Archive of ‘Us’ category

This Was the Week {no.5}

I changed the name of these posts from “This Week via Instagram”, to “This Was the Week”, just in case I end up feeling limited to only Instagram photos. Maybe I’ll share other photos and fun finds, etc. as well. Anyway… this was the week…

The first half looked pretty much like this:

So we cuddled at home a lot, sometimes getting a bit cabin-feverish.

We made yummy snacks- like smoothies, healthy cookies, and kettle corn.
The smoothie above is a recipe posted by my friend Bree. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana. : ) It’s been a big hit around here.
Seth has been so eager to help me in the kitchen, and I’m finding that if he helps make something he’s a lot more likely to try it. (Usually he is a pretty picky eater but we’re working on it.)

One day we went to a park near the beach.
It was really windy and we got rained out, but just seeing the ocean briefly was exactly what I needed to get through that day.

And of course, the days are pretty much ruled by the littlest member of the family.
Sometimes I think I can hardly stand the cuteness- it’s overwhelming.

A few other things of note this week…

Simple Living Media has a great new blog, Simple Design, which I love already. Tomorrow they’re starting a “show us your thrift haul” linkup, which I think is an excellent excuse to browse a few thrift shops very soon.

25 Rules for Mothers of Sons by Tabitha Studer. I found this on Pinterest,  and I know I’ll be going back to it again and again.

Homemade Spring Cleaning Products on Design Sponge

On my mind:

Outdoor activities for Seth in our backyard- thinking about ways to create a better outdoor play space.

How to keep Seth from hurting the baby without saying “no” every three seconds. He has so much 3-year-old boy energy, which can quickly get out of hand.

I’m hoping to finally find time to start going through our closets, drawers, etc. and simplifying our lives. Too much stuff is toxic. I’m slowly making my way through Organized Simplicity, which is really helpful and definitely inspiring for a simpler existence.

What have you been doing and enjoying this week?
I hope you all have a lovely Sunday!

Better Than Nothing.

Well, hello May. umm… what the heck happened? I was still getting used to it being April, and now it’s May… 4th? My baby was officially two months old yesterday. {Please let me stop time for just a while. Please?!?}

I keep trying to do a big post with a ton of photos from April. There are pictures from Easter, from a visit with cousins, from random everyday moments when I actually grabbed my big camera rather than my iPhone. But I have had to come to terms with the fact that that post simply isn’t going to happen right now. Every time I sit down thinking I might have a chance to edit them, the chance is gone before it has even started. Such is life with a 2 month old and a 3 year old. Nonstop, I tell you.

I don’t often turn my computer on until evening lately. If I do, I usually regret it, as it tends to it end in frustration for everyone. Right now my days are best spent immersed in real life with my family. They need my undivided attention. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So instead of waiting until I have time to show you all of April,
I figured a few is better than nothing.

More soon,
or eventually.

xo

Last Week {via Instagram}

This week was full.
Full of growth, love, laughter, family.
We stayed busy. We played. We got things done.

There was heat and sunshine, rain and chilly days- all in the same week.
Spring in South Florida, indeed.

above:
cloth diaper cuteness | sweet silly big boy | bubbley smiley baby
morning coffee | morning kiddos | at the park
below:
evening sky | a fave magazine | new plants on my deck

We went to the beach late one afternoon. It was Isaac’s first time- I had so been looking forward to introducing him to the ocean.

small pleasures: bits of joy that made me so thankful this week…
mornings in the back yard | fresh carrot juice | drying diapers in the sun
stringy grilled cheese lunch | a new roll of film loaded
best.mocha.ever | sun tea | driving with the windows down

visiting daddy at work | sink bath
driving to visit my family | trying a new (to me) photo app | family walks

I feel like life is taking on a feel of some normalcy- a new normal.
Sometimes I feel like we’re doing so well, and other times I feel completely overwhelmed.
But that is life. And it’s always beautiful.
I’m learning more every day- about managing my time, about patience, and about just letting go.
Being organized, but not freaking out if things don’t go as planned.

How was last week for you?
I hope your Monday is bright!

