Simple Favorites: Erin McDermott Jewelry


When it comes to fashion and clothes and accessories, I’m a pretty minimal / basic kind of girl. Find me the perfect fitted tee and I’ll buy it in every color. In terms of jewelry I wear special, meaningful pieces. Often they’re gifts from Bryan or sometimes more pricey pieces that I’ve had forever and wear over and over again. I don’t wear statement pieces a lot – unless its a gorgeous necklace with a simple black dress for a night out.

I LOVE this new necklace from Erin McDermott Jewelry. Not only is each of her pieces handmade, each piece has a special story and was carefully created by Erin with so much love. For a long time I wore this cross necklace from Stella & Dot. (Like… I never took it off). Now, I’m wearing this version of the laid-down cross from Erin. It’s a freshwater pearl necklace. It’s just gorgeous and feels so special. I haven’t taken it off in weeks. You may recognize Erin’s pieces from Garden & Gun, Martha Stewart Weddings and Real Simple Magazine.

A lot of people have asked me what the sideways cross means. I love this explanation (though I’m sure there are a lot of explanations) – “It’s a symbol of Jesus’ finished work – having procured our salvation, He has laid his cross down.”

All of Erin’s jewelry is just gorgeous and she’s been so sweet to extend a special discount just for our readers!! Use code “EMILYLEY” at checkout to save 40% off the Freshwater Pearl Cross Necklace and / or the Bracelet version!

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SimplifiedPlanner_Annawithlove_WEB--18Order yours today! We’re so excited to FINALLY have these in the shop and can’t wait to put them in your hands! If you have any questions, check out this great post with details of both the Weekly Edition and Daily Editions! LaunchButton-09


Special thanks to Annawithlove Photography for the beautiful image above!


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Simplicity_Graphic_May-01Hey y’all, I’m Mandy! I live in Louisburg, NC. The south. The country, to be more exact. My back yard is a tobacco field, my neighbors bring us fresh vegetables from their gardens, and we have just recently become the adopted family of six little ducks who think they are children. My husband, my two girls ( 3 and 5), and I make up our little family. Though in the south, as you know, “family” is a relative term. Literally. It grows by the day, which I love. You just never know you might run into at the super market who will introduce herself as your cousin, twice removed, and squeeze your babies cheeks and ask about “your mama and them”. Speaking of family, my work is really just an extension of my family life. I work for my very dearest friend, Susan, and I feel like the Lord created this little piece of heaven just for us. Technically, I am the Operations Manager of Pea Pod Paper and Gifts, but in reality, I am the Organization Queen of the South. That’s the title I give myself. It’s a better fit, I think, and one of these days I’ll have a sash made.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

I start and end every day in prayer. I actually visualize the Lord, in His full glory, listening to my every word and thought. I do this because I believe that He IS listening, and it also helps me stay focused. A mama’s mind so easily wonders. This simple prayer and meditation keeps my attention all day long. Whenever I start to stray from the goodness of life to the land of “things that could possibly happen that are TERRIBLE but probably never actually will”, I just come back to those quiet moments with me and Jesus, and I am enveloped in the peace that passes all understanding. I am ready for anything.

I have also learned to let myself enjoy the things that I love, that may not serve any other purpose than to make me feel good. Sweet tea, Lilly Pulitzer, banana pudding, Mary Kay Andrews, and brightly colored office supplies, for instance. And so what if I have to watch Dirty Dancing EVERY SINGLE TIME it’s on TV? Who is that really hurting? I think the two most important things we can do for ourselves are to give our whole entire hearts to Jesus, and to give ourselves a break. He gave us this life to enjoy it. And to do whatever we can to help other people enjoy theirs. Love deep and wide, and don’t ever apologize for it.

In your home, how do the mundane parts of life get done? 

