bella

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Look What I Found: rambles from feminism to marriage




I found myself a little too tired to get up from my computer one night this week and decided I should probably look into what the hundred+ drafts sitting unpublished on the blog really were. I found some great pictures from our stop in Key West last spring (how did I forget about those!), a few less than ideal outfit posts that I never thought were good enough to publish, and SO many fragments of posts I started and never finished. Some of them I meant to get back to, others required a bit more thinking, and many of them I can't even remember writing.

And so today we have "from the cutting room floor" in blog post form (with pictures from the past two months that didn't make it on the blog either). I desperately wanted to edit some of the posts, add some things, change others...but I left them in the state I drafted them sometime in the past few years (introductory italics added today):


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A few months after we moved to Cincinnati from Utah a year and a half ago

Dear Diary (I don't actually start any journal entry off like that)

September 20, 2013

Life in Ohio is great. We really do like it here. The ward is awesome, the people are kind, and we finally have an apartment that fits all of our stuff. Ben loves his job (thank goodness for that) and it turns out Cincinnati is much more like New England than the flat barren wasteland I imagined the midwest to be. There are so many trees and everything is so green. We're actually less than 20 minute from Kentucky and occasionally (although mostly just to annoy Ben) I pretend that we live in the south.

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I remember being excited to write this post. I never got more than the initial thought down - but maybe I spared you from a long inarticulate ramble, who knows. 

I'm a feminist if:

feminism means that you believe men and women are equally important, equally valuable. Because they are.

But if being a feminist means you believe men and women are the same, then I will never be one.


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From what was to be a post entitled "Getting Married was the Best Thing I Did Before Turning 23"

Have you seen the articles floating around online about things to do before you turn 23 other than getting married? There are plenty of things you can do with your early twenties other than get married, many of them worthwhile (many of them not).

Fact: Everything I've done in my early twenties has been better because I did it married.

Being married didn't stop me from spending weeks competing in NYC in college, keeping up great relationships with my girl friends, or getting a degree (almost). 

Being married has introduced me to a new world of loving, trusting, and serving. Its helped me be less selfish, more confident, and _____. Marriage gave me a new best friend, an additional set of friends, and a long term perspective on life that effects the way I treat myself, my goals, and other people.

Getting married young isn't for everyone, and I am not trying to tell you to up and get married, or if that you aren't married by 23 I think you should be. What I am saying is that for me (a girl who thought I'd get married a little before thirty), spending the first few years of my twenties as someone's wife has been fantastic.

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I don't know where I was going with this one, but I'm grateful for the reminder to add more moments of quiet and reflection to my life: 

In the quiet I know things that are sometimes hard to remember in the everyday noise. In the stillness I remember, and pray that it takes longer to forget.

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I think I was going to launch into the wonderful mothers I'd made friends with in Cincy (and goodness, do those women deserve a post of their own). Also, Condalleezza Rice's memoirs is a fantastic read: 

On our way home from D.C. we finished listening to Condalleezza Rice's memoirs and it got me thinking (about affirmative action, racism, and the need for more strong women republicans, among other things). She often talked about the prominent role of mentors in her development.

As I approach this new stage of life, I am becoming ever more grateful for the role models of motherhood I have. Of course, I have an amazing mother. She was raised by an amazing mother, and I was lucky to have my dad's angelic mother live with us for ten years in New Hampshire. I learned a lot about motherhood before I even realized I'd grow up one day.


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Years later, this is still very true. 

In the end, and in the beginning and middle, people are what matter.

I love my people.

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I think about this every few months: 

I love seeing friends share pictures of their wedding from years ago on social media. Its the usual caption about it being their favorite day that makes me think. Was our wedding my very favorite day?

Until that point, undoubtedly yes. Being surrounded by all (well, almost all) of my very favorite people, being sealed to Ben forever, eating delicious food, and dancing into the night? I wish I could have a wedding every year. Or at least every five. 

After our wedding we headed to Key Largo for a wonderful week. Right now we're in Florida for the first time since our honeymoon. We're not at a beautiful private resort and we're not splurging on $100 meals, but that's not all that's different. We've been married for two and a half years. We've grown up a bit, separately, and together.  We took our first international trip, we're staying with dear friends before they head to England for a PhD, and we're more comfortable in our own skin. 

