Four Quarters

The older I get the more I realize how important your “circle” is. As a woman, it is hard to find other women who truly lift you up and root for you no matter what. I never understood the saying ” it is better to have four quarters than 100 pennies… until recently.

Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way, not everyone who is in my boat is rowing the same way. I have found some of them are pouring in water instead of rowing. What I mean is just because someone claims they are your friend or supports you, is not always the case. Being a woman is hard. We are constantly having to keep up with what society thinks we should look like, what we should eat, how we should raise our kids, and the list goes on. But we do not need friends who are not really rooting for us to be added to the stress society has already placed upon us.

When I moved to Michigan, I was terrified of having to meet new friends… especially after I had kids. Mom friends are scary, and I mean this in the sincerest way. Finding moms who think like you or understand that sometimes life is a three-ring circus, is hard! I had this preconceived notion that all moms were the same and I did not fit into that group or I was not good enough. But thankfully, that was proven wrong.

A prime example happened a few weekends ago. I had to attend a wedding with Nick. I love weddings and seeing the groom’s face when the bride walks down the aisle, however, this wedding was different. I did not know one person (except the bride and groom.) That is all fine and good right? Except Nick was in the wedding and I had to be a guest alone. Little did I know five strangers would become friends in a quick amount of time.

These five women made me feel like I had known them for years. Even when they told stories I felt I was a part, even though I was not. They proved that it is okay to have faults and not have it all together. I realized sitting at the table, sharing a bite of every doughnut offered, that these women were the epitome of class.

Thankfully, I decided to attend the wedding and overcome the anxiety of walking in alone. Because if I would not have attended… I would not have met these gems.

Cheers to Michael Jackson, dancing to “Shout”, and pretending we were in high school again. You ladies are the real MVPs.

” A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”- Proverbs 27:9

Hair-Bows and Prayer

Being a mom is one of life’s greatest blessings. Challenging? Yes. Tiring? Yes. Rewarding? Absolutely. Everyday a new obstacle is faced and challenges presented. However, the constant rewards and love make everything worth it. I always dreamed of having children but never realized I would potentially be raising two beautiful boys. I envisioned myself being a mother but did not fully understand what that title truly meant…. until now.

Raising children is a constant battle. A battle between wanting them to stay little but wanting to see who they become. Wanting to be their best friend and biggest supporter but also to teach them discipline and respect. Every situation and circumstance creates an opportunity to teach and mold them to the adults we want them to be.

When Atticus was born, I quickly realized every decision I made, every reaction, and the way I spoke became extremely important. I now had a little one watching my every move. With this, the way I handled myself changed. The way I spoke became more understanding, reactions became more subtle, and decisions became well thought out. This changed even more when Ander was born.

I am responsible for raising these two precious boys. It is my responsibility to teach them about Christ, that people make mistakes [and that’s ok], to walk away from people or situations that hurt them, and to love like there is no tomorrow. But one of the biggest responsibilities is to raise and teach them how to love and respect their future wives. One day they will leave home and be husbands to two women that God has chosen for them. Even though they are little, I pray everyday for their future wives.

Two hair-bows are in picture frames that I look at daily to remind me to pray. These two hair- bows remind me to pray for the women God will send to love my boys. Specifically I pray for them to be women of faith, strong in who they are, but mostly to love and respect Atticus and Ander as I do. Do I think they will have trials? You bet. But I pray God has chosen two women who will stand by their sides regardless of the circumstances that may arise.

Oh how I long for Atticus and Ander to stay little and innocent forever. But oh how I look forward to seeing the strong, handsome, christian men they become. Because I know without a shadow of a doubt [regardless of the trials]… they will always make momma and daddy proud.

Grandma Elaine

Sixteen years. That’s all I had. Sixteen years. That’s also how long you have been in heaven. I never thought there would be a day I would wake up and you not be here.

There are so many things I wanted my Grandma to witness and take part in. I wanted her here for my high school and college graduations, engagement, wedding, and most of all when I had children. I always envisioned what she would be like with my babies and how they would adore her as I did. Never in a million years would I have ever thought I would describe who she was to my kids from a simple picture hanging on the wall.