I may be one of the few southern women left in the world who actually enjoys chores. Cleaning, cooking, laundry, I love it. My very favorite chore is cleaning out. Give me a messy closet and a few giant trash bags and I am in hog heaven. For me, cleanliness provides deep satisfaction. Sure my floors need scrubbing and my shower grout needs bleaching, but overall, I like things tidy. This is my idea of simplified life. Keeping things tidy, everything in it’s place, refrigerator shelves lined with cute polka-dotted covers (that’s right, refrigerator shelf liners), this keeps things simple. I love to make lists and check things off, hangs clothes neatly by category in the closets, and dress us all in sort of coordinating outfits with giant monogrammed matching hair bows on my children’s heads. I believe this compulsiveness is deeply rooted in southern tradition. Not quite a disease, but close to it.

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What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to your family?

Night time prayer is our most treasured tradition. This began as me saying prayers over my babies as I gently, okay sometimes desperately, rocked them to sleep at night. I would thank God for the best parts of the day and plead for more patience and guidance in the more difficult bits. And as the babies grew, they joined in the thanksgiving and pleading. And as my husband listened to the sweet gratitude for sunny days and best friend’s birthday parties, and the serious requests for the healing of boo boo’s and more new Sofia’s, he even began to lift up a prayer or two. And because I believe the absolute most important thing that we will do in this life is raise our children to be faithful followers of God, this tiny piece of our day is the most important. It defines who we are as a family.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 things can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_Blog_May1. Emily Ley Simplified Planner
Let’s just start with the tie that binds. While I am admittedly planner obsessed, this one has been a game changer. The vast open white spaces leave lots of room for color coding without clashing, because we can’t have that, and lists of all kinds. I adore the large spaces on the monthly calendar, the weekly prep list, and bright colored tabs. While I am giddy over the new designs, I think I’ll be going for the signature stripes again for 2015. It’s hard to improve on perfection.

2. Monogrammed Hair Bows
When I was younger I just could not believe my mama put those giant bows on my head. I whined and swore I would NEVER do that to MY little girls. Well guess what. No outfit for my girls is complete without a monogrammed hair bow that is nearly the size of their heads. They look naked without them! Luckily, we have a friend who hand-ties them and another who monograms, so we never have to go without. Just precious.

3. Bright pink blush
My current favorite is MAC Proenza Schouler Blush Ombré in Ocean City. Southern women should never leave the house without a pretty pink blush, a coat of mascara, and lip gloss. Basic rule of thumb. Call me old fashioned if you want to.

4. Good Home Co. Beach Days Glass and Surface Cleaner
This all purpose cleaner is both powerful and all natural, keeping all the harsh chemicals and additives of most cleaning products out of your home. But most importantly, it smells so much like the beach that I want to strip down to my unmentionables and lay on the back porch with a pina colada every time I wipe down the kitchen counter. Get some. Your husbands can thank me later.

5. Carolina Herrera 212
Oh this perfume. This smell. It is absolutely intoxicating. People stop me when I walk by to ask what I’m wearing. Of course I tell them I don’t know what in the world they are talking about, it’s just my natural scent. But actually, I owe this sweetness to the lovely Ms. Herrera.

6. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young App
This daily devotional changed my life. It speaks directly to me every day. And I know I am not the only one who feels that way. I have gifted it to so many friends who feel the same way. Sarah Young has a way of interpreting scripture that brings the Bible to life in a whole new way. It’s an absolute must have.

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

After attending Making Things Happen in 2012, Emily and Lara became a driving force in helping me find my way back to my roots. And my purpose. While I have taken some time off from writing, I have certainly found myself. I have learned to say no to some things that I used to love so that I can YES to what matters. I encourage y’all to do the same. Remember the times in your life when you felt the MOST full. The most complete. Remember who you were then . Even if you haven’t felt that way since you were in high school, or a little girl without a care in the world. That still matters. It’s still relevant. Even though circumstances change, who you are meant to be never does. Simplify your world. Bring the innocence back. Let’s go back to a less more pure way of life.


Follow along with Mandy:

Instagram: @peapodpaperandgifts

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler.  Submit your story here.


