Some days are normal, some days mess with my head.

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You always hear things like “he/she has good days and bad days” when referring to how someone is coping after a tragedy or something.  And you believe them, doesn’t always sound cliche, so you usually don’t think too much of it.

But it’s true.

Some days I feel pretty much normal.  I might have a sad moment or tear up, maybe have a good cry.

And then there are a few days, like my yesterday, that total eff with my head.

I can’t seem to collect my thoughts, I feel anxious, I can’t make decisions, I don’t know what I want, and I can’t really tell why I am like that!

”Well duh, it’s because I miss my son”

I miss my son every freaking day, how come sometimes I can’t freaking function???

Yesterday started out like most others, Ayden coming in my room around 7am to snuggle before we need to get up and get him ready for school.  The plan was that we would take him to school then Berk and I would go for a boat ride.  Can’t go very long or very far since we need to be back in enough time to get in the parent pickup line.

Berk offered to take Ayden to school so I could walk Fiona.  Since that’s kind of my routine (until I go back to work next week. :/ ).  So I put on my flip flops (normally I put on my “walkin’ shoes cuz I go for 2-3 miles total) since I was only just planning on taking Fiona for our normal 1.08 mile walk so we could maximize boat time.

I didn’t feel too abnormal, but did notice that I was crying easily during this walk.  Meh…I cry a lot these days so I still didn’t really feel much different than any other day.  Usually a nice walk in the morning does me good for the day.

Berk calls me on his way home and I’m about 8 minutes walk away from home. I confessed that I was in a grumpier mood than normal.

He asked me if I needed to go for a longer walk.  I didn’t want to say yes because I know boat time was precious.  After he assured me that it was OK if I felt like I needed to walk longer.  I really felt like I needed to be honest so yes…

…Yes, I want to walk longer.

When I got home with Fiona, I put on my walking shoes and went for another 1.25 miles, I think.  It was nice.  I wasn’t trying to walk for speed/calories burned.  I was walking for my soul.  It was kind of Forrest Gump walking.

Still…thought it was just a grumpier start to the morning and it would burn off like pretty much any other morning that I have these feelings.

Nope!

“What do you want for breakfast?  What do you want to take on the boat for lunch?”  I couldn’t answer these questions because I didn’t know how to answer them.  I knew what I didn’t want, but not what I did.  And it was upsetting to me.  If we weren’t already planning on going on the boat, I would just have dove into my Tupperware business, laundry, dishes, cleaning up the house (kinda going into autopilot) and would have been just fine.  But stopping to make a decision???

Nope!

What the freak is wrong with me?  Why am I crying because I don’t want a turkey sandwich for lunch???  Why am I getting upset that I don’t want pancakes for breakfast???

I really didn’t want to make my husband feel bad because he kept throwing out ideas just so maybe he would suggest something that sounded good to me and I could just say yes.  No yesses were coming.

I really just felt like I was in this funk and it was super annoying because I’m “fine” every other day.

The only things I could come up with why yesterday was making me be in a funk was my dog was having some digestion issues (he’s 9 and old and I just love him to pieces), Ayden was fighting off some sort of virus so he was just not feeling 100%, and I had my first public Tupperware event that night that I was getting very anxious for.

I think those all were just weighing on my mind and making me get in my own head too much.

Why would the event make me feel anxious???  Well these are monthly events that have the very high probability that will have guests from the previous months.  I did these events all though my pregnancy with Aaron up until like 2 weeks before my due date.  I was wondering if all the guests (which would have no idea) would then be asking me about the baby.  I am at the point where I can tell people what happened should they not have heard yet. I just felt like I could get overwhelmed and have to go hide in the bathroom for a while.

The boat ride helped tremendously.

Then I drove myself crazy about my 2 times up front at the mic.  How do I act?  I kept telling myself to just be myself.  Which is usually pretty comfortable with a touch of humor.  I have done it enough times that I wasn’t really nervous…before.  I felt warm and numb when I got up in front of the mic to do my little commercial for my business.  At the end of the night, none of the guests asked about the baby.  And to be honest, I don’t know how many of them were repeats.  The nice thing was that we had a hurricane that cancelled last month’s auction.  So everyone (including other vendors) had missed a month.  It was like I wasn’t even gone.

It was different.

My other vendor friends were AMAZING!!!  I knew they all knew (at least the important ones).  I could feel them sending their love and support without them even saying anything about my situation.

It felt good to set up a Tupperware table.

I was trying so hard to “just be normal”….what is that though?

 

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So, we’ve never been landscapers.  We’ve sorta tried a couple of times in the just-over-ten-years that we’ve lived here to having something nice looking out front of our house.  But it’s just never been a priority.  The only thing we’ve been able to successfully grow is pineapple plants and aloe.

Aloe grows like a weed btw…

Toward the end of the this last pregnancy, Berkley told me that while he was off work and home with the baby and me, he was going to try to do some landscaping out front of the house.  At the time, I rolled my eyes at the idea because we’ve never really been successful at finishing the project.  We start, but don’t finish.  And definitely don’t upkeep.  I am NOT a fan of watering, weeding, plucking, pruning, anything really that goes with growing plants.  I like the idea of it, but know better than to start.

I was going to grow an herb garden once…but that takes knowledge and maintenance…yeah that’s not me.

I was going to grow a couple of vegetables in a garden….oh the planning is so fun, but would be a waste of time to go through it all to then not be out there farming it up every day.

But this time was different.  Now being a few weeks after Aaron’s birth, Berkley brings up again his ideas (and asks for my input) on landscaping out front.

He’s thinking rocks, and I agree.

And all of a sudden we are at Home Depot buying that weed mat stuff and the next day we were laying it down.

After that, Berk headed to a local rock/stone business right around the corner from where we live (almost) and he picked up the larger stone that we would use on the outside edge.  Ayden helped, he handed the stone to Berk and he laid it.

Next would be the red rock to fill.  Normally, this might take us a week or who-know-how-long to do the next step.  But the next day, Berkley went to the rock place to pick it up.  After most of the morning and some of the early afternoon shoveling, filling, and smoothing (IN THE HOT), he had the fill rock laid.  It looked so good!

