Gift Guide from a Non-Gift Giver

Are you guys a little tired of seeing Holiday Gift Guides yet?

I have to admit – I kind of am. Honestly, I’m not a huge gift giver. My love language is least of all gifts, and so gifting over the holidays doesn’t come as the priority.

In fact, I’d much rather just drink wine and eat with friends and family, and just as well scratch the gifts altogether.

This, my friend, probably makes me a terrible person to take gift giving advice from.

So instead, I’m just here to share some of the things around our home that I’m currently LOVING, and would make phenomenal gifts if that’s your thing. It’s just cute and sentimental things I thought you’d love to.

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, Facebook, or the news, you know that our community has suffered one of the biggest natural disasters ever. Over 50,000 people have lost their homes due to the Camp Fire, and with that, most or all of their things they held dear.

So making a gift guide with “things” just doesn’t seem quite appropriate, so I wanted to be sure to include items I am passionate about, love and care for, and if I had enough time to flee my home in an effort to evacuate, would most likely grab alongside my family photos and pets.

Yes, still just things, but things that matter.

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JOJO

Yes, I would put the JoJo at the very top of the list, and here’s why:

It’s the most familiar and comfortable place for Joey that’s not in my arms. As if I was grabbing my own pillow, I would grab Joey’s JoJo for him. It’s safe, it’s his most precious belonging, and a sentimental token of our family’s passion and livelihood.

And if you are here looking for some gift giving goodness, the JoJo makes a great one for any family of babies.

SEE MORE ABOUT THE JOJO

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KANTHA BAE QUILT

Remember that big chunky pink quilt that my friend Krista sent me? That thing, let me tell you, is one of the most favorite things I own. I snuggle that quilt almost every day. It’s smell, texture, story and comfort provides me with so much peace, it’s unreal.

Anything from Kantha Bae is meaningful, beautiful and adored, but these one of a kind chunky knit quilts are by far a fave.

Head HERE to see all the goodies.

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CHATBOOKS

So simple, so perfect, and if I wasn’t able to grab my hard drive or photos off my wall, I would grab these Chatbooks that contain the most vital photos of my family.

I personally have given, and will be giving, Chatbooks to most of my family and friends this year. Whether it’s photos I’ve taken, or ones I’ve stolen off of their Facebook, having these little books with life’s most memorable moments in your hands is the sweetest thing. I LOVE them.

RING SLING

Similar to how important the JoJo is to my family, so is the ring sling. It’s a safe haven for Joey, a comfort piece for me, and beautiful on top of all of that.

These slings are literally the PERFECT gift for any momma. If I hadn’t already bought one or encouraged people to buy one, I would be giving these slings to every mom I know. I love the Wild Bird (above) or the Kantha Bae (yes, they make ring slings!)

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LETTERBOARD

This letterboard brings so much joy to my home. It’s changed all the time, and each time it brings new laughter, tears or excitement.

There’s lots of letterboard options out there, and I have a few different ones in my house. My favorite is the Letterfolk Letterboard, but I also adore my white one I got on Amazon.



Arms of Love

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The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.

The first time I heard this quote, I immediately rebutted with an out loud, “Ya, ok…”

But then, my father in me, started looking at it like a math equation.

1 + 1 = 2
1 + 0 = 1

Take it even further.

1 x 1 = 1
1 x 0 = 0

There is no logical way you can add or multiply, and end up with less.

Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. Because I was thinking it, too.

Being alone is important. Self love can only be achieved when you learn to love yourself, by yourself, for yourself.

Let me ask you one question.

During the time you’ve been alone, have you grown substantially as an empathetic, compassionate, emotionally strong and mature human being?

I want to tell you a story about someone I love very, very much. Maybe someday, I’ll tell you my own story.

My sister in law, Em, came up to the house one night, and in deep need of condolence. She was struggling.

After years of focusing on her education, and sacrificing large life moments and milestones because of it, she has found herself very close to receiving her doctorate at UC Davis. She is seriously kicking you know what in the professional education world.

Em has had some amazing moments over the last decade or so. Some spectacular memories, some fantastic opportunities, and has grown substantially as a wonderful, faithful human.

