Evie’s First Birthday: The Post of a Thousand Pictures

As I mentioned the other dayEvangeline Grace turned one on the 26th. One! My sweet little baby girl!!! Man, I have all the feelings about this. We even had a party for her- go us!

I say “even” because if you have more than one child, you know that it suddenly becomes way harder to do the things you did for child #1, i.e. taking monthly photos documenting their growth (or lack thereof: come on people, sometimes they don’t look that different depending on the month, amiright?) or in this case, planning and throwing their first birthday.

Let me disclaim that a major reason I didn’t even think a birthday party was doable for Evie was because we have almost no free weekends in the months of September and October this year. They’re either filled with traveling out of town or time-consuming events and commitments. (Side note: I like the word “commitments” better than “obligations”; doesn’t the latter just sound like you’re being a reactionary victim of your life instead of a proactive liver of your life? That sounded like I was describing a proactive internal organ…whatever, you get it.)

BUT. Thanks largely to my mom, we carved out some time during one of our weekend trips to their house the weekend before her birthday! There was even a theme!! Well, the cake had a theme. It counts. AND she had an amazing, epic birthday outfit. So, if that doesn’t prove my love for her is equal to my love for our firstborn, I don’t know what will.

Without further ado, here are a thousand pictures:

Look at her. She’s just presh. Also? She was tired, because the party was right after church on Sunday. I mean, she was real tired. Here’s a better representation of where she was at emotionally:

She has also been teething hardcore for awhile. And her allergies are acting up (thus the snot. soooo pretty). But all things considered, she kept it together as long as she could.

See? WOODLAND CREATURES. Theme. Mom even got her this adorable deer stuffed animal, which she totally loves.

Plastic woodland creature rings because THEME.

Don’t even care that my eyes are closed. I love this picture of us. Isn’t it great that photos don’t have to be perfect to be special?

I feel like I took a million pictures just of her sitting in that same chair eating and/or glowering… But again, I don’t care. And check it out- you can see how tired she is in this next one:

Bless her heart. She was so tired she wasn’t even interested in her smash cake. Not even a little. Like, I tried to offer her a piece and she smacked it away. So, finally I conceded defeat and laid her down for a nap. She was a trooper; AND she left that birthday hat headband on the whole time! Way to go, Evie.

Like I mentioned, the party took place two days before her actual birthday. So, on Tuesday, September 26th, I got out the leftover cake and the birthday hat headband again and let her at it.

I MEAN. I know she’s my child, but SO CUTE.

Clearly, she was in a better state of mind, because she destroyed that cake. I hadn’t planned on taking the girls anywhere on Tuesday, but looking at her in that hat and thinking about the epic tutu that went with it, I decided we needed to go somewhere and show off.

So, we went to Target, obvi.

I even let Lucy wear her Sofia the First dress, because birthdays necessitate the wearing of ballgowns. (Don’t mind that scary red mark on her face. I told her not to jump on my bed…and she did it anyway. Thus, scary red mark and tearful requests for Mommy to get an icepack.)

It was a good time. Errbody in Target was jealous of our epic tutus and ballgowns.

My favorite photos (other than the awesome grumpy face) are probably these two:

Evangeline Grace.

We’re just so thankful for her. We had planned to start trying for a second baby about six months after we found out we were expecting, which is kind of awesome, because it’s totally reflective of how Evie has been a step ahead of us ever since she was born.

I love this photo from the day she was born. My husband and dad had gone out on an errand and came back with a mocha for me from my fav local coffee place called Cavu Coffee. I mean, beautiful newborn plus good coffee?? Does it get any better???

I also thought she was a boy when I first found out I was pregnant with her. But I remember discussing names with Ryan and suddenly thinking of “Evangeline.” I think I gasped aloud when I paired it with “Grace” because GUYS. Evangeline means “Messenger of Good News” and “Grace” is the good news of the gospel. GAH I just love it. I’m sure I love it more than people who aren’t the parent of my child, but still. Isn’t giving your baby a meaningful name just awesome?

God knew we needed Evangeline. He knew the world needed her. The two words we most often use to describe her are fierce and sweet. Because she is the physical embodiment of them! She’s so feisty, and yet she also loves people.

Being a witness to her life is like hearing an ominous crash of thunder and feeling the weight of the air thick with the makings of a storm. You know that sense of awe you feel deep in your spirit in those moments? That’s what it’s like being around Evie.

