Memorial Day Weekend

We're back from a mini-family vacation to Minneapolis to visit my brother. It was a nice getaway filled with activities and overtired children but we made the most of it! I'm sure no one cares about these types of vacation recaps but I figured I better jot it down for memory's sake. It'll probably be our last "family vacation" before Baker joins us later this summer.

My brother had just gotten back from his own epic vacation to Thailand and put up with us even though he was fighting some serious jet-lag. We don't get up there very often so I'm glad we made the trip and he was down to hang out!

We had driven to Des Moines on Thursday afternoon to break up the drive a bit. After checking into our less-than-stellar hotel (that's what we get for being cheap...) we grabbed dinner at Zombie Burger and then headed back so the girls could swim for a bit.

After a weak continental breakfast at the hotel on Friday morning, we headed north and decided to stop at the Medford Outlet Center south of Minneapolis for shopping and lunch at good old McDonalds. We found a few good deals and finally made it to our (much nicer, definitely new, not-at-all-smelly) hotel around 3:30 Friday afternoon.

The girls made themselves at home while we unloaded and made plans to meet up with Uncle Ty.

We picked Tyler up and made our way to supper at Pizzeria Lola. He lives near Uptown and it's such a fun part of the city. Lots of shops, bars and restaurants. I always look forward to eating when we go visit him. I also happen to be pregnant every time we go so the good food definitely makes up for the fact that I can't enjoy an adult bevvy at one of the rooftop bars...

After dinner, we headed to Lake Calhoun to walk around a bit and enjoy the evening. The girls played on the playground, walked around the lake and learned to skip rocks. The lake, like several others in the area, is in the middle of the city which is so convenient. I wanted to rent a paddleboat or something but we didn't get around to it. Maybe next time. We wrapped up Friday with a stop at Sebastian Joe's for ice cream before heading back to the hotel.

We went to the Como Zoo & Conservatory on Saturday morning to scope out the animals and sea lion show. It's a cute little place which happens to be free admission so we were excited to check it out. 

The carnival rides were not free but G was practically begging to ride a few rides by the time we circled back around so we couldn't pass them up. 

After the zoo, we grabbed lunch at the Happy Gnome before going back to my brother's place to look at pics from his vacation. Gracyn fell asleep and Leighton turned into a no-nap monster so we called it a day early and went back to the hotel for take-out and let the girls swim for a bit.

Sunday. Sunday was busy! Breakfast at the Hi-Lo Diner, walking laps at the Mall of America and more rides - including the girls' first official rollercoaster ride! - took up most of the day.

Leighton fell asleep during the 7 minute car ride to dinner so I sent Justin and Tyler (and eventually Gracyn) inside while I sat in the car with her to let her nap. She desperately needed it and slept for almost two hours (!!!) while I snap-chatted obnoxious pictures to the boys and ate the rest of J's deer jerky in the car while trying not to pee my pants. We eventually made it inside to join them and eat dinner at Lucky 13's Pub. Next was bowling followed by more ice cream (duh) at LaLa's.

By the end of the trip, my feet and ankles were swollen and my back hurt like a mother. #preggoproblems

We realized on the drive home that we didn't even get a family photo so we snagged one selfie-style with two sleeping kiddos in the back. They were exhausted and car naps made the 7-hour drive home a little more bearable.

G immediately ran to her bestie's house upon returning home - she barely lived through the weekend without her friends - and we spent the remaining hours of the long weekend outside with the neighbors. All in all, it made for a pretty decent holiday and some much needed time away as a family.

Now, bring on summer!

Baker | 27 Week Update

27 weeks with our brave boy.

Ok, where to start? Another emotional week while we wait to see what the future holds for Mr. Baker. I've been wavering between feeling anxious and stressed, optimistic and hopeful but at the same time, trying to keep a level head and look at the facts we have at hand while we waited to hear results of the genetic testing from our last appointment.

I got that call on Monday morning from a genetic counselor at the hospital where I plan to deliver. Based on the markers she was seeing in my blood work, coupled with the type of heart defect he has, she confirmed there is very, very high likelihood (80% chance or higher) that our baby boy will be born with Down syndrome. My OB, whom I adore and will continue to see for regular baby appointments called me Wednesday morning to check on me. She had been getting reports from the maternal-fetal medicine doc and pediatric cardiologist and wanted to touch base. We chatted a bit and I asked her to interpret the results of the genetic test. She's a straight-shooter (one of the reasons I love her..) and she said it was her medical opinion that it's more like a 90-95% chance of Down syndrome.