You know the funny thing about God’s plan is it has a way of hitting you right in the stomach at times. When you miss someone so much and right out of the blue, God reminds you they are still here and watching down on you. My pregnancy and delivery with both Atticus and Ander were times I wanted nothing more than my Grandma to be a part.

One month before Ander was born I received a package in the mail. Two sweet outfits for Ander and a note. As I sat in the kitchen and cried, I thanked God for this simple reminder….she is still with me. My aunt Portia found lace and outfits my Grandma started long before she passed away. Aunt Portia finished the outfits and sent them to me. These are things I will cherish for the rest of my life. Even though she wasn’t here to see my babies born, she will always have a special part in their lives.

We never know when we will wake up and someone we love is gone or receive a phone call that a loved one has passed. Hug your loved ones tight and never go a day without making sure those you hold dear to your heart know how you feel.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

Nick

July 8,2013, Nick walked into my life. From the very moment I laid eyes on him, I knew he would be different. Little did I know one plane ride would change the rest of my life. He was tall, dark, handsome, and had a smile that would make your knees weak. The almost too good to be true, movie screen type of man. I never wanted that plane to land or that day to come to an end because I feared I would never see him again. Little did I know; one slice of pizza and a first-class upgrade would change my life forever.

The past five years have been so precious to me. Nick and I have shared many highs and many lows. We have bought two homes, lived in two states, battled infertility, have two miracle babies {Atticus & Ander}, among many other memories. But one thing people ask all the time is “how did you risk it all for someone so far away?” That question is easy…. faith. We trusted God’s plan for our lives, and we thank Him every day for it.

Nick is one of the nicest, genuine, most witty men you could ever meet. He loves with everything he has, would give the shirt off his back, and has been the biggest blessing in my life. The love he shows every day for Atticus, Ander, and I is unmeasured. Everyday hasn’t been perfect, but everyday has been worth it.

So today as we celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, I am reminded how thankful I am that God placed him on this earth 33 years ago. When God created Nick, He thought of me. What an amazing thing to think about. God already knew our destiny and that our paths would cross. But little did we know just how much our lives would change because of God’s sovereign plan.

Nick, thank you for the past five years. Thank you for being the best father to our children. For simply reminding me of all the little things in life. Thank you for keeping me grounded and picking me up when I am down. But most of all thank you for loving me.

Happy Anniverary, Babe! Here’s to many more.

To the girl who thinks she isn’t enough, the boy who just lost his high school sweetheart, the woman who wonders how long she must wait, or the man who thinks he’ll never find love: Don’t give up. Keep believing in God and trust His plan. It may take days, weeks, months, or even years but the wait will be worth it. When you finally find your person, all the doubt and heartache will go away, and you too will thank God for your journey.

“It’s not just about tying the knot, it’s about keeping the knot tight.”- Unknown

Dear Thirty…

For years people would tell me how much they dreaded turning thirty. There was so much negative energy with this milestone birthday that I actually started to tell myself how bad it was going to be. The closer it got I realized, thirty, it is just another number. Yes, I would be a year older and would leave my twenties, but why not make this a positive experience instead of a dreaded one.

The months leading up to my birthday, plans were being made and the invitation list was being created . It was then I realized what really mattered in life and a huge party was not on that list. Instead, I wanted to be surrounded by my best friends and family who support me, lift me up, and who I share my highest of highs and lowest of lows. My best friend offered to have the party at her house and so the planning began. The weekend started with family flying in from Michigan and friends driving from north Atlanta all to be with me on this milestone birthday. We sat around and laughed at the memories we all shared and in that moment I realized how thankful I was for these people. The ones I could always turn to and depend on. To my surprise a video was also created with stories and memories from my family and friends who couldn’t be there. I was overwhelmed with emotions and gratitude because I didn’t deserve any of this.

Little did any of them know ( until 4 weeks later), I was expecting my second child. So not only was I celebrating turning thirty, I was also “secretly” celebrating another milestone that was never supposed to happen. I was pregnant again… naturally. Some thing doctors told me would never happen. But there I was pregnant for the second time without any help… except the fact God had a bigger plan. I would catch myself emotional and teary eyed every time I would think about all the blessing that kept presenting themselves during that weekend.