This week {via Instagram}

Oh, it was one of those weeks. You know the ones. The best part about it is that it has finally come to end. I lacked in both sleep and patience, and spent most of the last several days with a splitting headache which, of course, didn’t help the patience issue. Sometimes being 3, and being the parent of a 3 year old, is kind of rough. But we made it. And there were truly good moments. I love my phone for always being available to capture them, and then later remind me that they existed. These moments keep me sane and grateful and being so much joy to my life even on harder days.

my boys playing on the floor together // ezekiel bread with almond butter and strawberries // catching a glimpse of Isaac in my rearveiw mirror // my boys snuggling with their great grandmother (they still have three great grandmas- so thankful for that) // chevron pj’s and afgan made by my grandma // major smiles from this guy, all the time now // cooking with herbs I grew myself // planting new ones in the yard // taking a shower, being alone with my thoughts for a while (even if it’s a short while)

Seth is spending the night at Grandma’s house tonight, so for the afternoon it’s just me and baby and a much quieter house. Manny will be home from work in an hour and we’ll eat dinner, watch a movie, and most likely stuff ourselves with homemade kettle corn. (Since I learned how to make it, we can’t seem get enough of the stuff. We may need a popcorn intervention…) We were planning for the farmer’s market tomorrow morning but this is turning out to be a grey and rainy weekend so it may just be a lazy, snuggly type of day instead.

How are you spending your evening? your Sunday?
Whatever it is, I hope it’s wonderful.

Last Week {via Instagram}

Yes I know it’s Wednesday already. How on earth?

On Monday I posted over on The Creative Mama (which has a beautiful new design, by the way!) about a day in my life recently. It’s a series we’re doing over there this month, and I challenged myself to use my “real camera” to document one of our days. It wasn’t easy, but was definitely fun and rewarding. I mentioned in that post that I’ve been too nervous to go much of anywhere with the boys on my own, but I am hoping to change that this week, even if it’s just the park. We get so stir-crazy staying home, and this week Manny works four 12-hour days in a row. Must. Get. Out. I think I keep thinking of the worst case scenario (this usually involves Seth defiantly running away from me while Isaac is screaming and I’m carrying at least two heavy bags…), but I feel like if I keep our first outings simple, plan for the right time of day, and prepare a lot, I can do it.

So, back to last week.

There was Easter, of course. We dyed eggs using food ingredients (I’ll try to write about that soon- even though Easter is over- because it was pretty cool). We went to church that morning with Manny’s parents, and later they hid eggs in their yard for Seth to find. (Yes I did indeed take a picture of camera’s lcd screen. I’m so behind on editing personal photos right now. It’s one of those things I can’t really do one-handed.) Overall, the holiday was simple and family-filled and very nice.

The remainder of the week included a trip to the zoo with some friends, a few artsy ventures (Seth loves to paint, and surprisingly enough it stayed on the easel this time), and lots and lots of baby snuggling for everyone.

Above right: coconut chicken curry in the crockpot. Recipe here. Delish. I’m trying to use the slow cooker more when Manny’s working, because it eliminates a significant amount of stress from my life. Do you have any favorite crockpot recipes I should try?

We went the farmer’s market as a family on Sunday. The local market season is nearly over, and I regret that this was the first one I’d been to since the season started in October. I kept telling myself I’d go, but somehow never did when the weekend came. I’m so glad we finally went, and we’re planning to at least one more time before they’re done. I got some beautiful swiss chard, an avocado and some kiwis- all locally grown. Next time, I’m planning to bring more cash and get all our produce for the week. Everything is so fresh and beautiful!

And more snuggling…

That last one was taken by Manny in his parents’ yard, and I just love it. There is nothing like cuddling with both of my boys. I am so blessed to be their mom, truly.

This week {via Instagram}

Can I tell you something?

I love my D700. and my F4. love love love. My Nikons are the beautiful and reliable companions in my work.

But they are kind of big. and heavy. They stay at home during our regular outings because the diaper bag already weighs more than Isaac, and another bag would be too much to juggle.

Even at home lately, I don’t always grab one of the Nikons because there is just too much going on and I am so tired, and often the moment would be over too quick, etc, etc. I have been trying to make a point of shooting (with the Nikons) regularly since Isaac was born, because I want to capture this amazing time and because doing so helps me stay sane, but sometimes something smaller and easier to grab is just what I need to capture a moment.

