28 March 2014

A Crabby Celebration!

Into all our lives, in many simple, familiar, homely ways, God infuses this element of joy from the 

surprises of life, which unexpectedly brighten our days and fill our eyes with light.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I would like to share a little lesson on humility. This story is based on true events. 

First, a woman called my husband on a Saturday night. He answered the unknown number to receive a sweet voice at the other end of the line with his wife sitting at the other end of the couch. Needless to say, he seemed uncomfortable. And what woman's ears don't perk up at the sweet sound of another on the phone with her man? I became the lady on the State Farm commercial. He had very little wiggle-room, but the poor guy did what he could.

Next, I caught a couple of the girls I have spent time with here hanging out without me. How dare they?! They had the audacity to post pictures of their kids together on Facebook. That's how I knew. One of the girls even told me she would call me to hang out and then I saw it again-- them, all hanging out, and me, with no invite. 

I'm being dramatic, of course. But I'm not gonna lie here. I was upset. I complained to Hubs and had a few days of hurt feelings. I wondered if it was because my kid wasn't here yet, or maybe if I should just take a hint altogether. 
Either way, I had enough evidence to take it personally.

Now, I could blame the social backlashes of Facebook. I could blame pregnancy hormones (boy, oh boy, could I ever).  I could make prideful comments about the complicated middle-school drama of relationships with other women. I could try for sympathy points by explaining how I was concerned that I thought I made friends but maybe I didn't and what am I gonna do for two and a half years isolated in freakin Alaska and now I have to start all over and I'm so tired of feeling alone for Heaven's sake!! I'm not crazy; I had asked to hang out. This was on purpose!

And would you have ever guessed it? It totally was.

Hubs, in all his secret wisdom, tried to defend their posts while simultaneously comforting his ever-growing wife on Saturday morning over breakfast. An utmost impossibility for the human male if there ever was one. That afternoon, I walked into a surprise thrown just for us by the above-mentioned culprits, only to find out they had been intentionally not inviting me to hang out because they were too busy creating and hand-crafting and planning and strategizing every single detail of our baby shower. Because they are my friends and because they love my baby boy already.

I spent the rest of the weekend melted into a vat of humility and remorse. I spent a while mulling over whether my love language being quality time could count as a redeeming quality at all before I decided to stop rationalizing and let repentance wash over me. I told a friend, "I am a terrible human being!" To which she responded, "You're not terrible. You're human!" The great thing about repentance is that the bitter is always replaced with the sweet taste of grace.

Moral of the story? You don't know. You don't know motives. You are not a judge of intentions. You can assume. You can speculate. But you do not know. I know that sometimes people really are mean. Sometimes, there really is a threat. But making assumptions about others through our own filters is never the whole story. We have a responsibility to our thoughts and feelings about each other, and we have a responsibility to our responses and actions when what we think and feel hurts us. While we might be wishing someone else would change, God might be changing us. We can say yes to honoring others, even when we think they may have no intention to reciprocate. Whether the actual problem is real or not, our feelings of disappointment are real to us. That's when we can choose to react in a way that respects another person on purpose. It's not about what we deserve or what's fair. It's about being called to share God's care for His children. And usually, those people who need to be respected and honored the most, ask for it in the least loving ways.

I am fortunate to say this wasn't the circumstance this time around. I am so very blessed with the group of wives here. We have met some of the most welcoming and thoughtful ladies I have ever known- not just in the military, but ever. Melyssa Thomas was the sweet voice coordinating the surprise with Hubs. Katie Coghill, Jenny Blew, and Stephanie Worm were those terribly mean girls who left me out. These four were the hosts of an event meant to celebrate us and welcome our son into the "family" here in Alaska.

We got to bring these onesies home as a gift!

Jenny made this cute crab cake and all the table centerpieces out of diapers! We had very few diapers and no wipes before the shower, but between these crafty masterpieces and gifts, we are now stocked up!

The front table invited all the guests to address their envelope for thank you notes and to pick the date, time, and weight of baby Woodard at arrival!

The food spread was amazing. Four eight-foot subs with all the fixings, chips, fruit, punch, and cupcakes! Our FRG leader, Dani, had carved a melon baby carriage and had sliced the stems to make banana dolphins!

Christina might never live down her exquitse cupcakery skills. Vanilla with buttercream icing and chocolate with a chocolate ganache middle and vanilla frosting.

