This year marks our third autumn in Kentucky (and the start of our third year of dental school, how weird is that to say aloud?!), and even though the weather lately has been unseasonably warm for October, that fall feel is still in the air and Kyle and I felt like we had to take advantage of it. Every year since we've moved out east we've made it a point to visit a nearby orchard for apple picking as a kick off to fall, and it's something that I've really come to always look forward to. There's always guaranteed to be amazing fresh apples for picking and other produce for purchase, pumpkin spice doughnuts (if you haven't had a chance to try one of these yet you NEED to find a way to get them into your life), and more than anything amazing company from good friends and special time together with my sweet little family! Last year on our apple picking trip Emery was still pretty young and didn't fully understand what was going on, so this year it was a blast being able to have the experience brand new through her curious eyes.
This year was also our first time visiting Huber's Orchard specifically. It's easily one of Kentuckianas's largest orchard's partly because of the winery and distillery also located on the property, and after visiting I honestly don't know why it took us so long to make the trip! They had live music, wine tasting and distillery tours, tractor rides, apple and pumpkin picking, and literally everything else related to fall and fun that you could possibly think of! It was such a neat experience being able to see all of the different parts of the orchard and I really felt like there was something there for any age and interest! Emery's favorite part was riding on the tractor and then of course trying ALL of the apples, regardless of who they originally belonged to. 😂 She loved running up and down the rows of the apple trees, and found pure joy in being free to roam wherever she pleased, and enjoying unlimited snacks whenever she wanted them.
Experiences like these make me feel so grateful for Emery and the stage that she's currently in. Toddler life is so messy ALL the time, and even though it's constantly a struggle for me to let go of my control freak side and thinking that everything needs to be perfect all the time, I'm finding more and more than once I make it over that mindset that I'm able to so much more fully embrace moments and all the joy that they bring. We didn't think to get a picture of all three of us until the very end of our trip, at which point Emery was a sticky apple mess with sun kissed cheeks and only one shoe, and after putting so much thought into what her apple picking outfit would be I'd be lying if I said I didn't cringe a little bit at the thought of us not being able to get that "perfect" family shot. However, after looking back at the whole experience through pictures and reflection and seeing just how much fun Emery and all of us were able to have together, I'm gently reminded of a friend that said it will always be better in life to be more present than perfect, and I'm grateful for the chance to choose that more present path.
Happy Fall Ya'll!
While I was pregnant with Emery, I remember one of the nurses asking me how I was feeling during a prenatal appointment. I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and hadn't been sleeping very well because of my bulging belly and the need to pee every five minutes, and responded that I was a little tired but otherwise fine. The nurse laughed and then made the comment that motherhood could make anyone tired, and that she personally didn't start drinking coffee until after she had kids - at which point a daily cup became a necessity. I remember chuckling at what I thought was a little coffee joke; it took me until three days after Emery being born to realize that the joke was really on me, and that any form of fatigue that I'd experienced during pregnancy was nothing compared to the perma-tired that motherhood would continue to bring me on a daily basis thereafter.
When Emery was a newborn I was SO tired ALL the time. I had gone about 36 hours without any sleep once she was born because of the timing of my labor, and then after that only managed two to three hours of sleep a night for her first three weeks of life because I was so worried about something bad happening to her while I slept. Extreme sleep deprivation didn't help my paranoia, and I found myself deeply consumed with mom guilt. I didn't understand why I didn't have that new mom glow and energy that I had read about in all of my natural birthing books, and found myself constantly second guessing my ability to properly mother my child. I was beyond tired, felt like a failure, and worse than anything felt completely alone in my feelings because all of the other moms around me in my friend group and on social media seemed to have their lives together perfectly and I was the only one falling behind.
Now that Emery is older and we're both getting more sleep, things are better, but I still have times that I just feel tired and can't seem to figure out why, and then I remember that sweet nurse, laugh, and remember that it's because I'm a mom, and that's just one of the perks that comes along with the job.
