things you value most, but I think we all have our critical, hot-button issues (if we are informed about the issues, anyway).  Two of mine happen to be that I'm strongly pro-life and I support traditional marriage - the Bible is very clear to me about God's position on the value of life inside the womb and on how He intended marriage to be, and I couldn't vote for someone who didn't also support those values.  

I know I probably lost half of you there (though if you've been reading a while, I'm sure you're not surprised).  But to vote for someone who was on the opposite side of those issues when I had another choice would be to go against my conscience.  Maybe your critical issues aren't mine, but know what they are and vote accordingly.

Don't vote without considering what God thinks about your choice.  

I'm speaking to fellow Christians here.  I think voting is a huge privilege that we have in this country.  It's not something everyone in the world gets to enjoy.  But more than a privilege, as Christians I think this is also a practical opportunity to be the "salt of the earth".  Back in the day salt was used as a preservative to keep things from going bad - to vote the way we think God would want us to is one very practical way to exercise our role as that "preservative".

And if you're not sure of how He would have you vote?  Study His word, and try to decide which candidate best fits with what God tells us in scripture.   Spend some time in prayer and ask Him what He thinks.

And if it's one of those things that the Bible doesn't say much about one way or another?  Pray about it, do some research, and do the best you can.


Despite the title I picked for this post, I hope you all are registered and planning to vote on November 6th!  It really is an a privilege and something that shouldn't be taken for granted by any American - no matter who you end up voting for.

Moms And Babies - Kara With 2

This week for Moms and Babies I'm featuring one of my oldest blog friends (as in, I've known her for a long time), Kara from Just 1 Step!  Kara is always such an encouragement to me, and I am excited to feature her again! If you'll remember, Kara actually did the very first Moms and Babies feature for me, but since then she's had another baby and I thought it would be interesting to hear how things have changed with adding another member to her family.  I loved reading about her experience as a new mom of two, and I'm sure you will as well!


Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm 29 years old, mother to two sons, and wife to my awesome husband Dave who I've been married to for almost 4 1/2 years.  We live in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  I'm a follower of Jesus (as is my husband) and we are doing our best to raise our children to love the Lord.  Right now I'm on maternity leave, planning to return to work as a biostatistician 4 days per week on November 19th.  Sometime in the next year (hopefully sooner than later) I plan to reduce my hours to 2 days per week so I can be home with my sons more.  (I'm sooooooo excited about this!)  You can check out my blog at www.just1step.com or you can follow me on Instagram @karasnoke.

What are your kids' names and how old are they?

We have two boys: Krewson (Krew) who is 2 1/2 years and Greyden (Grey) who is about 3 months.

Give us an idea of what a typical day looks like for you, and how has adding a second child to your family changed your previous routine?

To be honest, every day is completely different and I can't say that I have any schedule on any day.  I am a lot more relaxed about feeding and napping schedules with Greyden than I was with Krew, which I think is helpful given our busy lifestyle.  (We do a lot of traveling.)  With Krew I very much tried to follow the babywise schedule, but with Grey I just feed him when he seems hungry and I let him sleep when he seems tired (although if he sleeps too much during the day I will wake him up so he'll sleep that night).  Krew usually naps for a few hours in the afternoon, but that doesn't necessarily mean we have to be home during that time.  I've taught him to lay down on the floor in a sleeping bag at other people's houses, and he'll still usually take a full nap (huge blessing!).  So some days we stay home, some days we run errands, some days we visit friends, some days Grey naps all morning and not in the afternoon, sometimes both boys take long naps in the afternoon...it's all up in the air.  Given that information, adding a second child hasn't changed our previous routine much.  I'd say the biggest difference is that there is a lot more crying and a lot more work to do.  I can't take care of two kids at once in most situations, so there are many times when Greyden cries while I attend to Krew, or Krew whines and pouts while I attend to Grey.  There are now two kids to feed, two kids to bathe, two kids to dress, two kids who need stuff in the diaper bag, two kids to put down for naps, two kids to spend one-on-one time with, two kids to put in the car, two kids to take into the store... (I don't know how you moms of more than two do it!).  So it's a lot more work.  But of course so worth it. :)

What's your favorite part about being a mom?

Those moments when they lay their heads against me, snuggled in my arms, and I am filled with such incredible love and awe that God blessed me with these two souls to raise.

Have you noticed any similarities between your older child and your new baby?  Differences?

When they were first born, I thought they looked quite similar, but now they look very different from one another.  They were similar sizes at birth and both became quite high on the percentile charts rather quickly afterwards.  Krewson tapered off and is now pretty low on the height percentile, and I'm curious to see what Grey will do.  He's still pretty long as of now, but so was Krew at 3 months.  Similarities Greyden has to his bigger brother as an infant are the following:  he spits up a TON, he HATES tummy time, he gained a lot of weight and slept through the night fairly quickly, he's pretty easy-mannered, he likes the swing, and he loves mobiles.  That's all I can come up with given that he's only three months old and it's hard to remember what Krew was like at 3 months (sad but true).

How has your older child reacted to having a new little brother, and what has been your favorite moment between them so far?