Happy Birthday, you sweet and fierce girl.

 

 

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Baby List: The Pinterest of Baby Registries!

Whew! Our 10-day trip to Anaheim was pretty epic, but now that we’re back from convention, I think my brain has entered full baby-prep-nesting mode. (Or it will once I become less catatonic and have a few more nights of normal sleep in my own bed.)

I’ve been thinking and planning for baby #2 for awhile now, for all the obvious reasons. But also because we will have 2 kids under 3 living in our two-bedroom apartment, which we love! (Except the 3rd-floor part.) Admittedly though, our space is limited, so it’s been a really fun opportunity to be creative with what we have! I’m actually excited at the prospect.

Why I Use Baby List: The Pinterest of Baby Registries!And I’m extra excited, because my sister-in-law is planning a Sprinkle for me in a few weeks! Do you know this is a thing? Because I didn’t. Apparently, sprinkles are sometimes thrown for people who’ve already had a child and therefore a full blown baby shower isn’t exactly necessary.

Having a Sprinkle means I got to register again- which was way more fun this time around, because instead of the exhausting quest all over the normal stores, I just used Baby List!

 

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You guys. It’s like Pinterest, except it’s a baby registry; you can add anything from ANYWHERE on the interwebs to your registry. So, if there is an unconventional item you want or if something is listed more cheaply on a specific website, you can register for it! People can view the items on your registry so they know exactly what they’re looking for, see the quantity you prefer to receive, and read any notes or specifications you may have added to an item.

Baby List also has these Best of Guides which are great resources for helping you find specific products. It’s not just stuff Baby List decided was good because they’re paid to promote it; for each item featured on a guide, they share quotes and feedback from real live parents! The two I found most helpful were the Best Bassinets of 2016 and The Ultimate Guide to Nursing Bras.

While I haven’t shopped for a nursing bra, I have registered for a bassinet, which is on the list included in the Best Bassinets guide. It’s not too big, and it can be moved from room to room- yay!

Because of having to consider how much space everything will take up and being on our second little one, I thought I’d share my top 5 favorite things on the registry in case you are also in need of some good, space-saving and/or storage ideas for the next little addition to your family.

(Before I share the list, let me just say, I definitely don’t expect to receive everything on the list; I don’t know what people typically spend for these things!! But I love having an accessible list of things even just for my own reference, as well as where I found them.)

Top 7 Favorite Things on my Baby List Registry:

  1. Diaper Bagjujube diaper bagWhy do I need a diaper bag? Because my other one broke. It’s supposed to be this sturdy thing AND I got it from Target (so obviously it was high quality), and yet, it started falling apart a mere 3 months after Lucy was born! Granted it still functioned for us, but after our trip last week, the strap came completely off one side of the bag. Plus, it isn’t very structured and things spill out of it. So, I found this fabulous diaper bag!!! Isn’t it gorgeous? I read lots of great reviews on it, too. And because of Baby List, I was able to register for it at the cheapest price possible, even though it’s at Shoebuy.com and not a normal store.
  2. Another Diaper BagBetter Life Bags EmilyYou’re thinking, “You crazypants. Why did you register for TWO diaper bags?” Well, friend. The answer is because I discovered Better Life Bags. I love their mission as well as their products and the fact that you get to design your own bag (you get to select your leather, fabric patterns, whether your hardware is bronze/gold/silver, and inside lining color!), so I thought even though it’s way more expensive than anything I’d ever register for, I’d put it on there in case someone just wanted to support them. (I also registered for a handful of online gift certificates to BLB just because it REALLY is pricey and I thought if someone preferred to support them that way that would be cool. I still go back and forth of whether I should even have it on the registry, but it’s so beautiful! And so is the heart behind it. So, it’s still there for now. If nothing else, I just hope more people will look them up!) Apologies for the photo- unfortunately they don’t have a way for you to download an image of your design, even if you save it to the wishlist (it just shows up as the default picture).
  3. Bassinet- bassinetAs I mentioned, I loved the Best of Bassinets 2016 guide to check out different kinds of bassinets. With eight bajillion options for every kind of product out there, it was so nice seeing just a handful that are actually recommended by other people AND will fit in our space. This one has such great reviews both on the Best Of guide as well as Amazon! And it’s way cheaper than a lot I looked at.
  4. Mini-crib- mini crib

Why a mini-crib? Because the biggest challenge for us will be figuring out a place for Evie to sleep and/or storage (for both girls’ things). I had thought of the possibility of turning the large closet in the guest bathroom (which adjoins Lucy’s room) into a mini-nursery of sorts and promptly discovered closet nurseries on Pinterest (where else?)!

