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Dear Baby #3

*I wrote this in October 2020 shortly after our miscarriage. I didn't know if I would ever share it, but now that Baby #3 is safely Earthside, it felt like time.

Dear Baby #3,

Last week I shared with my small corner of the world the news that your Daddy and I lost the little clump of cells we thought would one day be you. The morning it happened, I knew within seconds of waking. Once I confirmed, I ran crying into your Daddy's arms and he held me so tightly and so tenderly. In a moment in which I felt so weak, your Daddy's strong arms cradled and soothed me. I can't wait until you get to meet him- he's the very best.

The day of our loss, I texted my co-workers to let them know that a "family emergency" would prevent me from logging in that day. I alternated laying in bed crying, watching Netflix, and texting with the moms in my village who time and again continue to show up for me. This group of women has loved, cared for, and empowered me more than they will ever know.

The day after our loss, I felt relatively...normal. Your Daddy and I entered into the "trying to conceive" season with the knowledge that not every pregnancy results in a baby. So perhaps that realistic and pragmatic mentality was what left me feeling okay. That's not to say we weren't sad. That's not to say I didn't feel stupid or silly for scheduling midwife appointments and purchasing maternity clothing. But the possibility was always in the background of our minds.

However, upon sharing the news of our loss with our extended circle, the outpouring of sympathy was more overwhelming than I ever could have anticipated. Your family is so well-loved by our community, but the barrage of supportive messages admittedly felt a little like living our tragedy all over again. That was a hard day.

It's been over a week since I shared the positive pregnancy result with your Daddy. And now a week since the pregnancy failed. I'm still processing- every emotion feels surprising and unexpected. The sadness neutralized by the numbness. The embarrassment overshadowed by confusion. The myriad of thoughts and questions has brought me to a place where I don't know what is right to feel. I don't know how I feel period.

Your Daddy and I always said, we would be blessed to have a third mini-human, but content with the babies we were already inordinately grateful to bring into the world. We've had a kind of "Que sera sera" approach to family planning. We don't know what the future holds for us, so we live each day thankful for the many blessings we share in the present. And let me tell you, sweet babe, your older brothers are the greatest blessings we could never have dreamed of. 

And so as we proceed in the aftermath of this loss, we question- are we meant to have more? At what point do we stop trying? Because the truth is, we are both easily frightened by the prospect of a third round of pregnancy and childbirth. We feel nerve-wracked about the financial consequences of three little mouths to feed. We feel doubt about whether the joy of three tinies will outweigh the stress. We feel all these scary emotions and they make us question what we truly want our family to look like.

Keeping these very real and very valid fears in mind, it would be easy to stop. It would be easy to say we don't want to risk another heartbreak or disappointment. The only thing nudging me forward into the scary unknown is you.

I have known you for years. I have felt your feisty spirit tugging at my heartstrings. I have envisioned your presence in our family portraits. While all logic would lead me to believe you are nothing but a hypothetical, I simply know otherwise. You are a very real part of our family and I've known this for a long time even when I refused to acknowledge and accept it.

Baby #3, you are already so loved. And while I am learning that you will come in your own timing, and the uncertainty of that brings me no comfort, I simply cannot wait to meet you. Your Daddy and I still step forward shakily and more fearful than we were just weeks ago, but we will continue pursuing you because we belong together.




We're Taking the #SaferSwimmerPledge!

 This post has been brought to you by Goldfish Swim School- Dayton.

This past week has been sunny, 80's and gorgeous in Ohio and gah- it feels so good. It feels like we have EARNED this summer after the past year! Summer has always been my favorite season and I'm so incredibly excited to spend the next few months creating memories with my boys. Saturday morning walks to our farmers' market, a road trip to Walt Disney World, and too many poolside days to count!

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial unveiling of just about every American pool and unofficial kickoff to summer. With that in mind, Goldfish Swim School is encouraging parents and kids alike to take the #SaferSwimmerPledge to bring greater awareness to water safety and drowning prevention!

So, what is the #SaferSwimmerPledge?

The Safer Swimmer Pledge

  1. Whether I'm at home, the beach or pool, I will play it cool and follow the rules.
  2. When it comes to swimming, water safety is key, that's why I will always have an adult with me.
  3. When I'm around water or on a boat, I can wear a life jacket to help me float.
  4. No matter how deep the water may be, I'll jump in with my feet.
  5. If I see a swimmer in need, I'll throw them something to float, and then I'll go and get an adult. 
Throughout the month of May, Goldfish-Dayton is encouraging families to take the pledge and have those conversations about water safety. Drowning remains the number one cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4, and the risks are even steeper due to the pandemic. With children out of swimming lessons, the odds are high- but armed with the right knowledge and precautions, these statistics are preventable! 