Ok…now here’s where it’s going to stay for weeks and weeks and we’re never going to move on.  And then it really hit me…we’re kinda doing this for Aaron.

Before we laid down the weed mat, Berk asked me what kind of plants I wanted.  I knew I wanted gardenia bushes.  My grandmother had them her house when I was YOUNG and always loved the smell.  Then while looking through Pinterest (my husband gave me a reason to…encouraged me to…even suggested I spend some time on Pinterest!!!) I decided I wanted to having a vining plant with flowers on it for the main focus of the house.  I was hoping for morning glories, but the nursery we bought the plants didn’t have any.  So we came home with this.

I’m not quite sure what it is, we didn’t ask the lady at the nursery.  Just for a pretty blooming vining plant and this is what she showed us.  It was on a small trellis, the larger trellis we added to it for it to grow!.  We also picked up some small gaillardia plants at the nursery.  We knew we wanted some shorter plants and we saw them and tough they were pretty.

We did things a little backwards.  But if we would have done them in the “right” order, I don’t know if we would have finished so quickly.  Having the rock in place really helped us visualize.  Even when we came home and were deciding where to put everything, we could visualize so much easier. So yes, we laid the rock THEN planted the pants.

But we didn’t end there. I don’t know how he found it, but Berkley found that Shutterfly prints on these garden stones. So we added this to our landscaping.

And I have had zero problems with weeding, watering, plucking and such.  If only I could get a good picture at night with the solar light shining on Aaron’s stone.

We love you baby and you’re always here with us.

 

 

 

 

My dealings with paranoia…

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I have worked for our local grocery chain, Publix, since I was 17 years old.  Last May would have been my 17 year anniversary, but I left for 22 months when Ayden was born.  I have been back for 4 years now.

One of the nice things is working for Publix is kinda like Cheers…”where everybody knows your name”.

Also…everyone knows your business.

Which can be good or bad depending on who you are and what your business is.

One of the hard things I dealt with after losing Aaron was that I didn’t want to go into any Publix stores.  I barely wanted to go into public for fear of being seen by someone I know.

Why?

I can’t really explain why.  I felt embarrassed.  Why embarrassed?  I don’t really know, I can’t explain it.  Like all of the hype of the pregnancy and everyone knowing me, my husband, my sister, and everyone in between….and then nothing.

At first I wondered if someone would think “What’s wrong with her?  Why didn’t her baby live?”  It might not make sense to you, but it does to me.

I didn’t want to run into someone that hadn’t heard the news yet and have them ask “Where’s the baby??” And then I would have to tell them, I would have to utter the words that my baby didn’t survive. “The baby didn’t make it…” And in addition to the reality-kick-in-the-gut, I would feel bad that they had to find out that way.  I knew that they would wish they had heard before they asked and they would feel like a jerk for not knowing.  But I know that they wouldn’t have asked if they had known…it’s just too much to explain.

And then the thought of going back to work or even into the Publix I work at…nope.  Not happening.  If I could just move away where no one knew me and I could start a new life…I totally would have done that.  Talk about having to face your fears!!!

In the few days following Aaron’s birth, whenever I would think about stepping foot in MY Publix, I felt like running away instead.  If I could just stay in my home and correspond with everyone via text (not even phone calls, nope…uncomfortable) that would have been the perfect situation.

When Berkley and I would talk about how I should go into my store soon (when I’m ready) to see the folks there (to ease back in instead of just waiting until I had to go back to work), I would shake my head and start crying.  I couldn’t face them.  They were all so excited for us and anxiously awaiting our little “girl” to arrive.  How embarrassing to then see these coworkers AND customers and have to tell them that not only was the baby not a girl, but they baby doesn’t exist….physically.

Anyone that has been pregnant before (especially working in the public) knows how many times you’re asked the age-old pregnancy questions…

When are you due?

What around having?

Is this your first?

Everyone asks, all the time.

Now having to answer “how’s the baby?”  I don’t know how to handle this with the millions of customers that I could see in a shift.  (Ok millions is an exaggeration but it’s what it will feel like my first time back to work I think)

It’s overwhelming to think about.  And in those first days post partum…uncontrollably overwhelming.

I was fortunate enough to still have my parents here, staying with us, for a few days after.  They were amazing and would go to the grocery store without me because I just coudln’t face going in.  I even sent my mother in for a head of cabbage into a store I didn’t work at and probably knew the least amount of workers in.  Because I just couldn’t take the chance that someone that I know would see me.

The week after Aaron’s birth, we were also prepping for a Cat 5 Hurricane (Irma) that was potentially heading our direction.  Berk had gotten the gas tanks filled, shuttered up most of the windows, and helped us make a list of food/items to have in the house before he went back to work.  My parents, thankfully, did that shop for us too.  Then Friday morning (Storm was due here Saturday night/Sunday sometime), my mom and I needed to make one last trip to Publix.  I didn’t want to make her do it all by herself so I went in too. This isn’t MY Publix and is typically the one I go to when I don’t want to be seen (no makeup, want to get in and out quick) on a normal basis.  But this day, I spent the whole time, paranoid, looking over my shoulder so I could avoid being seen by anyone I knew, lest I LOSE IT!!!  I did end up in the bathroom once, in a slight panic attack.  But if I could have just gone to the car and hid, I would have.  Yes I avoided people, yes, I ducked down aisles I didn’t need to go down, yes, I sent my mother to a specific section so I didn’t have to be seen by so-and-so.  Yes, I know those people would just want to hug me, or try and pretend like life was normal as to not upset me.  But just knowing they know…was embarrassing and upsetting.

How will I able to function in public again?  I can’t get out of everything outside my home for the rest of my life!!!  And it wasn’t even at Publix.  I needed to pick up something from Walgreens.  Walking into Walgreens, I was looking around making sure I wasn’t going to be seen by someone I know.  And then the day we went to go visit with my Aunt and Grandma.  I wanted a sweet tea and we were passing McDonalds.  The drive through line was long so I decided to go inside.  WALKING INTO MCDONALDS I WAS LOOKING AROUND TO MAKE SURE I DIDN’T SEE ANYONE I KNEW!!!  Do you know how annoying that is?  I wanted to run away!!!