After a very long conversation and a few bottles of wine, her and Adam and myself found ourselves at a crossroads – Emily was craving connection. With us, her friends, someone to grow old with, God, and eventually, children.

For so long, Em has been focused on herself. And yes, she has been madly in love with someone, and thought for a long time she would marry him.

But then she didn’t.

Her immediate reaction was that she wanted some time alone. To focus and finish school. To graduate, find her place in the world of tenure and professing and to settle down. Her hesitation was that love would get in the way of all the hard work and sacrifices she has already made. And it felt necessary to be alone to work on the things within herself she wanted to work on. Those things, she told us, were:

  1. Communication
  2. Prioritizing family
  3. Faith

Since we didn’t have the emotional energy to cross yet another bridge of “what’s next,” we left the conversation at that cross roads.

If you find someone right away, see how it goes. If you don’t, that’s ok, too.

This was the day before I left for southern Cali, and on the plane, I listened to Dale Partridge say, “The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.”

This kind of tipped my opinion upside down. Until then, I had always thought that my time “alone” had been the most productive in growth. Upon further recollection, though, I realized that “alone” has a very negative connotation, and in many cases, is completely wrong.

  1. Yes, I had been “alone” when I moved home from college. But then I wasn’t. I had my family.
  2. Yes, I had been “alone” that afternoon, before I found God in the sunset. But then I wasn’t. My angel friend (we’ll talk about him another time) had brought me to Him.
  3. And then I had Him. And I was no longer alone.
  4. Yes, I had been “alone” when I learned I could be alone. But then I wasn’t. Adam walked around the corner and scooped me up and never left my side again.
  5. I have not been alone since.

Mind you, this part of my life happened within a 60 day span, the summer of 2009.

Ok, back to Em.

Upon my return from Disney, I learned that Emily had a date with someone, who we all have known for years. And that she was very excited about it.

That date was two nights later, and here is what her text said to me the next morning:

“Best. Date. Ever. I didn’t really feel like a first date. But you probably could have guessed I would say that. Thank you so much. I have never been so excited about anything or just life in general.”

Never been so excited about anything, or life in general.

I highly doubt Em would have been this excited about life in general after spending weeks alone, working on herself.

Since this date, Emily has called me nearly every day. We text all day, and she came to spend a week with us for Christmas. This is more communication I’ve had with Emily in over three years.

So, with one interaction with another person, who sparked her, she has already begun working on her three priorities. Communication. Family. Faith.

After this, I started journaling about marriage and relationships. Jotting down moments I remember from my own, things I’ve noticed and experiences I’ve witnessed.

None of them that have equated into more, or better, have happened alone.

I plan to write and share more about this theory, but I’d like to leave you with one last thought for the night.

Safety is found in the arms of love.

Rest

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This post is inspired in whole by Sadie, my dear friend who has taught me the true meaning of rest, replenishment and self-care.

Tonight, as I sit here in my bed wayyy past my bedtime, I’m reflecting on my year.

And mostly, on how we all hold these extreme expectations for the end of the year. Examples?

Let’s talk creative biz clients. Business owners always have big plans for the end of the year. We are going to send out a brand spanking new mailer, all the bells and whistles, the first of the year. We are going to launch our new line. The new site will be live and the product shop will have made way over our projections by December 29th.

Let’s talk our own work. My books are going to be up to date, I will have completed my 2018 power sheets and goal setting strategy and be on track to start my new year off right with social media campaigns. All of my 2017 projects will be finished, billed and paid.

Let’s talk deadlines. The timeline on the contract says “hope to launch before Christmas.” The job was done and wrapped up with a neat little bow and delivered like a present on Christmas morning and my client checked their email during unwrapping with their children and was so happy to have had it completed for that day that they sent me flowers as a thank you!

Let’s talk health, and food. We won’t overeat. We will have discipline and not eat all the cookies. We will KEEP our workout schedule and if our jeans begin to feel a little tight, we will restrain from yet another cinnamon roll for breakfast and instead eat a yogurt.

