To the mother in the NICU this Christmas

Advice to the mother spending Christmas in the NICU or PICU.

I see you … you’re drinking Ronald McDonald coffee you smuggled into your little one’s room sitting in the middle of IV alarms, feeding tubes, ventilator equipment, and nurses chattering in the background. You’re spending Christmas in the NICU, PICU, or surgery floor. 

I see you smiling at your baby — thankful to be with her even if she’s in a warming tank or you’re wearing those noisy isolation gowns.

Despite your smiles I know you’re struggling with tears and questions — why do we have to spend the holidays here? Why do we have to endure this?

It’s okay; I know that your burden is very real and very heavy.

Can I give you some advice as a woman who spent 281 days in the hospital with her baby?

Mama, decorate your baby’s crib. Even in the middle of the storm, you need to find ways to make these days special.

If baby can tolerate stimuli, I hope you sing her your favorite Christmas carols and dress her in the outfit you got at your baby shower.

Eat the extra cafeteria sugar cookie and take a little time to look at the Christmas lights down the street.

Give your husband an extra long kiss before he goes back to work.

Please buy a tiny Walmart tree and set it up in your Ronald McDonald apartment and enjoy the free gifts they leave hanging on your door.

This is your Christmas.

This horrible, exhausting, lonely Christmas is your Christmas and one day it will end.

One day you’ll look back at this season and wonder how the days passed so quickly.

But until then, be easy on yourself. Find ways to make these precious days count.

You need to survive these days just as much as your baby needs to survive. You need to be gentle with yourself — after all, you’ve lost so much normalcy — it’s okay for you to grieve the loss of normalcy.

It’s okay. 

Love and blessings from someone who has spent the holidays in the NICU and PICU

Frannie

Our Simple, Natural Christmas Tree



We like to keep our Christmas tree simple and, as a lover of all things cottage and farmhouse, the goal for our tree decor is to reflect themes of natural, neutral, old-fashioned charm.

Our secret ingredient? Potpourri! 

It all started when we were newly weds and poor as mice. Our tree was given to us by some amazing neighbors who were upgrading. We went to Hobby Lobby but nothing suited our unique tastes and tiny budget so my amazingly creative husband thought outside the box. We came home with this box for $14.99 and after an afternoon of hot gluing Christmas hooks we had a unique and (incredibly cheap!) tree!

Since then we’ve added a few homemade, DIY ornaments and store bought favorites. The tree’s charm and simplicity grew as we added glittery wicker balls from Pier One, wood slices (cut by D himself) with handwritten words, and pine cones which I picked up on an afternoon walk. 

Future goals include making our own dried cranberry and orange sliced garland (see Leah’s for an adorable tutorial!) and catching one of these adorable tree collars on sale! 

I love Christmas time. There’s something so good about it all — the snow, gifts, hot chocolate, family time, shopping, traditions. It’s all so good. — How do you decorate your tree? Are you a clear or colored lights sort of gal? Tag me in your pics on Instagram — I’d love to see your creativity! 🎄

Happy decorating! 

Frannie

My 3 Favorite Ways to Play with my Toddler

As a twenty-eight year old, first time mama, I’m learning a lot about the special relationship between mother and child and one of the most important life lessons I’m currently learning is how to play.

There’s something so beautiful and exciting when you see your child grasp new forms of play. Some of my forever memories will include watching Uriah motion to his favorite song or roar at me when I sneak up close.

Play is not only good for our little’s development but it makes for a happier life. Playing with your babies turns the tired, long, hard days of motherhood into days of joy, laughter, and memories.

Here are 3 of my favorite ways I play with my toddler!

Songs with hand motions

We LOVE singing songs — every morning, I start the day by turning on the bedroom light and singing our favorite morning song. The days are full of music and Uriah sings too! (Which is quite a joy and accomplishment considering most children with trachs cannot make sound). 

Some of our favorite hand motioned songs include Itsy, Bitsy Spider, Head And Shoulders, Wheels on the Bus, and Patticake.

Hide and Seek

Even though Uriah isn’t yet walking we have a fabulous time playing hide and seek! I hop down on all fours and crawl around, hiding behind furniture and around corners. Uriah loves looking for mama and the victory of finding me!

Playing Pretend

Ah, this is the best! We’re starting to enter the more advanced stages of play which include pretending. I love watching Uriah drive his cars or walk his little toy animals across the floor. It really is the best!