Honestly, in THAT moment, hearing a higher percentage helped, if that makes any sense at all. I had found myself desperately hanging onto the 20% chance that he may NOT have Down syndrome so this made it a little more concrete. We had an appointment with the pediatric cardiologist this morning and he agreed with the higher percentage. An amniocentesis would confirm for sure but at this point, I don't think we're going to go that route since there are risks involved and no matter the result, it wouldn't change things for us.

So, the plan now is to expect Baker to show up rocking an extra chromosome and love the hell out of him.

Obviously, this isn't the news we were hoping for. Without really saying it out loud, Justin and I both were banking on him being totally fine (in regards to number of chromosomes...) these last two weeks or so. He'd be born, we'd fix his heart and he'd go on with life like a typical little boy. I was sad on Monday. Really sad, depending on who I was texting or talking to on the phone. I'd be fine one minute and then totally breaking down the next, all the while Gracyn looked on confused as to why I was crying and Leighton asking if I had "bonked yo head, mom?"

We'll tell the girls about Baker and his heart and probable Down syndrome diagnosis eventually but for the sake of that day, I just reassured G that I was OK and that even mama's get sad every once in awhile. Luckily Justin came home from work early to wrangle the girls and talk things through with me.


My mind was racing wondering how we'd care for him being born with additional special needs, beyond the challenges his heart defect already brought to the table. I'm concerned about the learning disabilities he'll face and the type of special therapies he'll need. What will his future be like? What will our future be like? I was already consumed with mom-guilt. How will this affect the girls? What will they think when we periodically have to put most of our focus on Baker, knowing we'll already have to be away from them when he has heart surgery?

I talked to my mom on Monday night and she quickly shut that down. She reminded me to take it one day at a time. There is so much that we still DON'T know so while it's hard to not worry or think about those things, it's also important to stay present and focus on the things we can do now.

What we can do now is work with our doctors to continue to monitor his growth and keep an eye on his heart. We can finish his nursery and wash his clothes and sanitize the baby toys. We can work with Leighton so she knows that a choke-hold isn't the best for baby brother... ;)

I still have my ugly cries and my emotions are high. We're definitely grieving the baby we thought we'd be brining home but I have to believe we need to process those feelings to make way for the baby we're meant to have. This boy will change lives in the best way, that's for sure.

To end this update (or novel..) on a positive note, a friend-of-a-friend added me to a local Facebook group for moms of kiddos with congenital heart defects. From there, I was connected with a mom in Iowa who's son was born last August with Down syndrome and the same heart defect Baker has. Their story was eerily similar to ours and after messaging back and forth with her for a bit, she reminded me that, at the end of the day, these kids are still just kids. Cue another ugly cry, but she's right. They're happy. They're capable of reaching milestones and having a meaningful life. They're yours. She was so great.  I was reading her messages to Justin and felt supported. We felt encouraged.

Like, we can do this.

There will be more hard days to come but this is something we can definitely handle as a family and we can't wait to meet this sweet boy.

iFLY Kansas City

Summer Special: As the summer season is officially here, iFLY is boasting a fantastic Summer 25 Special, offering 25 percent off on first time flyer packages. Hurry though, the special only is available until July 6.

Now through July 6th
When you Book & Fly Mondays through Thursdays
Save 25% on First Time Flyer Packages*

Special and Promo Code: SUMMER25
25% off First Time Flyer Flight Packages (excludes family and party packages and vouchers)
Valid 6/21-7/6 (must be booked and flown by 7/6) 
Blackout date- 7/4/17
Guests can book online, over the phone or via walk-ins. 

*PROMO CODE: SUMMER25 valid on First Time Flyer Packages (excludes family and party packages and vouchers). Packages must be flown Monday through Thursdaybetween 6/21/17 - 7/6/17 (not valid on 7/4/17). Valid at participating iFLY locations. Not valid on previous purchases, exchanges, special orders or gift cards. Discounts cannot be combined with other iFLY offers. Offer valid through 7/6/17. For locations and to book, visit

Would you ever skydive?! I always said I'd do it, along with bungee jumping, but if it actually came down to it, I'd probably chicken out. It'd be thrilling, sure, but probably not worth the risk in my eyes.  I have children, you know.