And I still hadn’t been in to MY Publix…

Berkley told me he’ll go with me as many times as I need him to, but I need to go.  For them…for me.  He had already been back to work and was able to share his experiences with me.  Help me know what to expect.  To reassure me that it’s going to be ok.  To help answer my questions or feelings of paranoia when I discussed my fears.

One day, we made a plan, and went in after dropping Ayden off at school.  I felt like I was having one of those dreams where you’re trying to run but cant.  Trying to scream but can’t.  I was trying to turn around, but couldn’t.  I know I needed to do this…but I DID NOT WANT TO!

I saw my manager, but she was helping someone else “whew…”. We had to pick up a couple of items, so I rushed Berk and told him just to go down an aisle, any aisle…just get me away.  I felt myself losing control of my emotions and I just wanted to walk down an empty aisle to gather myself.  I don’t cry in front of people.  But I knew it would most likely happen, which did NOT help.  Of course the aisle we walked down had one of the other ladies that works in the Grocery department.  UGH…wrong aisle.  But it was too late to turn around.  How do I act?  What do I say?  Do I act like nothing happened? (I know she knew and was heartbroken for us) I DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE!!!  So I jokingly messed with her bacause that’s what we do and because I know she’d be more upset if I just walked by without saying hi. (Especially since it had been over 2 weeks since Aaron’s birth).  She turned around and hugged me….and I cried.  I kept my sunglasses on while we talked.  She didn’t act any different.  We talked about the hurricane and such, and then we went on our way.

I saw a couple more people as we picked up our few items and I rushed as fast as I could to get us paid and out of the store.  I knew I needed to talk to my manager about work related things, so I went to check out with her.  It wasn’t bad.  And then we left.  WHEW!!!  That was over and I never have to do that again! WRONG!!!  I work there!  But it was over a week that I went back in.  And I only went back in because Berk was going with and encouraging me.  (When I needed to grocery shop, I would go to the other store and hope for the best…I was seen, plenty of times, but it wasn’t horrible…just something about going into my own store.  I can’t really explain the feeling).  The 2nd time into my store wasn’t as bad.  Except for my first experience with someone that hadn’t heard the news…”I guess I can say congratulations now” HOW do I respond to this?  “Sorta” is what I said.  :/ “Where’s the baby?” I don’t want her to feel bad when I tell her what happened.  But I can’t “just go along with it” like in other uncomfortable situations in life.  So I had to tell her and I felt terrible for making her feel terrible.  Ugh…  We finished the shop, but I still didn’t feel like I couldn’t go in by myself and still did my shopping at the other store.

Finally, ONE whole month after Aaron’s birth, I felt ok enough to meet up with some of the girls from my work.  One, in particular, had been asking often to see me and I just wasn’t ready to be seen.  I asked her if she wanted to meet for coffee and see if anyone else wanted to come too.  Then on that day (32 days after Aaron’s birth), I felt ok enough to go grocery shopping by myself in my own store.  No security blanket of Berkley or Ayden.  And I didn’t back down.  I sort of wanted to as I was walking up the parking lot.  But I forced myself in.  For the very first time, I actually felt like myself and not like it was written all over my face that my baby had died.  I felt like a different person…tainted, embarrassed, sad, depressed, disappointed, and more.  The overwhelming paranoid feelings of not wanting to be seen were minimal and I could function.  I could say hi to people.  It wasn’t completely “back to normal”. But there is no going “back” to normal.  A sort of normal… a new normal.

I still really don’t know how to be in front of people.  Am I allowed to be happy and laugh?  Am I expected to be a certain way?  I don’t know.  But I am taking it day by day to find my new normal without losing “me”…..

Yesterday, I went to visit the hospital nurses…

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Yesterday was a HUGE day for me.

I went to visit the hospital nurses that took care of us during our 24 hour stay at the hospital when we had Aaron.

I knew from the moment we left the hospital that I would be back to visit these ladies. The amazing-beyond-words nurses that went through this with us. The strong-beyond-belief nurses that held us during this crazy time.

I was able to arrange a visit with the night nurse that was there for the start of our stay and the two day nurses that were there during the hard labor, delivery, and pain of the loss of our son.

I know I will not be able to put into words the amazingness of this staff. But I will try my best.

Much of this process of dealing with the loss of an infant is not fun (imagine that), and I was forced to put on my BIG BIG panties on and do things like deciding on a name for our deceased son before leaving the hospital, leaving the hospital with no baby, going to the funeral home to sign papers for the cremation process, phone calls and decisions about autopsy/DNA testing, and the list could go on.  All of them I didn’t want to do, but forced myself to.  I couldn’t NOT do any of these things.  I couldn’t “get out” of doing these things because I couldn’t “get out” of the fact that my newborn son passed away.

But this particular decision was an easy one and one I so much looked forward to…visiting the nurses that I can never thank enough for their work.  This was a part of my healing process that I counted down the days to and it did NOT disappoint.

I did feel a little nervous walking into the hospital again.

Would they remember me?

Would they recognize me?

Would they want to see me?

Would they have time to say hi?

I walked through the front doors of the hospital, turned and looked at the door I was wheeled out of that night we left.  A wave of emotions came over me of everything I felt that day.  I composed myself and asked the lady at the front desk how to get to Labor and Delivery, my lips were quivering with nerves and fighting back the break down I knew could bust out at any moment.  Also mixed with my fear of getting lost in a hospital and/or walking into an area that I’m not supposed to go…

The elevator opened and I pressed 2.  Deep breaths.

The elevator door opened and my brain couldn’t read the signs to tell me where to go.  Thank goodness for a custiodian looking man who opened the slider door for me and showed me the nurses desk.

When I was there before, it felt like a blur and I couldn’t remember what things had looked like to know if I was in the right place or not.  As I approached the desk, I saw the night nurse (I’m keeping their names out just because I didn’t get their approval to include their names, so don’t think I’m rude by how I refer to them).  She was in street clothes because it was 9am and usually her shifts end around 7am I think.  Her supervisor had told her someone was coming to see her but hadn’t told her who.  I was shaking when I said “she’s one of the ones I’m here to see” (actually I said it completely wrong because I was not really able to speak).  She came around the desk and we hugged.  A hug that I so very badly needed.  This lady was a stranger to me just over a month ago and now I didn’t know how to let go of the hug.  I cried in relief.