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Simple Favorites: JV Clothiers

EmilyLey_JVClothiers1Can we talk for a minute about HOW STINKIN’ HARD IT IS to find cute boy’s clothes. I mean seriously. When I walk into a store, I am thankful I have a boy because those girls clothes are just overflowing! So many cute options! I’m just not a fan of the character tees and cargo shorts for B yet – I love his little preppy, Florida style. We shop mainly at Carter’s (which he’s now outgrowing), GAP (mostly when things are on sale) and Ralph Lauren (their sales are SO GOOD). I don’t find a lot for him at Target (which I love for myself) because its all so grown up or so “character-y.”


When Stephanie emailed me from JV Clothiers I was over the moon! Look how cute!! We are big LSU Tigers and Chicago Bears fans over here (well, the boys are – I just wear the tee-shirts and make the game day food). JV Clothiers has the most adorable (and, by the way, wonderfully made) shirts, shorts and even belts to represent your favorite college team (raise ‘em right, ladies!)


Ok, so I need some tips – what are your favorite places to shop for cute boy’s clothes? B’s a 5T (big boy) and he’s growing like a weed (losing his baby chub… I know… I don’t even want to talk about it… tear).  (image above from JV Clothiers)


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Simplicity_Graphic minnick-01Hi there! My name’s Katie, and I’m an interaction designer (a fancy term for someone who designs computer software) working and living in Kansas City, Missouri, otherwise known as the South of the North. I recently got engaged to my love puffin, Benjamin. Although we’re young (we just graduated college in 2013), we can’t wait to start our married life together in November. Between working a full-time job 45 hours a week, planning a wedding in 6 months, leading a bible study for high school girls, freelance designing, and following Jesus, there are some days I just feel like giving up. But then Jesus reminds me that “His grace is sufficient,” meaning I don’t have to do everything, despite what our “busy” culture tells us.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

I’m still developing my “perfect formula” to be my best self, but I have discovered a few “musts” in order to at least stay sane. :) I always listen to my YouVersion Bible app on my way to work in the mornings. It gives me a fresh perspective for the day ahead. I also make sure to limit my junk food intake, exercise regularly (read: twice a week), get on my knees in prayer every night, and check in with my “Board of Directors” (my term for my mentors) at least once a week for accountability and a general life check.

In your home, how do the mundane parts of life get done? 

Although I don’t have a “family” per se, I do have to take care of my body and the relationships around me. I’m a huge coupon cutter; I rarely buy something not on sale. There are so many great apps and websites that help me do this. Google Drive is also my secret weapon. Everything from countless wedding documents (guest list, vendor contact information, etc.) to meal planning, monthly finances, expenses, and student loans goes in my Drive. Plus, I can share it with whoever else needs to see it!


                                                                                                                            Photos by Ashley Biess of Artistrie Co.


What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to your family?

One tradition my family observes religiously (no pun intended) is praying together, whether before dinner, leaving on a trip or over the phone, we strongly believe in the power of prayer. It resets our minds to focus on what’s important, and puts us at ease for the problems we’re facing.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 things can you absolutely not live without?

1. YouVersion Bible App. Whether I’m commuting to work or have a few spare moment at work, having this baby handy on my phone has been nothing short of a godsend. (I’m all over these puns today!

2. Fresh flowers – specifically daisies. Having fresh flowers around brightens my mood, and reminds me of God’s small gifts to us, how much he desires us and wants to please us. Daisies are just so fun!

3. Did I mention Google Drive yet? Seriously, an organizer’s life saver. 

4. My Merona Cognac Tote from Target. I’m slightly obsessed with Target, and this bag only fuels my obsession. I can put anything in it. I take it to work everyday carrying my laptop and charger, umbrella, books, makeup and keys. It holds so much! I like to think of myself as the Modern-Day Mary Poppins. 

5. Fossil Watch. I wear a Fossil Watch everyday. Not only has it lasted me over 5 years, but is so helpful. I may look old-school wearing a watch, but it’s much more convenient and professional when checking the time and date, rather than pulling my phone out during a meeting. 

