OUR 2018 CHRISTMAS CARD

Holiday cards! I live for these. Absolutely love them. Love designing them, writing them, getting them, decorating with them, seeing the changes in our family and friends’ families year after year, all of it.

But also, I want to recognize that many things about holiday cards can feel stressful. The photoshoot (if you choose to do one), getting everyone to look at a camera, dealing with the tantrums and emotions of toddlers and/or multiple children and babies, the picking of the photo, the design, the getting the updated addresses, the mailing. It can feel…overwhelming, to say the least, not to mention expensive. I get why people opt out. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to take as much stress out of the holiday card as possible. Here is how that went for us this year:

We traded a photoshoot with a friend (at their generous suggestion, not ours), who is an actual, real-life, full-time, professional photographer. (Thank you, Joe). How I feel about that is this: I tried so hard to return the favor, and good luck editing your batch.

We spent the morning on a ferry ride, and it was mostly just fun to hang out and catch up. We got photos as a bonus, but it did feel very non-stressed, not the point of that Saturday morning. We also happened to get great weather which is kind of like winning the lottery in the late fall in Seattle.

For the design, I went with Postable, who I’ve used before, when Trey was 6 months. (See that card here.) I absolutely love this company and think their concept is so brilliant. I use their (free) address book to keep my addresses up to date throughout the year, and when I need an updated contact I can press one button and it emails my contact for me, and they enter their contact info, saving me mulitple steps. Genius. You can also use their address book without using their cards - just as a way to keep yourself organized.

171D1208-07BE-472C-91D8-C0EEB9CF75C2 copy.jpg

I picked my design, edited the card, and wrote a little something about our year on the back. That Christmas tree photo was taken at a local Christmas tree farm, and I followed the same formula I usually do to get the majority of our family photos, which goes like this: I bring my big camera and tripod, set the 10 second timer, and run for it. Free photoshoot! We got this in about 5 takes since the battery was dying and the boys were over it. But we got it. Done and done.

The feature I love the most about Postable is not only will they address your cards for you, but they have an option to send them out for you. This saves me hours, and I don’t have to lick a single envelope. Some people love the art of handwriting the addresses and writing a note, and I get that, so you can also choose to have them sent to yourself. But in this season of life, anything that saves me time around the holidays is a win for me.

Love love love these. Happy holidays!

Thank you to Postable for partnering with me on this post.

2018 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR MOMS

If you’re shopping for a mom in your life (or creating a list for yourself!) here are some gift ideas of things I love or have my eye on. Because every mom deserves something special at Christmas.

FOR THE MOMS WHO LOVE THE KITCHEN

A set of beautiful, one of a kind, handmade ceramic mugs and bowls by Karen Dawn Curtis. Pictured are the Pasta Bowls and Happy Cups in Spring Day Blue. The color is more of a neutral gray and it is really beautiful in person. I love that each one is handmade, direct from the maker, and that no two are exactly alike.

Looking for a way to use less plastic, help the Earth, and add beauty to your kitchen? Enter Goldilocks wraps, a small business out of Canada that has changed my leftovers and storage game. These wraps are made of cotton and beeswax, and they work just like plastic wrap. They can also be molded into reusable baggies by pinching the sides together to stick. The prints are as cute as can be and as a bonus they smell amazing, like honey. On sale through cyber Monday.

Other kitchen/home items: I also have my eye on the Magnolia Table cookbook, Love & Lemons, and Homebody.

BECAUSE EVERY MOM DESERVES A LONG HOT SHOWER

Can you guess what these are? Shampoo and conditioner bars by Unwrapped Life. I just recently discovered them, and they are another small company out of Canada doing great things for people wanting to live more plastic-free. The company prides itself on being the perfect mix of “luxury and sustainability,” and they are totally natural, lather amazingly, and are great for you and the environment.

FOR THE HOSTESS/RENOVATOR

05A0AAB1-BEFB-46F2-9789-9A0AE22C5588.JPG

Wireless warm light bulbs by Philips Hue. I get that lighting may seem like a “boring” Christmas gift, but no home decor item is boring to me anymore after fixing up our house. We love these because they’re wifi enabled, which means no drilling needed to install dimmers or lighting, especially in rooms that aren’t already wired (hello, old Seattle homes). In addition to brightness, we can also control the color temperature, all from our phones. (Would make a great gift for a hard-to-buy-for techie dad too.)

FOR THE ORGANIZED MOM (OR THE MOM WHO WANTS TO BE

2C85DBA0-450D-4627-A0F0-1F4AEA74AF0A.JPG

I loved this diaper bag, and my favorite organizer insert fits in as well. Tote Savvy released a holiday edition in red, and they are running a sale from now through December 10th, up to 45% off, no code needed. This is the Mini size, the larger one I use in my Madewell Transport Tote for everyday. I really love the organization they provide in big, catch-all bags.

FOR EVERY MOM

A pedicure at your local nail salon (with babysitting included!). I love this indulgence and the time to myself.

My all time favorite (and ethically made!) white v-neck tee here. (Link is to the main page, search “The Cotton V-Neck”, it’s $15 and I wear size S.)

An Apple Watch or other step counter or fitness tracker. I got mine as a gift for Mother’s Day and have absolutely loved it. It’s been a game changer in my everyday fitness motivation.

