Monday, November 20, 2017

Count Your Blessings

Yesterday at church, we sang the hymn, "Count Your Blessings." I have sang this a million times throughout my life and pretty much have it memorized, word for word.  But for some reason, I really paid attention to the words of the second verse:
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

Over the past few years, I have noticed an increase in "keeping up with the Jones'" or people getting caught in the comparison trap or sense of entitlement.  I am convinced it has 90% to do with the growth of social media and everyone posting about what they are doing and what they have.  We all do it.  But why is this making so many people depressed or comparing themselves to everyone else?  One of the many things Josh has taught me, from early in our marriage, is that it doesn't matter about what anyone else has.  Everyone spends their money differently, everyone is in different stages of life.  Some people are single and have a lot more flexibility with finances and time, some families have dual incomes, some families have less children than others, and bottom line, who cares what everyone is doing with their own money!?  

I feel like people in my age range, millennials, are so concerned with what everyone else is doing, they don't concentrate on the more important things, like all the things they do have!  I think about all the miracles in my own life.  There have been a couple times in my life where I was too afraid to fall asleep thinking I may not wake up in the morning.  So that fact that I am waking up each day with a family who loves me and I love them, is a huge blessing.  I love this YouTube video I saw the other day that illustrates this point.  

When I see others with "stuff" I do not have, I am really happy for them.  That is what is important to them.  I feel like I have the things I want and need for the stage in my life.  And there is a lifetime of things and experiences to look forward too.  
I don't know why I felt so compelled to share my thoughts, maybe I just want to record them and look back when I need them.  Maybe it's because we aren't doing presents this year because, well, I live in my present already.  Whatever my reasoning really is, I hope it didn't come across preachy.  I just hope I can always keep my eye on the real rewards in heaven and try to keep an eternal perspective during this earthly life.  


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Baby Whitmore

I am still in shock and need to start writing down my thoughts before I forget!!  It's true, another baby Whitmore is coming!  There were more days than not when we thought this was never going to happen.  But there was a lot that went into this decision.  Let me start from the beginning...
Most of you know by now that I was born with a congenital heart disease called, Transposition of the Great Arteries.  I was born with a 7% chance of living at birth.  But I beat the odds and was able to go on and a lead a pretty normal life.  In 2007, I was serving a mission for my church and went into congestive heart failure and had an infection called Endocarditis.  It was pretty traumatic, to say the least, but after having to come home (six months) early, receiving home health care, and having open-heart surgery to replace my tricuspid valve, I was on my way to recover and again, live a pretty normal life. 
 
Three years later I married Josh and tried my hardest to explain what I have been through.  Although he has heard it now a million times, I don't think he quite grasps what it all entails.  In 2012, I had an amazing pregnancy and delivery with Charlotte Lyn and all seemed to be right in the world.  The team of doctors who delivered her had faith that I could do it again and be fine.  I was so hopeful.  We moved to North Carolina in 2014 and the cardiologist I met with there told me to not get pregnant.  I was devastated because we were hoping to get pregnant soon.  Charlotte was 1 1/2 years old and such a great baby.  
I started to look into other options.  Surrogacy, adoption, embryo adoption.  Although it was all very expensive and would be a long process, I continued to go to meetings, met with IVF doctors, talked to agencies for countless hours.  Josh had a very demanding work schedule and was not really able to do any of these things with me.  I did everything I could and would relay all the information, but nothing ever felt 100% right for our family.  Josh and I could never get on the same page at the same time.  Things would come up, and nothing ever seemed to progress.  We also did our fair share of research.  We read several peer reviewed journals and published essays, learning as much as we could about pregnancy and Transposition. We wanted to know we were doing everything we could to educate myself.  We also did countless praying and relying on the Lord and reading my Patriarchal Blessing.  I started to think that we would only have one child and I was content with that.  Honestly, I love having one child.  I love the freedom Charlotte and I have had.  Josh and I were very content with our life.  Life was easy.  
We never once felt pressured that we needed to have more children.  I can honestly say I have never been jealous or bitter when someone would get pregnant or have more children than me. I have learned earlier in life that Heavenly Father has a plan for everyone.  Everyone's plan is so specific to them.  Over the five years of only having Charlotte, I realized that if I were to have another child, the big age gap would be a good thing!

