Throwback: Baby’s First Gift

This post was originally shared on January 7, 2014. 

I had the pleasure of attending a baby shower over the weekend honoring a friend and former co-worker. It was so good to see her and celebrate her precious little boy who will arrive sometime next month! This baby shower was probably the easiest for me because my friend is living proof that doctors  can be wrong, and God is capable of working unimaginable miracles. Seeing her precious belly reminded me that our own miracle is coming soon. We are one day closer. I was filled with hope as I watched her open each gift. Attending her baby shower was truly a blessing. 

Earlier in the week as I was shopping for a baby shower gift, I came across the cutest, softest little stuffed dog. I had already picked out a baby shower gift. I was pretty happy with the gift, so I didn’t think I needed to pick up the dog too. I walked away and started looking at the non-baby stuff in the store. As I was walking towards the check out counter, I couldn’t stop thinking about that little stuffed dog. I decided to give it one more squeeze before I left. I thought to myself, “Maybe they will still sell these here when we finally get pregnant.” I walked away again. As I stood in line behind a lady at the checkout, it finally hit me. I need to buy that little dog for Baby Bell! So I did. I bought a baby shower gift and I bought a gift for our own little miracle. 

I put the little dog in a drawer when I got home. I look forward to the day when we finally get to give it to our child. Maybe it will be one day soon. Maybe we won’t have to wait much longer. I know there is reason for all of this. I know God is in complete control and has heard every single one of our desperate prayers. I know one day all of this waiting will be worth it. I have to admit the past few months have become harder, but I find peace in knowing God works miracles each and every day. I refuse to let a doctor’s diagnosis stop me from pursuing my dream of having a little Baby Bell. 



Time flies ridiculously fast.

Ryker and Averlee- 2 weeks old*

Today I am enjoying the last few hours before my tiny little miracle babies turn two. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up as the mother of twin two-year-olds. God is amazing and we will be forever grateful for the blessings we have in these two crazy kids. 

When I was pregnant with R&A, so many people would tell me, “Oh. You will have your hands full.” I knew being the mom of twins and a pre-teen would not be an easy task, but I felt I was up for the challenge. I’ve been doing this twin mama thing for two years now, and I can tell you- Yes. My hands are full. You should see my heart though. Being the mom of these three kiddos has got to be one of the best, most challenging, and rewarding things I’ve ever done. Ever. Yes. There are days when I hide in my bedroom to eat my lunch. Yes. There are days when I just want to wave a white flag and call Nana (my mom) to rescue me. Those days do happen, but then there are the days when I hear, “Mommy. Hold you.” and “Mommy wuv” over and over. There are days when I don’t shower because we’ve been playing “bass-e-ba” (basketball), having races, or watching Mickey Mouse. Eating is more important than showering on those days. Priorities. 

Gavin (12)  Ryker and Averlee (1) *R&A’s 1 year*


Nicknames: RyRy. Ryker Roo.  Averlee calls him “Roo Roo”.

Favorite Food: He loves ORANGES. He would eat an orange at every meal if I allowed it. Some days I pick my battles and he does get to have an orange with every meal. Vitamin C. Like I said. I pick my battles. There are worse things he could be asking for!

Favorite Game: This child LOVES to play basketball. He has a small play goal/ hoop that was in the garage. Well. The weather has finally cooled off here in Tennessee, so hanging out in the driveway to watch him play basketball had become quite a chilly event. I had the bright  idea to move the goal into his room for him to play indoors. Now we play basketball every morning when he wakes up…. every morning before nap… every day after nap… and so on. He is actually pretty good! His big bro has been working on correcting his form. I guess we should start preparing for scouts or whatever because this kid is gonna be a ball player for sure!

Ryker is a huge fan of tractors, construction equipment, ball, his big brother, and his Mommy. Since it is the Christmas season, he has become fascinated with Christmas lights, or as he calls them “crinkle frights”. I try to get him to say it as much as possible because it is by far the cutest thing he’s said thus far in his short little life! It. Is. Fantastic.