So there’s this little app for the iPhone (and Droid, too now, I hear) called Instagram. It’s the sweetest thing- little square images, very fun filters (read: no post-processing needed), sends directly to Facebook and Tumblr to share with friends and family. It has made my phone my new method of documenting the everyday. It allows me to still take photos even in the craziness that is my life right now, and even though it is only a phone with zero technical knowledge needed, it gives me a bit of creative fulfillment. Of course I still crave my big cameras, and I still use them- nothing could replace that. But I love the moments I’ve been able to capture with this.

So I thought it would be fun to kind of recap each week (or so… I know better than to promise a weekly column of any kind…) using the Instagram photos I took. A glimpse into my days…

He turned 1 month old. In total denial (me, not him).

He prefers to sleep on me most of the time, and I’m completely cool with it. There are few things sweeter than a peaceful baby on your chest. Thankful for my sling and wrap carriers though!

It rained here and there, in between intense heat and sun. Yes, Summer in South Florida is on its way.

We’re potty training with Seth, which is happening, though a bit slowly. I made a chart with those little foil stars, and he gets a treat every 10 stars.
Yummy Earth lollipops have no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial dyes, and they taste better than the ones that do. win.

Also, you can see his new haircut in this picture. I’m not a fan of the way they did the front/bangs area. Actually, watching them do it made me want to try cutting his hair myself. It would save so much money and I feel like I could learn to do it they way I want it. Does anyone know of any tutorials for this online?

(By the way I never thought I would be trading treats for pottying. Motherhood tends to find you doing a lot of things you didn’t think you would. But it seems to motivate him.
If anyone has any magic potty tips I’d love them, especially for getting him to do #2 there…)

Isaac, at 4 weeks, still had some jaundice (not very bad, but still visible in the whites of his eyes). So he spent some time sunbathing this week, since the sun can help flush biliruben from the body.
Alas, it stayed and his doctor wanted to see him again yesterday. They took a vial of blood from his arm and I almost cried with him. I hate so much to see my babies in pain.

I finally got back into my garden this week, which was in desperate need of weeding. The basil, parsley, thyme and cilantro I planted seeds for a few months ago are doing really well.
I planted some more seeds this week, which are currently being watered by the rain. It felt so good to connect with the earth again and get my hands dirty. I’m sticking with herbs this season- they are easier for me than veggies, and I need easy right now.

I decided to take part in an Instagram photo challenge for the month of April, hosted by Paper Coterie. The theme is “my life”. It’s been fun so far.

For day 2: my handwriting. I’ve been journaling more again. I feel so much better when I do- it organizes my mind.

For day 4: my reflection- in the back yard, with Isaac in the mouna wrap. It’s his happy place.

One of my mother-in-law’s neighbors has one of the greenest thumbs I know of. She gave me these pretty zinnias from her yard.

