Author Archive

Dear Whitaker :: 1 Month

Dear Whit,

In some ways, I can’t believe it has already been a month. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital. But, on the other hand, it seems like you’ve been a part of our family forever – as if we have always been a family of three and you just weren’t here yet. We know your cries and grunts and coos, your squirms, and the many faces you make. You are part of us, and we are part of you.

OneMonth

We love learning what you like and don’t like – even at such a young age. Nothing mesmerizes you quite like a ceiling fan or the big blue sky when we are out for a walk. You certainly love to eat. And to snuggle. You’re not such a fan of putting on clothes or dogs licking your face. And baths aren’t so great at first, but you end up liking them by the end.

You have grown so much in just a few short weeks. You’re no longer wearing newborn sizes and you’re about to outgrow your little bassinet. You used to fit perfectly in the crook of my arm, and now you’re a sprawling baby that takes up my whole lap. It’s amazing to watch you change into the person you were born to be right before my eyes.

Some women are mothers, even long before they actually have kids. Not me. Over the last month, you have made me a mom. You have brought out a kind of love and a new joy and motherly instincts that I didn’t know existed in me. I will forever be thankful for that.

We love you, little one.

Mama

Unsolicited Fertility Advice

Thanks to Facebook’s Timehop, I know that it has been exactly one year since I shared this post about infertility. I wrote that blog post while recovering from surgery – the surgery that ultimately led to my ability to conceive. And I write this blog post, exactly a year later, recovering from giving birth. My what a difference a year makes. (In fact, Whit’s due date was same date I had that surgery. Crazy timing!)

After sharing my about my struggles, many friends reached out to share their similar stories – whether they had gone through it previously or were right in the middle of their own journey. It was amazing to connect with people on a different level and find a new commonality – even when that commonality sucks.

If you found this blog post because you’re in the thick of fertility struggles, you’re probably pretty tired of unsolicited advice from people who have no idea what you’re really going through. I get it. And I feel ya.

But, from the year that has followed since sharing my own struggle, I also know how important it is to connect with others. So, here’s my unsolicited advice.

Seriously, share your story. It’s awkward. And personal. (For real, SO many awkward and inappropriate encounters followed after I broke my silence!) But it was also freeing and the start of my emotional healing.

Your story doesn’t have to be public – though I do think there’s a great amount of benefit for yourself and others in bringing the issues to light. But if that’s not for you, find a girl friend or your mom or a therapist or whoever – and get it out. Get out all of the shame and pain and frustration. Because the ultimate lesson that comes from sharing about infertility is realizing that it doesn’t control you, it doesn’t limit you, and it doesn’t define you.

Take control. After I shared my previous blog post, several people commented that they feared something was wrong – but they had no idea for sure or what the issues might be. I lived in that same limbo for way too long.

After about 3 years of trying to varying degrees, we finally decided to seek medical help. But, I let the insurance company tell me how and when and what to test. It was try three months on this medicine, then we will test for this, and then three months later we will test for that. It prolonged the journey by at least another year – and resulted in an incorrect diagnosis!

We finally decided to take control. We went to Denver and had a grueling and invasive day of testing to figure out exactly what was going on. It was awful. And insurance didn’t pay for much of it. But it was the turning point. No matter what health issue you have, it’s so important to arm yourself with knowledge about your body so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your situation.

But also be patient. On one hand, take control and don’t wait around. And at the same time, be patient and give things time to work.

After I had surgery, the doctor said she still didn’t think we would be able to conceive on our own. So, I was ready to make my appointments to start IVF. Russell convinced me to give it three more months before we went down that road.

Toward the end of the third month, I remember praying – no, more like crying out – “This isn’t fair; when is it my time?!” I was so frustrated and impatient. And the very next day I found out I was pregnant. When I think about those two days, I really think I can hear God chuckling at my impatience.

Trust in God. Which brings me to my last little piece of advice: Trust in God’s timing and plan. It’s so hard sometimes (okay, most of the time for those of us who are a wee bit controlling) – but ultimately God does have a plan for each of us.

Had my attempts to control the situation succeeded, instead of (reluctantly) submitting to patience and trust in God – I wouldn’t have this perfect little boy. It would be an entirely different set of chromosomes and DNA; an entirely different little human.

God knew what I needed – both in terms of growing as a person and growing in my faith, as well as what Russell and I could handle as first time parents. It wasn’t my timeline, but Whitaker is absolutely our perfect answered prayer.

So, to whoever is reading this, whether I know you or not – I pray for your perfect answered prayer too. And if you need someone to share your story with, I’d be so happy to help you get it out.

Dear Whitaker :: 1 Week

Dearest Baby Boy,

You’re one week old today! I know you couldn’t care less; it’s more a celebration for your dad and me. We made it!

