Sunday, December 27, 2015

Baby Gear Advice Needed

Worlds are colliding!

At the very same time I'm packing up the kitchen, dining room, and living room finding things to get rid of in anticipation of our upcoming remodel, I'm putting together a list of must-haves for when the baby comes. Somehow, in the next three months, all of this will come together, right?

We are turning our kitchen, formal living room, and tiny formal dining room into a more open, but not completely open, space. Gulp.

If you have advice for me regarding baby products, either lifesavers or duds, please let me know in the comments.


I got the following items from our yard sale site or from friends.

Changing table
Crib mattress
Bouncy seat
Bumbo seat
Inflatable bathtub insert
play mat
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio infant car seat (from a friend, no accidents)
Britax Advocate Convertible car seat (from a friend, no accidents)


Crib, here's the one I'd like to buy because the baby's room will be gray and yellow (Margaret has the decor under control :))
Breast pump and bottles
Nose Frida
Nail clippers
Infant bathtub or insert-- Is there a good one for washing baby in the sink or on the counter?
Fisher Price Rock and Play sleeper
Changing pad and cover
Crib sheets
Diaper trash can
Snap and Go Stroller
Boppy pillow
Extra car seat base


What am I missing? Please tell me about: sleep sacks, the DexBaby DayDreamer, swaddles, co-sleepers, The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD, baby wash, diaper creams, Moby wraps, Ergos, an infant car seat that swivels for getting in and out of the car...and anything else you can think of!

Is there one product you wish you had known about sooner?

Thanks for your insight!

(affiliate links included in this post)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Winter of my Discontent?

Today is my 23 week prenatal appointment!

I'll let you know how it goes. As of now I'm still in my robe, trying to stay quiet in case Margaret is asleep, when in reality she is probably hunkered down in her room with her computer. She is the early bird, I'm the night owl, and the teenaged sleeping all day thing hasn't hit her yet.

Sleep continues to elude me.

My routine is to try to go to bed around midnight, but I'm restless and awake until at least 2, usually 4. During the time between 12 and 2 I get up about three to four times to go to the bathroom. I know I should be "storing up sleep" during this trimester, as if that even works, but instead I feel sleep deprived, draggy, and uncomfortable.  Two years of poor sleep before pregnancy haven't helped either. I'll ask the doc today if she has any advice, but really I just wanted to share some of what has been running through my head during those waking hours when all is not calm, all is not bright.

Of course I'm worried about whether I'll be able to mother a baby again. I saw a newborn baby last week. The tiny-ness! The vunerability! The gaping portal of need! In my head I know I can do it, and I'm trusting the process, but lack of sleep whispers doubt and doom into my head in the night.

Oh, and did I tell you we are going ahead with our kitchen renovation? The one that predates this pregnancy? When we found a great kitchen remodeler last spring, he said he couldn't start the project until January. "That sounds PERFECT!" I replied. "We have nothing going on early next year!"

It doesn't seem so perfect right now, because I am thinking that the third trimester, a house in chaos, and you, know, a possible blizzard or two might push me over the proverbial edge. I don't know. I figured if we waited until after the baby came, we would likely never get around to it, but I'm still apprehensive about the dust, the noise, the lack of a working kitchen for 8 weeks, and how to keep the dogs from being traumatized. I want the kitchen, I just don't want to have to GET THERE, you know, and I feel greedy and "things-y" for bringing this problem on myself in the first place.

Our family likes structure and order, and I think this will be a challenge for all of us, pets included, barreling right up against the biggest game changer of all-- the new baby! Is it too much? I think of all of the Christmas decorations to put away,  a kitchen to pack, furniture to store, and a baby room to figure out, and I wonder why I wanted to redo the kitchen in the first place, when right now I kind of want to torch it all. Then there's the expense. We chose to remodel the kitchen before I found out how much having a baby would cost under our insurance plan. The numbers are staggering. So the thoughts churn as I toss and turn, eventually waddling from bed to bed, couch to chair, hoping to find a comfortable place to sleep. I think the lack of sleep is what caused my shingles to flare up again last week.