Ryker talks a lot and often. He attempts to repeat anything and everything. He’s also learned to put himself in timeout. He will hit his sister and immediately report to timeout. Clearly I’ve failed as a disciplinarian somewhere, but I guess we have some time to work the kinks out!

Ryker is also PACIFIER FREE!! He does carry a certain blanket around with him everywhere though. We are slowly getting him to let me wash it at least once a week, but that’s only because Averlee has one just like it. I  give him her’s as a decoy long enough for me to was his!


Nicknames: I call her Averlee Beth. Ryker calls her “A-wee”. Trey calls her Averlee. Gavin calls her “V-V”. She says her name is “A-lee”. She might be super confused when she starts kindergarten. *facepalm*

Favorite Food: Averlee loves to eat anything out of Nana’s purse at basketball games. Before we can even sit down, she will start trying to open my mom’s purse so she can dig out whatever snacks or treats my Mom has. One game she at her own snacks, Ryker’s snacks, and even asked to eat the cereal bar my Mom brought for Gavin. A few weeks ago we had BBQ for dinner. Averlee loved it! She ate it with and without BBQ sauce. It was insane! I have never seen a child eat as much or as well as Averlee! She’s a champ.

Favorite Game: She loves to play the game “Whatever Ryker has, I want to take it from him.” Unfortunately, this game has not been playing out in her favor as of late. Ryker has learned to fight back! *Trust me. It’s a disaster. There are lots of tears and occasionally a bloody lip or two.* Averlee loves to have someone read a book to her. Anytime she and I are playing in her room by ourselves, she tells me to “sit down” and she’ll select a book from the shelf. She will then sit in my lap and repeat after me as I read her the book. Even though she has shelves and shelves of books, lately we’ve read the same two books over and over. That’s totally fine with me though! I’m just excited she likes to have someone read to her!

Averlee had a rough first year and a half of life, but the last couple of months have been so much more enjoyable. She clearly feels better! She is a sassy little spitfire. She is so full of personality! It’s so neat to just watch her as she tries to figure out how to do something. She rarely asks for someone to help her do anything unless it’s to take something from her brothers. Her favorite person is hands down – Nana. She would probably go live with Nana if that was an option. It isn’t. She’s stuck with me as her mother!

Ryker & Averlee – 18 months* 

In August of this year, Ryker and Averlee started a Parents’ Day Out program twice a week. At first it was not an enjoyable time for Ryker. It broke my heart to leave him knowing he was so upset and crying “Mommy” all day. In the last month or so he has gotten so much better though. There are no more tears when I drop them off! They have a lot of from from what I’ve been told. Ryker talks about a little boy named Carter all of the time. I’m not sure if Carter realizes it or not, but I think Ryker wants to be his best friend.

Averlee loves to color at school. She never says much about friends, but she will tell me all about her lunchbox and “packpack”. I’m sure one day she will fill me in on the happenings of school. That day is not today though! .

R&A – Almost 2 years old 


*Photo Creds: Jenna Henderson, Photographer


Previous Birthday Posts

R&A Are One

Happy Birthday to Ryker and Averlee! Part 1    Happy Birthday to Ryker and Averlee! Part 2


Rain, Rain Go Away

This Almost Broke Me.

You’ve heard the expression before, “When it rains, it pours”. Well friends, it came a monsoon on me. It did not just rain. We had a full blown (not really, but kinda felt like it) hurricane.  I felt like I had been beaten by the time I finally figured out which way was up.


Today is Monday. Day 12 of what I now refer to as the Bell Twin Plague of 2016. Friends, I feel as if I have crawled out of the trenches battered and beaten – covered in snot and smelling of disinfectant. R&A began a little Parents’ Day Out (PDO) program on September 6th. On the evening of September 7th, Trey and I closed on a little investment property we’ve had our eye on. In that same evening, Ryker began running a fever. It was all downhill from there. . .