WMW :: Andrus Williams Creative

You’ve already taught us so much. Like that changing a diaper is a race against the pee-in-the-face clock. And that one little creature can require more wardrobe changes in a day than a Taylor Swift concert. And that sleep is oh-so-precious, but not as precious as caring for you. And that love really can happen at first sight.

WMW birth :: JAW Design

And we’ve learned that it really does take a village. I don’t know if we could have made it without your grandparents here to help us adjust this week. We’re rounding out week one with satisfied bellies, relative amounts of sanity, a clean house, and full hearts.

We had predictions about you before you were born. That you’d have my toes. I was wrong about that one. We’ll see about the dance moves.

WMWIn fact, you’re a lot like your dad – with one very important difference. You seem to have gotten my never ending love for sleep. Awesome.

I know we’re biased, but you’re pretty much the cutest, sweetest baby in the world. At a minimum, you’re my favorite – and frankly, that’s all that matters.

You’re so alert and love to see what the world has to offer. I hope you don’t ever lose that curiosity. We can tell that you are so smart and strong; just like your mama – wait, no, that’s wrong – just like your dad.

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Whitaker, you have rocked our world this last week. Life will most definitely never be the same. But we wouldn’t change it back for anything.

Love always,

Mama

:: Thank you to M. Roberts Photography for the hospital photos! ::

A Letter to Whitaker

Dear Whit,

It’s not very long until we get to welcome you to our family – and we can’t wait for you to get here.

Armed with the latest research, info from every single mommy blog on the internet, and the stories and experiences of an army of friends and family, I’m ready for your arrival. But, I also know that I’ll make mistakes and forget so many things. So, before you get here, there are a few things I want you to know.

AW Creative

I want you to know that you are the answer to our prayers. You are so wanted and loved and cherished already.

With every little (and big!) movement you’ve made the last 9 months, I feel like I already know you. I can’t wait to see if those predictions are right. I think you’ll be active and strong and independent. I think you’ll have my toes and your dad’s dance moves. And this photographer mama hopes you aren’t as camera shy as you have been so far!

Tomorrow, we will check into the hospital to start inducing labor. That’s not how I planned your delivery would start – but a part of me kinda loves that it’s not going according to my plan. Just like the timing of this pregnancy was not at all according to my plan. I can confidently know that you are the result of God’s plan and His perfect timing.

As I start my journey as your mother, I know that He formed you, with great plans for your life. And my prayer is that you find that purpose, pursue that purpose, live that purpose. And I promise to do all I can to help you in that pursuit.

Your dad and I value your individuality so much – and can’t wait to see how your personality develops, what passions and hobbies you have, and how you’ll make your mark in this world. It’s such an amazing world we live in, and I hope you find your place in it.

Bear with us as we figure out this parenting thing. We want the very best for you. And while we will make mistakes along the way – I hope at the end of it, (in the words of my grandfather) you come away knowing who you are, whose you are, and that you are loved by your God, by us, and by a whole host of family members and friends.

See you so soon, Whitaker.

Love,

Mama

 

Nesting

When I used to dream about being pregnant, I planned that I would photograph and document and blog the whole journey. I would take week by week bump photos and have cute little signs that tell all about my growing baby.

Well, that plan went out the window about as soon as I found out I was pregnant. And here I am, entering the third trimester, with less than a handful of pictures and no cute signs!

Andrus Williams Photography

The last few months have gone by so fast and so slowly at the same time. After our difficult fertility issues, I’ve barely let myself get excited – telling myself just to get past the next milestone.

And I’ve finally realized that all that’s doing is robbing me of this joyous time in my life. So, like my plan to photograph everything, my plan to not get excited is out the window.

This last month, Russell and I have enjoyed picking out baby’s name (and starting my monogramming obsession), starting his little wardrobe (baby clothes are the CUTEST!), and planning his nursery.

Nursery

A snowy, windy day forced us to stay home and inside today, so it was the perfect opportunity to begin work on the nursery!

In my months of not letting myself get excited, I had started using my spare bedroom as my very disorganized storage room… “I’ll just stick this in here until I start on the nursery…” Well, that meant my “Before” pictures ended up looking like this:

Nursery BeforeNursery Before

(Yikes! I’m almost embarrassed to share those!)

We spent the day clearing the room out so we could start from scratch. My furniture hasn’t been delivered yet – so I’m decorating this room in reverse. Decorations first and then furniture. Let’s hope it works out the way it looks in my head…

It’s amazing the peace it brought to start this project. Even though his due date isn’t for a few more months, it was already stressing me out that his nursery was quite literally a storage space… Even though we don’t have any of the important things in place – like, say, a crib or a changing table – it’s still such a relief to have a little organization and the start of a plan. The power of nesting really is so real!

