then I loved my mother more

I have always loved my mother. Of course we had our moments where we fought like sisters and Dad would have to tell us to each go to our rooms – hello, high school – but I have always loved my mom. Respected her. Thanked God for her because I knew she was something special. I grew up, got married, and she became my best friend.

Then I got pregnant.

Then I was in labor for hours and hours and pushed for what felt like eternity.

Then I brought our baby girl home and struggled through the ups and downs of those first few weeks with a tiny human to care for around the clock.

Then I loved my mother more.

I related to her in a new way – through the lens of a tired, joyful, overwhelmed young mama who for the first time appreciated the woman who years ago had prayed for God to allow her to keep this baby after so much loss. My mother – who was told by doctors her baby would be born with too may birth defects and should be aborted. Who, along with her husband, prayed feverishly in secret for the remainder of her pregnancy for a healthy baby girl with all of her fingers and toes. A woman who was in labor for hours and hours and cried happy tears when her baby was laid on her chest, perfectly healthy.

When I was in labor, my sweet husband stood beside me and my mom often came to my other side to check on me. To cheer me on. Once our baby girl arrived and family was allowed in the room she came right to my side, checking on me first before delicately holding our baby tightly in her arms. Beaming from ear to ear. Of all the major life moments we had shared, this was the most profound. She had birthed me, and now helped me to give birth to my own baby girl. Different years, different hospital rooms, same love.

After we came home from the hospital, Mom stayed with us for a week, easily one of the most special times in my life. I cried the afternoon she drove away, thinking of her in a new light. How she was once a brand new mom with a brand new baby that she had prayed for and fought for. How she once woke up with me on the hour every hour to nurse me back to sleep and then watched me to make sure I was still breathing. How she leaned on her husband, my dad, for support and encouragement when the mom thing was new and scary and exciting. I thought of my mom, now a Nana, and for the first time I started to understand the gravity and intricate joy, and pain, of motherhood.

How could I love her more?, I thought. But somehow, I did.

I’ll love you forever, Mom.

how to be a better friend, even when you’ve got a lot going on

3babc064ebf514167009dc97fb12b5fc

Whether they’re the mac to your cheese, the Sookie to your Lorelai or the Anne Perkins to your Leslie Knope, true friends are the ones that stick by you in good times and in bad. They love you for everything you are and can be and despite the crazy person you’ve been sometimes in the past and let’s be real, will probably be again at some point in the future. They’re family and they love you no matter what.

I think we all know friendship is a two-way street but sometimes it’s tough to really invest and nurture friendships because well, life. We’re all busy and as my mother would say, we’re burning the candle at both ends. We’re building families and careers and sometimes taking time to connect with our girlfriends seems selfish or self-indulgent but I am here to announce WE NEED FRIENDS. They are vital to our well-being and overall sanity. So if you’ve been out of the loop with friends recently (work overload, got married, had a baby, THE HOLIDAYS) never fear! It’s completely doable to be get back in the game. Here are ways to be a good friend, even when you’ve got a lot going on.

Make plans
This may seem like a “duh” but for let’s be real, between careers and babies, life happens. None of us are immune to the busy day-to-day but something has to give if we want to find true connection with friends. Whether it’s a standing dinner date once a month or a quick coffee date here and there — create dates in your schedule for get-togethers based on everyone’s schedule and stick to them. When you are together be all there – silence that cell and enjoy face time with your people.

Use your phone
If you see something that reminds you of a friend, let them know. Shoot them a text to share a funny story or ask for prayers for something you’re struggling with. Make it a point to call them every once in a while during your commute from work to hear about what’s going on in their world. Use your phone to keep your friendship alive and thriving until the next time you get to be together.

Say thank you
How often do you take the time to tell your bestie how thankful you are for them? Tell your friend exactly how you feel and how much they mean to you – this will make their day and yours, too. Send them a fun card via snail mail to let them know you think they’re pretty awesome and value their friendship. I don’t know about you but some of my most cherished keepsakes are cards from dear friends.

