R's Mint & Pink 2nd Birthday Party

8.17.2017


Hello! Happy Thursday, friends. Thank you for all the messages, emails, and texts after my last post. You all are so sweet, and I'm glad some of you were encouraged by what I shared. Just trying to take it one day at a time and find a new routine!

I wanted to share with you some pictures from R's second birthday party. It was a great time! Like I mentioned in a previous post, I didn't have a theme for this party, and I really only started planning a few weeks before. One afternoon I wandered around Hobby Lobby tossing random things into my cart that I liked, and I realized that everything I was grabbing was either the color mint or pink, so I decided to center the party around those colors. And because last year I did pink and gold for R's first birthday, I was able to reuse some of the things I had bought or made for her. I love how it all turned out!
We moved our kitchen table and set up two longer tables to create a little food/dessert area. Jordan grilled hot dogs, and we had chips, homemade trail mix (peanuts, m&ms, raisins, and corn nuts), baked beans, and grapes. For dessert I made a funfetti cake, and R had her own individual cupcake. I bought a gallon of ice cream, and there were cookies and mini cupcakes from a local bakery.
The week before I took R to the park and did a photoshoot! I printed out 3 copies of each photo and hung a banner up on the wall of all the photos. The remaining copies I put on the table as "party favors." Guests could choose a photo or two to take home with them. Since this was a party with mostly family, they loved it! The grandparents especially :)
^^^ I decided to make a cupcake just for R. That way she wouldn't have a giant slice of cake and would be able to eat this herself. I also put a picture from her first birthday. I found the Happy Birthday napkins and cupcake stand at the Target dollar spot. The plates are from Big Lots. I made the "2" flag for the cupcake.
I reused the "R" I made for her first birthday, which is awesome because it took me so long to make! The tassel banner is from the Target dollar spot, and I printed off monthly chair pictures from 12 to 24 months.
She was so funny with her cupcake and ate it pretty daintily compared to last year when she went in with both fists. 

^^^ I bought a roll of pink wrapping paper and created a photo area. After opening gifts, we took family pictures in front of it! The banner is reused from last year. I swapped out a few of the pink circles for circles using scrapbook paper, and my sister wrote "Happy Birthday." The giant balloon from the park pictures the week before was still inflated, so we used it too!
Bumgarner, party of four! I thought getting pictures with a toddler was hard, but try a toddler and a newborn. It's a miracle there's one of all of us looking and with J's eyes open.

Funny story, I legitimately kept forgetting about J since there were so many family members around who wanted to hold him. I would randomly panic and realize I hadn't seen him in a while and had no idea where he was, but he was always just sleeping on someone. I am obviously still getting used to having two kids. Ha!

We had such a great time celebrating our TWO-year-old! Thanks to everyone for loving on my sweet girl so well! Maybe for her party next year I'll keep the pink theme going and do pink + another color and just rotate all my crafts again ;)

See also: R's Pink + Gold 1st Birthday Party

To Be Understood

8.11.2017

Today I was sad. 

I tried not to think about it, and I did a pretty good job until the afternoon, when it hit me like a wave that it was my last day of maternity leave and work is waiting for me on Monday. It's been eight weeks, and I am so thankful for the blessing of this summer. Since I have a traditional office job, I don't get a summer break, but having a baby in June meant that I basically got the whole summer off, and it has been so wonderful.

It's no secret that I find being a working mom to be really hard. And I'm not here to discuss or debate the challenges of being a mom who stays at home or a mom who works. Everyone has different needs and different strengths and different desires, but since having R, my heart has been to stay at home. 

This summer I felt like I got to open the gate and stand in the green grass that I've been staring at from the other side of the fence. I can't honestly tell you I've loved every single minute, because staying at home with two kids all day is often stressful and sometimes boring and always exhausting. 

But, you guys, I have loved it.

I am so thankful to be able to work from home for a couple of months with J before going back to the office, so I don't have to leave him just yet. But I still have to take R to daycare, and let's be real: working from home is not at all the same thing as not working.

So today I was sad.

I texted a few friends about it, because I'm someone who needs to share all my feeeeeelings. They were supportive, but for one reason or another, none of them can truly relate. One doesn't have any kids, one is a SAHM, one works but doesn't have my angst about it... 

It's nice to have friends I can share things with who will listen, and sometimes that's enough. 

But sometimes I want more.
I want to be understood.