6. Chai Tea Latte. Obsessed with Starbuck’s Chocolate Chai, but any Chai Tea will really do. I am not a huge coffee drinker, but love the caffeine, especially during long nights of wedding planning!


Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

Prayer, rest and a piece of chocolate always seem to pick me up off the floor when I feel I’ve hit my lowest.


Follow along with Katie:


Instagram: @katieminnick

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler.  Submit your story here.


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Dear Babies

Dear sweet babies,

Hi little ones. I’m sorry I haven’t written more. It’s been a hard pregnancy for us so far, hasn’t it. Don’t worry. The hard stuff is behind us. We’re over the hump. You’re going to giggle, but it’s hard for me to imagine you’re actually in there. I feel you every now and then. I’ve felt you for weeks now (no one believes me but Daddy I think… but you and I, we know).  We’re approaching Week 14. The first 14 weeks (and the 6 prior) were really hard for us weren’t they. Not just me… but you too. IVF, the unending (still ever-present at times) nausea, the actual growing pains of your little bodies fitting inside mine, OHSS, ovarian torsion, 12 days in the hospital. You’re worth it.

I struggle being pregnant, honestly. Just as God is growing and building your little bodies, he’s shaping mine too. My normally relatively thin frame is growing really fast this time and I’m learning to let God have control of it – to shape it into a perfect home for you for many more months. 

We’re approaching the point in our pregnancy when the doctors will start measuring you, counting your precious fingers and toes, making there are no concerns we will need to be careful of on your birthday… I’ll be honest, I’m scared. My pregnancy with your big brother was very, very scary… leading to one big, beautiful, perfectly healthy birth-moment and the precious boy who will be your big brother forever. Still, I have a hard time letting go… realizing that God planned your lives and counted your days (and fingers and toes) long, long ago. 

It took us a long time to get to the day where your little hearts began beating in my belly. Choosing to go through IVF to let doctors help in such a big way was a very hard decision for us – me in particular. But as with all things, looking over my shoulder at the past months, I see how God’s hand so perfectly orchestrated that experience. Even when I was afraid we were taking control away from Him, I see how the opposite was happening, really. He was nudging me, ever-so-gently, to trust Him. I see how He shaped our hearts during the painful parts of infertility. I see how, through that process, He very specifically prepared and chose the two of you, giving us (quite literally) NO time to question the doctor’s advice to transfer BOTH of you, not just one. I see how God knew and knows you… how He is growing our hearts to love you with more love that we ever knew could fit in our bodies… no matter how many fingers and toes you have, no matter how many days we have with you, no matter how many chromosomes you have, no matter what… he chose your precious little souls to live in my belly. And its in those realizations that I smile and feel so much peace as we enter these next few weeks and high-risk ultrasounds. My friend Stefanie Miles read this passage to me when I was terribly scared for your brother and approaching his birthday. I just want to soak these words into my soul.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139: 13-16

I love you to the moon and back, little ones. Your big brother is sleeping in the next room. Every night he leans close to my belly and whispers to you, “do you want to play with me when you come out?” He’s so excited to be a big brother to you. And a great one he will be. Grow and be strong, pumpkins.

I love you so much,




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Before Brady was born, I searched high and low for a diaper bag that was A) cute as a purse and B) very, very functional. When I couldn’t find anything I loved I ended up having a cute tote bag monogrammed and going with that. But the diapers and sippy cups and Sophie the Giraffe were always stuck way down in the bottom of my black-hole bag.


Now, with two on the way, I’m determined not to make the same diaper bag mistake. Enter Lily Jade. Are you kidding me!? First of all this is the cutest PURSE (I’m a sucker for big bags) and second of all, if can be worn THREE ways – as a handbag, cross-body and as a backpack. That’s right… a backpack. Inside the bag is a removable insert with a gazillion pockets and a changing pad. (Bag shown is the “Elizabeth” in camel)


I LOVE the multiple pockets to keep things organized and in their own spaces. They’re perfect for stashing bottles (upright!) and snacks and other must-haves. I seriously thought I was going to have to buy an awful enormous bag to hold everything I need for two until I saw this bag. Lily Jade has a ton of colors and styles too – camel has just always been my fave handbag color. I love finding something cute and fun that solves a problem. Lily Jade has done just that with their bags. I’m a big fan.

