Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Better Late Than Never: My Postpartum Health/Fitness Journey

This post has been a looooong time coming. Over the last year, I've had so many thoughts on all things related to my body after having a baby, but I honestly never found the words to share in a blog post.

Long before having Emma, I just knew I wouldn't be one of those unicorn women who drop the pregnancy weight by breastfeeding or better yet, who literally have no explanation but the weight "just fell right off.." I just knew I wouldn't be one of those people. I was okay with that but I knew I'd have to work to get back in shape and drop some weight. What I didn't see coming was how negatively I would allow it to affect me. 

At any given time over the past year, my emotions would sway from frustration over what I felt like I was expected to do to overwhelming self criticism for not being where I should be physically at any given time to throwing up my hands up in frustration and not doing anything about it.

It was an exhausting and unhealthy roller coaster of emotions that I stayed buckled into for way too long after having Emma. 

I'm sure we all have the best of intentions toward the end of pregnancy. We tell ourselves we'll get into a serious workout routine, we'll reign in our eating to drop allll the weight right away. We'll be back to where we want to be in no time and we will have the motivation, will power, energy and focus to do all of this with no problem at all. I can't speak for everyone, but I did have the best of intentions. Then Emma was born and we came home and that went out the window real quick.

Getting my body back was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I was adjusting to being responsible for this tiny little human. I was recovering physically and emotionally from delivery. I was trying to adjust to a new normal with my husband. I was trying to sleep whenever possible. I was trying to remember to shower. I was soaking up sweet newborn snuggles and staring into our baby girl's precious face. I was nursing and constantly concerned whether or not she was getting enough, gaining enough weight, etc. I was navigating the fun that is postpartum hormones and trying to find a balance between keeping up our household and giving myself some grace because I couldn't do it all (duh).

When I did start working out again a few weeks later, I wasn't necessarily motivated. Looking back, I was doing it because I knew it was something I had to do. I was going through the motions for the most part but I wasn't fully committed and being motivated by things other than my own desire to do good for myself set me up for a lot of frustration. I would have a good week or two of working out and eating right and fall of track for weeks before kicking myself in the butt and starting over again. I was forcing it and exercising just to know I did it, but it wasn't doing me any good being so inconsistent with both food and exercise.

This trend went on for months. I tried a few different things to drop weight - shakes, cutting out certain foods, etc. but I was all over the place and would let one bad day derail me completely. Self sabotage is the only way I can describe it. I wanted to do what it took to lose weight and be where I wanted to be again, but I was looking for the fastest way there instead of doing what is right for me and finding a healthy balance for myself.

The worst part of all this is how much space all of this took up in my mind on a daily basis. I would tell myself I was going to exercise or do this or do that and then when I didn't, I would beat myself up about it so much. I was so all over the place trying to decide what to eat/what not to eat or what I would start doing tomorrow. It was exhausting and not healthy even if I had been dropping weight like crazy. Instead of feeling empowered to take better care of myself, I felt shame for getting to where I was. I felt self-conscious and kind of uncomfortable in my own skin. I wanted to feel sexy again and confident but I felt like I was so far from getting there. On the rare occasion when I allowed myself to just have fun and not be so concerned about what I looked like, something would happen that brought me right back to feeling low.

One night in particular stands out to me still. My husband and I were at my friend's wedding back in March. My parents had taken Emma for the night and we booked a room at the wedding venue for the night. We'd had an incredible day together and by the time we made it to the wedding reception, I was feeling relaxed, joyful, beautiful and confident. We were in line for a drink talking to another couple we didn't know when the husband asked me when I was due. I was completely caught off guard and while I wanted to walk away and go cry in the bathroom for the rest of the night, I somehow managed to gracefully respond telling him I wasn't pregnant. As a sidenote (and this topic probably deserves a separate post), can people everywhere just know that you should never, under any circumstances ask a woman this question? It blows my mind that this happens along with so many other things that just shouldn't be said to a woman ever. Questions like this are so well-intentioned that you can't help but shrug it off because the person didn't know any better and didn't mean to be hurtful but enough is enough. You could literally ask me a thousand other questions that don't have the potential to (1) make me want to murder you, (2) make me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable or (3) make you look like an ignorant jerk.


I let that one well-meaning but completely out of line question from a stranger tear me down and almost ruin our evening. Thankfully, I moved past it as quickly and gracefully as I could and we had a really fun night dancing together and enjoying our night away but I had given so much power to everyone and everything outside of my control that I forgot how much stronger I am than that.

I projected so many negative feelings onto my husband during this time, convincing myself that he felt these same things about me I felt about myself. I subconsciously wanted to shut him out of this inner struggle I was having. Men tend to have a habit of trying to fix things when we just need them to feel things with us. With good intentions, he would suggest things I could do or try to help motivate me or something. I took this as pressure from him rather than support because I felt so self-conscious. My problems weren't because I had a lack of knowledge about how to solve them, they were all about me getting in my own way.

I've honestly been incredibly happy being a mother and everything that's gone on in our lives this past year or so, but this inner struggle was going on the whole time in the background and it was stealing some of my joy.

I think back in May, Jonathan and I had a serious talk about a lot of things and we got a lot of this out into the open. I really let him in on how I'd been feeling and we came out of this conversation being much more open and transparent with each other about a lot of things. I was able to let go of all these things I'd convinced myself he was feeling and from there, I felt like I could open up more about all of this and knew he was there for support in any way. I had been having this inner struggle for a while and was trying to fight it on my own. When I finally opened up about my feelings and struggles, it was almost like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could see everything more clearly.