When I turned around one of the 2 daytime nurses that helped with delivery and everything after until her shift ended sometime around 7pm that night (roughly about 8 hours after Aaron was born).  More relief.

And the second daytime nurse was walking up.  All there too see me.  But really I was there to see them.

Part of Aaron’s quick arrival and not that I struggle with is if it was even real.  Was I ever really pregnant or was it a dream?  Did I really go through labor and deliver him or was it a dream?  Did he really die or was that a nightmare?  Were those nurses real or was I dreaming?

As I was there with them, outside of the fog of labor, delivery, and grieving, yes…they are real.  And just as amazing as I remembered them being.  The supervisor was even kind enough let us go in an unused room and let us visit for a little while.  We were able to reminisce and catch up.  It was EVERYTHING I was imagining and so much more.

I could have stayed all day.  I didn’t want to leave them.  They truly are amazing people that CHOOSE to take care of other people for a living. When they could have avoided me both that day and yesterday, they didn’t.  They will never really know the impact they’ve had on me.  I will spend the rest of my life trying to show them.

But before I left, I was also lucky enough to be able to see the photographer that took pictures for us of our sweet boy.  I was able to visit with her also and it was just so nice to see everyone that I met though such a terrible time in my life.  I really can’t explain it, but I never wanted it to end.

A million times thank you to all the staff that helped us during our stay, I know it was more than just these 4 ladies.

One of my best days since all this happened.

Thank you….

It’s been one month…

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(Written on 10.02.2017)

It’s been one month….
…Since I held you in my arms for the first time.
…Since I felt that feeling of joy that is delivering a baby.
…Since I felt like a superhero again.
…Since our confusion that you were a boy and not the girl we had been told we were expecting.
…Since my heart stopped beating a little.
…Since I held you for the last time.
Since I kissed you for the last time.

I really don’t know where to start this. I have had all these ideas floating around in my head the past few weeks since I decided that I would write our story for anyone to see. I have read a few other blogs about infant loss. I have read many blogs over the last few years. I have always been jealous about how organized they were, consistent they were, and how wittily they were written. I am none of those things and for the first time I am NOT trying.

As you can tell, (even by looking at the date of my last post) it’s been well over 2 years since I have posted anything on my blog. Life has just gotten crazy! March of 2015, I embarked on a journey that has added much busyness to my life, I became a Tupperware consultant. More about that later. Then at the end of May 2015, we sort of suddenly had to put our precious dog, Gabi, down. #CancerSucks. She was 7 years old and we had her since she was 6 weeks, that was VERY hard. Then life just continued to be and stay busy…between working part time at Publix, running my Tupperware business from home, and taking care of the home and my son…life. Busy. No blogging. I kept thinking I could go back to it and add the Tupperware stuff and that would be cool.

But I didn’t because life…was too busy.

Then it got even busier as we decided at the end of October 2016 (actually on our 9th wedding anniversary) that we were going to try to have another baby. Joys upon joys! I was extatic. We ended up finding out (via pee stick) that we were pregnant on Christmas Day 2016. (Yup…that was quick). It was so perfect. Found out on Christmas Day, Berkley and I had this secret all to ourselves as we were surrounded by family on one of my favorite holidays. We were able to tell my parents in PERSON (as opposed to last time over FaceTime) before they left to go back to their home in Maryland a couple days later. It was also perfect because the baby was due 08/31/2017, 3 days before my 35th birthday. I dodged all those “old lady” pregnant tests!!! So many jokes and speculation that the baby would be born on my sister and my birthday of 09/03. I joked that I didn’t want to go “late” since it’s as summer and no pregnant mother wants to go past her due date no matter what time of the year it is.

In April, we found out we were having a little girl. EVEN MORE PERFECT, we already had a boy, now we’re adding a girl. What are the chances? I felt the baby was a girl from very early on, and the night we found out my husband said he kinda thought it was a girl too. So we planned…for a girl…

August 31 comes and goes and no baby born yet. I was then getting a little excited that my baby girl would share a birthday with my sister and me. How awesome! So then I wanted “her” to wait 3 more days. Sept 1, my mother (my parents had come in on 08/27 to be here for the birth and help afterwards) decided that we should celebrate my sister and my birthdays that night just in case I was in the hospital on our birthdays (which we ALL were hoping I would be). It’s a good thing we did it that way. Late that evening (around 10:50pm) started the 24 hours that would change our lives forever…

It was then that I started leaking amniotic fluid. I did not experience any of that with my first child (they broke my water when I got to the hospital after 2 days of contractions at home) so I phoned a friend and she confirmed. I woke my husband (who had been in bed for about an hour and was scheduled to work early the next morning) and told him what was happening. A few minutes later we were heading for the hospital. Here we go!!! It’s almost midnight for 09/02 and there’s still a chance (however getting smaller) that our baby would be born on my birthday…bets are still on!

After getting to the hospital and getting checked in, to my room, and tested to see if it was in fact amniotic fluid, I was hooked up to IV and getting ready to start pitocin shortly because they want babies born within 24 hours of water leaking/breaking…it was only about 12:30am at this time and I remember my husband saying “I guess she won’t be born on your birthday”. I was holding out hope a little but I figured the same.

I labored through the night, got my empirical sometime in the wee hours, but still felt a bit of pain in my left hip flexor area. I’m not sure what time it was but I coudln’t take the pain anymore and was feeling like I needed to start pushing. They called my midwife and got everything prepped for me to deliver the baby. I was excited and scared too. Ya know, the normal feelings of delivering a baby.

After about an hour of pushing (maybe slightly less), at 10:54am our beautiful baby was born. I remember they set the baby on my chest/belly and I said “she’s real!!!”
Then they took my baby, and I just figured it’s was to suck out the gunk, measure, weigh, and clean “her” up before handing her back to me. I was very sure I wanted only a diapered baby on my bare skin just as soon as they could give “her” back to me. I made the mistake of having my son clothed and I wanted skin to skin. I knew what i wanted and how to speak up for myself since my first experience with labor.

