Long Story Short : Dealing with Trauma

Long story short… I was halfway through my pregnancy until recently
Long story short … My little girl Ella Jo was born without a heartbeat 
Long story short… I’m still heartbroken and healing everyday
Long story short… We celebrated her anyway


We found out we were pregnant late in the game. Due to my present Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) the symptoms for early pregnancy were completely masked until the symptoms were lasting longer than normal. I knew then something else was up.

I’ve felt the bitter sting of positive tests and the dreaded words of “no heartbeat” twice over two years ago in consecutive miscarriages no further than 8 weeks.

And lo, before my very eyes was an estimated 12 week old baby happily swimming, staring right back at me.

God found a way. And from that moment, I stopped doubting.

My constant prayer was: “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Even if the answer is no.”

In the weeks that followed after officially seeing my OBGYN our uphill climb began. I just turned 34 and considered high risk. My husband and I were sent to a prenatal specialist to rule out the abnormal ultrasound of the fatal existence of hydrops fetalis.

We told only a close circle of moms and family what we were experiencing. I was picky to include moms that I knew experienced trauma in pregnancy. We contacted our church who continually prayed with us. I followed an online support group specifically for hydrops and read all the success stories of babies that died, survived and thrived.

Mentally I was worried but emotionally I was leaning on my faith. My faith was the “x” factor that all the medical doctors and statistics could not account for. I had witnessed it with my two born children now well past 9 years old.

Two weeks from that moment after genetic testing, we received more hope that it was meant to be, all tests were negative for clear indicators of downs and turners syndromes and we were in fact pregnant with my first ever girl.

At that point we chose to name her Ella-Josephine Ann Maria Stinnett after all the strongest women we knew, our grandmothers and the ultimate lady of song: Ella Fitzgerald. (cool tip: all my kids are named after Jazz greats.)

My husband glowed from ear to ear. I was scared our kids would find out solely from my husband bragging publicly about Gods miracle in my womb. We told our blended family of 3 kids the following day that their baby sister was coming after Christmas.

Everything felt so real. As if she would be here in just a few more months.

In the following week I felt her kick me for the first time. It felt as if she wanted to be here. I felt God wanted me to rest assured that she was happy growing in me.

Two weeks from that exact moment at our next checkup, Ella’s heart was not found. She laid there lifeless in my womb.

I was lifeless.

And just like that, the plan went from optimistic miracle to an unplanned early birth and funeral. I was preparing to live out my worst nightmare.

How do you get beyond this? Why did this happen to me? Was I being punished? What do you say to your spouse? Do you”sweep it under” and forget?


This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced… and I’ve experienced a lot.  To really share my feelings and grief is to really understand the heart of my faith.

What held me down in the middle of this hardship & uncertainty? These thought pillars helped: 

I am not alone.

According to the American Psychological Association, approximately one half (50 percent) of all individuals will be exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.

Specifically over 20% of women experience pregnancy loss each day. I was so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by mama’s that either came from pregnancy loss or related to a not normal pregnancy that helped guide me through this journey.

Knowing we’re not alone is a huge pre-cursor to healing from what you lost.

God desires peace not a promise of perfection. 

For those of faith, any faith, its truly false hope to expect to live a perfect pain-free life from your creator. Our world is broken. It just doesn’t exists on this plane. With that in mind, we can’t expect even the most faithful followers to have a perfect life without trial or tribulation.

In fact, its often relayed that our closeness to our creator is woven through our trials and to rejoice even when our spiritual endurance is tested.

There are countless stories in the bible that reference “everyday people” used in extraordinary ways to deliver seasons of peace and restoration.

I’d like to think that through my faith I can experience peace through this emotional pain weaved throughout the ebb and flow of simply living and recognize a higher power that sought me through it.

My personal goal and lately a whispered mantra is: peace over perfection.

Understanding all life has value.

Before this specific season I had too often learned that no matter how small or how long, honor what you DO have. One day, one hour at a time. 

I decided to honor Ella’s life by not just sweeping it under the rug but acknowledging that she in fact existed. That she was loved long before she was born.

I valued what God gave me. For whatever short time that was.

And I celebrated it.

Who says you have to look at the big picture? It takes so much stress off of you to take things one step at a time.

With each contraction I relished in the idea of knowing she was in fact coming into this world. I refused to not be grateful.

The goal isn’t always the destination, its the journey, the pilgrimage you made is testament to who you are.

What do you want to be known for?

I share this often with students I mentor and I think this helped me a lot through my own trauma.