On Thursday, September 8th I sent Averlee to PDO sans her sidekick , Ryker, because she was feeling just dandy and she LOVES school. I took Ryker to the doctor to get checked out in hopes we could nip whatever was trying to invade his little body before the weekend. Ohhhh how naive and hopeful I was, right? We were fortunate to get worked in pretty quickly. Once the Physician Assistant took a look at Ryker, she told me there are a few yucky viruses running rampant currently. Ryker tested negative for strep, but she could not rule out Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) . Fan-freakin-tastic. So on we went with our day. I called the director of PDO to inform her there was a possibility my child may have HFMD just so she would be aware in case some extra sanitizing efforts were needed. I told her Averlee had obviously been exposed, but she didn’t have any symptoms that morning. With that being said, I had to pick Averlee up from school before she had a chance to share her germs with all of her new friends.

So there I was at home with a daughter who wanted to play, run, jump, hop, and eat and  a son who just wanted to be held. Needless to say, I had to call in some reinforcement for the remainder of the afternoon. There just wasn’t enough of me to go around! It worked out though because I  had an appointment to work on some legal paperwork  later that evening. I needed a babysitter anyway.

Then came Friday, September 9th. I had a brief health scare about month  prior regarding a suspicious lump in my right breast. The appointment on the 9th was just a follow-up to see what that pesky thing was up to. Honestly, my mind was a million other places on that day, so I wasn’t too concerned. I had full faith the doctor would check me out and tell me to come back again later. That’s exactly what happened too! He came in, did a quick exam, asked a few questions, then told me to have a repeat ultrasound in October just to see if the lump had changed/ grown/ gone away.

Up to this point, Ryker was the only sick household member. I made a point to disinfect, wipe down, clean, and repeat just so we could avoid the spread of the germs. Unfortunately, Ryker woke up Saturday morning with super yucky, gooey eyes. Trey and I were convinced he probably had pink eye or something on top of whatever else was going on. He was still running a fever, not eating well, and just wanting to lay around and be held. He. Was. Pitiful.

By Monday morning, September 12th Averlee had become a little more irritable than usual, but nothing too alarming. Gavin woke up with what appeared to be the beginning of an eye infection. He pleaded for me to not send him to school because he thought they would just send him home anyway thinking he had pink eye. At this point, I didn’t even know what to do and didn’t have the energy to fight that battle – so I agreed he could stay home, but told him he had to clean/ disinfect his bathroom. Ryker woke up with swollen, gooey eyes so I immediately made the decision he would need to go back to the doctor. There I was. I was at home with two sick boys and a cranky daughter. Trey was at work so he called his parents and asked them to come down and lend a hand. *Hooray!*


Naptime finally came somewhere close to 10:45am. Averlee threw a quick little fit when I put her in her crib, but went to sleep soon after. Ryker was so ready for a nap so he didn’t put up much of a fight.  I started cleaning up a bit and putting away laundry when I heard Averlee let out this awful, awful scream. I had only heard her scream like this once before so I ran to the top of the stairs and into her room. It was like a nightmare. Averlee was laying in her crib, silent, motionless and her eyes were glazed over. She was looking out the side of her crib. I put my hand on her to shake her. She didn’t respond. I got down on my hands and knees in front of her crib and said her name a few more times before I noticed her color. My baby girl’s lips were turning blue and she was so pale. I yelled for Gavin to call 911. Friends, I had to do CPR on my own child. I am grateful I knew how, but I hope I NEVER have to do that again. Everything was a blur. It was hectic. My mother-in-law was yelling. Ryker was crying. My dog, Harper, was howling. I was trying to talk to the dispatcher and stay calm enough to make complete sentences. It took the ambulance less than seven minutes to make it to our driveway from the time we made the call. By the time the paramedics came in the house to check Averlee, she had finally come out of her seizure, but she was still not acting like herself. Just to be on the safe side, we had her transported to Vanderbilt via ambulance. Of course, I went with her.