And YAY because Lily Jade is giving away a super cute Cailin diaper bag to one of you!! Entry details are below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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SIMPLICITY: Ashlee Proffitt

Hi friends!  Today we’re excited to launch our Simplicity Series 2.0 with a sweet friend and amazing designer, Ashlee Proffitt. So many of you loved our Simplicity Series over the last year. This feature will continue to highlight those 6 products each woman can’t live without. BUT, each gal will also provide tips on making what matters happen and the systems, routines and products they’ve put into place to stay organized.  We hope you love it!  And without further ado, meet Ashlee!

Simplicity_Graphic. Revised-01Hello! My name is Ashlee! I was born and raised in southern Virginia and now reside in Tampa, Florida. I am a pastor’s wife and a mama to 4 little ones. I am southern at my core with a heart for southern drawls, front porches and sweet tea.

I fell madly in love with the art of design (and all things paper and ink!) while studying at James Madison University. I have a sweet little online shop that brings beauty and Truth into the lives of women and I have the pleasure of working with creatives to build strong brands for their businesses.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

As a mama to little ones (all under 6!) and a wife to a husband with a very demanding job taking care of myself is of utmost importance! My first step is to get up early! I set my alarm clock for the wee morning hours before the little ones rise. I enjoy a cup (or two!) of coffee, read my Bible and pray. This isn’t always perfect but it’s a great step in the right direction to having my heart set on what matters most as I start the day. 

And then I pursue general good health habits (pursue, meaning, it’s not perfect but each day I make choices that become habit and lifestyle), going to bed and getting rest, exercising and eating healthy.

2013 Shay CochraneIn your home, how do the mundane parts of life get done? 

The mundane parts of my life get done by actually putting them in my planner. Crazy! I know. I am just super forgetful and thrive best with routine! Managing a home and family this big takes planning and diligence. 

So I actually schedule out my days and my responsibilities. 

Sunday (evenings) – I create our Weekly Meal Plan, and the Grocery List. (I also list out everything that needs to get done that week for the family and for my business. I even schedule coffee and lunch dates with friends during my Sunday evening routine. Listen, days go by too fast to not intentionally pursue the relationships in your life.)

Monday – Sync Meeting: My husband and I ‘sync up’ on Monday mornings before the kiddos get up. We look at our calendars and plan a date night, appointments we have, people we want to have over, etc. We go over our budget and talk about anything that needs to be addressed (from lightbulbs that need to be replaced to one of the kids needs some extra daddy time this week.) We start this time by reading Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening and praying for one another. It’s not always as amazing as it sounds. But it has been a wonderful way to increase our communication and ability to manage lots of different things at one. Monday is also Grocery Shopping Day! Hooray! My kids love this day. Not. BUT having a plan and doing the shop weekly with a list in hand makes it go super fast. Also, I don’t give them the free cookie at the super market until we are almost done. Bribery works every time. 

Friday – Yard Work / House Work Day! 
Saturday – Laundry

The thing is, when there is time and space allotted for the mundane, it all becomes much more enjoyable!! (Less frantic and less a sense of not really important… because in reality, taking care of my family and the needs of the home is of the utmost importance.)  

What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to your family?

Yay! Like I said before, this little family thrives within routine so we actually eat almost all meals at the table. My husband is a pastor and his office is in the home. So breakfast, lunch and dinner are all eaten at the table as a family (unless one of us has a meeting or date with a friend, obviously.) It’s amazing what that time can bring to a family, the sense of unity and stability. The table is where hard conversations and big belly laughs happen and questions are answered and tears are comforted and life comes together in one big beautiful mess of a family.  Now there is always the pizza night in the living room exception to the dining table rule, of course. 