The girls had several games ready to go complete with prizes for the winners! 
The first one had all the men competing for who could assemble the best cloth diaper. 
Lol I think he'll do much better with velcro.
The second was a memory game. We got to see 20 items in a "Daddy Diaper Survival Kit" for a few seconds. The person who could remember the most items won. Hubs was given the kit to take home!

The last game was bingo- the guests had to guess what gifts we would get and complete a row first! I was completely overwhelmed opening gifts. Everyone in the unit was invited, so there were several people who attended and brought gifts that I hadn't even met yet! Their thoughtfulness in offering us support and supplies for this new adventure of parenting far from family left us so humbled and so grateful. I am so glad we will be bringing our baby into such a generous and benevolent group of people.

Melyssa's family gifted us with baby clothes and an insane amount of wipes. And they also were thoughtful enough to include Jessie. They wrapped her up some treats so she wouldn't feel neglected when we brought baby home!

Jenny and Stephanie made this "Blaster Baby Booty Butter" with their own precious hands out of coconut oil, beeswax, and essential oils. They included a little travel size tub too!

Stephanie and Katie gave me this bag full of all the items I'll need for our hospital stay! Comfy pants and matching robe, nursing tank, slippers, and all the unmentionables. Toiletries, Chapstick, hand sanitizer, lavender oil, snacks, and all the nursing and feminine items necessary after having a baby! So clever, thoughtful, and convenient. I loved that they put all the things that they remembered were important to them during their delivery experiences! And how cute is this duffle?! It's a perfect suitcase for Joey's upcoming travels to see you these next couple of years!

We also got clothes, toys, teethers, pacifiers, a super soft blanket, the coolest diaper backpack, burp cloths, towels and washcloths, shampoos and body washes and lotions, car seat straps to support his tiny head, and so many sweet books. 

Our baby boy already has friends! That handsome man on the left, Wyatt Coghill, is making a perfectly good seat out of Joey. Wyatt is four months older than Gentry Worm (who joined us in the picture on the right), and Gent will be four months older than Joey. The hand-me-downs have already started rolling in accordingly. So grateful for the advice, maternity items, and love I've already received from their adorable and experienced mommas!

So, there you have it! I am so thankful that we are having our little buddy while Hubs is in a unit full of family-oriented friends. Their kindness has already made me more comfortable as we come closer to his arrival!

Happy 33 Weeks!

Nashville Sister Shower! { 02.09.2014 }

In the same way, teach older women to be holy in their behavior, not speaking against others or enslaved to too much wine, but teaching what is good. Then they can teach the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be wise and pure, to be good workers at home, to be kind, and to yield to their husbands. Then no one will be able to criticize the teaching God gave us.” Titus 2:3-5

(Sorry it took me a while to share about this sweet shower. 
I was waiting on the pictures that came today!)
How cute are these handmade invitations??

I'm just going to preface this post by saying that I will not be able to accurately describe how adorable, how thoughtful, & what a blessing my baby shower was. My sisters worked together to come up with such wonderful little details & put together a sweet time for many of our family & friends to celebrate our baby boy. I cannot tell you what it means to me. What I can tell you is that the tears are already coming. In the first paragraph of this post! Not even the first paragraph-- the preface for goodness sakes! (I could blame this on hormones, but you who know me well know that would be a lie. I'm a sucker for sentiment & don't have a single ounce of shame about it.)

{ Photo Credit for all photos-- except the invitation pic above and the photo booth pics at the end-- goes to the incomparable Katie Mosley Photography. She is a master at capturing those sweet, sentimental moments between loved ones that really make every life event special. And she's a complete joy to have around. If we lived in Nashville, she would be on speed dial for all things baby. }

It was so exciting walking with my sister up to the clubhouse. They had left almost every detail a surprise. Taking in all the precious pieces & all the familiar faces that I hadn't seen in such a long time took me a little while to digest. 
I'm so glad I have pictures to look back on & remember every bit!

My mom made this wreath in about 3 minutes. So perfect!

The front hall had pictures hung & a calendar set-up for the ladies to guess our Joey's arrival date. 

The hall opened to the front room on the right, where all the delicious desserts & punch was placed. There was popcorn and fruits and veggies. Lea Anne's oreo cheesecakes, Maw Maw's cinnamon rolls from scratch, Momma's chicken salad & coconut creme pies. My great aunts pitched in: Pattie made red velvet cupcakes, & Carol made the punch.

Agh, good grief! I would give anything for some of that right now. Well, probably not my firstborn.

It's a "shower"! Get it?! Adorable.

