Sunday, November 9, 2014

I've Moved!

To say that the past year has been a whirlwind would be an understatement.  Our sweet Sadie girl is already almost 10 months old, our Jacob boy turned 5, and…drumroll, please…I finally launched my own wedding planning company, Lauren Niles Events!  A Joyful Melody has been such an incredible space for me and I'm so grateful for every reader, every Pin and every share.  Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.  I hope that you will continue to follow all of my inspiration and life thoughts on my LNE blog.  Hope to see you there!



Photo by L. Hewitt Photography

Monday, March 17, 2014

Newborn Essentials | Items I Love

During my first pregnancy, I was all about the gear.  Swings, bouncers, walkers, every kind of large, bulky item there was, I was sure that this item would transform parenthood for me and make it easy, breezy.  With the exception of the pack and play and J's swing, there weren't many things that made life easier on an every day basis.  This time around, I did some research before purchasing and/or registering.  Our menu of gear looked a lot different.

So, here are the items I have LOVED so far.  Some were gifted and some we bought ourselves, but all are SO helpful and SO necessary.

Why I LOVE each of these...

This thing is a-flippin-mazing.  If I could choose just one item I literally could not broach motherhood without, this would be it.  We brought ours to the hospital and had ordered another for backup before our stay was over.  I like the Woombie Air since it's ventilated and eases my mind on overheating.  I tried the competitors when Jacob was first born and none worked like this.  Plus, the fabric allows for a safe, easy swaddle that doesn't constrict baby's hips or arms to the point of developmental damage.  The hype around this thing is no joke.  It's ESSENTIAL!!

Ok, so I don't use this thing all day, every day.  I use it for one very important thing...showering.  I put this in my bathroom, strap her in, and I can get a solid 15 minute shower, at minimum.  It's also great for carrying from floor to floor or room to room when I'm trying to get things done.  She doesn't nap in it, like the product is suggested for, but she lounges like nobody's business in this thing.

Again, the hype is there for a reason.  They're large, breathable and soft.  They're perfect for laying down on the floor for tummy time or just a light blanket around the house.  We use these more than any other blanket we own.

If you're going to wear baby, this is the way to do it.  The fabric is amazing, the colors and patterns are great (I have the coral, but am dying for the stripes), and she is so cozy and secure when I'm wearing her in this!  I like this wrap better than a ring sling because I know she's not going anywhere when I have this on.  Her head is secure, she feels incredibly snug and she doesn't even move when I have to bend over to pick something up.  If this is your 2nd+ baby, this thing is a necessity for getting anything done around the house.  And who doesn't love feeling their baby so close all day long?  It's literally the best thing in the world.

With Jacob, I failed miserably at keeping up a baby book or scrapbooking.  I was gifted this little book at my sprinkle and writing in it has been one of the best parts of my day since Sadie was born.  I love that there's enough room to write a little about each of my babies, and it's easy to remember since I keep it bedside.  Also, each page is a different day with 5 entries per day, so it's meant to be looked back on as a 5 year comparison.  I know next year, as I write that day's memory, looking back at the year before will be just as special as commemorating the present.  The gold foil lettering on the cover doesn't hurt either ;)

My girl is a puker.  All day, every day, I'm pretty much covered in spit up.  It's an attractive look, really.    So, burp cloths are a hot commodity in this household.  These gerber flannel burp cloths are thick, absorb well and actually last all day, unlike most of the other burp cloths we have.  Unfortunately, we only have four.  I really need to go buy some more...

Because how cute is she?!  She squeeks when you squeeze her and Sadie thinks she's fun to stare at.  Soon, she'll be grabbing and then she'll be knawing.  I can already see that this little toy is going to be a favorite.

I had this one with Jacob and it still follows us through the house with Sadie.  It makes nursing comfortable and is also great for propping her up in on the floor while I dry my hair or put away clothes.  If you're nursing, there's no way of getting around it.  You need this.

With Jacob, we went for cheap.  And then we had to get another one by the time he was a year, at which point we upped our game just a little.  But, by the time he was ready to potty train, that thing was still pretty smelly and ready to be thrown out.  This time, I did some research and decided to try the Ubbi (If i's good enough for Tori Spelling, it's good enough for me ;) ).  Since it's steel, it doesn't absorb odors like plastic, which is obviously pro #1.  It has an air sealing knob that keeps all the odors in, takes any kind of trash bag and has a clean, amazing design in a selection of gorgeous colors.