Let’s talk relationships. I will be gifting everyone I love something this year, even if it is something small. I will make sure to call all my relatives on Christmas, or even Christmas Eve, and have my Thank you notes written before they get back from their Christmas travels. My husband will know how much I love him because I got him the greatest gift that we was not expecting, and he will love me so much to get me the gift I really wanted but didn’t tell him I wanted. The Christmas blessing will be flawless and my dad will praise me later for doing such a great job. No fights will be had around the dinner table and no one will flake last minute and not show up.

Did any of these things come true?

Didn’t think so.

Why do we do this to ourselves?! This is a legitimate question.

You guys! This is unreasonable. This is way too much pressure!

Winter, these deep dark days of little light and warmth are not meant for us to “thrive.” Yet, we put this weight on our shoulders that just because the man made calendar year is ending, we have to be “complete” too.

Shame on us! If we really listened to our bodies, our hearts and minds and souls, here is what we would hear:

“Take reprieve from the light, and learn to love the darkness. Reach deep within yourself, and rest. Rest with the intent of work, but the work is yet to be done. Use these long nights as they are meant to be used, with sleep and recovery and growth. Darkness invites us to lay low, to take cover from all the bustle of nature and light and competition. In darkness, we use our own nourishment and heal. The cold brings hibernation, a way of living death, so that we may naturally rest, recover and learn to grow again, once the warmth and light hits our souls.”

Yet, here we are, working the week after Christmas. Working the week after our Savior celebrated His human arrival on Earth. Do you think Mary worked that week? I don’t think so. I think she was so astounded by the fact that she, the virgin Mary, birthed a child, the Child of God, that she RESTED. She swaddled and nursed and slept. Her body, her soul and her spirit had been through the most trying of times, and she took reprieve in the darkness, surrounded my wise men and the Holy Spirit and her soul mate, and savored the Savior.

What if we didn’t? What if we didn’t hustle during this time? What if we did what all the nature and spirits are nudging us to do?

Would the world really stop turning? No. Would your business fail? No. Would you feel like you were less than? No. And why? Because when the light and warmth finally does hit your face naturally, and you rested instead of shoveling snow, you can gracefully watch the snow melt the path in front of you and you can walk without falling. You can stand taller and more gracefully tackle your dreams.

This pressure. This pain. This perseverance that is so heavy on your heart this season. Let it go, let it pass without so much as a glance back. And next year, when the days begin to get shorter and the nights colder, take the cue to retreat back into yourself.

If you’re really wondering how it might go, know this.

My goals for 2018 are not set, and my books are a mess. But tax day isn’t until April and my goals don’t determine my dreams. It’s currently four days after Christmas, and frankly, I’m pretty sure no one has noticed that the job isn’t done yet. I’m not sorry I ate the extra cinnamon roll because it was delicious and I didn’t gift anyone anything I didn’t think they’d love and use – and guess what, the people I love don’t need gifts to know I love them.

I’ve cooked and written and slept more than I have in years, just in the last two weeks. My baby is happy as a clam to go down his new slide all day and I’m pretty happy to drink tea and watch him.

My friends, my prayer for you this season is that you take what time we have left to rest, and rest well. Soon, the days will be longer and the temperature warmer and the hustle will start all over.

Resolutions That Don't Make Me Cringe

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This year, my resolution is to make resolutions that don't scare me. 

Feel me?

I feel the need to stop making resolutions for myself that imply that something is wrong with me.

Like losing weight, or eating healthier, or working harder, keeping a cleaner house, or whatever. Most resolutions imply that we aren't doing something well enough, and we need to be BETTER at something that we seem to be failing at.

To be honest, I don't really want to be better at anything. I just want to be a better person. For myself, for my family, for God. So instead of making resolutions that make me feel less than any of that, I am making resolutions that actually make me happy. Things that are totally doable, will make me happy while doing them, and better my life in itty bitty little ways.

Without further ado:

  1. Take care of my skin and stop going to bed with my makeup on.
  2. Wash my hair more than twice a month.
  3. Watch Friends another time all the way through.
  4. Be graceful.
  5. Wear bright clothes.
  6. Play more cards.

Listen. It’s possible to work on the internal, deeper meaning stuff, all day every day. Maybe not all day, but a lot. And in the midst of that work, you forget, or regret, to do other things. Like wash your face.