Obviously, Evie will sleep in a bassinet at the beginning, but I like to have a plan, and according to the dimensions, this mini-crib will fit!! So, I registered for it on Amazon. Eventually, she and Lucy can totally share rooms, but for the duration of time where she will be waking up and crying throughout the night, I don’t want to deal with Lucy waking up crying, too.

5. Sit and Stand Double Stroller- strollerOk. This is one of those things I wasn’t sure if we truly needed. But after discussing it with other moms of more than one child, I had to put it on the registry… Because there’s room for your baby AND your toddler. Plus, the toddler can sit or stand on the stroller in multiple positions- great for keeping busy little people happy! And Walmart carries it, which is super convenient!

6. These Polkadot Storage Bins- polka dot binBecause as I mentioned, storage is right up there in our top needs. These are SO CUTE! And they’re from Target, because that’s where all pretty things live. I registered for a couple other cute kinds of bins and such, but I think these are my favorite!

7. This pink bear wubbanub- pink bearYes, that’s what they’re called. Lucy has a lamb wubbanub that they gave her when she went into the ICU about a week or so after she was born, and she still loves it to this day! (Yes, I know she’s 2. No, I’m not worried about breaking the habit. Because if it’s in her mouth, she’s can’t cry as loudly when throwing a tantrum. Priorities, people.)

 

I could go on. But I told myself I was only going to list 7 things at most… So there you go! If you’re pregnant or have friends who are, I strongly recommend Baby List!

P.S. This probably seems like it was sponsored by Baby List, but just fyi it wasn’t. I just super love it and wanted to share!

Five Tips to Cultivating Creativity {Day 4}

Welcome to Day 4 of the On Being Creative series! You’ll find links to all the posts as they’re added on the series’ homepage here.

 

Let’s talk about cultivating and maintaining our creative gifts. I imagine it to be like tending a garden (of which I have little knowledge and even less skill; don’t entrust your plants to me). Because it takes time, patience, and continued investment of resources. But also like a garden, the stuff of our creativity lives within boundaries. We can only do so much as creatives just as we can only do so much as humans. (How many times can I say “creative” in this series? Place your bets now…)

So how do we bear the fruit of our creative work well? (There it is again…) Today, I’m sharing a brief list on some tips to cultivating creativity. Five tips to be exact.

Day 4

 

Give Yourself Margin

Maybe you didn’t know this, but creating is work, not rest.

I’ve discovered that when I try to just keep creating- unless it’s one of those rare river-of-creative-juices-rushing type of things- I end up creating crap. And/or I don’t like what I’ve created. And I’m grouchy and thoroughly useless to my family. Hmmm this is what happens when I’m overworked or burned out too. Interesting…

Processed with VSCOcam with n1 presetSo I’ve had to discover what fills me up when the creative tank runs dry. Mostly, it’s the following:

  • An uninterrupted hour (or two) walking around Target + Starbucks in hand
  • Shopping with my mom.
  • Taking Lucy to story time at a local coffee shop.
  • Writing letters to Ella.
  • Planning Girls’ Weekend.
  • Or fun projects like how to make my rental laundry room more exciting or at least less chaotic…

Basically, I give myself permission to stop creating for awhile.

It’s kind of like music. Have you ever heard someone point out that music is both sound AND silence? It sounds obvious, but when you think about it, those silent moments are just as important as the sounding notes. If there’s no silence or pause at all in an entire song, no change in dynamic, then it can sometimes not only sound monotone, but can also grate on the senses. And- for those unfamiliar with reading music- did you know the silent moments are actually called rests? 

So find your margin. Figure out a few things that replenish you, even if it’s just a very slow walk through the Target Dollar Spot.

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Say No

I don’t know why this is such a hard thing to do. But it’s so life-giving when you own your No’s. It’s also kind of rough, because of course when you say no, you might be missing out on something really cool, but missing out on that thing strengthens your commitment to your Yes’s.

The Nester wrote a post called Why the World Needs the Makers to Say No Boldly, in which she says the following:

I’ve learned that I am the ONLY person who will protect my own creativity and livelihood…I’m learning what it means to be intentional with both my life-givers and creativity-killers. I don’t have a lot of answers but I no longer see the personality and scheduling ability of a Maker as a weakness.

