Five Friday Finds 9/24

Just a handful of things/blogs/shops/articles that I find inspiring, encouraging, or entertaining: 

Via Emily Henderson

1. It’s fall y’all! And I’m loving these fall styling videos and posts from Emily Henderson and Target: Cozy Retreat and Gather Around. Get inspired to bust out that fall decor. I was so inspired, I already autumnized the living room.

Via Designer Blogs
2. With fall comes a renewed desire for adventure, and for those of us living in the valley, we can actually go outside without melting away in the sizzling heat.This looks like a fun fall bucket list. If you’re putting together one of your own, here’s a blank printable.

3. October makes me think of Harry Potter, and that makes me think … I need this mug for Christmas. 

4. After listening to this podcast with Jon Acuff and Jess Lively, I added this book to my Amazon wishlist.

Via Craftsy
5. Fall means back to school time, and being the nerd I am, I miss it. If you’re with me, there’s good news: Craftsy is having a sale on classes; over 550 classes are $20 or less! You can add “Learn something new” to your fall bucket list!
What did you find last week that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook!

Living Room: Summer to Fall Decor

Long long ago, I shared the inspiration I’d gathered for decorating the living room for summer with a beach house nautical feel. I never did get around to painting the entry way navy, sadly, but I did still achieve the sophisticated Southern California vibe I wanted. 
I kept the posters up that I used for my spring mantle because they worked so well with everything else. I think I might just keep them up year round, they go with everything, and they’re just my favorite.
I bought the anchor, seashells, and starfish at a shop in Seal Beach, the overflow of what I used in Edison’s room. The shadow boxes are a DIY.
The whiteboard in front of the fireplace…that’s just to keep Sirius from getting in there and dragging remnants of charred wood all over the rug, and leaving sooty footprints all over the house. Been there, done that.
Ah yes, the entry way. I love the little lanterns I got at Ikea, and the fishing net I got to keep after one of the baby showers. But this arrangement, and the gallery wall, are seriously lacking something. More things on the wall? Taller objects on the table? 

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the time has come to bust out the fall decorations! Let’s get this pumpkin spice scented party started.

I own one tote of fall decor, which is a 50% increase since we bought the house. A little goes a surprisingly long way.

How fitting is that pillow? I bought that in Southern California along with the beachy items, but the burlap, red, and gray fit perfectly for fall. And it’s super comfy.
I bought navy and white pillow cases from this Etsy shop to give the pink and gold pillows a face-lift without having to buy and store more pillows. The anchor pillow in Edison’s room used to be out here on the couch also.

Better Homes and Gardens got the memo to match my teal and orange color scheme. 


The globe is from Target, and the clock I’ve had so long, I’m not sure where it came from. 
I realized as I arranged this that have “autumn wreath,” “cinnamon spice,” “farm stand apple,” and “cappuccino” scented candles, but I’m not sure I own a pumpkin spice candle! The horror!

And my sad entryway… it doesn’t help that the lighting was terrible, but I only have limited time before the little man wakes up from his nap. So if you have any ideas for this space, let me know in the comments below.
Anyone have a recommendation for where to find a good pumpkin spice candle? Let me know asap! 

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Life Lately: Growing Up

In the first six weeks of his life, Edison went to the doctor eight times. That doesn’t count two lab visits for tests. In the same time period, I went to Urgent Care three times and my OB twice, and met with a lactation consultant twice. So, seventeen doctor/lab/consultations? “Crazy” feels like an understatement. For awhile, it seemed like we did little besides go to appointments and the airport. But after two months, we’re finally starting to figure out our “new normal.”

After the last update I wrote, I planned to go to Urgent Care the next week to get the very itchy rash spreading across my chest checked out. But surprise! I woke up that Friday morning with mastitis a second time. I was surprised to discover that I could actually feel worse than I had before. Brian had gone to work, Edison was crying and needed to be fed, and even though I could barely move, somehow I warmed up a bottle for him and managed to feed him. Both of us were screaming. That was a low point.

While I strapped Edison into his car seat, he smiled for the first time! I cried some happy tears.

Then I realized that I couldn’t carry him to the car with one arm. I called a friend from church, and she just happened to be in the area – nothing short of miraculous. She dropped me off at the Urgent Care, took me to Walgreens, and watched Edison all afternoon until Brian got home. She was a lifesaver, and it was truly amazing.