The same as when you get so caught up in your skin care routine that you forget to pray. It goes both ways.

I think that resolutions should be more about concrete, personal goals, rather than businessy stuff. I can share my business goals another time, but for today, let’s talk about (what apparently is a problem I have) personal hygiene.

Skin care. I have been literally washing my face in the morning, if that, applying my makeup, and going about my day. You guys, that is it. No joke. Under eye circles, eh, I’m a mom. Smeared eyeliner from yesterday, eh, nobody got time to remove that. Mascara from three days ago, well, my eyelashes seem to get longer that way.

No. Just, no. I’ve got blackheads that could stay with me until I die if I don’t do something soon, and my poor nose area is so dry that it has to work really hard to produce enough skin cells every day.

Nope. This year, I am washing my face at night. Exfoliating twice a week. Applying eye cream and moisturizer, and dare I say it, SUNSCREEN. I do live in California, mind you. It is always sunny here.

And for the hair washing thing? Well, I had a nightmare that my dry shampoo made all my hair fall out. And then I googled it and apparently that happens. I’ve got to wash my hair more often.

But my favorite hair day is day 9. This could pose a major problem.

FRIENDS. Here is something I truly believe. Every time I watch Friends, Netflix adds a deleted scene. I promise, it has not been played before. Just today, I watched as Ross told Phoebe something, I swear, he had never said before. There’s no way I missed it 25 other times. This can’t be true.

So I’m vowing to watch it again. And again. In an effort to catch all the scenes Netflix deems needed.

As far as being graceful? This is running in tangent with my 2017 resolution of offering more grace. Not only do I want to offer it this year, I’d like to have some. Attract it, enact it, example it and enforce it. This one dives a little deeper into the deeper meaning stuff. But I'm not putting too much weight on that. I more just want to keep going with my 2017 resolution. So far, so good.

Have you seen my closet sales lately, on my IG stories? You’ll find that most of what I’m ditching is neutral. Why you might ask? Well, I saw some photos of me this last year, and all the ones I like, I’m wearing something bright. Not neutral.

So to the closet I will go and major purge will ensue. And then to the thrift store and Nordstrom sales I will go and purchase all things bright red and black and pink. Because, color. No more beige.

Last but not least, cards.

Once upon a time, mostly the years right after college, we played cards a lot. Mostly because we were broke as a freaking joke and had nothing better to do. But also because it was fun. And with jobs and babies and housekeeping, playing cards has gone out the window. My goal this year is to gather my tribe around my table more often and pour more wine and play more cards. If you’d like to join, please come. It’s quite fun.

Testimony of a One Year Old's Mom

I’ve had so many posts scheduled for this day, the day before Joey turns 1 year old. Including:

  • Things I wish my 1 year old would remember someday
  • Why it’s the best and worst year ever
  • How time actually moves too fast
  • How to figure out why the hell the baby is crying

And a few others that now, seem completely insignificant.

So instead, I’m going to write a short and candid post on how I’m really feeling the night before my baby boy turns one year old.

I’m overcome. I feel like there’s no way in hell I could be a parent to a one year old. I mean, that means that a year ago, I gave birth to another human. That I actually grew another person inside of my body with fingers and toes and a heart and eyes. I mean, really. Who does that? Women, apparently. I had no idea, really, what that meant.

But now I know. I know what it feels like, literally and figuratively, to make a human. To raise them for a whole year, and know that it is only a penny’s worth of time in the grand scheme of life. But it seems like eternity, all the while seeming like a small fraction of my short life so far.

I like to think that so far, we’ve raised a good human. I mean, he’s doing great, as far as one year olds go. I think he has a wonderful personality, he’s kind and outgoing and outspoken. He is walking and laughing and playing like a big kid.

I also like to think that he knows Jesus, and knows that we love him, and that he has a profound purpose in this world. I also know that that’s a lot to expect of a human that’s only been in the real world for 365 days.

Joey has experienced so much in such a short amount of time. He has seen so much of our world. He has seen every emotion we could have in a single year: fear, resilience, passion, happiness, contentment, panic, sadness, grief, worry, joy, heartbreak. You name, he’s probably seen us feel it.

