Filed In: Writing

Henry’s First Birthday

I know it’s cliché to say, but it does feel like I was pregnant with him just yesterday.

Henry was born on October 27, 2016 at 2:39 in the afternoon, four days after my estimated due date, and 37+ hours after my water had broken. People say labor hormones cause you to forget a lot of it, but I remember his birth so vividly. And despite the difficulties, and the complications I nearly died from, it was infinitely worth it. Feeling him breathing on my skin was a little slice of heaven on earth.

He has brought so much joy and laughter to my life and to our marriage. I feel incredibly thankful that God brought him into our family.

Henry devoured the red velvet cupcakes I made, but they weren’t my favorite and I’m not sure I’d make them again. (Plus the toxicity of food coloring freaks me out.)

I also made my favorite vegetarian lasagna and simple salad. Henry would eat sliced cherry tomatoes all day if I let him–so suffice it to say, he enjoyed the salad.

I intentionally keep gift giving really simple (for multiple reasons but mainly my sanity), but I did get Henry this adorable reindeer with glasses outfit from Gap (on sale + 40% off + I had a gift card = how I shop), these cute socks from Target, and a pretty book to begin practicing to count.

Henry loved all of the attention from family. He’s such a social little guy! I was telling Nathan the other day how much I enjoy Henry’s personality–his giggles, his earnests demands for more strawberries, the way he rests his head on my legs when he’s tired, his attempts to get strangers at Target to turn and smile at him, his “dance” moves, and his love of singing. (more…)

& The Rest of the Apartment: Photo Tour

Yesterday, I shared how we arranged our bedroom after having Henry, and now here’s the rest of the 660 square foot apartment we lived in.

First, the outside. It was my favorite during the fall.

I need to drive back over in a week or two for a dose of nostalgia and beautiful colors.

Buried in vines, just the way I like it.

Living Room

One of my favorite things about the apartment was the old character, especially the arched entryways (cut off on the side of this cellular photo ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Our house now has similar arched entryways, too.

I have a mild obsession with arranging gallery walls. This one is more spread out and I’d probably do it differently now, but it felt like home. I got the abstract green circle print from this shop on Minted, the succulent was painted by my friend, and the print in the upper left corner is from Rose Henges.

You know how they say don’t cram all your furniture up against the wall? Well, I should have followed that advice with this poor chair, crammed into the corner. Sorry, chair.

See that picture on top of the bookshelf with that dancer’s blue dress? My friend, Amy, painted it in high school. Amazing, right?

This short shelf fit well in this space but not-so-much at our new house (it’s currently relaxing in our spare room).

Kitchen

These cabinets were so tall I could stand on top of them and still had about six inches before my head it the ceiling!

A tiny oven for a tiny kitchen.

My favorite dishes, hue green from Crate & Barrel. (Unlike other stuff at Crate & Barrel, they’re not that expensive.)

Dining Area

Many sweet memories of dinners shared around this table. (more…)

Having a Baby in a One-Bedroom Apartment: How We Did It

We lived in our apartment for just over two years and some of our dearest memories are in this space. I highly recommend Fair Oaks if you’re looking for an apartment in Minneapolis. Henry was about seven months old when we moved out.

I thought I’d document how we managed to have a baby in a one-bedroom apartment without getting overwhelmed by stuff. I am not a strict minimalism by any means, but I do like to be thoughtful about what I buy and keep in our home because clutter makes me feel stressed. I’m convinced that when I feel the urge to “organize” something, I really just need to get rid of stuff that we don’t use or find beautiful. (Yes, I adhere to the philosophy that you should only keep things that “you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.“)

Before you get too surprised that we opted to stay in our one-bedroom apartment with our baby, let me tell you that having your baby in your room will probably happen no matter what for at least the first three months. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six months, ideally the first year. But that said, your sleep matters, too. I don’t believe parents should ever feel bad for moving their baby into another room (or the living room or a hallway) if they can’t sleep with the baby in the room. Sleep deprivation makes you feel crazy.

Here’s Henry’s side of the room. I made a little gallery wall for him. The basket contains all of his toys (babies don’t need that many toys). And underneath the shelf-turned-dresser is everything we needed for diaper changes. I still change his diaper on the floor.

As you can visually observe, my main advice about raising a baby in a small space is to have only what you need–and you really don’t need that much. I do want Henry to have a fun childhood and I’m not against toys, but the things Henry gets the most excited about are boxes and paper and plastic cups. We bought a mini crib to save on space and I did buy a slightly more expensive Ubbi trash can and it was worth it.

“But…where are you going to put the baby?”

It was an honest question, even though the underlying question felt like, “Why aren’t you giving your baby a real nursery?”, and I got used to hearing it when I told people we were pregnant and we were not moving yet.

And having a baby in a small apartment was perfectly fine. I loved it actually. There were less rooms to clean and babies don’t need that much space. (more…)

7 QT: Creativity, Vegan Chocolate Bread, $1 Alarm Clocks

I’m trying to do a better job at keeping the promises I make to myself, one of which was to blog more, so here’s me keeping my promises.

The best worst photo from before we left for a wedding yesterday. Henry gets his squinty eyes skills from moi.