By June, something had really shifted in me and I really felt emotionally strong and capable of staying on track. Somethingjust told me it was time to do this for me. I had just seen my older sister finish a series of weight loss challenges in which she had to check in and share progress on social media. I remember how exciting and motivating that was for me to see. I started thinking about the accountability factor and how I love connecting with people online, how I love sharing with people and how cool it must be to be able to track progress in such a visual way. I'd been getting into a better fitness routine anyway so I went ahead and created an Instagram account specifically for my health and fitness journey. I made it separate from my original account so I didn't flood my friends with post-workout selfies and pictures of food. My goal with this was exercise 4-5 times/week and share a post-workout photo after each and every workout, I also wanted to share healthy meals I was making and anything else that related to my journey. If people wanted to follow along, they were more than welcome and I loved seeing so many friends start to follow along and even better, engage with me!

A few weeks into this journey, as it got closer to Emma's first birthday, I was reflecting a lot on how much I'd struggled just months before and I couldn't put my finger on what had finally clicked for me. Why was I finally able to find such a healthy outlook on all of this? How did I suddenly find a way to stay motivated? How was I finally able to eat more consistently healthy without obsessing so much? Why did I feel such peace with where I was at/how far I have to go/the struggles of getting there?

My answer was this, which I posted on my Instagram account the day before Emma's 1st birthday:

At this time last year, I was in the hospital getting ready to deliver my sweet baby. This body of mine carried a child for 9+ months. This body of mine endured 2+ hours of pushing to get that healthy and happy girl out into the world. This body of mine can do incredible things. I've been thinking lately about what has finally clicked-- why I'm finally able to stay focused and motivated and as a result, finally start to see some real progress. I figured it out. I've been really mean to myself since having Emma. I gained more weight than I should have during pregnancy and didn't stay in shape. My body didn't effortlessly transform back to its pre-baby form. I wanted to want getting my body back to be a top priority, but every time I tried, I was just going through the motions. I was doing it because I HAD to. Because I was disgusted with myself. Because I felt shame. Because I didn't want at several months postpartum for another stranger to ask me when I was due. Something shifted in me recently and I started to do all of this for me, because I love me. I started to do this because I wanted to have something that is just mine. An outlet. A period in the day where I'm not cleaning, cooking or taking care of anyone else. I'm doing this now because my body and mind deserve love. Doing any of this to punish myself for getting to where I was or doing this because I'm expected to is not what's going to give me satisfaction and I'm glad those days are over. I'm being kinder and more patient with myself. I'm enjoying the process where before I could only focus on how far I have to go. Most of all, I'm celebrating and loving my body and the incredible things it can do.

It's truly incredible to me how much your mindset affects everrrything else. How when you decide that you are worthy of your best, you often give it to yourself. How when you stop worrying so much about what others are thinking and focus on making sure you are thinking good thoughts and sending positive vibes, you conquer every battle you've been facing. How it's so much easier to stay on track when you aren't obsessing over what to eat/what not to eat/what exercise you should/shouldn't do and you just do what is right for you in the moment and find a healthy balance between all of it, you see the results you want.

It's now been 3 months since I created that Instagram account and while I won't credit it for the progress I've made recently - physically and mentally, it has been such a an awesome outlet for me to use in this journey. It's also been an incredible motivator being able to look at photos from just a few weeks ago and see how much progress I've made. It's progress I wouldn't necessarily notice otherwise, but having the daily photos to compare has been incredibly helpful!

I'm 20 pounds lighter in the photo on the right but more importantly, I'm stronger, happier, more energetic, more playful, more confident and so much more at peace. Jonathan came in while I was putting the finishing touches on this post and helped me put those comparison photos together. He asked me how much I'd lost since that first photo. I told him it 20 pounds and he left the room without saying a word. He came back in with one of his weights and handed it to me saying "This is how much you've lost. That's incredible." I held the weight for a minute -- actually, I lifted it over my head in defeat because I was being a goofball but it was cool to acknowledge how much I've lost. This has become so much less about the number on the scale and more about feeling good and treating myself good but holding that weight just reminded me how much (physically of course, but more emotionally) I was carrying around before.

It's a vulnerable thing to do putting your emotions and thoughts on the Internet, not to mention sharing photos of the journey (sweaty and unfiltered as they may be), but it's made all of this about so much more than my journey to get healthy. It's made it about community and lifting each other up. It's made it about being open and real about life which isn't the norm with social media at times. It's made it a place of positive vibes when the world is full of a whole lot of negative. It's made it about letting your guard down and letting people in on your journey.

In August, I'd felt like I really found a great balance and routine with exercise and wanted to turn my attention to changing the way I think about food. I'd already made a lot of progress getting my diet more balanced and was more consistent with eating healthy but I wanted to do something more intentional to help me let go of cravings, learn what does good for my body and what I can do without and overall change my outlook on food completely. I started The Whole30 on August 14 and if you follow my Instagram account, I shared a lot of the journey there. I'm planning a big recap post now that it's over, but it's been an incredible experience for me.

