Welcoming my last baby

last baby

Unless you are personal friends with me on Facebook, you may be wondering where in the world I’ve been these last few months.

You know I was expecting and that my business was taking off. But to be gone for so long, because of a baby and some new clients?

I’ll have plenty to say on all of that later this week…

Today I just want to share with you all the feels over welcoming the newest addition to our family, our rainbow baby, and our last baby, Audrey Mae.

last baby

Yesterday this sweet little girl turned one month old.

And I cried all of the tears.

Such a milestone might not seem like that big of a deal, but for this mom of three, it’s huge.

When our oldest, Daphne, was one month old I was barely coming out of the new motherhood fog. Luckily, she was an easy baby, so most of our adjustments didn’t come with a side of sleep deprivation. Every day with this baby with new and exciting, because everything we experienced with her was a first.

After Henry arrived, the first few weeks were a bit chaotic, but the days of midnight diaper changes and on-demanding feeding with his sister weren’t so far behind us so it was a bit like relearning to ride a bike. This middle-child-to-be had plenty of firsts, too. It turns out, boys and girls are very different. By one month, we were finally starting to hit our stride with juggling two.

But with Audrey, things are different.

Because with my last baby, I won’t just be celebrating her firsts.

I’m also mourning the lasts.

Yesterday was the last time a baby of mine will turn one month old!

last baby

It’s so hard to believe, because I remember her being born like it was yesterday.

She decided she was ready in the early hours of the morning and woke me up. After a shower {clean!} and a quick bite to eat {fuel!}, we made it to the hospital.

We didn’t actually know that she was a she at the time. For our final love bug, my husband and I decided that since we were already equipped with the clothing and gear for a boy or a girl, we elected to keep this one a surprise {which ended up being much easier than this planner had anticipated, and totally worth the wait}.

I had a hunch this little nugget would be exactly what big sister wanted, another girl. For starters, I was extra sick this pregnancy which landed me in the emergency room, just like with big sister. The final icing on the cake was once we were admitted to the hospital, our L&D nurse’s name was Jacqueline, which was my front-running girl name going into the hospital. If that wasn’t a sign!

Dad refused to commit to a gender guess. {I think he just didn’t want to be wrong…}

I had already labored to the finish line by the time I was able to get an epidural, so within 15 minutes the doctor and nurses had flooded into the room for the big finish.

With the pain relief kicking in, I can truly say I enjoyed the delivery. It cracks me up now, but I was holding conversations with the people in the room between the three rounds of pushes until we finally got to meet our – surprise! – girl.

You know how when you get married everyone tells you to try to slow down and enjoy the moment, because it will go by so quickly? That is exactly what I did when my last baby was born. I noticed who was in the room and watched my husband as he gazed down at our newborn. I looked the doctors and nurses in the eyes and thanked them silently. Then I finally held my tiny creation, this amazing miracle I had grown and delivered into the world, and breathed in every ounce of my new daughter. And I cried.

After looking at our precious baby, we felt she was already our Audrey, as if she had named herself! Her middle name didn’t come quite as quickly. In fact, if it weren’t for birth certificate paperwork we may still be deciding!

Big sister’s middle name is her Godmother’s middle name, and big brother’s middle name is his grandfather’s name. Not wanting to stray from the family ties, we settled on Mae….my mother’s grandmother’s name and a true Matriarch.

last baby siblings

In most mommy circles, “baby brain” is a real deal thing. And the more kids we have, the worse it seems to get!

I know I won’t always be so observant, so present to take it all in.

And unlike the firsts that seem to be so obvious, it’s easy to forget to slow down and cherish the lasts.

Happy one month to my sweet girl, my last baby!

{All images courtesy of Haven Photography}

Turning Thirty

turning 30

I spent the first summer after my freshman year at the University of San Diego in my college town instead of heading home for the break. My best friend from high school was supposed to come too, but got mono and had to head home earlier than expected. I spent several weeks alone before my college friends came back for the fall semester.

