Fourth of July Weekend

Ugh, the Monday after a vacation is the worst day, isn’t it? I laid in bed for a beat longer this morning, wishing I was back at the beach with my family.

beachOn Thursday, Cory, Jack and I flew down to Pensacola, Florida to spend the holiday weekend with my family and close family friends (who might as well just be family, you know?) It was so good to be with this group for a few days just laughing and hanging out.

My family has a tradition of spending this holiday together, as well as a peculiar tradition of wearing matching outfits.

kids– Please check out my brother’s Tipsy Elves fanny pack 

(I don’t know why we all dress the same, but I know it’s something we’ve been doing since we were born.)

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Everyone’s travel schedules had us trickling in at different times, but the whole group (all 12 of us) was together by lunchtime on Friday. I’ll admit, it was quite the treat to have 10 people who were chomping at the bit to have their time with Jack. Both Cory and I soaked up the opportunity to play “pass the baby” and enjoy some down time!

On Friday and Saturday mornings, my mom was basically camped outside our bedroom door waiting for Jack to wake up, and she would cuddle him for an hour or so while Cory and I took walks on the beach. It sounds so simple, but that alone time with Cory was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip.

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Thankfully, the weather in Pensacola was perfect on the Fourth. I spent some time down at the beach with Whitney and Lindsay while Cory, my brother and my brother’s girlfriend went jet skiing, and copious amounts of adult beverages were consumed. I have to thank Wes from Tipsy Elves for sending us these fanny packs – they were perfect, and my brother never took his off.

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My brother, Brian, is one of my favorite people in the whole world – he’s the funniest person I know. He’s the life of the party and absolutely ridiculous. I love, love, love spending time with him.

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I don’t know if it’s because it was Jack’s first vacation with this group, but I left Pensacola with an extremely full heart. I’ll continue to blame it on the hormones for as long as I can, but having a kid has made me so GD sentimental. I think I finally understand all those moments when I was growing up and I’d look at my mom and say “MoOoOm, are you crying?! STOP CRYING.” 

So, until Jack can roll his eyes and I can embarrass him with my tears, I’ll just continue to happy cry over all the firsts and special moments of this weekend and not feel bad about it. Not one bit.

Balancing Blogging + a Baby

A month or so ago, I put out feelers on Instagram, requesting questions for a Q+A video, and you guys asked excellent ones. I attempted making the video blog, but I was having the most difficult time condensing my answers. I mean really, who wants to watch me talk for 10 minutes? No one. 

(Also, recording a video while home alone with an infant who doesn’t nap is a skill I have yet to master.)

So, I thought I’d do the next best thing and put some of my longer-winded responses into separate blog posts.

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photo credit

Julie asked this question, and at first I was like “Great question! I have NO idea!” Balancing blogging with a new baby is no easy task, and it’s one I’ve yet to completely master; but because I feel entirely hit-or-miss these days, I can absolutely say I’ve learned a thing or two in the past few months.

1. Take a maternity leave I don’t care if your blog is your full time job or simply your side hobby, but this is the #1 thing I would have done differently. When you bring home a new baby, your sole focus is that baby. Although this blog was easily sent directly to the bottom of the totem pole when Jack was born, I admit that I still felt a nagging pressure to create new material and post on a semi-regular basis. I was recovering from a c-section, was home alone with a new baby within 4 days of coming home, and oh yeah – I had a new baby… 

2. Set Realistic Expectations …Which brings me to this point. If I had set realistic expectations and told you guys, ‘I’ll be on maternity leave from the blog for X weeks,’ I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Also, I’d suggest setting realistic expectation in regards to the type of and/or frequency of which you’ll post. If you’re used to posting 3 new recipes each week, or posting twice a day, keep in mind that might not be realistic when you have a new baby unless you do a hell of a lot of leg work before you give birth.

3. Don’t be afraid of change …Which brings me to this point (see how this would have been too long of a video?) I had major trepidations about writing “mommy things” on the blog because I was scared I’d lose all of you. I know I did lose some readers, but I’ve actually gained a whole new audience by allowing myself to evolve and write about what’s relevant in my life — which just so happens to be “mommy things.”

