Category Archives: Love

Baby Mama Drama


I can say with complete honesty that having a baby has been the most humbling experience of my life.

We can all say the things we’d do that would be best for our baby before actually having one. And, we can all criticize those for doing things differently; after all, they must not really love their baby as much as we do because we are the only ones that have our baby’s best interests at heart. And believe me, before Murphy came along, I had plenty of opinions of my own. In fact, I still struggle with passing judgment on someone who has done something differently than the way I think is best.

But guess what: IT AIN’T MY CALL.

I can’t possibly presume to know and understand the circumstances of every individual on the planet, so how could I possibly know what is best for each of them and their children?  I’ve even had private conversations with other women I had previously wanted to judge for a choice they made when it came to their children and was dumbfounded at the secret struggles they had that no one would have ever known about. 

My own child is only four months old, and the level of negative critique (often disguised as well-meant intentions) that I’ve witnessed and seen others experience is alarming.

You wanna find out the sex of your baby? Find out the sex. You wanna make your way through labor by means of self-hypnosis? Knock yourself out! You wanna schedule your C-section? Do it, sister! You wanna push that baby out drug and epidural-free? You go girl! You wanna birth that kid in a blow-up kiddie pool in your living room? By all means! (Just make sure to film the thing, ‘cause we mamas all love watching that sh*t on YouTube.) You wanna formula-feed or can’t breastfeed? Not only will your kid still live, they’ll still thrive. Wanna breastfeed your kid ‘til they’re in college? You do you, girrrrl! Stroller or baby-wearing?  Co-sleep or cry-it-out? Cloth diapers or disposable? Generic baby formula or homemade goat milk formula? Working mom or stay-at-home? Screen time or nah? One kid or 20? Store-bought baby food or homegrown organic? Take your pick.

IT DOESN’T MATTER.

Just love your kids, please. Love the hell outta them and cherish each moment, because, my God, they’re so fleeting!

Let go of all the judgment (on yourself and others), the mom guilt, the bullsh*t. Let it all go and use that energy, instead, on something great like teaching your kid to read, to be kind, to imagine, to think, to love, to have faith in something bigger than themselves. Because THAT?

THAT MATTERS.

Stop asking others how they’re mom-ing in hopes of feeling better about yourself, and stop posting articles on social media reiterating why the choice YOU made is, not only the best, but the ONLY sane choice one could possibly make.

Don’t lie. We’ve all done it.

Stop asking, and just make the choices that are best for your family. Just be informed about it, and know that what’s best in your situation isn’t always the most blatant, black and white answer. There’s so much grey.

SO. MUCH. GREY.

Support other moms out there, and encourage them when possible–or even just when the mood strikes you. Sometimes just a smile in their direction will make their day. And please, only offer your advice when it’s asked for. BE NICE and not just some arrogant, know-it-all, better-than-everyone-else mom.

This message is for me, too. I’m just as guilty as anyone. Maybe even more so. I’m working on it, and I hope this post will encourage others to do the same.

So, if you’re a Judgey McJudgerson out there reading this…..just think about it.

And if you’re a mom reading…..I’m proud of you! I know you love your baby more than life itself, and I know that you’re trying your hardest every. single. day.

Yes, even if you’re not doing things the way you always thought your would or the way others have told you you should. Give yourself a break, for crying out loud! You have, arguably, the hardest job on the planet, and you’re rocking it.

You rock star, you.

😉

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Big Changes and New Challenges

I haven’t written in quite a while, despite my constantly telling myself I will be better at it.  I enjoy it, and I definitely don’t make the time for it like I should.

That being said, I have had a pretty good excuse this time.

We’re having a baby!

I was almost 21 weeks along before we made it “Facebook official”.  We had planned to announce it sooner, but we actually very much enjoyed keeping it to our closer circle of family and friends for as long as we could.  With everyone putting every ounce of their business on social media these days, it was nice to know that we held this precious {almost} secret for a little while longer.

Now that it’s out, it feels so weird to say it openly to everyone or for them to notice and comment on my ever-growing bump.  The kicking is almost constant, which I love.  I like being reminded that this little person is there, and I’m never alone.  I know this will pass way too quickly, so I’m soaking up every drop that I can.

We’ve been diligently working to prepare for the little one’s arrival.  My parents have come to stay several weekends to help do some light remodeling to get the house baby-ready.  We’ve refinished our hardwood floors and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls.  Things are looking fresh and new, and it’s exciting.