If you're a parent of young children, keep in mind these water safety tips as you spend your lazy, hazy days of summer by the ocean, lake, or pool:
  1. Enroll in swim lessons- Swim lessons can dramatically reduce the changes of a drowning incident as muscle memory helps kids know what to do in a water emergency.
  2. Never swim alone- Teach your children the importance of the buddy system.
  3. Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-Approved life jacket- Before purchasing any flotation device, look for the Coast Guard approval and ensure the right fit so there's no risk of your child slipping out. Life jackets are especially important in lakes and oceans where water conditions can be more unpredictable.
  4. Designate a "Water Guardian"- Adults can work in shifts to ensure that there is always a set of eyes on the pool while children are at play. Even if a lifeguard is on duty, having a vigilant, distraction-free adult is imperative.
  5. Play it cool and follow the rules- The same way that we teach our kids not to play near traffic, we need to be having those same conversations and water safety and following the pool rules.

So why should you take the pledge? Not only are you teaching your kiddo(s) the five water safety must-knows and spreading awareness to prevent childhood drowning, but you also have the opportunity to win a YEAR of free swim lessons from Goldfish Swim School! Each pledge will also receive an exclusive Safer Swimmer Promo Code for 25% off your next Speedo purchase and earns a $1 donation to the USA Swimming Foundation, providing access to swim lessons to children across North America!

I know childhood drowning is not something that any parent wants to think about, but it does happen. Are you ready to commit to the #SaferSwimmerPledge? Sign up through the end of May to keep your kiddos safe in the water this summer!


35 BEFORE 35: One-Year Check-In

Last year, having finished off my 32 Before 32 Bucket list, I came up with a new list of goals to accomplish by the time I turn 35. Today just so happens to be my 33rd birthday, so although this blog sits collecting dust, I love doing these recap posts and checking in on my goals. At the time, I came up with my list, we were about 1-month in to pandemic life and had no idea what the next year would look like. My list of goals is a reflection of that unknown, but also optimism that eventually life would return to some semblance of normal. Here's what I managed to do during the Year of COVID:

35 Before 35: One-Year Check-In

1. Take an international trip | Ha.

2. Earn a second professional designation | COMPLETED (4/21) | Oh my goodness, I fit this one in just under the wire! This past Saturday, Chuck took the boys off my hands and I spent all day at home cramming and took the leap and PASSED my final exam on the first try! The test requires a 70% passing score so I was shocked when I got an 81%. Studying at home during the pandemic with two kids at home was sooo difficult, so I feel particularly proud of this one. My 3-year work anniversary is just over a month away and it's absolutely bonkers how much I've learned and achieved in that time. I can't wait to see where the next 3 years take me!

3. Pay off ALL student loans | IN PROGRESS | In 2020, I paid off THREE private student loans thanks in large part to the government stimulus checks. I'm hopeful that we'll have paid off another private student loan by July and though it will definitely be a stretch, it's not outside the realm of possibility that we'll have all of my private loans paid off by the end of the year!

4. Renovate basement half bathroom to a full bathroom | Originally, we planned to tackle this project this year. However, after a year of being cooped up at home, we decided we'd rather spend what we'd put toward tearing up our basement floor to take a family trip to Walt Disney World. Hopefully, we'll get to this in the next year or two.

5. Schedule a monthly family day trip

6. Join a nonprofit board | Not necessarily a non-profit board, but I am serving on a committee at church which is similar, so I'm not sure whether to count this one or not.

7. Install new kitchen and basement flooring

8. Open Roth IRAs for Chuck and me | This won't happen for another few years until we pay all our debt off.

9. Host a foreign exchange student

10. Deliver 35 meals to someone who needs it (1/35) | IN PROGRESS | Unfortunately, I kind of stunk at this in the past year. It was already too much work just trying to feed my own family!

11. Run a half marathon

12. Teach Charlie + Crosby how to swim | IN PROGRESS | We re-enrolled the boys' in weekly swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School-Dayton and have marveled at their progress!! 