4. Avoid campaigns/sponsored posts for the first 6-8 weeks I take pride in my sponsored posts and ad campaigns, but for the first 6-8 weeks, I didn’t feel like I was on top of my game and I feared creating subpar material that someone else was paying me to produce.

5. Frequent reality checks Will your audience disappear if you don’t post this week, even though you didn’t give them a head’s up? No. Will you never work with another brand again because you’ve passed up three opportunities this month? No. Will you ever write material with actual substance ever again? Yes. 

Give yourself some grace, girlfriend. You literally just created a life.

 

Weekend Wrap Up

Our friends Bobby and Whitney came to visit us this weekend! I had been looking forward to this for, like, a month, as we’ve understandably had pretty low-key weekends since Jack was born. It’s been semi-intentional/semi-organic, but once Friday hits all I want to do is spend time with my little family doing a whole lotta nothin’. I’m still in a place where having set plans or a full agenda makes me anxious because Jack’s schedule is unpredictable. I mean, I can estimate when he’ll fall asleep, eat, etc – but it’s not an exact science at all. 

Thankfully, the only thing on our agenda this weekend was WINE.

Jack woke us all up around 5:00 on Saturday morning, so we were at our first winery when the doors opened. We started with a tasting at Saude Creek and bought a few bottles to enjoy on the patio with a few snacks we brought along with us. After we (except Cory, he was the designated driver) were sufficiently buzzed, we headed to New Kent Winery for another tasting.

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More bottles of wine were purchased.

Whitney and I enjoyed a glass on the porch while Jack napped in his stroller and Cory and Bobby played a few games of corn hole. We got back on the road around 4:00, and we were all in bed by 8:00. Thanks a lot, day drinking…

On Sunday, we said our goodbyes to Bobby and Whitney and headed out on a two-mile walk before heading to the grocery store, which has quickly become our Sunday routine. That afternoon, Emily and I made our way over to Lauren’s for a little spa party! The invite specifically instructed us to wear comfy clothes and no makeup — sign.me.up.

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We got mini-facials along with other spa-like treatments (lip exfoliating, as seen above!), and it was the perfect way to wind down the weekend, even if we did look ridiculous ;)

Do you have any weekend rituals? 

Long walks and Sunday grocery shopping are ours!

 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting


I’ll tell anyone and everyone that I believe the key to happiness is having realistic expectations, because in reality, stress is when the world as it is rubs up against the world as we think it should be. Right?

And when you’re as Type A as I am, you can easily find yourself stressed and/or upset if you’re not careful. (Because everything should go exactly as we plan, right!?)

That’s why when I got pregnant, I needed to know what to expect. On that same token, I knew I could not have a WebMD pregnancy. I had to stay away from Googling every ache and twinge of pain because I’d absolutely drive myself crazy. But I did want to know what the heck was going on from time to time, you know?

I figured I’d let my mom be my Google, seeing as I felt pretty comfortable with her track record.

When I told my mom this, she recommended that I buy What to Expect When You’re Expecting. At the time, that book seemed so cliche to me for some reason. Really, a book that actually tells me what to expect? (If so, did they have a What to Expect When You’re Living Life as a Human?)

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My mom swore she found it to be so helpful when she was pregnant with me. Wait – my mom wasn’t born knowing the answer to everything? She was once new at motherhood, just like I am now?  It was shocking to me when she said she consulted that book up until her water broke.

So, as always, I did what my mom suggested. I figured if a book has been around for decades and is a consistent Best Seller, it had to have some substance.

I’ll admit, I was super overwhelmed by all the information when I first sat down with the book when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I made the mistake of thinking I was supposed to read it all at once, like a book. Instead, I quickly learned to consult this book at the beginning of each month.

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 I greatly appreciated the chapters broken down by weeks, in which the baby’s development was explained, as well as some FAQ’s about what would be going through. My anxious mind was calmed by this book MANY a time!

Come to find out, the series doesn’t stop at Expecting — they made books to help us parents out for the first two years of our baby’s lives!

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The What to Expect in the First Year has been getting a good deal of use around here. From growth spurts, to breastfeeding, to sleep schedules, The First Year covers it all.

And so what if I’m raising a mini-Type A-me? He likes to know what to expect, and I can’t blame him one bit ;)

reading

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 

Friday Shout Outs

Before I decided to stay home with Jack, I worked for a great company, although it was unique in the fact that most of us were spread across several states. I’m all for boosting employee morale, so one thing my boss let me implement was a Friday Shout Out email.