No shake program, calorie counting or obsessive fitness routine would have ever gotten me the peace I feel these days. I have a ways to go before I reach my goals and when that time comes, I'll still have work to do to stay there but I'm not thinking so much about all the work I have to do. Instead I'm enjoying the journey and focusing on being true to myself and most of all, good to myself. I still have days where I almost beat myself up for skipping a workout or making a not-so-great food decision but I catch myself now and reign it in. I'm giving myself more grace and being patient with myself. It's a beautiful thing when you can be kind to yourself, laugh at yourself and also have self-discipline and motivation to stay on track. Everything just plays off of each other and you kind of feel on top of the world. At least I do lately.

I don't have all the answers (in case the thousand words above didn't already prove that to you) and I won't ever claim to. I know I'm not the only woman who has struggled with her postpartum body/emotions/etc. so I'm not sharing anything unique here in that sense. I also spent so much time writing this only to nearly avoid sharing it out of fear. Fear of exposing the not-so-pretty, fear of judgment, fear of pity, fear of criticism. 

The thing is, I'm figuring all of this out as I go along, as I know we're all doing. I didn't just share all of that tough stuff up there because I want you to feel sorry for me or because I have any advice to give you. It's the opposite, actually! It's been therapeutic for me to reflect on all of this and share it. If I've been reminded of anything lately, it's that sharing the ups and downs of your journey can be liberating, fun and maybe even inspiring. I want to share more, lift up others more and connect more because sometimes when you open up about your journey and let others in, you let go of what was holding you down.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Emma Joy: One Year Old

Sweet Emma Joy, 

Oh, my heart. It's been a whole year since you joined our world. I can't believe it. These past few weeks, I've hardly been able to look at you without tears welling up in my eyes. Tears of joy as I watch you play or tears as I soak in the sleepy moments you rest your head on my chest. Sad tears that fall when I think about how quickly this year has gone by. Tears which I can only describe as my intense love for you just pouring out of me. 

I love to remember the day you were born. I can't wait to tell you all about it someday. I'll tell you how you were born 4 days after your due date and I was so incredibly anxious to meet you! I'll tell you about how you were facing the wrong way and were stuck, which meant you and I were working really hard for a long while to get you out into the world. I'll tell you how I pushed with all my might for more than 2 hours and how your daddy is one of the reasons I was able to do it. He was an incredible coach but seeing his reaction when he finally saw your head, it kept me going. I'm sure I will cry when I tell about this because I have never been prouder to be his wife than I was in that moment. I'll also tell you about how he fainted wayyyy before that when I got the epidural. It's such a sweet and funny story. I love reminiscing on those hours leading up to your arrival and the ones immediately after. You changed for the better in an instant and it's been joy after joy with you ever since.

Your photo this month sums you up pretty perfectly. You have a silly, fun-loving personality and you are so flexible, content and easygoing. I'm so glad we got these monthly photos of you. Some months were easier than others and it wasn't always easy to get you to cooperate, especially once you were on the move! You were a trooper every time though and I'm so glad I was able to capture each month and see how you've grown in such a special way. 

At your 1 year doctor appointment, you weighed in at 17 lbs, 11 oz and you're 29.5" tall...still a skinny girl but healthy as can be! 

I sure miss your newborn stage...holding you in my arms for hours as you slept, your sleepy stretches when you'd wake up, watching you take in your new world and get to know us, but this stage is so much fun with you! It seems like every day you discover something new and your personality is really coming out. You show daddy and I so much affection now and we have so much fun playing with you.

Speaking of daddy, you can't get enough of him. When he walks through the door every day, you can't get to him fast enough. When my phone rings during the day, since it's usually him, you get so incredibly excited and crawl over to me no matter what you're doing. It's so, so sweet.

In this last month, you've started saying 'dada' and 'mama.' You've also started doing this scrunched face, cheesy smile every now and then and we can't get enough of it! You love blueberries and you still love anything for dinner that involves chicken. You still don't like eggs but aren't too picky otherwise. 

You've been standing up on your own for a few weeks now and you're close to taking your first step! You still love climbing all over Abby (and she is so patient with you!), emptying out the kitchen cabinets and you love music now. You dance a lot now and it's the cutest thing ever. Your laugh is the sweetest and most infectious sound and you playing with mommy and daddy on our new bed.

Daddy and I just love being your parents. We have so much fun with you and we've loved watching you grow and seeing your joyful personality come out over the past year. I still can't resist kissing you nonstop and I try to soak up every sweet moment of you. Being your momma is the absolute best thing I've ever gotten to do in life and I can't believe it's already been a whole year!

Happy first birthday, Emma Joy! You are so incredibly loved and we are so blessed to be your parents.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Emma Joy: 11 Months Old

Sweet Emma, 

I keep thinking back to this time last year - how pregnant I was, how much we talked about what life would be like with you in it, how anxious I was to meet you. Now here we are just a month from your first birthday and I just can't believe it. 

This was a fun month! We celebrated daddy's birthday and your gift to him was your first piece of artwork. I stuck your hands in puddles of bright colors, set you in front of some paper and let you do your thing. You were a little unsure about the paint situation, but with a few smears across the paper, we created a happy and colorful gift for your sweet daddy. I'm pretty certain it's his favorite birthday gift ever and it's already hanging in a frame in our entryway. 

We also celebrated Father's Day and took a day trip to St. Augustine. We took you around to some of our favorite spots and had the most fun wandering around with you in tow. Mommy and daddy have been several times before and it was such a joy to be back as a family. 

