Behind Make Yourself At Home Book

When Moorea asked me to be a part of her book, Make Yourself At Home, I said "Yes!" with no hesitation. As the time came closer for the photo shoot, the hesitation creeped in.

I just had a baby with surgery and the pregnancy hormones were gone.

You know, the glowy skin turned dry, the full shiny hair falling out at alarming rates (I used black eyeshadow to cover my bald spot for the shoot 🙈), and I had high amounts of prolactin hormone, meaning the more I breast fed, the more weight I gained (it is not a miracle everyone claims for weight loss).

I've shared my home online for years but in a book?? I'm opening myself up to a new world of critics and unwanted commentary to my home and family. I emailed Moorea with my concerns and she gave me her famous Moorea pep talks.

Ok, ok, deep breaths.

I was excited, nervous but mostly so so grateful to tell a story through my home. One thing I've mentioned many times in this blog is I'm not anyone special but there's a story to tell, and I have to stop denying that. In the book, I open up about Max, food as healing, cosmetology and start-ups (surrounding myself with creative women influenced my own creativity and sorry to say but I was burnt out on academic and public libraries and the politics of it all), and everything in between.

Moorea has a way to bring out the vulnerability in people. No matter how hard I tried to fight it and be as professional as I could, I quickly realized "professional" isn't the conventional way Moorea runs things. I found myself sharing things with her I would normally never tell anyone but because I was so proud of her vision and to be included, it felt like a burden lifted. 

Marissa, the photographer for MYAH, was incredible. They really made a great team and I had a chance to preview the teamwork on this book, I could imagine what the rest of the team looks like coming together. 

IMG_1494.JPG

What's changed since then? Normally, I would say nothing but with Miko growing, everything has changed. I've added color to my wardrobe. Scott does all the cleaning and cooking now. I've taken down the wall devoted to The Royal Tenenbaums. I'm still the same person but I didn't realize how much of my style was reflected in my grief. There's a lot of healing in my current style, too. I'm thankful for the opportunity for Moorea to bring that out. 

IMG_1502.JPG

I received a couple questions about the dress I'm wearing. It's from Torrid, and it's one of the few dresses that fit me at the time that wasn't screaming maternity. 

The details they put into the book are beautiful but the gold foiling, and hard cover add a more luxurious detail to own on your bookshelf. You have a chance to win your own copy on my Instagram page! You can get a copy for yourself on Amazon, B&N, and Powell's

Thank you, Moorea for the opportunity to share my home! 

 

Happiest First Birthday, Miko!

Miko turned ONE today and I'll spare you the emotional mess I am and get straight to the celebration. 

We wanted something small and not spend much but we still wanted something. With a few clicks on Pinterest, I found a few ideas and thankfully we stuck to our budget and our little theme. 

Her cake is gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, egg-free, and allergy friendly. It sounds fun-free but she's going to have all her life to eat that stuff, I didn't want to introduce it just yet for allergy precautions. I found the recipe here for the cake and the frosting, and I added beet juice for the punch of pink. She loved it! 

Her Bambi dress is from the Disney store, which we got last year. The hanging floral vine, and faux peonies are both from Amazon. The Miko banner was from a friend who sent it as a newborn gift and I've held on to it since (thank you Angela!) , and the crown was also a gift for Miko from a friend (thank you Janelle!) and the etsy shop is Fox and Willow. Her bow is from Baby Bling. I almost forgot to mention! Her tulle high-chair skirt is from Amazon, too. 

Ok, so maybe I'll get a little messy on this post- this year has been an adventure I thought I never wanted. Miko made me softer and stronger all at once and it's been a joy shaping her and watching her grow. Happy Birthday, Miko! 

Hello, Omni 360!