I’d email the entire company every Thursday, asking for “shout outs.” I encouraged everyone to be on the lookout each week to ‘catch’ their co-workers doing awesome things. I’d then compile all the shout outs and send them out first thing Friday morning. I thought it was a fun way to lift up and encourage one another!

I miss my Friday Shout Outs, so I figured I’d bring the idea over to the blog. So without further adieu, here’s who I caught being great this week!

shout outs

// JENNIFER // When I just so happened to see that Jenn was offering a free ecourse titled 7 Days to Self Employed, I jumped on that bandwagon real quick. I’ve started every morning this week with Jenn’s lesson of the day, spending time thinking on her “homework” and basically being overly inspired by what she’s doing. I love when women follow their passions and do what they love. It’s brave and cool and I dig it. (While this ecourse is already in session, I know she has future plans to distribute it to the masses, so stay turned!)

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 6.58.35 PM // ANGIE // Angie blogs over at My So-Called Chaos, and a few months ago she held a contest in which I was voted the winner in the “funniest blog” category (thank you everyone, your checks are in the mail.) My understanding was that I’d won a month of free ad space on her blog, and I was totally stoked! But Angie has gone above and beyond, not only giving me ad space on her blog, but she tweets about my posts, and she’s even doing an interview post with me. If you’re looking to invest in ad space with a fellow blogger, I’d HIGHLY suggest Angie!

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// MEGAN // Megan’s blog is downright beautiful. She has gorgeous photos in every post and she’s a sublime writer. I’m always friend-jealous of how she partners with great brands in such creative ways, and it’s apparent to me that she’s a genuinely hard worker (she even started a podcast.) I just think she’s cool. Her dog, Ender, is also super cute, so there’s that.

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That’s it for this Friday, folks! I could shout out from the roof tops about all my amazing, creative friends (and people I creepily follow who have no idea I exist) but we’ll just have to save them for future Fridays ;) Have a great weekend!

Totally Truthful Thursday

// After not working out for almost a year, I knew I’d be sore after my first Body Pump class. The part of the equation that I failed to calculate was the fact that I’d have to carry around a 14.5 pound baby following said Body Pump class. Woof.

// I finished Friday Night Lights and I have a few things to say about it: I have a void in my life the size of Tim Riggins and Coach Taylor, I’ve decided that I want to be Tami Taylor when I grow up, and I’m now saying Texas Forever at totally inappropriate times.

tami

(Thank God this girl will process my feelings with me.)

// Come 2:00 each day, I start day dreaming about drinking wine. I really shouldn’t drink on the job, but as soon as Cory get home, I get pourin’.

// I’m on the planning committee for a “young alumni” homecoming-type event for Longwood that will take place during Oktoberfest this year, and I’m super pumped about it. The sweet event organizer created a Facebook group for the committee members and asked everyone to introduce themselves with their names, year of graduation, involvement on campus, and their favorite part of Oktoberfest. Everyone was super professional — until I came along.

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// If you follow me on Instagram, this is old news BUT – this weekend, when it was approximately eight thousand degrees, Cory and I went to a Flying Squirrels game. I asked Cory to stop at a drug store on the way out so we could pick up a fan in hopes of keeping Jack from melting. When he came out with a miniature box fan, I about died. I had something slightly smaller in mind, but thanks to Cory, everyone in section 205 stayed nice and cool (just kidding, we all had swamp ass.)

fan

// We’re flying to Pensacola, Florida next week. “We’re” as in, with a baby. God help us.

Terrifying Infant Firsts

I’m not a kid person. To be honest, I’m not really a baby person, either. I totally envy those women who have a sixth sense with little humans. You know the ones –  it’s like an automatic response for her to stretch out hers arms and start cooing when she sees a baby, and she inherently knows how to speak to a three-year-old.