In May, I went to a heart conference in Orlando with my dad.  There I met several other women with TGA that had more than one child.  I met a doctor who had a patient with TGA pregnant with her SEVENTH child.  WHAT??  I just want one more!!  They discussed family planning and how most of the issues I would face could be handled with medication.   I really started feeling better about the decision to get pregnant.  When I returned home, I talked to Josh about everything that was discussed.  He always had faith we could get pregnant.  But I was truly nervous and scared about getting pregnant...until this summer.  I made an appointment with my Cardiologist soon after the conference.  She switched one of my medications that causes birth defects, just in case I did get pregnant.   
During the summer we planned to get pregnant in August or September to have a spring baby.  Even though I got pregnant right away with Charlotte, I thought it would take a while since I am older.  But nope, first try (TMI??) we got pregnant and I thought, "ok, Heavenly Father has another child to send to our family."  Our decision was even more confirmed.  We moved to South Carolina but I would keep my doctors in Atlanta.  They want to see me often and the commute isn't horrible.  It's a small price to pay for the reassurance of excellent doctors.  I am being seen by a perinatologist, OB/GYN, and cardiologist.  They will work on my case together and all discuss a plan for me and baby and how to keep us safe and healthy.  My due date is May 9, 2018.  

In the very beginning of my pregnancy I had so many weird emotions.  When I got pregnant with Charlotte, I was excited from day 1!  With this pregnancy, I had a really hard time accepting I was pregnant.  I was not excited and kept questioning our decision.  I realized that these feelings were of selfish reasons.  Starting over with a baby is a lot of work.  Charlotte is so independent and can do pretty much everything by herself.  But the more I would tell people and the more real this pregnancy has become, I would get a little more excited.  Now I can say I am 100% excited and cannot wait to meet this bundle of joy!!

Doctors are expecting the worst and we are hoping for the best. My next appointment will be December 8.  That will be the anatomy appointment, along with the routine check-ups.  They want to see me every month until I deliver.  They are mostly concerned with week 20, and the few weeks after.  That is around Christmas.  I have been told not to travel to Utah due to the high elevation.  So we will be spending the holidays in our new home and I am really looking forward to that!  I am trying to take it easy (as much as you can when you move).  The first 6 weeks I was exhausted to the point where I felt I couldn't do anything!!  Luckily, Tahnee was still living with us and was a huge help during our move.  What would I do without her??  I have been feeling much more productive, but by the end of the day, I just crash!  My parents have been here for the past few days and really have been a huge help as well.  
My parents arrived on Sunday and didn't know I was pregnant.  We told them as they walked through the front door.  Monday we had a 3D ultrasound to find out the gender and it's a GIRL!!!  Charlotte was so excited.  She needs a sister!!!  We were totally surprised because we were all convinced it was a boy.  I couldn't sleep at all that night because I was so excited and still in shock.  We have a lot to do to get ready for this little girl and cannot wait!  If you have any more questions or want to know anything, you know I'm an open book and would love to chat.  Feel free to reach out.   I will be doing my best to keep everyone updated on the progress of this pregnancy.  




Monday, November 6, 2017

Rocking Horse Ranch

Each year, Josh’s Family gets together for a family reunion/vacation. Most of the trips have been in the summer at a beach, but this year was spent in the beautiful fall foliage of upstate New York. We stayed at the all-inclusive Rocking Horse Ranch. Everyone arrived on Sunday and stayed until Friday. Unfortunately, Josh and Dan’s girlfriend, Laura Jane, had to leave earlier to get back to work. We all had a great time being together and enjoying what this season has to offer!

We were the first to fly in with Yvonne, Josh’s Grandma. Rick and Eve only had a short drive up from Connecticut and had arrived right before we did. Perfect timing! We got situated in our rooms and then went around touring the ranch. The weekends are the busiest time of the week, but even then we didn’t feel like it was crowded. There were more families when we first arrived. 

Throughout the week we did activities like mountain tubing, “bungee jumping,” paddle boats, mini golf, lots of swimming, played in the Fun Barn, Horse back riding, pony rides (for the little girls), ate a lot of great food, went to the shows every night, won every trivia game we played and even ventured off the ranch.



















At the beginning of the week, everyone except me, Charlotte and Tess, went and walked over the longest walking bridge over the Hudson River. I was bummed to miss it, but Charlotte was not having it and once Teas found out she was staying, she didn’t want to go. Kind of a bummer because this was the only group shot we got all week. 


Another day we drove over to Storm King. I had never heard of this place but it was pretty cool! The grounds were gorgeous and there was actually a lot to do. You could spend a whole afternoon there. Riding bikes, grabbing lunch at the cafe, taking the tour, looking at all the sculptures. If you are ever up that way, I would highly recommend it. It’s not far from NYC either. 








On our last full day, Thursday, my father-in-law fell of a horse during an advanced horse back riding session. They took him to the local ER, where they found out he had a concussion, five broken ribs, and a broken collarbone. He had to stay overnight at the hospital and be monitored. He ended up coming back to the ranch and eventually was able to go home.  He is in our thoughts and prayers daily and we hope for a speedy recovery!

