The Stewpot Ladies’ Tea

Did I get that apostrophe right?

One of the biggest struggles of staying at home is “losing” my identity. Of course it’s not gone, but sometimes I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing much while at home. (I know that is not true, but it’s just how I feel some days.) I loved my job. Absolutely loved it. I loved the people I worked with and for. I loved the mission. I loved how each day was different. I loved witnessing the generosity of people. And I felt like I was contributing to something worthwhile. Part of my heart will always be with The Stewpot. The decision to stop working wasn’t an easy one, but it was the best decision for us as a family. One of the biggest blessings, though, has been remaining a part of The Stewpot family as a volunteer. I truly get the best of both worlds.

A few months ago I joined the committee to plan the annual Women’s Tea. It’s an event that started 12 (I think) years ago to reach out to women on the streets and inform them of services that they can receive. Last year we decided it needed an overhaul. A few of us (employees and volunteers) worked months to create an afternoon where 80 women could come in off the streets and feel like a lady. Girls, you know what I mean – sometimes, you just need to feel pretty and special. It kind of gives you a little boost and refreshes you. So, we revamped the whole event and introduced beauty stations. Ladies got to pick a purse, received makeup samples, had their hands rubbed with a fancy salt scrub, and the list goes on. There’s a fashion show every year, so we kept that. A lady came in and did all the participants’ make up. Live music. Fresh flowers. The list goes on – it was such a special day. The ladies talked about it for days.

The event was such a success because so many people were so generous with their gifts and donations. The Stewpot only paid for the meals each lady received. Everything else was given to us! As we gear up for this year, we only lack a few things. I know this is a season where lots of bible studies, book clubs, employers, etc. want to find something to donate to. We would love, love, love to have your donations.

Currently we’re lacking:

  • nail polish
  • small hair brushes
  • rain ponchos
  • throw sized blankets

There’s a video going around right now – the one where a homeless veteran gets a makeover. That’s what this tea does for ladies – they feel pretty and valuable again. They laugh, have fun, enjoy food and gifts. Their posture changes as they walk throughout the room.

If you’re interested in donating, we’d love to have you be a part of this special day.

*And because I feel like they deserve it, these are the florists who are supporting us this year:

  • DIRT Design Studios
  • GRO Designs
  • McShan Florist
  • Mockingbird Florist
  • Whole Foods
  • Central Market
  • Cebolla
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Road Trip!

There’s a magical weekend every October – Ouachita Baptist University’s Homecoming. And more importantly – Tiger Tunes. I love it. I just love it. I love being back on campus. I love watching Tunes. I love Arkansas in the fall (or anytime). And I LOVE being with my friends. A few months ago my very generous mom offered to drive to Arkansas with me for this special weekend, so that I could do all of the above and she could help out with Henry. I jumped on that! We booked a hotel in North Little Rock and I counted down the days.

I’m not sure what I expected as far as a road trip with a baby. I think I honestly thought he’d sleep most of the way and we’d just stop somewhere in the middle so that he could eat and be back on our way. Ha! That may have been the case the first couple of months, but he’s so curious and active now. He knew he was stuck in the car seat, and he was not happy. It wasn’t horrible, just don’t expect me to make a trip with Henry anytime soon via car. (Or plane, because that’s expensive.) He was so happy to be at the hotel crawling around. In addition to Henry’s first road trip, he also had his first upset tummy. We think it was a bad reaction to rice cereal. He was unusually fussy and didn’t sleep well.

Despite all of that it was a great weekend. A couple of weeks ago in our home group we talked about things that stir our affection for the Lord. Trips are one of those things for me. Time away from home always refreshes my soul. Especially trips to Arkansas. Little Rock is like home to me without all the responsibility. I find it hard to rest here because I always have something to cross off on my to do list, but in Little Rock I can hang out and just be. When people ask me why I chose to go to Ouachita the only answer is God. It wasn’t my first pick, but I felt a strong tug towards that place. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The Lord blessed me with the most incredible friends there. My friends from OBU are such an encouragement to me. And it was good to be back with a lot of them. This trip was so, so good for my heart.

It was fun to show Henry off, too. He’s pretty cute, guys. I think he had fun meeting everyone. He had his first trip to a playground and a pumpkin patch.

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happy to be out of the car.

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at 2am. after he filled his diaper. and before he pooped on the hotel floor.

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some of the best.

first time swinging.

first time swinging.

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looking real cute on his half birthday.

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on the tractor out to the pumpkin patch with Laura and August.

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he loved the pumpkin vines.

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buddies.

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the three amigos: henry, august, and elliott.

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clearly having the time of their lives.

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trying to conquer the pumpkin.

I’m not sure how I ended up without a picture of Kat and me. She’s always my chauffeur when I’m in town. And my hair stylist. This time we went crazy and chopped all my hair off!

