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anna's birth announcement.

there was something about getting these birth announcements that made it oh so real to me that this little girl is our daughter -- there is this fog of new motherhood, and still needing to parent a very enthusiastic little girl, that hadn't given me a lot of moments to really let the reality soak in, but seeing these -- her name we so carefully chose and the simplicity of this announcement -- that made it all real, in a wonderful way. so, i cried (it's taken very little these past few weeks, just ask ryan!) and then we sent them on their way to dear friends and family we can't wait for her to meet.

as is our family tradition, we made these with minted, a company we love and now have used for our save the date, ellie's announcement and all our christmas cards (our 200920102011 & 20122013 cards!).


introducing anna!!!!

we are SO excited to introduce the newest member of our family -- sweet anna jean!! she arrived on november 22 (racing into the world after going a week past her due date!) -- we are so incredibly in love with her. the past three weeks have flown by & seem like a lifetime all at once. i can't imagine this little one not being here (or what it's like to sleep through the night!), but also feel like i've only blinked and she's almost a month old.

we are trying to find our rhythm, what this season will look like for all of us, but mostly, we're just sticking together, muddling through the days best we can with lots of grace and laughing at, and with, ourselves. i've discovered that thanksgiving babies are amazing -- you have them on the brink of this wonderful day, a chance to gather as a family or friends and account for what you're grateful for. then, in a season that beckons us to stillness, provides opportunities like sitting in front of a lit tree and oh so much joy, you have this brand new life to get to know, to hold, to love. for all of us, it's made this christmas one for the books. i said to ryan the other night -- while we're a family that really embraces christmas each year, there won't be one where we take a year off, i know that when we're old and grey, sitting on rocking chairs somewhere, we'll talk about THIS christmas -- when ellie was on the brink of three, in all its glory, and anna was a newborn and we spent out first christmas eve and christmas, on our own, as a family of four.

while i feel like i could sit here and ramble on and on with thoughts on going past your due date (for a second time), what it's been like to have a newborn again, what it's like to watch my husband raise these little girls, early thoughts on ellie & anna's bond (and some hilarious ellie quotes over the past few weeks...), i'm going to go back to soaking up time with anna in front of our tree and leave you with the images above (you can also find a lot more of what our family of four has been up to on instagram!).

the first few are from the hospital -- those unbelievable first hours getting to know each other, that cocoon before you head back to real life. i've taken a fraction of the number of photographs of anna that i did of ellie (#firsttimemom) but i've left my camera out & snuck in a few moments to capture this second daughter of mine. the second to last one frankly cracks me up, maybe it's rehearsal dinner material?!

p.s. my goal is to be back really soon with anna's birth announcement, our christmas card, and two more gift guides & then be back in the new year with some more writing. in the meantime, here's my post welcoming ellie to our family!


what i wore this pregnancy.

a few readers have emailed asking where i buy clothes for pregnancy. i have to tell you i get the biggest smile on my face because i just kind of love those readers! so, with full disclosure that this will likely be the most boring post because my answer is so simple, i'm happy to share a few thoughts! the shortest answer would be, well, have a super generous friend who lends you her great basics and buy a few pairs of black leggings. but i'll elaborate a bit more!

so, this pregnancy was different than mine with ellie because i wasn't going to an office to work and for the final twenty weeks i had to wear compression hose from the time i woke up in the morning, until i went to sleep (oh i could bore you for days with the joys of how my body does pregnancy, including varicose veins that feel like the worst shin splints!). so, once i got over throwing up every day and actually was getting dressed (most days) i realized that my maternity jeans were lots less comfortable with the compression hose, so those ended up being something i wore for a few hours or on a date night (i do think it's important to have one pair you love and feel beautiful in -- these are my favorite!).

the rest of the time it was dresses for the end of summer and then black leggings. every day. (i sort of wish i was kidding). but they were so comfortable and made the perfect transition into fall and the final 10 or so weeks of this pregnancy. most days i had some sort of neutral top, depending on the weather, maybe a few layers. the outfit in the photo above was essentially my uniform. it worked because it allowed me to be comfortable, to play with ellie, and to feel like i was really dressed. i could throw on a scarf or different earrings and actually feel like i was dressed up! so, i bought almost nothing this pregnancy -- i wish i had a good recommendation on leggings, my gap maternity ones are fine, but i'm sure there are better ones out there. (please leave ideas in the comments section if you have recommendations!) i do LOVE gap body maternity tops -- they're really well made, so soft and work really well all the way to the very end (the tops that are too short by week 36 really bum me out).

the other pieces that gave me a little variety and an option for date night were kind of random -- they were looser non-maternity tops i already had that worked great with a belt or just fit over my belly (the only way to figure this out is keep trying things on) and then a few shirts from the men's sale section at j.crew (which i get a surprising number of compliments on!). & then being due in november, it was fun to add some vests and jackets at the end -- there was no prayer they would zip or button (no matter how many times ellie told me i really should button my jacket!), but they gave a pop of color and easy layer.

