Totally Clutch(es)

Four of my best lady friends forced me to have a little baby shower party recently.  I have pictures and a whole post I need to do about how lovely it was. 

For the hostess gifts, I wanted to do something handmade, but decidedly not lame AND have it be something I had never made before that I would try just for them (as opposed to a beach bag or a scarf..."here, have some of my existing inventory," just wasn't the sentiment I wanted to convey).

but THESE say, "Women, I love your faces so hard and appreciate beyond belief the work that went into celebrating my baby girl and covering my with love!" I mean, I hope they do. There's always a thank you note, just in case.

I have been interested in trying my hand at sewing with leather for awhile now. When I scored a gorgeous, soft-beyond-belief, chocolate brown, men's large jacket at a thrift shop for $1, I knew it was time to jump in. Small investment, small risk.

A quick pinterest search netted me the perfect project with a great tutorial. Polka Dot Chair's Leather Foldover Clutch.

that caramel colored leather she used is so sexy! I'm on the lookout for some of my own!

I sliced up the jacket, stopping to make Jesse model the sleeveless look, of course.


In about an hour I had made a seriously decent clutch. The first one I had decided would be for me and if it went well, I would make another 4 with each girlie's personality in mind. I had a challenging blast picking inside and outside fabrics to match each girls' style (I stalked their Pinterests) and got to work.

I was so giddy about how they turned out, that I decided to take my time and try my best to photograph them well (I have a great camera and know a leeettle about what youre supposed to do with it, but I'm definitely not great, and it takes a lot of effort and thought for me to put it all into action, which is why I usually just settle for meh-quality, or phone pics). 

Plus, I had enjoyed making the clutches so much and had lots of extra leather that I figured I might make some more and eventually sell them in my Etsy shop, so a more professional looking set of photos of the product would definitely be useful.

After plenty of fiddling, and brain-stretching to try to put all the camera-ish things I'm supposed to know all together at once, I ended up with my favorite little set of project pics ever! And since I can only use 5 on Etsy, I wanted to splash the entire set here to remind me why taking the time to push myself with our camera is worth it--AND why trying new materials and projects to expand my sewing skills is too!

this was the one I did first, for myself in case it was terrible. 100% passable, i declare.

the lining and the zip and my first stab at a pull tassel which was pretty fail-ish.

my friend Liz is a crunchy, hippie (hello she birthed her twins at home in water!), earth-mother-of-4 doula rockstar.  She is the sweetest, most caring spirit I've ever known, and also loves a good vagina joke (my perfect mate!). I knew she'd been digging tribal prints lately from her pinterest so I went with the coral arrows.

a better tassel, and the cute cowboys and indians interior fabric.

i love this print!

for Nikki, the classically-styled professional working mama, I went with the gray and white print that is originally from a shower curtain i bought to upholster our barstools. I had to change the stools to a plastic-coated fabric about 2 days later when I realized that the kids would stain non-stain proof  fabric at each and every meal, but since Nikki wouldn't be eating atop her clutch, I figured it would serve nicely.

just like Nikki, a lot more wild on the inside. You may remember it was Nikki who escorted/inducted me into my first Brazilian waxing experience.

My girl Steph, the hot young (25...damn her) newly(ish)wed almost two years!) still has a life (aka no kids) and can pull off preppy and boho with equal panache.  I went for a classic black and white stripe since it will go great with anything and still pop and rock. Steph went to Haiti with Jesse this summer, and is a member of the family that yall helped to adopt 3 kids from Ukraine last year!)

dark pink herringbone for the interior. (totally looks like he is yelling at us)

for Natalie (who was my saving grace/voice of Jesus in this horrifying marriage meltdown moment, and whose baby shower I cohosted a few years back), a vintage-y sort of modern floral print. Natalie is a campus minister with many tattoos and is also a mom of 3 boys. She's one of the most authentic humans alive and is so easy-breezy. This organic print just seemed perfect for my beautiful ginger.

a feisty brown floral on the innards. (I'm sure nat's innards are the same).

And, if you know me, you know how bonkers I am for iterations. I just can't enough of multiple versions of the same thing all stacked up beside each other. I'd love to know what this means about my personality (probably "SUPERFREAK").