At dinner each night we use the Q & A a Day: 5-Year Journal. Each of us take turns answering the question of the day. I can’t wait to look back at those answers in the years to come!

Your PICK SIX: What 6 things can you absolutely not live without?

1. Bible: ESV Study Bible/ Gospel Transformation Bible or Jesus Storybook Bible for the littles
2. Coffee!
3. Planner + Meal Planner & Grocery Lister
4. A Good Pen + Blank Notebook 
5. My Camera (I am obsessed with documenting life!! I never want to forget those chubby little cheeks or the mischief those little hands get into.)
6. Fresh Flowers & Indoor Plants (I can’t even tell you how many I have… it’s an addiction!)


My hope is to raise children who love God and love others. My hope is to continue to build a marriage that lasts until the day we meet in heaven. My hope is to encourage and inspire women to lead a life that is purposeful and intentional, making the most of the time and gifts they are given. 

This is never about being perfect, for we will never perfectly ‘keep it all together.’ However, we utilize organizations and systems so that we can make the most of our time with those we love and to the pursue those big amazing dreams!

Follow along with Ashlee:



Instagram: @ashleeproffitt


The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler.  Submit your story here.


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The Daily & Weekly Editions of the 2015 SP!

2-01We are finally just a few weeks away from our 2015 Simplified Planner launch!! That is also the date we *may* find out the genders of our sweet babies (if they cooperate!) Big day around here. My vote is two boys. I feel like I’m only capable of having boys for some reason, but we’ll see! :) 1-01 Alright, back to SPs. Many (!!!) of you have asked to see a direct comparison of our Daily and Weekly Editions. While I will always and forever adore the daily edition, I am smitten by the Weekly and am torn as to which I’ll be using in 2015. The Weekly and Daily Editions have a few differences, I’ll outline them here: as-01 If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on this post and we’ll get back to you! A few full-disclosure notes:

  • We do not have nearly as many Weekly Editions as we do Daily Editions. All are limited (meaning – we won’t have more after this run) but the Weekly Edition is very limited.
  • The Daily Edition can also be found in our fab retail stores. The Weekly Edition is only available in our shop (this year).
  • ALL Simplified Planners will ship the NEXT business day after your purchase! Yeehaw! We’re fully prepared to ship a bazillion on September 4, so get your order in on launch day!
  • Mark your calendars for September 3 at 10am EST!!

xo, Emily

PS: Check out the inside pages below! :) Click the images to enlarge them and view them up close.

Inside-02 Inside-03


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That time a miracle happened.

OurTwins-01I’m still speechless. I stare at that photo and I feel like someone photoshopped my face onto that girl. But oh wait… that’s me. That’s Bryan. And that’s my precious B holding two fingers up. Two. One, two. At night after B says his prayers he says… “and thank you, God, for our babies.” Our babies. Back in November of 2013, we gave up on the whole fertility thing. We had a sit-down with our fertility doctor where he told us IVF was our only remaining option – after multiple failed IUIs, years on crazy fertility drugs that made me feel awful and more procedures / scars on my belly than I ever dreamed of having.

We laughed nervously and told him “But we weren’t supposed to get here. We have a child. We’re capable. IVF was so far down the road. How’d we get here.” So we stopped it all. We took a break and enjoyed Christmas. We sold a lot of planners (and shipped a lot of planners). We celebrated Brady’s third birthday. We worked hard at our jobs and found ourselves enjoying being a family of three more than anything in the world. Being JUST the three of us was / is a joy that we didn’t even realize until then. Still, I cried at the idea that our family may never grow. God had opened this piece of my heart that I KNEW was to be filled with another child. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would open doors and CLOSE doors so that we would know the route to take.