What are your favorite essentials for your newborn?  Anything else I should try?  And sound off in the comments if you've tried any of the above items!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Welcome to the World, Sweet Girl | Sadie's C-Section Birth Story

She's here!  If you follow me on Instagram (@mrslniles), you know that she arrived a short six weeks ago.  So while I've been absent from the blogosphere, I've been cuddling this beautiful girl, watching her grow like crazy, rocking her for endless hours, and, of course, working on settling into being a mama of two littles.  Whoever said two isn't that different than one was either lying or just trying to make me feel better about the impending life change!  It's a constant balancing act, but I am in love with being able to take a step away from the computer and outside responsibilities to just spend every hour of the day cuddling with my kiddos, getting to know them both better and finding ways to have fun together in this season of mostly staying inside.  It's included lots of book reading, construction paper with some watercolors and kid scissors, and, unfortunately TV time for Jacob while I tend to Sadie (still working on that one).

So, what to say about this sweet girl of mine?

AH, she is just the MOST precious!!!  She has dimples like me and hands like her daddy.  She has a little patch of hair on the top of her head like my sister, Tori, did when she was little.  She has a cute little birthmark on her side and blue eyes that are getting lighter with every passing day.  Staring at her tiny face while cuddling her close is at the top of my list of favorite things to do.  ever.

And her big brother?  He is so, so helpful, patient and caring with her.  He's gentle and loves to sing "Hush, Little Sadie" to her whenever she cries.  He pats her head and says, "Who's a little giraffe?".  I'm not sure where he got that one from, but it's the sweetest.  He really is doing so well with her.  Such a great big brother.

And now for a birth story.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I had been hoping for a VBAC, trying everything from Red Raspberry tea leaf to hours on the birthing ball and pedicures galore to speed things along.  Unlike a first time birth, they typically won't let VBAC patients go too far past their due date, unless the patient feels like fighting their doctor a bit over it, which isn't so much my style.  I had to fight a little bit to go as long as I did.  I was over fighting.  So, when at 39 weeks and 6 days, I still wasn't dilated, effaced or dropped (I never did with Jacob either) and looking at an 8lb baby, I was faced with the decision to get a c-section the next morning (a Friday) or wait a couple days past my due date to Monday (the latest my Dr. agreed to let me go).  At this point, it was between having a csection and having an extra 3 days with my hubby to help me recover or waiting it out a few days and not having as much time with Pete home for help should I have to have a csection on Monday, which was very likely, considering all of my stats.

So, we did the most natural thing and checked out which notable people had birthdays on the 17th vs. the 20th.  The 17th was packed with epic people like Michelle Obama, Jim Carey and Betty White.  The 20th had one random I can't even remember.  January 17th it was!

Since we only had a few hours between my late afternoon appointment and getting to the hospital by 5:30am for check in, it was super hectic around here, getting things lined up for Jacob, finishing up some house cleaning and putting the bassinet back together.  My cousin, Jon, came over and stayed the night so Jacob could stay at our house before being picked up the next morning by my aunt, who would then deliver him to my mom after she was done at the hospital with us.  It was quite a timeline!!  Oh, and I cried quite a few times before we went to bed that night, fighting bittersweet feelings as we tucked him into bed for the last time as an only child.  Gosh, I was so emotional.  If only I had really known how much he would love her and accept her,  I would have been more excited for him than a little sad.  It sounds crazy, but I think every second time mom has a moment of feeling a little sad for their first borns' time of total attention being over.  But, I just said a little prayer and rested in knowing that, in the long run, he would love having a sister to share his childhood with.

**This next part includes details of surgical procedures that may gross some out.  Only proceed if you like to read birth stories.

After we checked into the hospital, we were taken back to the pre-op room and Pete and I nervously joked around a bit and answered the bajillion questions posed by the nurse.  I got an IV in the most awkward spot that bugged me until they took it out 48 hours later and faced the dreaded catheter.  Gross, I know, but seriously- if you want to know anything about a c-section, getting a catheter in pre-op before your spinal is the very worst part about the entire thing.  And then, it was time for Pete to go scrub in and for me to be moved into the OR.  I hated this part last time and I hated it this time.  It's the worst part of the whole thing (I group this with the catheter because it's all kind of interrelated).  It's cold, you're half naked in front of at least a dozen people, super uncomfortable from everything you're hooked up to that you have to pretty much carry in yourself and without a hand to hold while you get the spinal since the hubs isn't allowed in yet (I will say the anticipation is way worse than the actual thing itself).  Then, they move you to the operating table with half numb legs and they put up the curtain (thank God), so you can pretend like you're not exposed to a dozen peeps.  Finally, you get warm and lose sensation of that dreaded catheter as the meds do what they're supposed to do.
After all of that, Pete was brought in and I relaxed a bit.

They began the surgery and Sadie Elizabeth was born at 8:18am, 8lbs1oz, 20.5" long on January 17, 2014.  I cried and Pete went over to take pictures to bring back to show me as they weighed her and got her warm.  She looked EXACTLY like Jacob with less hair and I cried some more as I waited for them to finish so I could finally meet our daughter.  Pete was with her, so the anesthesiologist kindly wiped a few of my tears away.  I think that's part of their job description.