I could just take a big gobbley bite out of this stack!

stand proud, my lovelies!

a good shot of my more-perfected tassel design.

all the single ladies in a conga line.

girls, you're as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.

I was stunned when I posted one of these pics on instagram. So many people wanted to buy them NOW. That made me feel so wonderful that I had made something desirable for my beloved friends. I had a break in Etsy orders one night, so I made a few more of these which are now available for sale. I even got a few new fabrics that I am excited to use if/when I ever get a free moment again.

Happy, fancy, flirty Friday (I may or may not have a child-free overnight date night with MUH-MAN on the docket!)


Nesting Infesting



You almost literally will not believe what happened to/atop of us this week...until I show you pictures.

Let's set the stage: I am 37+ weeks pregnant. Getting up out of a chair is cardio for me these days (which is why I mostly DONT get up). My kids sense this weakness and therefore their powers grow ever-stronger by the day as they realize they can run much farther amok and I am helpless to stop or retrieve them. I have just 4 office days left to train my temporary replacement so missing work to stay home is so not an option right now.

On Monday I decided to be super productive. I finished up the last (HURRAY!) of my Etsy orders and turned my attention to a jumbo KitKat breaking down half of the studio room into what will be a quasi-nursery with enough space for a crib when Noa eventually moves out of our room (bedside-sleeper for the first few months).  I also needed to set up all of our Fall decorations around the house that we had just hauled down from the attic and were just sitting in a big bin in the living room depressing me instead of making me feel all the cozy clichés of autumn like they were intended.

So I was in-process for awesome. But with me, this usually means I have just made a big mess getting everything spread out before me so I can form a battle plan. It's about to all go into new and clean and wonderful places, but for now it's just a teased-out mess. I'm so totally, gonna get back to it and finish it wonderfully.

I stopped at 1pm to go get the kids from school. As I am in carpool line the School Director comes up to my window. This is unusual but not unheard of. We are friends.

And then she says, "I have some bad news. Both of your kids..."

And my mind is trying to finish this sentence:

 "...attacked classmates today and are now expelled." 

"...attacked each other in the hallway and are now expelled."

These attack/expulsion scenarios are as far as I get when the REAL predicate of the sentence falls from her lips:

"...seem to have lice."

Jaw: dropped

A thousand deaths: died

10 years: taken off my life

Skin: Crawling

Noa: clawing her way back up the birthing canal all, "ummm, okay, no, I think I'd rather not come out after all. I'm good in here."

But the first thing I say? "Oh my freaking gosh, I think I have it too."

My head has been itching like MAD for a week or so. The pregnancy websites say this can happen in late 3rd trimester. Hormones can even cause scalp psoriasis and crazy-itchy dryness. I had complained to Jesse about had bad it was and we lovingly began calling it "my mange." We went so far as to have him examine my scalp for crazy rashes or even bugs and there was nothing. So even when the kids began scratching  their heads rather more than usual, I just didn't think anything of it. (Like a big dumb, dummy, dumbass).

But now the perfect little tetris piece slides down into place and it all makes sense. (Prepare for your head to itch badly as you read this. It's inevitable).

I get up to the front of carpool line to pick the kids up, and the director shows me in their hair what they had seen (Judah had been crazy ape-scratching so his teacher had asked that he be checked). I was expecting plague-like proportions of buggy-hoards to be traversing his scalp, but actually it was just tiny specks attached to some hairs about an inch from the scalp. This was my first lesson in Lice Education 101 (I stand here 4 days later holding a Doctorate Degree from the School of Hard Knocks Nits).

I am just mortified and apologizing profusely to both of their teachers and the director, and I am brought up short by how they are all saying, "No, no WE are sorry!" I'm like, wait, our family exposed yall to this scourge and you are saying you are sorry for us?!?!

I should have taken this as a sign of what was to come. The teachers knew...oh, yes, they knew what was in store for us.

I have never had lice. Not as a kid, not never. My kids have had the warning letters come home saying there was a confirmed case at the school, but preventing it is way easy. We just got this kit from the drugstore and sprayed them before school each day and cycled in the shampoo during regular baths. Easy as pie.

Yeah, but once you already have it? My parking lot phone research was quick to inform me: DIFFERENT BALLGAME.