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5 months.

The 5th month has been one of my favorites so far. I love watching Henry discover and master new tricks. And I love to hear him talk. His personality is really beginning to come out. We have a really happy baby – he’s independent, determined and so curious. Jesse and I can definitely see ourselves in him.

Here are a few highlights from the past month:

  • At the tail end of the fourth month he started rolling over. Well, he’s now a pro. I’m not sure he stays on his back for more than a few seconds. He loves to look around and see what’s going on.
  • He absolutely loves Roger and it’s the sweetest thing. Whenever Roger walks in Henry’s face lights up. Roger is really sweet with him – lots of kisses (ew) and even lets Henry pull on his hair.
  • Henry is almost mobile. He’s been making his way around the living room floor by scooting backwards. He’s started to get on his knees. It’s a little easier for him in his crib, but he tries on the floor.
  • If we set him just right he can sit on his own.
  • We think he was teething last week, so hopefully we’ll see a little tooth soon. At least we hope that’s what was going on. He’s always been a chewer and drooler, so it can be hard to tell. But he wasn’t as happy as he normally is.

And of course there’s the helmet. The smelly, smelly helmet. At Henry’s two month appointment the pediatrician noticed his head was asymmetrical. Of course no one’s head is perfectly round, but it was really noticeable. From day 1 Henry has preferred sleeping on his left side. After a couple of months of trying to reposition him and more tummy time, the flat spot had improved a bit, but the pediatrician referred us to a cranial specialist. After getting his head measured we decided to get the helmet. He has torticollis (one neck muscle is tight causing him to tilt his head and prefer sleeping on/looking to one side, probably caused by going past due), plagiocephaly (asymmetrical head) due to sleeping on that one side, and brachycephaly (his head is a little flat on the back and wide on the sides). At first we thought it was purely cosmetic, but after a consult with a physical therapist at the cranial specialist office, we decided to get the helmet. Torticollis, plagiocephaly, and brachycephaly can cause issues with his jaws, ears, and the position of his spinal cord. Everyone’s question is “Does it bother him?” Not at all. He wears it 23 hours a day, and goes on just like normal. It’s come in handy when he rolls around on the floor and bumps his head.

Enough with the scientific jibber jabber and onto some pictures – because that’s what everyone cares about anyway.

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4 months.

4 months. A third of a year. Our lil’ guy is not so little anymore. 

Today we went to his 4 month well visit. He weighed 15 lbs.15 oz – 75th percentile for babies his age. The past month was full of fun milestones. A few weeks ago he started wiggling in his crib and ending up with his head at the other end. He started grabbing things and picking them up while on his play mat. This weekend, though, was a big one! Henry found his feet on Friday, had his first swim on Saturday, and rolled over from back to belly on Sunday. The past three nights he’s slept from about 9:30 or 10 till 7:45AM!

I think we’re finding our groove. Henry rebounds well if we’re out and he misses a nap or if his “schedule” gets off a little bit. Being a mom is definitely a challenge for my personality – I love structure and predictability. In fact, I often feel lost without either of those, but I’m learning to be a little more flexible. 

Next up: solid food and sitting on his own. Each new thing is so exciting. Jesse and I are pretty proud of our sweet little guy!

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3 months.

Since Henry is almost 4 months old, I suppose it’s time for a 3 month post. 

The first 3 months went by way too fast. I got an update from an app I use letting me know that my baby is no longer a newborn. He’s an infant now. Thanks for reminding me that the days and weeks go by in a flash.

His third month has included lots of drool, lots of reaching and grabbing, and lots of sweet little giggles. Henry also had his first sleepover at Nana and Grandad’s! He moved into his room at night several weeks ago. And he had his first trip to the doctor for something other than a well visit. He was 14 lbs 9 oz at that visit, so I think he’s growing just fine. His new favorite thing is the exersaucer my brother and sister in law bought him. Oh, and he looooves watching Grey’s Anatomy with me. Every day is something new – he can reach a little bit further or stay on his tummy a little bit longer. The rate of development in the first year of a child’s life is incredible!

You know when you are just waiting for life to slow down for a bit, but it never does? That’s how I feel with Henry – I wait for the day when I feel like I’ve got this mom thing down, but he’s always changing, so I’ll probably never feel like I have it down. It’s very stretching – I like perfection and control and neither are to be achieved or attained. So, I just try to soak in every day with him and enjoy every little face and giggle – like really soak it in. I want to capture every little thing in a picture or video, but sometimes I really have to remind myself to just set the camera down and take it all in. Because this is a whole lot of amazing to take in.

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provision.

I started writing out this blog, but before posting it I doubted whether or not I should. It seems kind of personal. And honestly my pride doesn’t want me to. But this is something to celebrate and share, so here’s our story of the Lord’s provision. 

