Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Celebrating Miss Larson

A couple weekends ago, I got the privilege of joining together with a couple other girls to throw a party for our beloved Brittney. I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly the planning process went. I mean, threes a crowd, right? But I think we were just all eager to celebrate and serve our friend who has celebrated and served us so well over the years.

We gathered on a warm summer evening for mimosas, good eats and great stories about the bride. Everyone in the room sounded like they were Brittney's best friend. I mean, I know it's customary to rave about the bride whose shower you're attending, but this wasn't just your average "I love you so much, cheers!" toasts. These people love this girl and have been LOVED by this girl abundantly. She really is one of the greatest,  loyal and most thoughtful friend to me and it was amazing to sit in a room with a bunch of women who can say the same thing. 

















The bride-to-be and her hosts. (We got the memo....)



Ah, I love this lady.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bits & Pieces: July

June was a lovely, quiet month full of baby snuggles, trial and errors of cloth diapering and much picture-taking as I waded slowly into the life of motherhood. Our weekend away over the fourth of July was a kickoff to a much busier month. 

We enjoyed a few visitors from California who made time in their trip to Oregon to swing by and meet Taylor. So fun getting to show people our life up here! 


We road tripped-down to Eugene to celebrate the birthday of our favorite set of twins! Let me tell you, those kids really know how to eat cake. You would've thought they did a practice run or something. They went all-in, face-first, no hands allowed. I was proud.


It was so fun to finally introduce Taylor to the Blake family. (The last time I saw them, I was hours from going into labor, tromping around the park with their family in hopes of breaking my water. It was a lot better being on the other side of things and a lot easier holding both the twins on my lap!)

Taylor and I made a mid-week trip out to the beach to join my family on their annual vacation. They've been renting the same beach house for 20-ish years, but I haven't been out there since high school. My brother and his lovely girlfriend Casey were there too so it made for a pretty fun reunion. It was kind of surreal playing cards in the same spot of the living room floor that we did when I was 16, except this time with a baby in my arms! (I won, just for the record.) 

In honor of tradition, my mom and I dragged my dad to the outlet malls. I managed to walk away empty-handed, but Taylor made out pretty good thanks to his generous Grandmama.




It was pretty great being reunited with the Oregon coast. I prefer a still lake over the waves of the ocean, but I forgot how beautiful and unique the coast is here. I left a sleeping Taylor behind with my mom and sneaked out for a few hours of card-playing, frisbee-throwing and iced-coffee-drinking on the sand. The only thing that was missing was Matt!


A few days later, we excitedly welcomed Matt's Grandma and brother from Alabama. His mom's visit in June and their visit this month was a much-needed slice of home for Matt, who hasn't been with them in over a year now.

As tempting as it was to spend all our time with them on the back deck, sipping tea and listening to Grandma's stories, we decided to take them out for some sight-seeing. Competing with the summer crowds to get a good glimpse of Multnomah Falls and the Gorge wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it. Taylor, of course, slept through most of it.






While Matt was at work, I had Grandma all to myself. Highlights included homemade blueberry pancakes, bottomless cups of coffee and endless stories about Matt's dad, Taylor's namesake. Kelsay was a really good sport about being stuck home with his sister-in-law and a baby, but hopefully his outings with Matt in the evenings made up for it.



July was good to us. Busy! But so, so good. Matt and I said good-bye to the last of our visitors for the summer (more on their trip later) and have a few weeks of down time before we move! It'll be a bittersweet change for us, as we wrap up our time at my parent's house and move into our own house downtown, closer to Matt's work and our friends. But for now, I'm savoring our time with my family and trying to relax as much as possible before the seasons change, inside and out.

Monday, July 21, 2014

2 months old


I can't believe our little love will be two months old on Friday. He is starting to grow so much! It felt like he was the same size for about a month, and then suddenly during week 5, he had a major growth spurt and quite literally grew out of his clothes over night. And man, that growth spurt? That was a rough week. During one of his three-hour crying spells, I was bouncing him around in one arm and frantically googling "colicky baby" on my phone with the other hand. Like clockwork, he was back to his normal self at the end of that week. I, however, aged about ten years (and have the gray hairs to prove it).


About a month ago, our friend Joshua came over to the house and took some pictures of Taylor. He also did our maternity shoot and is quickly becoming responsible for any and all family photos we have (outside our iPhones) since my camera has been tucked away the past couple months.


Taylor was on his best behavior, so the shoot went quickly. Joshua did a great job of improvising with the "props" I pulled out (aka the bean bag chair I covered with a sheet...) and caught some really sweet moments for us. He is so talented!