I don't want to have to go into the reasons why right now it isn't possible for me to not have a job, or why I don't want to try to find something else because I do honestly like where I work. I don't want to have to try not to sound offensive when I talk about why for me being home this summer has been so much easier than the past year and a half of working. I don't want to have to explain why the phrase "full-time mom" when applied to a stay-at-home mom is so insulting to me (but seriously, we need to stop saying this).

I just want to say I'm sad about going back to being a working mom and be truly, totally understood about everything that's included in that statement.

Today I was sitting on the couch holding J, and R was playing next to me, and I started crying thinking about Monday. Not just watery eyes but actual tears streaming down my face.

And God spoke to me. 

It wasn't an audible voice, of course. There wasn't any thunder; the lights didn't flicker.
Nothing happened. But I just felt this peace settle over me, and I felt God whisper:
I see you. 
I hear you. 
I understand.

Christians like to talk about God understanding all of our fears and desires and knowing all of our thoughts. He experienced it all! we say. He knows what it feels like! And sometimes it's kind of like, yeah yeah okay. That's a nice sentiment, but I can't give God a hug or send him a text and get a reply, so what good does that do me? Sometimes he feels too far "out there" to offer tangible, real-time comfort.

But today, I felt him so close. Honestly I did. And more than that, I felt totally understood. I told him I was sad, and I didn't have to say anything else because he knew everything else.

So I'm writing this now to remind you (and myself) that God sees you. He hears you. And most of all, he understands. Whatever it is that you're anxious or sad or angry or confused about, he knows, and you don't have to explain yourself. He won't be offended or upset. He won't think you're silly. He won't roll his eyes.

Lay it down at his feet and find rest. It doesn't mean you won't still be sad or anxious or angry or confused, but it does mean that you are always seen and heard. You are always understood.

No further explanation needed.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 
- Matthew 11:28

*Comments turned off. I hope this encouraged you today. 
You are seen and heard. You are understood.

two.

8.10.2017

Last weekend I took R, a wooden chair, and a giant balloon to the park by our house. I actually bought that balloon last year, but I thought maybe a one-year-old would look silly with such a huge balloon, so I held on to it. I got it filled with helium at a local store, and it barely fit in my car!

I bought R's blue dress back in March with the intention of having it be her birthday dress. It was risky to buy something for a growing toddler so early, but thankfully it fit perfectly! You will notice that she is wearing a bow in a few pictures. That right there is nothing short of a miracle, my friends. The bow was one I already had and didn't come with the dress, but I thought it matched well.

I printed all the pictures out and hung them up at R's party, and I made extra copies for guests to take home (the grandparents were all over it, obviously). Over the past two years, I have personally taken all of R's "milestone" photos, including newborn, and honestly they have all turned out how I envisioned. I love photography as a hobby and have so very much enjoyed taking photos of her myself. I know for sure our budget is happier because of it too!

We are so thankful for our sweet, beautiful, smart TWO-year-old! Pictures from her party to come later! Thank you, Jesus, for this blessing.
^^^ There was a little goldfish bribery going on to distract her from the headband. ha!


Just Yesterday

8.09.2017


For R. 
On the eve of your second birthday.

Two years ago today, I would meet you tomorrow.

Everyone said first babies came late, 
but you came nine days early.
7 pounds, 9 ounces, and perfect from head to toe.

Maybe you cried when you first came out, 
but I don’t remember.
I do remember the first time you laid on my chest.
The first time I saw your dimples.

They put you in the bassinet,
and I pushed you down the hallway to our room.
Slowest and proudest walk of my life.

Jordan and I so exhausted we could hardly keep our eyes open, 
yet unable to sleep because we wanted to make sure you were okay.

Two years ago today, I would meet you tomorrow.

You passed your hearing test with flying colors,
startled awake at the softest sound.
Cried during your entire newborn photoshoot at the hospital.

The nurse had to show us how to change your diaper,
wrap a swaddle,
adjust the straps on the car seat.

We left the hospital at 5:00 pm and drove home during rush-hour traffic.
I kept reaching back to make sure you were breathing.

Two years ago today, I would meet you tomorrow.

Flashing two dimples and looking just like your daddy.

You slept, and we couldn’t stop staring.
You yawned, and we snapped pictures.
You sneezed, and we laughed.

You couldn’t do much, just laid in my arms.
But you were so curious, looking at everything and everyone around you.

Then, I blinked.

And you held up your head
and sat up
and rolled over
and crawled
and walked

You smiled and called me mama.

Two years ago today, I would meet you tomorrow.

