Friday, May 1, 2015

Bringing Home Baby | Nursery Sneak Peak

I have been hard at work getting the nursery ready for little baby Rasmussen. It has easily been one of my favorite parts of this pregnancy, dreaming up the design and feel and then little by little, piece by piece, watching that vision in my head come to fruition! My dream for the nursery was a space that is cute enough for a baby, but also mature enough to not have to do an entire overhaul on the nursery when my little baby starts to grow into a big boy. When I was creating the nursery, I wasn't drawn to any certain themes, and I wanted to avoid the cartoonish bedding/decor sets that are in all the big box stores like Target and Babies R Us, so I chose a color palate, and then started looking for decor that would work together and symbolize who Ronnie and I are as a couple and baby's parents, as well as what we wish, hope and pray that his life holds for him.

Baby Boy Nursery Prints
When I came across these prints on Pinterest, I pinned them immediately. At that point, I didn't know if I was having a boy or a girl, but I knew that if it was a boy, these prints had to go in the nursery. Be Brave, Dream Big, Stand Tall and Find Adventure. This is my hope and prayer for my son, and once I found out that indeed I was carrying a son, I got to work on my nursery inspiration board and loved how well the colors of the prints complemented the navy and grey color scheme I'd chosen for the nursery. Here is a little sneak peak of one corner of the nursery, and I can't wait to show the rest of it to you guys soon!

Baby Boy Nursery Prints Baby Boy Nursery Prints Baby Boy Nursery Prints

The designer of these prints, Sammiey from West Ember Studio sent me the kindest email back in January, thanking me for including her shop in my Nursery Inspiration Post, and instantly, we clicked. Sammiey is easily one of the kindest people I've come across in this blog world. Sammiey is a talented designer and photographer, and when she was pregnant with her second baby, one of her friends pinned the tribal print set, and it went viral and her little Etsy shop took off and her business grew. It allowed her to quit her job at a bank to stay home with her little ones and start her photography business in Washington.  All of the proceeds from her shop go to allowing her to stay at home and be with her babies and THAT is something I am so thrilled to be able to help support. 
I can't wait to show you more of the nursery in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for a full nursery reveal. Until then, go check out West Ember Studio and browse all the amazing products she has. Sammiey has generously offered to giveaway one 8x10 print of your choosing. Entering is super easy with minimal entries, so make sure you go visit West Ember Studios and find a great print for your home, nursery or office! Use code HELLOEMBER for 10% off your order to celebrate her new website's grand opening.

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And because Ollie, the diva of the house can't let me take a single blog picture without getting in the picture, here you go. Even he approves of the new prints in the nursery. He is 100% convinced the nursery is his room and that I've been furiously designing and decorating it for his enjoyment. He is going to be in for a rude awakening in a few short weeks!