There were many options but none felt like the ONE. Until one night at dinner, Brady asked us who was going to sit in the empty chair. Our little circular wooden table seats four. And he asked why there was always an empty seat. And my heart broke in half and I hid my tears and ate my dinner. And Bryan and I decided to make the scary decision and give IVF one shot. Just one. If it didn’t work, we would celebrate our family of three and be unendingly grateful that we’d been able to have a child together and move on. The scariest part of the whole process was picking up the phone, calling our nurse and telling her that we decided to move forward with IVF and that we were ready.

That was in March. It takes a long time to get all the ducks in a row and all the tests done and everything ready to begin the process. I focused on the National Stationery Show and kept busy to distract myself. Sidenote… we struggled a lot with the decision to do IVF. For a thousand reasons. And for weeks, we said we weren’t going to share our journey at all – just because it is so personal. But when the emotions of it all started to wash over me we both knew that I couldn’t’ keep it a secret. That’s one reason why infertility is so hard. We alienate ourselves. And we become unbearably lonely because we think we are the only ones who have to travel these difficult roads. I hope someone reading this is able to pull this virtual hug out of their computer screen because you are not alone. Not at all. We all stand with you. And we pat you on the back for every step forward you make – no matter WHAT road you choose to grow your family.

We started our cycle on Mother’s Day, I started the injections. The next few weeks were a blur. I gave myself daily injections while in NYC for the Stationery Show (thanks Sarah for being my alarm and keeping me on track). Throughout the process I noticed little coincidences that made me feel like God was showing me we were taking the right steps forward. For instance, my trip to NYC almost cancelled our cycle. But my flight home saved it by less than 8 hours. I flew home at 11pm and I was in my doctor’s office at 7am the next day. Day by day we followed the protocol. I kept my chin up and stayed hopeful (Bryan is ALWAYS hopeful… I tend to be the “prepare for the worst” one in our relationship). My little belly bruised. My calendar was FULL of appointments – most at 7am across town. And my body felt the affects of the TONS of medications. The day before Father’s Day, I started feeling bad. I wasn’t sure what it was but my belly was beginning to swell a little – all part of the process, I assumed. I begged Bryan to get me a pregnancy test. He was very much against me taking one at home and wanted me to wait for my blood test two days later. After a while he gave in and drove to CVS. That night I sent Bryan and Brady into the living room. I took the test and shook as I held it under the bedroom light next to Bryan’s side of the bed. That little stick determined the rest of our lives.

That’s a lot of pressure for one little stick. And just as fast as could be… those two little lines appeared. Pregnant. In an ugly-cry, racing-through-the-house sort of way I ran into the kitchen mumbling and sobbing and scooped up Brady and tossed the stick at Bryan. (Poor thing, he didn’t know whether I was happy or sad). “Yes!! Yes!! Yes!!” I kept saying. I’ll never forget that ugly cry for as long as I live. The next day I started to feel worse. I called my doctor and let her know about my little belly. She said we’d keep an eye on it and asked me to check in with her later that day. But that afternoon I gained 6 lbs and couldn’t eat more than a tiny bit of food. When my kidneys stopped working they pre-admitted me to the hospital and asked me to come in right away. Over the next 48 hours, I gained an additional 14 lbs of fluid (22 total) in my belly. I could barely walk, eat or even sit comfortably. I was diagnosed with severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation. It only occurs in 1-2% of IVF cycles, but wouldn’t you know it… it happened to me.

Essentially my one little ovary got VERY big and my veins started pouring fluid into my abdomen, which made me very dehydrated, totally confused my kidneys and eventually went into my lungs, back, chest and legs. Miserable doesn’t even describe what it felt like. I had a drain installed in my stomach and was drained 4 times for a total of 7 liters during my hospital stay. But… during my first day in the hospital, my HCG blood level was drawn and my pregnancy was confirmed… on Father’s Day. :) Little did I know at the time, but late onset OHSS is a strong indicator of multiples.

Eight days later I was released from the hospital. I was still up 22lbs of fluid but my body had finally stopped adding fluid to the problem. I was able to continue recovering at home. Unfortunately, with pregnancy-triggered late onset OHSS, like I had, the pregnancy hormone (HCG) feeds the problem. So it takes a long time for your belly to go down (I looked about 6 months pregnant). I was put on a (I can’t even type this without cringing at this point) high salt, high protein, all gatorade, no water diet. (Gross). And slowly but surely I started to recover.

