Pumpkin Patch Express in Durham NC

12 October 2018
We are sitting on the Pumpkin Patch Express, children all around us "choo-choo-ing" and chattering excitedly. I lean my head on Matt's shoulder and close my eyes as Anna wraps her little hand around my fingers.

Our trip to the museum of life and science in Durham NC

Speeding through the wooded terrain of the Museum of Life and Science, I feel whole and at home with my little family, all squished in this tiny train car, quiet and observant and at peace with one another.

Visiting the pumpkin patch at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham NC

Before I was a mother, I remember thinking things like this were more for the children than the adults. I didn't realize how strong the feeling of joy would be in seeing my own child delight in something.

And Anna will find a way to delight in anything. We call her the Joy Bringer for her smiles are like little secret treasures that make you feel like you're her most favorite person in the world.

I repeat the words, "My little family," in my mind over and over, relishing this moment. I squeeze Matt's arm and he presses in closer. We both sneak little kisses on Anna's cheeks, and she pats our hands and happily babbles in response.

As long as these two are beside me, I am always at home.

Books for Babies Under 1 - October Library Book Haul

11 October 2018

Finding books for babies under 1 seems like an easy task, but when you want to be intentional about the things you're reading to them while also holding their attention, you often find some books just don't engage babies very well - or mom and dad for that matter. 

The result? You find yourself knee deep in baby books that no one wants to read. 

Library books for babies under 1

The library has been a godsend in terms of exploring new titles before we make a financial commitment. It's no secret that I'm a book lover raising my daughter to love books too, and I really want to work on building her a permanent collection of children's books that are not only appropriate for the current stage she is in, but also remain engaging as she gets older. 

One of the things I enjoy doing with her is visiting the library weekly. The children's section of our local library has a shelf dedicated to baby board books. Anna loves crawling over to the shelf to practice standing while I select some I hope she'll enjoy. 

Our October library book haul of books for babies under 1

Last week we checked out seven baby board books, and below, I'm sharing why I picked these books, along with Anna's reaction (or as much as a reaction a 10 month old can have), and my final thoughts on these books which will reflect if I found the book worth adding to our permanent collection.

Preparing for Baby: How I Reduced Stress During Pregnancy

05 October 2018
Stress during pregnancy is inevitable, especially if you're a first time mom, and I had my fair share of it. With so many life changes hitting me all at once (like moving to another state, selling our home, quitting my job, and having a baby for the first time), I was having a hard time handling the transitions. 

More than ever, I needed to figure out how to reduce stress during my pregnancy not only for my own sanity, but for the health and well being of our baby. 

How to reduce stress during pregnancy

When I was pregnant, I ended up developing a mood disorder that remained with me six months postpartum and was officially diagnosed as Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. During my pregnancy, it manifested itself in severe anxiety that often left me struggling to sleep at night, not knowing when the next panic attack would show up.

How I Reduced Stress During Pregnancy

1. Limit Daily To-Do List to Three Essentials

When I would share that I was struggling with anxiety, a few people said it was normal during pregnancy, that hormones are just all over the place, but Matt and I knew that something was off. I know for some, they just wanted to help me feel better about what I was going through, but often, I left the conversations feeling misunderstood.

In the end, it was my concern for my baby that put me in front of a therapist. I wanted her to have a healthy mother.

The therapist helped me give myself permission to relax. We looked at what was causing me severe anxiety and she helped give me the tools I needed to handle it in healthier ways.

One of the areas of anxiety for me was being overwhelmed with the amount of tasks and chores I felt I needed to be doing, so one of the tools my therapist helped me with was to limit my daily to-do list to three essential things where one of those essentials needed to involve some kind of self care.

For me, those three essentials were getting out of the apartment, preparing for the baby, and completing a house task (like dusting or doing laundry)

I would also add some lavender essential oil to my diffuser during the day and have it on while I completed my tasks to help me stay calm and relaxed.

Reduce Pregnancy Stress: limit daily to-do list to three essentials

Tip: If you have a scent that you associate with happy memories, find a way to have it near you throughout your day whether you wear the scent or burn a scented candle. For me, my cousin gifted me a lavender scented moisturizer that I also used on my honeymoon. Ever since, lavender has been my signature scent that transports me to a joyful and peaceful time.

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