You are becoming just a little bit mischievous at home getting into anything and everything. You are always trying to get your hands on Abby's food and water bowls, sneaking into mommy and daddy's room, crawling through Taylor's gate to get into the bathroom and I've found you playing with the toilet water a few times already. You're keeping us on our toes and when we're not chasing after you, you love to play with us. You love getting daddy to chase you and let out the happiest squeal when he's about to get you. 

You're still eating really well and love trying new foods. You pretty much want anything mommy is eating and you love sharing my acai or smoothie bowls. Your favorite foods lately are blueberry waffles and grapes. A few weeks ago, after looking for a good show for you, I found Goldie & Bear and I play that for you a lot while you're playing in the living room. You don't exactly sit through and watch each episode, but you loooove the theme song and you get so excited when it comes on. When you're in a fussy mood or super sleepy, you still rest your head on my chest when I sing to you. It never gets old. 

You are still in size 2 diapers and hanging out just over 17 lbs, about 28" tall. You're wearing mostly 9-12 tops, onesies and leggings, but you are still in 0-3/3-6 month shorts! You have 6 teeth still but I already see another one starting to come through. You don't love getting your teeth brushed every morning and night, but you put up with it really well most days. 

You're still such an easygoing, happy, flexible baby and it's such a gift watching you evolve and grow. We love you so much, Emma Joy!  

Friday, June 16, 2017

To the Woman Trying to Conceive

Making the decision to try for a child is huge and once you've made that decision, you may learn that just because you're ready, doesn't necessarily mean it's going to happen for you according to your timeline. You just might get pregnant that first month of trying but you also might have a long road ahead and perhaps even experience some major heartbreak along the way.

There aren't many things that make the up and downs of trying to conceive any easier, but I know through our journey, I appreciated having people I could relate to, people I could open up to without hearing the usual advice or judgment, people who could provide the kind of support I needed.

I have a few women in my life going through or have recently been through this and as I've spoken with them, I've really tried to stray away from saying the things that frustrated me when we were trying to conceive. The truth is, I don't have any helpful advice for any woman trying to get pregnant, no matter what they've experienced or how long they've been trying because I've been there. No advice in the world makes it easier to wait patiently for something you are so incredibly ready for.

With that being said, here's what I will say to the woman who is trying:

It's okay to not be okay. There is this weird pressure from society that comes with trying to get pregnant. Sharing any disappointment, impatience, frustration seems to be immediately shut down by anyone you're talking to about it. You get the usual responses basically telling you to stop stressing about it, to not overthink it, to stay positive and my least favorite, "Relax! You've only been trying for a few months." Just because today I'm feeling disappointed and frustrated, doesn't mean I'm stressing out or whining about it and I hated feeling like I wasn't allowed to just be sad some days. I started to feel like I was better off either not sharing at all, or saying something fake and overly positive to avoid the whole situation. The thing is, through our whole journey I never lost faith. I knew it would happen for us and I truly trusted God's timing, but that doesn't mean I didn't have days where I just felt sad, disappointed, frustrated. Don't feel like you can't have a bad day every now and then. Don't lose hope, but don't feel like you have to be okay all the time.

On that note, feel what you're feeling and don't apologize for it. I've been there. One day you're feeling at peace, hopeful, optimistic and the next you're discouraged, anxious and fearful that this is not going to happen for you. It's unrealistic to expect yourself to be positive all the time especially when you've just taken another pregnancy test only for it to be negative, again.

Stop comparing your journey. Maybe you've only been trying for 6 months and you feel discouraged but you talk yourself out of feeling sad because some women try for years or some women aren't able to get pregnant at all. Stop it. It's good to keep things in perspective because there is always someone who has it worse. Everyone's journey is different and yes, there is usually someone going through something worse than you but that doesn't make your current feelings any less valid. Break the habit of comparison now because there is no peace to be found there.

Be sad if you need to be sad, but find a way to be happy for others. I deleted this one, then added it back in because even typing it, I remember how much, much easier said than done this is. Especially these days with social media, it seems the same day you've had another negative pregnancy test is the same day all of your Facebook friends are announcing they're pregnant or posting photos of their adorable newborn baby. I'd be telling a big fat lie if I said that when we were trying, seeing these things didn't make my heart hurt a little bit. At the end of the day, though, being bitter toward someone else doesn't make your pain any less of a reality. Try to remove your personal pain from the situation and find a way to be happy for others and remember that these people have also tried, waited, prayed for this child and may have faced their own challenges along the way.

The last thing I would tell you is certainly the toughest truth to accept, in my opinion, but even if you feel like you are in control, just keep reminding yourself of this: you are not. This is a harsh reality and it was for us, too! Jonathan and I are planners by nature and when we decided we were ready for a baby, we expected it to happen easily because we were ready for it. I can't imagine many people go into TTC thinking it will be a difficult or long journey. With the apps and tools available to us these days, it's easy to feel like we've done everything correctly to make it happen and when it doesn't, we are confused, angry, frustrated. I constantly had to remind myself that God was in control and what was harder, was that I had to remind myself that it wasn't my job to understand His plan. I just had to trust Him. I failed at this a lot and I still do in some aspects, but I do think if you keep this in mind, it will give you strength and peace when you need it most.