We headed to the store to get a treatment kit and I braced myself for one horrible day of work: laundry, vacuuming, treating, combing, coaxing, bribing. 10 hours later I fell into bed exhausted. Everything had been sanitized or quarantined and I had spent 6 hours in my kids' hair combing out nits and the occasional live bug (can't even believe that sentence is something I am typing) and sweet, uninfested Jesse had uncomplainingly treated and combed all of MY hair when he got home.

i'm covered by the  "in sickness and in health" clause. also by jesse's neverending grace and love and awesome.

The house was destroyed. The baby and fall stuff was still scattered everywhere but forgotten.   There are trash bags full of stuffed animals and pillows all in quarantine. Fast food detritus on the counter because, yeah right, who is cooking during THIS!?! All hopes of "productive" have fled and we are on hardcore survival mode.

But it was worth it. Once the kids are treated and nit-free (gag), they are good to return to school. So when I woke up--sore beyond belief from being bent over the kids' heads for hours and from nonstop housework--I was tired but relieved that the nightmare (nit-mare? sorry) was behind us.

Dropoff is at 9 am. At 9:15 my phone rings. Yeah, they found a live bug on Judah.

I think my low point in all of this was when I went to the director's office to pick them back up, and my kids are sitting on the floor like happy little sprites (praise jesus they are too young to understand stigmas..Judah was happily announcing "Bugs laid eggs on my head and now they are HATCHING!") and I just plop all 90 million pounds of pregnant, hormonal me down next to them and start crying the director. "I dont know what else to do. I could not have possibly done more."

One thing my research had found was that this will often become a weeks or months long ordeal. If you miss one egg, the cycle can start all over again. And I am just extrapolating this out and realizing it's only going to get harder. That I'm getting less and less functional, and OH YEAH, there is a newborn about to jump on the scene as well. I just CANNOT keep doing this only to have it fail time and again.  All that effort and work wasted.

After pulling it together--now I am readily accepting all of the staff's sweet, "I'm so sorry" condolences. I start researching some more. I need another option because this has gotten way bigger than I have the capacity to handle right now. Turns out there are services and places just for lice treatment! Who freaking knew?

The price list was a little scary, but I am calculating the physical and emotional toll that just ONE day of DIY treatment took on me and the kids and Jesse and our house, and the hours spent, and the work and school missed, and the absolute NEED for this to be over and done with before the baby comes, and all of a sudden $150 per head and a guaranteed cure in one day seems pretty worth it.

And I know that everyone has a DIY home method they swear by: olive oil, Cetaphil, tea tree oil (we actually use this as preventative).mayo, vinegar, etc. I looked into these and they all looked pretty viable, but I just did/do not have the time to implement even one of these messy options and just hope it would work I  needed something I KNEW would work, and physically removing every trace of varmint by hand from our heads was the only way out for us when I needed a final, sure cure that very day.

Enter "Elimilice" (Love that name. Clutch branding, bros). They are Atlanta-area only I believe, but there are similar salons all over as far as I know.

*NOTE: I am writing this allllll on my own and received no discount or compensation for blogging about this place (though if I had been smart I might have asked beforehand because it was pricey...though worth it).*

Horrible, almost-funny irony: Elimilice is opening a branch 5 minutes away from us...in two weeks. Right now the closest one was an hour and half away. NO MATTER: nit-pickers can't be choosers! Off we went, stopping only to pick up a box of Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins for lunch because I just could not be waving this white flag any harder, yall.

We arrived and  I just remanded us into custody of the capable hands of professionals. "I can't do this myself.  Please fix us."

And over the next 3.5 hours they did just that. All three of us sat in a room together and had a technician work on us individually. Judah happily and quietly played iPad, and Layla, sensing a captive audience chirped, talked, sang, and performed her heart out in a never-ceasing and loud display of showing-off that nearly broke my brain.

I realized that I could never have combed the kids hair as thoroughly as was needed to completely eradicate this scourge. I didnt have the tools, the facilities or the skill to systematically go over every single hair multiple times. They treated us all with a conditioner type stuff (the whole shebang is all natural) to start with and let it sit for a while. This is a special stuff containing an enzyme to dissolve the glue the holds the eggs onto the hair shaft (I know. I'm dying too, having to read that..and I lived it!) so that they would come out when combed.

little lice spa babies.