The weekend I went into early induced labor I had no clue that in actually birthing my child that would in fact be birthing pieces of myself that I didn’t think I was capable of.

It awoken me. What else was I capable of that I had no clue I could do?

#TrueStory: My two beautiful boys were all c-section births. Birthing this little girl was a surreal experience for me in joining the ancestral legacy of birthing naturally (give or take a few decades of modern medicine).

I got to be a part of that. That is very real to me. I felt a little initiated without the membership card.

In leading a blended family with adopted kids, my sons have experienced trauma before this in not so healthy ways.

To be able to use this moment to teach my 3 kids that there’s more living after death and how to process that in a healthy way is something I do want my kids to know me for.

Lastly I wanted to be HOPE to others. That through these experiences I can give value beyond the life that ended too soon. I choose to be a beacon to others through my life experiences.

Forgive yourself. 

This was hard. We as humans take a lot of personal stake when things go wrong or not the way we envision them to.

The way our world is wired, there’s a responsible party almost always.
… the president…
… our broken society…
… that one girl at work…
… that group of liberals…

A lot of times its easy to point to others…. but with trauma we often take it internally and point blame deeper at ourselves.
…If I didn’t wear that dress…
…If I didn’t ask him out first…
…If I had just said ‘no’…

Blogger and writer Shahida Arabi specifically nails an important part of the forgiving yourself in her article in the Thought Catalog:

How can I be more gentle in the ways in which I speak to myself? Is there space for self-compassion? These questions can be explored in countless different ways, such as through therapy, inner child work, positive affirmations, trauma-focused yoga, journaling, meditation, mind-body work, and support groups.

Shahida Arabi

For me personally, having a strong faith platform allowed me to experience a deeper peace and connection to my God. Being able to hold my baby allowed me to gently affirm that I was ok and truly so was she.

I had to forgive myself for not being “pregnant enough” or “healthy enough” and just absorb the fact I got a chance to be present in this moment, to see the positivity and grace in front of me.

Pass the baton.

I touched on this a little bit earlier in sharing: what do I want to be known for. I choose to pass on the knowledge and internal strength I experienced to some one that needs it.

As a person of faith I find it incredibly uplifting seeing myself in stories and fables of the bible. In sharing in open communities seeing yourself in another person’s story is powerful and allows “new inputs” for change and personal healing.


Long story short….

You don’t have to experience a stillbirth to understand any of these points but I believe they help anyone who feels life spinning out of control or experience any loss (parent, pet, a friend).  

I would love to hear your feedback / thoughts on wisdom that helped you in dark places. Feel free to share your thoughts with me by email at info@lexoctane.com.

Living beyond a plan

Octane is built on authentic communities and founded on acts of selfless service. Mothers of May is a month long celebration of moms from all aspects of life. By hosting a space for ‘each one teach one’ women share their own unique perspectives and lessons of motherhood. 


BY maria lorenz

I never thought I wouldn’t be a mother. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was my upbringing; mothers have daughters and daughters then become mothers, that’s what happens I can’t say that I knew what kind of mother I wanted to be, but who does? I also knew I was not going to be a young mother, I had a plan.

There is always a way things are to happen. There are plans. However, a strong theme in my life is me having a plan or a picture of how it should go, and then God says, “I’ve already written that path my daughter, just keep walking.”

My vision probably started in high school. I was to attend college, graduate, build my career, find the love of my life, have children, and grow old, etc…The ideal ‘normal’ life. My life and journey into motherhood has been anything but normal.

I did go to college, and I thought I was following the plan, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Looking back, I should have taken some time off after high school, I was highly unaware of what path I wanted to pursue, but the plan was college, nothing else even crossed my mind. One year in, I changed my major three times and was more interested in being discovered by a WNBA coach than school. Then out of nowhere I also met the love of my life. Some parts of the plan weren’t ideal, but some were great, so went with it.

Matt and I were engaged after a year of dating and then a few months later we found out we were blessed with our engagement present. This was not a part of the plan. I never even wanted to physically have children, I wanted to adopt. This plan of mine was falling apart. I was struggling in school, WNBA was not calling, and now I’m supposed to be a mother??? I was barely an adult.

Maria and husband Matt

No one knows how to be a mom. No one knows what to do all the time. No one goes into motherhood knowing everything, but I didn’t know that.

I never remember my mother saying anything like, ‘I don’t know it all,’ or ‘I’m just trying to keep up,’ She just always seemed to know what to do, how to handle things, and how to keep the family going. I thought that was in inherent ‘mother thing’. I learned very quickly it’s not.

