Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Announcing our new baby name ...

... Seth Austin McKinney 

“Placed by God”

It’s true. We’re having a third boy in three years. And yes, we’re a little crazy.

Another truth … we’re changing the name we had chosen (and already embroidered on shirts).

I felt that I needed to share the reason for Baby No.3’s name departure. Apart from the fact that Chad wasn’t a huge fan of the name “Brit,” there was a more significant catalyst for the change. And I’m not sure I’ve told many, if anyone at all, about it.

The journey started in January 2012. I attended a Women of Faith conference. And while I honestly was not incredibly impressed with the program, God used the event to speak a very clear message to me. I was supposed to have a third child. I felt unmistakable direction—this baby needed to be born. And it would be an honor, a privilege and a blessing to be able to bring this special child into the world.

However, at the time, our boys were 2 years old and 9 months old. I was in no way wanting to add to the chaos in our home. I could barely handle the children I already had and couldn’t picture managing a third. I also battle Hashimoto Disease (hypothyroiditis) and had strict doctor’s orders not to get pregnant. So, I cataloged God’s voice into my “to-do-later” file and moved on.  

Several months later, I felt God’s nudge again.  And, in true Jonah fashion, I made excuses to avoid following his will. God used circumstances, people, an improved thyroid level and a tiny bit of sporadic “baby fever” to continually remind me of his plan. Chad and I would talk about it, immediately feel overwhelmed and then usually get distracted by a needy toddler. Needless to say, I missed my window for voluntarily submission.

That fall, I began having some complications with my birth control pills. After several different medications, I had enough. In late October (mid pill pack), I abruptly tossed them in the trash. I knew how to do ovulation and conception math. And there was no way we could get pregnant.

Six weeks later, I took a pregnancy test. Certain that I was not pregnant, I immediately threw it in the trash … only to return six hours later and find it lying on the bathroom floor, face up and reading two positive lines. And thus, God won.

Immediately, I was reminded of the 11-month journey that led to this point. But in complete honesty, I still didn’t surrender to his will.  I was overwhelmed and anxious. My hair was falling out, and I would spend a majority of the day nearly hyperventilating at the thought of adding another boy to the mix. I say, “boy,” because I honestly knew that God was preparing a boy. If you know me, you know that I pretended to believe that it could be a girl. But, I knew. Denial is a state that I lived in a lot during the first trimester.

My health was not the best at the time. I’ll spare you all the details, but God prepared my body for this pregnancy. And while I’m still considered “high risk,” there are no signs of complications.

Several weeks ago, God gave our pastor, Paul, a message especially for me … at least that’s how it felt. The sermon was about accomplishing something for God and being significant, even in the most unforeseen ways. I realized that, at this point in my life, the most impactful thing I will do is carry and help create this baby.

… This baby named Brit.  

“Brit Austin McKinney,” a random, haphazard suggestion that Chad made in the car, immediately stuck. From that moment, Tyler (my, now, 3-year-old) and I called him that on every reference. To keep with our places-in-Texas theme, we chose Austin as middle name. Living there was one of the most significant time periods in my life. In Austin, I became a Christian. I found my first church home. And I established the core of who I am today. And “Brit?” Well … that was most definitely not as significant. It was just fun, different and sounded a little like a coffee house rock star.   

On Sunday, God pretty much got out “the red spoon.” In parent speak, I had sort of missed his counting of “1,2,3.” The sermon was about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He begged for the impending task to be taken from him, for the burden to be lifted. But after a struggle, much more excruciating than mine, he surrendered to the will of his father. This message hit me literally. The burden that he carried could not be described any better than the massive, expanding belly of pregnant woman. It is quite literally a weight that I am carrying. “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).

It was at that moment, I knew that God was calling us to change his name.  I sifted through pages of biblical names and references (a hard task on a smart phone), looking for something that meant “God’s plan” or “meant to be.” There was only one name that fit, “Seth.” It means, “placed or appointed by God.” And ironically, he was the third son of Adam and Eve. 

Chad had always loved the name Seth. In fact, it was one of the names he put in the hat when we drew Grayson’s name.

And so, Seth Austin McKinney it is. 

