Saturday, August 16, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday, Charlie!

Charlie babe, you are truly the sunshine in our days. This past year has been both the sweetest and the fastest year of my life, and I can't even imagine what goodness this next one will bring.

Happy, happy birthday to you, Charlie!

And now, some cake smash photos! We had so much fun with this...but I think Charlie had the most fun! Between the smashing and the eating and the throwing, he was in heaven.

Cake Smash Photos: Lauren Ristow
Quilt: LWPH sews

Friday, August 15, 2014

Charlie's First Year Video

What a year it's been! I'll be back tomorrow on his actual birthday with some special photos, but I wanted to share this video I made of Charlie's first year that I'll be showing our family and friends at his birthday party tomorrow. Be sure to click the "HD" version when watching too. And on a related note, it's pretty fun to watch the video I made for Henry's first birthday and see their similarities.

Thank you all so much for being such a fun part of the past 12 months. Happy almost-birthday, Charlie babe!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

The A Beautiful Mess Book Club- Come Join Us!

I'll be the guest moderator over at the A Beautiful Mess Book Club for the month of September. I chose the book Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and will be leading the discussion at the end. I'm so excited!

I've had the book on my shelf forever- my dear friend Emily gave it to me over ten years ago and I've been meaning to read it for that long. How crazy is that? Recently though, three of my friends have read it, and once Diana said she loved it I finally had to bite. I feel like it's a great pick for next month and I'm sure I'll be saying "what took me so long?!" at the end.

I hope you'll join us! See the intro post over on A Beautiful Mess today.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Who We Marry.

The other day Henry asked me some questions: Why do people get married? Who do people marry? You married Daddy, can I marry you? Or can I marry Daddy?

I explained to him that some people get married, and that some people choose not to get married. We talked about marriage and about how people marry who they love- who they want to spend their days with. I said something about having a partner to go through life with, to share the good times and the bad, someone to laugh with and joke with and eat sandwiches and share ice cream sundaes with. We kept it simple- in a couple of sentences I just told Henry that he can marry whoever he wants. Some people marry men, some people marry women. It's all in who you love.

Later that night I thought more about that short conversation. I thought about how interesting it is, to be teaching my child that we love who we want. We marry who we want. If you love someone of the same sex, then you love someone of the same sex. That's just who you are and it is no different than if you were to love someone of the opposite sex. And it's not like my parents ever taught me that being gay is wrong, but there was a "norm" there. There wasn't any hate taught in our house; we just weren't ever around anything other than what was seen as a "traditional" relationship and in effect that simply was just not part of our culture. Boys and girls. This is the way it was.

So I think about growing up and hearing something totally different. Having the norm be LOVE and whatever that means to you. To understand that no matter who you are, what you like, who you are safe in our home and we will accept you for always.

One big wish for our children is that they are always able to be who they are, and feel comfortable being that person. I hope that by giving them a safe place at home to practice that, they will feel confident in standing up for themselves and what they believe in outside of our home as well. So now as I look at our two boys, playing and laughing and giggling and smiling, and I think to myself how much I love these little people...whoever these little people turn out to be.


Music That Makes You Feel All the Feelings // A Post on Gaslight Anthem's Get Hurt

I generally hate the term "feel all the feelings" or worse, "feel all the feels," but in this case I couldn't think of a better way to put it. My beloved Gaslight Anthem put out a new record this week, and even though I doubted it (such a bad fan), as it turns out, it just might be one of my very favorites.

When I first saw the teaser video for the album I was really turned off. The song sounded like a worse version of Chad Kroeger (if that's even possible) and I had to listen to it a few times to let it sink in that this could possibly be the new direction I'd been reading about. But then I heard Rolling and Tumbling and loved it, and then listened to Get Hurt and loved it even more. THEN I read this article (thank you Emily for sending it my way) and it all started to make sense.

When I finally got a chance to listen to the entire album I was blown away. I'm typically a pretty intense person when I love something, so when I say I think this album is amazing I really mean it, but I also don't think this album will be for everyone...even people who really love the band.

My favorite part about Get Hurt is just how much emotion and feeling is in it- it's the kind of album I want to listen to when I'm sad, so I can really, really feel sad. Do you do that too? ...or am I the only weirdo here? haha. I'm also a lyrics person, and between the Tom Waits-esque Have Mercy and the Dashboard-esque Halloween (no one else has agreed with me on this one), I'm in heaven. All of the songs are just so great, and yes, even Stay Vicious has won me over after a few listens.

I'm so curious to hear what you think too- are you loving this album? What songs are your favorite? So far my top five are Underneath the Ground, 1,000 Years, Dark Places, Halloween, and Have Mercy. Let me know what you think!