And yet, somehow,
please ignore this cliché,
but it really does feel like it all happened 
just yesterday.



*Repost (slightly edited) from last year.

Sharing about My Children Online

8.04.2017


Ten months ago, I wrote this post about what I personally felt comfortable sharing about my children online. I outlined some basic "rules" and explained a bit of my thought process. Nearly a year later, I wanted to share a few things I've been thinking about lately.

Deciding what to share or not share about your children online is a personal choice. Some people share a lot, much more than I personally feel is necessary. Some people choose to not share anything at all, which I completely understand but is kind of a bummer because I love seeing pictures of sweet babies! This wasn't always the case for me, but I've entered a stage of life where I can't really get enough of people talking about motherhood. Like I mentioned in my last post, I know I've mostly become a "mom blogger," but that's just a natural shift based on the two humans I've added to my world in the last couple of years. I can't imagine not sharing any photos or stories about my kids.

In looking back over the post I wrote ten months ago, I am happy to say that I've stuck to my original goals as far as what I feel comfortable sharing about R online. Now that J is here and as R has gotten older, I feel even more strongly about protecting what I post online about my children.

You may or may not have noticed, but I haven't been posting many photos of R and J on the blog recently. I do post a couple, but I want to scale back from the amount I've posted in the past. I wouldn't say I've posted an excessive amount of R over the past two years, but I want to post even less of her moving forward, and I want to post less of J overall. I've also been experimenting with different angles and things to take photos of them without showing their faces full on.
*I realize this picture is insanely blurry, but it was such a sweet (and quick!) moment and I kind of love everything about it.

Don't get me wrong: I love taking pictures of my kids, and I love showing them off. I love talking about them. But I've been thinking a lot lately about whether or not I would want there to be lots of pictures and stories of Baby Amanda floating around on a blog somewhere for anyone see and read, and the answer is: no, I wouldn't. So I am going to try and honor my kids by posting fewer photos in public spaces and posting fewer stories specifically about them. I will post about my own journey in motherhood, because those are my stories, but I will keep their stories mainly off the blog. 

Something new I'm doing for J is not posting monthly updates. He turned one month old a few weeks ago, and I intentionally did not post an update--not because I was too busy or because I forgot, but because I didn't want to. I wrote a full update in his baby book, which has space for twelve months of updates, and I think that's all he needs. (By the way, I have this baby book for J and love it!)

I started feeling near the end of R's monthly updates that perhaps posting things like that contributes to our sense of comparison as mothers. Yes, it's fun to see what another baby is doing and be able to say, "My baby is doing that too!" But what if your baby isn't? I don't want my blog to be a place where anyone feels stressed out or less than because my baby is doing something theirs isn't. I guess I just don't see a place for monthly updates about J on the blog this time, although I'm sure I will occasionally share things he's up to!

I will say that it has gotten easier to post fewer pictures of my children the more time goes on. At first I wanted to post all the pictures, but now it's much easier to only post one every so often. I like feeling like I am being intentional about what I choose to share, and I try to always respect R and J as people and not post anything embarrassing or physically revealing.

As always, I am very interested in your thoughts! This is such a personal topic, and everyone is going to have a different opinion about it. We all need to do what feels most comfortable for us and for our families. The main thing is that I hope all moms are respectful of their children when posting to the internet and intuitional about what they choose to post.

Do you post about your children online? Why or why not?
What are some "rules" you have when considering what to post?
Have you ever felt like you publicly shared something about your child that you wish you hadn't?

Coffee Date: August 2017

8.01.2017


J turned 6 weeks old on Sunday, and I wanted to sit down and share a bit about what life is like currently. There's no better time than the start of a new month, so let's do that blogger thing and pretend we're friends meeting in real life for a coffee date. Although you all know the drill by now: I don't actually drink coffee (yes, it's true!), so I'd probably order a chai latte.


Adding R to our family was wonderful, but it was also so stressful and tiring, and I've shared in the past that I didn't exactly love the newborn stage with her. Thankfully, transitioning from one kid to two has been so much better in so many ways.

For one thing, I am already used to operating with less sleep overall, and for the past 5ish months before J even arrived, it was rough in the sleep department. R has been a good sleeper most of her life, but we have definitely been waking up multiple times a night now for a while. R had a terrible case of hand, foot, mouth; I had strep; we dropped the pacifier and transitioned her to a toddler bed.... adding in the exhaustion of newborn sleep cycles and waking up throughout the night hasn't been as drastic as it was after having R. 