I didn’t know that growing a human being in my body would be the most amazing experience I would ever have.

I also didn’t know that with all the happiness and joy that a child brings, that sadness even has a possibility to be present. I didn’t even know this kind of sadness existed. That sadness could be overwhelming and crippling. That it would seemingly ruin this amazing new chapter.

No one told me about post-partum depression. It was mentioned in a few of pages of paperwork I was given from my OBGYN, but never discussed. I didn’t even remember hearing about it in passing, ever. Again, the picture in my head of how being a new mom was supposed to be, was falling apart.

At first I would try to be happy. I didn’t want Matt, or anyone for that matter, to even know I was sad. Why should I be sad? It seemed silly. So I just put on a happy face attempted to tough it out. Then Matt would see my crying and I’d blame it on a scene in the show or my allergies. Then I couldn’t hide it anymore. In the middle of a basic conversation with Matt, I started to cry and I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know if I would ever be happy again. I thought I was the worst mom in the world.

Eventually, I did know happy again. I was able to smile, and mean it. I was happy to go see people. I was excited to have people come over. I was back to me. This all took time.

I had to ask for help. A major contributor to my depression was feeling like it was all up to me. I had to be strong, I was the mother. This was not true. Matt and I had to find that balance, and it was a life saver. I also learned to talk to people about it. I asked questions, I didn’t feel shame in my depression, but rather, stronger and empowered. My mother shared her own struggle with post-partum that I was completely unaware of. It was comforting to know that I was not alone and I was not a bad mother because I was depressed.

Through each of our children, my depression returned. But each time, I am able to manage it much easier. It may sound strange, but I’m thankful for my type post-partum depression, if there are types. Maybe levels are more accurate. On a scale where green would be easy and red would be the worst, I’d fall in the green fading into yellow. I know it could have been much worse, and I am grateful that my struggle was not in the red.

My growth and journey into motherhood has not been easy. Shoot, I became a mom probably 10 years earlier than planned. So learning and finding what kind of parent I wanted to be, was interesting.

The Lorenz family

I grew up in a structured household. My parents allowed my siblings and myself to be ourselves, but there were rules and expectations. When I was in it, I didn’t quite appreciate it, but looking back, I was so lucky.

Knowing I wanted to be like my parents did not hit me right away. There are so many books and speakers and personalities that say how you should be, of course I was influenced by them. Baby should nap like this, you should feed this, and you should not use this, blah blah blah. It seriously becomes exhausting trying to keep up. It’s not that I didn’t know anything, but it seemed to be working for that person, so why shouldn’t it work for me and my family? It took many years and just growing up to realize that my family is my family and we can’t be like anyone else.

We can’t fit the perfect mold of how a family should look, act, dress, and live. One thing that has helped Matt and I learn to go with the flow is our children.

We may have had some preconceived expectations when we had our first son. He was going to love sports as much as us. He would ideally be amazing at basketball, be discovered in high school, get a college scholarship to the University of Louisville, and then the NBA would come calling. He was named after the best three-point shooter in NBA history for crying out loud. It was destiny. Again, God already had that story written. To say there weren’t some feelings of disappointment, that he wasn’t all about sports, like Matt and myself, would be a lie. We were hurt. We would try and sign him up for activities hoping this would be the time that it sticks, and it just wasn’t. It was pretty frustrating actually. But, Reggie showed us, very early, that sports are not life. Reggie is smart, artistic, kind, helpful, considerate, sensitive, a video gamer, and is actually just finding his love of football. He is competitive and strives for perfection, but doesn’t base his life on a score board. I couldn’t be more proud of the man he is turning into.

Thanks to Reggie, we learned that having preconceived expectations should not be a thing. Each child is going to be their own person and we were going to have to adapt. And true to form, each of our unique children has helped us to grow and be the parents we are today.

The kind of mother I am today can vary depending on the day. I am not very structured. A lot of days it’s more like a controlled chaos.

Our house is not always clean. It gets clean, but a lot of times, it stays messy. And I don’t always care. I learned, thanks to child number two, that life is too short to worry about all the things you cannot control. I will not waste a nice sunny day on making sure my house is picture perfect. The dishes, laundry, folding, and anything else will have to wait. Enjoying moments with my children or even my husband on those rare day dates, those are what’s important. I refuse to attempt to meet anyone’s expectations, that aren’t my own.