Every day, many times a day, Seth asks to hold the baby. I’m so thankful that he loves his brother so much already. This makes my heart so full.

~~~~~~~~~

What did you do this week? Do you have any big plans for Easter weekend?

Also, if you’re on Instagram, what’s your username? I’m hmayophoto.

One Month

Just one month, and our everyday reality has shifted completely. In this month, we have become a family of four- it still seems a bit surreal. Nothing feels normal yet, but I’m okay with that. I’m trying to just enjoy this time, live fully, be present, and give myself as much grace as possible on the harder days.

This “little” guy (he’s over 10 pounds already!) is busting out of his newborn-size clothes, and I already hear my heart yelling, “no, stop! don’t grow up quite so fast!” I want to savor every moment and bottle it up. My big boy, too, is changing, growing. As people said he would, he seems so much bigger to me next to his newborn brother. He is getting so mature, and communicates so well. Right before my eyes, he is crossing the line between “toddler” and “little kid”.

There are lots of terrifically challenging days and difficult moments, but I love being their mom more than anything in the world. I know I am incredibly blessed and could not be more thankful.

Isaac {Your Birth Story}

Dear Isaac,

It was a month ago. Yet in my mind could have been just a week, or yesterday. The day a mother first sees her child is forever branded into the fibers of her brain.

Where do I start in telling this story? My labor began on Friday, March 2nd. According to our first ultrasound, that was our due date. The practice surges I’d been feeling all week started to come more frequently. (Note: Practice surges = Braxton Hicks contractions, which are painless tightenings of the uterus in preparation for labor. I felt them randomly from about halfway through both my pregnancies, and much more often near the end. Also, I call contractions “surges”- something I picked up from the birth class our midwife teaches. I find it helps me to think of them this way- surges of energy rather than contracting/tensing up. In labor and birth, the words you use and the way you think about things matters quite a lot.) By midday they were consistently 10-15 minutes apart and were getting pretty uncomfortable. This was how my first labor began, too- very gradually- and with Seth this early part lasted more than a day, so I wasn’t yet thinking “this is it”, I just knew that it would be soon. Your grandma Jackie had been saying all week that she thought you’d come on Saturday, and she tends to be right when she makes those kind of predictions. On Friday, though, I was really starting to wonder if you’d hold out that long.

Your dad worked his usual shift that day- 7am to 7pm. We talked in the afternoon and I told him what I was feeling, but gave no indication that I thought it was real labor (I wasn’t at all sure yet myself, and I didn’t want to get myself too excited since I knew it could still be days. I just wanted to be as normal as possible in every way until labor prevented me from doing so.) During our conversation, I mentioned a craving for Indian food from our favorite local restaurant, Indus, and he said “let’s do it!”. (He loves their chicken biriyani and will eat it any chance he gets.) So I brought Seth to play and have dinner at grandma and papa’s house, and then I came home to wait for your dad. In the car, I had to really put effort into focusing on the road during surges. This was when I knew for sure that they no longer qualified as practice surges- these were real. As I pulled back into our driveway, I briefly wondered if I even should have been driving, and resolved that if I was still pregnant tomorrow I wouldn’t drive myself anywhere.

By the time 7:05 came and your dad walked in the door, I’d decided to time the surges for a while. We were supposed to call Connie, our midwife, when they were 8 minutes apart or less, lasting 30-45 seconds or longer, for at least 30 minutes. They were currently ranging from 7.5 to 12 minutes apart, and lasting 20-30 seconds or so. Sometimes they were fairly uncomfortable, but having given birth before I was reluctant to yet apply the word “pain” to the situation. I knew I was in early labor, and your dad and I briefly questioned our dinner plans, but I wanted that Indian food. Besides, I figured, when would we next get a chance to go out for dinner- just the two of us?

During dinner, my surges continued to be about the same frequency, but gained some intensity. The food was amazing. I had my favorite, bagara baigan- eggplant in a coconut ginger sauce- with jasmine rice and garlic naan. I kept having to stop eating and breathe during surges. I’d love to know what the restaurant staff though of the very pregnant lady who was drinking so much water and kept this strange look on her face- maybe they thought I was nuts, or were nervous that I’d have a baby in their restaurant! We picked up your brother from grandma’s house and went to bed shortly after arriving home, unsure of what the night would bring.

The basic plan was to have the birth tub set up in our bedroom and have a water birth as I did with your brother. Over the recent weeks I’d carefully gathered and double-checked all the supplies listed by our midwife, and everything was ready. The tub would be brought while I was in labor. My mom would come down from Stuart (about a 40-minute drive) and be dropped off by my dad so she could spend the first night here with us, and grandma Jackie would be here for your birth as well. Papa was going to take Seth and then bring him back soon after you were born. My photographer friend April would come to document it all.

