Monday, August 24, 2015

Birth Story - Joanna Joy

Joanna Joy was born at 4:51 am on August 10th, 2015. I thought Levi came fast into the world. But Joanna was in a hurry. Like Levi, she was a week late and I was facing an induction. I have a fear if being induced and am pretty willing to try any other means necessary to get labor going. Which, also like Levi, meant taking some castor oil. When I took it with Levi, an hour later I was in labor. So this time around I was discouraged when I took it at 8 pm and nothing happened for hours – except an upset stomach. I got up at 2 am to get some water and watch TV, and started to notice some Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing out of the ordinary from what I’d been experiencing in the past week. However the longer I sat, the more I started to realize they seemed to be coming at regular intervals. I was experiencing no pain though, so I wasn’t sure if I should take them seriously. I started to time them though and they were coming pretty frequently – about 2 minutes apart. At about 3:00 they started to become a little more uncomfortable, so I suspected this might be it.

 I woke Aaron up at 3:15 and asked him to call our babysitter for Levi – a great friend of ours who lives close and Levi adores. About five minutes later I was asking Aaron where she was – I could quickly tell I was in labor and it was coming fast. I think she was at our place by 3:30 and we headed right out out to the hospital. By then the contractions were a minute and 30 seconds apart. We parked in the parking garage across from UNC hospital – for some reason I opted not to have Aaron drop me at the door. I still thought that maybe I wasn’t really that far along. It took me a little while to walk to the front door, and then we had to get to the 4th floor and sign in. I’d say we weren’t in triage until 4:15. I walked in saying, “This is happening fast and I just want you to know now, I want an epidural.” I was not interested in trying it any other way. By this time the contractions were coming on strong and were really painful. As the nurse checked me I almost felt like I needed to push. Now the contractions were being followed by an immediate sorter and less painful contraction – I was in transition. She let me know that I was 8 cm and fully effaced.

We walked over to our labor and delivery room just a few feet away, and a very painful contraction hit right as I reached the bed. I was standing there and an incredible urge to push hit – I started yelling I have to go! I honestly wasn’t sure if I needed the bathroom or to push a baby out. I pushed and my water burst and I felt this moment of relief before another contraction hit. I could hardly move from the pain and realized the epidural was not coming. Sweet Aaron asked about gas, and they just looked at him- it was clear there was no time for anything. The midwife and nurses were getting ready and they told me to get on the bed, but I just couldn’t move from the pain. Then she said, "if you don’t want to have this baby on the floor, get on the bed." So I mustered the strength to hoist myself on the bed and just three contractions later, our baby was born. I pushed with all my might through those contractions. At that point I just wanted to her out as quickly as possible to stop the pain. I knew I was screaming but it was all I could do to get through it. But I could feel her coming and knew with each push she was that much closer to arriving. I kept telling her, “Come on baby, come on out,” to coax her through. When she came I held her immediately and the pain was over. It felt so good to see her face that looked just like Levi’s. And she was a big girl too – 9 lbs, 14 oz!

I held her close through the third stage of labor, and they only took her briefly to be weighed a couple hours after delivery. She latched right away and took a good look around the room before falling fast asleep. And that’s pretty much how she’s been her first two weeks of life. She loves her mom and pretty much sleeps the day away between frequent feedings. She is very sweet and is adored by her big brother. The day she was born Levi came by with flowers and a balloon in his hands, looking so old and so proud. He was afraid to kiss her directly so he would push his chin on her instead. He is so sweet with her and I’m so excited to watch them grow up together. I know much can change in the next few weeks, but I sit here now grateful for a fast, easy delivery, a sleepy newborn, a resilient two-year old, and family of four.

We chose her name, Joanna Joy, for a few reasons. The first name, Joanna, means "the Lord gives graciously" and was a woman in the new testament that was healed by Jesus and mourned by his grave, only to find it was empty. She is a gracious gift to us. Also, my grandmother was named Barbara Ann, my mother Diane, and myself Laura Ann. I like that Joanna incorporates the "Ann" as the past generations have. We gave her the middle name Joy after a close family friend who has been like an aunt to my sister and I and who has been there for us in more ways than I'm sure we even know. It's such a happy name and I hope our daughter can live up to its meaning, "rejoicing."

from two years ago: Levi's Birth Story

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

baby wearing

When I had Levi, I received a hand-me down Baby Bjorn that was in great condition and free, so I thought I was set in the baby wearing department. And he seemed to tolerate it okay. In the first month or so he'd fall asleep in it, and for our trouble sleeper, I figured that was a success. But he'd never let me use it at home or sitting down. Then it started hurting my back and by 6 months I was over it.