I wouldn’t say I keep my daily expectations low, but I don’t have many expectations of myself daily. My amazing husband gets the older three off to school every day. I get to sleep in a little with our youngest and I am so thankful. It’s not that I’m lazy and won’t get up, I work nights. Matt keeps the ship steered while I sometimes just sleep  in the seat next to him. So even on my nights off, I get to sleep in. I get to, for the most part, take my time on getting up and preparing for the day ahead. So on those days I’m off of work and my children don’t have to see my sleeping, I like to again, enjoy the moment and not be tied down to cleaning or societal ideals that are impossible to meet.

Society thinks it knows best. There is a way things should be done and that’s that. However, anytime I’ve seen, and tried myself, to meet those expectations, it hasn’t gone in my favor.

I’ve tried to be more structured, making sure naps take place at the same time every day. This stopped working with child number one. I’ve tried to be more social, but I’m not a play date mom. I’ve tried to be more Christian; presenting myself as someone who reads her Bible daily and has it all figured out. I’ve tried to be a creative mom. One of those moms who makes everything for their children; no store bought anything. I’ve tried being super involved in my children’s school; making PTO meetings, heading committees, and showing up for different events. I’ve tried to become who I thought I should be, and it hasn’t worked. So now I am just me.

I’m may not be structured, but my children know their expectations. We have a daily routine, and rules to follow. They’re happy, healthy, and thriving, so what more could I be?

I’m not the most social mom, but my children have their friends and I make sure they get time with them. I don’t have to hang out with their parents too, it’s fine. When we find families that have children and we can all hang together, that’s a huge blessing. We appreciate these families because they know what we go through. But sometimes, kids can go play and momma can take a nap. It’s a win, win.

I’m a Christian. That is enough. My children know God, they know Jesus. They know they are loved beyond measure by another Father who has laid out this amazing world just for them. I am proud of that and will help to continue to guide them. And I can only pray that I continue to be a model for them, but I will not give them a false notion of perfection.

Sometimes mommy doesn’t have it all together; sometimes I don’t know the answer. Let’s pray on it and go from there. Perfection is impossible and not real life.

I have spent crazy amounts of time and money making things for my children so they feel extra special. The more time I spent on something, the more I thought they would feel loved. Birthday parties, desserts for school, fun activities to do at home, or for entertainment on a rainy day. It was hard, it was stressful, and it honestly didn’t make any experience more enjoyable. In the end, I realized I was trying to impress others and not because I enjoyed doing any of it. If I feel like putting in a creative effort, I will, but I will not stress myself out just to impress others.

I’m also a working mom. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my children any less. My children love seeing me in a career I love and they know that I make a difference. There is sacrifice. I miss events, moments, and experiences, but I make sure my children know it isn’t because I don’t love them. I tried exhausting myself by being involved in their schools and activities, but in the end, my children were actually losing out on quality time with me. I balance life by work days and days I have off, and that’s working for us.

Being just me, means that I can be who God made me. I can be this strong independent woman who is also a partner to her husband. I have a voice and I use it. I speak up when I feel it necessary, and sometimes when it’s not. I don’t fall into the usual norms of what a wife should be and do, and that’s just fine. My husband loves every piece and part of me.

Being me means loving all of me. Sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes I get so discouraged about what I see in the mirror that I lose all motivation for the day. Sometimes I love what I see in the mirror and it makes me want to continue for big results. I’m not a yo-yo dieter; I go with the flow of life. Sometimes I look fit and feel it, and sometimes, I want to eat cake. I remember that I am a role model for my children. I let them know how beautiful they are. I let them know that God made them perfectly. I let them know that sometimes it’s great to be active and we have to remember to take care of the vessels God has given us. Sometimes it’s mommy going on a run, or to the YMCA with Daddy, or just going on a hike with the family. Let’s just be healthy together.

Being me means that I can teach my children that they can be who they want to be.

They can love who they love, dress how they want to dress, and enjoy life. I will not push them into a mold that doesn’t allow them to be happy or be themselves. I know I cannot protect them from everything, but I will do my best to make sure they are children for as long as possible. That they see the good in everyone, and that they never feel like they aren’t good enough. I will do my best to make sure they know they are enough.

Being me means that I get to be happy, sad, angry, tired, and sometimes lose my mind. I don’t always have it together, and I don’t have to pretend to.

Because I can be me, others around me can be them. They don’t have to have it all figured out. They don’t have to have a spotless house. They can just feel like poo some days and I’ll be there if they need me. Their kids can be a little crazy, have some messy hair, or food on their faces, and that’s great. Chances are my children will as well.