A friend recently gave me more ideas for pretend play and they included:

Playing with your toddler really is limitless and you don’t have to have expensive toys to make it successful! All of the ideas above basically involve time, effort, and you smiling.

(And to the special parents out there with children who may have medical issues and developmental delays — you can play too! I know it’s hard (and you have a million things to do) but your little one needs you to be their playmate as well as their caretaker, advocate, and appointment maker. They need your smiles and laughter!)

So here’s to all of my fellow mamas who choose to take the time to play. And here’s to motherhood — the snot, chores, hugs, late nights, tickles, and life lessons all rolled into a sweet and precious relationship between mother and child. Enjoy!

Frannie

What are some of your favorite play activities you do with your baby/toddler? What’s your favorite hand motion song? Leave me a comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Doing Life for the Glory of God

There are a million successful blogs so why would anyone want to hear from me? 

It’s a question I’ve been pondering for a long time — an insecurity hidden deep in my heart keeping me from productivity and writing. See, I love to write and I love connecting with people. Part of my ministry as a stay-at-home wife and mom is that I’m blessed with time — time to share, invite, write, and connect with other women and moms. 

But how do I compete? How do I beat the algorithms, master the SEOs, and write regularly enough that I get noticed but not so much that I burn out and need a 3 month hiatus? 

I don’t. At least, that’s not what I’m called to do. 

I’m called to be loving wife and attentive mommy; I’m called to connect with people and be hospitable. I’m called to minister by being mommy, wife, and friend — not by being the best on Instagram or Pinterest. 

I’m called to do life “heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” I’m called to obey “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Whatever I do — change diapers, wash dishes, host guests, or write words — all needs to be for the glory of God. No cares need to be given on the reception. I mean, I love to write so why not write? And if someone notices then great because I also love to help and inspire too. And if I never make an income blogging or grow my following then that’s great too.

Because there’s fulfillment in doing what you love for the glory of God and leaving the results to Him. There’s joy in doing a job well done because you’re called to do so — more joy than competition can ever bring. 

So, here’s to do life for the glory of God. Cheers to all the women who are choosing to focus on their current ministry for God’s glory, not for the likes, the pins, or the shares — tell me how you do it so I can learn from you! 

Love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

When Your Child Looks Different

In 2016 my water unexpectedly broke at 24 weeks landing us in our local hospital. I spent the next 63 days hoping and praying that I could stay pregnant for as long as possible. Those were long, hard weeks.

When you experience PPROM (preterm premature rupture of the membrains) you never really know how much time you’ll get with your baby. There are a million fears that plague you as you rest in bed and experience a high-risk pregnancy.

Add to the fact that we had been told our son had possible facial anomalies and the fear factor rose a million degrees. I worried — what if my baby has a misshapen nose or only one eye? (These were real issues we dealt with as the ultrasound was unreliable and the diagnosis we received can cause such anomalies). What if my baby is rejected by this world? What if he will be bullied? What if … 

That was when God sent this book to my room and began teaching me.


Pumpkin Patch Blessings is written by Kim Washburn and illustrated by Jacqueline East. I love this book because each page has a corresponding Bible verse, gorgeous illustration, and precious fall-themed rhyme.

I cherish this book because it taught me that no matter our physical appearance, disability, or challenge we are just right.

The first time I read Pumpkin Patch Blessings I cried. My worried, weary-worn mama’s heart cried as I read the truest of words:

Some pumpkins are bumpy.

Some are bumpy, bruised, small, or tilted. And some babies are born differently-abled. Diagnosis’ abound, medical complexities exist, and anomalies are something many face.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not right. Every child, every person, is formed in the image of God. That includes your baby, dear mama, who may have a physical impairment. Your baby with Downs Syndrome or severe eczema or Hydrocephalus. That precious soul hasn’t been forgotten or made by mistake.

They were hand-crafted by a God Who cares beyond what we can even imagine.

He didn’t make a mistake … He just chose to make someone extra unique for His glory. Your baby isn’t forgotten — he’s just right. 

I know it’s silly that a child’s book could give me so much hope but it did. It was in that moment that I embraced my child for whoever they would be and however they would be born. So what if my child was born bumpy? We would deal with it. We would love, cherish, and support that little one as they dive into life and find their purpose.

Are you a mama of a kiddo with medical complexities? How have you dealt with the differences you notice? I love hearing from mama’s walking through the same journey! 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Love, blessings, and lots of coffee! 

Frannie