Here are a few peeks at Whit’s nursery so far!

NurseryNurseryNursery

 

A Wedding in Cartagena

This week, one of my former co-workers is traveling to Colombia for her wedding.

A few months ago, she and her fiance contacted me about designing their wedding materials. Victoria is a unique individual – so it follows that her wedding materials would be too. As an avid traveler and humanitarian, she wanted to capture the the beautiful color and architecture of Old Town Cartagena, while also capturing the rich culture of the country. Not the typical wedding invitation requests – but such a fun challenge!

Wishing you all the best, Victoria and Mike!

Andrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams Creative

It’s a…

Well, I’ve made no secret out of the fact that I want a little girl. I want bows and sequins in my future, and not just for me.

From the second I found out I was pregnant, though, I was positive that it was a boy. From the moment that the second line appeared on that test, I immediately – almost spontaneously – started praying for this little baby. That HE would grow into a strong and courageous man for God.

Well, the doctor confirmed what I knew all along – it’s a boy. And my dreams of bows and sequins are turning into bow ties and camo and footballs.

And so it begins… like father like son!

Baby WIlliamsBaby Williams
(Thanks to The Pear Tree for the super cute clothes – they made finding out it’s a boy that much better!)

The Happiest Anniversary

For 1,829 wonderful days, I’ve been Russell’s wife.

In that time, we’ve celebrated 5 anniversaries, birthdays, new businesses. We acquired a zoo. We traveled and adventured – a lot. Moved (a few times…) – and made a home, new lives, and dear new friends. We’ve grown in love and in our relationship. For that 1,829 days, we have been unapologetically and unequivocally happy together.

But among all of those wonderful memories from the last five years of marriage, this anniversary stands out as the best. Although we didn’t go any place exciting, no presents were exchanged, and no champagne toast – we got to see our baby move and its little heart flutter. It was pretty dang amazing.

Andrus Williams Creative

Yes, at long last, I get to write these words: I’m pregnant.

So, to my love – thank you for five amazing years of marriage and for the happiest anniversary. I am so blessed to have you by my side in this new adventure and am so excited for what’s to come.

29

The cornerstone of this blog is my 30 Before 30 list. Yesterday, I celebrated birthday 29. Giving me just one year to complete this list.

For quite a while, I’ve known that I’m not going to complete it. Not even close.

There were so many things that naive-23-year-old-Julia assumed about her life and her future that didn’t exactly come to be. It didn’t even cross her mind that she might be living in Dalhart; she hadn’t even heard of Dalhart. She didn’t think that both she and her husband would ever work non-traditional, non-office jobs. She didn’t think she’d get tired of her old hobbies, want new ones, or change her interests. She didn’t think it would be so dang hard to get pregnant. She didn’t think that sleeping in and laying on the couch at night would sound so much better than doing something active. I’m not even sure if she thought she would age.

Well, life showed her.

As I look over my list now, there are so many of the goals that are still important to me. And so many that just aren’t. With my last year, there are several goals that I’m excited to keep working on – and a few I’m excited to let go of the pressure to do. Here’s a little update on my progress… and lack there of.

Go on a safari. 23-year-old-Julia didn’t think it would be so hard to get her husband to go to Africa with her. One of these days, I’m going to get him to come around.

Give regularly and substantially to charity. Done. Having always worked in the non-profit sphere, it was easy to throw my support behind whatever organization I was working for at the time. But, it has been so fun and fulfilling to step away from working in that world and be able to give where my heart actually and fully is.

Learn to eat more vegetables. Done. This is one of the goals that I put a lot of time and effort into. I’ve so enjoyed finding new vegetables and new recipes that I can not only tolerate, but actually enjoy. The biggest hurdle – realizing that you don’t have to boil a vegetable to mush (something my dear grandmother never learned).

Learn Latin dancing. Didn’t happen. Probably not going to happen.

Learn a new language. This is the goal that I have the most regret about. I have Rosetta Stone and live with a fluent Spanish speaker. Why is the only thing I can say in Spanish “Yo quiero Taco Bell” ?!? And I don’t even like Taco Bell.

Go to all the continents (well, besides Antarctica. It’s just cold there.) I only have Australia to go! Crossing my fingers to cross this one off the list soon. Maybe for my 30th!

Learn to play tennis. Russell and I totally played tennis several times in DC. Then we moved to the part of the world where it blows 40 mph wind on a normal day, with dirt and cow poo in the air. And that was the end of our tennis playing.

Stop being so dang forgetful. I plead the fifth on this one.

Start and maintain my own garden. We started a garden, and moved, and started a new one, and moved, and so on… And it’s in my plans for my backyard makeover. I’m feeling confident that I’ll have this one checked off by next year!

Become a better cook. Check.

Improve photography skills. Check.