So… we went to bed sometime around 10pm, and the surges kept coming about every 10 minutes. I couldn’t sleep through them- they were much too uncomfortable- but I tried to get as much rest as I could in between. Sometime after 2am, they just hurt too much if I continued lying down. I went downstairs and drank some water and timed them, and suddenly (I’m assuming spurred by my walking around) they were only 3-6 minutes apart and much more intense. I called Connie, and she told me to keep timing and call her again in 30 minutes. I’d planned on having fruit and cheese available for the midwives and everyone else to snack on, but I hadn’t cut them up yet. This suddenly seemed very important, as it was the final thing on my “preparation for labor” list, so I found myself (somewhat irrationally) in the kitchen cutting up apples at 2:30am, stopping to lean over the counter for each surge, which were getting more and more intense. After I’d finished that, I went upstairs and nudged your dad to wake up. I called Connie again, and she could tell from my voice that things had really picked up and said she would be on her way. I told your dad that we needed to change the sheets and put the waterproof mattress pad on, to which he replied “that means I have to get out of bed, right?”. I still kept thinking (based on my first birth experience) that I still had plenty of time. I called my mom and your dad called his, and Connie was bringing the tub I’d rented from the birth center, so there was nothing left to do but wait for everyone to arrive. Your dad supported me during surges. Soon my mom was here, and Connie showed up minutes later. While she asked questions, took my vitals, etc, your dad and grandma worked on setting up the tub. I texted April, the photographer, to tell her it was time. That was probably the last coherent thing I was able to do- after that I was in “labor land”. Soon grandma Jackie and Connie’s assistant midwife, Kristen, were the room too. Throughout all of this my labor was intensifying, but even I did not realize just how fast at that point. I used pain-coping techniques I’d learned to help me through each surge. One I found effective was “non-focused awareness” (it’s discussed in Pam England’s Birthing From Within). It is basically allowing the mind to be aware of and acknowledge each individual thing around you, with all your senses, but not hold focus on any one thing. I remember even now some of the things I named in my mind during surges in that intense stage of labor… “carpet under my knees, sheet against my cheek, air pump for the tub, Manny’s voice, Mom’s voice, a hand on my back, air conditioner running, Connie’s voice, Sigur Ros playing from my iPhone…etc. I also used aromatherapy to help me relax and ease the pain. I’d done a little research on this ahead of time and had made a blend of lavender, clary sage, and jasmine oils, which your dad used to massage my back and shoulders.

I was more than ready for the warm water of birth tub, but it didn’t have any water yet. Connie suggested I get into the shower while waiting for the tub, and I figured any warm water would be great. While Kristen was starting to run the water, I had another surge and leaned on the bathroom counter for support. During that one, I began to feel a little “pushy”. It seemed the shower- and the birth tub- were out, but I don’t think anyone knew that yet but me, and I wasn’t able to communicate it. They tried to get the tub-filling efforts sped up, and we went to the bed to check my progress. Connie had asked me if I wanted her to this, as she doesn’t check routinely as doctors do, and I decided that I’d like to have a better idea of how soon you would be here. As I laid down, anther surge started and I rolled onto my side, and then my water broke. Then, I really had to push. My body was pushing for me- at this point in labor, there is no choice in the matter. The mind is a silent(ish) observer as the body takes over and does what it was designed to do. I was leaning over a stack of pillows, on my knees in bed. My mom was near my head, and your daddy was next to me. I could feel their love and support, but in my immediate conscience it was just you and me. In my mind, I spoke to you in between surges and pushing, something like “we’re doing this together, baby. we can do it. we’re going to meet face-to-face so soon…” Suddenly I heard Connie say the word “crowning” (and I felt that she was very right), and with the next push or your head was born. Another push (or a few? I’m not sure), and you were out. Crying- a healthy, clear and strong voice. Your daddy caught you behind me and passed you to me, and they helped me turn and sit down. I looked at you- stared at you. Soon you were nursing vigorously, and I couldn’t take my eyes off you. You had long fingers, I noticed. You were perfect, and I somehow felt I knew you already, that you were familiar to me in a very deep way. During my pregnancy I had I dream in which I clearly saw your face, and I think you look exactly as you did in that dream.

Later I looked saw Connie’s notes, and learned that I’d pushed for only 5 minutes. My active labor was 3.5 hours long. You were born at 5:52am on March 3rd- Saturday, just as your grandma said you would be. You weighed exactly 8 and 1/2 pounds, and were 21.5 inches long.

Your brother slept through much of this, and when the commotion did wake him, he watched Thomas the Train downstairs. He wasn’t worried, as I’d feared he might be. Your Papa was coming to pick him up, but you were born before he could get here. It ended up being so perfect, that you and your brother could meet so soon after you arrived. You must have just been ready to join us in our world, my love- you came before my mind had much chance to process what was happening, before a single drop of water was put into the birth tub, and also before April could get here with her camera. So there are no photos or videos of your birth. She did arrive about an hour afterwards though, and captured some of that first morning of us as a family of four- all snuggled in our bed. I’ll treasure the memory and pictures of that morning forever- so full of love and joy.

Welcome, my sweet Isaac. Your name means “he who laughs”, and already the joy you’ve brought us is beyond words.

Love forever,

Mama

all photos above, © April Milner of Coconut Circle Photography

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