Most of the time I was fine. I hit my apartment’s gym and pool up whenever I wasn’t working. But one day I decided I needed to live off of more than cereal and mac & cheese, so I headed to a restaurant inside a big outdoor mall nearby.

“Just you?” the hostess asked.

I was mortified.

Everyone in the restaurant was surely staring as she walked me to a table on the patio where I would pathetically sit by myself. I lasted about 45 seconds before I got out my cell phone and called my mom and begged her to talk to me while waited for my food.

After I ate and paid, I rushed out without making eye contact with anyone and vowed that I was never going to eat at a restaurant by myself again.

Flash forward a decade.

Last week a photographer came over to shoot pictures of our house for its listing. She prefers that the client not be home so that she can do her thing, so I gathered my work and scooted out the door. I really only had one errand to run and it was after 11 a.m. so I decided to head to a nearby sushi restaurant.

When I got there the place was pretty empty, so the hostess offered me a table near the window in the front. Pretty soon a couple came in, followed by a father and son, and what appeared to be several business meetings.

I kept to myself while I ate. {Confession: I did have my laptop with me since it was one of my no-kids work days.}

Do you know what I was thinking about in between bites of my Philly roll? Wow, it feels amazing to be eating out by myself!

Was it the fact that I eat most of my meals either standing up or with our 2 year old trying to crawl into my lap from across the table that had changed my outlook on dining solo?

It’s possible, but I think it has more to do with the way the experiences I’ve had in my twenties have helped me grow into the person I am today.

I traveled. In my early twenties, I spent a semester in Europe. I went out weeks before my study abroad program began to travel around with a friend and even by myself for a week. I experienced unforgettable places and was pushed outside of my comfort zone countless times, yet the thing I remember most from the trip is the lesson that came from the airline loosing all of my belongings on the way overseas: things are just that – things. Stuff is replaceable.

I graduated. I also got my first “adult” job with Teach for America. After moving across the country, I entered their training program where I quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be a good fit. I quit my first job before it had even started. I felt like a complete failure and incredibly selfish for putting my own needs over those of my potential students. It took several months {okay, years} for me to really get over it, but now I look back without any regret and am proud of myself for following my instincts.

I partied. I drank for fun {sometimes to the point of it not being fun anymore} and stayed up late with friends. I attended social events in Las Vegas, went to costume parties on the beach, and sipped cocktails on Manhattan rooftops. Most impressively, I would even wake up the next morning and function like a fairly normal human being.

I moved. San Diego, New York {where I met my husband}, Phoenix and Kansas City {where we got married}. We tested the strength of our relationship with each move {something I highly recommend doing with a loved one before you put a ring on it}. It was stressful, but so is real life. Once landing in KC we bought our first house. I learned that owning a home is demanding and expensive, but all of that maintenance and afternoons mowing the lawn sure make you take pride in the place.

I became a mom. In my mid-twenties, my husband and I had our first child. Two years later we welcomed one more and then lost another. Morning sickness isn’t something I would wish upon my worst enemy, but it’s amazing to see what a body can go through in order to create another life. Fortunately, after many months of vomiting, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to lose weight fairly easily and nurse without any many complications {we all have our tradeoffs, right?}. I remember being moved to tears when I would look down at each of my babies because I was so full of love and gratitude…and hormones. Motherhood is a journey that every mom will experience in her own way, and our decisions are personal and guided by love.

I met new people. A handful have become dear friends. Some of them moved away and now I will be moving away from many myself. I attended countless weddings and was honored to be in a few {I give one heck of a toast}. I walked away from friendships that weren’t good for me. I’ve lost friends who were taken way too soon, and realized that while funerals certainly aren’t something I look forward to they can bring people together in strange, incredible ways.

I became an adult. I dropped many of the Mr. and Mrs.’s from my childhood {with permission, of course}. I began seeing former teachers as peers and even friends. I decided that I really like my parents as more than just my mom and dad, but as people. I stopped being intimidated in the workplace by those who were older and seemingly more experienced and realized my own potential and worth.