Like I said, I don't have any groundbreaking advice to share with you and I know all too well that another piece of advice is the last thing you want to hear. I guess I just want you to know that you're not alone. You're not alone for feeling disappointed, frustrated, confused or impatient at any point on this journey. I want you to know you don't have to live up to anyone's expectations of how you should deal with whatever comes throughout the process. I also want you to know that as hard as it might seem to believe at times, God is faithful and you are stronger than you think you are. I also want to tell you that your day is coming and whatever you went through to get to that day will have prepared you for what's next.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What I'm Loving Lately: 'Me Time'

One of my goals this year was to be better about carving out time for just me and because of this, I've been reading more, exercising at home more and unwinding at night in more creative ways than just laying in bed watching TV. Here's what I've been into lately:

Reading: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. I'd seen a few people talking about this book on social media and the title obviously intrigued me enough to look into it a little more. I have to admit I buy the occasional self improvement book and lose interest in it pretty quickly but this one seemed like it'd be different. I honestly thought both Jonathan and I could benefit a lot from reading this and I was pretty shocked when he was halfway through the book before I'd even picked it up. 

We've actually had this sitting on our coffee table along with a few other books and I had to laugh when my sister-in-law was over and pointed out how funny it was that we had this book sitting right there with Jesus Calling, a daily devotional book we've been getting a lot of recently. I guess I didn't really think about how ironic that is but hey, we like to mix it up! 

I feel like I should point out that the author of this book isn't necessarily recommending we not care at all about anything, but that there are only so many things we can care about so we need to figure out which ones really matter. It's a good read so far and to be honest, it makes me realize that the times I've been my happiest in life have been when I wasn't so concerned about things that really shouldn't matter to me. 

Listening to: S-Town Podcast. I just started this at the gym earlier this week so I can't really give an opinion on it yet. I was pretty behind the times with the whole podcast craze. I finally listened to Serial while nursing Emma last fall and recently got hooked on Up and Vanished, which I highly recommend! I love listening while I run so if you have a favorite podcast, please share it with me!

Coloring: Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project Mini Posters Coloring Book. I'm a big fan of Gretchen Rubin and her books, but I had no idea this coloring book existed until recently. This kind of thing is right up my alley! It's fun to flip through and I love that when you're done with a page, you can rip it out and hang it up or even give it to someone who could use encouragement or cheering up.

Reading/Writing: Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus. I can't say enough about this! I was looking for something like this just for me. Something a little less intense than my bible study homework but I wanted something more than a reading each day and I wanted something relevant to my life right now. I wanted prompts with space for me to reflect and write out my response to what I read. This is exactly what I was looking for! I love it so much, I immediately bought it for my friend Jesse knowing she'd love it too. 

I may not be a huge influencer, but I like writing posts like this! When I find something I like, I want to share it so I might do more of these in the future. I've discovered a lot of books, products, etc. through other blogs - it's fun! 

What are you reading/listening to lately?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Emma Joy: 10 Months Old

Emma Joy, 

You're 10 months old and so full of fun and adventure! I really can't believe you are almost a year old. Everyone wants to talk about your first birthday but I'm kind of in denial that it's coming up so soon! 

This month, we celebrated my first Mother's Day by spending the day at the zoo. It was your first zoo visit and even though you weren't particularly interested in anything we saw, we had so much fun together as a family. These are the kinds of days that make your daddy and I feel like all our dreams have come true. 

Since you've started crawling, all you want to do is stand up and try to walk. You go after Abby's food bowl any chance you get and you've discovered the fun of unraveling the toilet paper roll in the bathroom. You love pulling all your books off the bookshelf in your room, stealing toys right out of Abby's mouth, music and playing in the water. We actually started giving you baths in the big bathtub a few weeks ago and you love all the space to splash and play!

This month we discovered you love hamburgers and corn on the cob. Really anything that's on my plate, you want in on it. You still love pancakes for breakfast and you love PB&Js for lunch. 

You know how to say 'no' now by waving your arm and shaking your head. You usually do this when I'm giving you food and when you realize I have something you want, you quickly change your mind! 

You weigh 17 lbs now and you're about 28" tall but what we really can't believe is that you have 6 teeth already! The two bottom teeth have been around for a few months now, but you have 4 teeth on top all ranging in size and it is so adorable we can't stand it. All these teeth have made you start to look so old! 

Every day you are discovering new things, finding new mischief to get into and letting your sweet and silly personality shine through more and more. Your daddy and I get so much joy out of every new development. Happy 10 months, sweet girl! You are so incredibly loved!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My First Mother's Day

I know I'm way behind here, but I wanted to make sure I documented this special day! I've been wanting to find a day for us to take Emma to the zoo for a few months so I was pretty psyched when Jonathan told me what he had planned for us.

We had a relaxing morning together at home before heading to the zoo around lunchtime. Emma obviously wasn't super interested in anything in particular, but it was still fun to walk around and see everything with her! We had just enough time to see everything and share an ice cream before heading home just as an afternoon thunderstorm rolled in.

We spent the rainy remainder of the day relaxing at home together. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate my first Mother's Day. Doing things as a family like this, going to the zoo, I just felt so grateful all day long. So grateful to be celebrating Mother's Day as a mother myself. So grateful to God for giving me this gift and sending this beautiful, joyful baby girl into our world. So grateful for the incredible man I'm raising that little love with. Just so grateful.

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."    - Elizabeth Stone

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Emma Joy: 9 Months Old

Emma Joy, 

Happy 9 months, sweet girl! This last month was a big one! Just a few days before you hit 9 months, you started crawling and just a few days after that, you were already pulling yourself up to stand! It brings us a whole lot of joy watching you do all these new things, but my goodness, I'd love it if time could slow down just a tiny bit. At your 9 month checkup, they asked me if I wanted to schedule your 1 year appointment and I just couldn't believe we were even discussing you being a year old!