*I used Amazon Affiliate linking in this post. To visit Amazon without my link, click here! :)

Baby Product to Love: Halo's Bassinest

So if you've been around these parts for awhile, you know that I am a huge advocate of the co-sleeper we had in our bed until Henry was 6 months old and Charlie was about 4 months. I loved having the boys right there, and if you followed along during those first months with either child you know how handy it was with the around-the-clock breastfeeding too. I love the idea of co-sleeping, but I'm much too paranoid to be able to get any sleep with visions of my very heavy-sleeping husband rolling over onto the baby, blankets, you name it. And I know that co-sleeping is very safe, but for us, the traditional way just didn't work. So that's why I loved having the option of the co-sleeper right there, but there were also some drawbacks. One, it was very small and both boys would wake themselves up after the swaddling period was over because the walls were so close. It was also awkward to pick them up since the sides were so rigid.

But...HALO recently came out with their new Bassinest Swivel Sleeper! I read up on it after they reached out to partner up for this post and I was very excited to try it, in only the way a parent who loves baby gear can be. Hank nerds out over Apple products and coffee...and I love baby stuff. Charlie is too big to use it, so I enlisted the help of my friend Sarah and her adorable baby boy Wyatt to try it out. Mama and baby loved it, and I love that all of the features that bugged me about our former sleeper have been remedied with this swivel sleeper- it's like they read my mind!

And C-section Mamas (I've had two myself) this thing would be AMAZING during recovery time. The swivel is a dream and it would make those tough first weeks a whole lot easier.

Some awesome things:

-the only bassinet that rotates 360 degrees
-its unique design means baby is visible at your eye level, allowing you to soothe your baby quickly, while mesh walls provide maximum breathability
-its patented side wall lowers and returns automatically, allowing you to tend to your baby while still in bed - ideal for all mothers (especially those recovering from C-sections like I mentioned above)
-its stable, adjustable base fits next to almost any bed
-designed for babies up to five months or 30 pounds
-also includes a soothing nightlight, sounds, music, vibration and nursing timer

All in all, if you're in the market for a sleeper for your next little one the HALO Bassinest would be a great option, and definitely worth checking out!

And before you go, check out this short video from HALO that shows the Bassinest in action:

This post was sponsored by HALO, but as always, all opinions are my own. xo

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Little Season.

I was sitting on the living room floor yesterday, surrounded by two loads of laundry, folding and stacking, folding and stacking. I thought about the little socks I was matching and the little shorts I was folding, and the little sweaters I was putting on little hangers. Little. And that's the season of our life right now, little things for little people.

And the other day I was at Costco a grandmotherly woman approached me and said, "Honey, your family is beautiful. Hold onto these days- they go so fast, and in my experience, these are the ones you'll miss the most." Oh. So there I was, crying in the middle of an aisle full of oversized stuffed bears and socks in packs of 50, trying to hold it together while I watched a white-haired woman shuffle away, turning around once to give me a wink, in a very fairy godmother (of perspective) kind of way.

We finished shopping, I maneuvered that big cart up to the checkout, fished my Costco card out of the bottomless pit that is my bag, and paid for our diapers and raspberries (Costco priorities in our world). I pushed that big cart out into the even bigger parking lot, Henry saying "Faster! Faster!" Charlie laughing with his mouth open so wide, the sun shining down, glinting off the corners of that almost too-shiny cart, and I thought of the advice that woman had just given me.

Over the past four years I feel like I've learned so much about myself and about life. Never figuring it out of course, but sometimes, on the luckiest of days, it feels like I've flipped over a puzzle piece I didn't even know was overturned, and found its place among the rest of the pieces that now make sense. All the rest are strewn about, but that piece, that one lone piece, it has a place.

I felt that way when I was pushing that cart through that hot parking lot, noticing the way Charlie's blonde wispy hair would lift with every breeze, and Henry's brown eyes would crinkle up whenever he would turn to his brother and smile. It was no more than a 45 second push to the car but between that woman's advice and taking a moment to appreciate every little bit of every little thing in that little bitty moment, a puzzle piece flipped itself over and slid right in.

And then yesterday while doing laundry I had so many thoughts about this season we are in. The season of tiny things and laughing children and a house that never seems to be truly quiet. This is the season of growing our family. Of little babies sprouting into bigger people, teaching them everything we know, learning from everything they are. One day when Hank and I have done this job and our children are grown up, the lady from Costco is exactly right, I'm sure these are the days we will miss the most. The little season of little things.

So I kept folding, thoughts going around and around. Feeling sad. Happy. Bittersweet really, as I always say when talking about time passing and children growing. One foot in the excitement of tomorrow, the second trailing behind just a bit, lingering for a moment in the afterglow of everywhere we've been.

So whatever you are, be a good one, okay? Whatever season you're in, be there and be so present. One baby is almost four, one baby is almost one, and you'll never, ever be here again. Telling this to myself amidst the tiny socks and little shorts and small, small sweaters, willing myself to remember it all and take it all in, with every fold and stack, fold and stack.