The coffee mug that keeps your coffee hot for hours. Hello, mornings with small children. Have not tried but heard good things.

Grace Crafted Home, for gifts for the home that give back. My mom got me a Grace Case subscription, the clothing collection, and it’s a seasonal subscription of beautiful, fair trade items.

Essential oils are all the rage. You don’t have to buy the fancy ones though, I’ve heard great things about this kit (and look at the reviews!). They also have a diluted kids’ line.

If shes’s a La Croix fan, an at home sparkling water maker would make sure she always has something fizzy to drink on hand.

These are my favorite leggings of all time.

Our go-to grandparent gift. Get $10 off (a free book!) by clicking here.

Ordered this over the weekend at at the recommendation of a friend: a comfy bra for everyday, and stretchy enough for nursing (I picked up the true body scoop neck, on major sale).

Happy shopping!

ON PREGNANCY, FERTILITY, AND WAITING

IMG_5091.JPG

We’re expecting again! We are so thrilled. I know that everyone’s road to pregnancy is unique so I wanted to share a little backstory since our experience this time was so different than with our first.

Before we got pregnant with Trey, I had never even experienced a negative pregnancy test. He was as planned and as textbook as possible. At the same time, we knew of a few stories of infertility. We were about to turn 30, and about half our friends had kids and half didn’t. It seemed like that year, for whatever reason, it quickly became baby season for nearly everyone we knew. We also quickly learned that not everyone who seeks a pregnancy is guaranteed to get it.

As the months and years went on and more of our friends started trying, we started to hear more stories, and we became familiar with an entirely new territory. We knew of all kinds of things that were once foreign to us: the differences between IUI and IVF, the side effects of Clomid, and what the sequence and timing of seeking medical help looks like. Even further, we walked through baby loss for friends of all kinds, from early to late losses, miscarriages and stillbirths, scary news and diagnoses, all of it earth shattering, all of it devastating. In the span of two years, we were invited to three infant funerals. Just yesterday I got another text, “we lost the baby.” It’s heartbreaking, every single time.

I held all this, and knew what I was signing up for, and yet, since our first round was so textbook, I think I assumed it would be easy for us again. When we decided we were ready for our second baby, all I knew was my first experience, which was a recipe for very high and unrealistic expectations. I experienced my first negative pregnancy test, which was a shock. Then a couple more. A few months in I was texting my friends who I knew had walked this road, asking “When should I be concerned?” meanwhile googling “secondary infertility.”

As the summer went on, so did life in our thirties. As many friends as there were experiencing long waits and losses, just as many were getting pregnant easily and naturally. Friends revealed all kinds of announcements: long awaited pregnancies, perfectly planned pregnancies, and most annoyingly so, their “oops” pregnancies. I rejoiced with them, and deep down I was happy for them, but I really had to work at it, because when you're in the middle of your own unknown territory, it's difficult to share joy with someone else when they get their (even surprise) good news.

Trey turned two, and well-meaning friends and family would ask, "So, when will you guys have your second baby?" My go-to response became, "Not today!" as I clinked my wine glass. I liked that it was vague, funny, and truthful, without revealing all that was going on beneath the surface, the anxiety of, "Will this ever happen again for us?" brewing just under my words.

I'm writing this blog post draft in the messy middle, right in the center of the waiting. We are a few months in, and I haven't gotten a positive pregnancy test yet. By the time this post is published, I certainly hope so. But we so rarely have all the answers in life and this is one of those times. I think that's a good place to write from, we're you're in it, not beyond it.

We are all waiting for something, none of us have arrived. And I think when we're so focused on the end game we miss what's here for us in the messy middle. I know there’s good here too: patience, perspective, growth, a sense that it really is all out of our control anyways. I'm learning things here, and I don't want to miss it. If this post is published, I am assuming we will have gotten pregnant and announced publicly, and what a happy day that will be. Until then, I'll chart, and I'll wait, and I'll continue to watch and and pause and look for the good here too.

________

Update: We got our positive pregnancy test, and in the big picture, we didn’t have to wait that long, especially compared to some of our friends. I learned that the average couple in their 30s only has about a 20% change of conceiving on any given cycle, so it really does seem like such a miracle when it does happen.

When I decided I needed a little more help, I reached out to Fairhaven Health to try their Fertility Monitor. I tracked all my ovulation signs like a little scientist, and they have a helpful team online that can help you interpret your charting. For me, I found that knowledge was power, and when everything felt out of my control, this was the one thing I could control. This device also turned out to be more accurate for me than temping or OPKs. I know that for some people, maybe tracking ovulation wouldn’t be helpful and might instead be stressful. For me, it helped, but I want to be mindful that no device or prescription is “one size fits all” when seeking a pregnancy. Everyone is different. We are so glad we found something that worked for us, and I am so thankful to be pregnant again, even among the sickness and all the pregnancy symptoms. I’m not taking any of it for granted this time.

Shared in partnership with Fairhaven Health, who makes a variety of products to help with fertility, pregnancy achievement, and nursing. Their BFP Early Pregnancy Test Strips were the first to let me know I was pregnant, and their Milk Saver was an early nursing favorite.