I'm sure I'll look back on these pictures fondly of what youthful, vibrant parents we were but I can't help and think we just look so tired! Luckily, Taylor is sleeping much longer stretches at night and still taking some lengthy naps during the day.


Everyone that sees me with Taylor, whether it's an old friend or a Target cashier, asks me how I like being a mom. I sheepishly admit that I love it and it's so much more fun than I thought it would be. Is that terrible? I knew I would love him, I never doubted that. But I think culture can do a pretty terrible job presenting motherhood. The "mom" character on sitcoms is always exhausted, desperately trying to keep up with her kids and rolling her eyes behind her husband's back at his laughable attempt to parent his children. I remember when I was pregnant, women would always warn me that my life was about to be over. And they're right, it definitely is, but rarely did people tell me how great my new life would be. This might be the iced coffee talking, but I just can't believe how fun being Taylor's mom is. 

When I was a nanny, I would count down every excruciating minute of my shift. Watching a four month old squirm around on a play mat was cute and everything, but how many times could you read a cloth book aloud before your brain shut down? (For me, it was about six.)  But I have clocked in countless hours just staring at Taylor laying on a blanket. Or sleeping. Or sitting in his car seat. And it's fun!

Of course, there are not-fun days. Of course, he cries. Sometimes I join in. During that growth spurt, I think I mentioned putting him on Craigslist. (Luckily, my mom happened to be home and looking slightly alarmed, offered to take him for an hour and gave me a much-needed break.) But even at the end of a really hard, long day where I can't remember the last time I ate a meal or went to the bathroom, I am in disbelief at how much I am enjoying it.


I love this little darling so much. As he becomes more alert each day, we get to know his personality a little bit more. He has started recognizing and smiling for his dad and his grandparents and thinks being kissed on the mouth is pretty hilarious. He loves hearing other languages and accents! He laughed for the first time when his auntie Kat spoke to him in Spanish and was mesmerized when my friend from Australia spoke to him.


He is still the most serious baby I've ever met and already has worry lines between his eyebrows, but is so playful and vocal first thing in the morning. I'm claiming that as my one and only contribution to his DNA-being a morning person! 


 Every morning, Matt pulls him into bed with us and I wake up to the two of them snuggling before his alarm goes off. On Saturdays, we lay in bed with him until about noon, trying to soak up every moment of this sleepy-newborn stage.


Our life is so enhanced as we enjoy being a family of three. We don't know what we ever did without him! Sleep more, I suppose.



Thank you, Joshua, for capturing Taylor so well! 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sunriver

Matt, Taylor and I spent the fourth of July in sunny, hot Sunriver. On Thursday afternoon we packed up the car (sheesh, babies need a lot of things!) and drove straight into traffic for about five hours. It went surprisingly well, despite a little meltdown that resulted in me frantically crawling into the backseat to unbuckle Taylor and calm him down. But hey, not bad. The drive was gorgeous. We could see at least one mountain at all times, and the best part of the drive was a long stretch where we could see eight. Eastern Oregon is so beautiful! And it's especially beautiful when you're touring it in an air-conditioned car to the patriotic sounds of Tom Petty.






I had so much fun spending time with my cousins and their babies. I'm so glad everyone finally got to meet Taylor! We spent a lot of time trying to get them to cooperate for family photos, and this is about the best one we have. Not one single pair of baby-eyes looking at the camera. I'm so glad I get to enter motherhood alongside those two, they are some sweet mommas!

We ended the holiday the all-American way, feasting on a variety of smoked & grilled meat, pasta salad and potato chips. We ate outside, slapping mosquitoes off our arms and listening for early fireworks (which we didn't see or hear since it's a wildfire-prone part of the state...).


The next day, Taylor and I stayed behind with my Aunt Jackie while everyone else hit the golf course. We got some quality time in with her, beating the heat inside and catching up.

The weekend went by quickly, and before we knew it, we were repacking the car and sitting in traffic with the mountains in our rear-view mirror. But we managed to pack it full of golfing, apple pie, star-gazing from the hot tub and lots of baby-holding. I'm so thankful my family included us in their vacation! It was really nice to get out of town, spend time with my family and create a fun memory for Taylor's first 4th of July!


Taylor is 6 weeks old now! He smiles at his momma, sleeps longer stretches at night and finally fills out some of his newborn clothing. We just adore him!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Taylor Matthew

I can't believe our little love is already a month old! On one hand, it feels like it's been several months, and on the other hand, it all feels like one long, wonderful day. The day he was born was easily the best day of my life. I loved the day I met Matt and even more so, the day I married him, but when I replay the day Taylor was born in my mind, nothing compares.