When Ergo approached me to try out their new Omni 360 carrier, I was curious. I have three different Ergo models (one I got years ago for Max and two are a gift from Ergo) and this is my absolute favorite model. According to Ergo, the carrier is designed after listening to the most needed and least wanted features from their customers. I think they did a great job listening. It's the most comfortable, most versatile and easiest Ergo model I've tried. We took Miko on a hike and I loved it. Scott used it at the store after and he loved it, too. Most importantly, Miko loved it! There's even an additional pocket, the waist band is more comfortable, and the safety latch has an upgrade with an additional lock, it's a thinner body so baby won't be as warm, and it's easier to put on once it's custom to your body. 

Thank you Ergo for the opportunity to spoil my baby a little more each day! You can pre-order the Omni here. I should also note all photos taken with the depth effect on Apple (it still blows my mind I'm not carrying my Canon around with a 50mm lens) and edited with ABM's Lightroom filters. 

I Got Dressed for 40 Days

After participating in Lent this year, my challenge became so normal, I forgot Lent was over. I learned so much of myself as a mother, a wife, and most importantly who I really am as a person even when those titles aren’t involved. I didn't take daily outfit pics, but I wish I took the extra minutes to do so! These were my favorites, mostly because Miko is more adorable in them than my actual outfit. 

My goal was to get dressed every day for the 40 days. It wasn't just about putting on a dress, it represents fighting postpartum and it helped me feel better generally. I think a hot shower will anyone feel better. I got a couple readers who were critical of the project- that I was ungrateful for finally being a mom, and I was wasn’t appreciative of what I did have. Listen, I am appreciative and I am grateful and for others to assume otherwise was funny, offensive, mostly hurtful. I think about what I’ve lost every day in order to get what I have now, and if I want to do it in a pretty dress and good hair, that is okay with me. 

Within the first week, I discovered where my priorities where- If I had 1 hour to myself, I had to figure out what was most important- getting dressed, working out, meal planning, cleaning, or emails, social media, etc. I stuck to my plan but it was hard. I did my hair when I so badly wanted to take a moment and read. I shaved my legs every day when all I wanted to do was spend those extra 15 minutes in bed instead of a shower. 

It sounds vain- choosing to get dressed over small comforts like extra sleep and reading. I could either enjoy these things for a few minutes in the day but have the rest of the day with tangles and spit up in my hair, not do my laundry with questionable stains, or regret my extra few minutes alone I didn’t spend on a hydrating mask every time I looked in the mirror. 

By the end of it, it became a habit. Taking care of myself didn’t just mean a bath, manicure, those little luxuries I would give myself. I noticed I was in a better mood because I felt better about myself. It wasn’t so much how I looked, but it was just a grooming process, the normalcy of it. 

Beauty is a ritual, getting ready, putting on my makeup, that is a daily ritual before Miko. What I wanted from this was normalcy. I wanted to feel like me again. Even if I had spit up all over me, or Miko pulling my freshly curled hair out, at least that was part of me, if that makes sense. Ultimately, I didn’t want to look for faith in the tube of lipstick or curling iron. I wanted to find God in the new normal. 

Now? I didn’t expect the same dramatic before and after, but I did find a new normal. Discovering motherhood is in the small things- like how Miko will use my hair as a blanket to cover herself  when she falls asleep on me, or use it as a game for “peekaboo”. How my wardrobe revolves around Miko- will it be easy to feed her in it? Can I wear a carrier comfortable? My life revolves around her and it’s the new normal I’ve always wanted. She’s the beauty I was looking for all along. 

All dresses from Torrid and matching sweater tee's from TS Fux

All dresses from Torrid and matching sweater tee's from TS Fux

It Only Took Me 1343 Days

The other day I went a full day of not thinking about Max. I feel like a bad mom even thinking that, but I guess I went a full day without being sad, but he was in my thoughts all day. Does that make sense? It took me a while to make sense to me. 3 years. 44 months. 192 weeks, to be exact.  As I went to bed and replayed the busy day in my head, I was filled with guilt for not feeling sad. I caught myself searching for sadness. I wanted to be sad. 