I must say, I had a lot of time to think as Averlee and I rode in the back of the ambulance to Nashville. I just held her and wondered how much more God planned to put on my plate. I prayed He would hold off on giving me anything else for a few days so I could maybe process everything I was already faced with. Funny how things don’t go the way we want them to sometimes, right?

Averlee was discharged from Monroe-Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt about an hour after we arrived. The doctors and nurses concluded that she had another febrile seizure. They gave us a prescription for medication to give her when she has another one. They also gave us instructions to follow-up with neurology within the week just as a precaution. On Wednesday, September 14th Averlee had an EEG and we met with a Neurology Nurse Practitioner who had reviewed the EEG. The NP did not see anything too alarming on the EEG; however, due to the way Averlee seizes – eyes fixed to the right, left hand twitches, and she stops breathing – she is ordering a brain MRI. Averlee will be sedated for the MRI. The MRI is basically a way for us to see if there is anything else going on in that tiny little noggin of hers. As scary as that sounds, I am at peace and am standing in faith Averlee will receive a good report once this test is completed. She will have her MRI sometime next month.

My brave little girl during her EEG. 

By the end of last week, Ryker, Averlee, and myself were all fighting colds. The silver lining to all of this is I have been getting lots of precious baby snuggles. I have missed them being themselves though. I know one day I will look back on the last 12 days and think, “Oh that wasn’t so bad afterall”. Today though? Today I feel like my head has barely been above water. I feel like I have spent the last week and a half praying this mountain would just move so we can get on with our lives! I will miss the snuggles and the kids needing me, but I hope I never have everything happen at once again. Shew.



Hold This For a Second

You can’t carry it all. 

In the last couple of weeks, Averlee has discovered her love for all things baby doll related. She is such a little Mommy! It is so precious. She will line her babies up beside her and cover them with blankets. She will stick things in her “purse”, grab a baby, and head for the door – Just like I do when we are going somewhere. Just the other day, she was grabbing her baby of choice for the day and her purse. I watched her as she tried to hold her baby, keep her purse on her arm, and pick up her sippy cup – all at the same time! After a few moments of struggling, she looked at me and handed me her baby so she could pick up her sippy cup. I offered to carry her sippy so she could hold her baby, but she was content with the arrangement she had made. Out the door we went. I was carrying my bag, Ryker, and baby. Averlee had her purse and sippy.


I did not think much about all of this until yesterday when I was making out my prayer request list for the week. It seems my prayers are shifting more and more towards, “God I need you to [insert miracle]” or “God, please take [insert burden] from me.” I’m asking Him to take things and handle them for me, but I’m not fully releasing my grip. Yesterday afternoon I came across a quote though. *I see you, God. I know that was all You.*

It is okay to not be okay. If you are not okay, you don’t have to pretend that you are okay. You can say, ‘I need help. I need help from God.”‘ 

The truth is, in my mind I know I need to let go of these worries that are weighing heavy on my heart. I know this. Believe me when I say that. I. KNOW. In my heart I can’t help but to hold on to tiny pieces. Do any of you do that?

It is up to me to decide: Do I want to continue juggling these problems all by myself, or am I ready to hand them over for someone stronger to carry? 

I’m typing this through tear-filled eyes. Friends, I ask that each of you say this prayer with me today…

Father, I’m carrying this load. I’ve pretended to let it go many times and just hand it to you, but we both know- I’m still holding on. I haven’t released my grip- my super tight grip. I know You want to take this from me. I know You can heal my heart and my body. I know you can do things unimaginable. I’m standing in faith that You will carry me through this storm. I’m confident You have a greater plan than I can imagine. Father, I know I am not alone. My friends here are carrying burdens also. We come to You now to lay these at your feet. We can’t do this without You, Lord. We are submitting our agenda to Your perfect plans today. Walking with You, letting You carry us is far greater than trying to run ahead on our own. In Your Holy Name. Amen. 