Unfortunately, the weeks leading up to his birthday weren't as magical. At around 37 weeks, I started having contractions on and off. At my doctor's appointment that week, she checked me and said I should make sure I have my hospital bag packed and our car seat installed! I came home and my mom and I frantically put the finishing touches on his nursery.

I spent the next few weeks counting contractions and finishing up any last minute projects and to-dos. It seemed like he was going to come any minute, but despite long walks and spicy foods-nothin'! At my last doctor's appointment, she asked me if I wanted to schedule a day to get induced in case he didn't come before his due date. I couldn't believe it! Here I was thinking he was going to come weeks early, and now I was talking about being induced. I told her I wanted to wait until next week to decide if I would be induced or not. 

I went into labor on my due date, at about 5:30am as the bedroom started to fill with morning light. As the pain of the first contraction rolled over me, I woke up Matt by whispering "the baby's going to come today!". A few minutes later, we were scrambling to go to the hospital as the contractions came hard and fast.

Labor wasn't terribly long, just under 9 hours. I had complete back labor and the pain was all-consuming. I really only remember bits and pieces of it all. Like getting wheeled into the hospital by an intern, who spotted me buckled over in pain in the parking lot and brought out a wheelchair. Or the moment we saw a deer grazing in the grass outside our window; a perfectly serene moment in the midst of intensity and pain. I remember Matt offering me ice chips, juice, cold wash cloths, constant support and encouragement. For some reason, Taylor's heart rate dropped with every contraction. The nurses would rush in and turn me over, hoping to release pressure on the umbilical cord. It was a little unnerving to hear the words "flat line" in regards to your baby's heart rate, but our wonderful nurses did a great job of reassuring me that everything would be fine. And it was! (Although the next morning, the doctor mentioned she thought it was going to end in a c-section! She was so calm and confident, I had no idea at the time.)

The moment Taylor was born was the most surreal moment of my life. I stared down at the hot, squirming, purple baby they put on my chest with utter disbelief. I remember glancing up at the smiling faces of the nurses gathered around the bed and seeing Matt eyes filling with tears. I put my hands on Taylor's back and couldn't believe he was here, on the outside of my stomach! 

I pulled him away from my chest to look into his face for the first time and his eyes slowly opened. We shared a moment of eye contact, him studying me, me studying him, before he popped his thumb in his mouth and fell asleep. I looked up at Matt and exclaimed "I love him!"  Everything people told me was true. I instantly fell in irrevocable, consuming and unconditional love with him. (I think at one point I even asked my mom "how can people like their babies when their babies aren't Taylor?"...)




For some reason, Taylor was born with an infection and a fever and had to go on antibiotics right away. Eight pokes and seven different NICU nurses later, they gave up on trying to start an IV on him and instead he got shots every time he needed a dose of antibiotics. It was torture watching him, hours old, go through so much. His breathing was a bit rapid too, so they had another nurse monitoring that as well. Kind of a rough start! But he was such a sweet boy through all of it. 




Even though there was a lot going on, I really enjoyed our hospital stay. We had really wonderful nurses, great care and lots of sweet moments together as a new family (and drank about 64 ounces of sparkling cranberry juice from the nurse's lounge, which was the best reward ever after only drinking water during pregnancy). After two days at the hospital, we were finally discharged at about 10pm. At 9:45pm, we still hadn't picked his middle name! Our bags were packed and Taylor was buckled into his car seat, but we couldn't leave until we turned in our birth certificate paperwork, which we stood over, staring at the blank line above midde name. We always knew his name was going to be Taylor, after Matt's dad, but we could never agree on a middle name (I was pulling for "Taylor Gray" but Matt wasn't convinced that "because I like it" was a good enough reason...). Finally, we agreed on Matthew. It seemed so perfect for a little boy who came out looking exactly like his daddy. (Seriously, I can't believe I get to kiss TWO pairs of those perfect lips!)


Our sweet Taylor Matthew, born at 2:03 p.m. on May 25th, 2014. Weighing in at 7lbs, 10 ounces and 20.5 inches long with the most precious chin, absolutely no eyebrows and the cutest peach fuzz hair I've ever seen.

The past month has been the most rewarding and exhausting experience of my life. We are so blessed by all the love and excitement people have shared with us. Whether it's a visitor stopping by, a card in the mail or simply a text asking about him, we are so thankful to have so many family and friends sharing in our joy.

Thank you!

We are healthy, happy, sleep-deprived, thankful and in love.