"I have to be sad or it’s not honoring him."

"I have to be sad or else I’m going to forget his face."

I know grief more than I know happiness and I'm kicking myself for allowing that grief take over my life, even with therapy, even with books, great advice, bad advice, those hundred of think-pieces on grief, the grief groups, all of it. I was consumed and Max was missing and grief was in his place. I feel like I'm letting go of the grief. Grieving grief. Ha. 

The irony of all of this is I wanted so long to be happy, when I finally am, I'm sad about it. Ugh. 

I look back at everything I went through with MM, everything. What if I didn't go to therapy? What would my grief look like without social media? Would I have been able to make it without the support of strangers? I had moments of joy but I fought them hard. I feel like I can finally enjoy it. Scott deserves that. Miko deserves that. And dare I say I deserve that??

I read back on my captions on Instagram or even this blog and I cringe. CRINGE. I regret being so open and vulnerable sometimes, but then I read the hundreds of emails, comments and letters and I don't feel like it was such a big mistake. Sometimes I wish I would have grieved privately and just let myself live but I remember there are moments where I felt like if he couldn't live, he could at live in these internet spaces of mine. I think I needed that reassurance. I give myself grace because I was grieving and going through a traumatic experience. I need to remember that.

The wonderful part of all this? You let me be me. Occasionally I would get the email saying "Hey, you shouldn't grieve this way!" Or my favorite, "hey! I can't have kids so just be grateful you at least had ONE! Even dead!" Those really got to a grieving mom but at the end, those people were grieving in their own way, even if it meant hurting others. I wonder how they're doing all the time, too. 

Motherhood is finding your identity in a new lifestyle and I don't know who I am without grief. Just because I let go of this sadness, it doesn’t mean it represents who Mordecai Maximus was. It doesn't belittle the grief I did go through. It just means I’m finding different ways to remember him. 

And here's a photo of Miko wearing a piece from Max's wardrobe. Happiness. 

Growing With ErgoBaby- 6 Months!

When I was editing these photos, there's this gross feeling that hits you when you watch how big your baby is getting. It's not nostalgia. It's time. Time is a SOB and while I have loved watching Miko grow, I couldn't deny the punch in the gut from the overwhelming feeling. It's exciting to watch but also a little sad. Ah, motherhood! 

Miko loves it, I swear, but she's so tired. I wanted to catch her in the 'magic hour' for the photos but it's bedtime right before! Sorry, Miko! 

Miko loves it, I swear, but she's so tired. I wanted to catch her in the 'magic hour' for the photos but it's bedtime right before! Sorry, Miko! 

Here's an update with the ErgoBaby- I still use it often and the Adapt model is ideal when you want your baby to grow with you. When she was a tiny baby and I remember how scared I was to wear her. I have two models- the Original and the Adapt and while I love both, I had to use the insert with the Original and do more adjusting as she grew. With the Adapt, I've barely adjusted my straps and there's a bucket seat that easily adjusts for weight and height. 

New things I've loved about it- 

+ Adjustments are easy. My weight has changed, my milk is in, and with a couple pulls on the straps, it felt like I had a new custom carrier. If you're plus sized and think you can't wear a carrier, this is your carrier.  

+ Even distribution on weight- I've tried other carriers while recovering from my c-section and it always felt like my back was about to go out. It actually did recently when I wasn't carrying an Ergo! Big mistake. I can feel a difference- it's even throughout my back and hips without feeling like my poor back is about to snap. 

+ Mobility- I wrote about how excited I was to wear her everywhere and I do! We've been to IKEA, the mall, church, the grocery store, and most importantly, it helps getting out of the house so much quicker than a stroller. 

+ On a non-techincal note, I love it because wearing her puts her to sleep right away. I mean, look how TIRED she is in these photos.