Now as I prepare for the next baby, I keep thinking I missed out on something by having Levi most often in the car seat (which is a nice break too!). I also know that with a toddler in tow, I'll need to be hands free. So I've been excited to explore baby wearing options this time around. I have a Baby Ergo and a Boba Baby Wrap ready in the wings. I'm also hoping to get a ring sling. I'm considering the Maya Wrap or the Wildbird Sling (pictured above). Any tips or thoughts?

Once baby comes, I'll let you know what seems to work best, though I expect they will each serve a different purpose. We'll see!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Boulted Bread

Aaron and I (and Levi) went to a fantastic bakery in Raleigh this morning, Boulted Bread. It was recommended to us by a baker friend, and when we saw it opened at 7:00 am on weekdays, we were there. When you have a toddler that wakes at 6:00 every morning, you're always looking for something that's open early. This place was good. So simple - a handful of incredible pastries, hot or iced coffee and tea, and their four signature breads. That's it. Outside there are picnic tables lined with veggie and herb raised planters. It's set in an old historic, walkable neighborhood, Boylan Heights, just on the edge of gentrification.
The pastries were the most flaky and flavorful I've had. The bread we got, their signature, Levian, tasted like a sour rye but with a chewy crust and soft moist crumb. It was really special. It was a little pricey- otherwise we'd be there a few times a week, I'm sure. Aaron had his bread book out as soon as we had the bread, so maybe we'll solve that problem with a home version.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Aelfie Rugs

How great are these rugs? I read about about Aelfie Oudghiri on and instantly loved the colors and patterns. Both warm and modern. We've been rocking a pretty cheap cross-patterned cotton rug in our living room for a bit now. I'd love to update with Saskia or Lounah.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mr. Boddington's Studio

I'm loving this stationery designer. I'm getting a little burnt out on the letter press thing, and love the energy and whimsy Mr. Boddington's Studio brings.  I'd love to do this Record of Birth.

time and changes

I know it's been a while. I miss the blog and want to give this one more go! I left facebook because I was feeling like my attention span was getting shorter and shorter, and just overall mentally distracted. But I miss the space to share. Of course, much has happened since my last post. A partially finished kitchen renovation (post to come), my baby grew into a talking, sleeping toddler, and another NC winter. The biggest update is that our new baby girl is due at the very beginning of August.

Due just one day before Levi's second birthday, we can't wait to meet her and have her join our family. Other than some nausea and tiredness in the first trimester, this pregnancy has been really easy, and I'm feeling very at peace about this next phase. I suppose given that we moved and Aaron started school when Levi was two weeks old, us having the ability to nest a little and just 'be' after the baby is born makes this time around much less stressful.

I'm happy to be back!

-xox Laura

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

some days everything clicks

It's the little things that make a day great. Some days it seems everything is working against you. Other days it feels like everything clicks.

Our morning sitter couldn't come today, so I took the morning off. Levi woke up happy. We drove Aaron to school and headed straight to the park, where Levi happily played for two hours under the golden trees and warm sun. We came home, opened all the windows, and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. Levi fell asleep on his own without a fight and without being rocked just a bit before his sitter arrived. I got to work and crossed a lot off my todo list. Three and a half hours later (!), Levi woke up. As I wrap up my work day, the sun is setting and the crisp air and cricket sounds stream through my window. I have plans to meet up with a friend to watch our kiddos play and share dinner. This rested boy should have a great time. So should I.

Some days everything seems to click. Today is one of those days, and I'm so thankful.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

kitchen vignettes

Well here's another PBS related post. While flipping through our PBS Roku station looking for the latest Antiques Roadshow and This Old House (Charlestown!), we came across a series of shorts called, "Kitchen Vignettes." Sourced from a food blog by the same name, it features 5 minute videos of recipes being made. There are no words or directions- just the the most beautiful food, kitchenware and music you could imagine. They are incredibly inspiring and calm. Usually food-related shows/books/blogs make me want to get in the kitchen. This does too to a point. However the extensive farm-to-table efforts (grind your own gain for a cookie?) and attention to each beautiful detail are bit defeating. Which is fine - it also inspires me to curl up on the couch and just enjoy the art. No wonder it won the 2012 Saveur Best Food Blog award for Best Single Video and is nominated for 2014 James Beard award. Take a look!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Chef and the Farmer

 Vivian Howard and Ben Knight of Chef and the Farmer, from PBS website

I don't know why I haven't been writing lately- so much has been happening! Some good (Levi walking and sleeping through the night), some bad (plumbing woes and busy new schedule) and some great. Last week Aaron and I took our first night away since Levi was born. Our regular sitter who we trust so much offered to give us a night away as a birthday present a few months back. We finally took her up on it.