And in a recent post, Emily P. Freeman (her sister) said on her blog,

I’m learning the language of my own yeses, and they tend to speak with excitement, not dread.”

Learning the language of your yeses (isn’t that brilliant?) means you’ll also therefore learn the language of you no’s. Sometimes there’s nuance in deciphering them, but it’s worth it. I’m just beginning to experience the gratification of saying no to something that doesn’t fall within my right-now capacity, capability, calling and/or competence.

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Do the Work

 

There’s not much I can add to that. Except to say that every time this video pops up somewhere, I listen to it again. Because I need to keep hearing his words encouraging me to essentially keep on keeping’ on. I need to hear that my taste is good and my work will catch up to it one day.

Plus, it makes me breathe a sigh of relief that yes- sometimes I do feel that disappointment in things I create. But to keep going serves your art and your audience, while quitting serves neither.

 

Don’t Be a Helicopter Mom to Your Art.

I first heard Glennon over at Momastery talk about the fact that hovering around your art and making sure people are being nice to it is not your job. And also, it’s an exhausting misuse of your energy and creative juices. Your job to survive a creative life is instead the following:

  1. Create!
  2. Call it Good!
  3. Rest.

She also shared this quote which you may have heard before: “What others think of me is none of my business. “ – Dr. Wayne Dyer

And to that, I would add this articulate demonstration of artistic philosophy:

 

But seriously. If Taylor can do it. You can too.

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Keep Surrendering Your Art to God

Remember that Ecclesiastes verse I love?

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Verses like this remind me of the beauty both in margin and in work, in stillness and in action. More importantly, they remind me of the steadfast and supremely creative character of God. Have you ever thought about how creative God must be, that he has made everything beautiful in its time?

Even me. Even my laundry days. Even the days when no matter how I try, the lines don’t leave my pen right, the strokes baffle my brush, and the keys sound trite and spiritless no matter how I arrange them.

I think of the times I’ve failed or been rejected, creatively or otherwise. The thing is, with God nothing is wasted. That’s how much we can trust him.

He’s so creative, he brings beauty even out of failure- even out of nothing. So keep surrendering your art to God- remember it belongs to him anyway. He has put us in charge of our efforts, but not our outcomes.

I put it to you, creative kindred spirits- what else would you add to this list? So far, to cultivate our creativity well, here’s what we’ve got:

  1. Give Yourself Margin
  2. Say No
  3. Do the Work
  4. Don’t Be a Helicopter Mom to Your Art
  5. Keep Surrendering Your Art to God

 

Next Up: Day 4: Why Believing in Yourself Doesn’t Work {For the Creative Who Can’t Right Now}

Little Big Girl Bedroom!

On Saturday, we moved Lucy into her toddler bed. {Moment of silence and/or me crying and scrolling through all the baby pictures I’ve ever posted to Instagram.}

I don’t know what possessed me to agree to it. Maybe it was the super cute comforter I’d bought, or the super cute canvases, or maybe it was the two adorable pillows we found at IKEA on Saturday… Maybe it was just walking around IKEA on Saturday.

I’m pretty sure IKEA is at least partially to blame. Because when we got to the toddler bed section, for the first time ever, Lucy was climbing onto every little bed and declaring it hers. {Also, they had the pillows I mentioned which, as you will see, go PERFECTLY with the other decor I’d acquired.}

All I know is, somehow I found myself agreeing to let Ryan convert her crib into its toddler bed form and 30 minutes later it was done.

I was in shock, though this did not prevent me from immediately getting out all the aforementioned pretties and arranging them.

Aside from my handful of tearful moments over the whole scenario of my-baby’s-not-in-a-crib-anymore, I had SO much fun planning updates for her Big Girl Bed + accouterments! And you don’t have to break the bank to accomplish an updated room- yay! Pinterest told the truth about that after all…

Wanna see? I’m going to assume you said yes, since you’re still reading this.

Here are two before pictures:

Lucy Room Before 1Lucy Room Before 2

They’re clearly not great quality pictures. But they were quickly taken for the purpose of sharing with family and friends. Clearly, this is before we had a baby shower and received the 8 million toys, humidifiers, shoes, and other baby whatnot that now begs a place in her room…

Ok, now to the after… Brace yourselves. {I know it’s just me bracing myself, because it’s my baby who isn’t a baby anymore. Y’all are totally comfortable with the emotional uprooting this change means for me. It’s ok. I forgive you.}IMG_6259

Looks pretty comfy, right? It is. Ok but let me back up. It gets better.