Life can be so overwhelming at times. We all go through storms thinking we will never see the rainbow after. But in reality, God always has a plan, His timing is always perfect, and faith is a rock we should all lean on. My faith has been tested many times but turning thirty showed me just how much God can bless us if we just trust and have faith in Him. Will the road always be pretty? No! There are times I find myself drowning and wondering how to pick up and move on. But God has never failed me and His divine plan has always proven He always keeps His promises and never leads us astray.

“What you are “looking” for and what God has planned to give to you could be two completely different things. Don’t become lost on your journey and loose what He may have already placed right in front of you.”- Unknown

Let’s Talk Teething

 As a mother of a seven month old, I understand the words teething and no sleep. I also understand how they correlate. Many people have asked me what I do for Atticus when it comes to help while teething. Below I have outlined five ways to help a teething infant.

  1. Infant Tylenol. I know. I know. OMG! I give my child medicine. Yes I am not one of those typical millennial moms who refuses to give their child anything other than organic items. After all who doesn’t like a full night of rest? As always contact your pediatrician when it comes to usage and dosage.
  2. Baby Banana Teething Toothbrush. Seriously! Why didn’t I think of something like this? This teether is perfect for infants during teething. The white neck is ribbed which is great when Atticus is chewing and it helps with his itchy gums. The handles are also perfect for his little baby hands and teaches him how to hold onto things.
  3. Sophie the Giraffe.We do not leave home without Soph. Atticus loves her. He chews on the legs for hours. This teether is great for those days when your infant needs something to bite on to get relief. Sophie has also become Atticus’ snuggly buddy while sleeping in the car.
  4. Teething Necklace. These are amazing and so cute. Instead of having your little one chew on your fingers (yuck) or your clothes, this is a great alternative. These are also great for gifts to a mom-to-be.
  5. Snuggles. How many moms can really say they get too many snuggles? None! I have found when Atticus is teething he will cling to me more. He likes to lay his head on my shoulder and snuggle. Bring all the snuggles if it helps my baby boy. Skin to skin contact has been proven to calm an upset baby. If your little one is having a hard time due to teething, try skin to skin and see if it will help soothe your baby.

Only by giving are you able to receive more

While having my morning coffee, I realized the holiday season can mean so many things to different people. As I was watching Atticus play and laugh, I took a moment to thank God for answering my prayers to become a mother and for the blessings He has given me. Being a mother has been the best gift I have ever received.

This is the season when  many mourn and reflect on loved ones lost, many are overjoyed to see the excitement on children’s face when they are opening gifts, and when many spend time with family to celebrate the birth of Christ. But it is also a season where so many are not so fortunate. There are people who have no family to celebrate with or some who do not have the ability to provide for their children to allow them to have those precious smiles on their faces. Children sometimes wake up on Christmas morning with nothing and parents who are heartbroken at the fact they were not able to provide.

How great would it be if all the families and parents were able to be taken care of in such a time of need? The smiles on the children’s faces, the warmth of family love, and the simple generosity from someone who is willing to give back.

This holiday season I challenge you to look for someone in need. For a man, woman, toddler, infant, or a family in entirety that is in need. Maybe you can adopt that family and give them the gift of joy this Christmas season. Nick and I love to give back during the holidays. This year we really look forward to including Atticus  as we give back to a precious little girl.

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting.” – Thomas S. Monson

If you are looking for a way to give this Christmas season, please feel free to contact me at bellesandbowtiesbtq@gmail.com. I have a family that would love your help.

Merry Christmas

Every Moment Matters

A few weeks back, I visited home. There is nothing better than sweet tea, southern accents, and a hug from momma. I love everything about the south; the smell, the scenery, the hospitality, but most of the all the people I get to see. Moving away four years ago taught me to be thankful for the family I have and the roots that raised me. 

While I was home I met a sweet little girl who would change my life for the better. She would touch my heart in a way I did not realize was imaginable. I have always had a heart for children and the elderly. There is something so rewarding about hearing a story from a veteran or the sweet giggles of an innocent child. But this little girl brought up a feeling I have never felt before. 

While at dinner, I watched as this little girl walked around the table trying ice cream, wanting to eat the birthday cake on the table, and looking for love and attention from anyone who would pay her mind. I later found out she has never been the “priority.” 