I know that this pregnancy will continue to be difficult. I know that I will be sacrificing my body for the sake of this child. But what greater gift is there than a child? It’s with that realization that I find myself getting excited about our Baby No.3.  I’m not naive in my assumptions about raising three boys under the age of 4. It will be hard. There will be days when I need to re-read this, possibly repeatedly.

But this baby has a purpose. I’m not sure what that purpose is or how distinguished his life plan will be. It may be simple and go relatively unnoticed or it may be grand. He may just change the world. I know, for a fact, that he will change mine. I will love him, just as I adore Tyler and Grayson. And I will believe, without a doubt, that he was meant to be. He was “placed here by God.”

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Grayson's milestones



It was a big day for our little Grayson. He finally took his first steps! 

He's been trying for about a month or so, walking with us while holding our finger. He would take one independent step, but afterward, he would just carefully go to his knees and crawl away. (He is a very proficient crawler, fast enough to keep up with Tyler.) However, last week he started showing a lot more interest in walking. He perfected the balance-and-stand maneuver. Then, it progressed into something like this: right foot step, left foot step, knees lock, arms out and free fall—stiff as a board—until he reached mommy, daddy or a table.

But today, it was a different story. We didn't get a video or picture of the official first steps. But here is a video I took on my phone about two hours before he completely figured out how to do it. This video is funny, because I was filming Tyler and his imagination. He made a castle with a vase and a milk cup and said that I was on the "Mommy bridge" that I had to cross to get to the castle with the milk cup "flag." Meanwhile, Grayson stands up and takes a few steps towards me. 


When Chad got home, we tried to to get him to walk from Daddy to Mommy. And to our complete surprise, he did it! We had a delayed reaction, looking at each other for confirmation first, but then we cheered loudly. Grayson was so excited and proud of himself. We completely weren't ready for him to actually walk, so we didn't have the camera. We tried to recreate the moment later, and we got these pictures. But then, it was bedtime. We'll try to get more photos/videos tomorrow to post. 

I'm don't think he's a full-time walker quite yet, but he is well on the way. I am so excited to see our little baby grow into an active toddler. 




Also .... Grayson has learned to talk. I've been meaning to blog about this. He says about 10 words, the cutest of which is "babee" (baby). I affectionately call him "baby" all the time, so he thinks that is his name. If he wants something, he speaks in the third-person: "Babee baba," which means he wants a milk cup. He'll also put his hand to his chest and say, "babee." 

Grayson also named Tyler "bub-uh." We have no idea where he got this from, but every single time we ask him what Tyler's name is, he'll reply "bub-uh." 

Here are the other words he can say, in order of how he learned them: 

Da da
Ma ma
Baaa (ball)
Ba ba (bottle or cup) 
Bu bu (bye bye) 
Ha (hi)
Taa ooh (thank you)
Bub uh (Tyler) 
Ba bee (baby)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Our adorable 1 year old

Grayson is 1! And like every parent says, "I can't believe he is already a year."

He's growing into such a little person, discovering his own likes and dislikes. He doesn't quite cruise yet, but he can pull up on everything. Sometimes he can stand independently for a second, but I still think he is months away from walking. His motor skills are on target through. Our future soccer player's favorite game is pushing and chasing balls all through the house. He can eat with a fork and drink from a sippy cup. Bye bye bottles ... however, he still is not a huge fan of milk (even with flavored syrups). We're still putting formula in his cup a couple times a day, but the doctor said it's fine, given that he is so tiny.

We took him for his 1-year check today with Dr. Alvis. Here are his stats:

Weight: 19 lbs. and 13.5 oz. ( 8th percentile)
Height: 29 and 5/8 in (38th percentile)
Head circumference: 18 in. (27th percentile)

The doctor initially told us that he was concerned with his rapid growth deceleration and wanted us to take him to see an endocrinologist. After he personally checked his height, he said that he was still concerned, but he would allow us to wait another three months before going to the specialist. Apparently, Grayson has not grown in height at all in the last three months, and may have even lost weight. We've always been watching Grayson's weight, since it dropped dramatically after birth and has been on a slow percentage decline since. But this time, his height dropped two brackets in the curve, which is not normal. Ugh, add one more thing to this poor child's medical history ...

