In my opinion, one of the best things about fall and the approaching holiday season is that it also means the beginning of holiday parties and get-togethers with good friends. Since party planning happens to be one of my favorite hobbies to indulge in, I've been entertaining the idea of throwing some sort of Halloween party in my head since our pool closed on Labor Day. 😜 With all of the different fall festivals and activities available on the weekend's and evenings here in Louisville, I got the idea to throw a party during the day so that it wouldn't conflict with all of the other events. Since everyone's husbands are gone at dental school during the daytime, this specific party was able to be put together completely for the benefit of all of the dental school baby & mama friends that Emery and I have come to love and appreciate so much over these past couple of years. Everyone came together for games and Halloween themed treats to celebrate the holiday and each other, and we had a "spook"-tacular time!
Since our dental school baby age range runs from a couple of months to 4 years old, I tried to keep the food and game options at a level that babies and toddler aged kids could really enjoy and get into. For food we had PB&J sandwiches cut into bat and pumpkin shapes (thus eliminating the gross crust AND making them fun to eat), mummy-wrapped applesauce pouches, string cheese ghosts, jack-o-lantern clementines, candy corn cupcakes, and a fun harvest Chex Mix that was equally adorable and delicious. I'd love to take credit for all of the cute food ideas, but found the majority of the food inspiration on Pinterest, so to give credit to the original creators of these fun lunch treats, links to the individual posts (with recipes & tutorials) are all included for your benefit! I was able to get a little more original with the Halloween games that we played, and included pumpkin painting (mini Trader Joe's pumpkins with Crayola washable, non-toxic finger paints), pin the bowtie on the skeleton, the classic "doughnut on a string" game but with miniature doughnuts for toddler-sized mouths, and a Halloween bowling game made from empty cans and acrylic paint on my part to make the pins look like classic Halloween characters. I also included a few store-bought games from Target like a Halloween matching game, monster face stickers on paper cups, a soft pumpkin toss game, and bubbles so that even the littlest of guests could participate and enjoy.
Overall the party was SO much fun, and I'm so so glad that so many of our sweet friends were able to make it out to celebrate with us (the picture below is missing a few mamas that had to leave early). I'm also EXTREMELY grateful for all of my sweet girlfriends that offered up help to make the party come together. The cupcakes, clementines, and Chex Mix were all made by a few of the sweet mamas below, and the day before/morning of the party I had a couple of my girlfriends over at my house sacrificing their alone time during their kiddo's naps to help me put together the rest of the last minute details. These amazing girls are what makes this dental school journey not only bearable but even enjoyable, and I know that these friendships are some that I'll cherish literally for the rest of my life. Thank you so much to all of those that came and especially all of those that helped! Em & I love & appreciate you all so much! ❤️
black onesie: amazon | play pearl necklace & tights: target | skirt: h&m
white bloomers: thrifted (originally a part of Em's summer wardrobe) | shoes: honeysuckle shoes
Remember last year when I went on and on about how holidays with a baby where seriously the best thing ever? Well this year I'm having to correct my previous self because it's turning out that holidays with a toddler are seriously SO MUCH FUN! This Halloween season Emery is actually old enough to get excited about what's going on around her, and I've been working hard to keep the festivities flowing freely to help her enjoy the holidays as much as possible! I have a family costume planned for us to wear for our bigger Halloween party with friends this year, but realized a couple of weeks ago that between Boo-at-the-Zoo, fall festivals, and a Halloween kid's party we're throwing later this week, that Emery needed a costume that could stand as it's own piece instead of having to be a part of the whole family gig. Last weekend Kyle and I were watching some classic Mickey Mouse Halloween shorts with Emery on Netflix, and the idea came to me that a Minnie Mouse costume for Emery would be pretty adorable and easy to pull together for a fairly inexpensive price. The only part of her costume I had to make was her ears and they cost me less than $3, and the rest of the costume was from items already in her closet or things that I bought but knew that she'd be able to wear with other outfits on a regular basis making it more worth the money! I'll link the details to her outfit (not sponsored, just giving ideas for where to go if you need any of the costume items ☺️ ) and of course include DIY instructions for her ears below, but hope that this post will help any mamas stressing about dressing up their toddler this year know that they can look to their own closets first before having to rush to the store to spend a bunch of money on a ready made costume. With a little creativity, a cute, simple, and inexpensive costume is easy to do, and adorable too!
DIY: Minnie Mouse Toddler/baby girl Costume
cost: $5 max | skill level: easy | total time: 30 minutes
How to Make it:
Happy DIY-ing this Halloween season! I can't wait to see everyone's fun costumes & creativity!
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. 😉
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.