I finally met her and she was just beautiful.  That moment together, the three of us, is a memory I'll always hold close.  Thank God for the nurse who grabbed our camera and took a few shots.  It seemed like only moments later that I was in post op, getting some good, quality skin on skin time.

And, the rest is sweet history.  Our girl is now six weeks old and I couldn't imagine our little family without her.  

Here are some photos of Sadie's birth, mostly taken by Peter, with a couple taken by the nurse and couple by me.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nursery Reveal: Sadie's Feminine and Colorful Space

I'm so, so excited to finally share these photos with you of Sadie's room!  Putting her nursery together was a process.  Since I'm never the gal to just go pick out a bedding or furniture set, it took some time to curate each individual piece.  While there are (of course!) pieces that I'd still like to add, I'm so happy with the creative feel of the space, balanced by a vintage femininity that's just a little whimsical.  By using gold as a neutral, I made the colorful palette feel a little more sophisticated.

My biggest challenge with this space was balance.  I found this AMAZING green vintage dresser from a local spot, RENEW'D.  They refinished this mid century dresser with a kelly green paint and it was ACTUALLY love at first sight, perfect amount of storage and perfect width to double as a changing table.  I had to have it and I had to rework the original nursery design around it.  So, inspired by that nursery design and the whimsical space I had initially considered, I set out to curate an eclectic mix of pieces to bring everything together.

My favorite pieces in the space are definitely the dresser and the rug.  I had to change my initial rug plan since it had been on backorder for FOREVER and it was potentially not going to be restocked until January...obviously, too late.  So, I found this rug from anthro and was kind of obsessed.  I love the neutral background that balances the colorful foreground.  If you've read my blog at all, you probably know I'm obsessed with all things Anthro, so it wasn't a hard sell.

Here's the tour.  I hope you enjoy!  

PS.  This little photo shoot convinced me I really need to invest in a new lens.  The small space was very difficult to get wide angle shots in, so please excuse the pieced together photography :)

^^Oh, hey guys!  Mirror shot!

Thanks for checking out Sadie's room!!  I CANNOT wait to rock her sweet little self to sleep in her pretty nursery!

PS.  PROPS TO THE HUBBY FOR THE PAINTING AND FAUX PANELING!!!!!  (and for putting up with my multiple paint color changes and listening to my complaining about the expense of wallpaper :) )

Friday, January 3, 2014

Life Lately

Where do I begin with the past few weeks?!  Pete and I had a couple of fab dates, including a little spa getaway, in preparation for the madness that could ensue any day now with the arrival of our little lady Sadie!  We prepped for Christmas, used Pete's vaca time to its max potential by finishing up some final projects around the house and in the nursery, had a magical Christmas, a wonderfully mellow New Year's Eve, and all managed to get sick in just three weeks!

I feel like my emotions have been all over the place as my due date gets closer.  I'm exhausted, but restlessly preparing, feeling guilty about another baby's arrival encroaching on my first baby, Jacob's, time, and, yet, completely and uncontrollably, excitedly anticipating Sadie's grand entrance into our world.  I know these emotions will be even more all over the place once she gets here, so bear with me as my posts may feel a little like the roller coaster I'm on.  I'm sounding crazy, right?  I'll let you in on a secret.  Motherhood makes you that way.

Here's a peek at what we've been up to during my little posting hiatus...

^^dinner at Verde before the John Mayer concert.  It was our first time there and it really was great.  I'm all about ambiance when I'm doing one of my favorite things...eating.  This place has great food and ambiance.  Definitely a must-go in Baltimore.

^^The only shot I got at the John Mayer concert.  Sufficiently awkward.

^^The view from our room at the Four Seasons Baltimore.

^^I seriously had the best pedicure of my life at the FS Baltimore Spa.  Also had an amazing couples massage, mani and facial.  I've never been more relaxed in my life.  Mission babymoon= smashing success.

^^Just a pretty Lamill latte.

^^Yay for finally getting Sadie's hospital bag all packed up!  I'm hoping to get to a post shortly on exactly what's included.  Aden & Anais swaddle blankets and a couple pretty headbands are "musts"!

^^My sweet Jacob boy and his equally adorable cousins before Christmas Eve service.  They performed "Silent Night" in sign language as we all sang by candlelight, and it honestly was one of my top five proudest moments as a mom.  Jacob, who was so crazily excited for Christmas and almost impossible to keep quiet during the sermon, got so serious and focused for his performance.  He paused to politely smile and wave as we video'd on our phone and I think my heart will remember that feeling forever.

^^A glimpse of our Christmas card!!  via Shutterfly  Everything is more festive with a gold confetti graphic.

^^Kiss me at midnight!  It's the New Year!!

^^ On our way to my grandmothers for New Year's dinner.  In love with my new Anthro coat I got from the hubs for Christmas!  It's sold out already, but you can find a similar coat here.

I hope you all had a lovely, warm and memorable holiday season and we wish you the best year yet in 2014!