After each and every stroke, the techs would rinse the comb into a bowl of clean water. They would do the entire head and then check the bowl. If there were nits or bugs they would repeat the process, going until an entire head's worth of combing produced water with no evidence. Judah had three rounds, and Layla and I had two. They said we all had really light cases (pride points? but, no, there are none to be had in this ordeal).

They said that it was no wonder I didn't get all of Judah's because his hair is so very thick. My parents, Jesse and the teachers had suggested shaving his head just to end the entire saga for him, but I absolutely couldn't. He is my little Samson, and his hair seems such a part of him! Plus, with the baby coming, there are going to be pictures taken that will be around forever! Unless a life is on the line: his lush locks remain!

The kids finished faster than me because my hair is so long and so tangle prone due to highlights. My tech had my hair so sectioned off and organized to be able to scour every millimeter of hair, that it was seriously impressive...if not super cute.

it was a rough couple of days.

The kids got to go into a special playroom JUST for the lice-free and they had a blast for an hour while I finished up. They also were thrilled to be treated to free snacks during the process (they had been offered DVD players from the start, but since we had brought our iPads, we didnt need them).

We left with scalps singing from being combed raw and clean, and with a guarantee that the process would work. We had to come back for a followup check and had to bring Jesse since he lives among the infested and would have to be checked and treated if necessary. Additionally we have to use the preventative stuff we already had on hand going forward so that it won't get passed back (I'm praying it was never passed from my kids to anyone else) or reinfested in any way, and we will need to do comb-through checks once a week.

At our followups we were declared still clean and Jesse smugly listened as he was declared never-infested to begin with (he's become a total Calvinist about the whole thing. He thinks he's elected to be more lice-resistant than us).

We marched proudly back into school on Wednesday and dared anyone to scorn or shun us (PS, this would never happen bc the staff is awesome and they keep the identities of the infestors confidential...I am exposing myself here). We have the cleanest heads in all the land, dammit!

It's funny because you hear all your life that lice has nothing to do with cleanliness, hygeine, socioeconomic status or anything controllable (you'd have to live the life of a hermit to 100% protect yourself. People being around people is what causes lice). And I totally believed that and tried to never judge when there was an outbreak. But knowing it's not their fault didn't stop me from branding the unknown child/family as  "UNCLEAN" in my head.

After taking a turn as the leper, it was really important to me to come out loud and, well, not proud, but just loud. One of my favorite bloggers, Rebecca Woolf, dealt with lice in her family (4 kids) for THREE MONTHS doing DIY treatment, and was just so upfront and honest about it that it super impressed me, and helped to break down a lot of the hush-hush shame that surrounded lice (it doesn't hurt that she is gorgeous  and brilliant and fashion-y and an amazing mom, and yet they STILL got lice. Those things shouldn't matter, yet i'll admit they did in my judgemental brain ).

So here I am saying it: The Dukes got lice.  It sucked.  What's more, we seem to have been Patient Zero at the kids' school since no one else has reported having it. I am sorry to all the other families who got the note from the school, and had to take preventative precautions. But I am also saying we kicked its ass and it's over. And that if your family gets the lice-whammy through no fault of yours, considering skipping the hassle and hours and mess in your own house and just let the pros handle it.

I have readjusted my hopes and again hope Noa will have hair when she is born, now that the threat has passed. The autumn decor is cheering me up daily from their appropriate positions around the house, and there is room for the crib and all of the baby clothes in the 3rd bedroom. Life has now returned to the crazy-insane abnormal normal that is life.

Suck it, parasites (just the figurative "it," not my family's scalp-blood. mmmkaythanks).

Have yall battled this beast? Dealt with prolonged recurrences? Been shamed by the L-word? Let's talk about lice!!!

If you read that whole post without your head itching then you are a jedi.


Fifteensies > Onesies

I went on a freezer paper stencilling bender recently. I had ordered a few new sets of onesies for Noa and lots of the packs came with a few patterned onesies and a few blank ones. I wanted to spruce up the blanks with some fun onesie design ideas I had been gathering from all over tarnation Pinterest.

I made fifteen and declared myself addicted. Some of these I could turn out 4 or 5 in an hour, and others took 3 hours to get just one specific design right.

For almost all of these I was inspired by an idea and then I just made up a design as close to the original as I could via a google image search and then printing out the image onto freezer paper. Then I painstakingly cut out the stencils and all their miniscule details with teensy scissors (and as a result I am now perilously close to buying a Silhouette machine for all future endeavors. Having a robot do my grunt work is where it's at).