Overall we had a great time.  Our flights were booked from Atlanta (before we knew we were moving), so Charlotte and I had quite the journey back home.  Luckily we still had our apartment!  The next morning, we loaded the car with random stuff we had left, knowing we were coming back, and headed home.  We were missing Josh a lot and couldn't wait to see him!!  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Walt Disney World 2017

We just ended having one of the funnest weeks ever! When we knew Josh would be switching jobs, we made sure there was a week of transition so we could take a family trip. Of course our go to vacation idea is Walt Disney World. This week did not disappoint. The last time we came and only did WDW was almost three years ago. We came last year and did Universal Studios and the Mickey Halloween Party. Charlotte and I came earlier this summer and only did Animal Kingdom with my dad. 

Josh had to “work” a few hours on Monday and we picked him up around 11:00 and went straight to Orlando. We arrived at our hotel right at dinner time. We ended up staying at the All-Star Movies resort. I thought I had made reservations at Pop-Century but with all the playing around in my cart, I must have switched the hotels. Weird, I know. I honestly didn't even know until I received our vacation package in the mail. But oh well, it turned out great! I heard and read a lot of negative things about the All-Star resorts, but we had everything we needed.  Our room was in the perfect spot, right across from the pool and main building with the food court. Maybe we are easy to please, but I would recommend the economy hotels any day. 


After we had dinner, we went swimming and then got to bed early. 

Tuesday morning, we got up early to beat the rush to Animal Kingdom so Josh could ride Avatar Flight of Passage. The park opened at 9:00 am and we got there at 7:30. Yep, we are crazy, but it was well worth it. While we were waiting for the park to open, I was able to talk to Guest Relations and get the three of us a disability fast pass. This allowed us on everything without having to wait in line. The park opened much earlier than 9:00 and we all went to the Pandora world. Charlotte hated the ride when we went in the summer so I took her on the Na’vi river journey. We were on the first boat of the day!! Josh ended up being on one of he first flights of the day as well. We were done well before 9:00 and Josh was done around 9:10. Win, win!!


We found a great pastry place in Africa for breakfast. And were able to eat quickly and get back to our busy day. Charlotte received an autograph book for her birthday and was determined to fill it up. This was really the first time she was active in looking for characters to take photos with. I am glad we have had five years where we haven’t had to wait in character lines. But it was fun seeing her get so excited. We met a few characters at the Animal Kingdom. 





We hit all the rides and our favorite show, The Festival of the Lion King. We have seen this each visit to the park. Not only is it entertaining, but it’s nice to sit and take a little break. 

One thing I highly recommend doing if you have kids with you is the Wilderness Explorer booklet. There are stations around the park where you learn about animals and other subjects that have to do with the planet and you earn badges. Charlotte loved it! We had a great first day !!



Day two was spent at Epcot. The first time we went to Epcot we didn’t realize that the countries didn’t open until 11:00 am, and we spent a lot of time doing nothing. But I did more research and we did all of our fast passes and rides in the morning, since most of them are in the Future World, in the front of the park. The Food & Wine Festival was going on as well and we were able to go to the Festival
Center and have some samples. 




Once we were done with doing everything in the front, it was lunch time. We did have a Frozen fast pass in Norway, so we headed that way. I did stop and get some food from the F&W Festival (there were booths throughout the entire country showcase). It was cornbread, fried chicken and gravy. Wow! It was amazing!! All of the booths have snack size servings, so it wasn’t filling enough for a full meal, but it was worth the buying! The first country was Mexico. We stopped at the first restaurant and ate lunch. Amazing food! We wandered around Mexico, went into the market and rode the boat ride inside. 


Charlotte was able to meet Elsa and Anna, once we got to Norway. I have to say, Disney has really made the character lines so fun to wait in. It’s not just a boring line, but a scene out of the movie! We went on the ride afterward and it was so clever!! Not what I was expecting. I loved it. I mean, we all loved it!! Luckily we had a Fast Pass to that. The line was super long. 


 


The rest of the day we explored each country, ate more food, and took our time. The first time we went we rushed through everything. It was much more enjoyable this time around. We tried staying for the water/firework show, but about halfway through we left because we wanted to beat the crowds to the shuttle. One more thing I thought I should mention was at each country, they had a kids station to color Duffy the Bear and receive stamps from that country.  Charlotte filled hers out and stopped to color at EVERY station.  It was a nice break for all of us to sit and let her talk to other kids and color a bit.  They also have passports you can purchase to collect stamps from every country.  I am really glad we were able to give Epcot another try and it was another perfect day!