I, on the other hand, had never held a baby until my son was born, and I still have no idea how to talk to a three-year-old. So naturally, when I was pregnant I went to a bajillion “baby classes” offered through my hospital. Infant CPR. Breastfeeding 101. Infant Care. You name it, I was there – taking notes.

boobs

[I don’t know where this is from, but it cracks me up]

But now that I’m actually a mom, I’ve come to realize that there is a gaping hole in the hospital’s baby curriculum:

infants

1. The first nail trim. Sure, when your sweet bundle of joy is born, all you’re concerned about is that they have ten fingers and ten toes. But give it a month or so, and those little piggies will have turned into baby talons, and you’ll be responsible for trimming them.

2.  The first outfit(s). Probably for the first three weeks or so, I was terrified to dress Jack. I hated pulling a onesie over his soft spot, as I was certain I was crushing his little baby brain, and I was too scared to try to get him to bend his arms because I was sure they would just snap in half.

3. The first no-breathing cry. Every so often, your baby will get so upset about something, that he’ll cry so hard and not take a breath for what feels like an eternity. In all reality, it’s probably two seconds, but their face gets reddish purple and it’s absolutely terrifying.

4. The first drive. The first time you take your sweet babe out for a spin, you’ll wonder why everyone DRIVES SO FAST. Do they have death wishes?! You’ll want to tell NO PHONE ZONE!! to every dare devil you see, just chatting on their phone while operating a motor vehicle. It’s simply petrifying.

5. The first all-nighter. After finally getting used to being woken up every two or three hours during the night, there will come that glorious morning when you roll over at 5:30am and realize your baby has been asleep for nine hours. But your first thought, without a doubt, will be: OH MY GOD! ARE THEY OKAY?! Your heart will skip a beat, you’ll run to their crib to check if they’re breathing, and when you find that you just lived a real life miracle, your faith in God will be restored.

It’s so weird that the local hospitals haven’t reached out to me offering a teaching position, right?

Complaining vs. Bragging vs. Real Talk (?!)

Okay, real talk for a sec.

Since I started blogging, I’ve been called dramatic and a complainer on more than one occasion. To be honest, I totally get it. I tend to be over the top or to one extreme, but it’s intentional. When I choose to write about my “life” I’m really just taking a single moment or experience, putting it under a microscope, and sharing it with you. My whole life isn’t, like, THIS IS HARD AND IT SUCKS.

I write the kind of material that I enjoy reading, you know what I mean? I haaaate reading fluffy, happy, my-life-is-perfect blogs (or knowing those kind of people in real life.) It’s boring, and honestly makes me kind of uncomfortable. Like being in a fancy restaurant when all I really want is chicken tenders and fries.

If I wanted to believe that I was the only person in the world who spent her weekend binging OITNB covered in chip crumbs and/or was the only person who cannot figure out her good angle for a selfie, I’d stick to Instagram.

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Here’s the thing: I think I have a really good life. Like, my life is so good I can’t even believe it sometimes. I’m hashtag blessed, man.

But if that was the angle of my blog, I’d be criticized for bragging. And to me, that’s THE WORST. In my opinion, the tackiest thing someone can be is a braggart.

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Social media gives everyone the perfect opportunity to let the world view your life — but only the pretty parts. And I think that is such bull shit. Sure, my life is good, and yours probably is, too, but so what? I have no interest in having a pissing contest with the entire world about the pretty parts.

do have an interest in connecting and relating to people, to real life humans who mess up and have bad days and who feel like they don’t have this life thing figured out yet.

I want to know that you tried really hard for something, came up short, but lived to tell the tale. I want to know that you had a bad day and ugly cried on the phone with your mom and then came home and ate cereal for dinner because you just couldn’t “adult” for one more minute that day. I want to know that you’re a parent who sometimes lets ketchup count as a veggie or  can’t remember when you last bathed your infant (because how dirty can they get, really?)

I won’t think you’re a complainer for talking about your particular struggle (even if I can’t relate) and I won’t judge you for being dramatic when you tell me your day was thee worst ever (even though you and I both know it’ll all be fine after a good cry and a good night’s sleep.)

The worst I’ll do is think you’re human and want to be your friend.

peanuts

 

On Making the Decision to Stay Home

The “work question” has been one of the most frequently asked questions from friends and blog readers alike since I announced that I was pregnant. In the beginning, the answer was a clear-cut, confident I’m going back to work, of course! I liked my job, I liked making money, and I didn’t see how having a baby would change any of that. After 12 weeks of maternity leave, I planned on hopping back into my pencil skirts (ha) and getting back to work. (We had even paid to secure a spot at a daycare before I gave birth.)