13. Replace our back porch

14. Visit Frankie's grave

15. Attend a cooking class

16. Deliver my Daddy's ashes

17. Take a romantic vacation for our 10th anniversary

18. Get a fourth tattoo

19. Install planter boxes in our front yard

20. Run a 5k with Charlie

21. Purchase a minivan | COMPLETED (12/20) | Almost on a whim, I decided to snag an awesome deal on a 2018 Toyota Sienna I'd been following on CarFax on the last day of 2020. It worked out great and becoming a minivan family has been everything I'd hoped for and more!

22. Run a race in 3 different states (1/3) | IN PROGRESS | I've run a virtual Ohio-based race, but don't anticipate running outside of my home state any time soon.

23. Plan an annual sister weekend

24. Refinance our mortgage

25. Attend a concert with Chuck

26. Replace living room furniture | COMPLETED (9/20) | Although our sectional took nearly FOUR months to arrive due to COVID-related delays, we finally got her in September of 2020 and have treasured it every day since then. We couldn't be happier with our purchase and are so glad we waited it out rather than going with a Plan B couch.

27. Take a Mommy + Me class with Crosby

28. Learn how to can veggies

29. Replace backyard fence and repair driveway

30. Visit my BFNSCF

31. Host an annual ladies' brunch

32. Paint and install new counters and kitchen backsplash

33. Decide whether to grow our family | I'm not sure what and whether to share about this one right now. This past year has been hard and weird, but hopefully I'll be ready to share at some point in the not too distant future.

34. Increase our tithing by 10% each year | IN PROGRESS | So far, so good! I've increased the amount of our monthly tithe by 25% from 2020 to 2021 and we've continued to give to our church every month.

35. Send 35 birthday/thank you/etc. cards (19/35) | IN PROGRESS | An unintended consequence of pandemic life- I live for mailing cards to my loved ones! I've probably sent more than 19, but haven't been super diligent about keeping track.

Considering the last year has taken place during "unprecendented times" (who else is sick of that word?), I'd honestly say that my progress hasn't been completely terrible. It will be interesting to see what the next year holds for me and my family. We can only hope for more travel, more friends, and less worry.


Celebrating 5 Years of Fin-tastic Fun!

This post is brought to you through a partnership with Goldfish Swim School-Dayton.

If you've followed me for any length of time, it wouldn't be a stretch to say my blog has been on life support these last few months. As much as I wish it were different, it's admittedly become harder to keep up with it as my kids have gotten older and my professional responsibilities have taken a front seat. This was all before COVID, of course, which completely sucked out any remaining creative spirit I may have had.

I make no promises for the future of this space and my public writings, but I will say this- if there is one thing I'm inordinately grateful to have held onto during this season, it's my family's partnership with Goldfish Swim School- Dayton. We've been a part of the Goldfish family since Crosby was in diapers and I can't imagine a more wonderful place for my boys to learn and grow in their swimming skills.

Happy 5th Birthday, Goldfish Dayton!

This month, Goldfish Dayton celebrated FIVE years of serving the little ones of the Dayton area! We've been with them almost since the beginning and it's been such a gift to watch them grow and expand their outreach to young families. Like most small businesses, Goldfish Dayton's General Managers, Amy & Andrew Strozier, were thrown an enormous curveball when COVID hit. Not only did they evolve to continue offering swim lessons in a safe environment that followed COVID-19 protocols, but they've begun to add more class times to accommodate the growing demand for swim lessons! There's a reason why I'm so incredibly passionate about the work Goldfish does- it's all about keeping kids safe and having lots of fun along the way.


National Doctors' Day- March 30, 2021

It felt fitting to honor Goldfish's commitment to water safety and drowning prevention on today, National Doctor's Day. As parents, we depend on our pediatricians to advise us on nutrition, car seat safety, illness and medicine. With drowning being the number one cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4, we need to make sure we're discussing water safety too! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for all children starting at age 1, but you can teach a baby as young as four months. Swim lessons teach lifesaving skills and can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%!

This is why Goldfish Swim School has launched Goldfish Rx which aims to build relationships with pediatricians across the country by providing educational material needed to promote doctor-patient conversations around drowning prevention, the importance of water safety, and the value of swim lessons at a young age. Drowning accidents can and do happen to anyone and Goldfish Swim School is the leading premier learn-to-swim concept. Classes are offered by specially trained instructors in a safe, child-friendly and fun environment using a research-based philosophy called The Science of SwimPlay® which teaches swim and safety skills through guided play. 

Goldfish Swim School offers year-round swim instruction for children from four months old to 12 years old, with specially designed lessons for infant and toddler swimming. With summer quickly approaching, there's no time like the present to introduce your little ones to safe swim in a fun and inviting environment!