We've been watching this show on PBS called A Chef's Life. It profiles a chef from New York who moves back to her hometown in eastern North Carolina to open a farm-to-table restaurant. It features daily life in the kitchen and in NC, her farm suppliers, and a cooking segment. It's a great show and has really contributed to me liking it more down here. They even feature Maple View farms, the local dairy farm that makes the ice cream we love.

The restaurant, Chef and the Farmer, is about two hours from here in Kinston, NC, and not a kid friendly spot. So Aaron and I cleaned ourselves up, headed out Friday after work, and enjoyed the drive. The meal was incredible (wood smoked trout - yum!) and the town was fascinating - all boarded up, a time capsule from a different time. We hit up their oyster bar, The Boiler Room, first. That was real highlight. Never have I had oysters that tasted so fresh and crisp.

Then we drove back to Chapel Hill and stayed in a local hotel, slept in until 9, and grabbed brunch with friends. I didn't worry about Levi at all. He knows our sitter so well and is really an adaptable kid. However I was bouncing with excitement to see him as we drove home at 11 the next day. For the rest of the weekend we felt so relaxed and moony over Levi and each other.

Monday, August 11, 2014

normal day...

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” ― poem by Mary Jean Irion

Saturday, August 9, 2014

one year

About a week ago our Levi turned one year old. It seems our little baby is long gone, and an almost toddler has emerged. While he's not yet walking (so close!) he seems like such a kid, with his own agenda, mobility, and preferences. He's talking up a storm in his own little language, and quickly losing his baby fat already (hasn't gained much in the past few months) resulting in a very boy-like face.

We spent the day sticking to our normal routine - going to church, lunch at home. We did however host some friends for grilling and cake (vegan cupcakes for the babe!) and it was really lovely. I'll never forget the look on Levi's face when we sang Happy Birthday. It read, 'this is for me?? why, thank you!' I tried my hardest not to make a big deal of the day - he only opened gifts people sent him. I didn't decorate or buy a large gift. I just wanted to remember his face on that day, and not worry about the stress of hosting and planning a big thing. But it also seemed important to mark the end of this beautiful, challenging, awe-inspiring, exhausting, precious year.

I had been mourning the loss of the baby phase for the past few months, but now I just can't wait to see him walk, to hear him talk, and to teach him. I'm excited the experience the person he'll be, and help him along the way. Recently I've been showing him things around the kitchen, explaining what I'm doing or letting him help in some small way. He watches so intently and smiles wide when he sees he's doing what I'm doing. It makes me so excited for days to come as he learns to interact with this world in even more meaningful ways.

I'm so happy that I became this boy's mamma. I'm so ready for this next year. I'm so excited for the many years to come. I love you Levi Joseph.