We can so quickly forget that our babies can feel, too. If we feel something, they can too. And how hard would it be to feel something, and not know why? Sweet Joey can feel my anxiety, and it scares him. His empathy is already there, and he doesn’t even know it yet.

You see, the first year of parenthood is a perfect disaster. You will probably cry more than you ever have before, tragedy or no tragedy in your past. You will laugh, and sleep, and also be sleep deprived. You will spend more time in a rocking chair than you ever thought humanly possible. Your hips and neck and wrists will hurt. You will forget that you have an identity outside of motherhood, and that your purpose is beyond this bundle of supposed joy that is currently screaming in your arms.

But then you’ll also do what are supposedly stupid things, like have a litter of puppies and a baby at the same time, and realize that it was actually the most fun you’ve had with little living creatures in your lifetime. You’ll drink wine and nurse your baby and forget that that matters. You’ll consume copious amounts of coffee and lose more hair ties than you even bought and break your cell phone more than once.

You’re going to lose handfulls of hair, from hormones and from your child pulling it out of your head (you’ll realize it’s too precious to pull out yourself, so you’ll drink more coffee instead). You can get your body back, or have a whole new body if you want one, it’s up to you. Your job will either be waiting or not waiting, and you’ll be ok with that.

The first year is just like nothing I could ever explain in the amount of detail it deserves. It’s life changing and life giving and life depleting, all at once.

I can’t say it’s been the best year of my life, but it’s certainly not the worst. And frankly, when Joey stands up in the middle of the living room and walks to the puppy for kisses, my heart explodes. And I’m just so happy that we did all that we did this year. No regrets, no questions. Just pure and utter amazement that we are all still alive, healthy and happy. Thank you Lord, for making that my truth.

How To : Be the Best at Baby Showers

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I have to admit, I am not a huge lover of showers of any sort… bridal, baby, engagement, regular (we can come back to that). I am, however, a huge lover of heartfelt gifts. So when the baby shower comes along, though I love any excuse for a good party, the gift part always feels a little weird. Opening up the obligatory gifts in front of everyone, while the crowd oohs and aahs at the seventeenth pack of overpriced onesies is really not something I enjoy, as the gift giver or the gift receiver.

Some of my favorite moments of my own baby shower was when the few people pulled me aside, before or after, to give me their gifts in private. Those moments are engrained in my memory, and to this day, I pull out the bibs or the books or the bottles that were in those gift bags, simply because they remind me of that moment.

I do understand, however, that isn’t always possible. Baby showers hold so much more significance than just the gifts, and the gathering of the people there is the part that matters. Whether you play games or do ice breakers or simply sip Virgin Marys while chatting with your tribe on a Sunday morning, it’s the company that counts.

So if you are going to do the gift thing, however you do it, I have a few tips.

  • If you have had a baby recently, rather than consulting a new mom’s registry, go ahead and take the initiative and buy some things that helped you out. First time mommas, and we’ve all been there, don’t always know what they might need, so their registry will be full of the obligatory bottle warmers and swaddles and crib sheets. And though important, there are things they might not realize they need, in which now, you are an expert on. Share your wealth, my friend.
  • Handmade is great, and keep their style in mind. Coming from a monotone and neutral lover, though I ADORE the handmade things I received, I don’t use them as much as I’d like to, simply because they don’t go with the other things I love. So if you want to do something handmade, keep her style in mind, and try to make something she will for sure use!
  • They are only newborn for like, one minute. Newborn sized goodies are so needed, but remember that they will probably be used one whole time. Instead, opt for sizing up in things, so they can be used a little longer and later. 3-6 month is fab, but the 9-12 month is even more fun, as we get to pull them out later and enjoy the gift for so much longer.

Now that I’m in a season of “friends having babies all the time,” I have got a nice little gift-giving routine down. There are some things that I absolutely must share with my friends, as they were life-savers for me, and then I like to throw something in there that I know they will love, and though I am not really a hand-made type, if possible, I see if I can pull something together (that honestly never happens, but hey, I try).

So here I’m sharing just a small snippet of my favorite baby shower gifts, in hopes it will help another new momma or two out there. God knows it takes a village, I’m just glad to be a part of it!

