Since having a baby I feel like our lives have been moving in fast forward, and I swear it wasn't that long ago that Kyle and I were at the hospital coming to the realization that we were about to meet our baby girl that we had waited so long for. Yet here we are, now with an extremely energetic, talking, running and giggling TWO year old, scratching our heads wondering how time went by this quickly, but still loving the new stages and adventures that having a toddler brings. Last year while planning Emery's 1st birthday party, I worked feverishly months in advance anticipating the day, making my mama heart feel allllll the emotions of my baby turning one for probably a lot longer than necessary. This year, I forced myself to hold off on planning her party until the actual month of, and even though it did help tone down the crazy on my party planning addiction, the mama feels still came and I was still a huge cry baby leading up to Em's big day blubbering to Kyle about how much she's grown. Turns out that no matter what I do I'm still bound to turn to mush when my child's birthday gets close enough. 😆
tablecloths + ribbon (garland): hobby lobby | chalkboard: home depot | toy planes + amelia earhart book: amazon
cake stands + wooden "E": target | small wood planes: amazon | larger wooden plane: local NJ craft/art fair
For Emery's birthdays I decided last year that I always wanted her parties to be focused on something that she really enjoys, and this year that thing happened to be airplanes! I don't know if it's been the fairly constant airplane rides to visit family throughout her life or just one of those random toddler interests, but Emery is OBSESSED with all things airplane related. While finding it near impossible to find her shoes sitting two feet away from her when we're trying to leave the house, she'll spot an airplane 20,000 feet up without any problem, and always with an adorable amount of excitement (think Em's little voice squealing "air-pane!!!!" and then "anoder one!!! about 20 times a day) 😉. While visiting our aunt in New Jersey in May I'd found Emery an adorable little handmade wooden airplane toy at a local craft fair, and that combined with the constant notification of airplanes in the sky sparked the idea for an airplane themed party. It turned out that finding airplane themed things for a party that weren't obviously meant for a boy was a little tricky, but I managed to find a few cute airplanes that were natural wood, then just added in little pops of more girly colors on the propeller/wheels, and then brought in more color into the rest of the decor with the plates, napkins, banner, cake toppers, etc.
While planning the party I wanted to try really hard to keep things simplified (a genuine task for me sometimes... or all the time) and to make sure that everything was really toddler friendly for Emery and all of her friends to enjoy. Last year I had done her party at a local splash pad, and although it was fun, the splash pad was PACKED with people and having to drive there brought up a lot of unexpected hurdles that added unnecessary stress to the day. This year we did the party in one of the local picnic areas of our apartment complex so there was no driving required, and we kept all of the food really simple & toddler approved with popsicles, powdered "cloud" doughnuts, mini bottled water, and of course birthday cake! I also found these adorable little pull-back airplanes for the kids to play with, and after laying down my giant chalkboard on one of the picnic tables and drawing a few runway lines, the kids had a blast flying the planes all over the table setup as well as running around with them throughout the picnic area. It was so much fun watching the kiddos all play together, and I really appreciated the change of pace by keeping things a little more quiet and close to home for the sake of simplicity.
Also, I need to give a HUGE shout out and thank you to my girlfriend Kami for offering to make Emery's birthday cake for me. Leading up to the party the only aspect of planning her party that was really stressing me out was the idea of trying to make an actual free standing birthday cake, and Kami literally just took all of that stress off of my shoulders and made the most beautiful and tasty cake for Em's party! I was able to stick to my craft-loving self and made all of the little toppers to go in her cake, and then Kami took care of the rest so that the toppers would actually have a cake to go in! 😉 I feel so lucky to have so many talented girlfriends close by to help with fun things like this, there's no way I'd be able to survive out here in Kentucky without all of them! Thanks a million and a million again Kami! You're the best!
As hard as it is to watch my baby grow up, the whole birthday experience with Emery this year has been SO much fun! Emery actually knew this year that her birthday was something special and it made everything more exciting! She spent the whole day saying "Happy Berfday Emery!", got SO excited opening all of her cards & birthday messages from family back home, and was grinning from ear to ear throughout her whole party, asking to blow her candles out on her cake again after we'd sung to her. 😂 All the hugs, kisses, and thank you's to all of our family back home and all of our sweet friends here that made Emery's birthday so special! We love you all dearly! Here's to the toddler two's and all of the adventures this year will bring!
dress + tights: baby gap | bow: little poppy co. | teddy bear: build a bear workshop
Christmas is without a doubt my favorite holiday, and with December officially being upon us I'm SO excited because it means that I can now more fully dive in to all of the festivities without the "less spirited" (cough, cough Kyle) getting on my case about starting Christmas too early. 😉 December is also one of my busiest times of the year with holiday preparations, and as much as I hate to admit it, I am that person that wants everything about my Christmas to be picture perfect. I want the pretty tree with the matching wrapped gifts, the cute holiday pictures, the Pinterest worthy Christmas cookies, the clean untouched snow on Christmas morning.... you get the picture. Last year I remember making a goal to avoid any unnecessary "holi-drama", and as much as I'd love to say that I only had to learn that lesson once, as the holiday prep started up this year I found myself getting flustered when I realized that having an able bodied toddler makes for a LOT more messes and crazy than I'd originally planned for in my ideal Christmas imagination. As we were putting up our Christmas tree this year, Emery was having the time of her life throwing all of the "balls" around the house, and although her enthusiasm was adorable to watch it definitely threw a wrench into my usual methodical tree decorating process. It was at that moment however that I realized that I had a choice. I could choose to get frustrated with Emery and the situation, or I could choose to laugh and embrace her sweet enthusiasm, and congratulate myself for thinking ahead of time five years back when I bought plastic ornaments instead of glass. 😜 This Christmas season I'll still be busy, but this year I want to work to make it a different, better type of busy. The more time goes by, I realize that the true joy of the holidays is found more in the people that we spend them with instead of everything else on the outside. We'll still keep plenty busy with all of the traditional Christmas activities, but this year I'm choosing to keep my focus much more on the family togetherness of the activities and much less on the prettiness of them. My family is my greatest gift, so this Christmas, I'm going to embrace them for everything that they are, toddler messes, tantrums, tree destroying tendencies and all, and hope to have it be one of our best, busiest Christmas's yet, spent with those we love the most. ❤️🎄
I hope that everyone has had a happy start to your holiday season!
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. ❤️
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.