He's also been seeing an ENT. The week prior to his birthday, the ENT said he wanted to take his adenoids out immediately. And he wished that he would have done it during the ear tube surgery. He said he rarely misses it, but in our case, he made a mistake. We were very hesitant to schedule another surgery since Grayson reacts so poorly to anesthesia, so we got a second opinion when we went for his pulmonologist appointment two days later.

The pediatric pulmonologist said that he thinks we can wait until May or June to do the adenoids surgery. We love our pulmonologist! He said that Grayson seems to be responding very well to the asthma treatment, and he would just like to continue the same meds for three more months. We will go back at the end of May to see if we need to do any immune system or other testing.

I forgot to ask the pediatrician about his iron deficiency. I'm going to call up there and get an update on that. I'm assuming we need to continue his iron supplements.

Okay ... this is depressing me. Let's talk positive things again! Grayson is a happy, somewhat shy little boy that loves his big brother! He and Tyler play together so well and are ALWAYS together. The other day, Tyler told me that Grayson was his best friend. I love those two more than words can express!

Here are some other Grayson things. He loves trains just like his brother. He loves being outside. He'll crawl around on the grass and help Daddy work in the garden. He plays on the toddler play set we have, and he loves his new sandbox. He loves music class and songs, but he isn't a huge fan of Daddy throwing him high in the air. He is a picky eater. But if he likes something, he'll eat a ton. (I'm talking almost a whole kids meal). He is developing a big mommy attachment. He wants to be held or right by me all the time. He still sleeps with his blankee, while sucking his thumb. His baby teeth are crooked, so I'm pretty sure it's not a good habit. But it's still cute. He waves bye bye, and he can say "mama," "dada," "baba" (bottle/cup) and "buhbuh" (bubba/brother, although we're discouraging this nickname). He goes to bed about 6:30 or 7 at night, and he still takes two naps a day--10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

We love our little one year old so much!

For his actual birthday, we surprised him in his crib with a massive assortment of balloons and a muffin with a candle in it! After that, we opened gifts. He got a huge bag of balls! Then, we took him to eat at Rainforest Cafe. Our friends, the Wrights, watched Tyler so we could get some good one-on-one time with him. It was a lot of fun! For dinner, we made his favorite, spaghetti. It was a fun day celebrating our Grayson Robert!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grayson's first birthday

Grayson Robert turned 1 year old on Wednesday, March 7! We celebrated with a full day of Grayson-centric activities, which I'll tell you about in a post tomorrow.  I will spend a little more time rambling about how he's the greatest baby ever [insert mommy grin]. For now, here are the details about his epic, milestone birthday party.


The BIG party was on Saturday. We chose a navy, yellow and gray color scheme. Stripes and a chevron pattern were mixed in with a mod elephant motif, as the main design elements.  I love decorating and party planning, so this was just another outlet for my creativity. Plus, I have an adorable, precious baby boy who deserved an amazing party. I spent four months planning and 10 weeks working on all the projects, which I have decided would have taken significantly less time had I invested in a Cricut. Nonetheless, they all came together nicely.

My project plan was quite extensive. We made 12 yarn balls to create a chandelier effect in the living room. That space was also decorated with two handmade banners and paper garland. Additional decorations filled three other rooms in the house and included nine hanging cutouts, more than 20 signs, two banners, handmade table cloths, cupcake toppers, food tags, water labels, milk carton covers, soda bottle stickers with straws, yard sign, high chair cover and smash cake station decorations. Each of the 32 children who came received a zig zag or stripe goody bag filled with animal crackers, a coloring page, specially-ordered navy and yellow Crayola crayons and candy. From the yarn balls and yarn letters to the banners, printables and goody bags, nearly everything was handmade. I did, however, custom-order a few things, and my vendor credits are listed at the end of this post.

I used Pinterest quite a bit, which proved incredibly handy. Two years ago, for Tyler's first birthday, I printed more than 50 inspiration photos on real paper and put them into a notebook. Why didn't I invent Pinterest then?!  Anyway, I used it this time as a great place to store my "research." You can check out my birthday board here.

