Handling Your Child’s Diagnosis

Dear mama,

If you’re here because your sweet baby has received a medical diagnosis I want you to know that you’re not alone. Here are four things that helped me through the first day we learned of our baby’s upcoming difficulties.

First, you probably jumped right into the world of research and skipped one of the most important steps to accepting your new life — grief. Sweet friend, please give yourself permission to cry. We tend to think I need to be strong now so we hold in the tears that bring us so much healing.  I know because I’ve been in your place. 

 In counting, my son has received at least 10 different diagnosis’ (some were incorrect). The first one we were given was Hydrocephalus. I had gone into my 22 week check up thinking all was well until I saw the ultrasound tech wipe tears from her eyes. Everything changed that day.

I left the office and called my husband’s work and asked him to come home early. Before leaving, I tried to eat a banana but it got all muddied and soggy from my weeping. I drove home weeping wondering what our sweet child’s life would be like. Of course, I imagined the worse (and so will you). 

Once home, my hubby held me close while I explained the issues. Our landlord showed up for some maintenance and Dalton kindly asked him to leave so we could have some privacy. We just received bad news about the baby, was his words. 

We called our parents, snuggled on the couch, and ate a gallon of ice cream together and watched tv. Such ordinary moments in an extraordinary day. 

And that’s what I want you to do first, mama. I want you to give yourself the permission and space to cry a little (or a lot). Weep into your husband’s arms. Weep over the phone to your mom. Weep on your bed while you beg God for answers. It’s okay to grieve the loss of normalcy. 

Then, I want you get yourself some ice cream or chocolates or a steamy bowl of macaroni and cheese. Whatever it is that brings you comfort (even a nap if that’s your thing) I want you to give yourself permission to enjoy. You’re life has just been flipped upside down and a little chocolate cake will help it feel a little more upright.

If you’ve taken the time to acknowledge your grief and find some small source of comfort now you can get on the internet. 

But don’t Google. Not now (and maybe not ever). Google displays the worst of the worst possible scenarios. When I researched Hydrocephalus for the first time I saw sweet children so distorted by their condition I became nauseous. Googling your child’s diagnosis will only lead to anxiety. 

Instead of Googling, I want you to go to Facebook and search for different support groups specific to your child’s anomalies. For me, I found an amazing group for parents with children who have Hydrocephalus. Later, when my water broke at 24 weeks, I found a support group meant to encourage and inform women who are dealing with PPROM. It was because of these support groups that I knew Uriah’s original doctors did not have his best interest at heart and we transferred to a new hospital and found the best treatment for him. 

Join these groups and ask all the questions. These amazing parents will welcome you with open arms because they have all been in your shoes! Ask parents how their children are doing developmentally and they’ll most likely surprise you with adorable pictures, milestone praises, and real life advice. 

Sweet mama, now that you’ve taken the time to cry a little cry, comfort your soul, and connect with real families I want you to read this amazing post by Jenna. She shares a story that perfectly sums up this amazing journey of medical complexities. 

I know you wish you weren’t on this journey. I understand because I’ve been there too. And I’m not promising everything will perfect; in fact, there will be more hard moments than you ever imagined possible. 

But, sweet friend, this challenge isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning of a beautiful new journey. And once you accept that (and give yourself a lot of grace along the way) I promise you’ll smile again. 

Until then, grieve, comfort, and reach out. And know that God is with you, sweet friend. He hasn’t forsaken you or walked away — He’s right there ready to walk you through this time. He loves you and your sweet family beyond words. 

Have you just received a diagnosis for your child? Mama, I am here for you if you need a listening ear or prayer request. Leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to connect!

Love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

Compatibility Isn’t What Makes Marriage Work

Hello, sweet people!

I originally wrote this post in 2016 — it’s crazy how drastically life has changed since then! But I’m more convinced than ever that compatibility isn’t what keeps a marriage together through the long haul. I’m also convinced this is a lesson we need to learn every year. 

I’m learning what real love is … and it’s beautiful.

There are many misconceptions about love and how best to make relationships work. One of the most deceiving and killing is the lie that compatibility is necessary for a thriving, successful love. Sadly, many friends, lovers and even church family separate when they feel a drift in their compatibility from one another.

Friends, this is wrong.

What Makes Marriage Work

When we base our vows on the typical definition of compatibility  we head down a road of disappointment. Marriages are not meant to be built on how well you compliment your spouse and how well your personalities work together.

Nothing in life is meant to be built on this.

Spouses can be annoying. You can be annoying. The traits and personality quirks you initially found cute can turn into irritants. We’re meant to rub each other raw … that’s one way God works our character.

Instead of basing a relationships value on how well you work together examine your ability to suffer together.

The original, Latin root for compatibility is compati which means to suffer with

Suddenly, being compatible isn’t as fun as before.

Sweet friend, how well do you suffer with your friends, spouse and church family? How well do you show them genuine, authentic love?