20 Months Old

What a week. I sent my oldest son off to 7th Grade on Monday and today the twins turn 20 months old! Time is getting out of control. I’ll be planning graduation parties before we know it! First I need to survive this season / phase of raising twin toddlers and  a pre-teen.

God, please give me grace!

A few months ago, a friend let me borrow a book titled   Grace Based Parenting . I have to admit, it has been sitting on a shelf in my office since she gave it to me, but last night I pulled it out just to skim through it. I came across a quote that really jumped out at me… 

“God helps grace-based parents see what matters and what doesn’t matter…His grace helps you see whether to write the rules in pencil or in blood.”

In this season of life, I am faced with the challenges of dealing with a son who is trying to figure out how to balance school, sports, parents who are divorced, and everything else in between. In the moments when it seems I should get firm with him, I sometimes have to take a step back and try to put myself in his shoes. I had the luxury of living in a home with both of my parents. I didn’t bounce between homes. I grew up in a small town; therefore, I always knew everyone in my classes. Gavin attends a rather large middle school. I don’t know what that feels like. I cannot relate to some of the struggles he is faced with when it comes to figuring out middle school. In the moments when I feel myself getting frustrated with him, I have to remind myself he’s only twelve. He’s just trying to figure things out, and he needs me to give him grace every now and then.

Gavin and Ryker 

Then there’s the twins…

They fight. They bite. They kick. They pull each other’s hair. I know they are just trying to figure out this HUGE world, but a part of me feels like I have failed somewhere. In a few weeks, they will start a Parent’s Day Out program two days a week. I have this fear Ryker will get kicked out for pushing, biting, hitting, or kicking. I know this is all part of growing up, but I have two the exact same age trying to do the exact same things. There are both in the same stage of growing up. Averlee is the complete opposite of Ryker. She doesn’t throw fits (yet). I’m sure that’s coming though, right? Or maybe she sees how tired Mommy gets after Ryker throws his 10th fit of the day before noon? Maybe Averlee plans to give Mommy a break? ha.

Enough about all of that. Let’s see what R&A have been up to lately.

Little Tikes Water Table


Nicknames: Ryker Roo, Ry Ry, RyRoo. He refers to himself as “Wy- Wy” or Just “Roo”.

Favorite Food: This kid would drink lemonade all day, every day if I would allow it. He loves “mem-made”. He also enjoys all types of fruit. He loves cookies. He will eat chicken, steak, or deli meat. He isn’t too fond of tomatoes.

Favorite Game: If it involves a ball, he’s a fan. He also loves to swim in the big pool or play at the water table. He also loves our lab/ golden named Foxy a.k.a “Sock-see”.

He’s also a Mickey Mouse (“Meee-Mou”) fan especially if Mickey has a tractor!!


Nicknames: Averlee Beth, Sassy, VeeVee. Ryker calls her “Way-wee”.  Averlee hasn’t attempted to say her own name yet, but she will point to herself.

Favorite Food: Grapes! This kiddo loves grapes so much. She really likes all fruits! She is also a lemonade fan, but will drink water or milk just as often. She is a little picky when it comes to meats at first, but she typically will clean her plate!

Favorite Game: She loves to help clean (“keen”), take care of her babies, and will pet any animal she comes in contact with. She loves cats, dogs, cows, and the occasional goat. She is a wonderful helper! She likes to help me take clothes out the dryer. She will also pick up her toys in the floor if I ask her to help me clean up! She’s basically a mini mommy. She is quite independent compared to her twin brother. She will play by herself stacking blocks, playing tea party, or rolling a car.