Children are truly a blessing from the Lord. They should be loved and cared for without fail. These precious souls should feel safe and accepted above all else. No child should ever have to feel the need to beg for attention or seek to be loved. Thankfully this child has a father and family who is stepping up to love and care for her.  Every time she comes to mind, my eyes fill up with tears and I just wish I could hug her and tell her everything is going to be ok. 

Usually Nick and I adopt an anonymous family for Christmas. A family we know nothing about other than the items they need and the wish list their children have provided, but this year we will be giving to a child that has personally touched my heart. Knowing the impact one simple gift can have on this child’s life is enough to make my heart melt.

” The soul is healed by being with children.”- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If you feel led to give to this child or a child in need, please send me an email (lacieyross@gmail.com) and I will give you details on how to help.

Just Leave Him 

Becoming a mom has truly been a dream come true. I am not sure what I did before and I could not imagine life without Atticus. He has change my life in so many ways and reminds me daily how blessed I am. 
It has been four months since my little peanut made his entrance into this world. Everyday since May 12 I have spent loving and caring for him. This journey has taught me so much about myself and how much life can change due to one tiny human. 

Since having him there have been good days as well as bad. Bad as in frustration with myself, exhaustion, and advice from people who have no idea what it is like to be a mom or from ones who think they have everything figured out. Do not get me wrong some advice is welcomed but the “you should do it this way” or ” when I was a mom…” is the kind of advice that new mothers get offended by.  

Everyone has asked me if I have left him yet. My answer is still no. When I say this you can imagine the reactions I get. “Oh my goodness, you’ve been with him everyday for four months?” Or “just leave him, you need some alone time.” The reality of it all is Nick and I tried for a very long time to finally have this miracle. We did not have a baby to “just leave him”. We wanted a baby to become parents, to care for him everyday, and not miss one second. Because in the blink of an eye he will be grown and on his own. 

To all the new moms out there: you’ve got this. No one will care for child as you do. When you feel like a failure or someone is pressuring you to do something you do not want to do , remember you are the mom and that little blessing depends on you. 

“Do what fits your family. Trust yourself. “- Unknown 

You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.

It is hard to believe one month ago I became a mom. For two years I prayed endlessly for God to answer the desires of my heart. Night after night I would pray the same prayer faithfully knowing there was a chance becoming a mom may not be in God’s plan. I knew if God had a different path for me, He would guide me in the direction He saw fit. As I sit here and stare at my precious  bundle of joy, I am reminded how faithful God is. I did not deserve this blessing but I thank God everyday for calling me to be Atticus’ mom. 

Many of you followed my pregnancy. Many of you texted, prayed, or called. But many of you have no idea the journey to May 12,2017. On the outside, everything looked normal. Everything looked like it was going well. But many of you do not know the battles I faced during my nine months being pregnant. During my pregnancy I faced many ups and downs before being blessed with the greatest miracle of my life. 

August 2016. My prayers were answered. I was pregnant. 17 pregnancy tests, blood work, and an ultrasound… I was officially pregnant after being told one month before, it would never happen for me naturally. Even though this was supposed to be the happiest time of my life; there were many trials I had to face.

During my nine months of being pregnant; I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (and told I should prepare for a miscarriage), became anemic, told my baby would be down syndrome (because an ultrasound showed he could “potentially” have echogenic bowel syndrome), and an abortion was suggested(resulting in  2 doctor changes and a hospital change). Just to name a few. 

I could have easily questioned God as to why I had to face so many lows, but I realize now He was testing me to see if I would stay faithful. There were many nights I would fall to my knees and beg God not to let anything happen to my baby. I specifically remember praying, ” Lord, if your will is to bring Atticus Ellis to this earth, regardless of His condition, I will praise you endlessly and be the best mother I can be.” 

Many of us face trials. We lose jobs, love ones, friends, etc. During these times it is so easy to question God instead of praising Him in those storms. I thank God everyday for blessing me the opportunity to be a mother. I love Atticus more than anything in this world and he is a constant reminder of how big and faithful my God is. 

When you are down and facing a rough patch in your life, remember there is someone looking down that as a higher power than anything you could ever face. Keep your faith and trust in God. He will not lead you astray. 

“Be Joyful in hope, Patient in affliction, and Faithful in prayer. “- Romans 12:12