I adjusted my priorities. By my late twenties, I realized that my new version of “going out” was walking over to my neighbors house with a glass of wine while our kids played in the driveway. I still go to parties {at my daughter’s school}, but I’m always in bed by nine. I can no longer wake up the next morning and function if I consume alcohol, which is a bummer since our two children won’t sleep past 7 a.m.

I became older than all of the contestants on The Bachelor {not sure when that happened}.

I got involved. I networked more often, launched a women’s organization and joined various boards. I voted in elections and gave back to my community. I learned that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes, too.

I worked hard. I changed jobs, got a promotion and a few raises. I watched my husband leave his comfy 9-5 to work for himself, and eventually took the risk to leave the workplace to start my own business, too. I also got up the courage to write about it all here.

And somewhere between twenty and thirty, without me even realizing it, I grew comfortable in my own skin. So much so that I am able to eat by myself in a restaurant.

Why I’m not buying my kids birthday presents

It’s a big week in our house. My son Henry turns two years old tomorrow and on Saturday my daughter will be four. This weekend we’re throwing a joint birthday party {something I intend to do for as long as I can get away with it}.

Daphne is incredibly excited. She keeps going over the guest list at the dinner table and has already brainstormed where she’d like to host next year’s birthday party {at home} and her 17th birthday party {at Gymboree…I’ll be sure to remind her of that when she’s seventeen…}.

birthday party

Ever since Daphne’s first birthday {an over the top ONEderland theme complete with a professional photographer and the photos to to prove it}, I’ve made a pretty big fuss over my kids’ birthdays. {Although this year I did decide to trade in the DIY house party for a venue rental. It’s a tad more expensive, but way worth the time I’m saving not cutting out Etsy bought theme designs.}

I have no doubt that this year will be something she’ll continue to talk about for a long time. Bowling, balloons and a birthday cake {that she picked out} with friends is a pretty big deal for a little kid!

As much as I love a good celebration with family and friends, I far from splurge when it comes to the presents. We already have a house full of too many toys. As a mom, I’m in the business of making memories. That doesn’t happen over a bunch of stuff, it happens when we do stuff together.

Birthdays are no exception! In fact, they are the perfect opportunity to create those Insta moments you’ll be talking about years down the road. Here are my tips for making the most of your kids’ birthday presents….or lack thereof.

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Daphne {3} and Henry {1} at their Toy Story themed bash last year.

Buy Experiences Not Things

Have you ever been home with a bored kid? It’s the worst. They become whiney and needy and you’re looking around at a mountain of toys wondering how boredom is even possible. It’s because they need something to do.

Research has been telling us for years that spending money on new experiences yields more happiness than spending it on new products. It isn’t a new concept, but for some reason I think we have a more difficult time applying it to young kids.

In lieu of gifts for Christmas and their birthdays this year, we’ve opted for a Wonderscope membership and zoo membership. Then the important part is to get out there are actually use them. I feel happier already!

Ditch the “No Gifts Please”

Have you ever gotten an invitation to a birthday party or shower that says “no gifts please” or “your presence is present enough” on it? {Guilty of sending, BTW!} While it may be incredibly well intentioned, it can be confusing or even stressful for your guests.

When it comes time for the event, you have the rule followers strolling up to the door next to the etiquette police with a perfectly wrapped package in tow and suddenly the empty handers feel badly.

The reality is, people like to bring gifts! And, truth be told, no one wants to be the only one showing up without one. I say, let them.

Teach Gratitude

Since you have all of these thoughtful friends coming with gifts, you have the perfect opportunity to teach your little birthday darling how to be appreciative. First, start with basic manners. No matter what anyone says, hand written thank you notes have not gone out of style.

Second, consider using the presents as leverage to purge some of the gently used toys collecting dust around your house. Allow your children to be a part of the process. They can help decide which items get donated and even go with you to drop them off at a local charity.

I’m looking forward to splurging on donuts for breakfast tomorrow morning with Henry before heading to the zoo for his big day. While my now two year old may not recall every detail, I still know our family’s birthday week memories will last longer than the four minutes he would have spent playing with a new toy before tossing it aside.

What do you think of the rising trend of “no gift” and charitable gift parties?