Charlie & Crosby's Progress Report

I grew up taking swim lessons through the YMCA, so it means a lot to me that the boys learn to swim from an early age like I did. With summers spent in beaches and in pools, I want my boys to have foundational swimming skills, but more than that, I want them to have the knowledge of what to do should they ever find themselves in a water-related accident. I have always been deeply convicted about water safety, but knowing that people in my larger circle have experienced near-drowning emergencies with their children has compelled me to become a swim safety advocate to other parents of young children!

In the last few months, I have really seen the fruits of the boys' hard work paying off! Crosby, who has always been more trepedatious in the water, now enthusiastically asks for his goggles during bath time so he can practice holding his breath underwater- it may not sound like a big deal, but I assure you, it is! Charlie is [this close] to swimming independently. Most recently, he has mastered his Front-to-Back-to Front Rollover and Swim skill!

Week-after-week, I continue to be so thrilled with their progress and I can't wait to see them show off their skills this summer at the pool! If you're curious about Goldfish Swim School- Dayton, use this referral link for a FREE, no-strings-attached intro lesson!


January is Bath Safety Month!

 This post is brought to you by Goldfish Swim School-Dayton.

You all know that I could sing the praises of Goldfish Swim School for the rest of my days. I love that my boys improve in their swimming week after week. I love that their confidence grows with each new skill mastered. But most importantly, I love that before Sea Otter Floats, before Superman Glides, and even before Pulling Paddles, my babies were learning the fundamentals of water safety.

January is Bath Safety Month and because water safety is kind of their thing, Goldfish is sharing the things you need to know to keep your littles safe in the water!

1.Test the Water

Always run the water on your own forearm first, whether filling the tub or rinsing your little one's body and hair. Your fingers are a little less sensitive to the water temperature than your wrist is, so it's important to make sure you're testing water there to ensure it won't be too hot for a baby's sensitive skin.

2. Don't Overfill the Tub

For little ones who are just learning to sit up and are still getting used to their own coordination, there's no need to fill the tub with water up to their necks. Put enough water in to be about belly button level or so. This way, should a reach for a bath toy turn into a slight tumble, there's less worry about being submerged, and getting back upright is quicker and easier.

3. Enroll in Swim Lessons

Goldfish Swim School teaches babies as young as 4 months old how to swim. While this doesn't entail doing laps up and down an Olympic-sized pool just yet (you'll see extraordinary results with time!), our instructors use integrity, compassion and trust to teach babies how to be safer in and around water, while learning the building blocks of swimming -- like breath control, how to go underwater, and not panicking when water gets in their face (whether intentionally or not). In turn, this knowledge makes bath time safer.

4. Use a Stool…and Towel

For yourself! Park it next to the tub during the entire bath time and remain within arm’s reach. Not only will you be right there for baby, but you won't have to stretch too far and run the risk of slipping yourself. Accidents can happen in a split second -- even when you're confident all is going well. Have a towel handy on the floor so you don't slip on any water that finds its way outside of the tub from an overzealous splash or two.

5. Use a Cup to Rinse

Bring a plastic cup or bowl with you when you're filling up the bath water so you have it on hand when it's time to rinse shampoo out of your little one's hair -- saving yourself the struggle of trying to lean his or her head underneath the tub faucet, and eliminating the risk of accidentally knocking their noggin on the faucet. If you're so inclined, you can even buy a special rinsing cup that bends around a child's forehead to prevent a face full of water…in theory.

6. Know that Babies are Slippery!

They can wiggle out of pretty much anything while they're dry, and babies get even more difficult to keep a grip on during bath time. You can use a baby tub, a special baby bath seat, or have your baby sit on his or her own in the tub. Thinking of holding your baby and jumping in for a quick shower? Opt for the bath instead.

7. Use Anti-Slip Grips

Make bath time more fun -- and safe -- by adhering colorful rubber non-slip grip adhesives to your tub (maybe some goldfish ones, perhaps?). Even if the colorful ones don't quite coordinate with your d├ęcor, you can purchase simple adhesives in neutral colors and shapes to help minimize slips. Consider installing a non-permanent grab bar for your little one to hold onto as he or she grows.

You can find out even more bath safety tips at the Goldfish Swim School blog! If you've been delaying enrolling your babies or toddlers in swim lessons, don't wait! You can sign your little ones up using the new Goldfish Swim School mobile app- lessons begin at as early as four months old. Try your first lesson absolutely FREE with this code, just for followers of (Bee)autiful Blessings.