One of the student nurses was watching from the other side of the curtain and says “it’s not a girl”. What do you mean it’s not a girl??? Berkley and I both thought she was joking with us cuz that would be a funny trick to play for a second and then a “JK!”and we would all laugh. But no…she says “it’s not a girl”. I looked back at Berk (who was by my head) in confusion, and he looked back with the same expression. “Well good thing I got gender neutral stroller/car seat and pack and play.” Because that was the biggest “issue” I thought there was. What are we going to do with all the girl clothes we received???

How could this have happened?

But they weren’t giving me my baby. My baby wasn’t crying. My baby wasn’t making any noise. I watched through the hold in the bed rail as they were trying to get my baby to start breathing. Rubbing, moving, pushing air into…then I heard a nurse yell “RT STAT!!!” I knew that was for the respirtory team to come in. There was a blur or people, I wouldn’t take my eyes off of my poor little baby and begging, pleading, crying for them to fix him. I needed to hear him cry.
“He has a heartbeat of 122, but he’s not breathing. They can help him breathe but they can’t make his heart beat.” My OB told me. She wasn’t there for MY delivery. She happened to be at the hospital the same time and had come into my room right after I delivered.
“But he’s still not breathing!!! It’s been too long, why isn’t he breathing!!!” I worried myself with thoughts of brain damage since time was going by and he wasn’t breathing. Now thinking that brain damage was the worst case scenario…
“We need to get him to the NICU.” I heard the neonatologist say. My heart broke even more. NO!!!! I need my baby, I need him on my skin, he needs ME!!! NICU babies don’t get that skin to skin like they need in the first few minutes. Don’t take my baby away from my room!!! But they did, they needed to, to continue to try to save his life.
The numbness started. My OB came back in and said that he still has a heart beat but they still coudn’t get him breathing.

WHY???

She came in again…heart beat is going down, we need a heart beat and air to live. It’s not looking good.

I have no words to describe how I felt in that moment. Knife to the heart doesn’t even come close.

I need to see him, I kept telling them I needed to see him. I’ve read those stories where the baby is not breathing/heart not beating and they put the baby on it’s momma and a miracle happened. I believe in miracles! I need to get to him! He needs me, and I can save him!

One of my friends that I have known since childhood, who is also a nurse in the Labor & Delivery unit at the hospital came in. I looked over to her, standing next to the wheel chair she brought in with her. I felt horrible because the though of “this is getting serious” entered my mind. All business, she said “we’re taking you to see him” and got me off the bed (just over an hour after I delivered him) and into the wheel chair and rolled me down to the NICU. I’m not sure I was breathing. I was scared and didn’t want to go, but knew I needed to and still held a hope that if you just put my freaking baby on me, I can fix this!!! I am his mother!!!

She rolled me through the NICU and passed all the closed curtains to the end where there was a door into a room. Inside that room was hospital personnel that had been trying very hard to save my son’s life.
“I need to have him, naked on my chest”. The nurses were unhooking him from the tubes and whatnot that they had been using to try and get oxygen into him. I unsnapped my hospital gown so I was ready. They tried putting a diaper on him and wrapping him in a blanket before handing him to me. “Why does he need a diaper?” “Just give him to me.” (I feel a little bad about being so short with them, it wasn’t their fault, they were helping my family)

He was still warm from the lights over the little NICU bed. He was perfect. He looked perfect. He felt perfect. It just seemed like he was sleeping. It’s still hard for me to think that he wasn’t “just sleeping”. I still felt like a miracle could happen and that he would wake up and start crying. And that we would be known as the couple with the miracle baby instead of the couple that loss their newborn baby less than 3 hours after he was born.

A nurse told me there was a photographer there that could take pictures for us and asked me if I wanted that. Even though I felt it a little morbid, I very much wanted them. I din’t have to do anything with them, but better to have them and not need/want them later than to not have them at all and wish I had. And boy and I glad I did!!! Also glad that I had asked one of my nurses to go back to our room and get my phone for pictures. She took pictures on my phone and they are so comforting to me.

I held him for over an hour. He moved a couple last times. I’m not sure exactly when his heart stopped beating, but I’m positive it was while I was holding him. They told me that we could stay as long as we wanted/needed. I never wanted to leave. But I knew at some point, I was going to have to hand him back over and never hold him again.
It came time for me to need to give him back because if I didn’t do it soon, I would never do it. I soaked up as much as I could to muster up the willpower to give him up. I kissed his little forehead, his perfect little forehead. Stroked his cheek and put my finger inside his little hand. And then I just let go of him and put my hands down and turned my head. I couldn’t pick him off of me, it was just too painful. The nurse had to take him off of me. She wrapped him up and covered him with a blue blanket with a little rainbow in the corner. I got out of my wheelchair for one last kiss.

HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?

HOW IS REAL LIFE?

WHAT AM I GOING TO TELL MY 5 YEAR-OLD SON?????

We are good people. I don’t do drugs. I didn’t drink. I don’t smoke cigarettes. Why is this happening??? These were just some of the thoughts that spewed out of my mouth. Not that I would wish this on anyone, even mothers who don’t take the best are of themselves or their babies while pregnant, just don’t know if it had to happen, why to someone who didn’t do these things.

We said our last good-byes and then wheeled the long silent journey back to our hospital room.

Numb. Confused. Angry.

One month ago, we said hello and good-bye to you in what feels like the same breath…
If love could have saved you, sweet boy, you would have lived forever!
Aaron Lucas Sturtevant born 09.02.2017

The 12 Posts of Christmas #9: Christmas Baking

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And just like that…it’s over.  All of that planning and prepping…is over.

Pretend like you’re reading this on Christmas Eve, because that’s when I intended on posting it.  Why I thought I would be posting on the Eve, I have not a clue.