Anyway, if you have a similar style to me, then this will be a great collection of ideas that you wont have to go track down all in different places.

many mosquito bites incurred while setting up this clothesline of joy

EASILY my 3 favorites and the 3 that took the longest

this is my interpretation of an awesome negative space embroidery design I found on Pinterest that i translated into fabric paint (many q-tips employed for this one!)

my first attempt with sparkly fabric paint. this one was actually all my idea once I knew I wanted the gold. I used the "clementine" font.

just a huge initial in "circus" font (which i thought i hated as a font for words, but looks great as just one statement initial).

I left the iron on the fawn for too long when i was setting the design, and it morphed some of the fur into a different color. I dont hate it. 

the bright purple hi is another top pick

I asked Layla what all the designs were as I made them and she declared the one on the far right to be pants.

and the little matryoshka doll is probably my favorite of all the picture (non-word) designs. 

Needless to say, she is going to be rocking the onesies for quite some time.  This is fine by me, because ain't nothing cuter than a baby in a onesie. Straight up.  I did think ahead enough to get all different sizes so hopefully these wont be one-wear and then done, which drives me crazy (ahem, looking at you, giant baby Layla, who skipped right over most of her NB clothes).

There's a quick, happy, burst of babywear to set your uterus aglow on this Tuesday.


Change of Plan?

I've never had an epidural. Both Judah and Layla's labors were extremely focused on letting my body go through the labor and delivery process on its own. The name of the game was as few interventions as possible. 

In fact, my entire birthplan for Layla's delivery was, "I'd like this birth to be exactly like it would be if it was 1000 years ago...except, just, you know, in a hospital."  That got some fun looks from the staff (but it worked! All I had was an amnihook...which could have been made from a river reed from the Euphrates... so it still works).

By the grace of God, awesome coaching from Jesse, and it being way too late for an epidural by the time I started begging for one (both times), I delivered both kids without pain medicine. With Judah, I did get Pitocin (the smallest dose possible) to speed up labor, as my water had broken and the hospital has a limit on how long you're allowed to have broken water without progressing  to a certain dilation.

It was getting the Pitocin that made me think that completely unmedicated childbirth (no Pitocin) would be different or less painful. This was why I so wanted to deliver Layla old-timey style (spoiler alert: it wasn't the Pitocin after all that was to blame; it was the 8 lb human moving out of my vagina that was the cause of the pain. SHOCKING).

I remember being in recovery, maybe an hour or two after having Layla, and saying, "You know, that was fun and all utterly horrendous in every way, but I think if we have another baby, I might go for the epidural."

And Jesse was all:

he even stormed out of the room just like that. ;)

We changed practices when we found out we were pregnant with #3. We moved to a group that has midwives as well as OB's. I hadn't loved how weird I was made to feel in an OB-only practice that didn't have a ton of experience with the kind of birth I wanted.

This message of, "um, sure okay, you can have your baby like that," from some doctors there turned into full on pressure from them during my labors to let them intervene, to give drugs, to hurry up, and made the whole thing pretty stressful (as if it isnt enough on its own!) as I was made to feel like sticking to my birth plan (strange and foreign as it seemed to them) and letting my body try to do its job in its own time was putting my babies in danger (I never heard anything conclusive on this "danger" or any concrete symptoms of babies in distress, so I didnt appreciate them playing that card). We figured a blended practice with midwives and OB's working side by side would be much more receptive.

As the weeks of this pregnancy passed, I thought more and more about what was most important to us and to me (of course, always/only assuming healthy baby/healthy momma foremost). The more I weighed things, the more I felt like I wanted to allow for an epidural this time.

I have written about how with neither Judah nor Layla did I have that glowing, magic moment of being handed my fresh-from-the-womb baby and it just rocking my world. There was no happy crying or serene Mother Mary feeling of meeting them. This is because I was out of my mind with the sudden transition from worst pain of my life into disbelieving "it's over?" I was shaking uncontrollably and couldnt even really absorb that there would be no more labor and that the baby was HERE.

over 2 hours after Judah's birth when I came out of the OR and anesthesia after needing to have a very complicated tear repaired.