Jesse and I spent months discussing and praying over our decision about my work status after the baby was born. I knew I wanted to stay home with the baby, but we had to figure out if it’d even be a possibility financially. After looking at childcare options and taking into consideration how much I spent on gas each month, it just didn’t add up. We adjusted our budget to allow for the bare necessities and gave ourselves three months after the baby to figure out what’s next. 

Within a week of Henry’s birth the bills started coming in. Of course most of them were unexpected – ambulance ride, c-section, hospital stay. A couple of weeks ago I sat down to sort through some bills and became completely overwhelmed. We needed help. Jesse and I have made an effort to be wise with our finances – using the envelope system, putting money into savings each month, not using our credit card. In the past year things came up unexpectedly that we had to spend money on, but we always had the money to cover it. Going through these bills left me replaying every financial decision we had made in the past year and thinking “If only we hadn’t paid for this or that…” That clearly wasn’t helpful. 

When Jesse got home I immediately started crying. We talked through it a bit. And I prayed for the Lord’s provision. Y’all – he provided! 

  • That night Jesse got a phone call asking for help with a small woodworking project.
  • Someone left a check in our mailbox that covered our groceries for the week and then some.
  • Someone left a 100 dollar bill on our counter. 
  • One of the bills had been coded wrong with the insurance company, so they’re reviewing it so hopefully it will be covered. If for some reason insurance doesn’t cover it the company said they’d give us a discount. 
  • The hospital allowed us to be on a 3 month payment plan easing the burden.
  • I was asked to work a wedding in August. 
  • Our home group gave us enough money to cover one of the bills. 
  • Jesse was asked to help with another project. 

All of these things happened within a week or two of my breakdown. God heard us and answered! 

I’ve really had to battle this western idea of success and the “American dream”. Our culture tells us that money and riches equal success and fulfillment, so being in a season where money is tight makes me feel like I’ve failed. I buy into that lie constantly and have to remember that it’s just not true. I had to keep repeating to myself that it’s a blessing that money is the burden we carry – not sickness, not a difficult marriage, though in all those things God’s grace is sufficient. 

So sure, I’m not rich. Some projects we want to finish around the house will have to wait a while. Going out to eat just means Chipotle. But I have an incredible husband, the sweetest little baby boy, and a God that hears me and loves me. 

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 
Luke 12.22-24

2 months.

2. Whole. Months. Our little guy is growing up so quickly. He’s strong and healthy. He’s cute and cuddly. And we just love him so stinkin’ much. The transition to motherhood has been hard, not bad, just hard – lots of change. I used to commute at least 45 minutes each way to work, so I was away from our house for a good chunk of time each day interacting with people. Now, I sit at home and have a one way conversation. Rarely do I shower and get ready. If I’m offered free time, I don’t even know what to go and do anymore! But, I wouldn’t trade getting to be with my boy for anything. Time with him is so sweet.

Little man,

You’ve started smiling and cooing nonstop and every time I just want to cry because it’s so cute. You’re still double fisting it with breast milk and formula, and as a result you already weigh 12 lbs. 9 oz – the 75th percentile. And you’re up to 23 inches long. You’re growing so fast. Please slow down just a little. Each day you notice new things and are able to stay up for longer periods of time without getting fussy. That’s fun for me! Your eyebrow scowl is fierce, mister. You get that from your dad. I think you’re going to be a lot like him, which is good because he’s brilliant and funny and handsome. This month you started going to church – we’re praying for you to know and love Jesus. You pooped on daddy’s shirt, went to Blue Goose and hated it, and you had your shots – that wasn’t your favorite. I can put you on your play mat and you giggle at the butterflies. Just this past week you found your hands! It’s been a busy month. We love you to pieces!

Love,
Ma.

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6/7 weeks.

The first week home I didn’t think we (read: I) could do it. Everyone said the turning point is 6 weeks, and we made it! Tomorrow our little guy will be 7 weeks old. I think, “Seven weeks, already?”, but then sometimes it feels like he’s been here a lot longer.

Our first night home was a beating. Poor little guy hadn’t pooped all day. I even asked about it at the hospital, but because it hadn’t been 24 hours they weren’t concerned. Well, 2AM rolls around and he still hadn’t had a dirty diaper and he let us know. Screaming and crying for at least an hour and a half, but felt a lot longer. At that hour in the morning anything seems logical. I remember asking Jesse if Henry didn’t like the gown he was in – I mean really? God bless neighbors who let you call them at any hour. Our neighbor, Angie, gave us some pear juice that we mixed with water and put in a syringe. Immediately his stomach settled, and he went to sleep. We woke up to a full – very full – diaper the next morning and we celebrated. Then we were off to his first appointment at the pediatrician.