some other places to look: my sonnet james dress was my go to pick me up for the first two trimesters, and i'm excited to try her spring line of dresses for nursing -- they're so well made & beautiful. if i could go back in time, i would have tried the storq basics. it's the one purchase i wish i had made.

i think my biggest piece of advice comes from a speech i once heard anne lamott give where she said: "i'm a firm believer that life is too short for uncomfortable pants." AMEN. that's pretty much the clothing mantra i live by, ESPECIALLY when you're carrying a baby (which is hard enough). i refuse to wear something that's not comfortable and so as soon as anything feels that way, i move on (it helps me to literally get it out of my closet). for every single woman this happens at a different point in pregnancy, and even pregnancy to pregnancy, it shifts.

this feels like the right moment, since i'm writing this 38 weeks pregnant and full of opinions to say: i'm also a big believer that the only thing you should ever say to a pregnant woman about her appearance is that she looks beautiful. anything about the size of the bump (and how big you think it is for that particular week of pregnancy!!), how "huge" or "ready to pop" she is, in my experience, always unhelpful. i'm not sure why we feel like when women are pregnant it's suddenly open season to comment on their looks, but man, it bugs me!

stepping down off my soap box :), to end with something i wrote on instagram about the above photograph & why i took this picture:

"that night when you think -- ok, so this actually could be my last night being pregnant, and you think about this daughter you're about to meet & what it will be like for her to grow up. that some day you will want to tell her about this pregnancy and what it felt like to carry her for 10 months -- how your love grew, how strong it showed you that you could be. that in this photo I had showered (miracle!) but I also had on compression hose, was battling heartburn, that my hips ached & I had lost my patience with her sister more than was fair. that the truth is we become mamas long before we're done growing up, so we grow together, best we can. that our little family could hardly wait to meet her."


my christmas wish list - 2014.

in the tradition of year's past, i thought i would share some wish lists with you as we approach the holiday season. i love finding the perfect gift for someone & so in case you're shopping for a friend, or husband, or a little one in your life, i'll round up some of the things making the list at our house!

garden & gun -- this is probably my favorite magazine these days. i joke that i'm a converted southerner (with proud midwestern roots!) after spending most of my adult life in virginia and falling in love with things like pimento cheese & tomato sandwiches. this magazine feeds my soul -- it inspires me to travel and cook and appreciate a story well told.

emily mcdowell's mugs are getting a lot of buzz and with good reason -- they're hilarious!

one of the simple joys in my life is getting a little more time to take care of myself -- this hair mask is my new favorite thing.

just love the simple, bright design of these napkins!

i'm not shy about christmas music, so i've been listening to this album nonstop since it came out!

i've really narrowed my cookbooks down to a few i know well, but i have an itch to add another one for the new year and these two are on my wish list. any others you'd recommend?

one of my top five things in my closet this year was the ryan tank from everlane -- it took me all the way through this summer of pregnancy, is really well made, unbelievably comfortable and goes with everything. 

one of the ways i'm trying to slow down is to use my microwave a little less. it's not some big deal, i just realize there's nothing calming about pushing buttons and the frantic beeping when it's done. this is going to be a regular star in our kitchen -- for heating up a bit of soup or risotto or something for baking.

a gift certificate to artifact uprising -- i absolutely loved making our family album last year and am excited to spend some time in january with a newborn nestled next to me as i do this year's album. their products are so well made and the design tools are really great!

finally, i say own the whole mom thing -- this shirt made me laugh because it captures so many of days!

up next, a list for babies, little ones and the men in your life! you can see lots more ideas on past lists right here!


moving to her new room.

in the chronicles of parenthood, moving a kid from a crib to their bed is the stuff of folklore. there are absolutely hilarious stories (because it's not your own kid!) of the stunts they pull with their new found freedom. of all the things that matter to me with raising little ones, sleep is near the top of the list. i've been convinced through reading and my own experience, that there are few things more important to their growth and development than good, solid rest. it's one of the things i'm grateful about deployments -- for me, ellie sleeping was the only way to survive, but it also gave me the motivation to really learn about what that would look like.

so, while i was really excited to create her new room, i was nervous about moving her out of her crib where a lot of amazing sleep had happened! what follows is an absurd amount of detail that will probably only be mildly interesting to other parents as nuts as i am about sleep. nevertheless, i'm going to write it all down! i'm no expert on any of this, this is just what worked for us, with ellie.

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bedtime books just for dad.

it's hard to believe ryan has been home from deployment a full year (!!). while that chapter feels like a long time ago, i feel like i'm constantly learning so much about this way of life. one of the great provisions in the military is that you're not doing it alone -- there are those that have gone before you, those that are right there in the thick of it with you. kind souls who don't minimize or diminish the hard things, but also who inspire and hope and believe right along side you -- that this a good life, where the strengths outweigh the trials.

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