My husband recently opened a photography businesses, and he graciously agreed to photograph the party decorations. However, we ran into several problems that I am still fairly devastated about, including terrible lighting from a rainy and overcast day. We also had a slight timing issue as well, and we didn't get all the shots before the party started, so some of these photos were taken the next morning. My bestfriend Rachel took photos during the party, so they are included in the album as well. Some of the highlights are at the end of this post.  

The full photo album can be viewed at photobucket.com/graysonsfirstbirthday


My go-to graphic designer on Etsy, Kaylee Bug Designs, did Grayson's invites, and we ordered them from Miller's. They sent us about 15 extra invites, so I thought, "let's not waste them." We ended up sending out about 45, which doesn't seem like a lot until you factor in that most of our friends are a family of four. As of 48 hours before the party, we had 87 people RSVP ... yes 87! Panic doesn't really even explain my state of mind. I ordered more cake pops and food. And I reconfigured the design plan, adding more open space. Then ... minute by minute, I started getting calls, emails and text messages from friends whose children got sick. By the day of the party, we were down to 52. While normally, I would be devastated that our guest list was dwindling (and so many friends were sick), it was honestly a blessing. More details on Grayson's fear of crowds later.


The party started at 3 p.m., and that morning was surprisingly relaxing. I had done a mock party on Monday night, and we finished installing the decorations Friday night. Tyler and Grayson took good naps and, despite the decoration-wonderland, were fairly unaware of the excitement to come. Every detail that I could control went perfectly. Every detail that I could not ... well, that's another story.

First of all, I was a little upset about Grayson's hair. (I know, I know ... but little things bother me.) The boys were napping until the first guest arrived. I didn't have a chance to fix their hair or get them dressed. I was especially upset that I didn't have the time to make sure Grayson looked perfect. Of course, he is precious regardless. My all-time favorite Etsy boutique, Initial Here Gifts, custom-made  two adorable shirts and a hat.  And he looked pretty darn cute, when he wasn't crying or hiding in his room ...

Overall, I think it was a decent party. We spent about 45 minutes mingling and eating. Then, we watched the movie that Chad made that chronicled Grayson's first year. The link is below, if you would like to watch it. After the movie, we sang the "Happy Birthday" song. Grayson tends to be fairly shy. He was doing okay with all the guests until all the attention went on him during the birthday song. It was all downhill from there. Tyler helped him blow out the candle, and he wouldn't eat his smash cake. I had to take him into his quiet, dark room to calm him. After a bit, we tried to do presents, but Grayson was not in the mood at all. We apologized to everyone, and Grayson went in his room again. My mom, Memaw, rocked him to sleep, and he napped with her for the rest of the party. I'm glad we still had lots of cupcakes left, because it diverted the attention a little.
The Grayson Movie can be viewed on You Tube


Sweet Art Bakery made the smash cake, cake pops and cupcakes. They were amazing! We received compliments from nearly every person, saying they were the absolute best they had tasted. The smash cake was banana and buttercream; the cupcakes were white almond and buttercream; and the cake pops were dark chocolate with white chocolate drizzle.

We also ordered Grayson's absolute favorite food, hushpuppies from Delaney's Irish Pub. I think we might have accidentally cooked them, while keeping them warm in the oven. Oops ... but everyone still said they were wonderful.

Chad made a pecan cheese ball--a recipe from our wonderful neighbor Barbara. And I made homemade sugar cookies that were cutout in the shape of a one. I had tiny, chevron bags filled with assorted baby snacks, such as Mum Mums, yogurt melts and arrowroot cookies.  The other foods included a veggie tray, Chex party mix, white (or yellow) chocolate dipped Oreos and crackers.

Vendor credits:

Initial Here Gifts
Sweet Art Bakery
Delaney's Irish Pub
Kaylee Bug Designs 
Sweet Estelle Baking Supply 
Texas Susannie's Fabric Store
Swanky Prints
Miller's Professional Imaging
The Cookie Cutter Shop 
Bake Me a Party
Container Store
Party City
Hobby Lobby
Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store
Crayola Store

Tuesday, February 28, 2012