Dec 02 2017
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Another baby boy!

We are so excited to introduce you to our new baby boy – Benedict Joseph!

We have another October baby! He was born at 7.35am, weighed 6lbs 5oz and was 19.25 inches long. Francis is the most amazing big brother and Benedict has settled into life in our home like he has been here forever! We are amazed to now have two little boys and I am eternally grateful for a fabulous recovery and little boy who feeds so well.

Welcome to the world, Benedict Joseph. We love you so much!

May 08 2017
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It’s happening again!

We are so excited to share some very happy news with you all! There is another Baby Blevins joining our family. We still cannot believe it! We are so excited!

It has been a big year for us with a lot of ups and downs and this beautiful baby has been a wonderful surprise.

Introducing… Bilby Two!

Unfortunately, I have been really sick and even now, it still hasn’t subsided. I thought things were bad with Josephine but this has taken on a whole new level. It has been a bit of a shock as with Francis I felt absolutely amazing the whole time except for some early tiredness. My hair was shiny, my skin was glowing – I was ‘that’ annoying pregnant woman. This time I have been pretty much housebound/couchbound/bedbound for the past nine weeks and between that and dealing with the “Is everything ok with this baby?” thoughts, we’ve had a really hard time. Going into our ultrasound, I was convinced something was wrong and for once in my life, I was very happy to be told I was very wrong!

Francis and Bill have been amazing through all of this and helping with everything. Every night Francis says goodnight to the “Baby in mummy’s tummy” but he has also called the baby a booger (!) and after seeing the ultrasound photo he told us to “Turn the lights on!” in mummy’s tummy to wake up the baby. We are so excited to see how he will be as a big brother!

So far, every appointment has been exceptional and every doctor and midwife we have met has been amazing. We honestly feel like we have the best doctors in Melbourne looking after us. Things here are A LOT different to the system in New York and we are absolutely loving it! The other thing I realized? Three labours in four years? Let’s do it!

Please keep us all in your prayers, we need them!

Aug 12 2015
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Silky & Delish Chicken Tortilla Soup

We’ve never eaten at Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant before, so the original recipe title of Chicken Tortilla Soup (inspired by Tommy Bahama’s) really meant nothing to me. What did scream at me was a soup with one tablespoon of cumin in it. Any recipe with a tablespoon of cumin deserves a chance on our dinner table! I whipped this up tonight and really is pretty much the easiest soup recipe of all time and the end result was a soup with multiple layers of flavour and the silkiest texture. I just had to share it!

The other highlight of this recipe? Everything is roughly chopped, as it is blended at the end. I love forgiving soups that are hand blended so there is no need for uniform diced vegetables!

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Ingredients –

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped (about 2-1/2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into quarters
1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
6 small (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 quarts (8 cups) low sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Prep all of the ingredients and then follow the instructions over at Once Upon A Chef

We had baked some bone-in chicken breasts the other day, so I used their leftovers as a garnish and Bill also added a dollop of sour cream to his. Saying that, garnish is really just that – this soup would be fine just on its own.

Here is the final product –

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I know it doesn’t look like much, but it is so silky and smooth and a great addition to any weeknight menu. It was so simple to put together and we also have plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow. The next batch I make, I might try it with a vegetable stock to see if we could use it for a Friday meal as this would be a great soup during Lent as well.

Aug 03 2015
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Ranch Chicken – a new favourite!

Earlier this year, I set about to try and add some new meals to our meal planner. We do a lot of cooking, but during the week we tend to just rely on the same rotation of regular meals and I felt I was stuck in a bit of a rut.

Of course, the first place I went to was Pinterest and I quickly found some recipes that I wanted to try. With getting used to life with Francis, I needed something quick that would be ready for when Bill walked in the door as eat supper every evening by 6pm without fail. One of the first new dishes that I tried was Ranch Chicken. It is so easy, I almost feel guilty making it. The kitchen always smells fabulous and there is always leftovers. We have made this many times since, so I just had to share it.

I found the recipe on the blog, An Everyday Blessing and I didn’t change a thing!