The house is still relatively empty.  We chose not to buy much furniture until after the floors were finished so that we wouldn’t have to put it in storage.  All we currently have is our king-sized mattress (best money we’ve ever spent), our TV and entertainment center, our couch, 4 sitting chairs, and a cheap folding table and chair set to temporarily use for dining.  I’ve sold everything else.  And since the house used to belong to my organized hoarder grandmother, there was a lot to sell.

I can’t wait to get a couple of nice pieces for the nursery as well as an actual dining room table and chairs.  We still plan to keep the house relatively empty as we’ve grown accustomed to the open space.  We’ll stick with the essentials and just enjoy our breathing room for now.

Of course, our plan is to carry over the minimalist principles we’ve been living into parenthood.  I’ve been entertained with all the people who have expressed their doubts that this will be possible.  After all, babies need soooo much stuff! #sarcasm

All I can think is, you must not know how seriously we take our lifestyle!  Haha!

We probably won’t get it perfect every time.  In fact, I know we won’t.  But we do intend to try.  We’ve already been taking steps to ensure we keep our baby spending in check.  We knew immediately that we didn’t want to find out the baby’s sex.  So far, this alone has held us to our minimalist ideals.  You would be surprised at the amount of cute stuff I had to pass up at the store because I don’t know what we’re having!  I can see why people go a little crazy in the baby departments.  Everything is so cute, convenient, and eye-catching that it’s super hard not to!

Instead, though, I sat down at the computer and began listing things that I knew for sure our baby would need.  Basics like: neutral onesies, socks, diapers, wipes, baby wash, teeny nail clippers, a thermometer, soft towels and washcloths, burp cloths, a place to sleep, etc.  Then, I did research upon research on topics like, Do Babies Actually Need Cribs To Sleep InIs A Bottle Warmer Completely NecessaryHow Many Outfits Will An Infant Go Through In A Week’s Time, and so on and so forth.  Then, after slowly adding and removing things from my list over several weeks based on my findings, I started a registry online.  I only went into the store once to get a look at a few items in person and to add (or remove) accordingly.  The rest was done from my computer, further keeping the temptation to buy-all-the-stuff at bay.  What I’m left with is a list of things I will actually need and use for our new baby without getting bogged down in all the unnecessary, albeit cute, items.

Yes, my list may seem a little boring to some.  Yes, if I have a sweet baby girl, she will be wearing mostly whites, yellows, and greys for the first few months of her life (which, as someone with an aversion to pink, is fine by me).  No, we won’t be having some huge gender reveal party or some over-the-top gender stereotypical baby shower, but you know what?  We’re fine with it.  In fact, we prefer it.  Sometimes in the midst of all the cutesy pinks and blues and mountains of baby gear, we can lose sight of the miracle that’s right in front of us.  By keeping it simple, our attention will not be on all the stuff we’ll receive or think we’ll have to purchase.  Instead, it will be totally focused on the new life we’ll be bringing into the world.

And honestly, I don’t know of anything more precious than a cozy baby in a simple, white onesie asleep in your arms.

If decorating your nursery to the nines or monogramming ruffled, boutique rompers makes your heart sing, then go for it!  There’s nothing wrong with these things.  Just remember that they are babies, and the truth is, they don’t need a lot of stuff.  They don’t require it or ask for these things, and they’ll outgrow most of it in a matter of weeks.  They just need a lot of love, as cliche as it sounds, and that’s exactly what we plan on giving ours.

We want our children to have everything when it comes to what matters and to not get confused, bombarded, or even spoiled, by the things that distract them from it.  We want to teach them the value of relationships and the meaninglessness of replaceable possessions.  We want them to want to spend more time with the people that love and care for them than with the screens on their electronic devices.  We want to take them on trips and provide them with experiences they will never forget.  We want to instill these values in them so that they will one day understand the importance of passing them on to their children.

I’m so excited about what’s to come.  This new journey will be fun, challenging, amusing, comical, and sometimes heartbreaking, but I look forward to it all and hope to share pieces of it with you guys along the way.

Thanks for reading!

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We Did It

When we pulled into the quaint Bed & Breakfast in the small coastal town at the base of northern Irish territory, I was already a bit frantic. We were running behind, had gotten a little lost, and I had driven the hour and a half for the first time on the opposite side of the car and road. Nervous was an understatement.

As we unloaded our luggage from the trunk, we saw him drive into view. Our photographer had arrived.

I had been hoping to have an hour or so to myself before we met up with him. After all, it was my wedding day, and a girl needs time to fix her hair and put on a touch of make-up. Even simple, low-maintenance girls like me.