  • These knotted gowns from Candy Kirby.
    It’s no secret I love these, and I gift them to every new baby momma.
  • Momosas book
    Adam got me this book when we first found out we were pregnant, and it was really fun to be able to feel like I was enjoying a cocktail with everyone else. Especially with the heat of summer towards the end. When a glass of bubble water won’t do the trick, it’s great to be able to experiment with a “cocktail.”
  • Gripe water
    Don’t skip this one. It seems like so many still don’t know about “magic water,” as we called it. It solves hiccups and colic and gas and fussiness. And it’s ultra safe, totally natural and made by mommas. Really, it’s magic.
  • BabyWise
    At first, I hated this book. And I usually put that disclaimer in my card to the new momma before she dives in to read it. It wasn’t until after the first few months that I realized that BabyWise was my lifesaver. It was a fantastic solution for us, and Joey is now one of the best sleepers I know. Even if they don’t want to get “parenting” advice, this book is great for all sorts of advice. We really enjoyed it. (I will do a full review on BabyWise come Joey turning one year old).
  • One of these wooden teething rings
    Remember my comment about matching the momma’s style? Most teething toys are bright and obnoxious looking, but the wooden teething toy trend appeals to everyone, is mighty safe for baby and can work for anyone. We have at least 6 of these in all different sizes and types and colors and they are super easy to throw in the purse for on-the-go. And cute. That helps.
  • Gift card to the app store for this baby monitor app
    This is a new addition to my arsenal, and I realize I should have used it sooner. Now that the weather is nice, I don’t really want to carry around the baby monitor outside while we do things while baby naps. This app goes device to device, so my music playing iPad in Joey’s room transmits to my phone. Has video too, if you are so inclined.
  • This phone case with an easy-hold back
    She will need it. She doesn’t know it yet, but she will.
  • A stack of these washcloths/burp rags a mile high
    Again, no surprise I love these. I give them to everyone. Softest, most portable, durable and high quality out there. Seriously.
  • This snot sucker, nail clippers, thermometer kit from Target
    For some reason, we didn’t have these things before baby came, and someone dropped this gift off on our front porch shortly after. It’s those little things you don’t realize you need until the moment you need them.
  • Gift certificate for one month of diaper service
    Can’t go wrong. Because even though they might be stocked up for the first month or two, that sizing up challenge is real, and Costco is just not feasible on month number two.

 

Seven in Seven

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Everyone talks about how having kids will really change your life. What they don’t tell you is how. How will they change my life? Exactly. Not hypothetically. How is it going to turn my world upside down?

Well, as I’ve found out, they don’t tell you because it is really hard to articulate exactly what it’s like. Sure, you can say some superficial things, like:

  1. Spontaneity has no place with an infant.
  2. Poop and puke will no longer disturb you. It’s everywhere. All the time.
  3. Sleep may evade you. Get it while you can.
  4. Your arms will get nice and buff from lifting this god damn carseat everywhere.
  5. You will fight with your spouse, mostly due to hormones taking control of your life.

Yes, all true. But honestly, those tidbits don’t really give me any perspective on how to actually handle life with an infant. So, my friends, I am here to tell you the seven things I’ve learned in the first seven months of motherhood. Real, practical, you-need-to-know ahead of time things. Or maybe you’re too late and you’ve been there, done this, but still, read this. You’ll laugh.

1.     Some babies sleep. Some don’t. Some sleep at night. Some sleep during the day. And some do a little of both. Don’t believe them when they tell you that newborns sleep all the time. Some don’t. And please, don’t make plans for your post-baby life that rely, or really hinge at all, on the fact that newborns nap. If they do, kudos. If they don’t, well, the whole work-while-they-nap thing goes straight out the window. And if someone ever says to you, “Aren’t the newborn days of sleepy scrunchy babies just the best?!”, kick them. And then ask them to babysit. In conjunction with this life-changing realization I had for myself when Joey was 6 weeks old, I also realized that my no-napping baby was a prime example of a baby that sleeps through the night. Take your wins where you can get them. Mine was nighttime. Yours might be afternoon naps. But seriously, sleep train and don’t make plans that rely at all on sleep. Period.