Ingredients –

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons homemade Ranch Seasoning mix (recipe below)
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
6-8 red potatoes
12 oz frozen green beans (you can also use fresh)

I prepare enough potatoes, chicken and beans to fill my 9×13 Pyrex dish like this –

Ranch Chicken

I had earlier prepared a batch of Ranch Seasoning Mix that I keep in a jar for this dish. This recipe was prepared by the Heavenly Homemakers blog.

5 tablespoons dried minced onions
7 teaspoons parsley flakes
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

It looks like this –

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Then, just sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of Ranch Seasoning over the entire dish –

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Pour the melted butter over the meal –

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Then cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Then just like magic…

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I know it doesn’t look amazing but everything is perfectly seasoned and tastes fantastic. It is so simple and is one of those dishes that tastes like you have spent a lot longer preparing it. The leftovers reheat perfectly the next day. An absolute winner!

Ranch Chicken

Jul 29 2015
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Two years on…

It has been two years since the worst day of our lives.

I can still remember vivid things. The darkness of the ultrasound room. The heels clicking of the ‘doctor’ who gave us Josephine’s diagnosis. The heat outside. The cab ride home. My blue and white striped top I was wearing. The feeling that someone was literally standing on my chest. The way my eyes were hurting from crying so much. Laying on the couch at 6.30pm, calling Australia to tell mum and dad what was wrong. Bill’s voice that had a sense of defeat when calling his mom and dad. The heaves between tears. Shaking as I was reading page after page on my laptop of ‘Ethical issues when dealing with Anencephaly’ and learning everything that we needed to know about what Josephine was going through. I remember feeling the apartment basically swallow Bill and I up as we hopped into bed that night. I remember just crying in the dark while the air conditioner hum stifled my sobs.

Looking back it was like a slow motion building collapse. Just the heaviness in my body – that was a feeling I can never shake and if I place myself back to that day – I really can feel it again. It is like everything is aching in so much pain that the thought of even standing, makes you want to collapse.

I think that feeling was my heart breaking and I was feeling each and every shatter.

Then, the aftermath of it all. Waking up the next day after maybe two hours of sleep and wondering if it was all a dream. Then realizing it wasn’t. I remember looking at myself in the mirror the next morning and seeing my eyes so puffy, my skin so blotchy and thinking nothing will ever be the same or get better.

It was half true – life was and will never be the same. But life did get better.

I have opened up a whole section on my blog dedicated to Josephine. I have done this for a few reasons but mainly for those who get home after the same diagnosis and are looking for every single bit of information to help support them while carrying to term and also to help educate those that see no worth in the life of babies like our Josephine. Josephine, our daughter and Josephine, Francis’ big sister.

Dec 13 2014
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Introducing…

Francis Albert Blevins!

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If you are one of the few that didn’t get the updates in October on social media, we are now parents to the most adorable little boy! He was born at 4.44am, weighed 7lbs 4oz and was 19 inches long. We got to the hospital at 12.45am and in a whirl of a few hours, he was here!

Our hearts are fully exploding with love for him. He is awesome!

Dec 13 2014
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One Year…

Happy Birthday Josephine!

It was one year ago yesterday that Josephine was born. It was also one year ago yesterday that Josephine passed away. The year has flown by and we have missed her and prayed to her every single day since. All of her girly things are in a beautiful memory box. We have Masses said for her. We go over her birth, just like it was yesterday.

Josephine with mummy and daddy

But we have also moved on and do this while never forgetting our little Joey.

It now feels like we can share more of her life with others. Mainly for those who get a diagnosis like we did. To know they are not alone. To know that carrying to term is an option. To allow Josephine to be remembered.

She also is a big sister… and what an adventure that is right now! More about that coming up in the next post. 🙂

Apr 21 2014
4

Answered Prayers…

We realized very early on with Josephine just how blessed we were. We were given the job of bringing a precious little girl into the world with all the love and care we could. She had a purpose from the start. Lives were changed by this innocent little girl and we still talk about her (and her kicks!) every single day. Imagine our surprise three months ago when we found out that just as she blessed us last year, her blessings continued into this year.

No sooner than we said goodbye to her, it was only a short time before something miraculous was happening.

Introducing Baby Blevins – our beautiful second child!

Bilby

Your reaction as you read this is probably the same as ours was when we found out… NO WAY!