I made two new recipes this year.  I made gingerbread cookies (sorry, I guess I didn’t take a picture of them).  They taste good, but are a pain in the you-know-wutt to cut (do you see what I did there?  no?  ok…nevermind).  The dough is really tacky, even after sitting in the fridge for more than 24 hours.  I also made chocolate peppermint biscotti.  A few years back, I worked with a girl that made them and they were delicious.  I didn’t use her recipe though.

In addition to the newbies, I also made my regular sugar cookies and my new regular (as of last year) Kringlers.

First thing’s first, I made the sugar cookie and gingerbread cookie doughs a few days before I baked them.  Then let them set in the fridge for just over 24 hours.  Then I rolled and cut all the cookies while my son napped.  ***Baking tip*** When cutting out cookies, just set aside the scraps and pile them up.  Try to handle the dough with your hands as little as possible.  When you have all your scraps set aside, roll them out.  Do not kneed the dough.

Once I cut the cookies, I lined them up on parchment paper, stacked them on cookie sheets, covered them in foil and put them in the freezer overnight.  The next day, I transferred them to gallon size zip top bags.  I folded my parchment papers and kept them in the zip top bags so I had them to bake on.

Now…for these biscotti I mentioned before.  Like I said, I first had them when a coworker of mine made a bunch of different kind of biscotti a few years back.  More than I love pumpkin, I love mint/chocolate or peppermint/chocolate flavors.  Thankfully, the one she gave me was peppermint/chocolate.  I got a wild hair this year that I wanted to try to make them.  So I found this recipe.  I did make a couple of changes to it.  Here’s what I did…

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

Preheat 350 degrees

2 cups All-Purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3/4 stick butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 tsp peppermint extract

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup semi-sweet mini morsels

1/4 cup Andes Peppermint candy pieces (only around at Christmas time)

– Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

– Beat butter and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add extracts, mix well.  Stir in flour mixture until combined.  Mix in morsels and peppermint candy pieces.

– Divide dough in half.  Flour hands and form dough into two slightly flattened logs.  Place logs on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Each log should be approx 12″ long and 2″ wide.  (side note: I didn’t take this part seriously.  I did mine about 9 or so inches long and maybe 3.5 inches wide, they spread a little during the first bake and then cutting them made them ridiculously long).

– Bake 35 minutes or until slightly firm to touch.  Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet (side note: mine set longer than 5 min because I was eating lunch…no interrupting lunch).

– Transfer to cutting board and cut diagonally into 3/4″ slices.  Arrange biscotti, cut sides up, back on cookie sheet and bake another 10 minutes or until crisp.  Cool on rack.

– Drizzle with chocolate.

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For my drizzle, I melted 1 regular bag of Hershey’s special dark chocolate and about 1/4-1/3 cup of the peppermint candies over a double boiler.  If you don’t have a double boiler (which is me), just set a glass or ceramic bowl over a pot of 1″ or so of water.  Make sure your bowl is way bigger than the pan so it sets nicely at the top.  Simmer water and stir chocolate often.  Once it’s all melted, I just arranged the biscotti on wax paper and used a spoon to drizzle the chocolate mixture over it all.  I left it out the rest of the day to set up.  It didn’t get 100% set.  I couldn’t stack them but they are still yummy!!!

SUGAR cookies!  Now, I know I put something about the sugar cookies in a post from last year.  In there you will find the recipe.  Now, once you’ve read that, you’ll know that I don’t really like to decorate the sugar cookies.  But this year, I actually tried to do a little something with them.  🙂

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I do my icing with a zip top bag with a corner cut off.  And then I had a blow out.  The zipper part didn’t hold and ended up squishing out the top while I was “decorating” a different cookie.  LOL

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Seriously, the best sugar cookie recipe in the world.  All growing up, I thought it was my great-grandmother’s recipe.  Come to find out it’s just a Betty Crocker recipe.

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I had a little helper…

And last, but certainly not least, the Kringlers. (read more here).

Here are a few action shots of how these little cookies are made.  I hope my Great-Grandma would be proud. 🙂

And when Ayden asked for a cookie, more often than not he asked for a Kringler.  Like for breakfast…IMG_0546.JPG

I wonder what From J to Z has up her sleeve for her second-to-last post for our #The12PostsofChristmas collaboration.

The 12 Posts of Christmas #7: Candy Cane Ornament Kid Craft

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How is it December 22 already?  Here I was, in disbelief of it being 2 1/2 weeks until Christmas, and now it’s only 3 days away?

Now don’t be confused.  Amanda at From J to Z usually posts first, but I’m switching it up!

I don’t do many kid crafts with little A, so I decided that I am going to try to be better at that.  These little ornaments would kill a few birds with one stone: Craft, gift, and giving Ayden some much needed mommy attention while I am so busy with getting the house and Christmas stuff ready.

I decided to make these candy cane ornaments because they are easy and I made one when I was a kid so it brought back some memories.

IMG_0497.JPGAyden was very excited to do a craft!  At first we started out with separating out the beads.  Because…why not organize?  And as you can probably guess, it didn’t last that long.  At first, he was really excited about putting all the white ones together, and red ones.

_MG_7973Long story short…Mommy ended up doing most of the work.  He did hand me the beads when I asked for them.  He helped push them down the pipe cleaner.  And He did help put some of the beads on each one.  So…KID CRAFT!  We were going to make like 12 or something…we made four!  He did good though and was very excited.  He didn’t let me wrap them for our family members, so they are all on the tree for all to see.  I did add a tag to them because I plan on him doing something every year.  And it will be nice to know what year they came from.  (Or is that just the neurosis coming out?)

All in all he was very proud and excited for the candy cane ornaments.  I’m new to this kid craft thing so we will see what the future brings.

 

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In other news, it’s been a busy but fun week.  Ayden and I had a play date, I got a haircut, got my nails done (Salon and a scarf?  I’m so fancy!), and my parents got in late last night.  It’s officially Christmas!!!  Tomorrow begins prep for Christmas Eve!  And right now we are watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I’m kinda brain dead so I’m taking the night off and enjoying my family.

And don’t forget about my friend at From J to Z.  I smell something good coming from her next post!