My point is that people will have a lot of opinions about you, your children, your life, that way things should be done. Don’t listen. It may sound cliché, but other people’s opinions of you don’t matter.  Not to say that sometimes sound advice is necessary and needed, but know who you are, know your family, and know who you want to be in life.

My ‘plan’ now is to not have one. That is to say, I don’t have any preconceived notions of how things are supposed to go. This epiphany has taken many years to learn, but it has brought me to where I am today, and that is the blessing.  


Maria and husband Matt

Maria Lorenz is the wife to Matt and mother to Reggie, Destiny, Zoey, and Walker. The family also consists of 3 doggies and a cat.

Maria also works as an emergency veterinary technician.

In her free time, Maria enjoys time with the family, hiking, camping, watching movies, listening to music, and going on new adventures. Maria also enjoys running and the challenges and clarity running brings to her.

She has been able to complete a few marathons and several half marathons. She hopes to complete a half marathon in every state.

Motherhood: Being Who You Can

Octane is built on authentic communities and founded on acts of selfless service. Mothers of May is a month long celebration of moms from all aspects of life. By hosting a space for ‘each one teach one’ women share their own unique perspectives and lessons of motherhood. 


By Heather Amos

Motherhood. I was a single Mom for 5 years. I was a young mom having my first child at the age of 19. Currently I wear the badge of stepmother as well. I suppose I have covered lots of Mom roles over the course of years.

Being a mother is absolutely not definable. Is that even a word? It is a medley of poems linked together in no particular order, all the while sounding lovely. It is bearing the life of another and always putting that life before yours.

It is not enchanting, this role, but it is magnificent.

The Amos Kids

As a mother you are expected to sow and sow, some screams and prayers included, and hope that eventually you will see the fruit develop from your child or children.

In some cases, we aren’t afforded that. Death, addictions and other choices trump those words we spoke years before. If we are granted the awesomeness of watching them flourish…wow. I would say what an honor.

Personally, I am thankful to my 18-year old daughter. She pulled open a tab in my life folder that I never even knew existed. She made me better. Not like the lame love songs, like for real, legit, agape love.

She sparked within me the challenge to show her what life was all about. Dreams? Goals? Early on, I was only able to show her what hard work was, as I put myself through night school and worked full time during the day. I think maybe she sees now, I did it for more than myself. Did I fail her on the regular. of course. But, I would like to cling to the hope that maybe some scraps of my nagging and preaching made their way onto her plate.

Now I am a stepmother also. I see that motherhood yet again requires adaptability to be who someone else “needs”. I do not fill the role or have to be the dream shaper or disciplinarian (even though I nag enough for both), but what I am assigned to be is an encourager.

In any form of mother-hood you are addressing, you will find that you are hated, and not validated at all.

This can be even more clear in the step parent role, but I have learned over the years that you have to remember who you “can” be for them, and not who they wish you were.

Heavy stuff, huh.

My youngest son is medically fragile. He has spiced up my mask changing exceptionally. The constant awareness of mortality and 24/7 care, not really required to that intensity of the others, brings forth even more new victories with each battle.

I know that some women refuse to be defined as anything specific, as not to change or challenge their individuality or accomplishments, and I agree for the most part.

However, I know, KNOW, that I have been a better woman, friend, daughter, spouse etc., because God made me a Mother.

In every capacity and all that it is. This position is highly valued, coveted and favored. So don’t down play the excellence therein.

I wish all of you others out there a blessed day to celebrate to hard times, the good times, the in-between times and just be in awe for a few seconds before someone yells and needs something to examine the fact that you brought forth life my dear.

How awesome.


A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Heather holds an associate degree in science. The mother of two special-needs children, she has eight years of experience in complex home care and is the veteran of seventeen years of special-needs care. She was motivated to collate the stories in I’m Not “OK” to benefit others in her situation, using her experiences to foster a strong and powerful community of caregiving parents.

Event Recap: 2018 Wild Hearts Fun Run Superhero 5K

Octane was super excited to be a part of this years Wild Hearts Fun Run Superhero 5K benefiting Kerringtons Heart Inc at Keeneland this year, sponsored by UK Healthcare and Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital.

With over 600+ 5K participants and over 75 Super Sprinters this event was filled with superhuman abilities! The biggest part was fundraising $12,000 for children with congenital heart defects in Kentucky.

From caped crusaders to legendary heart heroes, let’s recap!

 


EVENT LOGO & BRANDING

Octane has designed this special event for Kerrington’s Heart since its conception in 2015. The organization chose a superhero theme because they believe that kids fighting and living with congenital heart defects are real life superheroes (and they are)!