My mom and dad and Bryan and my friends here have been just incredible. I’m so grateful. A few weeks ago we received the surprise of our lives when the sonographer confirmed two babies with fluttering little heartbeats. Since then we’ve been shocked, overjoyed, terrified and over the moon.

I knew, knew, knew that painful little infertility fear shaped piece of my heart was being shaped for something big. I just knew it. And now, it all makes sense. The timing, the twins (!?!?), the lessons learned. I don’t even have words anymore. Either that or this UNBELIEVABLE nausea is drawing me away from the computer screen. Thank you friends for supporting me from near and far during our 3 year journey to baby #2…. and #3.

And for those of you reading this who are just a few steps behind me in the process, know this… The tears are ok. Its ok to have bad days. Know also that an incredible plan was put into place long ago and you are in the middle of it. The ending, whatever it may look like, however your family may grow, will be the perfect completion. It may not be easy, but it’ll always be worth it


Emily – soon to be Mama to 3 under 4 (AHHH!!!!)


A few thoughts for anyone discovering this googling “late onset Ovarian Hyperstimulation” from their hospital beds miserable and tired of drinking Gatorade:

  • OHSS is miserable for about 1-2 weeks. Buckle down. Walk as much as they’ll let you, when they let you. Eat what you can. Give yourself grace and rest.
  • OHSS is still affecting me (my belly is still quite big) at 10 weeks pregnant. Doc says it’ll be a few more weeks before my one ovary (I only have one) goes down. It’s the size of my head right now. That’s crazy. It’s big, but I have no other symptoms at this point. At 6.5 weeks things started improving drastically.
  • There’s not a lot of info about OHSS online. And my nurses didn’t know much about it in the hospital. Late onset is rare but not bad. Don’t be scared, just be honest about how you feel and do what you can to feel better.
  • I went straight from OHSS into the worst nausea I’ve ever had in my life (and I had it BAD with my first pregnancy with my son). Keep reminding yourself of the happy things. Don’t focus on what’s uncomfortable or you will drown. Seriously. I still haven’t processed the gravity of what I was hospitalized with. Let people help you.

A few thoughts on IVF for anyone considering it:

  • IVF is not for the faint of heart. But thank goodness for it. After much prayer, it was clearly the right move for us. Do I regret it after OHSS? No way. I had incredible doctors and nurses and just happened to be one of the 1-2% that got it. BUT, I was also one of the 55% IVF works for on the first round. I’m forever thankful.
  • Should I do IVF? I can’t answer that. :) It’s such a personal decision. And one that I really feel like needs to be prayed over, thought through, talked about very carefully with your family. There are SO many noble options for growing your family. And I can name SO MANY women who have seen their infertility circle drawn to a close through all of them. Beautifully. And so happy. Consider everything.
  • Was IVF painful? Expensive? It’s different for everyone. Needles puncturing your skin never feel good :) But they didn’t hurt too bad. I gave them to myself. The other procedures were relatively painless. Expensive – worth it.
  • Did you transfer two embryos? We did at our doctor’s recommendation. We had a 15% chance of having twins. And wouldn’t you know… I’m just winning all the games with this! I should go buy a lottery ticket…
  • Did you keep IVF a secret from Brady? Nope. We’re a pretty open family. He wanted to watch me give myself shots every day. He knew we were visiting a doctor to help get mommy’s belly ready for a baby. :)

To our sweet babies, Sweet little ones. We’ve loved you for a thousand years. And every hour has come to this. Every appointment. Every tear. Every worry. We never dreamed God would meet our worries here in this space with the two, sweet, perfect, tiny two of you. We can’t wait to hold you in our arms and kiss your “squishy faces” (as your big brother, Brady says). With all of our hearts, Mommy, Daddy & Brady


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