Baby Boy Nursery Prints

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Motherhood Anxiety

Photo Credit: Day Three Studios
Pregnancy has mostly felt forever long to me, but on the other hand, the time remaining before I have a real live baby in my arms can be counted in days now, in single digit weeks. Yikes! I have been a tad bit really emotionally crazy lately, flip-flopping between "OMG I want my baby here NOW" to "I am SO not ready to be responsible for a real life living breathing tiny human." I basically have about 1000 fears and worries about becoming a mom, and although I know that God has perfectly designed me to be this little boy's mom, I still struggle with most of these things on a daily basis.
I am anxious because we have two animals, Jak and Ollie who both happen to really dislike children. Jak, our Australian Shepard is a gentle-spirited dog but he gets anxious so easy and when he is scared or feels threatened, that is when he turns aggressive. Our cat, Ollie is just a mean, spicy cat who thinks biting is for playing. My friend Lea was in town with her toddler who loved both the cat and dog and its safe to say, the feeling isn't mutual. I was a walking ball of nerves the whole time, praying that our dog didn't just run out of patience and snap at the baby after he lovingly pulled his fur for the fifth time in an hour. Luckily, he didn't but I already have anxiety about our son who will be harassing both the cat and the dog for many years to come.
There is a plethora of Pinterest "Post Delivery Survival Kits" that include really terrifying things like medicated pads and little bath things for your hoo-ha and spray bottles and numbing cream and generally stuff I was much better off not knowing even existed. Now, I know they're out there and that delivery is going to be traumatic enough that I am going to need those things. I just want to live in denial about the entire getting this child out of my body process because I am not ready to go there mentally. Also, though I appreciate the supportive comments from other first time moms who haven't given birth yet that try and reassure me it won't be that bad, I don't believe you! Moms who have been there, done that are ALL about those frozen medicated pads and that is terrifying enough.
I am really worried I am not going to be able to nurse my baby, and am dealing with a lot of fear and guilt when I think about having to formula feed. The medication I take to manage my Rheumatoid Arthritis hasn't been 100% cleared for breastfeeding, and miraculously, I haven't needed it while pregnant because my body has gone into remission, but my doctor has started mentally preparing me because most women flare in the immediate weeks after giving birth. At that point, I would have to choose whether or not to live with the pain and nurse, or take my medication and have to formula feed. I've always wanted to nurse my children, and have always imagined doing so, so I feel like I am going to have to grieve that loss if I am not able to. Other moms don't even mean to do it but they just assume I am going to nurse when we talk about all things baby and though its my hope and prayer I am able to, I also worry about looking like a "bad mom" which I know is prideful and unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
I am sick to my stomach about our decision for me to go back to work after my maternity leave. Financially, me staying home full time isn't an option at this point, and it seems like I am surrounded by friends and acquaintances who all stay home, and again, I worry about not being as good as a mom if I leave my three month old baby with someone else five days a week. I think it may be a little easier if I had any close friends who also were working moms but I don't and I feel really alone in that area . Its also definitely hard to discuss with my friends who are (or will be) stay-at-home moms because they were able to make the decision to stay at home where I feel like that decision is really out of my control, and I just need to suck it up.
I am sorry about the downer of a post-these are just some of the fears that I have been working through over the past few weeks. As I prepare for motherhood, I don't want to document just the good things, I want to let myself feel the joy as well as the anxiety and see how God uses it in my life. If you have any tips/suggestions/insight I'd LOVE to hear, I am welcoming any advice or thoughts on any of these areas. If you're a mom, what are/were some of your fears before baby came?

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Friday, April 24, 2015

How To Care for a New Mom

Photo Credit: Day Three Studios

The other day, while looking over my list of all the things that I still need to do before baby boy makes his appearance I panicked a little bit. I absolutely can not believe we are just eight short weeks (give or take a week or so) away from meeting our son! We haven't chosen a pediatrician or toured the hospital, my bag isn't packed and the nursery isn't complete, and the list goes on. Luckily, we still have two months to prepare though and I have a lot of very generous friends and family who are so helpful as we get ready for our world to completely change.

I think this is the season of babies because many of my friends have either just had a baby or are pregnant and getting ready to welcome their baby into the world like I am. Until I got pregnant, I didn't realize just how much work babies are before AND after they're here. I also probably didn't do a wonderful job of caring for my friends who were new moms because I just was clueless. I decided to turn to some of my favorite blogger friends who have recently had babies for some advice on how to best care for a new mom. There are so many great suggestions from these ladies, and if you are like me and have a lot of friends expecting in the next few months, I hope these are helpful to you! Make sure you go stop by each of their blogs too to learn more about them, their sweet babes and soak in all their advice and wisdom!

From someone who went from being a clueless friend who did not do the right things to a new mom whose friends didn't necessarily do the 'right' things, this is what a mom needs after having a baby: an enthusiastic community; miscellaneous things from the store; a clean house; showers; rest; food. OK, so you might not be able to help with all of these things, but you can help with some of them. Here is what I would recommend:

Offer to visit ASAP after the baby is born, but don't demand it and don't overstay your welcome!If you are a close friend or family member, offer to visit right away, if you're an acquaintance, wait a few weeks. I had some best friends visit us in the hospital and I loved it! Other people might be overwhelmed by offers to visit, so just feel this one out, but at least express excitement to meet the new baby right away. New parents want their community to love their bundle of joy as much as they do!

-If you live close to the new parents/baby, text or call before you run to the store to see if they might need something.
-Give a gift of a one-time house cleaning service that the new parents can use when they start feeling really overwhelmed by the dust piling up on their furniture.
-If you're a good friend or family member, offer to watch the baby while the mom showers or rests for a bit. Definitely don't expect her to entertain you when you come to visit!
-Cook. Bake. Don't show up to a new baby's house empty-handed. Bring take out. Personally, we had so much pasta and junk food when Clara was born that I was craving salads - so bring healthy & fresh food if you can! If you can't cook, bring a favorite baby product or cute outfit or maybe even flowers.