But - indoor skydiving!? A giant wind tunnel and snazzy gear that simulates a true free-fall, trained instructor included? Sign me up.

Well, not really, because hello 26-weeks pregnant, but when iFLY Kansas City reached out to see if we would be interested in enjoying the full indoor skydiving experience, Justin couldn't say YES fast enough.

Kids as young as 3 years old can participate but I had a feeling Gracyn would talk a big game and then back out at the last minute so Justin brought our neighbor, Drew, to take the extra spot. It was so funny to watch them get all excited as they waited and watched the instructors put on a little flight show beforehand.

The guys were spinning around, flying to the top of the tunnel and would dive back down again. It was actually pretty impressive. 

You can rent out the iFLY space for corporate events and birthday parties and they even offer outings for Boy & Girl Scouts and field trips geared toward incorporating STEM learning into the classroom.

iFLY offers fully customizable packages for your party or event including everything from catering to transportation. They had Yaya's set up for us last week when we visited and it was so so yummy. I can't even tell you how many pieces of pita bread + hummus my kids ate. They kept running back into the room to grab more by the handfuls. It was borderline embarrassing, actually. 

After smashing pita bread - and a few beers for the guys! - they took the group of flyers back into a classroom for a little pre-flight training. The girls were waiting patiently for them to return. Before long, it was time to get suited up!

Flight suit, earplugs, helmet, goggles. The whole shebang. They were so excited! Ha!

Each flyer had two flights at about a minute each. The instructor stayed with them to kind of stabilize their bodies and make sure they were holding the right position. Once they were good to go, the instructor would let go and the guys were truly "flying."

On the 2nd flight, they boys had the option to move up in the tunnel with the instructor's help and they both took advantage of that, obviously!

Justin said it felt more like floating versus falling and had a blast! I could definitely get on board with this type of set up if I weren't pregnant, too. It looked like so much fun! If the girls were a little older, it'd be a blast to try this as a family. It'd also be super fun to have a birthday party here - for adults or kids! There was a little girl flying in Justin's group, she was probably 6 or 7 years old and did so well! She loved it! It'd also be a fun date night activity, too!

iFLY has locations all over the country so click here to find the closest one to you and check it out!

Here is a video of Justin's flights, too!

iFLY Kansas City from Mackenzie Oakley on Vimeo.

Thank you, iFLY Kansas City for treating us to the ultimate flight experience!

This post is sponsored by iFLY but all opinions are my own. All flight skillz are my husband's... ;)

Fri-Nally Fri-Yay

Happiest of Fridays to you! We had a pretty normal week around here, trying to stick to our routines and get the kids to bed before 10pm. The extra daylight hours and warm weather do not bode well for parents at bedtime. Gracyn said she couldn't go to sleep the other night because it was "still morning outside, guys!" We did succeed at getting them into bed by 8pm on two separate occasions this week so I'll consider that a win!


I wanted to quick say a big, giant THANK YOU to everyone who commented, texted, called, emailed and prayed regarding our sweet Baker. We are beyond lucky to have so many people lifting us up when we feel defeated and helpless.

We're still waiting for test results regarding my blood work but instead of letting my mind wander to a dark and scary place, I've been researching local groups and organizations to follow to try and learn more about Baker's condition. I have a growing list of questions to ask our doctors at the next appointment and I can physically see my belly moving back and forth as I type which definitely gives me some comfort.

He was SO active the other night. Justin was able to feel him moving for a full 20 minutes or so. This boy can kick me all day, every day if he wants.


We got quick break from all of the baby-related stress last Friday when we headed to the Garth Brooks concert. I'm so glad we went; we were able to relax a bit and enjoy a night out with some very dear friends.

I was still emotional and it didn't help that good old Garth made everyone in the building cry by honoring mothers, giving away a couple of guitars and giving his hat to a kid who had just survived cancer. But still, it was a good time.


After the kids were in bed early the other night, I snuck out to wander around the At Home store. Their flash deal this week is a 50'' x 60'' throw for $4.99! I saw it on their Instagram and went to snag one for Baker's nursery. I might need to go back and grab a few more... you can never have too many blankets floating around the house.


Excuse me, but WHAT just happened?

Not okay, guys. NOT OKAY. She was a legit BABY when she started preschool last August. Can't even believe how much she's changed in 10 short months. My heart.