Now, I wasn't catatonic. I did breastfeed both babies immediately and do skin to skin and look at them. But I was so utterly flustered and still in panic-mode, that it was kind of just robotic, and I didnt enjoy those first moments like possibly I should/would have had the labors not been so all-consuming. I really grieved for these once in a lifetime moments afterward.

finally falling headlong in love with her...45 minutes after birth. I hate that she's in a plastic box and not MY ARMS.

So at the top of my "What do I want this time?" list was to be present emotionally and mentally for the moment of meeting Noa.

To be honest, a big part of my two natural deliveries was an element of  "let's see if I can really do this." Let me assure you, that is all gone now. I clearly CAN do it (what does that even mean? My uterus is efficient and by the time I was begging for drugs, there were humans hanging out of me and it was too late...not a lot of heroism or willpower on my part involved).

I've done it twice. I have that experience. It's in the scrapbook (as are the tatters of perineum that I blasted through in a pushing frenzy to liberate myself from hell). And weighing all the factors, I don't feel like the benefits outweighed the drawbacks for us.

I wouldn't say we regret the path we took with the first two at all. I love knowing that I felt everything in the process from beginning to end (even if it was torture) and that I have that in common with women throughout history. And boy are there women who make natural, crunchy, hippie birth look beautiful and calm and peaceful and it's just so obviously a great fit for them. And yet I am a high-strung, panic-prone control freak of a sissy and after two tries, I'm open to a new birth plan that might be a more cohesive fit with my personality.

So as I'm talking to the midwives at my new practice every appointment during the first months of this pregnancy, hilariously, I start to feel pressured by them to NOT get an epidural this time! I'm all, "y'all, give a momma a break...let me win just once!" Can someone just throw me a damn thumbs up for once?!?!

As I'm all squirmy and trying to hold my ground, the midwife says, "well the first time you didn't know what to expect so that's why it was so traumatic, and the second time you thought without Pitocin it would be easier, and when it wasn't, it was really shocking and scary. But THIS TIME, you know what to expect fully, so it will be soooooo much easier."

And I'm like, wow, that is some next-level rationalization, lady. You so crazy. It's okay to acknowledge that childbirth hurts!

At my next appointment I started seeing the OB's again. P.S., I LOVE midwives. I am related to some, and very awesome friends with others, but this particular one just kept pressuring me in a way that bordered on dismissive of my feelings and options every time I saw her, and that is NOT something I am willing to deal with time time around. Burn my nursing bra and hear me roar!

The great news is that my favorite doctor from my former practice is now at my current one. She delivered Judah's placenta (I was too fast for her to make it in time to catch him!) and we love each other.  I asked her about getting an epidural and the chances that doing so might slow down labor and eventually lead to an emergency situation and C-section (which is my biggest PLEASE NO of all). This is something you hear about a lot in natural childbirth books/conversations, and I wanted to know how much of a statistical correlation there was.

The doctor said that while studies do show that epidurals result in slightly more C-sections than unmedicated labors do, that my personal history with childbirth is far more indicative of how things will probably go. She said I dilate very well, am an efficient pusher and have never had any issues that would point to not being able to progress and deliver even with anesthesia, and that these factors are far more telling than global statistics. She said, "honestly, if you don't get a vaginal birth with this practice, you couldn't get one anywhere," meaning, they are all about the vag and they are not going to just be like, "okay it's been 2 hours,  let's get you a c-section before I clock out!."

So I am planning on taking the epidural as soon as it is offered this time, and even allowing them to induce me whenever they say I'm ready.

Confession: I feel a little guilty typing that sentence out. Like I am betraying someone or some group. I have never legitimately thought less of women who get ALL the interventions just for fun or even have elective C-sections (though I was probably too prideful of my own path/choice), but for some reason I feel like my choice to go a different path this time might open me up to some judgement.

I don't like disappointing people OR feeling judged but I am committed to standing firm in the land of: "Oh well. My babymaker, my birth plan. If you don't like, go play in your own amniotic pool."

I still plan on doing some hippie fun birth things like encapsulating my placenta (totally okay if that freaks you out bigtime!), taking the primrose oil starting this week, not cutting the cord for a good while, not being separated from Noa at all in the first 30-45 minutes.  The thing is, I had wanted most of those things too in previous labors, but was so out of it that I didnt speak up (and Jesse was so concerned for me that he didnt fight for the post-birth stuff either!) and so I didn't get them.

