Thursday, November 27, 2014

pretty. dang. thankful.

I really had to search deep to find something to be thankful for this year. 

Or not. 

I never in a million years could have imagined how thankful I would be on Thanksgiving 2014. 

I pray that you find today filled with love and hope. Thank you for all the support, humor, love, and hope you have shared with me this year. I am incredibly grateful for each of you. 

I'm pretty thankful for this little turkey, too. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

much ado about nothing important

Warning: This probably isn't going to be the most exciting post ever. It might actually be the least exciting. If you aren't interested in my deep inner turmoil regarding baby gear, you probably wanna move on. If you choose to stick around...I will reward you at the end with a picture of Camilla. Win-win!

So as you've probably gathered, I didn't do a whole lot of research, pro-con lists, and comparison shopping for 90% of Camilla's stuff. A whole bunch of her stuff is hand-me-downs. The great thing about hand-me-downs is that a) they are free, b) sometimes they are on LOAN- which means you can give them back and don't have to figure out how and where to store them when you're done with them, and c) they eliminate the need to make a decision about that particular product. Could I have researched car seats to death and driven myself insane wondering whether I was picking the absolutely most perfect one on earth? Sure. But when my friend offered to give me hers (in great condition, not expired, blah blah blah) for free...well, that was a much easier decision. Yes, thank you. And thank you for saving me from hours of frantic debate and inner turmoil.

(As a side note, I think that I'm a much different mother now than I would have been if we'd gotten pregnant when we first started trying. I used to be WAY more controlling and Type A about everything. Probably because I thought I was the Master and Commander of my own destiny! The Boss of (my) Life!! I COULD CONTROL EVERYTHING!! And so I used to be a serious over-researcher. I would have spent at least two months debating car seats, guarantee it. And equally long on every single other little thing, too, down to the pacifiers. How exhausting.)

(Instead, I spent a few years researching, debating, and trying various methods of family building. I guess that wasn't really any less exhausting. I suppose I've just maxed out my personal ability to care Google extensively anymore. Ha.)

So my laissez-faire approach to baby gear meant that if I could find it as a hand-me-down, I'd take it. If I had to purchase (or register) for it, I'd pretty much just ask a trusted friend or two what they recommended, search my heart to see if it had any strong opinions about color or style, and make a decision. It took me about five minutes, on average. If I ever needed a tie-breaking vote, I'd consult the Amazon reviews and pick the item that got better ratings. Such an easy-breezy democracy I had going on!! (Then again, most people are picking out baby gear while they're sitting around marinating a fetus. I had a precious baby already in my arms, and I'd much rather spend my time squeezing her cheeks than scouring message boards for the inside scoop on crib sheets.)

This was all well and good and worked fabulously. I've nearly broken my arm giving myself pats on the back for my relaxed attitude about the whole thing. Way to not work yourself up into a tizzy over bottles, Erika! You go, girl! The only time I regret my gear-choosing-method is when other new moms or moms-to-be ask "so why did you pick the _____?" and I have to be like...ummmm....because it was blue?/because I found it at a yard sale?/because my friend said it was good and so I believed her? Then I feel lame. But otherwise it's great.

ANYWAY. All that is to say that now it's time to decide what high chair to get. My mom is going to get it for Millie for Christmas, but we need to pick out what we want. And all of a sudden, my don't-care attitude has LEFT THE PREMISES. The one I picked out a few months ago and registered for? Ehhhhh...I just don't know if that's really the right one now. So I've been researching. Comparing. Debating. And it's kind of annoying me how much I suddenly care. I mean, it's a high chair. She'll sit in it, get food all over it, and hopefully not plummet to the floor. In other words, it's nothing so important that I need to be devoting hours of my free time to researching the situation (well, besides the not-plummeting-to-the-floor-ness of it. That part is important.). AND YET I AM.

So now I'm bringing you into this incredibly important and fascinating debate. Please tell me you have a strong opinion about high chairs and you know exactly which one I should get. Bonus points if your high chair recommendation can also prevent food allergies, pickiness, and self-clean.

Here we go.

For the longest time, I thought I wanted a high chair like this:

I like this kind because it looks like furniture and not plastic baby junk. I'm sorry. I'm superficial like that. It's going to sit in my dining room, and incidentally, my dining room is not decorated in neon pink plastic, sooo...I felt that something like this would look better. And's a high chair. There are straps and a tray and so surely it would get the high chair job done...and not offend my eyes too badly. So this is what I always thought I wanted.