Listen up
Being a great friend reaches far beyond verbal communication — it’s rooted deep in listening. Sometimes all we really need is to talk something through and get it all out there to a close friend just to do simply that, get it out there. We all love to talk (I’m raising my hand high here!) but sometimes the greatest service we can offer a friend is the gift of silence and quiet understanding.

Encourage
Oh man this is so important and something we all need, especially during all the changes life brings in different seasons. Maybe it’s giving a genuine compliment out of the blue or maybe it’s checking in and offering support when they’re training for a half marathon. Don’t make this hard! Some encouraging things to say: I understand. Me too. I’m so proud of you! How can I help? This too shall pass. Let me know how it goes – I’ll be praying. Well done! I’ll bring the chocolate! 

Monthly Motherhood Update: Annie at 4 months

img_6480-1

Similar to my monthly pregnancy series, I’ve decided to start documenting what’s new with Annie Lou on an every-other-month-or-so basis. She’s changing so rapidly and I want to remember these little details forever.

Motherhood Update: Annie at 4 months

Eating: Milk, milk and more milk. Some days she eats so much I honestly have no idea where she puts it. Luckily she takes a bottle from everyone but me so BONUS I can leave the house without her and we all survive.

Sleeping: She’s always been a good sleeper so we’ve been pretty spoiled. She no longer wakes up for middle-of-the-night feedings/diaper changes – PRAISE – so typically she sleeps from 9pm-5am. She wakes up hangry so I feed her and then she passes back out for another couple hours. #dreambaby

Doing: Rocking tummy time. Rolling over both ways when she wants to but never when I try to take a video of her for the grandparents. Laughing more and more. Smiling and talking non-stop. She gets super excited during bath time and even more excited when music is playing.

Saying: Of course everything is in mumbly-baby talk but she is quite the conversationalist, especially during quiet times at church or while on her playmat at home. She has about mastered saying “goo” thanks to us all telling her she’s a “good girl” from birth and we’ve started hearing “ma” and “da” in the midst of her ramblings. The sweetest is that lately she likes to talk herself to sleep so of course I’m a puddle.

Sweetest thing she does: She likes to put her tiny baby hands on either side of your face when you’re talking to her. She really looks at you and smiles that big toothless smile and you can’t help but melt.

Favorite part of this age: It’s incredible to watch her discover everything for the first time. Like when she noticed her feet for the first time. Or that there’s a cute baby looking at her in the mirror. Or that snow is cold and Buddy is soft. Everything is brand new and there are a million firsts each month.

Annie at 4 months, is, in one word: Happy.

3 Work Rules I Live By

d106578975f83a4447fa0c9fc9469faa

I always like reading about other people’s work rules they live by – those little tricks they implement that help them make the most of each week. I’ve always considered myself a productive person but over the past few years working as a publicist, then getting married and adding to that my work-from-home status, I’ve really honed in on what makes me work smarter. Here are the three main work rules I always follow that make the biggest impact.

Keep a detailed to-do list. As I’ve mentioned before, keeping a list of my to-dos for the day is crucial to my being able to function. In the PR world it’s not unusual to be juggling four or five campaigns and various side projects at once so keeping track of what I need to get done each day is a must. Often times I’ll prioritize the top 2-3 most important things, that way it helps me focus on the big stuff when I have the most energy (mornings) instead of waiting until the end of the day to scramble to get it done.

Assume the best. Whether it’s a seemingly snappy response from a media contact or a co-worker, I always try to assume the best before getting upset over nothing. In my first couple “real” jobs after college I would get so bent out of shape over what I perceived as the tone of an email or what someone didn’t communicate to me like I thought they should have. 9 times out of 10 there was absolutely nothing to be upset over and most of the time it was just the other person, or me, having an off day. I have since learned to always assume the best before jumping to conclusions and getting alarmed or upset.