For Octane this means pulling elements of comic book flair which was fun and challenging. Each year a different type of superhero was selected which means whole new color schemes and new artwork was created.  The traditional logo for the event focuses on a traditional comic pop art with a beating heart in the center.

This year theme: The Incredible Hulk featured in the recent Marvel Infinity Wars Pt. 1!

MARKETING

Before we settled on the Hulk we were still playing around with the latest Marvel film Infinity War Pt. 1 and wanted to incorporate that feel in the initial teasers of the event. Phase 1 began with the FB cover and phase 2 with the theme and updated website followed. New this year was our first ever 5K Photo Filter created for participants Facebook stories!

  

 

VENUE

Its first event held at the former commonwealth stadium brought a few hundred people together to support kids and families in Central Kentucky affected by Congenital Heart Defects. As the event grew we found that Keeneland was a better location logistically for both our families and our sponsors.

This year the crowd was OUT! We loved how the barns helped breakup the various activities and sections of the race (Registration, Kids Metropolis, Awards Stage). And the course is absolutely beautiful! THIS is Keeneland!

Credit: Adam Padgett Photography

Credit: Adam Padgett Photography

 

SIGNAGE, T-SHIRTS & AWARDS

This years theme was all about “Hulk Smash!” With that in mind we wanted all the awards to reflect the epic heroism of the Incredible Hulk.

All the awards of Best Superhero Boy and Girl were given hulk mugs with the event decal.

Earlier in the design process of the event, the race committee liked the idea of the rips and cracks of the hulk coming from his center, similar in mark to the hundreds of CHD kids and adults that have the iconic heart surgery scar across their chest, many enduring heart surgery within days after being born. The medals and t-shirts followed this design pattern with the iconic silhouette of the mean green machine.

All event sponsors were given autographed event posters from the Kerrington’s Heart Board of Directors as special thanks for supporting CHD families in Kentucky.

 

   

 


VENDORS

T-shirts Printing: 10th Planet
Medals: Always Advancing Medals
Printing & Signage: PrintLex
Event Design: Race Director Britney Howard & Committee
Venue: Keeneland
Event Photography: Adam Padgett Photography
Event Branding, Graphics & Social Media: Octane Design Studios

Starving Artist Birthday Party

What’s a 12 year old to do when she’s crazy talented and enjoys swinging a paint brush or two? If you’re anything like this birthday mom, this starving artist themed birthday should completely inspire you!

You may remember Nakia from our Fabulous Bell House Bridal Shower, married and mother of elementary age and college daughters, she’s infused all her own event planning into amazing personal showcases celebrating the milestones of her children.

I’m feeling a tear! Return customers for the win! Let’s review.

 

The Details

We loved that Nakia chose this theme based on her daughter Jasmin’s own whimsical creativity. After already doing research and discovery processes, she had nailed down a venue, strong concept and color palette for the event.

In working collaboratively we created an event logo that she could brand throughout the party including a custom birthday smock for each guest.

 

 

 

The Venue

Pinot’s Palette was a great mutual location for this creative gathering! Located right next to Fayette Mall, the classes were simple and gave all the girls their own space to truly venture from the original design and do their own art. It felt so clean, professional and the staff was so friendly.

 

  

 

The Table

What could we not say about this simple, fun and creative table display?! I mean, WOW. From the fun primary colors to the creative idea of the party favors. Nakia wasn’t holding back on the birthday fun for her daughter!

Our “starving artist” and “creative juices” tags were just the right touch of cute to help guide the eye along to all the other amazing things displayed on the table.

 

 

The Food

The concept that the food was the art was an understatement.  The talk of the event was cute cake pops on paintbrushes and the amazing colorful fondant cake. These event branded watercolor cookies were amazing!

  

 

Party Favors

There were not one but two party favors to this event. Guests not only got to paint with their new custom smock but they also received a goodie paint bucket filled with skittles, a creative paintbrush pen, inspirational watercolor notebooks and a custom mini painted canvas.

 

 

 

#HAPPYBIRTHDAYJASMIIN
#STARVINGARTISTBIRTHDAY


The Vendors:

Venue: Pinot’s Palette

Branding, Signage & Paperie: Octane Design Studios

Cake Pops: ACAcakes

Cookies: Maddie’s Cookie Co.

Cake: Confused Confections

Favors: Mom (Nakia)

Event Photography: Octane Design Studios

LIT: The Miracle of Christmas

True Story: While reading a bible passage of the Christmas story to my kids before bed, an idea came to me. I was literally telling my kids that each time I reflect on the birth of Jesus and how it ALL came to be, I notice more subtle details that make this story more special than before. 