At first things were rough.  Krewson was NOT happy about his new brother and took it all out on me.  He started acting like he hated me.  He didn't want to be around me, wouldn't let me hold him, hug him, or play with him, would say to me "Go away!!" and push on me, etc.  It absolutely broke my heart, and given that I was already a hormonal mess, I shed a ton of tears.  Fortunately it only lasted maybe a week, and then he came around and started treating me normally again.  He still isn't overly fond of Greyden, and typically just ignores him.  But there are occasional moments where he'll show an interest in his little brother, and I cherish those times because they are few and far between.  My favorite moment so far is one that has occurred a couple times, and it's when Grey is crying and Krew starts singing him a song.  It's so precious, and typically the song is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".  Melts my heart.

Are there any must-have products that you would recommend to other moms?

For a newborn/infant: Swaddle cloths (the velcro kind), Aquafor, gas drops, Breast Friend (I like this much better than my Boppy), Boppy Noggin Nest Head Support pillow (to prevent and correct flat spots), noise maker, TONS of burp cloths if you have a spitty kid like I do, Similac Baby Journal app for those first few weeks with a newborn, nipple shield and Medela lanolin if breast feeding, breast pump, breathable bumper (although they're not recommended by the AAP), aden + anais swaddle cloths (for use as blankets), aden + anais burpy bibs.  (Sorry, I guess that was a long list. :) ) 

What has been your favorite moment or outing as a family so far?

I really love taking the kids to Dave's ultimate frisbee tournaments and cheering him on.  (As you're reading this, we will actually be at his nationals tournament in Sarasota, FL!) There was also one day when we took the two kids on a walk to the playground in the double stroller, and the dogs went along, and it was so fun just to be out and about as a family, relaxing and enjoying ourselves.  I cherish simple moments like those.

Any advice or words of wisdom to those of us who are getting ready to go from one kiddo to two?

It seems incredibly overwhelming at first, but you will get the hang of it.  Just take it slowly.  First learn to be home with both kids, then try taking them both on a walk.  Then maybe venture to a friend's house, then a restaurant, then a store.  Bit by bit, you will learn new methods and routines for handling both kids.  At first just the thought of being home alone with both of them terrified me, but then two months later I was taking them both on a 12-hour road trip by myself.  It was just a matter of learning new tricks.  (And developing some extra arm strength - there have definitely been times when I've had the baby carseat in one arm and my toddler and diaper bag in the other.  Crazy but true.)  And don't be afraid to let the baby cry and fuss a little.  If he's fed and warm and safe, he's going to be fine if you need to let him cry a little while you attend to your other child or take care of other household issues.  It's hard to listen to, but I promise that he will not suffer long-term for it, and it will let your other child know that he is still important, too.  It will also help keep you sane, because it's nearly impossible to hold an infant all day and get anything else done.  And when you've got two kids, you need to get stuff done. :)


Thanks so much Kara, lots of good advice!  Don't forget to check out Kara's blog to read more about her sweet family!

Estuarium, Pumpkin Patch, Fort - Vacation 2012

Last vacation recap post!  Lots of pictures in this post too, so consider yourself duly warned. 
On Saturday we all went to an estuarium together.  I had never heard of an estuarium, but it was basically an aquarium at an estuary, which is the point where fresh water rivers meet the salt water of the ocean.

Wyatt loved all the displays and looking at the fish (we can add "fish" to his list of words now. . .)

These were outside the estuarium. 

After that we went out to lunch and then took a walk along the waterfront!  We saw turtles in their natural habitat too, which was fun.  Turtles are so cute, I think.

Wyatt making funny faces at the camera at lunch.

Along the waterfront.

On the way back we stopped by a pumpkin patch too!  Finally made it there!  We just took some pictures of Wyatt with the "punkins" (he learned that word on this trip too), and even though I didn't bring his fall outfit that I wanted him to wear we got some cute ones!

Derek and me at the pumpkin patch.

Uncle Jeff with Wyatt:

The next day Derek and Wyatt and I took off by ourselves to visit Fort Macon together!  Derek and I had visited the fort with Jeff and Rae once before, and it was fun to go back.

Derek and Wyatt:

Me and my boy!

Wyatt loved walking around the big empty rooms in the fort!

Walking through the fort:

Me and Baby Girl!

Me and both of my babies!

Derek and Wyatt on top of the fort!

After that we attempted to find a certain restaurant so we could have a dirigible for lunch.  Dirigibles are basically baked potatoes with a lot of vegetables and cheese piled on top of them - I had one last time we went to visit that area and loved it, and Derek totally read my mind when he suggested we go get another one.  We finally found the place, but unfortunately it was closed because it was Sunday - bad timing.  But we had fun walking along Front Street anyway!

That evening Jeff and Rae watched Wyatt for a little while so Derek and I could go see a movie together, so we got a date night in!  We saw "Trouble With The Curve".  Didn't like the language, but we thought the storyline was pretty good!  Plus I'm an Amy Adams fan, so I was glad we got to go see it.  Wyatt had a great time playing with Uncle Jeff and Aunt Rae too, so it worked out great!

Wyatt at the airport.  I think he makes the cutest faces when he's drinking through a straw!
The next day we got up early and flew home, and just like that our trip was over.  I felt like it was too short, but it was so nice to be able to visit family and do a little site-seeing together!  We always have a great time when we go out to visit Jeff and Rae!

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