Start scrapbooking again. I haven’t been able to get back into paper scrapbooking, but I have done digital scrapbooking. That counts…?

Learn HTML and Flash and create a website. I didn’t learn too much HTML or Flash, but I have created a website or two.

Find ways to manage my stress besides having a short temper, crying, and grinding my teeth. Unfortunately, my dentist can tell you this didn’t come to be.

Have active savings accounts for each kids’ college and our retirement. Let’s get real… after four years as a farmwife, I still don’t understand farm finances. So, I have no idea if we are planning for retirement. Do farmers retire??

Be able to do pushups and pull-ups. Haha.

Go on a cruise. Completed!

Make a cookbook of family recipes. This is another goal that I regret not happening yet. One year left to get it done…

Do a wine tour of Napa Valley. No tour of Napa yet, but I did tour Temecula, CA

Completely forgive anyone I hold grudges against. True, total, Biblical forgiveness is so hard. You think that pain and resentment is gone – and then one day it rears its ugly head. This is something I am constantly working on and praying about. I know it’s a soul thing, not a head thing – and those just seem to be harder to change.

Move back to Texas! Check. Y’all.

Learn to drive a stick shift. I still have no idea what a clutch is or what it does.

Learn to ski or snowboard. It turns out, I still don’t like the cold. So, I haven’t spent so much time (read: any time) working on this one. And, unless I can find a place to ski or snowboard in Hawaii, I’m probably not going to.

Maintain relationships with my relatives. So happy to say yes to this one. Not only do I still have a wonderful relationship with my family, I’ve gotten to know Russell’s family so much better since starting this list. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful, loving, supportive families in our lives.

Buy myself a nice piece of jewelry. Check!

Stay fit. Ugh. This goal hangs over me every morning when I sleep in instead of getting up and going to the gym. Right now, this one is a fail.

Be a better reader. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it’s not.

Become more aware of current events and politics. I’m a total political cynic since leaving DC and so disillusioned by our government, its leaders, and our society in general. And I avoid the news as a result. So much so, that my recent Google searches include “What is ISIS?” I wouldn’t say I’m too aware.

Enjoy life with Russell. So much, yes. Life with him is a ball.

Be genuinely at peace when I turn 30. Life has thrown a lot of curve balls and tough times over the last few years. I could have never pictured this life that I’m living – and I sure wish there were some things that I’d done differently along the way. But today, at 29, I have the most amazing husband, a wonderful and entertaining zoo of pets, a lovely home, and Purpose for my life. And I’m at peace with that.

 

Hello Fresh Review

When I worked from home, I was such an adventurous cook. I constantly sought out new ingredients, new recipes, and new cooking methods. My blog was full of new and old recipes and the occasional successful experiment. “Become a better cook” is one of the 30 before 30 goals that I’ve really gone above and beyond to try to accomplish! I guess that’s what cooking three meals a day does to you…

When I transitioned back to working outside of the home, my adventurous culinary spirit took an extended vacation. Now, dinner is all about what is the easiest, fastest, or requires the least thought to make. And, as a result, I’m kinda bored with my cooking.

I’ve had friends who sing praises about Plated… but they don’t deliver here. Recently, another friend recommended Blue Apron, but they had a long wait time. So I googled around for other similar services and found Hello Fresh. I’ve gotten two boxes so far – and I think it’s pretty great!

Here’s how it works. Russell and I are signed up for the couples box – but there’s an option for families too. I go online and pick 3 meals from a menu of 5 options for the week. Then, the following Thursday, I get a box delivered with all of the ingredients for 2 servings of the 3 meals I picked. It comes packed on ice, with the meat separate from the rest of the ingredients. And, a booklet is included with the recipes and information about each meal!

Hello Fresh Review :: Andrus Williams CreativeHello Fresh ReviewSo far, we’ve had Smoky Adobo Chicken Tacos with Mango Slaw (yum), Brioche Shrimp Rolls, a Charred Scallion and Corn Flatbread (SO good!), and Thai Pork Laarb Burgers (can’t wait to make again!). And I have the ingredients for Steak with Summer Vegetables and Crushed Beet Spaghetti waiting in my refrigerator.

When I signed up for the service, I read some iffy reviews online. So I was skeptical at first. But here are my honest thoughts… The ingredients all came totally fresh and packaged well – as good or better than what I can get locally. The recipes have been delicious and easy to make. But, my favorite part – the meals are pretty different than anything I would make normally. Considering how limited my culinary options are here in the middle of no where, this kind of service makes such a huge impact on our meals and my cooking.

Hello Fresh is doing a promotion right now, and I can give away FREE meals to 3 people! The first ones to contact me get it. So leave a message or get in touch on social media if you want to try it! Or, you can use my referral code to sign up – G5TGQH – and get $40 off your first box!

 

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