The 12 Posts of Christmas #6: Handmade Christmas Ornaments

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Yes, I’m late…story of my life.  I’ve been so busy with trying to get Christmas stuff done and trying not to let the house be mistaken for a landfill.  I SO thought I was ahead of the game seeing as I did this craft LAST FRIDAY!!!  And here I sit again, after 9PM on Friday, writing this.  Please do not ask me where last week went, because I can honestly say I do not know.  Just trying to keep up with dishes, laundry and my 3 year-old…there isn’t much time for more.  Throw in trying to get ready for Christmas, and I’m behind just thinking out it.

I know, I know…my very first post was on organization.  Reality is, I’m a much better planner than doer (if you know me, or have read my blog…you already know that).

BUT! Here we go.  For the past two Christmases, I’ve given handmade ornaments with Ayden’s pictures on them.  The first ones were these:IMG_6038And I only made 4 of them.  One for each of his Grandparents.  Four pictures on each side (look at his little face, he was only one year old then…wipe away tear), red scrapbook paper on the top and bottom, and a string.

Last year was this:

Individual ornaments for family and friends using wood, paint, modpodge, photos, and ribbon.

Individual ornaments for family and friends using wood, paint, modpodge, photos, and ribbon.

A little more of them, and I added paint.  But only one picture each.

And this year…(it’s going to spoil the surprise for whoever of my family reads my blog…but it’s ok).

Drumroll…….

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And…like FromJtoZ, I too am in a little bit of a time crunch (still have a project to do before bed…and it’s not even my project, sigh).  So, thankfully last week I took pictures of each step.

What I didn’t take a picture of, was the package of these little wooden sticks before I opened it and painted them.  But I think you can tell what they are.  They are found with the Popsicle sticks at Hobby Lobby.  They were $2.49 for a package of 75.  (I believe I used my 40% off coupon on these that day, cuz everything else I got that day was already on sale).  I used 64 sticks to make 16 ornaments.  So $1.47 for 64 sticks, 16 photos at $0.09/print on Snapfish = $1.44.  Two sheets of 8×10 scrapbook paper from a paper pad = $.022.  Plus adhesive, hot glue, and marker that I already had.  Bringing this project total to roughly $3.13 (20 cents each).

It took some time, and some patience.  And they’re not as fancy as those you can buy and put the picture in.  But for a thrifty mom with time and (some) patience…this works for me!

Step one (not pictured), chose paint and paint 2+ coats per side (I only did 2, cuz I wanted them to show some of the wood grain and look handmade).

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Steps 2, 3, 4, and 5.  I lined up my sticks how I wanted them to turn out and traced them so I had a guide.  And I am sure glad I did since they seem to move around while gluing.  Lay side pieces down, glue bottom piece at corners.  Glue string at the top and then glue top piece at the corners.

_MG_7938Moving on…

_MG_7942I measured how big to make my picture (ended up cutting them 2.5″ square) and then cut the back cover 1/8″ larger.  Glued the back of the picture to the back of the patterned paper so when it was adhered to the back of the frame, it looks like this…

_MG_7945Truth is, I should have cut them a little bigger so I had more area to glue to the wooden sticks.  I had to take this mounting tape that is 1/2″ wide, and cut it into 3 strips so that the adhesive didn’t show on the front.

Turn it over, write on it with a sharpie, and tada!!!!

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_MG_7937 _MG_7935PS, this is what was happening while I was assembling these ornaments.  Ayden playing with the swiffer while watching Christmas George.  And then me being told to hold the swiffer while he put a sock on it.

 

So there you have it; simple, inexpensive ornaments!

And if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you saw that I made my cookie doughs the other night and today, while Ayden napped, I rolled and cut them and they are in the freezer.  Which reminds me that I need to take them off the cookie sheets and put them in Ziploc bags so they are sealed up.

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Gingerbread cookie recipe can be found here.  And sugar cookie recipe can be found here.  Yes, that is a lot of flour on my gingerbread men.  It is a sticky dough and I hate cutting out dough.  Hopefully they will still be good 🙂

Ok…it’s the final countdown.  SIX posts left and only 6 days to go!  Make sure to keep up with FromJtoZ to see what she’s got up her sleeve next!

 

The 12 Posts of Christmas #4

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Welcome back to the Christmas collaboration From J to Z and I find ourselves in.  Here’s the 4th Post of Christmas

 

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Here we are, 13 days away from Christmas Day!!!  So that means I only have 12 days until I need to have everything done (since we celebrate with the big family on the Eve).  And finally today…TODAY, I started my Christmas crafts.  One of those crafts was this terracotta pot candy jar that has been stalking me on Pinterest.  Maybe it’s the other way around…moving on!

Well, I finally decided to get the stuff and actually make it.  That’s a huge step for me because even the most simple projects become “too much work” for me if I think about really making it.

I was going to just make one, and if it was easy enough, make them for the rest of the family.  It is easy, but I don’t know if I have time.  The nice thing is, if I decide to do that…I can do it fairly late as I did this little cutie just this morning.

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Here’s what you are going to need.  A terracotta pot with saucer (I got this one at Home Depot, Hobby Lobby didn’t have the right size), a glass bowl, paint color of your choice, ribbon of your choice, a wooden round drawer pull, a paint brush, and glue!  (optional, buttons)

I used this opportunity to get myself a new (bigger and better) glue gun!  Thank you to the 40% coupon at the LOB!  But if I do this project again, I might get myself a very strong non-hot glue (one post says to use E-6000 (I was going to link it, but I didn’t pin it and can’t find it)).  And I’ll tell you why.  After I painted the pot, I glued the drawer pull to the saucer, and after it dried, I picked it up to see if it was going to hold, and it didn’t stick!  I stuck that with Gorilla super glue that I had laying around.  And THEN, when I tried to glue the bowl to the pot, it took me 3 times to get it to stick.  The hot glue cooled too fast before I could get the bowl placed right.  The third time seems to be the charm.  I also hot glued the ribbon so that’s also squeezed glue between the pot and the bowl.

This is a pretty self explanatory craft.  Paint…glue…tie…fill…VOILA!