We apologized, stating that we might have to get started a little later than we had planned. I, bare-faced, explained how we’d gotten lost and how the car rental company had not initially found our reservation in their system, setting us back another half hour.

He was so relaxed and assured us that we had all the time in the world.

I calmed some, but still didn’t want to keep him waiting. I am never late for anything.

I went upstairs, Gene not far behind, flinging open my suitcase, feverishly searching for my makeup bag. We had so strategically packed and repacked our belongings in our minimal luggage, that this was a feat in and of itself. Which bag is it in?!

I finally retrieved it and began the familiar motions of putting on my face. I tried to give my hair a tad more oomph, but quickly changed my mind, as I knew it wouldn’t make much difference. The air was so misty that day.

And there he was, buttoning his shirt so calmly, grinning from ear to ear. Why couldn’t I be more like him, even if just for this one day?

Gene went downstairs to check in with our photographer, telling him I needed a few more minutes, before returning upstairs to gently hurry me along. As unprepared and thrown-together as I felt, I told him I was ready for him to come up to get some shots of the final “getting ready” touches.

When they both entered the crisp, white room over-looking Carlingford Lough, Tim walked up to me and softly spoke, “Listen. You have nothing to be nervous about. This is going to be a great day. No pressure. No rush. Let’s just relax and enjoy it together.”

He also commented on how great I looked in my lacy dress I had so hastily thrown over my head while Gene went to fetch him. A peace suddenly came over me. What was I so worked up over? Everything so far had played out even better than we’d ever imagined possible. Why should I fear that this day would be any different?

Becoming aware of my nonsensical behavior, I decided to let it go. He was right. It was going to be a great day.

I began to actually enjoy myself. Tim snapped shots of Gene putting on his tie—the tie we’d just bought the night before we boarded the plane—and me putting on my casual jewelry. We didn’t worry about how fancy we would be dressed. We didn’t worry about traditions or things old, new, borrowed, or blue. We were just ourselves. True and simple.

Then she entered the room; a young girl with a pacifier in her mouth, not even waist-high. In her hand was one of the most gorgeous hand-picked bouquets I’d ever seen—another element I didn’t bother to arrange that day. She was the granddaughter of the B&B owner, and wanted to pick flowers for “the princess” on her wedding day. This was the sweetest of moments, in a way that could never be planned or manipulated. It was perfect in all its spontaneity.

We made our way downstairs and rode in the backseat of Tim’s car up to the woodsy car park at the base of the mountain. Our mountain.

Reuben, our minister, was not far behind. Introductions were made, laughs were had, and up we went.

The hike took about twenty minutes and was more difficult than expected. We were all breathing heavily by the time we reached the top, and nothing could prepare us for the view we were about to experience. All we could do was stand there in silence, in awe of the beauty on all sides and as far as our eyes could see.

Worth it. This moment, this marvel, made everything—all the planning, stress, nerves, questions—feel worth it.

We just stood in complete wonder for about half an hour before any vows were exchanged. Just being here with the person I loved so much, experiencing it all together, felt like our vow in and of itself. We both knew that to say those solemn words in this miraculous place would just be the cherry on top.

We turned to face one another, embracing in our joy and gratitude. This time was a gift, a gift that neither of us would ever take for granted. We thanked God with every fiber of our being, for each other, for this trip, for this life.

Then, in that voice that always steadies and comforts my soul, he spoke into my ear.

“We did it.”

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A True Minimalist Wedding

The idea of a wedding can be super daunting for a minimalist couple.

Everywhere you look, there’s potential for some other frivolous expense: engagement photos, save-the-dates, wedding cake AND groom’s cake, fancy invitations, will-you-be-my-bridesmaid? gift boxes, wedding party gifts, bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen tuxes, something old/new/borrowed/blue, a cute little pillow for an equally cute toddler in a tux to carry your rings on, centerpieces, decor you will never have use for again but will feel guilty for throwing away after the big day, and even the several-thousand-dollar wedding dress that will sit in your closet for decades to follow. . . .

The whole thing is a lot to take in!

So when me and my guy decided it was our time to take the leap, we knew we didn’t want to do it like everyone else. It just wasn’t for us.

Instead, we just decided to elope.  To Ireland.  On a mountain.  Just the two of us.

And we couldn’t have been happier with our decision.

Despite being extremely close to our family and not wanting to exclude them, we still felt this was the right decision for us. We’re not frivolous or extravagant people, and the thought of having to spend (or having my parents to spend) such a large sum of money for only a couple of hours of showy celebration didn’t sit right with us.