I don't think I can pick a single day since our wedding that I've enjoyed more, that has all the elements of family, friends, food, God, significance, and love that our day holds. But, overall, life is better now than it was on our wedding day and I have every intention of making sure the best day(s) of our life is in the future, not the past.

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Pictures from top to bottom: 
An evening with Linc when he was two months // six week pictures //  Linc at two months // a few extras from our shoot for Target // an afternoon in New Hampshire with Grandma at six weeks //  Ben & babywearing when Linc was 7 weeks

Hope you're having a wonderful Thursday! 



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The 8 Things That Reduced Tears with Newborn Linc

8 products to reduce tears with a newborn - so helpful! every mom needs #1


If you aren't in the business of babies, just skip this post. This is as much for me next time around as it is for anyone else (we are out of the stage where I cannot comprehend how ANYONE would have more than one child and into the stage where I want about 49023 babies because I think they're so wonderful #hormones).

I'm sure there are more comprehensive lists out there, but three months into this whole baby thing, here are some of the things that have saved our sanity (or at least made losing it a bit more comfortable). Items are listed by a rank determined by the number of tears they saved me:
  • Halo Sleep Sack: We got one of these in a care package from the hospital (bless them for giving each new mom one of these) and it took us a couple of days to use it but once we did Linc slept SO MUCH BETTER. Basically its a little sleeping bag but the huge benefit is the swaddle "arms" that Velcro to the sides so you can get a tight swaddle without any of the fuss. Personally, I am horrible at swaddling a baby tightly in the beloved swaddling blankets and when you're half asleep, the last thing you want to do is be worrying about folding and tucking corners of a blanket. Also, with the zipper coming from the bottom, it makes for easy night diaper changes. Our only complaint about the sleep sack is that Lincoln got very hot in the fleece sack (they do have these cotton ones I just found). We would have him sleep in nothing but a onesie and he was often sweating. We didn't get the Ollie Swaddle  until right as we stopped swaddling Linc at night but I WISH we'd had it from the beginning. It also uses Velcro to swaddle, doesn't have the full sleep bag and is the best baby swaddle I've seen. I use it now at three months when Linc just needs to be calmed down during the day. If I were going to recommend one product to new moms, it would be this (the quality is fantastic, I love the fabric, it's easy to use, easy for night diaper changes, and can be used in all seasons). 
  • Madela Softshells: I struggled with breastfeeding from the beginning and its been just in the last couple of weeks I've been able to stop wearing these Medela SoftShells full time (Linc did quite a bit of damage in those first five weeks). Basically these act as a protective shell so you can wear clothes and still have nothing be touching your nipples (maybe if I'd had these the first week we would have avoided those rather revealing meals seated at the table with Ben and my mother...). Even if you have a baby with a great latch, I hear you are very sore for a few days and these would be wonderful. There are little inserts to absorb milk so you don't spill or, if you leave them out, you can collect the milk that leaks (or you can forget and end up getting yourself rather wet when you bend over). I had a lot of people recommend the soothing gel pads but, honestly, I was so tender that those hurt too.
  • A white noise app: You can get a full white noise machine and I'm sure this would be great too, but we have an ipad we don't use much and I bought the Sound Sleeper App. I'd been using the free version on my phone (which gives you 30 minutes of noise) but when Linc was seven weeks or so I bought the full app (which allows for continuous noise) and the first night we played noise all night long was the first time he slept through the night (eight hours or so). The app has many different noises and Linc loves the rain and well as the "hush." Confession: I often found myself holding my baby in my bed during the day trying to get him to sleep those first few weeks (at night he's always been in a bassinet in another room). Loud "shhh"ing in his ear always calmed him down but sometimes I would find myself too exhausted for even that. On those occasions I'd pull out my phone, hold my baby, and let the app do the hushing (worked like a charm). 
  • Nose Frida: I thought the concept of these was disgusting until Lincoln got a cold a few weeks ago and I opened ours. It is much easier/more effective than the bulb syringe we have and I am so grateful for this product. Plus, with the filters, you don't actually risk sucking any snot into your mouth ;) 
  • Freezer meals: We were so lucky to have my mom with us for so long after the baby followed by Ben's parents but during the few days between and the few weeks after his parents left, having healthy meals that just needed to be heated up were great. They were easy for Ben to do after work, and on the days I managed to prepare them, I felt like a domestic champion with about three minutes of effort. Some friends brought freezer meals (and both our moms left the freezer full of them when they left) and they were some of the very best gifts. 
  • Sleepers: While he was sleeping in the Halo Sleep Sack, it was too hot for these, but with the Ollie Swaddle, and now that he sleeps without a swaddle, these are all he wears to bed (okay, and all day long). I received the wise recommendation from a friend to go with zippers over snaps anytime you had the option. I love these sleepers because they make diaper changes so much faster (and getting dressed in general is easier). I usually have a short or long sleeved onesie on under these. Honestly, unless we're going to church, taking pictures, or meeting friends, he's wearing these 95% of the time. Right now he's sound asleep in this one
  • Mamaroo: So many moms rave about this and now, at three months, I LOVE ours. Even from the beginning it was great for him to lay down in while he was awake (and we let him sleep in it during the first few weeks a couple of times), but Lincoln needs much stronger movement to be calmed down. If he's calm, setting him in here is wonderful, but I think if we'd had some kind of a swing in the beginning it would have been great. Now though, I love strapping him into the Mamaroo while I clean the kitchen and talk to him. Or, even if I'm playing with him, its often nice to have him sitting up in it and me sitting on the floor next to him. 
  • Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray: If we're listing things that saved me tears, this needs to be on the list. The hospital sent me home with this spray and of all my post-birth items (other than the strong motrin prescription), this was the most helpful. Its essentially a numbing spray and if your hospital doesn't provide this, I would pick some up (or just order it off amazon before hand for $8 because you'll probably want a second bottle anyway). 