But now I'm not so sure. I started reading reviews, and it seems like maybe this isn't the easiest kind to clean. And it's not as adjustable as (hideous) plastic ones. And a lot of people complained about it. Oh, and it doesn't have straps to go over the shoulder, so smaller/younger kids weren't nearly as secure in it. And so despite its good looks, now I'm just not sure it's the right thing. Easy on the eyes? Yes. But is it as practical as other kinds?

So then I decided on this one*:

It's definitely more in the plastic-kid-crap genre, but at least it's not bright colors. It's kinda simple and streamlined, and I thought that maybe the ease of cleaning and five-point harness would make up for the diminished visual appeal. But then I read some of the one- and two-star reviews (I know, I know...probably a mistake, but I always have to check and see what people are complaining about!) and (shockingly) now I'm just not sure about this one. The tray may not be as easily cleanable as other brands, and it has a huge footprint. Oh, and someone said it looked like an elevated toilet seat, and now that's all I can see. I can't put my baby on an elevated toilet seat!!!!

Ugh. Moving on. Then I debated whether I even need a standalone high chair. Could I just use something like this one*?


Ha, it looks really funny and squatty now that I've been staring at the other two long-legged ones. This is the kind that sits on top of one of your regular dining room chairs. I can see the huge advantages there- mainly, NO HUGE CONTRAPTION HOGGING YOUR FLOOR SPACE. We have 6 chairs at our table, and since it's just Matt and me sitting there, we could certainly spare one for Millie. You can also remove the tray and just pull the child up to the table- I like that idea. What I don't like is the thought of having gross food stuck all over my nice chairs. They aren't hard to clean (fake leather seats, no fabric or anything), but still. Ew. And our seats don't roll, unlike most high chairs, so I couldn't easily move her around once she was sitting there. And obviously, if ever the situation arose where we DID have lots of guests over and needed that chair...then we'd be out of luck. Either Millie or a guest would have to sit on the counter to eat, and that's just not classy. OH- and also, this option is like 50 times cheaper than the standalone high chairs. So that's a bonus.

Okay and now I'm really running the risk of putting everyone to sleep, including myself. So I won't go on and on, but know that these are merely three of about a ZILLION high chairs I have debated and considered over the last few days. So please- if you have any experience or opinions about these, help a sister out. I feel lame asking for help, but then least we're already set on her car seat, crib, swing, stroller, baby carriers, glider, and...practically everything else. So rest easy knowing there aren't that many things left that I can beg for help choosing. (Except convertible car seat. That's next and it'll probably be a doozy. Sorry!) 

And remember who you're helping here:

Only the world's cutest baby in Santa jammies!!!! Don't worry, I've had no problem choosing festive holiday jammies for her. My sister and I went to a consignment store on Saturday and pretty much wiped them out. But seriously- these red ones have a button-up BUTT FLAP on the back and it is the most adorable thing ever. Also, totally useless. BUT ADORABLE.

*Amazon Affiliate links- if you purchase something by clicking these links, I may receive a small commission (from Amazon, not you!).

Monday, November 24, 2014

the most thankful thanksgiving

We celebrated an early Thanksgiving with my family in Augusta this weekend, and I can honestly say that that the thankfulness wasn't limited to a meal this year. From the minute I got there until the minute we left, my heart was just overwhelmed with gratitude and joy over how many good things we have to celebrate this year.

I've wanted a baby for quite a long time (understatement). My sister also wanted and prayed for a baby- and when she got pregnant and I was still heartbroken and waiting, it broke her heart. I will never forget how hysterical sad and apologetic and happy and angry she was when she had to tell me that her dream had come true and she was pregnant. It took a long time for me to convince her that I really WAS happy for her- and I was! But I loved how honest she was- she'd always dreamed and imagined that we'd have kids growing up together. And she was mourning the loss of that dream the same way that I was.

And then we met J, and we were expecting, and Camilla was born, and then our adoption finalized, and then Laney was born...and in the space of a few months, our mourning has turned to rejoicing and our tears are long gone...and this weekend, we celebrated that. We both have babies. Girls. Cousins two months apart in age. Against all odds, we became mommies together and will get to experience our greatest joys (and struggles I'm sure!) together. It's so wonderful I can hardly stand it.