This is likely the last baby that will come from my own body. I want to milk (right?) every memory and be as present as I possibly can, and after lots of thought, prayer and talk, we feel like this is right for us.

As a fun bonus, our photographer is doing her first ever birth session with us! I would have NEVER said yes to this if I'd planned on going natural because it's just not super pretty-looking on me, and the poignant post-birth moments that birth photography captures so well might not have even happened if I was so PTSD-feeling as I always have been before. And when there's a photographer and two big kids involved, I'd love to just cut down on the chaos and unknowns if at all possible.

yeah, no need to frame this one (but let's totally put it on the internet. hello naked haunch!) . i spy AMNIHOOK!

Now I know what youre thinking. Because I think it myself, and about 90% of jokers that I tell this to like to remind me: "Well, you might not get a choice!" or  "Noa might have other plans!" or "This is your 3rd baby, you might not even make it to the hospital!"

Yeah, thanks guys and no duh. I punch your face.

OBVIOUSLY all of this is predicated hugely on "If everything looks good and healthy and goes like we hope."  I may  go into labor at 38 weeks and arrive at the hospital at a 8cm and have it be too late to get anything but a belt to bite down on. I may run to the potty to go #2 and end up holding my baby instead, like those ladies on that show who have no idea anything is going on. There could be a freak emergency that has me forever singing the praises of Casear and his magical section!

No matter what happens, I look forward to sharing Noa's birth story afterward and comparing it with our other experiences. But it was also important to me to express where we are before anything happens and how/why we want to approach this delivery a little differently.

I think the #1 best thing I learned from all of our childbirth education and experience is that women have choices and should feel empowered to make the ones that are right for them, their bodies, and their families during childbirth.  This is a pretty cool benefit of living when are where we do.

Motherhood is a vernix-covered magic mushroom of a miracle and there is no "right" path of how we all get there each time.

I'm not sure I was on that page a few years ago, and may have been a bit hippie-judgemental and high-horsey that my choice was BEST. I hate that I probably felt that way and may have made any other momma sfeel judged in any way.

Breast/bottle, biological/adopted, c-section/vaginal, rock your momma-story how you feel is best.  Loving our babies and doing our best for them is what makes us a rah-rah team of hardcore GIRL POWER, not one particular decision in a lifetime of millions.

Now then, who wants a dose of my placenta? Take two and call me in the morning.


Baby Favies

I love a good mood board. One snapshot of a bunch of different items that capture a style and a feeling of a room, an outfit, a season, pretty much anything.  They are a great resource on Pinterest, and will often give you a great snapshot of your personal taste and style when you come across one that sings for you.

A friend recently asked me about doing a post with my favorite baby Noa items, so I threw together a fancy (to me) white compilation. 

Compared to the things I liked/bought for Judah and Layla, my style has come light years. Not only is my taste level much more thoughtful, but the items I am choosing to buy are actually much more meaningful since I love each one so much. I have ended up spending much less on this baby (even factoring in hand-me-downs), and yet I find a lot more joy and quality in Noa's stash than I did by buying meh things in bulk before.

Of the 15 items pictured, I own about half already. Some are DIY-able by me and so I won't need to purchase, and some are just wishes. The majority are handmade or from small businesses, which--as a small, handmade, business owner myself--imparts another dose of love and thoughtfulness into the item as well.

What are your favorites? Do you have any must-haves, or drool-inducers of your own in the wide world of new baby items that I need to know about?


My Real-Life, Well-Dressed Toddler Son. Ramen + Quinoa

It's a sign of how out of it I have been that a wonderful, unexpected, priceless milestone happens for Judah this summer, and it slips my mind to blog about it.

"Hello, Posterity? This is Keight. Sorry I forgot to feed you."

It starts with Layla.

I added a little kid version of a hipster infinity scarf to my Etsy shop last fall. The cover model was this girl, who looked impossibly squnchable in her bunny print, posing like a veteran...poser?

toddler sold separately

Shortly after listing these, a customer asked about how they would look on boys, so I made Judah try one out for me and took a photo to show the customer a boy look. I also went ahead and ultra-hipster-fied him and had a full photo shoot complete with stage-mom directions in front of our house.