My mother-in-law offered to come back for a week while I recovered, and we gladly accepted the invitation. When I saw the OB that Monday, I was still running a fever! They prescribed me a different antibiotic and an anti-fungal, and assured me that one of the two would take care of the rash.

But it didn’t.

In the meantime, after meeting with the lactation consultant again, I felt encouraged that things were going better. I breastfeed him the next three feedings, and promptly started bleeding again. So… back to square one there. But I also started eliminating milk products entirely from my diet. All along, I thought that avoiding the products with lactose would be good enough. But the lactation consultant explained that it’s milk proteins, stuff like whey, that’s the problem, and those are in a lot more than just dairy foods – we’re talking anything made with milk or butter.

On September 2nd, Edison had the lip-tie procedure. It turned out that he had a position 4 lip-tie that was indenting his gum, about as severe as you could get. Edison barely cried afterwards!

We had contemplated going to California for Labor Day, but we knew we’d have to leave on the same day as Edison’s lip-tie release, and I was still recovering from mastitis. Plus, we hadn’t taken him anywhere besides the doctor and airport to pick up and drop off family. But then, I figured that if we were going to be miserable, we might as well be miserable in California, where there’s an ocean. Right?

So we went. It wasn’t easy, but I’m really glad we did it. We needed the escape!

The next week, I saw a family practice doctor about the rash, and he thought it looked like hives since it had migrated to my elbows and thighs, and gave me two antihistamines to take.They didn’t seem to help much, but going to the doctor again was the last thing I wanted to do.

The 13th was Edison’s first Sunday at church! And also the last time he’ll be able to fit in his bow tie onesie, these pants, and these shoes that he wore for the first time that day. That’s what happens when you don’t get out much.

We had that week all to ourselves. Then my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew came to visit. Up to this point, that one smile on the day I had to go to Urgent Care was really the only one I’d seen. Then when these guys walked through the door, he immediately gave them a big smile! He really turned on the charm for them – smiles and giggles all week long!

My niece and nephew were so excited to meet their cousin. He’s so loved.

We went to the playground, spent time in the pool, drew countless pictures, visited an arts and innovation children’s museum, and the splash pad and playgrounds at Riverview Mesa. I’m already anticipating when Edison will be old enough to enjoy it!

He did like getting some pool time, even though it always wore him out.

“Arizona is so fun!” my niece said several times. I asked her the morning they left what was the most fun, between all the things we did that week. She answered without missing a beat: “Playing with Edison!”

On Sunday, Edison and I cheered on daddy as he swam/biked/ran his first Olympic distance triathlon!

The next day, our little man turned two months old!!!

This month, he’s started looking at people’s faces, and just last week, smiling and laughing in earnest. When he looks at you and smiles, it’s the most wonderful feeling! Everyone said it would melt my heart, and you guys were right.
So big!
His new favorite thing is playing “the running game,” when someone holds his feet and moves them back and forth as if he’s running, and his play gym. He still doesn’t like changing clothes, or taking his reflux medicine. 
But, we ran out of it the weekend before his appointment, and guess what – he didn’t seem any worse. Then to celebrate Brian’s race, I ate some buttermilk pancakes, and the next day he had a rough time. so (unfortunately for me) the milk elimination diet might be working! Or, it could be that he’s just growing out of it (which would be great, because I’m seriously craving chocolate, macaroni and cheese, and cupcakes. And don’t even talk about pizza, I might cry).
In other good news, my mystery hives seem to be finally going away. You know, I think all along they might have been stress-hives. It’s not like I haven’t had any of that in the last two months!
But it finally feels like we’re figuring out our “new normal,” as someone told us we would. There’s still times I feel at a loss as a mom, and there’s still mountains ahead to climb in the near future. But today, it’s nice to rest, and catch my breath. 

Five Friday Finds 9/18

Just a handful of things/blogs/shops/articles that I find inspiring, encouraging, or entertaining: 