We're moving the crib out of Leighton's room this afternoon! Wish us luck! She's been sleeping semi-decently so I'm sure this will disrupt things and ruin lives. BUT. We need to get her moved over to a big girl bed. We're traveling over Memorial Day weekend and my hope was that she and Gracyn could share a bed in the hotel so we'll see how this week goes. Wish us luck!

Happy weekend!

Baker | Heart Warrior

Our sweet boy, Baker Dee. 

This little man is constantly on my mind and moving like a wild one in my belly. We've had a stressful week with our little guy, one that still doesn't feel real, if that makes any sense at all.

Backing up a bit, during our 20 week ultrasound, the sonogram tech had a tough time taking a few measurements, specifically of his heart. He was moving a bunch and as a whole, was measuring a bit behind for gestational age. She recommended we come back at 24 weeks for a repeat scan just to confirm everything was A-OK. 

We had the 2nd ultrasound on May 8th and after calling in for a second opinion, the tech and my regular OB were concerned about Baker's heart and the fact that his femur bones were still measuring "significantly" behind (his head and abdomen were considered to be in a "normal" range). The length of his femur and the fact that his heart was presenting with a possible defect concerned her enough to refer me to a high-risk maternal-fetal medicine doctor for an in-depth ultrasound to find out what was going on with our little man. Not only was his heart an issue but she talked to us about the possibility of him having a chromosomal abnormality as well.

We met with the high-risk doc, who also had a pediatric cardiologist come in to look at Baker's heart and confirmed that our sweet boy will be born with a congenital heart defect that will require open heart surgery to repair, most likely happening by the time he's 6 months old. While his type of condition - complete atrioventricular canal defect - can present in seemingly "normal" children, it is also commonly seen in kids with Down Syndrome so my blood was drawn to test for that and several other chromosomal abnormalities to see if Baker will face any additional diagnoses. We should get those results in a few weeks. We meet with the cardiologist again in two weeks as well to start forming a plan for our little guy.

The good news: this type of defect is FIXABLE. Yes, it will require open heart surgery but once repaired, Baker has a very, very good chance of living a normal life free of limitations. He'll be monitored by a cardiologist his entire life but multiple surgeries aren't typically needed. We are SO THANKFUL that this was caught in-utero so we can be fully prepared when he's born. The defect should not hinder his growth while in my tummy and the rest of his organs appear to be developing normally. After he's here, one of the main concerns will be making sure he's gaining enough weight to make up for the extra work his heart and lungs will be doing until surgery day. 

We are, of course, hoping and praying he does not have Down Syndrome or any other type of disorder that would further complicate his heart issue. If he does, we will love him all the same and be even more prepared to care for him once he's born. It's proving very difficult to wait for those results so I'll welcome the call when it comes so we can have answers and start looking at the bigger picture. 

Physically, I'm feeling totally fine; this pregnancy has been smooth-sailing in a physical sense. Emotionally, I'm all over the board. Coupled with work-related stress (that has since been resolved for the most part! PRAISE!) I was D.O.N.E as of last Monday when my doctor referred me to another office to confirm our fears. I had met my limit. Luckily, Justin kept a cool head and was able to talk me through the different scenarios. We had all week to "prepare for the worst and hope for the best" while waiting to head to the appointment with the high-risk doctor. Baker's situation could be better, but it could also be SO MUCH WORSE so we're still counting our blessings and will be ready to handle whatever is thrown our way. 

We are surrounded by family, friends and neighbors, all of whom have already shown us so much grace during this time. We feel very loved and we know Baker has everyone in his corner. 

Celebrate Life with Paperless Post

Random fact about me: I'm a big fan of getting the mail everyday. It borderline annoys me when we skip a few days and there ends up being a stack of bills and flyers and catalogs jammed into the mailbox. I'd much rather take a stroll across the street every day to clear that baby out. I'm basically a weirdo, I know.

I'm also a big fan of sending mail, especially birthday, Christmas and thank you cards. I'm pretty good about getting holiday cards out in the mail each year but I'll be the first to admit that my birthday-card-mailing game has fallen by the wayside since becoming a busy mama. I'll even resort to an emailed "thank you" note more often than not. Cringeworthy, right!? My own mom instilled the importance of writing the appropriate thank-you card after birthdays and holidays and things like that but now that we're surrounded by technology 24/7, it's oftentimes easier to just send a quick email or text. 