Thursday was Mickey’s Halloween Party. The party is at the Magic Kingdom and begins at 7:00 but you are able to enter the park at 4:00 pm. We decided to do a little hotel hopping before. We packed up everything we needed for that night, got on the monorail and went to each hotel on that route. The Contemporary resort felt like we were on an airport. I’ve heard they have a great pool, but with the rain that day, we didn’t make it over there. Josh really wanted to get to the Grand Floridian. That hotel is amazing!! Josh stayed there when he was much younger and told me everything he could remember. We walked around a lot of the hotel and ate lunch there. After lunch, we got back in the monorail and checked out the Polynesian Village resort. Of course Moana is all over the souvenir shops so we thought it would be an appropriate time to change into her costume. It was the perfect backdrop for several pictures! Once it was 3:30, we hopped on the monorail and headed over to the Magic Kingdom. 




We attended the Halloween party last year, a month earlier. There was like nobody there last year. This year was a little different. There were tons of people. We couldn’t believe the crowds at the entrance. They opened about ten minutes early, we got our wristbands and headed toward the CANDY!! Josh’s goal was to receive enough candy so we didn’t have to buy any for trick-or-treating. I’m serious. I know. Heaven help me. 

ANYWAY, it was so fun seeing all the costumes families would come up with. We went on several rides and ate dinner at “Be Our Guest.” This was probably the highlight of the trip for me. We ate here last time we came and I’ve been looking forward to coming back since. We ate in the ballroom and while we were there, the Beast was taking photos. It was pretty magical. Josh and I ordered the steak (since we always order the same thing), which I HIGHLY recommend and Charlotte got the Mac n cheese, like she did every night. Yes, she will be going on a Mac n cheese fast for a while. Haha. I am so surprised we even got in because you need a reservation, and Josh tried asking and they said no. But when I went up, they said there was an availability right then and there! We were seated almost immediately. Service and experience was fabulous. 






Another big event that happened was getting a picture with Moana. She is very popular and her line was long all night. We finally made our way over there and as we got in line, a cast member told us we most likely won’t be seeing her because she needed to check on Hay-Hay. Well Charlotte lost it. I was determined to get her a picture so her and Josh went on the Aladdin magic carpet ride and I stayed in line. Most people that were told Moana would be taking a break just left. One family, with three young girls came behind me and was just as determined as I was to get a picture. We were getting closer to the time where Moana was supposed to leave. I had been chatting with the Mom and three girls the whole time and told them that we will just all be in the same group. Josh and Charlotte got back right in the knick of time. When the cast member asked how many was in our group I said 7. We got our picture and Moana left right after. Phew!! That was a close one!! 





It was such a great night. Lots of fun music, lights and candy!! We keep talking about making it a tradition. Hopefully we can make it back next year!


Friday was our last day in the parks and it was very humid. Florida is just on their own level of heat and humidity. I appreciate living more North, in the South when I experience Florida’s weather. We slept in and took our time to get to the Magic Kingdom. It was nice that we missed the crowds and got there right before our first Fast Pass was about to end. Charlotte went on her first roller coaster (I think), the Barnstormer. She later told us this was her favorite part of the trip! 




We stayed in Fantasyland for a while, did everything there, including lunch at Pinocchio’s.


 We then ventured over to Tomorrowland, then over to Frontierland and Adventureland. It was so crowded. We were really surprised how many people were there. After we rode Pirates of The Caribbean, we got caught in a major rain storm. Like POURING rain! We waited for a while and then finally put our ponchos on and went toward Main Street for our ice cream! The rain was still coming down a little bit so we went in the Main Street train. We rode it round trip and when we arrived back at Main Street, we decided it was time to go. We walked slowly out of the gates, waving and not wanting our week to end. 






While we were wandering through Main Street, there are a million gift shops.  Of course any kid would want stuff!  Charlotte did happen to squeeze a bracelet out of Josh.  But I had also brought "surprises" for her because I knew she would be asking.  I had remembered I bought some Cinderella jewelry the year before for her Halloween costume.  When it came time for Halloween, I couldn't find it.  In the move, I found it all and put it in our Disney pile.  The items ranged from $1-$3 and she was over the moon excited when I told her in the gift shops I had something waiting for her.  We ordered a pizza at or hotel food court and then went swimming to end our night! Charlotte wore all her jewelry to the pool and the whole car ride home (yes, even when we stopped for lunch).  


I can’t even tell you how amazing and perfect our trip went. It went just as well as I thought of it before we left. 

We took our time Saturday morning, packing up and left. Of course I wish we could stay longer and do more things but we needed to get back for Josh to start his first day of work tomorrow and finish unpacking and putting furniture together...and the list goes on!!! Back to reality, making lunches and dinners, cleaning and everything else that real life has in store. ;)