I’m really glad the first night wasn’t indicative of what was to come in the following days and weeks. Don’t get me wrong – the first week home was rough. I think I cried more than Henry. There was so much to figure out and we were trying to communicate with someone whose only form of communication was crying. And we were exhausted. For some reason, after the first week home it just seemed like we turned a corner and things started getting better. Still tough, but better.

I knew it before Henry was here, but it was reaffirmed after he was born that we have a really incredible family and an amazing community of friends surrounding us. My mom and/or dad were over almost every day the first two weeks. There was one night my mom stayed from about 5PM-4AM to do our laundry and hang out with Henry so Jesse and I could sleep. I cried about that, too. (Clearly, I cry to cope.) If she hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have even had clean underwear. Our home group came to mow our lawn and clean up the house. Two friends came to walk Roger because he was not getting any attention from us. And oh the meals – I don’t think we would have eaten if it weren’t for the dinners brought to us.

Unmet expectations are really disappointing. I tried to walk into motherhood not expecting anything, because I’ve heard a lot of stories where things just don’t work out as planned. Our expectations of delivery didn’t even work out! Disappointment is what I feel specifically with nursing. For something I’ve never done I had high expectations for my success with it. I assumed all through pregnancy that I would be able to breast feed, and planned to do so for the first year. I haven’t been able to exclusively breast feed from day 3. We tried everything to try to get him to nurse exclusively. I play through every scenario in my head, trying to figure out what I could have done differently or what went wrong, but that doesn’t change where we’re at now. Henry gets breast milk and formula. He’s healthy – which is the goal. I still feel disappointed, though. Is my son healthy? Yes. Am I trying my best? Yes. Do I love him? Yes. I think as women our identity is so wrapped up in being a mom, so when we feel like we fail at some aspect of it, it’s devastating. I wish I could say I’m on the other side of this. The truth is I still cry about it. I still wish it had worked out as planned. It’s a daily battle to remember that how Henry is fed isn’t ultimate – providing for him, loving him and shepherding his heart is. At his one month appointment he weighed 9 lbs. 12 oz!

Now we’re trying to work on a feeding/sleeping routine. It’s gone pretty well, so far. Scheduled naps were a game changer for me, because some days it was a win just to eat breakfast. I’ve been trying to read a lot (which can sometimes be dangerous) about sleep training, schedules, etc. I’ve found one blog to be really helpful, but have been learning to tweak it to what works best for Henry. He started sleeping from 10PM-5/5:30AM pretty consistently at about 4 1/2 weeks. He even slept till 7AM once!

There have been lots of tears, lots of laughs and excitement, and lots of moments where we think “Oh crap. We have a kid!” in the past 7 weeks. It really is the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but I love it. We’ve seen him start to respond to us and smile, and that really makes it all worth it!

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beards and adoption.

Henry has been keeping us busy! I was planning on writing out my experiences from the first month so I don’t forget how wonderful (and hard) it’s been, and in hopes of encouraging someone else who thinks every other mom has it together. But life happens so that will have to wait. For now, I just want to introduce you to two of our dear friends!

Meet Courtney and DJ.

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Right after Jesse and I got married we started a home group with two other couples. Courtney and DJ were one of those couples. Courtney immediately became a dear friend – always checking in, encouraging me, and making me laugh!

Courtney and DJ are in the process of adopting a child from South Korea. They do a much better job at explaining why adoption and why international than I could, so please, please go read about that here.

As you can imagine adoption requires money – a good amount of it. Courtney and DJ have been thinking of ways to raise funds to bring this baby home and that led to A Beard for a Baby. A Beard for a Baby is a beard-a-thon. You read that right! Guys are encouraged to commit to growing their beards – no shaving – through No Shave November and try to get people to pledge money. People who pledge can commit to $10 a month ($60 total) or make a one time donation. You can read the rules and keep up with the contestants on their blog. The response so far has been really great, and I hope it keeps going! Most of the participants have been guys they know, but Bearded Gospel Men caught wind of it, posted the link on their Facebook page, and people they don’t even know are committing to the contest.

Jesse is officially a contestant. He already had a $30 pledge! The goal is to have 10 people pledge the $10 a month. If that happens, Jesse would help the Hofmann’s raise $600 just by growing his beard. Easy Peasy! I’ve already pledged, so we’re looking for 9 more people. Courtney and DJ have made subscription super easy on their blog – you can have $10 automatically drafted each month. So, join in the fun! And keep up with the beards each month.

Beards (especially epic beards) are awesome, but the heart behind this fundraiser is even better. So, consider donating and keeping up with their journey. I’ll try my best to keep updating this blog with Jesse’s beard progress. Here’s a little preview of what’s to come!

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