2.     Hormones do take over. But they don’t have to. There is help out there. And honestly, I’m really going to say, out loud, this next part: there will be moments of utter and complete and enraging sadness. Moments when you ask your mom, “Did we make a mistake having a baby right now?” And then bawl so hard because you’re so hungry and your clothes still don’t fit. Literally. I had a total meltdown one afternoon because no one told me that I still wasn’t going to be able to wear my favorite clothes, not because they didn’t fit, but because BREASTFEEDING. Sorry, still no sundresses with sleeves or anything you can’t pop your boob out of in less than 5 seconds. Nevermind sleeping on your belly. Pregnant? Sorry, no belly sleeping. Boobs full of milk? Sorry, still can’t belly sleep. Ok, rant over. But really. Sadness is a thing and it’s ok. But don’t deal with it alone. Be honest with your spouse about how you’re feeling. Yes, they will think you are being ridiculous, but it doesn’t change how you’re feeling. See your doctor. Be honest with them. There are ways to cope. Most importantly, if someone asks how you’re feeling, don’t say, “Great!” Say, “Just ok. Hormones are no joke and I’m learning how to deal.” Most likely, it will open up a conversation that will lead to great things.

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3.     Good baby gear. Worth it. You can see my post on Joey’s favorite things here, but in short, get the good stuff if you can. I’m talking things like car seat, stroller, bouncer, carrier and swing. So worth it. They don’t break, they keep your baby in the perfect positions which makes them happier, and will most likely last until the next two or three babies grow out of them. Just sayin’. Speaking of good baby gear, let’s talk working out. I’m convinced that God’s greatest gift to women is baby wearing gear. Get one, really doesn’t matter which, and wear those babies while you do EVERYTHING. Including working out. Squats and tricep dips and rows and lunges and backpeddling. Get with it, wear that baby, and get your body back. Pronto. You’ll feel like a badass afterwards, and it’s really fun to tell your husband that you can do more squats than him, even with a baby strapped on you. Word.

4.     What babies cost. Ok, I looked, and there really isn’t a good “baby budget” worksheet out there that I can find. If you find one, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be making one soon as a free download y’all can have. The world needs it. But anywho, what they cost. Plan ahead. The first few months, honestly, isn’t too bad. Mostly because you, and the baby, won’t be doing much other than trying to figure out how to breastfeed, sleep and shower. And I’m not exaggerating. But after that, when their diapers get a little bigger, their clothes a little longer and their appetites a lot larger, the cost goes up. Add in daycare, extraneous medical bills (that we are still getting from the hospital, 6 months later), and the fact that you want to literally buy everything that your baby will fit into, you’ve got yourself a little extra mullah going out. Just prepare, is all I’m saying. Oh, also, moms, those first few breastfeeding months, you’re going to be SO FREAKING HUNGRY. Your grocery bill might be a little out of control there for a bit. Just go with it. It stops.

5.     Ok, now to some of the good stuff. The stage where they sit up but don’t crawl is the freaking best. I’m talking like right at six months, give or take depending on your baby (also, baby-accomplishment envy is a total thing. Sammy, I’m looking at you, you little scooting 7-month old). Sitting cross-legged on the floor and playing with literally anything (water bottle, report control, dad’s notebook) is the most invigorating and relaxing thing you’ll ever do. Pure joy, pure satisfaction, pure bliss. Floor. Baby. Blanket. Happy. The end.

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6.     Let’s talk dinner dates, plans with friends and the such. Ok, for the first few months, my suggestion is to take that baby to everything. Make plans. Go out. Visit friends. Have the steak dinner. They may or may not sleep through it. If they don’t, I promise there is someone that will help you. In our case, our favorite restaurant also happens to belong to a friend of ours, and she just walked around with Joey while we ate our food. Or if you’re at party, people love to hold babies. And feed them. And rock them. Let them. They make baby noise-cancelling head phones. Use them. Go to your church that is too loud. Go to Sunday brunch after. Honestly, you can still be so freaking social. Just make sure to have your diaper bag and maybe a pac-and-play in the back of the car. We’ve set that thing up in the most random places. Seriously though, go anywhere you want. In our experience, that whole “spontaneity is dead” thing didn’t exist. We just took Joey with us.