One of these days I'll get back to picking out birthday cards for all of my friends and sticking them in the mail in a timely manner. In the meantime, I'm glad services like Paperless Post exist so I'm not a total space cadet when it comes to reaching out to my loved ones on their special day.

Paperless Post allows you to create your own online stationery with the ability to include your personal style. Paperless Post has partnered with leading fashion and lifestyle designers (think kate spade new york and Oscar de la Renta!) to come up with beautiful online and paper options for all of your party invitation and greeting card needs. 

My dearest friend and cousin has a birthday next week and I may or may not have scoured the online designs to find and personalize one just for her. I prefer to send cards that are funny (and by "funny" I mean usually making fun of someone's age...) and/or pertain to consuming copious amounts of alcohol and cake - it IS a birthday, after all! - and Paperless Post did not disappoint. 

You can customize everything from the backdrop and envelope to the fonts, colors and size of your personal message to the recipient. It's easy to save your favorite designs, customize along the way and load your contact list to keep it all organized. 

There are free designs available along with the option to purchase "coins" if you want access to other designs. With coins, the savings can really add up. For example, there is an option to buy 20 coins for $6; the card I have set up to email to my cousin only cost 4 coins once it was all said and done. When one card can cost you $3.99 at the mothership (aka Target...), this is a total win in my book.

The best feature is probably the scheduler that you can utilize to set up your cards and invites to be sent on a specific date or at a certain time so there is really no excuse to missing another life event, right?!

Check them out and have fun playing around with the designs. You can truly make something all your own. You may even avoid that awkward moment when you hand someone the same birthday card you've given them 3 years in a row... I mean, not that that's happened to me or anything... ;)

This post was sponsored by Paperless Post but all opinions are my own, along with my unwavering love of sending borderline inappropriate birthday cards to my family and friends.

Friday, Fri-YAY

Happy Friday!


My blog game has been seriously lacking these last few weeks. I've had zero energy at the end of the day to sit down and write cohesive thoughts so instead I've spent my time watching mindless television and smashing ice cream sandwiches. #noshame

Without going into too much detail, I've also been dealing with mega stress related to my job and work-from-home situation so I've also spent a good chunk of my time dealing with that bag of fun while trying to only yell at my kids 13 times a day versus the 47 different times I feel like losing my mind. I've had a few good cry sessions which usually make me feel better and I'm really hoping to get the whole situation ironed out soon. In the meantime:


Leighton helped me sample some Water Wipes that came in the mail this week from Influenster. They're super gentle since they're made with only water and a drop of grapefruit seed extract and totally chemical free. She flew through the pack so I'd say we're definite fans!

And if you haven't signed up for Influenster yet, go here and complete your profile! It's a great way to find new products, review the ones you love and share them with friends. If you qualify for campaigns, you can get free samples sent out for testing purposes. My goal in life is to basically get free shit so you should check it out!


We're heading up to Minneapolis at the end of the month and I've started searching for fun things to do with the kids. I wanted to hit up the Children's Museum again - we haven't been since 2014 - but I just read on their website that the St. Paul location is closed for renovations so that's a no-go. We'll obviously hit up the Mall of America and force the kids onto some rides at Nickelodeon Universe. My first choice is Valley Fair but they tend to frown upon pregnant ladies riding rollercoasters so a few kiddie rides at the mall for the girls will have to suffice. ;) I'm also expecting good food, great weather, and a fun little family getaway to visit my brother who lives there.


We get another sneak peak at our growing boy on Monday to see how he's measuring up. My doctor mentioned possibly moving my due date if he's still measuring behind so we'll see.

No bump pic this week because I'm not even sure when I showered last but we're 24 weeks along (24 weeks with Leighton)! He's quite active in the afternoons and evenings, which I love. Gracyn has been dying to feel him move, too. She laid her head on my belly the other night and little brother gave her a nice, strong kick to the head. She popped up so shocked that she could actually feel him from inside my tummy. She was so happy - it was the sweetest.


Justin and I are actually going OUT next Friday night when we hit up the Garth Brooks concert. We hired a babysitter and everything. This is big, people! Ha! I'm not a diehard GB fan or anything but Justin, on the other hand, wants "The Thunder Rolls" played at his funeral so it'll be a good time for sure. There is a cute little boutique here in town that stocked up on Garth t-shirts and I miiiight need to try and squeeze into one for the show, just for fun.

Have a happy weekend!