Because I'm 31 and was lacking any healthier hobby options, I guess.

The pics were hilarious. Somewhere between my "okay now give me Blue Steel" and his "Jeepers, Ma! I so dont want to be doing this," we landed into a pile of fabulously ironic and painfully cute poses and expressions.

I remember thinking he looked so big when I was taking these 11 months ago. Clearly I was delusional because he is TEENSY here.

But my favorite for sheer hilarity was the one I decided to post on my Instagram feed:

the duckfaced pout, the hand in pocket, the defiant chin. it's all so perfectly hipster. can't you just hear him extolling the virtues of kimchi or savagely critiquing a craft beer here?

Well my buddy, Emily, saw this pic and made a comment that, "Quinoa would love this" with hashtag #MIWDTD.

My immediate reaction to this comment was that Emily had maybe eaten some magic mushrooms becuase she surely was not making sense. But when I searched that hashtag I found a treasure of an Instagram feed belonging to the creator of the insanely viral Pinterest board: My Imaginary Well Dressed Toddler Daughter (hence #MIWDTD).

Created by  Tiffany Beveridge, the board (and Insta-feed) takes some of the more ridiculous children's fashion ads in existence and puts a story to them via brilliantly witty captions.  Like such as (...the Iraq):

Quinoa is basically the little girl who is cooler, richer, more gluten-free, and far more fashionable than you could ever hope to be. If you've heard of something, that means that she was into it, like, forever ago and is already completely over it.

So once I found the MIWDTD Instagram feed and instantly followed it, I decided to tag Judah's pic with that same hashtag too, since the boy in the pic could TOTALLY be a friend of Quinoa...or at least a  solid frenemy.  We brainstormed what his name would be: Gingham? Chai? Yolo? Nofilter? Neon? 

And then to my wild delight, Quinoa's "mom" herself popped in and commented on Judah's picture! 

Um, my child, being a hipster doofus, in a published work?! uh-duh!

So I sent her the pic and signed the release. I continued to follow Quinoa, laughing all the way (HA HA HA), and saw as the release date for the book was announced and then the advance copies went out, figuring Judah hadn't made the cut since I had never heard a final word. I wasn't too surprised since most of Quinoa's material is taken from work by real professional fashion photographers, in real ads, with much more over-the-top clothes and settings. I thought about asking Tiffany if Judah was in the book, but was too chicken to hear the rejection outright.

But the day the book came out we were by a bookstore getting dinner, and I said, well, let's go look at the book, just to be sure Judah's really not there, and buy it anyway since it's hilarious and perfect coffee table/guest bathroom reading.

I went to the front to ask for a copy and Jesse (the man) went to hunt it down without help. We both came towards each other holding the copies we had found and leafing wildly through it. 

"SHUT UP NO WAY!" I screeched. "PAGE 14 PAGE 14!!! HE'S IN HERE!"

You guys, she named him RAMEN! Just so beyond perfect as said noodles are a favorite of mine and a go-to during the rough-tum-tum weeks of pregnancy for me. 

And that caption, sheesh, she is spot on!

I was freaking out and making a slight scene screaming about him getting a FULL PAGE! and then forcing the kid to pose with the book.

Naturally we bought a copy (and so did my parents) and proudly display it in our living room (we've yet to get him to autograph it...a genius idea my dad had!). I also sat down and read the entire dang thing cover to cover in one sitting, cracking up all along the way. 

I give this book two thumbs way up (even if it weren't for page 14!), and since we donated the photo for free we see no profit for it's sales, so that is NOT why i give my thumbs.

All jokes aside, I have no intention of ever directing my kids towards modeling--even if they were "right" for it, so this was such a fun, once-in-a-lifetime thing for Judah to get to be a part of (especially since it was already done just for fun in the privacy of our own yard by the time we realized it would be published.. No stage = no stage mom potential!). He's set for life on at least one of his "two truths and a lie," and will always have a handy interesting fact about himself to put forth. 

Get a copy for yourself. Ramen/Judah will gladly autograph it for you.

Thank you, Emily for introducing me to Quinoa. Thank you, Tiffany for your rapier wit and for including us in your work. And most of all, thank you, Quinoa for being a paragon of what we should all aspire to, and for already being so totally over it by the time we caught on.