Young lovers, please don’t base your relationships on how well you compliment your significant other without asking yourself the simple question: am I willing to suffer with them? Will you suffer with them when finances get tight? Will you suffer with them when they lose all respect, when your child is dying, or when they lose a job?

Make Marriage Work

Honestly, this has been an interesting and new concept for me. I knew that Dalton and I’s relationship needed to be built on an enduring, committed love … but the idea of suffering with? Well, #tbh, that threw me off.

To avoid being overwhelmed, I took this new challenge one practical step at a time. In the past, suffering with Dalton meant being able to give a good back massage when his body ached and cheerfully keep to our budget. I knew that if you aren’t willing to suffer through the small, inconvenient moments then you’ll crumble when the hard stuff hits.

And how true that was! For us, suffering changed from minor irritants to gigantic hurdles! We endured living apart for 7 months while our son had surgery after surgery. For Dalton, suffering meant sleeping on the hospital couch for 9 weeks while I was on bed rest, not turning up the heat in the winter to save money, and driving back and forth each week so I could stay with Uriah while he was in the NICU.

Had we based our marriage on the easy moments we couldn’t have made it through the last few years. How thankful I am God carried us through that traumatic season of  life!

And it’s true for all of us — you may hit iceberg sized difficulties in the future but for now you’ve been given small opportunities to grow deeper in love.

What do you think? How have you grown in your ability to suffer with your friends, spouse or church family? Or is this an area needing strengthening? Share your heart … and let’s grow in grace together!

With love, blessings and coffee,

Frannie

5 Ways You Can Make Your Rental Feel Like Home

Home sweet home … it’s the creative renter’s heartbeat. But what happens when your home isn’t home-y? How do you make your house feel like a home when it isn’t your dream home?

(Or in my case, when you live in an adorable but grungy rental where the landlord forgets to mow the lawn and you’re not allowed to paint?)

After living in three rentals over the last (almost) five years, I’ve learned a few tricks that have warmed and welcomed our hearts and bodies. In other words, let me show you a few ways you can turn that cold and ambiguous rental into a space you love. Because, we want to love the home we have — we want to be joyfully content in the space we’ve been given. 

Here are my 5 secrets to making your rental feel like home sweet home: 

Keep what you love — pass on what you don’t

This one can be so hard especially when you are a saver (hoarder?) like me! 😉 I’ve never struggled with keeping unused items until we had Uriah. Now, I have trouble tossing a stained onesie away! 

(Let’s all do ourselves a favor and vow to throw out the stained onesies!)

It can be challenging pairing down items because we think we’ll use them one day. But one day could be years from now and your family’s peace of mind needs space and lack of clutter in order to thrive.

Unless the items you are saving are truly treasures give yourself the freedom to say, “When one day comes I’ll replace this item. Until then, I’ll give it a good home.”

There are many ways to pass on items you don’t need. Post a Facebook ad, have a yard sale, or (if you’re busy like me) find your local Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill and pass on the items. (I especially like the first because they will pick up large items from your home! Woohoo!) 

A clean + organized home = love

This is probably the most important way to make your rental feel like a home you want to come home to. Our current home is a beautiful, charming 1940’s brick with adorable built-in china cabinets, a yellow insert oven, and a gorgeous mantle. 

But as beautiful as our home is, it was also equally dirty. Grime from prior tenants was caked in the metal pieces which separate rooms (what are those called?). My stove fan was covered in grease from others’ messy cooking. And the kitchen floor was literally discolored from improper mopping. 

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. 

It took me an embarrassingly long time to catch up on these projects. I hated (hate?) the idea of cleaning up someone else’s irresponsible messes. 

But the projects begged to be done and the difference once done is amazing! I try to keep the house clean but really getting into the grime really made a huge difference! Just keeping our bedroom free of clutter makes a world of difference! 

We have better things to do than cry over the “no paint” rule

I understand how frustrating a “no paint” rule can be — I’m currently living in a home which forbids me changing the colors and it used to drive me nuts! (Not to mention the giant cracks in paint!)

After a few creative meltdowns I started finding rental-friendly ways to brighten and fill my walls without breaking the contract. In our living room, I’ve created a gallery wall. And in other rooms I’ve put up baskets, instruments, and unique frames. Check out this link full of budget-friendly ways to make your walls beautiful! 

Breaking up with ugly fruit wallpaper 

Ugly wallpaper breaking your beauty-loving heart? Me too … our dining room was bordered in a hideous, dirty fruit pattern that matched nothing in our home. After a year and a half I got desperate and found contact paper cute enough to pass the test. $10 and 30 minutes later, I had brand new walls cute enough to stop me from gagging every time I looked into the dining area. 

(I know that sounds dramatic but here is a before and after as proof to the wallpaper’s hideousness. And my OCD).