A few items that probably didn't stop a lot of tears but are worth mentioning: 
  • A Play Gym: This was another gift and something that we have used daily since Linc was about a week old. He was interested in looking at the all the colors early on and was reaching and hitting the hanging toys at two weeks. In the early days it only provided a few minutes of entertainment but now he'll lay happily under it for up to half an hour by himself (like right now, he's laying under it in the office while I talk to him about what I'm doing). Ours has a little star at the top that you can turn on and it will light up and play music and that is easily his favorite part. I know there are so many baby toys and its easy for them to take over your space, but this one has been really great for us (we have a different theme but this one is the same style by the same brand). 
  • Nursing tanks: When you are feeding your baby every few hours, these are a necessity (unless you don't have those softshells yet and you can't bear any fabric touching you at all...). I used this one and loved it. I sized up from my prepregnancy size because I knew I'd be wearing it home from the hospital with my no-longer-baby belly. I also used Lansinoh nursing pads along with the Target generic brand. Both were great. 
  • Burt's Bees Baby: We use Burt's Bees baby products for everything from baby shampoo to diaper rash cream and I love them. I love the way they smell and how gentle they are on Linc's skin. The oil was great when he had a mid case of cradle cap and I use the lotion after every bath (for the first week or two we didn't use any products on his skin though). 
  • Pacifiers: We didn't use these at all the first few weeks and then used them sparingly until I quit breastfeeding at five weeks. I add them here because we had many different brands of pacifiers and the only ones Linc would really take were the MAM brand (you can order them online here or I've seen them in store in Target, but not online). Most of the time, I just slid my little finger in his mouth and he would quiet right down, but for the times other people were holding him, the little pacifier did wonders. We won't try and count how many hours of the 12 hour drive to NH I had my finger in his mouth.. I guess I really should add "little finger" to this list instead of pacifiers. Now, Linc just thinks pacifiers are a fun game of "put it in and spit it out" :) 
  • Saranoni Blankets: So these I actually just got this weekend but they're INCREDIBLE (disclosure: I was sent some for an upcoming post but I'm under no obligation to include them here, they're just that good). I had a similar one (from Brookestone that has been discontinued) that is incredibly soft and I loved wrapping Lincoln in from the beginning. I used it to shoot his newborn pictures (and a lot of other pictures) but couldn't find any other similar blankets until these Saranoni blankets. Lincoln loves the bamboni and I love how soft they are against his skin (and I can't wait to photograph him on them...because beautiful blankets = great for beautiful pictures). 
  • Aden and Anais Swaddling Cloths: I heard a lot of hype about these before the baby and was thrilled when I received some as a gift. But, Linc is a master at getting out of a swaddle and we didn't use these much in the beginning. Now though, he LOVES them and will giggle and smile when I put one up against his cheek. He'll hold one all day long and I always have one in my diaper bag. 
  • Chicco Keyfit Car Seat: We started off with an Eddie Bauer car seat from Target and didn't realize what we were missing until we were gifted the Keyfit. It is so much easier to clip in and out of the car (so much smoother!). It is also lighter so its saved my arms. I'd also recommend getting a stroller that works with your carseat so that if you go out in the beginning and the baby is asleep in the car seat, you can just move the seat to the stroller and let the baby sleep. 
  • Husband & Co Baby Wrap: I didn't start really using our baby wrap regularly till Lincoln was two months old and I'm sad about it (although realistically I was too sore/in too much pain to have a baby up against my chest for the first six weeks anyway). Once I started wearing  Lincoln often (and learned how tight I should actually wrap him - in the beginning I had him too loose), it has been so helpful! He'll take much better naps in the baby wrap and I can get so much done while he sleeps (other than sleep myself). Even if he's awake, I can clean the house, or sit at the computer on an exercise ball (the bouncing movement is something he loves) and get some work done. I've tried this Husband & Co wrap along with a sling wrap and I much prefer the first (although it could just be because I'm not entirely sure how the sling wrap is supposed to work). When I'm going to the grocery store or church I'll tie on the wrap before I leave the house and wear it under my coat. That way, when we get where we're going, all I have to do is slip him in. I'm planning on traveling like this when we fly to NH next week too. 
**update: after hitting publish I spent a good twenty minutes entertaining the babe on our exercise ball - I use it to exercise with him, for me to sit on while I talk to him in the mamaroo, and to bounce him to soothe him before naps or when he's fussy. We used it often when he was a newborn to calm him down because it takes less energy than rocking but Linc got the same movement he liked. 
8 products to reduce tears with a newborn - so helpful! every mom needs #1