My uncle had a large picture of Hubs, me, the baby bump, and Jessie printed. It was awesome, & I was a little bummed I couldn't sneak it by as a carry-on. I would've had to buy two extra seats to get the almost-actual-size photo home.

The rest of the clubhouse was one large room that my sisters had cleared out & set-up. This mantle decor was so precious. My sister & her boyfriend made the coolest banner to hang above the cute clothesline of baby apparel worn by Hubs & me when we were teensy!

They had organized several different stations of things to do. The first was a onesie with fabric pens so that guests could sign it as a keepsake! Another was a table I had asked to be put up so that the ladies could take a card to write an encouraging note to another military wife or a mailing label to send a care package to a deployed soldier. (If anyone would like more info or an address to join the fun, please email me!) Another station was for each lady to write a blessing, prayer, or advice for me and baby boy. All other tables were decorated with baby pictures of me and Hubs & some of our tiny baby items that our moms had gathered for the party.

I was so shocked to see the amount of gifts the ladies brought! I was overwhelmed by their generosity. My sisters really helped me out on this one too. Kari handed me gifts and wrote down who brought what for thank you cards, while Kelcee took care of all the present paraphernalia once they were unwrapped.

And just you wait until I tell you how I received each one.

My mom's cousin, Valerie, had passed around small cards with Scriptures on them. With each gift I grabbed, I called out the name of the precious lady that gave it. She read the bible verse on the card & spoke words of blessings & advice over me & our sweet baby. It was so touching. What beautiful moments with these women who have been apart of Andrew's & my life for so many years- if not all 30 of them! They also sent me home with all the Scripture cards & blessings wrote out for us in a little shadowbox. I cannot say enough about the selfless courage these women showed. Thank you to each one of you, opening yourselves up to the emotion & sentiment of showering us with wisdom & with the perfect power of God's Living Truth. It was, by far, my favorite part of this whole pregnancy experience. 
We are truly loved.

Andrew's mom made this beautiful quilt!

Yes haha! Seester NEVER cries. Her blessing was perfect. She's the best.

My oldest BFF Mary Coul gave the best advice: Don't let being a mommy make you neglect being a wifey. 
Cherish your husband, don't take him for granted, and let him know he is loved!

Aunt Carol smocked this little outfit. It's kangaroos for our little joey!

You're welcome.

Don't forget the party favors! These loofahs- Haha!
"From Lauren's Shower to Yours."

I loved getting these professional photos with the sweet ladies in our family. 
I have a few frames ready to go for these to be printed!

Please excuse my chins.


Thank you so much, Sisters! Love you. 

One of the most fun stations was the photo booth! Not everyone jumped in, but I'm so glad for the pictures that Kelcee got on her camera of those that did! Hilarious. And how great are all the blue accessories and custom signs??
The Hostesses with the Mostest. Joey's amazing aunts: Carrie, Kelcee, & Kari!

 Joey's Grandmas: MILEE and MIMI!

 Hubs' Mom & Sister: Lea Anne & Kari.

One of Joey's Three Great Grandmother's! Maw Maw with my Momma, Kelcee, and Carrie.

Boys Not Invited! These guys dropped in before and after the festivities.
L: Kelcee's boyfriend, Ethan, and my bro, Anthony.      R: Mark, MeLisa, and Andrew Teague drove from Huntsville!

 Kelc with her long time pal, Mary Leigh on the left, and our cute cousin Andrea on the right!

 L: Love you Aunt Tami! Your pic might be my fave haha! Roll Tide!   R: Momma with long time friends, Melinda and MeLisa.

L: Love these two!! My aunt, Shannon, and cousin, Sophie.    R: Momma with long time friend, Nancy.

L: The Anderson Ladies: Mattie, Paylin, Angela, and Chloe     R: The Sweet Anderson/Foriest Girls!

I think these girls had a blast in the photo booth!
L: The Big Gals- Mattie, Sophie, Bryson, and Aidan  L: The Middle Gals- Taylor Anne, Harper, Chloe, and Emerson.

Stop being so cute, girls! L to R: Taylor Anne, Paylin, Chloe, and Emerson.

L: "Can We Take A Picture with HER ??!!"    R: Mary Coul, Rebecca, Aunt Anna Banana, and Emelia Jane

'Muerica.   Nice lanterns, Mom.

My Seester and me on the left. With one of my besties, Mary Coul, on the right. Oh, and there's a Reba under that hat lol!