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How Motherhood Affects Creativity. This is a longer form article in The Atlantic, and it’s worth the entire read. There are so many nuanced tensions about creative work and mothering. I love how the neuroscience suggests that women’s minds become more creative after childbirth and I’ve seen that in my own life. I love what she said here: “We live in a culture in which you are taught that what you do is who you are. But identity is far more complex than that, and like creativity, it exists in a state of revision and flow. The competition between raising children and creative output is real. It may be impossible to balance in the ways society expects us to. But I don’t believe that parenting is the enemy of the work.”

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Nathan traveled all last week. And I made it! And so did Henry! This deserves a point of its own.

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Fall Clothes at H&M. There are so many pretty things. I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I like this flounced magenta tunic. It’d be perfect for a newly postpartum mom because the ruffles are right over your tummy area. I love this black + floral print and the structured sleeves. And if you’re not nursing, I bet this wrap around blouse would be amazing. And these black embroidered mom jeans? Yes.

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This Vegan GF Chocolate Zucchini Bread. I know September is no processed sugar month but I’m allowing this to count because…coconut sugar. (Excuses, I know, but I’ll take my excuses and eat them this time.) Plus cocoa has magnesium which I’m probably lacking. This bread is delicious. Like cake but better.

(more…)

Tidbits of Summer Life

What do you think of the word “tidbits”? I am not a fan, yet there it is. In the title. But let’s move on before yet another post dies a slow death in my drafts section.

I’m beginning to realize that once I get a sense of how my days go with Henry, they change. The latest change goes by the name of crawling. And his middle name is pulling himself up on everything. So my days are largely spent moving around the house with him and telling him “No” when he tries to eat the cords of our floor lamps. Passionately does not begin to describe Henry’s love for electrical cords.

But despite the cord situation, this is such a fun season with Henry. Everyone told me 7-12 months was a sweet spot, and they’re right. I love watching his personality grow. He likes to clap his hands when he gets excited and it melts me. Life has gotten so much busier for me now that he moves around the house on his own, but I’m still able to squeeze in a little bit of writing time when he naps.

In no particular order, here are some things happening:

I started writing for The Twin Cities Moms Blog! I’m looking forward to writing regularly for them. You can read my first post, 10 Things To Do If You Had A Traumatic Birth Experience here. (more…)

My Guide to Iowa City

“I can’t believe how huge these spinach fields are,” my roommate from Chicago observed on our drive through Iowa.

“Spinach fields?” my other roommate, from Iowa, glanced back from the passengers seat and looked at her.

“Yeah, there’s so much spinach everywhere!” my Chicagoan roommate continued.

The two Iowans in the car erupted in laughter. She and I did not know why.

“It’s soybeans! Not spinach. Spinach doesn’t grow in fields like this!” they explained, breathless from laughing.

Soybeans are things most Iowans understand. And I love them for it. As someone who grew up in the suburbs of big cities (Minneapolis and Austin), my agricultural knowledge is limited to comments I’ve heard and a few facts from books. Many of the Iowans I met during college grew up on or near farms and learned about the land experientially and from relatives.

The beautiful mural outside of Dulcinea.

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Iowa City holds a dear place in my life. I arrived there when I was eighteen and left when I was twenty-five. It was the place where I found my love of words. The place where I struggled to integrate my creative passions–poetry and dance especially–with my faith. The place where I poured into others yet rarely knew how to let someone pour into me. The place where I floundered to know myself. Yet it was also the place where God always found me and brought me back to Himself. It was a place where I grew to depend on the Lord more than any earthly thing. I am grateful God brought me to Iowa City. I am grateful for the ballet classes and the writing workshops. The years as a writing tutor, a poetry editor, and a person learning how to be a friend. I am grateful for the years God gave me to work at church and pour into other women as a mentor and counselor.

A couple weekends ago, we drove down to Iowa City since it had been three years since I’ve visited. It’s both strange and grounding to return to a place after so much change has happened in my life: I’m married, have a son, own a house, and enjoy a calling as a stay-at-home mom who tries to write when my baby sleeps. (more…)

Springtime

Copied this template from The Fisk Files (I love Britt’s blog).

making: decisions about paint colors (we bought a house on Friday!). I’m usually fairly decisive but paint colors have me going to Home Depot again and again for more samples.

cooking: do roasted veggies count as cooking? Potatoes and carrots drizzled with olive oil, salt, fresh pepper, and dried herbs. Yum.

drinking: Decaf coffee on repeat. #nursing

reading: I was reading The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity but I’ve already renewed it three times from the library and had to return it today. I’ll finish it at some point, fingers crossed. It’s pretty woo woo but I love her premise that everyone is creative.

wanting: to be done moving! Boxes and a general sense of disorganization are my life right now.

looking: like I’ve lost a lot of hair. Postpartum hormones did me in and my hair is T to the hin. (more…)

Postpartum Complications Scene 16: Life Today

(Scene fifteen is here.)

I stare at my body in the mirror. I see the huge pink scar between my hip bones. I see the almost-faded scars where my tubes were in me. I see the enlarged veins in my hands from all the needles they poked in me. My body carries stories. I learned to be brave because I had to be brave.

It’s taken a while for me to write out all that happened. I wanted to write a different story. I wanted to write about the story where I heroically birthed my baby despite the intense struggle. The story where I gathered strength as a new mom from the rush of birth hormones surging through my blood. The story where my hopes came to fruition.

But that story is not my story, and today I am actually thankful that is not my story. (more…)