Averlee isn’t much of a TV fan. She will occasionally watch Doc McStuffins for a brief moment, but she prefers to be on the go and playing versus sitting down to watch TV. I’m totally ok with that! She also prefers the water table over swimming in the pool. She will swim in the pool with her Puddle Jumper for a little bit then hop out to play with the water table.


Check out our previous updates here:

Twin Adventures – 13 Month Installment

Toddler Time: Let’s Be Real

We are 11 Months Old

We Made It

7 Months Old and Other News

Four Months

The Beginning of 7th Grade

I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but I woke up this morning (late of course) the mom of a 7th grader. When Gav was little, people always told me the years would fly by. I believe them. I really do. Gav’s dad and I were talking this morning about how soon we will be dropping him off at high school. Seriously? This is all happening way too fast for my little Mommy heart.



About Gavin

Gavin has a huge, caring heart. He loves to help me take care of his brother and sister. Ryker is his #1 fan for sure. Gavin loves to eat. He usually requests Mexican if we are out, but he really likes when we have taco or spaghetti night at  home. He’s now the same height as me – 5’5″.  He hopes to make the middle school basketball team and baseball team this year. He’s practiced and scrimmaged with both, but an official tryout will not be held until later in the school year.

Gavin will be 13 two months from Wednesday. I cannot wrap my mind around how quickly the last 13 years have flown by, but I’m grateful we’ve survived this long. Being Gavin’s mom is probably one of favorite jobs, but it has also been challenging. He refers to himself as my “guinea pig”. Honestly, there has been a lot of trial and error with Gavin. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time or how to handle some situations. His dad and I are able to co-parent really well though so that makes things SO much easier.


Happy 1st day of 7th grade, Gavin! I’m so proud of the young man you are growing up to be! Love you to the moon!


Twinning Isn’t Easy


We have somehow survived almost 19 months as the parents of twins. I want to place extra emphasis on that statement. We have somehow almost survived. There are days when I’m not sure I will make it until bedtime. There are days when I wish nap time was at 9:00am and lasted until after lunchtime. I’m just being honest!

I must admit this is probably the funniest stage/ phase/ season so far. Ryker has become a little chatter box with his vocabulary. He loves to talk about tractors, hay, cows, birds, his big brother, and Daddy.  Averlee is … sassy. So so sassy. It is so fun to just watch her as she struts from one thing to another. She loves to clean. She will pick up the tiniest piece of lint or cat hair and toss it in the trash. She’s Mommy’s little helper too. She likes to be right by my side when I’m doing laundry. She will pull each piece out of the dryer and hand it to me. It is the sweetest.

They both have developed their own little unique personalities. Ryker has a little temper and is very stubborn at times. He is a Mommy’s baby. He loves for me to hold him as long as Big Bro isn’t around. If Gavin is around, Ryker is 100% Big Bro’s baby. Averlee gets her feelings hurt easily, but will stand her ground when it comes to handling her twin brother. She loves her Daddy so much. She will run to him if she needs help with something. Seriously, if he is around she will run right past me and straight to him. It’s sweet. I am a Daddy’s girl myself so it is so cute to see her love her own Daddy so much.

As for me, everyday is an adventure. Just last week Ryker emptied the laundry room trash in the floor twice in one day. He also proceeded to pour the dog’s water in the floor WITH the trash he had dumped. They are both so quick. They definitely keep me on my toes. There isn’t much sitting around sipping coffee and watching them play peacefully in the floor anymore. They are so busy. They are so energetic. They wear me out, but I’m enjoying every moment as much as I can.

This is the most challenging season we’ve encountered so far, but it is also the most fun. When I was pregnant with them, I would daydream and wonder what they would be like. Would they be best friends? Would Averlee love baby dolls? Would Ryker love dinosaurs? What would they like to do daily? It is so neat to see them develop into their own little people.


on June 25th we took R&A to Lucky Ladd Farms in Eagleville, TN for Construction Day. Check out their Facebook page {link above} for upcoming events this summer!