I am a first time mom and had my son Bennett in December and honestly, I had a really hard time accepting help from others before and after I had him. At first I wanted to prove to everyone that I could handle it all (Type A personality...) and that I didn't need anyone's help, but I finally realized that I was going to run myself into the ground if I didn't allow others to help, at least a little bit : ) One of the best things, in my opinion, was the fact that my house was spotless when we got home from the hospital. When you are 40+ weeks pregnant the last thing you want to do is clean your house so it was nice that my mother-in-law did that for us while we were at the hospital. It was so incredibly nice to come home to a home that was clean, had fresh flowers, and a beautiful glowing Christmas tree.

 Another thing that was really great for us was that our small group from church set up a meal train for us and took turns bringing dinner to us every night for a few weeks. Even if we didn't eat the meal that night we were able to freeze a ton of it and had meals for a while! This was really nice because for about two weeks I had a tough time getting around and spent most of my time on the couch trying to recover. Even something as simple as coming over and holding someone's newborn so they can take a shower really does mean so much to a new mom. It is hard to find time for yourself when you are trying to recover and take care of a new baby at the same time. I appreciated everyone who did anything for us and can't wait to return the favor when my friends have babies!

A little over a month ago, we welcomed our second child into the world. The months leading up to my labor and delivery I went back and forth between feeling very prepared and worrying about how I would do even the most normal of things (like cook dinner, grocery shop, etc.) successfully with a toddler and a newborn. Thankfully, we are blessed with a ton of great people around us and we were well taken care of and loved on during the early weeks of my daughter's life. The week before she was born, two of my sisters took a gift card and went to Walmart, buying all of the groceries I needed for making my freezer stash and then cooked and froze all of those meals for us. It was a huge blessing to not have to go shopping and prep those meals at almost 9 months pregnant, and was it was so great to have when the meals people brought by ran out.

My little sister also ran to the grocery store for me a few times after our daughter was born to grab some basics that we had run out of, which allowed me to focus on my babies without the stress of getting dressed and getting two kids into the grocery store! For me, it was a huge relief to send someone with my debit card to go get things we needed rather than stress about getting out or making my husband go!

As far as what helped me most in the first two weeks, having my mom stay with me was number one! I could wake her up and ask her questions in the middle of the night, I could lean on her for support and advice, I could cuddle her when I needed comfort, I could break down and cry when I needed to and feel comfortable. Granted your hubby is there for that too, but sometimes a girl just needs her mama and having your first baby calls for needing your mama. She's been there of course!

 Also, our church provides a service for moms where other moms sign up on a calendar for the first month and bring you meals. This is still a blessing for us right now since we are still receiving the blessing of food. I have no energy to cook. It's hard enough to find time to shower so having meals and treats brought over is incredible and comforting and a huge stress reliever! One less thing you have to think or worry about.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bringing Home Baby: Elephant Boppy Cover

Elephant Boppy Cover
When I found out that little baby Rasmussen was a boy, I started searching high and low for cute bedding, blankets, and boppy covers fit for a little guy. I found it so much easier to find cute pink and purple everything but it seemed like there were less options for boys that I liked, especially in the big stores like Target and Babies R Us. When I came across this adorable grey elephant Boppy Cover made by Rose of Fashioned By Rose, I knew I had to have it. My heart does a little happy dance for all things grey and white and those elephants are just too cute for words. 
I absolutely love supporting small businesses whenever I can, and after getting to know Rose a little bit, I am so excited to feature her shop on my blog. She is the sweetest, most geninune person who touched my heart when she messaged me to let me know she prays over each item she sews, praying for the person who she's making it for. When she told me she had been praying for me and our little baby boy, I felt tears well up in my eyes because that was the time we were going through extra tests and MRI's to take a closer look at a measurement that was off on baby R. 
Rose's story of how she started her business is really inspiring.  She has been sewing since she was eight after learning from her Grandma. When she was going through a divorce, she had a need to supplement her income so she started altering clothing after work. When one of her daughters wanted to enter a beauty pageant at school, she couldn't afford to buy or rent her dress so she hand made one.A few years later one of her a friends daughter-in-law asked her to make a boppy pillow cover and diaper bag for her baby shower and when she did, everyone fell in love with them and encouraged her to put them on Etsy. She did, and quickly made enough to pay her car insurance that month. 