Although I am not a morning person, and never have been, I do understand that things always seem brighter in the morning, or at least by mid-morning. Because now it is 10 am, and my be-robed self has a much better attitude than I did in the night. The dogs are snuggled together on a dog bed at my feet, Margaret gets to go to a cookie baking party later, and the temp is in the 50's in December!

And we are NOT going to think these crazy-warm temperatures portend a blizzard on kitchen cabinet delivery day in February, right?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Things are quiet around here. I mean really, really quiet. I haven't been inspired to write much, even though I think I have a novel noodling around in my head somewhere, and while January is pretty packed with speaking engagements, December isn't. The fact that I discovered 7 seasons of "The Good Wife" on Amazon Prime probably hasn't helped.

Advent is a time of waiting, as is pregnancy, and it hasn't escaped my notice that I'm experiencing both at the same time. During my first two pregnancies I was busy-busy. I think that helped keep me in great physical and emotional shape throughout, not just focused on what was happening on the inside. With Jack, I taught high school until just hours before he was born. Pregnant with Margaret, I had an active toddler to chase around, and with free childcare at church activities, I took part in pretty much every church exercise class, Bible Study, and committee I could sign up for. Busy.

This time is different. Tim and Margaret are gone all day. The doggies just follow me around and collapse into sleep wherever I park myself in the house. My body doesn't feel the same as it did 17 or 15 years ago. Things are swollen. Private things. Other things are sore. Exercise seems too monumental to attempt. Most of this has to do with age, but some of it likely has to do with the cocooning I've experienced in the 4 years since Jack died. While Tim and my sister channeled their grief into running, I channeled mine into sitting, writing, meeting with the bereaved, and drinking a lot of tea, as if conserving energy for something. Was it this? Rather than keeping me healthy, however, I found that the grief settled in my shoulders and other parts of my body, making me prone to aches, illness, and injury. Today, I'm trying to decide whether I'm having a flare-up of shingles or whether it's just the permanent nerve damage I got the last time I had them. Regardless, my body is saying, REST, Anna, and wait. So the dogs and Julianna Marguiles and I do just that.

I did all of my shopping online, and I've never been much of a baker, so I don't have reams of checklists to follow right now, unless I'm forgetting something, which is likely true. This makes me feel a bit off kilter with all of the busyness around me, as if it is one more way I don't fit in.

Advent is a time of expectation, a virgin's growing belly, and now this 46 year old non-virgin's as well. Sometimes it's a time of numbers and counting and waiting. Margaret counts down the days until she can open her presents. We anticipate our last Christmas with 3 members physically present: Anna, Tim, and Margaret, and are proud and a little shocked by the way we have handled the 4, soon to be 5  that we've faced since Sept 2011. Our 2 trees glisten with lights and hundreds of handmade ornaments of dough and beads that now bring us joy rather than pain. For the first time ever, we hang lights outside, a tribute to our dear friend Brian who died 1 week ago at the incredibly young age of 39, and who loved Advent and Christmas. Tim tracks his hours at work, trying to figure out how to be present with us during the holidays while still getting his job done. I watch the pounds pile up on the scale, and follow the size of the baby according to websites, going from a grape, to a tangerine, an avocado, and then a banana. Is he1 lb yet? Baby Donaldson just swims, and flips and dives,  oblivious to all of this, or perhaps somehow wiser than the rest of us put together.

And Jack? His wait is over. He is in the presence of holiness every minute of every day. And what is  a day to him? A millisecond? His work and mission are unfettered by billable hours and busyness, outward expectations, and binge-watching TV. Partisan politics and war and violence make no sense to him as his new lens is one of LOVE, only LOVE.

I don't know when my time with come, although I know I've already lived more years than Jack and Brian. There is much for us to do here, to try to make the world we are living in more loving, kinder, and more just.

But there is also much to anticipate, as Jack and Brian already know, and that it is worth longing for.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pregnant again in your 40’s? 10 ways to tell if you had your last child A LONG-ASS TIME AGO:

1)You needed reading glasses to see the pee-stick results this time.