You also celebrated your first Easter, had your first swimming pool experience (you loved it!) and started eating all kinds of new foods this month. Just a few days before you hit 9 months, we started introducing new foods like chicken, rice and pasta. You're adapting pretty well to all these new textures and tastes but you go totally wild over bananas, oatmeal and yogurt. 

You're still the absolute best sleeper! You're down to 2 solid naps a day and you're ready for bed around 7 every night. You still sleep straight through and don't wake up until around 7 -- sometimes even 7:30! We can't seem to stay away though - you're daddy and I sneak in at least once before we head to bed to take in the sweetness of you sleeping. 

You're hanging out at 16 lbs, 3 oz and you're still 27" long. You're in mostly 9 month clothes by now and this month, I was finally able to gather just enough hair for clip in bows. It was a very exciting day for mommy since you just love to pull your headbands off the second I put them on these days! You have teeth coming in like crazy now, too! 

You love to clap, bounce and you still love when daddy flies you to bed every night. You think it's hilarious when the blender is on. You used to get so upset because it's super loud, but now I look at you when I turn it on and you're laughing and so excited about it. You love the Itsy Bitsy Spider and really any book we read to you before bed. You do not like to sit still, especially now that you're crawling! When you're sleepy though, you love to suck your thumb and snuggle up on mommy or daddy's chest. We are convinced there is no better feeling in the world than when you do that. 

You bring so much happiness to us and everyone who loves you, Emma Joy. Every day I thank God for making me your mommy. These 9 months of you have been such a gift to us and we're soaking up every second of this fun stage with you. We love you so much!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Emma Joy: 8 Months Old

Emma Joy,

Happy 8 months baby girl! You are so close to crawling. You are scooting backwards, rocking on your hands and knees and rolling from belly to back constantly! So much that we know any day now, you'll be off and crawling. Taking your pictures every month gets more challenging and fun because you can't be bothered with sitting still. When I had you on the floor of your bedroom for these pictures, I couldn't stop laughing because I would sit you down and before I had my camera up, you'd be on your belly trying to crawl toward me!

You've also become interested in feeding yourself this month. You always want to hold the spoon and feed yourself when mommy is giving you something and you're able to feed yourself the pouches I make you with a tiny bit of help.

Nana and Grampy took you to their house one weekend for a sleepover and you all had so much fun. You brought so much joy to them and daddy and I loved hearing about their time with you when they handed you over to us the next day. You also had a weekend with daddy all to yourself while I was away with my friends one weekend. I had a hard time leaving you for 3 whole days, but I'm so glad you and daddy got that special one-on-one time together.

You are absolutely giddy watching Abby play fetch. When you see her running up to us with a toy, you squeal and scream with your arms flailing. It's the sweetest thing! You love being tickled and bath time keeps getting more and more fun with you. Daddy has started "flying" you to bed every night like an airplane and you literally can't contain your excitement when you take off from your changing table every night. This is just another reason your daddy and I get so much joy out of your bedtime routine. No matter what kind of day we've all had, we feel overwhelming joy as we say goodnight to you every night.

You still really don't like getting your face wiped and especially lately, you don't like getting dressed very much. You mostly fuss when I'm trying to get you into a shirt and you get over it pretty quick. I think you're just all about moving lately and don't like to be stuck on your changing table for too long.

You're 16 lbs, 4 oz and 27 inches long. Last month when I measured you, you measured at 27 inches and I'm thinking I must not have taken the time to get an accurate number that day! Oops. You're mostly in 6 month/6-9 month clothes although the shorts you wore last weekend were size 0-3 month and they were still big on you! You're cheeks are still just the best. We can't resist kissing them nonstop!

We make lots of friends when we're out and about because you are so smiley and happy - people can't help but stop and say hi to you! I absolutely miss those first few weeks home with you when you were itty bitty and super snuggly, but every month has been more fun than the last as you grow and change so quickly. I love seeing your personality continue to shine through as you grow. It's such a joy and we thank God every day for you, sweet girl! We love you!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Gosh, I can't remember the last time I wrote an actual blog post that wasn't one of Emma's monthly updates. I don't even know how to start this thing, but something made me show up here today so I'm going with it.

Here's a not-so-quick rundown of life lately:

I finally started a scrapbook for Emma. I want to at least have a scrapbook documenting her first year but was slacking big time on all things involved with that project. I finally bought most of the supplies, starting planning it out and most importantly, started organizing all our photos of her so I can easily find and print what I need. It's definitely a time consuming project but I know I'll be so glad to have her first year of life documented so well.

Our girl wants to crawl so badly! Playtime on the floor floor typically results in Emma on her tummy trying to figure out how to get moving. She's definitely scooting back and has figured out how to switch directions but no crawling yet. It's pretty sweet to watch her try and figure this out and it's especially adorable when she gets tired and just rests her head on the floor to take a break. I know once she's mobile there's no turning back so I'm soaking in the time we have left of her needing me to go places. 

I've been making baby food for a few months now and it's going really well! I like to spend one afternoon cooking and preparing to build up a decent stash of pouches to last us a few weeks. Emma is starting to figure out how to feed herself with these and they are super convenient! 

