life lately.

Hello again! Besides being buried in snow, I am enjoying my last two weeks at home with {jv} before heading back to work in March. I decided to round up what has been going on in our lives and put all of the random bits I want to share with you in one place. You can skip the parts which don't pertain to your life and dive into the parts that do. I would rather give you one long post than ten short posts, so here goes nothing! xoxo {av}

-My sweet friend, Bree, shared this post recently and it really got me thinking. I had been feeling guilty about not giving up anything for Lent, but this post changed my perspective. Like New Year's resolutions, Lent is a time to make positive changes and get rid of negative habits. This post inspired me to do just that -- during Lent and beyond. 
-I truly thought I was going to be one of the lucky ones who made it through pregnancy with no stretch marks. I made it through 37 weeks of pregnancy without a single one -- only to wake up one morning with what looked like a road map on the underside of my belly. Though I was religious with stretch mark creams and kept my weight gain in control, I have to remind myself genetics are to blame. This post was a particularly encouraging discovery during an early morning breastfeeding session. Stretch marks or not, women's bodies are beautiful things. The end game is the important part -- and I'll happily sport my stretch marks because I am the lucky one to have {jv}.
-Speaking of bodies, this snowy winter is killing my return to running. The cabin fever is real, folks. We haven't found a gym in our new community and don't have a full set-up at home. Until the snow melts, I'll get my exercise carrying all 12 pounds of {jv}. Does that count? ;)
-I was so honored when Monica included me in her round-up of 3 Instagram Accounts to Follow. I loved reading her description of my feed, though I can assure you we still have a long way to go in decorating this new house. (Thanks again, Monica!)
-{cv} and I are both reading French Kids Eat Everything. As a lifelong picky eater, I am determined not to pass along my eating weirdness to {jv}. Though he is exclusively breastfeeding now, time is flying and he will be eating "real" food before we know it. We shall see what the French have to say and how we might be able to employ their wisdom in our house.

-In the coming months, I will be completing a Patio Style Challenge with Home Depot! Look for a post soon about my inspiration for our nautical backyard oasis. Though we still have a few feet of snow on the ground, it is exciting to start planning for warm summer nights out on our deck.
-I am on the hunt for a sturdy yet attractive coffee table for our living room. We currently have a "ghost" glass coffee table, but it doesn't fit in our space anymore. It also wouldn't be ideal when {jv} starts pulling up on furniture later this year. I'm thinking a square leather tufted ottoman would be great. If you have any favorites, be sure to share them below ;)
-Because {jv} arrived shortly after we moved into the house, I didn't have a chance to share much about our build process. I am hoping to share more of that in the coming months, especially for those who will be building once warmer weather arrives. If there is anything in particular that you'd like to hear about our build, shoot me an email or share it in the comments below. I loved the process so much that I would build a house again tomorrow, so I hope I can take the fear away for those about to begin their projects!