I have memories of stumbling around in the night, falling asleep while nursing, and just feeling like I had zero energy to do anything at all. Certainly there have been moments of that, but in general I'd say I haven't felt that extreme, indescribable exhaustion that I did two years ago.

Breastfeeding is going really, really well, and I'm so thankful. I tried not to assume that just because R nursed well, J would too, but so far it's been great. R weaned around 13 months, so it has been almost a year since I've breastfed, but it all came right back to me the moment J was placed on my chest and started rooting around. I felt so at ease and so confident. The first few weeks were painful, but there wasn't any bleeding or cracking or bruising like I experienced with R. With her, I was obsessed with my nursing app, timing the exact moment I started a feeding to the exact moment I ended it, and I used it for months

This time I have a more "go with the flow" kind of attitude. He eats when he eats, which is generally still every 2.5-3 hours, but I'm not as consumed with it and feel much more relaxed. (For a post on my experience the first few weeks nursing R, go here.) I also am much more relaxed about his naps, unlike last time. I try to pay attention to his sleepy cues and put him down when I can, but mostly I'm of the mind-set that he does what he does, and I just go with it. It's so freeing.
I started pumping once a day a few days after he was born to try and get a freezer stash going, since last time the pump and I didn't get along so well once I went back to work. I get about 3-4 ounces during a session, and right now I have about 80 ounces in my freezer! I'm really excited about that.

If we were meeting for coffee, I would ask you what makes a blog a "mom blog" because I think I've officially crossed into that territory. This is what is happening in my life right now, and so this lifestyle blog is naturally going to include lots of kid talk. I get that some people won't be as interested in this blog anymore because of that, which does make me sad, but isn't that how life works? Some people are in your life for a season, and then they move on. No hard feelings. But I do wonder if maybe I've become too "serious" lately, and I miss just sharing random funny stories. I want to try and get back to some of that.

Then I would tell you a funny story from J's first week of life.

First you need to know that I am hilariously terrible at changing baby boy diapers and have gotten peed on more times than I have fingers. R likes to stand on a stool next to me and watch me changing his diaper. She gets me wipes and things and in general is very interested in the goings ons. So one afternoon I was changing his diaper, and R was standing next to me holding a bowl full of pretzels that she was eating as a snack.

In the transition to putting on the new diaper, J peed a giant stream straight into the air. I screamed, naturally, because that's my reaction when something unexpected happens. So R screamed because I scared her, obviously, and she continued to cry as pee rained down upon her head. I yelled for Jordan, who raced in, and we had to stick R's head under the faucet and wash her hair. Pee had pooled into the cup of pretzels, so I went into the kitchen to get her more. Except I couldn't find the pretzels anywhere, which was odd because I had just ten minutes ago gotten them out to give her some. Jordan and I commenced a search of the house and turned up nothing. In desperation he pulled the freezer open, and there they were sitting in front in all their salted glory. Jordan thought it was the best thing he'd ever seen, and we laughed about it for the rest of the day.

I would probably mention as some point during our coffee date that my maternity leave will be over soon, and I'm having serious anxiety about it. I'm already tired and busy, so I don't know how I am supposed to fit a full-time job into my life! I'm also worried about paying for two kids in daycare. But mostly I'm worried about how much I'll miss R and J during the day when I'm at work. But since it's not happening for a few weeks still, I would tell you that I'd rather not talk about it and we would move on to more fun things like....

R's second birthday party! It's this weekend, and I'm so excited to celebrate. It will be a small, low-key party with our families. I don't have a fun theme or tons of cute decorations, but I have been crafting a bit, which you may have seen peeks of on my Instagram. The "theme" is mint and pink, because when I walked around Hobby Lobby last week looking for decorations, I kept putting mint- and pink-colored items into my cart. Creative party blogger, I am not. 

I took R to the park last weekend to do a 2-year photoshoot, and while I didn't get the laughing, smiling pictures I imagined in my head, I do think I got some good ones and am excited to share them with you! She is such a beautiful, smart, sweet little girl and I love being her mama.

By this point in our date, J would probably need to eat, so I'll have to say my goodbyes. We wouldn't hug because as some of you know already, I am not a hugger. But we'd make plans to do it again (the coffee date, not the hug), because I think having friend time in person is rare these days and something I really enjoy.

So now a few coffee date questions for you!

What's something you're looking forward to?
What's something you're feeling anxious about?
What kinds of blogs do you enjoy reading the most?
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