We've done a little redecorating in the last few months, mainly our living room. I'd been ready for a new couch and a living room facelift for a while but I finally got Jonathan on board early this year. We handed down our hand-me-down couch and after a few weeks of searching (couch shopping is more difficult than I expected!), we decided on the couch, coffee table and recliner chair above. The clock is also new and from World Market. I'm in love with it and so glad we went for one large piece above the couch rather than trying to create a gallery wall or something more complicated.

Jonathan got me a Letterfolk board for Christmas and it was looking lonely as the only thing on our wall next to our kitchen table. We'd just gotten the copper mugs and I figured they'd look great hanging in the kitchen. We found the bar and hooks at World Market and the shelves are wooden crates we found at HomeGoods. I loooove how this turned out although I've been slacking on updating the message on our board...I need to get on that!

Two weekends ago, my parents took Emma for the night so Jonathan and I could attend my friend's wedding over near Disney. We decided to get a room for the night and my parents were more than willing to take Emma so we could make it a mini getaway. We checked into our room early in the day and popped a bottle of champagne. With plenty of time before the wedding, we were able to walk to Disney Springs and enjoy some downtime together. We walked around for a bit with beers in hand and headed back to our hotel to take our time getting ready for the evening. It was such a carefree, fun day with my man. We had a blast at the wedding, dancing and laughing together all night. I feel like we really needed a night like that. Being baby-free and having a room there, we were able to just relax and have some fun together. It was awesome!

Florida weather has been a dream these past few months! We've been soaking it in as much as possible with lots of backyard projects and Sundays spent on the back patio with friends and family. I'm going to miss this in the summer when it's 90 something degrees out!

As for me, I've been trying really hard to make sure I don't lose myself in all of this. Motherhood is literally the best thing I've ever done, but it's also way too easy to be so wrapped up in all that entails and forget to be good to myself. It's easy to second guess every decision I make; to obsess over what others think; to beat myself up for not yet having my body back; to feel like I'm not the wife I want to be; to forget to do things for me, too. The list goes on and on. 

It's funny. I took the photos above to send to my sister. She's recently become a Younique presenter and I was pretty impressed with the mascara I bought from her, so I took a few pictures so I could write her a review to use on her page. I haven't been loving myself enough lately and that's a post for another day, but these pictures made me feel beautiful and that's something worth celebrating so I guess that's why I shared them here. Also, this is not an ad because I have maybe 10 people who read this blog, but the mascara is pretty incredible and that's coming from someone who hardly knows how to do her own makeup. On the subject of beauty and makeup, I also suck at doing my hair. I can't use a curling iron and if I do try to use one, it takes me about 2 hours to do my hair. Who has time for that, especially with a little babe? I bought the Bed Head Deep Waver after seeing a few people raving about it on social media and it has changed my life! In 10 minutes, I'm now able to at least make it appear as though I know what I'm doing. Seriously, it's the best.

Other new things with me: I started at a new gym in February and I've been loving it! I was able to get free childcare with my membership so I'm able to bring Emma and the people there are so good with her. She loves it there, too, which is a bonus! They offer a ton of classes, including barre, so I've been mixing in one or two barre classes a week with my other workouts and they seriously kick my butt. I've also been participating in the weekly women's bible study at church over the past few months. We're in the middle of Tony Evans' study on Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny. I've been really enjoying this study in particular and the weekly fellowship has been really good for me. Something from our homework a few weeks ago really stuck with me:

"When you fill a sponge full of water and then you squeeze the sponge, water is going to come out of it because it is full of water. When you are going through a trial and you feel the pressure of life caving in around you, how much of God comes out? Or is it cussing, fussing, complaining, and blaming that comes out instead? Why are those things coming out? Because that is what you are full of. A sponge only lets out what is in it."

This really resonated with me when I read it. I want to approach any of the not-so-great stuff in life this way. It's easier said than done but I feel like it's so easy to fall into a habit of complaining and self pity and I'm trying to break those habits.

This seems like a good place to stop. This post was all over the place but it felt really good to just write and once I started, everything came out. I hope to show up here more moving forward. I have so many posts I started and never went back to and a few that are nearly complete, so I'm hoping to revisit those here soon.

We're in the midst of a busy and super fun season and I love having so much going on. I'm heading to New York City for the first time ever on Friday for my friend's bachelorette weekend. I'm so excited for the girl time and to finally see what the fuss over NYC is all about. The following weekend, I'm off to Charleston with Emma, my mom and my sister. We're also hosting Easter brunch again so I'm trying to remember to plan that in the midst of all of this fun. Now, if you have any advice on how to cope when leaving your 7-month-old for 3 whole days, please do share! I'm gonna miss my girl.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Emma Joy: 7 Months Old

Emma Joy,

Happy 7 months, sweet girl! We are having so much fun with you as you continue to discover the world around you and interact with us more and more.

You officially have two bottom teeth making your big smile extra adorable lately! You can sit up on your own for longer periods of time now and you've been babbling like crazy which is pretty much the best sound in the world. You're discovering just how loud you can squeal, usually doing this as we make our way through the grocery store. Speaking of the grocery store, since you're sitting up so well, you've been sitting in the cart instead of your car seat while we shop for the past few weeks.

You don't ever want to miss a thing, always observing and taking in the world around you. Snuggles with you are few and far between these days because when you're being held, you're squirming, grabbing and diving to grab whatever is nearby. I started bringing you to the gym with me this month and you're doing great in the childcare center. They love you there and thankfully, you don't mind being there at all while mommy works out. We started giving you a sippy cup a few weeks ago and you are slowly figuring out what the deal is there. So far, you mostly just chew on it and you're really good at throwing it on the floor!