What I don't like-

+ I love Ergobaby because they make neutral products that grows with your family- mom can wear it, dad will wear it and you can save it for your next baby! But I would love if they made a pink one in the Adapt

You can see Miko and Ergobaby here when she was tiny (I almost said when she was a baby, ha!). You can buy the Adapt here. Thanks to Ergobaby for the introduction to babywearing, they've supported this post series and it's a product and company I 100% believe in and I hope you love them as much as I do. You can see more of Miko and her babywearing adventures here! I'll be sure to update in a few months with it. 

Miko Reads

It's Scott's birthday week and I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of Miko's favorite books! 

We started reading to Miko as soon as we brought her home from the hospital. Aside from the fact that children who are regularly read to from birth are more like to know more words by the age of 2 and learn to read when they’re supposed to, storytime with Miko provides a special kind of bonding.

It’s a little awkward at first--you feel like you’re reading to a blank stare. By the time she was about a month old, she was already starting to respond to mannerism and silly voices, and by about two months she was starting to study the texture and symmetry of the pictures.

Now, at six months, books can actually calm her down; she’ll be fussy and as soon as she sees a book she starts looking at the pages and waiting for me to read it to her. She even is starting to help out with turning the pages. 

Every baby will have different books that excite them. Below are the ones we’ve found Miko most enjoys.

  1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? - This was the first book that made Miko laugh. It’s great for it’s repetition and colors.

  2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Another great book that teaches baby about colors. This one is a special one for me because she responded most to this book- laughter, excitement, awe, and of course crying when it was over. 

  3. Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! - Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? Apparently, babies! While the Seuss library is great for slightly older kids, they are a little long. Miko loves the rhyming, but she just doesn’t have the attention span for true Seuss classics. This book is like micro-Seuss; it retains the sounds and illustrations of a longer Seuss book, but is short enough to keep Miko’s attention the entire book.

  4. Giraffes Can't Dance - If you really want to keep baby interested, then you need to get animated. Just try and read this book without getting excited! It’s silly and easy to get into.

  5. The Pout-Pout Fish - This is another silly book that has an added feature that Miko can’t resists: kisses! Lots and lots of kisses. If there’s one thing Miko likes more than silly voices, it’s books that call for mom and dad to tickle and kiss her.

  6. Tuesday - This book proves that words are not always required for great storytelling. The entire book is told with pictures. That means it’s up to you to point things out to baby and tell them what’s going on in each page.

  7. King Bidgood's in the Bathtub - The illustrations in this book are amazing. We love reading it to Miko before or after her bathtime.

  8. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus - If you can’t get your silly on with this book, then probably no book will work for you!

  9. Disney Tails We Love Marie - She may not be the most known Disney character, but if you want your baby to love cats, you can’t go wrong with this one!

  10. BabyLit - BabyLit is a series that takes classic books like Pride and Prejudices and turns them into books just for baby; if you want your baby to appreciate the classics later in life, than this is a great introduction.

  11. Where the Wild Things Are- This is Scott's favorite. It's special to see Miko enjoy it just like him. 

My personal favorite- Counting Kisses. I love kissing Miko. One of these days she'll know these kisses are of love and not annoyance, but there's actually benefits to kissing your baby more often. 

Miko usually has at least two reading times throughout the day. One in the day, and another at night. Her night books are all about sleep. She, unfortunately, doesn’t see the connection between the books and sleep (yet), but night is usually one of her most fussy times of the day, she rarely naps--she’s tired and cranky and these books help calm her down.

Goodnight Books:

  1. Pajama Time! - Miko hears this book almost every night right before or after we put her in her pajamas.

  2. The Napping House - The most beautifully illustrated goodnight book you’ll probably ever find!

  3. Goodnight Moon - Certainly one of the most soothing books for baby, and a true classic.

  4. The Going-To-Bed Book - Written by the same author as Pajama Time!, this a silly and fun book to read just before bed.