It's taken me a long time to get up enough courage to write about this topic because learning how to conquer my own mom guilt & fatigue is a battle that I'm still fighting, but I know that there's got to be other moms out there that are fighting their own guilt demons too, and if you're one of those moms reading this then I want you to know that you're not definitely not alone, and that you're doing better than you think. One of the things that helped me the most in breaking through my mom guilt was to realize that it's OK for life to sometimes not be ok. Motherhood is messy, and regardless of what social media wants to make us think, no one has perfect children or a perfect house or a perfect life, because that just doesn't exist. Once I was able to break through that mindset it made me feel more comfortable talking to Kyle and friends about how I was feeling, and I found that instead of feeling alone, I was able to feel like I had a support group of an amazing husband and mamas that could help me through my hard days and congratulate me on my good ones. I learned that it was not only ok but necessary to take time for myself and for my marriage, and that my support group would help make that happen because they all need it in their lives too. There are still days and sometimes even weeks that I'll feel tired (thus the timing of this post), but that's ok and doesn't mean that I'm a bad mom, just a mom that needs a good night's rest, some "me" time, or maybe even a cup of coffee. 😉
Some days when I'm feeling especially overwhelmed, Emery will walk up to me out of the blue like a heaven sent angel and give me a big hug, and in that moment it helps me to remember that everything is ok and that despite the challenges that motherhood brings, that the experience is overwhelmingly more good than bad. If you're reading this and need it, consider this message a huge from me (and Emery) to you, and know that you're an amazing woman and mother. Even when it's hard to tell, your kids love you, you mama tribe loves you, and amongst the craziness of motherhood, always remember that we're all in this together. ❤️
(a final note) : if your mom guilt battle goes deeper to the level of postpartum depression or anxiety, you're still not alone and it is a battle possible to overcome. ❤️ Below are some resources to help, and adding your OB doctor to your support group is a must. They deal with PPD/PPA more than you'd think, and their help really can make a world of difference.
It has taken me way longer than usual to get this picture post up, probably because every time I think too much about how quickly Emery has changed and grown in just the couple of months since these were taken I end up ugly crying to an embarrassing level. Since her first birthday she has really come into her own personality, and it is a LOT of personality in the form of a pint sized toddler. I feel like I'm learning something new about her everyday, and am absolutely amazed at her ability to understand, communicate, and find joy in every aspect of her life.
emery || dress & white top: janie and jack | shoes: baby gap | bows: little ms. kays
kyle || polo: j.crew | shorts: old navy | shoes: sperry
me || top & skirt: j.crew | shoes & watch: target | lash extensions & nails: kami m. (email me for her contact info)
With school officially starting into the fall semester for Kyle again, I'm finding myself in a place where I'm trying as hard as I can to stop time so that I can just enjoy the little bit of summer that's left with my family without the added stress of school and work. Since I still haven't figured out a way to actually make time stop, I'm instead just trying really hard to live in the moment as much as I can, and really appreciate all of the little experiences day to day that I'm able to have with Emery and Kyle. Stopping and taking time to smell the roses has taken on a whole new level of meaning to me, and really trying to stick to that motto this past summer has given my life a whole new sense of joy than I've ever had the chance to experience.
As always, a million thank you's to my incredible friend & photographer Heidi for capturing these sweet pictures for us. She's now been able to capture our maternity, newborn, and one year pictures for us and I don't even know what I'm going to do when her husband graduates dental school a year before us and she moves away. Kyle sometimes complains that I make him take too many pictures, but if there's one thing that I've learned from becoming a parent, it's that time goes by much more quickly than we ever expect it to, and for me taking pictures is my way to capture these special moments and memories that we have together. I can't make time stand still (nor would I want to), but this is my way of slowing down and in my own respect smelling the roses. My family is my whole entire world, and I want to be able to enjoy and remember each stage with us exactly as we are. This blog will always be a sort of journal for me, and I'm so grateful for the daily experiences and the opportunity to document them.