1. #WeWelcomeRefugees. You’ve seen the photos of Aylan – the three year old who woke up the world to the tragedy experienced by millions of people as they flee from ISIS and civil wars. #WeWelcomeRefugees is a budding movement started by Ann Voscamp with World Relief and the Justice Conference with the goal of connecting churches in America with those in Europe. Find out the practical ways you can get involved!
2. Brittany from The Nested Nomad is running a new series on “Simplifying Your Life.” For me, fall is the perfect time for a refresh, and I’m looking forward to the next posts in the series!
3. Elizabeth at Oak and Oats posted 5 Tips for Your Blog Redesign. Almost makes me want to do it again…
4. The Influence Network. The Influence Network is about encouraging and equipping women in their passions and projects right where they are. I finally joined in May, and I haven’t regretted it! For the price of two lattes, you get art prints, at least one free class, and other goodies as a member. I’ve loved every class I’ve taken, on everything from writing as a ministry, to home decor, to impacting the culture as a Christian. I haven’t figured out the forums yet, but I still highly recommend becoming a member, even though you can purchase classes individually. The $10 cost motivates me to learn something new each month. They also have an annual conference, that someday I’d like to attend.
5. Lauren at Mercy Ink shared the story behind their new fall line of prints. The scriptures she chose speak to me at this time in my life, with the difficulties we’ve had since Edison was born. My favorite is the “Be Still” print. I need that reminder several times a day!

What did you find this week? Share it with us in the comments!

20 Things I’ve Learned After Having A Baby

A few tips, advice, and lessons I’m learning so far on this adventure:

1. Look into cord blood donation.
The blood in the umbilical cord contains stem cells, which can be used to treat many conditions, including cancer. You can bank your cord blood privately, so that only someone in your family can use it, but I decided to donate cord blood to a public bank. I’d rather be sure that someone somewhere gets to use it and has a new chance at life, rather than pay for it to sit unused, possibly (hopefully) forever. It’s free, but in some states, you need to pass a screening before 36 weeks, so as I discovered, you do have to plan ahead! 

2. Book your newborn photographer during your 2nd trimester.
Somehow, the fact that I would want newborn photos completely slipped my mind until a few weeks before my due date. Guess what – it’s really hard to get the photographer you want on short notice! Thankfully, it worked out, although we ended up taking pictures on the hottest day of the year! 

3. Get a free breast pump.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, your insurance might provide you with a hospital grade breast pump for free. So don’t worry about adding one to your baby registry right away – call your insurance company first and find out what they offer. It’s worth the 40 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back while you’re on hold. Maybe.

4. Take a breastfeeding class.
I actually registered for a class at the hospital, and then wrote the date down wrong, and missed it by a month. #PregnancyBrain. I highly recommend you look into it, because as I learned, it’s not always as “natural” as you might expect. 

5. Open your product boxes.
Insider tip: Open the boppy pillow, and any breastfeeding product packages once you get them from your baby shower. I didn’t open things until I needed them, and when I did, I found lots of coupons inside that I wished I’d had earlier. 

6. It’s really hard to trust your intuition as a new mom.
Especially when experienced moms, nurses, and even doctors are telling you everything is fine, you’ll get used to it, or he’ll grow out if it in two months. But listen – your mom-tuition doesn’t lie! You’re the one who’s with your baby 24/7, so if something is bugging you and just doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. You have to be your baby’s advocate, so even if it turns out to be a false alarm, it’s worth looking like that typical new mom, if there’s a chance you’re right. 

7. After two weeks, breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.
Even if someone told you it’s normal, or it’s just because you’re fair-skinned – DON’T BELIEVE THEM. Google a lactation consultant near you, they know their stuff and even if they can’t fix the problem, they can at least put your mind at ease. 

And listen, it’s probably not you. I know right now, if feels like it’s all your fault and you’re just a failure as a mother, but trust me, that’s just the postpartum hormones talking. Tongue-ties and lip-ties are common, and even more commonly missed by doctors and nurses, so get a second opinion.

8. Know your after-hour pediatrician and OB phone numbers.
Hopefully, you won’t need them. 

9. Get a good nipple cream.
I didn’t know, but women who use only lanolin have triple the number of  infections, per my lactation consultant. Use a cream with some natural antibiotics in it, like Motherlove, or my favorite, Earth Mama Angel Baby. This tiny tub lasts forevvvvver, and it smells good enough to eat. Makes great chapstick too.

10. Doing nothing and letting people take care of you is really hard.
But healing from giving birth is hard too, and you really do need to just sit and do nothing. I had a difficult time with that, because I knew other people couldn’t do things the way I would (#ControlIssues?). And it was hard to ask someone to get something for me that was just a few steps away…but when you get it for yourself eight times a day, those few steps add up. Those of you who have experienced bedrest – I salute you. But guess what happens when you give in to your control  freak nature and you overdo it: you get mastitis. Twice. 