Blurry but beautiful to me anyway. And obviously we dress the girls like twins as much as possible because that is our love language. We dressed ourselves like twins growing up, despite the fact that our five-year age gap meant that we weren't really fooling anyone for a long time...but we didn't care. Dressing alike=love. So the girls will be twins until and unless they develop their own opinions and want otherwise.

Jake, Emily, and Carley were with us all weekend as well which meant lots of together time for all the cousins! Carley loves her baby cousins and really loved helping with their bottles and their pacis. And trying to steal their pacis. 

Laney: This is lame | Millie: This is so sad and scary! | Carley: I've got a boog to take care of...
 My parents were in Grandparent Excitement Level Code Red. And we can thank Mom for the awesome matching jammies. She understands the importance of dressing alike, clearly!

Millie and Laney are not impressed.

Jake (my brother) and Carley, Mark (my BIL) and Laney. You oughta know Matt and Millie by now...

I love this picture of all the dads and babies!!! Eeeeeekkkk!!

It just made my heart so happy to watch everyone loving on and holding and passing around the babies all weekend...and to finally be a part of it. To watch my own daughter be passed from grandparent to uncle to aunt and to see my siblings snuggle and kiss on her and tell her how much they love her and gaaaaah I am going to start crying. It's just that so many things smack of redemption these days, and this is yet another. For every holiday I spent crying in a bathroom, now I get to have a holiday watching a sister-in-law or grandparent rock and sway and comfort my baby, and it's just too much. It's perfect.

She hasn't quite figured out the art of selfies yet, but I'm sure we'll get there!
 We had a quick photo shoot in the backyard to try to get a good Christmas card photo. There aren't any photographers in the family, but I figured I'd put the good camera on auto, assemble some semi-coordinated outfits, find a decently lit spot, and hope for the best. And it went pretty well!!!

This is not the picture we put on the card (which I ordered approximately 15 minutes after the photo shoot concluded, hahaha...I am not a patient woman sometimes!), but it is basically the best picture ever. EVEN LOLA IS LOOKING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!!! I am in love with this picture and plan to plaster it everywhere. You wanna talk about heart-healing?? Looking at this picture does it for me. I feel the broken pieces mend together a little tighter every time I look at it.

This is my family. My family. Forever.

(I'm gonna cry now, so bye!)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

pretty pictures: in a field

I realized that I never shared the 'posed' photo session Kristina did when she visited in September! I was so in love with the real life pictures, I barely even paid attention to the Posing In a Field ones. (Side note, but I swear- one day in 50 years our grandkids are all going to be like why were all of your pictures always in fields? Did you live in the country? Were neighborhoods not invented? And we're going to be like...ummm, yeah. It was 2014. TAKING PICTURES IN FIELDS IS WHAT WE DID. People drove good distances for the right field, sonny!)

Luckily, the field we posed in is less than a mile from our house. There are certain advantages to living in the sticks. Such live in the sticks. There are fields.

We are happy in a field! The light shines blissfully upon us!

Oh look, a baby! In a field!

Stop it, I can't even mock this one. That is damn precious.

Someone told me that your arms look skinnier in fields if you put your hand on your hip. Can't hurt, right?

Good thing there was a bench- standing in that field was getting exhausting!

Awww this was before Mills went bald on the back of her head...


Smooching in a field with a baby. Of course!

This one is precious. 

OH MY GOSH WHAT IS THAT THING??? Oh, a hand. Cool.

Oh look, Mom quit trying and took off the scarf and pulled up her hair because IT WAS 10,000 DEGREES OUT THERE.
Okay okay okay. I mock, but I really like the pictures in a field (and it was me that requested it, so don't think anyone dragged me out to a field against my will or something). I had thought that I might pick one of the Field Pictures for our Christmas cards, but now I don't think I will. First of all, my arms look fat in all of the pictures (besides the hand-on-hip one, but you can't even really see Millie in that one and I have a hunch that people care more about seeing Millie's cute face and really couldn't care less about my arm pudge). Second of all, this is so long ago that Millie looks like a totally different person. And now she can SMILE- wouldn't people want a more recent picture where she's smiling? In these pictures, she's about 2 weeks older than in the birth announcement picture. So like...I just think I need a more recent picture for Christmas cards. And I need to wear long sleeves. So it looks like another trip to a field will be in our near future.

As before, all pictures are copyright Kristina Boothe Photography. If you need pictures in a bed or in a field (or by an ocean, since she actually lives in Jax and does most of her pictures on beaches...lucky...), she's your girl!