when you’re having a moment.

where my heart resides-7Like most twenty-something writers in the year 2014, it has been a longtime secret dream of mine to be published on the Huffington Post.

Yesterday, that dream came true. I was officially granted access to the HuffPo circle of trust, and can now publish there anytime I want to. A whole new audience, a whole new opportunity, a whole new platform. I have my own author page and everything.

My post was published in the afternoon, right in the middle of naptime. Naturally, I celebrated in complete silence on the couch, in my sweatpants, eating vanilla ice cream straight out of the carton like the glamorous writer that I am.

It was awesome. 

And as the texts and e-mails and messages poured in from friends and family, I had A Moment. A moment of gut-wrenching, heart-bursting gratitude. A moment of letting every insecurity I have ever felt about myself, my writing, this blog, that blog, my life calling, whatever….float up into the sky like a hot air balloon. I just let it go. I sat on my couch scraping the bottom of the ice cream carton with a cold spoon and mentally thanked God for giving me the words to write. I thanked this country for the freedom of speech. I thanked that girl who told me she read my post out loud at a baby shower and made all the moms cry. I thanked every person who shared that post on Facebook.

And today, I want to thank you. Whether you’ve been reading this blog for five years or five days or five minutes, you have contributed to this tiny moment of success and for that, I am ever thankful. Thank you for reading, for showing up, for making me feel safe while I pour my heart out on the Internet. As cheesy as it sounds, I couldn’t do it without you.

Cheers to chasing dreams, working hard, and above all else: thanking God who made it so.

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the 52 project: 23-31.

52 Project | Where My Heart Resides-1 52 Project | Where My Heart Resides-2 52 Project | Where My Heart Resides-3

52 project-452 project | where my heart resides-1

52 project-1 copy

52 project-352 project-1Where My Heart Resides-3
Confession: I have no idea what week it is. I’m doing my best. At this point, I’m just trying to get to 52 photos by the time New Years rolls around.

Speaking of photography! If you’re local (Sacramento), I’m teaching an iPhone Photography Workshop on Thursday evening in collaboration with The Honey Agency. We’ll be talking about how to take better pictures, the best editing apps, and how to get those photos off your camera roll and into your house on display. There are two classes—one from 5:30-6:30pm and one from 7:00-8:00pm. Would love to see you there!

p.s. The t-shirt Ev is wearing in that last photo is by Wildly Co. and you can support their Kickstarter campaign here. I love love love what Haley and Mike are doing, and think you will too. 

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writing for the in between, learning as we go.

WMHR-2

Welp. Coffee + Crumbs has been up and running for six weeks, and as of today we’ve hit 1.6 million pageviews

In that same time frame, 42 women (!) have sent me writing samples, expressing a desire to write for us. Our Facebook page has grown from 0 likes to more than 1,400 likes and we’ve received over 300 comments on our posts. We’ve even made a whopping $152 off our recommendations page (fist pump!).

And while it’s not all about the numbers, I wanted to share those numbers here, with you, because this blog was the launching pad for Coffee + Crumbs, and I figured if anyone would care about this tiny success, it would be you guys.

I’ve been mostly overwhelmed by all of this, but in the best possible way. When you dream up an idea in the shower and that idea actually becomes somewhat successful rather quickly, it’s validating. And to be perfectly honest—that validation is necessary when you’re seven months pregnant and tired and irritable and lacking motivation in every sense of the word.

We are growing with each essay, each story, each comment that says “me too.” It’s happening organically, and I am grateful for that. I’m learning more about what it means to write about motherhood as a whole, and how difficult it is to do that on the Internet where people are so passionate about the subject. (Also: I’m learning why some websites have comment policies.)

I’m learning what it means to be a writer all over again, what it means to string words together intricately with purpose. I’m learning how to edit, and how to ask people to edit me. I’m learning the beauty of slow writing and slow blogging—the benefit of letting our words settle and breathe, rather than churning out content like popcorn. 

I’m learning how to encourage my writers and how to handle criticism gracefully and how to celebrate the wild success of a team effort. I’m learning that as much as I like to write on my own, I like to write with a team even more.

I’m learning there is a fine line between writing for the mothers-to-be and the mothers-who-already-are; a fine line between scaring pregnant women and sugarcoating reality for the moms living in the trenches. I’m learning that it is virtually impossible for every word of every post to resonate with everyone.

I’m learning that we’re not just writing for the first-time moms or the soon-to-be moms or the struggling moms or the empty nester moms. We’re writing for all of it, for everyone, for all of the in betweens.

Real talk: that is a daunting audience.

I’ve got more than 90 writing samples in my inbox and more than 20 official submissions waiting to be read. I’m trying to pull the best of the best and provide the widest net—essays for this mom and that mom and her over there. I’m trying to find the variety and the balance between the good and the hard and the messy and the beautiful.

And as I do that, these are my three wishes for Coffee + Crumbs:

1) I wish that every post you read resonates with you in some way, even if it’s just one sentence or a handful of words. Even if her story is not your story and her baby is not your baby and her struggle is not your struggle, I hope you can pull some truth from her truth.

2) I wish that every post you read opens your eyes to the reality of one other mother on this planet who has graciously and bravely shared her story with you. I hope that you become a little more aware, a little more open, a little more compassionate, a little more accepting of someone else’s walk.

and

3) I wish that every post you read on Coffee + Crumbs leaves you feeling encouraged. I hope you leave our site feeling more understood, less alone, and slightly more hopeful than you were before you started reading our stories.

Thank you for reading, for being part of our success, and for giving us the one thing we need to keep doing this: a kind and gracious audience.

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you will be different.

A letter to my pre-mom self.-1-2

“You will be different. You will see parts of yourself that are unrecognizable, brought only to the surface by the sheer fact that another human is suddenly dependent on you for everything. You will be anxious, you will worry, you will feel overprotective like you have never felt before. You will simultaneously need space and not need space because all you want to do is be alone and also never leave your baby with anyone else. You will uncover a plethora of mom-related judgements that were hiding in your heart all along, and one by one they will fall by the wayside as you realize just how hard and messy and glorious this calling of motherhood actually is. You will learn to love fiercely and wildly without expectations, and for the first time in your whole life, your heart will default to selflessness—a part of you that always existed but was buried deep down inside—waiting for this moment, this change, this baby, this occasion to rise.”

….over at Coffee + Crumbs today, sharing a letter to my pre-mom self.

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things are about to get busy up in here.

toddler busy bag

Last summer I visited my friend Lesley shortly after her second baby Owen was born. We sat on her couch chit-chatting about life and motherhood, when he started to cry. As she got ready to nurse him, her toddler Anna promptly asked for the “nursing bag”. Lesley nodded in approval and minutes later Anna reappeared with a special bag full of toys and books that she only had access to while Lesley was breastfeeding. And then she sat on the floor, quietly, while Lesley nursed and we continued to talk.

Brilliant.

Likewise, we have a special bin of toys in Everett’s closet that he is only allowed to play with during independent play time. And let me tell you: there is something magical about toys that are only available some of the time. Every morning when I pull that bin out, Everett’s face lights up like he’s never seen those toys before. He picks a few handfuls to dump into his crib, and plays for 30-45 minutes in his room by himself.

Magic I tell you.

Now that we’re 12 weeks out from adding another baby to our clan (!!!), I’m starting to get our ducks in a row. We’ve got a nursery to decorate, a toddler bed to transition into, and a nursing bag to create.

Here’s what I have planned for ours so far:

1. Drawstring backpack ($5.60) – Simple, multi-functional, classic. And you can’t beat the price.

2. Finger puppets ($4.99) – These are just plain cute. Great for encouraging imaginative play.

3. Shape puzzle ($10) – Everett is obsessed with puzzles, and I love that this one teaches shapes and colors. Plus, it’s the perfect size for our little bag. Use promo code wmHEARTr for 10% off and check out Becky’s blog here

4. Wooden tow truck ($40) – If there is one thing we can never have enough of, it’s toy cars and trucks. This little set comes with a tow truck, car, and two little “passengers” to add to the fun. Best of all? They’re handcrafted in the good ole USA. Use promo code SUMMER10 for 10% off any purchase through the end of August. 

5. Touch and feel flashcards ($8.99) – We have the “first words” version of these flashcards and Everett still loves them one year later. Another set would be a guaranteed win.

6. String-a-farm ($12.99) – Encourages fine motor skills and manual dexterity, plus you can just play with the animals individually. Cute, cute.

7. Classic ball and cup game ($6) – I’m not sure if Everett would be able to do this, but his athletic ability and hand/eye coordination never ceases to amaze me. At any rate, he’d have a blast trying. Handcrafted in the USA and available in multiple colors (from all natural dyes). Use promo code GADD10 for 10% your purchase. 

8. Wooden balancing game ($18) – Helps build intuition about weight, balance, and motion. You pick your own animals and wood (so many options!). Handcrafted in USA from American hardwood. Use promo code “Ashlee” for 10% off through the end of August. 

9. Latches board ($21.08) – Everyone I know who has one of these, raves about it. Plus it’s the #1 bestseller in “pegged puzzles” on Amazon so I’m sold.

Any other ideas for a busy bag? Do tell. 

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