The past weeks have gone by so quickly with our little ‘Bilby’. No nausea but lots of tiredness. It has been a very different experience to little Josephine. I won’t say it hasn’t been stressful, but just like we did with Josephine, we fully trust what has happened to us. We prayed to Josephine for this and she wasted no time in ensuring they were answered. Let’s not talk about all the ‘chats’ I’ve had to St. Gianna nearly every day as well. Between this and the support from our families, the past months have gone by with lots of reassurance and lots of love.

To make this even more poignant, Bilby’s due date is November 1 – All Saints Day. The day specifically set aside for Saints. A day set aside for Josephine.

We lost our ‘pregnancy naivety’ at 12 weeks along last year. Our doctor is most aware of wanting to try and keep the stress levels down for us as much as possible. But I have to tell you while we are nervous and scared, the prospect of being able to bring Bilby home has our heads spinning with excitement. We are really still are coming to terms with this because we thought we were blessed beyond words with Josephine and now.. it is happening again with Bilby!

In case you were wondering, so far, all looks good! Bilby has no sign of any neural tube defects and has been growing well. From the moment Josephine was born we said, if we were given a similar situation again, we wouldn’t change a thing that we did. At each of our appointments with Bilby, that feeling has not changed a bit. Whatever happens next week, next month, next trimester… we will just deal with it with lots of love and trust. Just like we’ve done before.

Jan 08 2014
4

An unexpected surprise…

This post is quite late as the past few weeks have been a whirlwind, but Josephine Martha arrived a little earlier than expected!

Josephine

She was born on December 12, 2013 at 1.49pm. With lots of kisses, hugs and so many repeats of “We love you Josephine!”, she became a saint in heaven at 3:11pm, while Bill was cuddling her.

Josephine’s beautiful button nose, fine lips and oh-so-perfect skin were out of this world. She was the image of her daddy! She not only inherited Bill’s facial features but she had his broad shoulders and chest as well! From me, she had my long legs, wonky toes, long fingers and her nails were perfectly shaped.

I cannot explain how exciting it was to meet her. This little girl, who from day one, has been the centre of attention, deserved and got the best of everything we could give. From the time we found out we were expecting her, through the whole 31 weeks and 4 days and even after she passed away. She demanded our all and it was our pleasure to be there for her along the way. When we got her diagnosis, our focus on providing the best we could for her didn’t change. We just had to ensure she continued to be treated with the dignity that she deserved.

It is truly an honor for us to be her parents.

There is so much to share about Josephine’s amazing life and how she has changed us (and so many others) forever. In the meantime, I just miss her kicks and tumbles so much. It is hard getting used to not feeling them anymore.

Josephine Martha – Ora Pro Nobis!

Oct 29 2013
6

Sharing life with Josephine

WOW – the past few months have been a whirlwind and the love for Josephine across the world is growing as fast as she is. All things considering, Bill and I are doing ok. Some days are harder than others but all in all, once the shock subsided and since we had our first meeting at New York Presbyterian, everything has been as good as it could be, considering the circumstances.

As a little girl, she would no doubt be loving this attention. I said to Bill as we walked in the door the other night, I already know her temperament. She is cheeky! SO cheeky and I know, if we were able to see her grow up, she’d be the kind of girl to look straight at us with her big eyes, wearing a little dress with ankle socks that had lace around the edges and say “I’m sorryyyyyyy!” and get away with whatever she had done. Kind of like her mummy. 😉 At the moment, she is moving a lot. The moment I lay on my left side, she kicks. Almost without fail. If I try to lay on my back she starts up again. She loves it when I sleep on my right side so now, that is what I do, even though it means I cannot spend a long time facing Bill to chat with him. Now, almost every day between 3 and 3.30pm she begins to play for about an hour, before settling in and getting cozy for the commute home. Once we have had dinner she starts playing again for another couple of hours and tumbles and turns and then is quiet through the night unless I lay in a position she doesn’t like. Cold Milo sends her bananas without fail! Every movement and flutter is like a huge milestone for us. We couldn’t imagine life without these experiences!

We have done some amazing things with Joey so far as we have tried to made her the central part of so much that we have done. We just mention her anytime we are doing something special beyond our every day life, so that we are acknowledging that she is also sharing this moment with us.