-Though they arrived at the end of January, I didn't get {jv}'s birth announcements out until last Friday. (Oops?) We ordered ours through Minted -- partially because of their addressing service and partially because I didn't have the creative energy to do them myself. (I normally design our holiday cards, but we sent the birth announcement in lieu of those this year.) I promise to share a sneak peek of the ones we chose soon!
-I broke down and splurged on a few of these KicKee Pants Footies. Made with bamboo, they are the softest and coziest outfits {jv} wears. Not only do they wash beautifully, they also have non-obnoxious prints and patterns. If you've never purchased anything from, you can get a pretty sweet deal until February 28th (20% off of $50+, 25% off of $75+, $30% off of $100+ with the code FEBLOVE). When he's not in his KicKees, we still love our Old Navy Footed Sleepers -- and were excited to see a few new colors for spring!
-Babywearing is something {jv} enjoys 93% of the time. (The other 7%? Well, let's just say that's the time when he is too fussy for his own good.) We have an Ergobaby and a Baby K'Tan, but I recently added the Solly Baby to the mix. I like each of the carriers for different reasons. The Ergo is great for grocery store runs and longer wears in public. The K'Tan is perfect when {jv} is being a fusspot and I would love for him to fall asleep. The Solly Baby is the most "fashionable" of the bunch. It works well when {jv} wants to be held and a nap is out of the question. (Also, am I the only crazy person with three different babywearing methods?)
-Everyone said babies came with lots of stuff and they were right. We added this BABYBJ√∂RN Balance Bouncer to our "stuff" repertoire last month. After hearing about it from a friend and reading countless reviews, we took the plunge. This bouncer was a bit of an investment, but it is a chair he can use for the next two years. It also packs flat, which will be crucial on road trips. Before we added this wooden toy arm, we made sure {jv} was a big fan. It was a God-sent when I was trying to finish up the birth announcements last week. It definitely gets my seal of approval.
-Seeking advice from you seasoned moms out there: I head back to work in just shy of two weeks. Like many moms, pumping is my least favorite thing to do. Any advice on how to building a supply for daycare when {jv} is on a pretty consistent nursing schedule? He nurses every 2.5 to 3 hours during the day and doesn't have the most reliable of napping schedules, so it is difficult for me to pump during the day. Thankfully, he is sleeping from 11:45 until 6:45 on a pretty regular basis. Is my best option to wake up in the middle of the night? My hope is that you have more creative / less exhausting answers. Many thanks in advance!

two months of motherhood.

Two months ago, I became a mother -- and two months ago, my priorities entirely changed. I knew life would be different after our little one arrived, but I had no clue how much. 

In the delivery room, my OB said that {cv} was in charge of getting me to slow down. She knew it needed to be said. I have always been a busy body. Even in my last month of pregnancy, I was going at full speed to make sure we got in our house before the baby joined us. Looking back on it, the month of November was a complete blur. I remember the exhaustion, but I also remember the elation of seeing everything come together. When {jv} made his grand entrance, he came two days after his due date. Truth be told, I was aching for a few extra days to get things done around the house. The sea of boxes had to wait.

I honestly thought I would jump back into my life as I knew it before, only with a baby in tow. I imagined I would be back to running, blogging, and everything else without a second thought. I couldn't imagine how I would fill a day with a newborn, but I was absolutely wrong. I am writing this post ever so quietly on my MacBook, while {jv} sleeps in the crook of my nursing pillow. He is the reason my productivity went from an all-time high to an all-time low... and for the first time in my life, I could care less. 

If one image could capture this shift, it would be this Instagram. My world stops when he needs me and, sadly, he won't always need me. When he is 16 and running out the door for a date (!!), I will ache for these quiet moments. This is why I am giving myself a pass. The sea of boxes (though they're somewhat artfully hidden) will get unpacked on a quiet Saturday, long in the future. I will get the mountain of thank you notes done one day soon. (To those still owed one, I promise your gift is very much appreciated.) While my to-do list isn't getting any shorter, {jv} just keeps getting bigger and I don't want to miss a minute of it. 

The most surprising thing about motherhood is truly my ability to let things go. I will always thank my son for giving me the gift of peace. I don't let problems fester anymore; I confront them. I am slowly but surely conquering my severe FOMO (fear of missing out). His arrival, coupled with my looming 30th birthday, remind me that life truly is short. I want to fill my days with things that matter, not petty things. If that is what I've learned from two months of motherhood, I can't wait to see what the future teaches me. xoxo {av}

P.S. A word to those non-mothers who see friends like me get swept up in the baby wave: we're still here. Don't think we've lost our heads, though maybe we have just a little. The truth is that we may not want to dump stories of long nights and messy diapers on you. Why? Because we want you to have babies one day too! We want to hear about all the things you're doing in the "real world". Keep in mind that this is a season of our lives, not forever. Though she may look tired and a bit ragged, the friend you love is still hidden under there.

cozy clothes for your every day.

cozy clothes for your every day.

Since our little one was born, I have been rocking babyGap for great pieces which hold up well with frequent washes. As a result, I pay close attention to Gap's sales. When I needed to hit a threshold for free shipping, I snagged a top for myself in December...and I am so glad I did! I bought this top and have since purchased it in every available color. It may be because I'm home on maternity leave, but I don't put on jeans every day. I normally aim for cozy and cute. The eight pieces above would still make me feel put together -- and I wouldn't be scared to answer the door while wearing them.