Big Girl Bed and decor

The bedding came as a twin sized pillow case + comforter from Target because of course it did. I’d spent all this time having fun pinning all manner of Land of Nod bedding options- which are absolutely beautiful and precious! However, they are also a million dollars- for like, the fitted sheet that goes WITH the bedding set you want.

So, a jaunt through Target led me to this set, which I think is downright cheerful, don’t you? And the website says the twin set is 29.99 which is great! But I actually got mine a little cheaper than that because it was randomly on sale in the store- aka I did a really cool happy dance in the bedding aisle when I went to buy it. {Plus, it’s not full of garish characters that assault the eyes like all the toddler bedding sets out there.}

And are those canvas prints not the cutest??? They’re from that store called At Home, which I mentioned last week. Here are closeups of them:

Sun CanvasCloud Canvas

Maybe it would help to explain that my husband sings “You are My Sunshine” to Lucy every night before she goes to bed, like his dad used to sing to him. {If you’re wondering, yes it’s the sweetest thing ever.}

Thus the pillows… Speaking of which.

Big Girl bed Pillows

Don’t they just look friendly? This is what I’m talking about. They were such cheap little pillows that won me over with their adorableness at IKEA and their perfect-matchyness-with-the-canvases. {I think IKEA and At Home called each other and planned the whole thing.} You can find the sun here and the cloud here.

{Side note: If you’ve never had a toddler, apparently there is a whole toddler-pillow transition thing that happens, where they can asphyxiate if a pillow is too soft or something. As if we hormonal moms need more things to freak out about… And then I freaked out because the internet unhelpfully showed me all these really expensive ridiculous things claiming to be high tech toddler pillows and I’m like what the what?! But once I calmed down from my freak out, I decided Lu doesn’t need a pillow right now at all. Why would she? She’s never slept on one before.

So, once she’s comfortable with the bed, maybe I’ll introduce this flat little accent pillow I have, but for now, no pillow = me not constantly checking the baby monitor in a panic and Lucy not caring either way. See? YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO WHAT THE INTERNET SAYS. Do whatever works for you and your hormones and your little one. And as a benefit, the big pillow you’re seeing in the pictures can just go on the floor beside her bed at night and catch her if she falls off. The cloud and sun pillows can do that too! Yay pillows having other uses… Ok. Side note over.}

Big Girl Room Dresser

So, backing up again, this shows you that I didn’t redo her whole room. I really just switched up the bedding and the art above the bed. Let’s look at the other side of the room:

Big Girl Room Angle

So, the other side is in transition. I wasn’t sure where to put the little stuffed-animal-filled crib, but with moving the baby monitor from that corner to the other side of the room, we were able to fit it back there instead. This means that part of the room feels less congested and awkward than before- yay progress! But there’re still some oddities I’m working out- like where to put that little black, cube-shaped ottoman. I’m not sure what’s happening with it, but it houses some toys nicely, so there it sits.

I am really excited about the exceedingly simple yet intentional story corner I created using an old husband pillow and two blankets- one for the floor and one to cover the husband pillow to make it look girlier. Again, this is not a reading nook that you’d find on Pinterest, but Lucy loves it and likes me to sit with her and read books. So I’d say that is a win!

Story Corner

Lumpy but comfy. The Nester says “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” It doesn’t have to be perfect to be functional either. No, the blankets don’t coordinate with the bedding etc. But my toddler is overjoyed to get out her books and read them to her ponies. So, it’s perfect for now.

I wasn’t sure what Lucy would think of her new big girl bed situation. But check this out- this picture is from the first moment she climbed onto the bed after we assembled it.

First Time on Big Girl Bed

Look at her sweet face!! She LOVES it! I was/am simultaneously thrilled and bummed she liked it so much. Because now I can’t pretend like putting the crib back together is even an option… She’s officially a Little Big Girl. {Insert all the hysterical crying emojis here.}

If you have any additional recommendations on cute ways to organize and/or decorate toddler rooms I’m all ears! And/or if you’ve done up your own super cute little big one’s bedroom recently, do share about it in the comments.

Meanwhile, if you’re also emotional about your baby growing up, let’s you and me go grab some coffee… I’ll get the half n half. And the Kleenex.