We ended up getting a lot more bang for much less buck as we enjoyed a two-week trip abroad, and said our vows in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

My dress cost $80, and it’s something I can wear over and over again. We spent about $75 on his attire, using some pieces he already had in his closet. My jewelry wasn’t fancy, just some pieces I already owned, minus the bracelet I got on sale for $15–also something I can wear over again.

We ordered a simple 6 inch cake–chocolate with espresso Italian buttercream icing and chocolate ganache on top–that we ate in the middle of a meadow, and didn’t even bother fooling with something old/new/borrowed/blue or even a bouquet.  (Although the little granddaughters of the B&B owners where we were staying picked me a handful of the most beautiful flowers from their garden!)

Everything was simple and perfect.

We didn’t stress much over the day at all. We took three months to plan the whole trip (much with the help of our amazing photographer and his wife), hopped on a plane, hiked up a mountain, and made it happen.  Then after, we drove around southern Ireland for a week.  Ah-mazing!

I recommend more people go this route. Of course, if you want a huge wedding with all your friends and family present, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think you should go for it!  Just make sure it’s what the two of you really want and not what society has said you should do.

And if you have hesitations about doing it the “traditional” way, I hope that a story like ours will help you see that it’s OK to do things a bit differently.

I’ve heard so many married couples say they wished they had eloped instead of going through with the big wedding, but have heard none who eloped say they wished they hadn’t. There’s something very moving about it just being the two of you on that special day. After all, that’s what it’s all about. You two. Not all the hundreds of people (most of which you may not even know very well) you will have to impress and feed after the ceremony. It’s not about the mounds of gifts you will receive. It’s not about how fancy your dress, hair, or makeup is. It’s not even about the size of your diamond (mine is only .05 carat, and I couldn’t love it more!).

It’s about the two of you and the commitment you’re making to one another.

Another fun detail:
Due to the strict laws in Northern Ireland about getting married (you must have been a citizen for two years and can’t get married outside!), we actually legally tied the knot at the beach in Florida a week before we left for Ireland. We spent a four-day weekend laying on the beach, eating seafood, and drinking fruity drinks–a honeymoon in and of itself–before going on our actual elopement trip/honeymoon. Not too shabby.

Have we got you seriously considering eloping, now?  DO IT!!!

If you want to know any other details about how we did our big day, please feel free to ask in the comments! I’d be more than happy to share with you all!

Now, for a few of the gorgeous pics from our day as well as a closeup of my simple rings–that I’m totally obsessed with!

Thanks so much for reading!

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love         Photography by This Modern Love

 

Photography by This Modern Love Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

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Happy “Valentime’s”

Let me be clear:  I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day.  Never really have been.

I think that it can be a forced way of showing love and care towards someone for one day, when, in reality, we should have been showing them all along.

do think, however, that it can be a good thing, too.  If nothing more than to raise awareness, causing us to stop and remember those we care about.

So, basically, I have mixed feelings on the day.

Anyhoo…..I’d like to take a minute to acknowledge my Valentine.

My boyfriend’s probably the sweetest guy around.  Our 3 year anniversary is next week, and we’re still going strong.  That means he’s had to put up with me and all my crazy for 3 years.  Brave man.

I make light of it, but seriously.  I don’t know what I would do without him.

He’s shown me what it really means to love someone unconditionally, always putting my needs above his own.

He’s patient with me (most of the time <wink>) and loves me, not in spite of, but because of my flaws.

He can cook like nobody’s business, and does so frequently, seeing as how I suck at it so much.

He never hesitates to go without something for himself to assure that my needs are met.

He’s always the first to forgive, the first to apologize, and the first to compromise.

His sense of humor is just as bizarre as mine, and he never fails to make me laugh—even in the hardest of times.

I’ve never met anyone that I felt so compatible with on a spiritual level.  We discuss things that are important to us, and we open each other’s eyes to new ideas and new knowledge constantly.

He challenges me, helping me grow in more ways than I ever could have imagined.

He’s also quite the minimalist, himself.  YAY!

I’m hopeful for our future together, and I feel as if I couldn’t have been more blessed in finding him.

We won’t be going out tonight—we usually don’t on Valentine’s Day—but will, instead, enjoy spending time together over a nice meal at home.  Which, of course, he’ll be cooking.

SO…..Happy “Valentime’s” Day, and happy anniversary to us!

What a pair of Marys.  —Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration

Is there someone in your life you could show a little extra love to, not only today, but everyday?

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