2)The terms Push Present, Baby-moon, and Gender Reveal are new to you.

3)The last time you wore maternity clothes, they were amorphous denim overalls and shirts built like tents; this time you wear clingy sweaters and leggings that accentuate your age baby bump.

4)You find yourself tossing around words like bouncy seat, diaper genie and stroller, but everyone else is talking about the Nose Frida, Moby Wrap and travel systems.

5) You thought swaddle was a verb, but somehow it appears to be a noun now, as in, "How many swaddles do we need?"

6)You realize how quickly the infant stage is going to go, so you plot ways to get this stuff out of the house before you even bring it in.

7) You repeat the mantra, “40 is the new 20” as you try to haul your burgeoning girth out of bed.

8) You ask Siri if Botox is safe while breast-feeding.

9) Newborns look a whole lot scarier to you than teenagers.

10) You wonder how you’ll do it all again, but you remind yourself that you did it before, and what’s a few more gray hairs, anyway?

Holly Lane Designs Winners!

Winner Winner/s Chicken Dinner/s!!!!
We have 3 winners for the big Holly Lane Designs Giveaway! 

However, it appears that I'm a big goofball and didn't ask for your email addresses for notification purposes this time. PLEASE HELP ME find you by PM'ing me if you are one of our winners. For those who didn't win, remember you can get 15% off now through Dec 20 by using the code Anna15 at Holly Lane Designs. It works! I used it yesterday!

Winner of the Nothing is Impossible Pendant: Susan Vondracek
Winner of $50 credit at HLD: Anonymous, 2:10 am, Dec 5, 2015. (You wrote of wanting a pendant with the Bible verse you used for your husband's memorial service)
Winner of $75 credit at HLD: CARLA (commented 11:42 am Dec 2, 2015)

Please email me at awhistondonaldson(at)gmail(dot)com or contact me through my Facebook page so I can make sure you get your prizes. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Holly Lane Giveaway for YOU! 3 winners, 3 prizes, and a Discount!

I'm so excited to share with you my Holly Lane Giveaway! 3 winners, 3 prizes!

One winner will receive a Nothing is Impossible Pendant created in memory of Jack and inspired his favorite verse, Luke 1:37, “For with God, nothing is impossible.”

Second winner will receive a $50 Holly Lane Gift Card– to buy what you please from

Third winner will receive a $75 Holly Lane Gift Card also buy what you please from

To enter sign up for the Holly Lane Newsletter
(If you're already on our list you can follow us on another social platform)

Be sure to leave me a comment on THIS POST so I'll know that you entered!

Plus, there's a special discount for Inch of Gray readers! Enjoy 15% off everything at with code, “Anna15” till December 20th.

I know I've shared about Tiffany and Holly Lane Designs before. 

In 2003, Tiffany, a homeschooling mom of five, started dabbling in fine silver clay in her home on Holly Lane. What started as an outlet for her creativity, soon led to a means to share the Gospel using her talents.

“It was because of lots of people sharing Christ with me that I became a Christian. Immediately after having that answer to prayer, I knew [my company] was going to be about witnessing...about creating pieces that could help people share their faith.” - Tiffany

Tiffany is passionate about creating items that reflect God through their quality and craftsmanship. She designs each piece in fine silver clay. After, the jewelry is cast in sterling silver and is hand assembled at the Holly Lane studio in central Virginia. Every piece is paired with a Story Card™, a printed note sharing the verse or sentiment that inspired it. From start to finish, all Holly Lane jewelry is made in the USA.

“It’s our hope at Holly Lane that our line of jewelry won’t just be pretty silver, you can get that anywhere. We want it to be a way to share your story of Christ in your life.”  -Tiffany 

My favorite pieces are of course the Nothing is Impossible pendant and the Forever His pendant which I had personalized with Jack's initials. Holly Lane Designs is my go-to for meaningful jewelry!

Find Holly Lane on the social media of your fancy 
Instagram: hollylanedesign

and online at