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Fast forward to actually having Jack. Once I got through the initial hell of having a newborn, my entire outlook on returning to work drastically changed; although it wasn’t easy to admit because never, ever, EVER in my wildest dreams would I have seen myself as a stay-at-home-mom (I prefer the title Lifestyle Manager, but whatevs.) My dream has always been to work, work, work and earn, earn, earn.

Cory and I had the conversation almost daily after Jack was born, but I could never fully commit to an answer. I’d flip flop between I don’t want our lifestyle to chaaaange  (which is so dumb, because it changes when you have a baby whether you return to work or not) to I can’t imaaaaagine leaving him at daycare if I have the option to stay home with him.

When it came down to it, it was a huge pride struggle for me. I had this deep feeling that staying home would somehow make me “less than” because I wouldn’t be monetarily contributing to our family. I wondered if I’d be giving up on my dreams of making it in Corporate America. I thought that in some way, I’d be losing some sort of value as a person – that I was wasting potential or that I was throwing away my degrees that I worked so hard to earn.

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I was also scared shitless. Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom is a far cry from a cushy position; it’s a hard job, a job I had never trained for, and I asked myself “am I even qualified for this job?”

I judged myself, and I was worried what my working-mom friends would think of me. That I’d gone soft or some stupid shit like that.

In short: It was all about me. 

(I know how ridiculous this all sounds, but you know how much I value transparency with you guys.)

But things literally changed overnight. One morning I groggily walked over to Jack’s crib, still unsure if I’d ever make it at this “motherhood” thing, and leaned over the edge and said ‘Hi, Bubby!’

Then he did it.

He gave me my first big, beautiful, ear-to-ear, gummy smile. A smile that I knew was actually meant for me.

Cue the tears, the melting heart, the I-don’t-give-a-fuck-what-anyone-thinks, I’m staying home with this kid decision.

Do I still get a little self-conscious when I tell my working-mom friends that I’ve decided to stay home? You bet. Do I sometimes feel the need to pet my Master’s degree and remind myself that I’m not just someone who changes diapers and breastfeeds? Absolutely. Do I ever get concerned about giving up a guaranteed salary? Sure. 

But do I ever look at my baby and think I could be doing something more important? Never. 

baby legs

 

My New Job Description

Job Title: Stay-at-home-Mom

  • Professional chauffeur, boo-boo kisser, nose picker, song-maker-upper, and ass wiper.
  • Full-time milk machine that can and will be accessed at any time of the day or night.

SAHM Job Duties

  1. Responsible for cleaning up any and all bodily fluids that may shoot out of either end of your child at any given moment throughout the day.
  2. Maintain an illusion of home cleanliness by the use of: wallflower plug-ins, air fresheners and/or scented candles.
  3. Schedule/attended any and all appointments regarding the health and wellbeing of every living thing in your home (includes, but is not limited to: pediatric visits for the weird rash on your son’s face, vet visits for the dog who used to be your baby until your human baby was born, forcing your husband to keep his medical appointments, and you – yeah, remember to take care of yourself, too.)
  4. Maintain life. That’s right – you’re responsible for keeping a small, helpless human alive by yourself for at least 10 hours a day.

Other skills and qualifications

  • Ability to communicate solely with an infant and a dog for 10-12 hours each day without losing your sanity.
  • Capable of picking up most household items with your toes.
  • Ability to function as a contributing member of society with little to no sleep for months (possibly years) on end.
  • Comfortable with possibly forming one-sided relationships with the fictional characters of the show you are currently binge watching. (I’m talking to you, Tim Riggins.)
  • Ability to withstand hours, possibly days, of a crying baby without causing any physical harm to said baby or yourself.
  • Ability to get over:
    • The fact that you spent years of your life pursuing higher education in order to climb the corporate ladder
      • and/or the fact that you’re still paying for said degrees with a paycheck you’re no longer earning.
    • The reality that your partner is now earning all your money
    • The feeling of “wasting potential.”
  • Filled with enough gratitude to know that, no matter the stress or shitty day you think you’re having, you have the privilege of staying home and raising your child.

Required Experience

  • None. Literally everyone else is making it up as they go along.