7.     You are allowed to leave. As in, leave the baby with Dad or Grandma or Auntie. And go. Joey was four months old when I left for 3 days to go with friends to Napa. Him and Adam were GREAT. Before this adventure, Adam and I had a multitude of date nights, a say-cation or two and a day trip while Grammy and Papa took the reins. It’s healthy for you, and the baby, to have some time with other people. The baby will do so much better than you think they will, and so will you. Happy mom, happy baby. And visa versa.

So, seven in seven. Which, coincidentally, is what I’m drinking tonight. We’ve officially made it into the second half of Joey’s first year. It’s been the hardest, fastest, longest, most grueling and the most exciting year of my life. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s definitely not a sprint either. If you can stroll, smell the puke covered roses, and then skip and hop and then maybe run backwards a bit, but then remember that if you walk too fast, you’ll miss it. Your arms will be buff from lifting the car seat, sleep will have a new role in your life, and you and your spouse might spat (ok, probably but that’s the hormones talking, remember?).

I’m so excited to see where the next half of this year is going to take us. Honestly, you feel kind of under water for the first little bit. At least we did. But now, a measly few months down the line, we are swimming smoothly through the current. And by swimming, I mean playing in the dog hair on the floor while we marvel at Joey’s ability to roll over, yet again. It’s the best.

Blessing Baby A

Here's a fun fact you may not know... 

Before last Sunday, this is the list if baby items Adam and I owned:

  • A crib with a mattress and one fitted sheet.
  • A Halo Sleepsack so generously gifted to us back in April.

Literally. That's it. 

Another fun fact? Sure!

There was an extensive list of people that I had not seen or talked to since we got pregnant. NOT OKAY.

So, as you can imagine, I have been anxiously awaiting our baby shower, and behold! We celebrated Baby A last Sunday and it was just the most wonderful day in the whole entire world, ever.

We did not play games. There was mingling and champagne and tiramisu. Best of all, we don't know what this little bundle of joy will be, so there was certainly no gender specific theme, which made it TOTALLY fine that I wanted hot pink flowers and black and white stripes.

As per usual, everyone congregated on the porch and stayed there until someone had to shuffle them in the house. We had moved the furniture (ALL the furniture) into other rooms in the house and lined the big room with long tables. Looking back, we should have had a disco dance party instead of eating food. I mean, who knew Mom had that much space in her living room?

We ate quiche and talked over the noise of others talking and blew kisses to each other and had a show of hands for boy or girl votes (26 girl to 19 boy, by the way...). Rachel prayed and then a slew of phenomenal blessings were spoken by the most dear women in my life. 

It was, quite simply, the most magical experience I could imagine. It felt like a mini version of our wedding, full of joy and massive love and Jesus.

Other shower tidbits?

  • Carey cried, and then said the F word. 
  • Baby A will have lots of warm hats and socks which will serve him or her well in the middle of July. I'm going to have to keep the house cold just so I can dress them up in their snuggly booties.
  • I have a tribe that is massively talented. I walked in to the girls standing on tables, taking photos of the place settings and flowers and balloons and neon drink stirrers and stamped napkins. I don't know how I got so lucky as to have these women enhance very fiber of my life.
  • I finally found out that I weighed 7 lbs 1 oz when I was born, thanks to my fairy godmother's memory.
  • My friends have THE BEST kids. Like seriously. I opened presents surrounded by toddlers and my niece and it was the best thing ever - one was in charge of present delivery, one in charge of trash, one in charge of present organizing and one in charge of telling Heidi what the present was. Also, thanks to Avi, I now know what things are that I would have never known before... thank goodness for single digit old humans.
  • And yes, I've always loved dessert this much. It's not a pregnancy craving.
Baby A, you are already so loved and you aren't even here yet. We all will welcome you with joyous praise and celebration and you will most certainly live a life of love, prosperity and gratitude. Look at the women around you... there is no other way.

 In the meantime, bring on the last month of pregnancy and car seat installation and practice Moby Wrap tying.

xoxo,
Cole and Baby A