I know this is a super cute picture of Uriah so peel your eyes away from his adorable grin and notice the ick behind him. 😉
That wallpaper haunted me for months until I found a cheap, temporary alternative — contact paper. 

Temporary, budget-friendly decor

I’m thinking all about colorful rugs, pillows, DIY window swags (I love my burlap!), and Ikea plants that bring joy into your space! 

For a long time I was against any large rugs in our living room … I tend to be a matchy matchy kid of girl and bold colors make me feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed. (I know … weird). 

But when I found this rug just perfect for Uriah and within my dream color scheme I had to take the jump. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with splashes of color and have bought complementary pillows. 

Add in a few budget-friendly Ikea plants and you have decor you could easily love for several years and then pack up when you move! p.s: when you do move read my 7 tips for making it less miserable! 😉

Tell me how you make your house a home? Do you have an budget-friendly, Pinterest pins you can share? Comment below — I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

How a Hug Changed my Parenting

One day, if I’m ever so old and grey that younger folk ask for advice on mothering, I’ll make sure I remind them of one simple thing: hug your children. 

It’s simple, right? But for the first year I missed this. For whatever reason (tubes, medical equipment, low muscle strength, slight difficulty, fear, etc.) I always held Uriah faced away from me. We snuggled lots and lots so I never noticed what I was missing until, one day, I decided to hold him facing me. 

As I straddled his little legs over my waist something pure magic happened. His eye contact increased, his mimicking advanced, and he hugged me.  

I can’t really describe the cry-your-eyes-out-with-joy feelings that come when your baby purposefully shows affection to you for the first time but it is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful moments you can have. 

And the hugs have only gotten better. It’s amazing the impact physical affection has on the intellectual, emotional, and physical development of our babies but it’s huge! Eye sight, language skills, social behaviors, and family affection all benefit from frequent connection. 

Now, I sit with Uriah facing me several times a day. These are the moments when we sing songs and nursery rhymes, practice our whistling and raspberry blowing, tickle each other, gives hugs, laugh, smile, and grow the trust and affection between mother and son. These moments are my absolute favorite of the day. 

And while I know our case was extreme I think that there are days when even ordinary, non-medically complex mamas forget to take the time to hug their kiddos. Some days we’re just trying to keep everyone fed and alive. 

But, sweet mama, next time you’re tempted to be frustrated or just keep busy, I hope you take a moment to look your little in the eye and give them a hug. It doesn’t need to be long (they probably won’t want to stay still for long anyway) but it does need to happen. 

And the results will be just as magical for you too — your little one’s love, behavior, connection, friendship, and possibly other developmental skills will only benefit. 

Tell me, how do you show affection to your littles? Is showing affection difficult for you or are you a natural born hugger? (I’m not 😉 ) Do you have any favorite nursery rhymes or songs you sing while cuddling? Leave me a comment below — I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

With love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

Encouragement for the Woman who Feels Forgotten

I see you, sweet woman. 

Whether you’re single and lonely or a busy, married mother covered in grimy children (and wishing for some alone time), I see you. And while I can’t reach through this screen and squeeze your hand I want you to know that you are not forgotten. 

No matter what stage we find ourselves in, it’s a common theme to feel forgotten and surpassed. In my own life, I can look around and see the ordinary, fun things we’re not quite able to do just yet for fear of germs and sickness and, in all honesty, sometimes I feel forgotten. 

Do you ever feel that way? Like you just don’t fit in? Or worse, that you could fit in but no one seems to even notice you’re missing? Maybe you have so much to offer but this season of life keeps you too busy to volunteer (I’m looking at all my working moms and caregivers out there). 

Friend, I’m here to tell you that you will never be forgotten or passed over.

Christ paid too much to forget you.

I’m very emotion-based so whenever I feel that my husband and I are not as harmonious as I’d like (aka, we bickered over diapers or late dinners again) 😉 I begin to feel like I’m unraveling. 

And when my inner being is filled with this unraveling feeling I tend to not think clearly — I go into panic mode, looking for any way to calm the inner chaos a minor conflict created. 

I’ve recently learned something so precious, so timeless, that has changed my chaos to calm and it’s this simple:  

Simple, isn’t it? If nothing can separate us from the love of God doesn’t that include the emotional mess I created when I melted down from a tiny, minor argument between myself and the man who loves me? 

And if I can relax and trust that I am not forgotten, that God the Father loves me entirely, then I can rest, relax and not become emotional goo. 

And if God the Father cares that much about me and the ridiculous mess I can be, then, can’t you trust that He sees you in your season of life? He sees you hiding from your kids in the bathroom. He sees you longing for a hidden dream long put off. He knows your tired and wishing to be a stay at home mom. He hasn’t forgotten you even when the rest of your community has. 

Sweet friend, God sees you, He loves you, and He will never forget you. 

If you are feeling forgotten and longing for a friend, leave me a comment. I would love to get to know you. We’re all walking together in this journey! 

With love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie