on making room.

Where my heart resides

I’ll be the first to admit: I always knew I was going to be the type of momma to go a little overboard on the nursery. I knew there would be a well-developed Pinterest board, a neutral color scheme, and plenty of non-baby decor items neatly arranged on top of the dresser. I knew people were going to roll their eyes at me.

Some of you are probably rolling your eyes right now.

That’s okay.

Because halfway through decorating Everett’s nursery, I realized something about the process. I realized that my attention to detail and obsessive compulsive tendencies were less about making a Pinterest-perfect room and more about simply making room

There I was—six months pregnant—folding and re-folding neat stacks of freshly washed burp cloths, having the epiphany of a lifetime.

I was making room
In my heart. In the dresser. In the closet. In my marriage. In my home. In my life.

In my everything. 

That nursery became a sanctuary for me—a place where I could let my mind wander and spend intentional time focusing on the tiny life growing inside of me. I spent hours upon hours in that room, arranging globes and hanging maps, folding onesies and stocking the diaper drawer with unopened creams and lotions. As I moved around the room shifting items on the bookcase, I wondered what our baby would look like, sound like, be like. I wondered if he would love to read like his mom and if he would be good at basketball like his dad.

With every folded onesie and pinwheel tacked to the wall, I felt a little more ready, a little more connected, a little more prepared. It was therapeutic. Cathartic. Peaceful. I found myself drawn to that room every afternoon, straightening books on the shelves and fluffing the pillow on the rocking chair. I moved the teddy bear to the left of the crib, then back to the right, then back to the left again. I carefully analyzed every item in that room, every sock, every piece of art on the walls. I could have described every last detail in a police report if I needed to.

That nursery was more than a nursery. It was the room where I made room—for him, for us, for all of it.

***

As I approach the ninth month of my second pregnancy, I have found myself spending more and more time in this baby’s room. I feel guilty admitting that his nursery has been more of an afterthought, but that’s the truth. I have only just now started putting the room together, with seven weeks of pregnancy left to go.

It has been hard to focus, to be intentional, to feel connected to this life growing inside of me while the first life that grew inside of me is running around the house like a monkey jumping off the couch and asking for more crackers. If it wasn’t for the fact that none of my clothes fit and I have to pee every sixteen minutes, I might occasionally forget that I’m pregnant altogether.

And I really, really hate that. 

So, for the next seven weeks, I’m giving myself permission to turn back into that crazy, eye-roll-inducing momma. I’m giving myself permission to fold and re-fold the onesies, to meticulously arrange feather decals on the wall, to sort the books alphabetically if I feel like it. I’m going to find room in the budget for a new rug, and I’m going to order that $26 print off Etsy that compliments our theme so perfectly. I apologize in advance for the instagrams that will surely follow.

But I hope at least now you see—this nursery is not about the elephant crib sheets or the adorable giraffe lamp or the dream catchers hanging on the wall. And those other mommas over there? It might not be about their birdcages and twig wreaths and vintage dresser knobs.

For some of us, it’s simply about making room.
In our hearts. In our dressers. In our closets. In our everything.

***

Everett’s nursery tour + Baby #2′s Pinterest board

p.s. I’m back on HuffPo today (!!!) defending two-year-olds

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our maternity photos.

Where My Heart Resides-1 Where My Heart Resides-2 Where My Heart Resides-3 03-maternity faves2Where My Heart Resides-5 Where My Heart Resides-11 Where My Heart Resides-7Where My Heart Resides-1402-maternity faves1Where My Heart Resides-9 Where My Heart Resides-19Where My Heart Resides-2205-maternity faves4Where My Heart Resides-23 Where My Heart Resides-25Where My Heart Resides-26 Where My Heart Resides-33 07-maternity faves6 Where My Heart Resides-31 08-maternity faves7Where My Heart Resides-3009-maternity faves8Where My Heart Resides-4310-maternity faves9Where My Heart Resides-46

Where My Heart Resides-48{ dress: Max Studio (similar fit dress here); green ring & earrings c/o Rocksbox }

My sweet friend Sarah took these pictures for us a couple weeks ago, and…..wait for it….this was her FIRST maternity shoot, ever.

!!!

Sarah just launched her official photography business and I could not possibly be more proud of her. It can be super nerve-wracking to release your art into the world, but I think we all can agree: the girl’s got skill. I am so thankful to have these gorgeous photos to document our last few weeks as a family of three. Thank you, Sarah!

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labels, dreams, fears, and fuel.

where my heart resides

{ photo by Sarah Thornhill }

One of the weirdest things that has plagued me since becoming a mother is figuring out my label. I’m not even into labels, but it seems like every time I meet a new person or start chatting with another mom at the park, this question inevitably comes up:

So, do you stay home or…..?

Shortly after Everett was born, and my steady contract gig ended, I got into the habit of saying I was a stay-at-home mom. I don’t know why I started saying that, since I was also running a photography business on the side, but it just seemed like an easy thing to say. After all, I was staying at home most of the time (see: wearing yoga pants covered in spit-up and eating cheetos like a boss).

Fast forward two years and I find myself still struggling with that question and those ridiculous labels. Stay-at-home mom. Work-at-home mom. Working mom. Part-time-working mom.

Two months ago, I started Coffee + Crumbs with high hopes and low expectations. I hoped it would be well received and that it would grow steadily into the place I dreamed it would be: an online community built on storytelling and me too’s. I had tiny numbers in my head, small goals for us to reach by Christmastime.

And then we reached all of them in the first six weeks.

So I celebrated! I danced in my kitchen! I clinked my glass of iced tea to Everett’s sippy cup in the backyard, saying “cheers” half a dozen times.

And then, being the hormonal pregnant mess that I am, I cried. Sobbed. Had a nervous breakdown. Had a second nervous breakdown. I scared Brett with all the crying, all the Freaking Out, all the incessant worrying.

While all of our numbers and goals were being met and surpassed, I started receiving an overwhelming amount of validation. E-mails. Texts. In-real-life conversations. Everyone was generous and forthcoming with compliments and feedback, affirming the idea and concept and all of the hard work behind the scenes.

I reveled in that validation for exactly five minutes before the panic set in.

That panic turned into fear and that fear turned into anxiety and that anxiety turned into a two hour cry-fest on my couch.

I was struggling. Drowning in e-mails and submissions and to-do lists that were never finished. I couldn’t keep up with everything and felt like I was failing everyone. The higher our numbers climbed, the more pressure I felt to make it perfect. I was losing myself in perfectionism, and it wasn’t pretty.

Something had to change, something had to give, and there weren’t any easy answers. It’s easy to talk about things like boundaries and delegating, but actually doing them is a whole other story.

And yet.

Smack in the middle of my nervous breakdown on the couch, I realized something.

My dreams for Coffee + Crumbs were only getting bigger.

The fear wasn’t paralyzing me; in a way, it was fueling me. 

A podcast.
An online shop.
A beautiful hardcover book filled with our stories.

I can see all of it.

And while I have no idea where to start or how to get there, I know one thing for sure: I love what I see.

So I guess you can label me whatever you want. Right now I’m home with a toddler and another baby on the way, working my ass off during naptime and during twenty minute spurts while Curious George plays in the background. Nothing is easy; guilt follows me around like a puppy dog all day long. There’s never enough time, nothing is ever finished, but nervous breakdowns aside…..I’m starting to believe this is right where I am supposed to be. Taking care of a toddler, bringing another sweet baby boy into the world, and attempting to create something meaningful for other mothers in the process.

In this season of life, this place of in-between and All The Big Dreams, motherhood fuels the content of my work, and the content of my work fuels the mother I am becoming. The lines are often blurred and while that feels impossibly hard on most days, I’m grateful I don’t have to choose one or the other. I love being a mom, and I love the work that I’m doing. I’m making it all up as I go along, creating a dream job in between poopy diapers and cracker bribes. 

To hell with the labels; there is no label adequate for that.

It will not be easy, but this is only the beginning.

Cheers to leaning in.

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thredUP for the win.

Thredup - where my heart resides2

Since discovering ThredUP earlier this year, I’ve become a bit of an addict to this site. Between referral credits and a generous $100 gift certificate from ThredUP after promoting them on a local TV show, I’ve had a lot of “free” money to spend. Note: I am really good at spending free money.

Shopping while eight months pregnant is a little silly at this point, so I’m mostly stocking up on nursing-friendly tops and items that will be forgiving on a postpartum body. As for the sparkly J. Crew top? I figured even if we’re sitting at home on NYE this year (a very real possibility), I might as well get a little fancy.

Seriously though, THESE PRICES.

1. Hi Line Short Sleeve Silk Top – $23.99 (retails for $119)

2. J. Crew Sleeveless Top – $22.49 (retails for $88)

3. Ella Moss Soft Tunic – $34.99 (retails for $168)

4. Michael Kors Short Sleeve Blouse – $28.49 (retails for $80)

5. Design History Short Sleeve Blouse – $26.99 (retails for $107)

My favorite brands to shop on ThredUP – Hi Line, J. Crew, Ella Moss, Free People, Madewell, Zara, and Maeve. If you haven’t tried ThredUP yet, you can use this link for $10 off your first purchase (which gives me $10 too!). Happy shopping!

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between the crib rails.

Everett-65 I can’t remember when he started kissing us between the crib rails. My first memory of that is tucked somewhere in between winter and spring of this past year. We finished our bedtime routine of teeth brushing and book reading and dropped him into the crib as usual. He sat up on his knees, pressed his face against the crib rails, and said, “pup?”

The kid can say “truck” and “flower” and “cracker” clear as day, but a handful of words require their own Everett-translation, “pup” (kiss) being one of them.

Never the type to turn down kisses, Brett and I knelt down on the floor and brought our faces to meet his. His breath smelled faintly of Thomas the train toothpaste.

After that first night, kissing between the crib rails became part of the regular bedtime routine.

Every night we sit on the floor and yell, “Give us our pups!!” as Everett crawls back and forth in the crib giggling.

“Momma pup?” he says, as I take my turn.

“Daddy pup?” he says, as Brett takes his.

Sometimes he sticks his face in between every space from left to right, all seventeen of them, and we oblige. Back and forth, he presses his face against the cold rails, tiny nose and open mouth barely squeezing through. Sometimes I kiss his mouth, sometimes I kiss his nose. He’s not really picky about where I kiss, so long as my face meets his.

Sometimes he wants us to kiss everything in his crib. He holds up Elmo, and his Curious George doll, his disgusting blue blanket that he carries all over the house.

“Elmo pup?”

“George pup?”

“Gigi (blanket) pup?”

We kiss all of it, everything, every time between the crib rails. Pups for everyone.

***

We bought the toddler bed off Craigslist the same weekend we moved into our new house. A lady was selling it for $80, mattress included, and said it had only been slept on a handful of times. I believed her.

The bed looks good in his big boy room, there is no denying that. Every other room in this house still needs to be put together, but his room has art on the walls and twinkle lights on the teepee and a bright new duvet comforter from IKEA carefully tucked into the sides of the bed.

The bed. The bed where he will soon be sleeping.

Everyone keeps telling me you should keep a toddler in their crib as long as possible. That, so long as they’re not climbing out of it, baby jail is the best thing since sliced bread. And while I believe them, because containment is wonderful when dealing with toddlers who don’t always nap very long, I find myself rattling off Our Plan rather defensively.

We are having a baby in eight weeks! The crib is in the baby’s room! I can’t sleep train two kids at once! This is all part of the Big Brother Transition!

But the truth is: that bed has been set up for weeks and Everett is still sleeping in his crib because I am not ready to give up being kissed between the crib rails.

Forget Everett. Forget Brett. Forget the baby books and mommy blogs and stranger advice.

I am not ready.

I am not ready for this. I am not ready for two kids. I am not ready for my baby to not be a baby anymore, even though I know he isn’t one. I am not ready to have one child in a toddler bed and one child in a crib. I am not ready to let go of this routine, of his toddler breath and slobbery mouth meeting mine in between the crib rails. It feels like the last baby part of him, and I am clinging to it with closed fists like a kid holding a helium balloon in the wind.

Tonight is Everett’s last night sleeping in his crib. Tomorrow we plan to start sleep training in his big boy bed, taking advantage of the three-day weekend. I’m anxious, worried for him and what he will think, concerned he might be scared. I’m worried it will take four hours to get him to fall asleep and that Brett and I will kill each other in the process. I’m worried he won’t nap well. Let’s be real: I’m mostly worried he won’t nap well.

But what I’m feeling the most is simply bittersweet.

So tonight, with eight weeks to go before we become a family of four, in this precious time of transition and in-between, I am going to relish every last ounce of those kisses between the crib rails. I’ll drag it out for thirty minutes if I have to.

Pups for everyone.

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