Thanks so much to all those who read these posts and don't grow tired of my constant mushing over my family. These memories mean so much to me, and even though documenting them for my own purposes is the most important thing I love being able to share them with friends, family, and loved ones as well. Thanks for always being willing to join in on our simple joys. ❤️
This past week a new school year started for the majority of Kentucky, and with it came another year of nannying for me. This past spring the little one I nanny got a new baby sister, giving me a total of three babies (including Emery) ages two, one, and five months old. I can't even put into words after making it through this week how much respect I have for moms of multiples out there, especially when the babies are close in age. Seriously, ALL the admiration to all of you mamas out there that do what you do all day, every day. 🙌🏼 This past week I have been in WAY over my head, and staying organized and prepared for literally anything have been an absolute must to keep me from completely losing my marbles. While trying to learn how to balance everything this past week, the Boy Scout motto popped into my head of "Always Be Prepared." When the thought came to my mind I literally laughed out loud and thought to myself that moms need to live by a similar motto, except for that instead of just simply "being prepared", we also need to always be prepared for ourselves, any children in our care (including other people's children that we might meet on playdates, etc), and our husbands, for any sort of situation or disaster, whether it be an earthquake or a toddler meltdown in Target. One way that I've found to follow my "Mom Scout Motto" and keep myself feeling (slightly) more on top of life is by making sure that my diaper bag is packed with the right things and in the right quantities. I remember way back before Em was born and I was nannying just H, I made the classic rookie mistake of bringing everything but the kitchen sink with me wherever we went in a duffle bag sized diaper bag, and between carrying that and him ended up wearing myself out way more than was necessary. Over the past couple of years I've been through the scale of being overly and under prepared as far as diaper bag packing goes, and finally feel like I've found a happy medium of packing light while still packing enough, making life a little bit easier for all that the diaper bag carries for. 😉
My Perfect Balance of Diaper Bag Essentials:
That sums up my diaper bag must have's - I purposely kept it short because the older I get the more I realize just how valuable simplicity is in all aspects of life. The only thing that I almost added to this list but didn't was weather/activity specific essentials (bug spray, sunscreen, etc) because even though those are things that will sometimes be needed, they're not needed all the time and can be added in if the activity calls for it. Keeping my list to these simple five things has not only helped keep my diaper bag free of clutter, but has kept my mind free of unneeded stress and clutter as well, giving me more time to dedicate to Emery & the kiddos. When they're happy and taken care of, everyone feels good, and my Mom Scout Motto holds strong. 😉
It was 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday, and as I heard my daughter's whines and cries of "mama" through the baby monitor I groaned and remembered the days when my only alarm clock on the weekends was sunlight through the curtains and my hungry stomach ready for breakfast. I nudged Kyle to see if he would get up and bring Emery into our room, and he made the joke that she was calling for me, and to be glad that she at least knows how to say my name (we're still working on the whole "dada" thing 😉 ). I rolled my eyes and then got out of bed to go get Emery, and couldn't help but smile when I opened the door to her bedroom and saw her immediately light up and start bouncing and squawking excitedly at my arrival to take her out of her crib. I brought her into bed with Kyle and I with hopes of having us all go back to sleep for a little bit longer, but quickly gave up on the idea once I realized that Emery was up and ready to party, and making it clear by bouncing and crawling over every surface of our bed. I thought again back to mine and Kyle's pre-baby days of sleeping in, but this time I smiled because I knew that the way that things are now bring so much more happiness than sleeping in late on a Sunday morning. Life as a mother brings SO many challenges, but the blessings that it carries far outweighs any sort of frustration or struggle encountered along the way.
I had a friend/small shop owner pose the question in a Facebook group, "What is your favorite part about being a mom"? As different mamas posted their individual answers to the question, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of love that I could see each of these women had for their children. It also made me think long and hard about what specifically I love most about being a mom. There's obviously a million things that could be added to that list, but the more I thought about the question, the more I realized just how much value the knowledge of it's answer holds. So in honor of Mother's Day this weekend, I decided to sit and write a message to my one sweet daughter about my absolute favorite things about being her mom. I write the letter for her, in hopes that she'll one day look back and read about how much she's always been loved, but I also write for me, so that on those days when dreaded "mom guilt" steps in and I feel like I'm not doing nearly as well as I should be, I can look back and read and remember all of those most important things that bring me so much joy, and I feel like that will make all of the difference.
A very happy Mother's Day to all of my fellow mamas out there, whether you're a mom of two, ten, one, a mom-to-be, a mama with angel babies, grand-babies, and anything in between. I love you all dearly, and think that you're all amazing for all that you do. Enjoy your day for you!
I'm Chelsea. I'm a wife, mommy, photographer, and lover of life's little adventures. Join me here to celebrate the beautiful things in people and life.