The best part? Would you believe it if I told you that everything in the collage above was under $65? Well, it's true. I could hardly believe it. I will admit that I am a Lululemon addict, but it isn't exactly budget-friendly. I am so excited to have found another option in the comfy clothes world, which won't completely break my budget if I want a top in a few colors. 

Cozy is a relative term these days -- and the impending blizzard may be influencing my word choice ;) I hope I'm not the only person who is reaching more for my activewear than my jeans. Where else do you like to buy such cozy (and cute) clothes? Share your secrets! xoxo {av}

the first month survival guide.

a survival guide for your fist month at home with a newborn via @luvfromafar!

I can't believe it, but {jv} is already five weeks old! We survived the first month relatively unscathed, albeit a bit sleep deprived. {cv} and I count our lucky stars that he has been a happy little guy so far. I thought I would share a few of my favorite baby products from our first 30 days as parents. 

As a few qualifiers, {jv} is exclusively breastfeeding, which means I can't personally contribute to the bottle or formula discussion. I also think the choice of diapers is incredibly personal (based on budget and preference). We have budgeted to use the Honest line in our house, but it may not be for everyone. (I will say that the Honest diapers are worth every penny though: we experimented with a few other brands and found the stink defense to be best with Honest ;) Again, these were the things that worked for us, but there are endless options out there. Please add your first month favorites to the discussion in the comments section below!

Aquaphor Baby Gentle Wash & Shampoo: {jv} had a serious case of baby acne from the end of his second week through the end of his fourth week. (A mother's hormones cause this lovely phenomenon -- don't worry, we keep him clean!) All my research (and our pediatrician) said that the best treatment was to do nothing. (Crazy, but true.) The pediatrician mentioned we could wash him with a mild soap, if we didn't want to feel so helpless in the acne game. After even more research, I discovered this Aquaphor wash and we have loved it in our house. It is fragrance-free and extra gentle. I don't know if the Aquaphor cleared up the acne or if it was just patience, but {jv}'s skin is now much more clear!

Mustela Facial Cleansing Cloths: These easy wipes offer a quick refresh for baby's face. They are not cheap, but they are worth having in your newborn arsenal. I would often use them before we had a last-minute visitor to give freshen him up a bit -- without going through the entire bath process.

My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow: I struggled in the beginning to get {jv} to latch. After my first night at the hospital, I asked my parents to grab my Brest Friend from home. Once I had this pillow, I was able to master the right angle for {jv} to get the latch he needed. This pillow felt like a set of training wheels when getting used to nursing. I didn't love the buckle on the side in the middle of the night, so the next option below quickly moved in as my go-to nursing pillow. 

Dr. Brown's Gia Nursing Pillow & Cover*: The angled design of this pillow and its overall girth helps make every feeding so much easier. I didn't go with the fan favorite Boppy because it felt so big for such a little baby. The cover is soft, durable, and washable and a few etsy shops even sell more personalized options. We jokingly refer to it as my "shrimp", but it is truly one of my most beloved baby items.

Baby K'Tan Breeze Baby Wrap Carrier: Recommended by my favorite local children's store, this is my go-to wrap for getting things done around the house. After reading the instructions, putting it on makes perfect sense. {jv} gets nice and cozy -- and it reminds his mama of the good ol' days when he resided in my belly. While wearing the K'Tan, I can do laundry, unload the dishwasher, and complete other tasks without worry, which does a lot for feeling like you're getting something done. As an FYI: it is sized, so it is more specific to one parent or another.

Ergobaby Performance Collection Baby Carrier & Infant Insert: We also purchased the Ergobaby, so {cv} had his own carrier option. (I can use it too!)  Thankfully, it requires minimal assistance when loading your little one. The clip in the back is the only real difficulty for me. {jv} falls asleep almost instantaneously after he's in the Ergobaby, which makes any excursion much easier.

Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bunting: This is only applicable for those of us in colder climates, but I found one of these buntings on eBay and never looked back. When we have {jv} loaded in the Ergobaby, he can still wear this. It is like he is in his own little cocoon! My only suggestion would be to not overdress your little one before you put him or her in the bunting. It is extremely warm and can cause your little one to get a bit sweaty. We typically put James in a basic long-sleeved onesie, then pop him in a pair of pants and socks when we've arrived at our destination. He may not be a style plate on those days, but he's warm!

Halo Sleepsack Swaddle: {cv} is the superior swaddler in this family, but I can pretend to be with this swaddle from Halo. We discovered {jv} loved the swaddle about halfway through his first month. It works wonders when trying to calm him down at the end of the day. I even use it for nap time on occasion. I like the Pottery Barn options because they aren't so blatantly branded -- and you can personalize them for your little one ;)

Gerber Long-Sleeved Onesies: This is typically what we dress {jv} in when he is wearing one of his Halo swaddles. The mitts on these onesies were also incredibly important in his early days when {jv} would try to scratch at his face. We registered for two packs of these, but I immediately grabbed two more. Having a few of these near your changing table make late night accidents much less frustrating. I just stretch the neck a bit before slipping it over his head -- and he fusses much less during the dressing process.

Fisher-Price Newborn Rock 'n Play Sleeper: If I could buy one thing for every new parent, it would be a Rock 'n Play. {jv} has slept in this magical contraption since the end of his first week. (We tried a Moses basket before we transitioned to the Rock 'n Play. I just got nervous he was going to get too close to the sides of the basket and I couldn't sleep.) The vibration of the chair, paired with the rocking motion, help ease {jv} to sleep in a snap. As an aside, we don't currently use the "safety" belt. We just place {jv} in the Rock 'n Play in his swaddle. He is bundled up, so we know he isn't going anywhere. As he gets older, we will definitely revisit this -- but I thought I'd be honest about our methods ;)

4Moms Plush mamaRoo Bouncer Seat + Infant Insert: Not sure whether I wanted to make the investment or not, I scored a mamaRoo on Craig's List. {jv} tends to like the mamaRoo for shorter periods of time, but it works wonders when he is in it. If you've got a smaller newborn, the infant insert is also a must!

Dr. Brown's PreVent Butterfly Pacifiers*: We've tried a number of other pacifiers, but we found that these work best for {jv}. They are smaller than the Avent Soothies and seem to stay in his mouth much better. I never thought I would be the mom who uses a pacifier, but here I am. We didn't introduce it until the second week, but I would have done it much sooner in retrospect. It didn't cause any nipple confusion (my fear) and it generally brought a great deal of sanity in the nighttime fussy hours. He doesn't have one in his mouth constantly, so I'm hoping this helps in the long run. In the short term, I'm just happy they help calm him down when he's fed and changed -- and should otherwise be content.

Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad Liners: Changing table accidents are bound to happen, so these liners will be lifesavers for your laundry situation. You will save yourself from washing the changing pad cover a ton by having these liners handy. 

Old Navy Footed Sleepers: After having success with these in the first few days, I bought them in every available color. I liked that I could dress him in them without slipping them over his head. Plenty of other brands offer this option, but these Old Navy ones are inexpensive and functional. They keep baby's feet covered and also have the optional mitts to prevent scratching.

Baby Connect: If you have an iPhone, this app will be your best friend. It helps us keep track of diaper changes, feedings and more. {cv} and I can both access {jv}'s profile to add activities. When the hours all run together, this app is a tremendous help for keeping your head on straight!

Beyond baby goods, there are a number of things which helped me survive as a mom in that first month. I'll save that for another novel of a post ;) If you're pregnant, I hope this post can help make those first thirty days more tolerable! If you're not in the mom stage yet, you can pin this post for future reference. For the experienced moms out there, I'd love to hear what else helped you make it through month #1. The first month may be a blur, but these products definitely made our lives easier. More to come soon! xoxo {av}

*Dr. Brown's sent me a lovely care package after {jv} was born. My opinions of their products are completely honest -- and I do prefer them to other brands we've tried. I wouldn't have shared them otherwise.