In our current message series at Crossroads Church called “Rediscovering the Wonder” the realization really hit me how awkward and random all these little events came to be to create the MOMENT we treasure each year. 
 
I sat there on the edge of my sons bed and just looked puzzled as they continued to ask me questions about the story. Finally when they realized I wasn’t responding, my middle son spoke up and asked “Where did you go?” And I stared at him for a second. 
 
Where did I go? I was replaying this random string of events in my head. How a young tweening adult was impregnated by God and living with all the fatal drama… how three old guys followed a star technically for years before getting to Bethlehem, wandering like groupies from city to city in hopes of meeting a king…. and how the lowliest class of people on earth were notified FIRST of this spectacle before anyone else. 
 
I mean, this is an impossible story. But in all of it, its proving God is possible. His works are real.
 
And I kept going. To the inn keepers that turned away Mary and Joseph not knowing what miracle and spectacle lay before them. In our modern day lives, am I the old inn keeper thats turning away the son of God? Am I missing the Moment?
 
Slowly my brain unravels this big idea: the miracle wasn’t the babe being born, he was coming with or without everyone else… the miracle is us listening and seeking something bigger and being present to witness something greater than our individual accomplishments. The miracle is listening to God’s desire for us, fulfilling the promise to Abraham from the near beginning of man. Immanuel; God with us. 
 
All these little scattered supposedly insignificant pieces brought together by a creator who knew it would all play out to those that are welcome to receiving Him. 
 
Am I receiving Him? Am I still seeking?
 
“Umm, MOM? Where’d you go?”
 
“Whoops, sorry. I literally just noticed something cool that I didn’t before.”
 
— 

Octane Presents: The LexParty Project

“Just get the idea out so you don’t have to worry/stress about it anymore.”

I’ve recently listened to the words and advice of Tim Jones, Creative Director of Cornett at a local networking event at Pivot Brewing and this specific one stuck.

I love crafting. The idea of uplifting others is always a core denominator for me. But this specific idea keeps recirculating in my heart and I can’t keep holding onto it anymore!

Time to get it out!

Since the adoption of our son in 2012 I’ve gone the extra mile to make sure his little moments were just as meaningful as the big ones. I’ve seen countless unique birthday project organizations outside of Kentucky for foster kids and newly relocated families. At first I started crafting a few cards to parents that mentioned there child didn’t have any friends show up at birthday parties or a newly moved family that was just getting settled and the kid(s) needed some encouragement.

These moments resonate with anyone at some point in there life. And with all the wordly pressure to “fit in” I figure a few sheets of glitter and cardstock can make an impact with others in a dark or lonely place. Put that next to an amazing cake or a cool gift card and you’ve got a few extra smiles that wouldn’t have come any other way.

Keywords here: Positive. Vibes. Only.

So look out Kentucky! I’m rolling up my sleeves and partnering with multiple organizations across the Bluegrass to form The LexParty Project. A simple way to ‘pay it forward’ and inspire others! Click below for info or fill out the form to send a kid some encouragement in Kentucky.

Check it out here! 

Franzetti Photography: Three Under Five

Warning: looking at photos of this beautiful family may result in baby fever.

I am falling in love with newborn sessions. The first time I was asked to do a newborn session, I excitedly said yes, but in my head I was completely freaking out. I have not had a baby so obviously I believe babies are the most breakable little peanuts on the planet. Oh… I refer to babies as peanuts a lot 🙂 Flash forward multiple newborn sessions and I am completely loving the special moments that happen during these sessions. I am invited in to this totally precious time in a family’s life and it is the best.

This family in these photos is obviously beyond beautiful. Mamma Erin is undoubtedly a wonder woman. These three sweet girls are all under the age of five and her house is dreamy. On top of all that, she spends every day motivating women to love themselves and live healthy lifestyles. She is a coach through Beachbody and is one of the best I have seen. She does so much for women regardless of if they want to purchase any product. She gives away rockin’ recipes and is always there to give you a pep talk. I loved getting to spend time with them and Erin even made me a delicious healthy shake for the road!

Every photographer is different. During a session, I like to focus on the family connection. Instead of props, I like to fill photos with smiles and tiny toes. It is so sweet to see parents and siblings interact with a new babe! I love doing sessions in the family’s home because we can try to capture them as they really are during this chapter of their life. Extra bonus: new mama does not have to worry about packing anything up!