11. Postpartum feelings are REAL.
Do your research so when you start thinking you’re going crazy, you’ll remember that actually, it’s just your hormones talking. I was surprised by the anxiety, how sucky the blues felt, and how struggling with breastfeeding really messed with my head. Feel all the feelings, cry it out in the shower, and then talk to someone else about it. You will feel better, one day at a time.

12. Amazon Mom is the way to go.
Diapers, wipes, nipple cream, batteries for the baby swing, even my pumping bra (highly recommend!) arrived right at my door in no time. 

13. Sleep deprivation is REAL.
And it will make you do funny things. Like the time I sent a text message to Brian: “My nipple cracked open and is bleeding again… it just never gets better,” except it wasn’t to Brian… it was to the photographer. Awkward.

Or the time you put all the return address labels where the stamps go on the birth announcements. That might have happened. 

14. Read everything twice, maybe three times.
Even then, you’ll still forget what you just read. 

15. Gift-giving is apparently the love language of my friends and family.
Everything from homemade quilts to baby clothes and gear galore has been lavished on us. I don’t even send birthday cards. If Facebook didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t know when anyone’s birthday was. I feel very undeserving, and in awe of everyone’s generosity, and it truly motivates me to do better.

16. Postpartum wardrobe: the struggle is real.
Just like in the first trimester, there’s another awkward stage when you’re too big to fit in your regular clothes, too small to fit in your maternity clothes. The hair-tie through the jeans button-hole trick is your best friend again. 

17. I completely understand yoga pants.
I never got it before, but now I see the light. Your jeans are too tight, you’re having hot flashes from those pesky hormones, and you just want to get out of your pajamas, but into something stretchy and supportive. Yoga pants are the answer. 

18. Always plan to leave an hour before you need to.
Because here’s how it goes: by the time you feed them, change their diaper, change their onesie because they just spit up all over it, then get yourself dressed, do your make-up and hair, pack the diaper bag, and strap the baby into the car seat, they will be hungry again. So then you can take them back out of the car seat, feed him, change him again, strap him back in the seat, and finally arrive at your destination, you’ll only be a fashionable fifteen minutes late. 

19. There’s only one rule when it comes to taking care of your baby.
Seriously. No matter what advice you follow, someone will tell you the exact opposite. For example, don’t give your baby a pacifier until after four weeks because you’ll cause nipple confusion, but you have to give them one before four weeks, or they’ll never take one (real conversation with a nurse). Put your baby on a schedule so they feel secure, even if they have to cry it out when they’re hungry too early. Don’t let your baby cry it out, because if you don’t respond right away to their needs, then they’ll be insecure for life. This article on baby advice makes me laugh so hard I cry. 

There are some rules, like don’t shake the baby, and don’t leave the baby in the car, but they really boil down to one: Keep the baby alive. By whatever means possible. 

20. Finally, you’re doing it right.
However you’re doing it – you’re doing it right, because it’s right for you and your baby and you know it. And even it feels like you’re blundering your way through every day figuring things out as you go, you’re doing a great job. 

What did you learn after having a baby? Comment below with your favorite piece of advice!

Five Friday Finds

Just a handful of things/blogs/shops/articles that I find inspiring, encouraging, or entertaining: 

1. Emily Ley Planners and All Things Office-y. Looking at Emily’s website makes my heart beat faster. It’s been awhile since I’ve used a real planner, and I think when the 2016 ones go on sale on September 9th, this is going to be the year. Also, if you watch the video – color-coding with washi tape? #Brilliant.
2. Periscope. In the last week or two, all my favorite bloggers joined Periscope at the same time, because they all said that their favorite bloggers had just joined. So, I joined too, although I have no intention of making any videos, I love watching the live videos from my favorite bloggers and being able to comment and participate in the discussion live. If you’re on Periscope, I’ve really enjoyed watching Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society and Gretchen Saffles of Life Lived Beautifully.
3. Grace in Style. I recently found this blog through Instagram. We share a passion for ethical fashion and Jesus, and she also writes about food and traveling – and takes beautiful photos. 
4. 31 Bitsies. 31 Bits is the ethical jewelry company empowering people to rise above poverty, making stunning pieces out of rolled paper. They recently launched Bitsies, kid-sized jewelry, to teach kids about the world and how they can change it for the better. 
5. Modern Burlap. Another Instagram find, I cannot tell you how much I want some of their muslin swaddle blankets. Especially this blanket, and this one. Plus, they have an option to add on a one-for-one, so for and extra $10, a blanket will be donated to someone in need. 
What have you found lately? Share it with us in the comments below!