Just as a start she has –

– Been to her first State Fair (GO MINNESOTA!)
– Walked along the Mississippi River.
– Visited Mall of America.
– Took a little drive into Wisconsin.
– Went to Saratoga Springs and Albany.
– Eaten at a place that was seen on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives (the JUCY LUCY BURGER!!!)
– Spent the morning with me while I became American.
– Stayed up all night to watch Collingwood thrash Essendon.
– Visited one of my favorite shops – the Cross Eyed Owl in Kinderhook! Here we are with our niece Emily –

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Family photo in Wisconsin –

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She really is experiencing her mummy and daddy’s love of travel. I also recently went back to Melbourne for a whirlwind visit.

While I was there she got to ‘watch’ the Grand Final and put up with the Cleary’s all yelling at the TV and at the umpiring. As well as the footy, she flew over Sydney Harbor, ate party pies, dim sims, crumpets, fish and chips and loved mum’s toasted sandwiches and drank lots of Solo Lemon and Schweppes Raspberry.

She took her first trip on a Melbourne tram, got delayed by Metro trains and hung out at the State Library.

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Ding! Ding!

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Best meal on earth –

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She got to meet Shannyn and Ken, Nadine, Kayla and James, Ev, Mark, Harlan and Uncle Bruce. She got to spend lots of time with her Uncle Matthew and Leah and Holly and mum and dad spoiled us like CRAZY. As well as this she also had LOTS of visitors. We surprised Nana, Michael at Kays and Chris’ and Jayne and Lorraine – who all had no idea that I was visiting.

She also went to her first Diesel gig and for a drive on City Link. I got Maccas Drive Thru at 11.30pm so she could get an idea of what her mummy used to do all the time before Josephine became Josephine.

Mum and I went to Northland and Joey experienced a Wendy’s hot dog and milkshake outside Woolworths. She got to see bogans hanging out in the food court and we even went to Priceline for old-times sake.

Joey made me buy some boxes of these 😉 –

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… and all of this to bring back to New York –

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We also got a 4D ultrasound done in Melbourne – across from the MCG on Grand Final Day!! Even though it was very early for a 4D, we saw something amazing. She looks like BILL and she sucks her thumb JUST LIKE BILL DID!!!

Proof –

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Prayerfully, all of our Queen of All Saints family are praying for her and for us. We have the FCJ’s in Australia praying for her, family praying for her and strangers praying for her – all over the world. When I pray for Josephine, amongst other things I pray that she is comfortable and cozy, that she knows we love her and that she knows how much we can’t wait to give her kisses and hugs.

Medically, everything is chugging along nicely. We have found out that everything else in her development is progressing like normal and it looks like she has no other medical issues aside from the ancencephaly. That was almost hard to hear. For me, it was almost like if there was other things wrong it would seem almost easier to deal with. But knowing that a certain part of growth that happened so early in her life, has caused all of this and is going to take her away from us. Her fate was sealed at around 24-25 days after conception and I can look back on those two days where I was getting up, getting on the subway, going to work and going home – not realizing what was even happening to her. The only other ‘medical’ thing that is affecting me is that from about week 14, I have had to deal with constant gagging. 🙁 It is exhausting and embarrassing and is still happening. Sea Bands have been a great help and have got me through the past few weeks as I was desperate to try anything. Despite my bump growing bigger and now being six and a half months along, I still haven’t put on any weight but neither my doctor or myself are concerned as I have plenty to go around!

Another thing is, we are also starting to plan her funeral. As Bill said to Father Joe, I am a liturgy nut – so obviously, I want the most beautiful Mass for her. I’ve read some people say they haven’t wanted to look into funerals beforehand but for me it is part of knowing that I have things done and I don’t want to forget anything or leave things to be rushed. That gives me peace of mind and gets me through all of this. I want her funeral to be a celebration of her time that we have got to know her in me. Her first flutter while I was standing in the kitchen was like her first steps for us. Her going bananas after the cold glass of milo was like her first big temper tantrum. These are the little bits of Josephine that we celebrate and make memories out of. She really is already part of our family!

See Josephine grow –

At 9 weeks –

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At 19 weeks when we found out she was going to be a little girl and we got a first glimpse of her long legs and huge feet!

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At 22 weeks – all happy and smiling for us!

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