  5. Goodnight, Numbers - Okay, I’ll admit I picked this up because it’s written by Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years! But it’s actually a great book. It encourages you to teach baby about numbers.

Happy Birthday to Scott! What a good dad he is and I'm so grateful our value of reading will hopefully go to Miko! Watch this space for more updates on her books! All links are affiliated, thanks for the support! Matching Where The Wild Things Are shirt and onesie from Out of Print Clothing, Miko's bow from Little Poppy Co. 

If you'd like more reading inspo, I love this tag from Anabela. Happy baby reading! 

Miko + Chloe

Miko made a new friend recently thanks to Cuddle and Kind! I want Miko to have few toys but the ones she has I want her to grow with and love. Chloe is an heirloom doll- I'll tell her the story of how it's made by hand by a special woman in Peru. I'll tell her a purchase of one doll will be able to help support her but I'll also tell her 1 doll means Cuddle and Kind gives away 10 meals to families in need. They support 49 countries through orphanages, hunger organizations, and they make sure every child is impacted. All of this through ONE doll. (Yes, this is the same outfit for her from a couple posts back because she looks CUTE in it, it's my favorite so far). 

Cuddle and Kind offered me a doll for Miko in exchange for a post and social shares. I couldn't be more excited to share this company. One of the Cuddle and Kind dolls was on Miko's baby registry before they contacted me. This was one of the dolls I would hope Miko would grow with. I got the smaller size in Chloe to not overwhelm her, to have someone her small size. She's noticing faces and her memory is getting stronger, I want her to recognize her doll more. She's already spit up on it on accident, thrown it, used it as teether, basically doing what babies do and Chloe has taken it all and still looks great after a good hand wash. 

You can buy the dolls here, and read more about what Cuddle and Kind is doing here. Thanks for the support Cuddle and Kind

New Favorite: Victoria

PBS makes the best period-pieces. Downton Abbey was great, but Victoria is even better. Queen Victoria is sassy, strong, and in the first season she grows from a teenager to a woman thrown into royalty. I've watched it twice and just like the big nerd I am, I had to get the companion book. I had fun playing with the ABM PS filters Pearl, High Society, and Puget Sound

I grew up on PBS, we didn't have cable and I wasn't allowed to watch "regular" TV. PBS helped me polish up my English, gave me a push to read via Reading Rainbow, and loved mornings even more with Sesame Street. The current administration is cutting National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for Humanities funding which PBS and NPR fall under the umbrella of. It may be privatized and even though Sesame Street is on HBO, the rest of the network could go south, too. There are so many things to donate to defend, but if your heart is in to defend the NEA and NEH, you can donate here. Or buy merch from your favorite podcast from NPR and PBS show. If you're not able to, even a quick phone call to your reps is important. 

Friday Darlings

Every Friday I have a collection of things I find darling.

+ Have you seen the new items from Society of Motherhood from Fine and Dandy? I love what they stand for- "Ending the judgement, gossip, and mom shaming while promoting the sisterhood of motherhood."

+ There's a breastfeeding emoji coming to Apple June 30.

+ The Death to Stock Photo curated list of inspired quotes to get you going. 

+ 50 years later, Heinz finally says yes to Don Draper's ketchup pitch (TBH, I think about Mad Men at least once a day). 

+ A Clueless comic book! 

+ I love poetry but if you're not a poetry person, here are some books to get you started (my personal favorite is Howl). 

+ Saturday Night Cry-By. Grief and humor don't go together normally but Kristen's genuine, warm and hilarious writings on losing her dad and her sister are touching. You'll do a laugh-cry for sure. 

+ Was Jane Austen poisoned? 

+ Love the details on this dress for Miko but I don't love the price! 

Oh Blogging, Where Art Thou? I really loved this post and made me nostalgic for blogging years ago. 

+ Loving this dress for spring.

+ Friday night pizza night with AIP-friendly calzones! 

Have a great weekend!