Go the extra mile. This is a rule ingrained in me from childhood by my parents and it makes all the difference in my life, both personally and professionally. Yes, I was hired to do a certain job but who wants a colleague who does just enough to get by? No one. I am so thankful to work with such a talented group of smart women who place teamwork of the highest importance so it’s a joy to jump in and help until the job is done.

Links I’m Loving

Man-Repeller-What-Kind-of-Breakfast-Are-You-Illustrations-alessandra-olanow-feature-breakfasts-are-you

  1. What your breakfast says about you (manrepeller.com).
  2. Real moms share their hilarious pregnancy brain stories (mom.me).
  3. Six common mistakes people make when loading the dishwasher (washingtonpost.com).
  4. In honor of her birthday, Queen Elizabeth II at 90 in 90 images (bbc.com).
  5. Five ways you’re driving your coworkers crazy (realsimple.com).
  6. Fans of “House Hunters” – tweets that will make you LOL (buzzfeed.com).
  7. The most damaging attitudes in our churches (relevantmagazine.com).

 

Monthly Pregnancy Update: 16 Weeks

IMG_0297

I cannot believe I’m already 16 weeks pregnant! It seems like yesterday when Taylor convinced me to take a pregnancy test “just to make sure” before we went to get our flu shots. Ten minutes later when I went to throw the test away, not thinking it would be positive, I saw those sweet two lines and promptly squealed. Said squealing was then followed by a long walk around the block in 28 degree weather crying and laughing and wondering if this was really happening. For some reason it didn’t quite feel real until we saw our precious baby at 8 weeks at our initial appointment, the little blob just bopping around on the screen. I fell in love the day we heard the heartbeat for the first time – seriously the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard – and feel incredibly thankful for this precious gift God has given us.

Some of my most pivotal chapters have been documented here on this blog and that’s why I’m thrilled for this brand new series I’ll be running until Baby Bell is born. I’ll be documenting changes in the below questionnaire to track my changing body and yes, cravings and moods. I’m so excited for our small family to start growing and to look back on this series one day.

Baby’s size: An avocado!

I’m feeling: Much better! I was blessed that I never got super sick during my first trimester, but I was plagued by off and on nausea and crazy exhaustion. I am so thankful to have most of my energy back and am embracing this whole pregnancy thing.

Foods I could eat forever: Cheese, anything Italian, anything sweet and fruits –  I cannot wait for watermelon to be in season.

Foods I cannot imagine eating: Mexican and coffee. I can barely stomach the smell of either at the moment.

Currently wearing: Yoga pants and soft anything.

Pros of March: We found out we’re having a baby girl (!!!), renewed energy, renewed appetite.

Cons of March: Restless sleep due to crazy dreams, mood swings, in the awkward stage of the bump where it’s like “is she pregnant or just gained a few?”

Looking forward to: Spring and closing on our house next week.

Favorite scripture at the moment:For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [ Colossians 1:16-17 ]

Friday Faves

IMG_0211 (1)

[ the most gorgeous petals ]

This week I’ve been going non-stop so I’m looking forward to spending quality time with good friends and hopefully plenty of couch time with my guys. I’m so thankful for my renewed energy now that I’m into my second trimester! Seriously, I feel like the energizer bunny compared to how exhausted I was those first few months. Case in point last night I decided to make a frittata for dinner while taking a pre-natal pure barre class online and finishing the laundry. I blame all the pre-natal vitamins I’ve been taking but definitely no complaints from this girl! Also, some exciting items to share with you next week like how we’re BUYING A HOUSE so stay tuned. Have a wonderful weekend! xo

IMG_0190

[ a few of the amazing women I work with at the Hope Gala for a great cause ]

IMG_0227

[ and our handsome husbands ]

IMG_0193

[ the best way to start my day ]

IMG_0225

[ the makings of a scrumptious frittata ]

IMG_0221

[ the most perfect tulip tree is home for the sweetest treehouse ]