You're 15 lbs, 12.5 ounces and 27" long. You're still in size 2 diapers and wearing mostly 6 month size clothes but believe it or not, you still fit into a few 3 month sized outfits!

You love getting kisses from Abby (and pulling Abby's hair), playing with your toes, playing with your hair when you're sleepy, you still love when mommy sings to you and your face lights up when daddy walks through the door after work every day. We love reading to you before bed, one of us reading while you dive at the book and try to grab at every page. When we lay you in your crib each night, you still smile up at us and squeal while we pray over you. I savor these simple, joyful moments with you and your daddy.

Every day is so much fun with you, Emmy Joy! We love you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Emma Joy: Six Months Old

Sweet Emma Joy, 

You've been in our world for half a year already! I truly feel like 6 months with you in our lives has just flown by. It's bittersweet celebrating half a year of you -- the reality of how fast time is flying by breaks my heart but every month with you brings more joy than the last! 

This past month with you has been so much fun! We started introducing solid foods this month and you have been so great every time we've given you something new. I loved the first week or two especially as I watched you catch on to the concept of eating off a spoon and moving food to the back of your throat. So far, you've had apples, bananas, squash, peas and avocado. You haven't disliked anything too much (although you didn't love avocado at first), but you especially love apple and banana. 

You also started sitting up on your own this month! The first time you did it, you lasted maybe a second or two before tipping over and it seemed like only a week later, you were able to sit up for a minute or so before toppling over. It's the cutest thing to see you balancing yourself and leaning over to grab at your toys. Every new thing you do or experience gives your daddy and I so much joy. 

You're weighing in at almost 15 pounds and you're almost 26" long but the most exciting physical change this month has been the bottom tooth you have coming through. Thankfully, this tooth and the one coming in next to it haven't seemed to cause you too much discomfort because we didn't even realize it was happening until your doctor pointed it out! You've definitely been drooling like crazy and sticking everything in your mouth, but otherwise you haven't been too bothered by it. 

You're wearing mostly 6 month size tops and pants now and you've been wearing size 2 diapers for a few weeks now. I finally found a pair of shoes that would stay on your feet last week and you looked so adorable in your little sneakers that day! 

You are still so easygoing! There's not a whole lot you don't like aside from getting your face wiped, which happens a lot now that you're eating all kinds of fruits and veggies! You love to smile, squeal and you let out the most adorable laugh when we tickle your belly. You're grabbing at everything in sight and are constantly keeping an eye on your surroundings. You still love when we sing to you and during bath time, you love to splash around and play. 

Your daddy and I just can't get enough of you, sweet girl. Happy 6 months. We love you so much! 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Emma Joy: 5 Months Old

Happy New Year! I've really been slacking off with all the posts I wanted to share over the last few months, but I want to at least keep up Emma's monthly updates and eventually get back to sharing more. Emma turned 5 months old a week ago and we had a lot of fun getting some 5-month photos, as you can see! I had a hard time choosing just one for this because her sweet, silly, joyful personality shined through in all of them!

Emma Joy,

Happy 5 months, sweet girl! We celebrated Christmas and loved every second of having you around this year. Mommy and daddy helped you open your presents but you loved pulling at the wrapping paper and playing with all the ribbons and bows. You were just the cutest thing in your Santa outfit and you were so easygoing and happy as we visited with family on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day.

Earlier this month, you changed things up on us and weren't sleeping very well. After a few nights of mommy and daddy taking turns running to your room to give you back your Wubbanub or settling you back to sleep, we decided to stop swaddling you and not give you a pacifier all in the same night. We skipped your evening catnap that night and put you to be a little earlier. We were expecting you to take it pretty hard and cry for a while, but you cried for a few minutes and soothed yourself to sleep! It took a few nights for you to catch on but since then, you've been sleeping from about 7 until 6:30 or 7 in the morning. Now, if you wake up in the middle of the night, you are able to easily calm yourself back to sleep right away and you've even started to suck your thumb sometimes to put yourself to sleep. It's been pretty amazing to watch how quickly you've adjusted and mommy and daddy are so proud of you!

At 5 months, you weigh 13 lbs, 13.5 oz and you're 25 inches long. You're definitely on the smaller side for your age, but you are healthy as can be. You're still wearing mostly 3/3-6 month clothes and size 1 diapers. You're not sitting up on your own quite yet, but you do pretty well with a little assistance. We sat you in your Bumbo seat for the first time on Christmas, and you do great in it!

You still love bath time and it seems every week you start to play a little more. You got a bunch of bath toys for Christmas and you are starting to pick those up and play a bit. You love to kick your feet and splash like crazy and you are perfectly content while we bathe you. You've been playing in your bouncer a lot and you don't mind being on your tummy as much these days. After a little while, you get fussy but you are doing a great job of pushing yourself up with your arms.

You are drooling like crazy and sticking everything in your mouth, especially your toes! You are pretty happy most of the time and we love hearing you squeal with excitement and laugh when we tickle your belly. You still love being outside, the T.V., when we sing to you and this month, you loved when we read your new pop-up books at bedtime. Mommy's favorite part of the day lately has been when daddy and I put you to bed each night. We kiss you, put you in your crib and as we say your prayers, you just look up at us with this big smile on your face. I just love that.

We're having so much fun with you, sweet girl. You are such a joyful and easygoing baby and we just love watching your personality come out more and more each day. We love you so much!