Rose has always felt the call to be a missionary and lamented the fact that her life was not allowing her to be where she thought the Lord wanted her to be. He showed her  that she could be a missionary right from her own home. She prays as she is making each item for the spiritual, physical and mental well-being of the person who will receive it. Rose also belongs to a quilt guild where they make charity quilts and do other service projects that involve sewing/quilting. 

Cute Boppy Cover  

Cute Boppy Cover

Cute Boppy Cover

This Boppy Cover is not only adorable, but the quality is amazing as well. It fit perfectly snug over the Boppy, and its easy to get on and off for washing. Fashioned By Rose is generously offering to give away one of these adorable Boppy covers + a matching burp cloth to one of you readers. If you can't wait to purchase one, she also is offering FREE SHIPPING to Grace in Grey readers with code BLOG0415. 

If you aren't a mom, I can guarantee that any of your friends who are expecting would LOVE to receive this as a baby shower gift! Giving a handmade, unique item like this that is made with love is definitely one of my favorite things to give and also to receive. Make sure you go check out her shop, and favorite it for when you have a baby gift to buy! 

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Two Simple DIY Baby Shower Crafts

My two best girlfriends and I have had a secret Pinterest board for my baby shower since almost the minute I found out I was pregnant. We've been having so much fun pinning decoration ideas, DIY crafts, games and activities, etc. We scoured the internet for the perfect invitations to set the theme of the party and I found these gorgeous feminine but not too girly invites at Tiny Pints. Instead of doing a specific theme,we've used some of the colors off the invite as our color palate and plan on using blues, greys, florals and some rustic details like the twine pictured above to decorate.

Hosting a baby shower is a lot of fun, but it also is a lot of work, and can be expensive so my lovely two hosts and I found a couple of simple DIY decoration projects to help cut down costs for them and add a personal touch to my shower. For a simple but fun place setting, we made bow-tie napkins to hold the silverware, and we also painted mason jars and added a bow made of twine around them and filled them with baby's breath for a pretty and simple centerpiece. 

Both of these DIY crafts were incredibly simple, even for the craft-challenged person like myself. We declared one Friday evening a girls night and ordered in Thai food and had over fifty napkins and eight mason jars folded, painted, and ready to go for the shower. 

For the napkins: 

Step One: Unfold a single paper napkin all the way and lay it out flat
Step Two: Fold the top and bottom pieces toward the middle.  
Step Three: Fold the two sides together towards the center. 
Step Four: Fold down the two corners of the top side of the napkin to prevent the ends from sticking out when the bow-tie is finished . 
Step Five: Turn your napkin over so the corners you folded are on the bottom side, and then just pinch the center of the bow-tie.  
Step Six: Fluff your bow-tie a bit until it looks how you want, and then wrap some twine (or ribbon or string or whatever you want) around the center. Then just stick your silverware inside the twine and you have the cutest little place settings!

For the Mason Jars:

We painted about eight mason jars with two little bottles of ceramic paint. This craft is so simple, you could do it with your toddler. (But, I will warn you that I managed to get blue paint on my beige rug because I have the ability of a toddler, so maybe do it over a non-carpeted area if you really do let your toddler help.)

Step One: Drop a few drops of paint into the bottom of the jar. Give yourself enough that it will swirl around and cover most of the jar as you tip it around and upside down, but not so much that it falls right out if you turn it upside down.
Step Two: Use a foam paint brush to spread the paint around, adding more paint if you need it.
Step Three: Turn the jars upside down over night to dry, and then turn them right side up the next day to finish.
Step Four: Tie twine or string or a ribbon around the top and add flowers. Ta-da! A gorgeous center piece for just a few dollars.

These are two simple ways to decorate and plan for a baby shower on a budget, and it was a fun way to spend an evening with my best girlfriends preparing. If you have a shower or another event to prepare for, make sure to check out Tiny Prints amazing selection of affordable invitations and give one of these DIY decorations a try for a personal touch.