READ THE FULL POST: Three Under Five

 

On The Last Day: You Were There

To the parents of students receiving school awards but were not present — you were there.

Let’s face it… with elementary aged kids the last day of school is EPIC, right? Most of the last week of school is filled with end of the year accolades to further boost their esteem for summer break.

Today I got dressed extra early just to get to school two hours after I dropped my kids off to watch them receive special recognition at the end-of-the-year school awards.

I got there 20 minutes early to grab a decent seat. This year the award ceremony seemed faster than before. I watched each student receive an award and receive applause from peers and the gathered assembly.

There were smile’s and cheers. There were kids that were told to stand still for pictures with their teachers.

But there were also students that received their award and quietly sat back down in the gym.  Whether by accident or design they there was no extra picture taking or parental hugs or pats on the back. No matter what direction they looked.

And that is OK too.

It’s OK for kids to understand the importance of work ethic. It is important for children to see their mothers put in hours so that they can value higher achievement and future opportunities.

As mothers we can’t be everywhere all the time. But we can celebrate the milestones in our own way.

So whether or not you were present at the school assembly is irrelevant. Because you were there along the way helping them to success.

You were there for homework time banging your head against the table for them to finish the worksheets. You were there when you got the discouraging teacher phone call from school about your child’s class behavior. You were there when they brought home the A+ spelling test.

You were present when they ask you questions about life. You responded when they acted out of pain and anger. You comforted them on their darker days. You help them to prioritize things that matter.

All of these things are greater achievements than sitting in a chair for 30 minutes. In this self bubbling world it is our obligation to keep our children planted in the things that matter. Do not succumb to the customs and behaviors of this world. (Romans 12:2)

To the parents of students receiving school awards but were not present — you were there right there with them, dancing/smiling /fist pumping in the place that matters most— their hearts.

Go get’em 🙂

Mamas: You Are Enough

Mother’s Day is always a little harder for me.  Not because I’ve lost people that were mother figures for me but mainly because the idea of being tied down to something other than myself gave me a negative connotation about motherhood.

In college I was a fiery young liberal who never wanted to have kids because I spent so much of  my youth surrounded by my pool of cousins that I became “responsible” for, for summers on end.

I look back at my own childhood and constantly thought of how much my own mother ‘toted” us from one community event to another …  never really knowing what was happening just tagging along in a never-ending cycle of “one more thing” that I had to smile / sing / stand / sit / be quiet for. It didn’t matter how noble the cause… I didn’t feel a part of it.

I swore with my first child that I would not do what my mom did to me. Three kids later I’ve softened my approach but still, its a goal. Each child has taught me something different about myself and about the world around me.

When I look back on Mother’s Day a lot of times I see the short falls, the disappointment and even past relationship resentment before I can even begin to see the smiles of birthdays, Christmas baking or the deep unconditional hugs in our random lazy weekend chats.

The week leading up to Mother’s Day this year was rougher then usual. Kids bickering, demands of my career and all the household shuffle in between. But that’s what we do right? As ‘wonderwomen’ we put on this mask that we can truly do it all without hesitation. Every. Day.

Let me be the first to admit: I’m human.  And in being human in this self prophesying world we tend to drink our own kool-aid. At times we feel we need to out perform even ourselves to justify doing more for our children. To justify our legacy in this temporary world. We feel less than even when the bible tells us differently.

Because of my family’s foundation of faith I always use the quick spiritual guides, inspirational words and faithful thoughts of the day to help root my day in the spirit to which gifted me this opportunity of the blended family life.

I just went from me, to Him in one sentence y’all.

And in that shift I constantly have to reinforce my own insecurities of being enough. I am enough. It’s hard just typing it here.

I’m still learning.

In being a birth mom and a adopted mother I have learned to parent in ways that I thought was not possible for me. I believe it was the Holy Spirit disciplining me just as much as I was disciplining them. Teaching me patience and compassion. Molding my anger and frustrations into peace.

In this instantaneous culture I’ve come to find the mysterious rooted ebb & flow of peace throughout parenting my beautiful children along side my amazing ‘ford tough’ husband. And it brings me to share this post about being enough. Because we are.

We don’t have to be everything for everyone… we just have to carry on what God sees in us. And that alone allows God to carry the ones we love.

That’s all my mom was trying to do. And I’m grateful that I get to pass that on to my children.

To all the moms / aunts / grandmas /  caregivers / neighbors / foster moms / etc in the whole world… you are enough. ❤️

Bask in it today! #happymothersday