Monday, April 20, 2015

An Ice Cream Date



I have a new goal to not spend my weeks looking forward to the weekends (because who wants to spend five days of the week wishing and waiting for the other two?), but sometimes its hard when they're just this good. The combination of beautiful weather, simple to-do lists (no more painting!), and my two favorite boys make for a great time. Lincoln is being so much more aware of his surroundings and fun to interact with! Its entertaining to watch Ben find things to do with him (have you seen the video of their weekend workouts on Linc's insta?) and watch Linc develop new interests and opinions (except how last week I said he loved bath time...and after two months of smiles and giggles he's decided he HATES it).

Here are a few shots of our little escape downtown this weekend. It was supposed to be lunch at our favorite place but when Linc's usual 30 minute morning nap turned into a two and a half hour siesta, our lunch place was closed it it was going on three o'clock. We opted for ice cream and a little stroll. The babe fell asleep after the first few minutes so it almost seemed like a childless date!

^The drooping eyes that were probably quite sad he didn't get any ice cream. 
^Everything is better with sprinkles (but I can't stand the taste of the ones from Dietsch's ...so do you blame me for bringing my own?) 
^can you spot the sprinkles sticking out of my diaper bag? 

^I won't stop attempting selfies with a 50mm lens ...even if it is impossible for both of us to be in focus :) 
^When your shorts match your ice cream and your wife insists on photographing it

^This outfit includes so many of my classic, go-to pieces. This cross body has gone everywhere with me when I don't have to carry a diaper (and often I just throw it in the diaper bag when I don't want to have to take out my phone and wallet). This watch is about the only piece of jewelry I wear these days (Lincoln likes to grab necklaces like its his job). The neutral skirt from Banana Republic was one of my best purchases almost four years ago - it goes with everything and can be dressed up or dressed down. And then there are these J.Crew flats I own in a couple colors and often get comments about how people thought I was walking around barefoot before they took a closer look ;) 


sun glasses: Michael Kors
top: Lucky Brand (via TJ Maxx last season)
skirt: Banana Republic
flats: J. Crew
bag: Liz Claiborne
watch: Daniel Wellington, c/o (use code: elisabethearnshaw for 15% off through the end of April)

Happy Monday Friends! 

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