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In other news…Ayden and I put up his very first Christmas tree in his new big boy room.  Yes, my son is 3 (just barely) and I am just transitioning his room.  In my defense!!!  He has never tried to climb out of his crib and…well…I’ve been avoiding it.  Both for financial reasons and procrastination reasons.  BUT, it’s done now (sorta kinda).  So, all in this afternoon, I replaced the front panel of his bed for a bed rail, took out the glider and put down a reading/blanket/stuffed animal fun corner, and put up his little tree (that I got on clearance at Hobby Lobby last year).  And I think waiting longer helped his transition to freedom.  I’m pretty sure he never got out of bed (and I left his tree on when I left).

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Now, in case you missed it, head back to From J to Z and check out what she made for $4!!!  IMG_0413.JPG

#2 of The 12 Post of Christmas

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Well hello there!

 

I hope you all enjoyed the first installment of The Veronica Blog and FromJtoZ Christmas colab.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, here ya go!

It has been a little while since my last post.  I had been so busy with Thanksgiving preparations.  And then my little baby boy turned THREE on Black Friday so we had his birthday party on Saturday.  So I was busy with that.  I’m not really sure what’s happened to the last week and a half, but it just hit me that there are only 2 1/2 weeks until The Big Day!  And I haven’t even begun planning!  If you’ve read any of my previous Christmas posts (or this one, or even this one), you’ll know that I get myself quite busy around Christmas.

I start planning in the Summer, even though it usually all changes by the time to start getting busy.

I’ve decided to take a step back from 95% homemade gifts for every one.  I did that 2 years ago and it was nice, but I waited way too late to start making them (didn’t account for time to make, time to mess up, time for it not to work out like I had planned, time to do something different, and time for life).  Ayden was just one then and I wasn’t working at all out side the home.  Last year, I made a little less, but still made the majority of the gifts.  Ayden was 2 years old then…a little easier to work with, and I had just started back at Publix part-time and wasn’t working very many hours.  This year, I’ve decided to keep the hand making to a minimum.  It’s kind of sad, but I’m still doing personalized gifts (just using Snapfish more).  Oh thank goodness for Snapfish!!!!!  If you haven’t checked them out, do yourself a favor and go NOW!  They have amazing coupon codes during the season and they try their hardest to get your stuff by Christmas Eve (if you follow their dates).  They have always been good to me.  Anyhoo, I started to panic yesterday when I realized that I don’t even have my lists made!

Are any of you surprised?  If you’re new to my blog, I function on lists.  My brain is too scattered to try and accomplish everything (anything, really) without a list.  So, I woke up today ready to organize my thoughts so I could calm my nerves.  After getting hubby off to work, feeding the dogs, and the boy child, I got my coffee ready, turned on all my Christmas decorations and went to work.

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First thing’s first…my work space needed a little tidying.  After doing that, I got a little distracted by my Christmas tree!

After I reigned my attention back to the task at hand, I sat down with my calendar (Blue Sky Monthly/Weekly, I’m kind of picky about my calendars, and I’ve been using this design for years), and my trusty notebook paper.  I made a master cleaning list. Thumbnail PreHolidayCleaningListWord

This really should have been posted before Thanksgiving.  When I created it, I had it in mind to do before Thanksgiving (if you were hosting).  BUT I wasn’t hosting, so I didn’t do the cleaning for it.  I AM hosting Christmas Eve celebrations so I do need to get the cleaning done.  However, being realistic, I won’t get all of this done.  But at least I have something on paper for next year (and yes, you’ll probably see me here next year, not having done the list).  I do feel it is helpful though, because there could be something on the list, that should get done but might not have gotten thought about.  I know the image is only the first page (it ended up being 4 pages long).  I did it in a fun font, to hopefully be more fun to accomplish.  Feel free to download the document (link), print it, edit it, highlight the most important ones and do those.  I do recommend determining which ones you can do ASAP (tops of things, cupboards, cabinets, fans, frames, etc.) and get those done soon.  After that, determine what can’t be done until the last second and save only those few (shouldn’t be a long list) for last.  Try to fit in the others in the meantime.

I know, BORING!  Who wants to clean.  But for me, it’s important to not be very embarrassed of the food crusted cracks between my stove and countertop.  I don’t need an immaculate house, but I don’t like extended family members thinking I’m a dirty person.  If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done.  I’m ok with that, but I like to try.  It is last on the list after ensuring gifts are taken care of, hubby/baby/dogs are fed and happy and the food prep…of course the food.  But still something to help, in case it’s important to you too.

 

After this, I started my To Do lists:  One for the things I need to get done and another one for gift specifics I’m doing.  I don’t think you people understand the scatter-brainedness of my situation.  But I know I’m not alone, so hopefully this not-so-fun post finds those few that need direction.  (is it sad, that I was excited about this post?)  (I’ll keep it quick)  After I made my lists, I got my calendar (monthly view – after schedules and appointments entered), I started planning when I am going to do what).  If I have it down early, and I happen to not get to it, I still have plenty of time to do it another day.  This planning = LESS STRESS for me!  And less stress around the holidays is always better!

Any bakers out there?  Do you make cut out cookies?  Do you feel overwhelmed when you make them?  No? Just me?  Ok well, just in case there is someone who is like me, try this.

I am going to make my doughs (making three: sugar, gingerbread, and a mint cookie) on Friday the 12th.  I will mix them, wrap them in parchment and put them in the fridge.  On Saturday the 13th (during Ayden’s nap), I will roll and cut the cookies.  I will place them on a cookie sheet between layers of parchment, wrap and freeze them.  On Sunday the 14th, I will transfer the now frozen/cut cookies to zip top bags and there they will stay until I bake them on the 23rd.  Sounds like extra work with the freezing part.  But I’d rather do that, than have to do it all in one day on the 23rd.  And if I bake them too early, they won’t be fresh (and probably won’t exist) by Christmas Eve.

To make this easier, just follow me on Instagram @theveronicablog and on Facebook.

I am a recovering procrastinator…if I leave it up to my brain alone…it won’t get done.

 

What helps get you through the holidays?

 

Make sure to stay tuned to FromJtoZ to see what’s next on our #12PostsofChristmas.  Here’s a link to “like” her Facebook page as well!

 

And just for fun…I took Ayden’s 3 year pictures last week…so you’re welcome!

 

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