Monday, July 28, 2014

home - crossing off the to do list

We have been in our new place for three months now and we've made a lot of progress. I had wanted to share each step of the way here, but somehow taking pictures and walking through each step has seemed overwhelming and burdensome. I keep thinking I'll go back and post about each project, but that's becoming less and less likely. I thought I'd do a little run down of the list we've been working from, as both a look back and something to move toward:
  1. Paint all walls white (previously they were all various shades of yellow - primarily the mustard variety)
  2. Paint inside of front door black - currently yellow
  3. Paint kitchen french doors black or white (?) - currently yellow, of course
  4. Remove faux-copper paneling in kitchen and re-mud walls (thanks Jim!)
  5. Remove sagging shelves in kitchen
  6. Replace shelf over pass-though in kitchen
  7. Paint or replace kitchen cabinets (currently debated)
  8. Tile kitchen
  9. Remove faux-plaster texturing effect in eat-in kitchen area
  10. Repaint patio off kitchen so it is no longer McDonald's colors
  11. Potted plants, bench or chairs for main patio
  12. Chairs for back deck
  13. Remove orange dining light fixture and replace with Ikea Ranarp Pendant Lamp (first anything electrical we've ever done!)
  14. Remove orange/brown glass shields from around all the many can lights
  15. Build floating shelves in living room
  16. Patch can light hole or replace can light above floating shelves
  17. Install outlet under stairs for chest freezer, purchase and install chest freezer
  18. Replace mirrors in bathrooms
  19. Rug for Levi's room
  20. Hem curtains for Levi's room
  21. Wallpaper headboard wall in bedroom
  22. Hang art (mostly complete)
  23. Put most of the baby stuff in the attic (sniff!)
  24. Garden front patio green space
  25. Create backyard garden space
I know this list is ever changing and growing, but besides the big kitchen overhaul (we're hoping to tackle this in the fall - budget willing), we've completed a lot! It's been a lot more fun than I expected to take on some of this. Though I know much of what we've done has been pretty straight forward and cosmetic, I can't think of a better way to get our feet wet with this whole home update thing. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

eleven months

I just can't believe my little boy is 11 months today. He has grown so much in the past two months (I was running so behind on the 10 month most, I decided to skip it). He is a happy, cheery, smiley, energetic, rambunctious, strong-willed boy. I can tell already he'll be a handful, but I think in the end what I'm going to love most about this person is his passion, strong sense of self, and energy.

These past couple months Levi has been on the move. He is a fast fast crawler, loves to cruise along furniture, and even took a few fleeting steps a few days ago. He's like a little energizer bunny, put him down and he's across the room in a second, if he wants to be. If not, he will cry in an instant, cry 'mamma' and hold his hands up. This boy's mood can change on a dime. He's also getting used to his five teeth, resulting in some biting (tough on this breast-feeding mom!) but we're through the worst I think.

He's developing such a great sense of humor - I love when he cracks up at something I would have never expected. I hope I never forget that sweet smile he gives me when I walk in a room.

Levi is a big eater - not slowing down on the nursing but also eating three large meals a day. He loves meat and veggies and savory dishes. Unfortunately we also confirmed this month that he's allergic to milk and eggs, so it will be a tough few years watching his diet like a hawk (his reaction to dairy really is quite scary!) but we're hopeful he'll grow out of it. Sleep also continues to be a challenge, but it's improving and Aaron and I are learning! He's finally fallen into a routine (nap at 9:00, nap at 1:00, and sometimes a later nap too), which I find really helpful.

It's been so fun this month to watch Levi learn- from baby signs (panting like a dog- too cute!) to toys (it was so sweet to watch Aaron teach Levi to use the Pound and Roll Tower), Levi is really catching on. He's also really begun to look to Aaron and I for different things, and it's so lovely to see him bonding with each of us in different ways. I am his comfort and quiet companion. Aaron is the lively playmate and king at naptime.

I love him more each day, and as I now begin to mourn the loss of this sweet baby year, I'm also so excited to continue to watch as he grows and comes into his own.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

the pull

I can't believe another month has passed without a post. So many good things have been happening - A new home with lots of updates to share; a growing boy that teaches me something new each day; new explorations in North Carolina as the weather turns from spring to summer; great home-cooked meals. In many ways life has been good these past few months, and I've wanted to share these things.

Yet, I'm feeling the pull and tensions of this new life in new ways. I want to be a good and hard worker. I want to be an attentive and loving mother. I want to be a caring and available wife. I want to explore my creative side with settling in to our new home. Pursuing all of these things leave me with little time for the blog. I'm working on handling this balance, and I'm so grateful for all the wonderful roles I get to play in my life. I'm hoping to share more besides monthly posts for Levi, who is 10 months old today!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

nine months

This has been a big month for Levi, and it's becoming so very clear to me that I no longer have a little baby. After army crawling for a few weeks, one day Levi decided he could crawl and pull himself up, and the rest is history. Now he's every where and so happy about it- under the table; up the stairs (!!); in the kitchen; to the bath. He's determined and mobile and we'll never rest again!

Levi also started clapping, which may be the cutest thing I've seen him do, got his first tooth, and started saying mama and dada. He started using a sippy cup, eating puff snacks, and just about everything else we give him. He loves all the ceiling fans in our new home and playing in the grass. It's also becoming clear that he's not such a good sleeper, which is a challenge. I'm trying to stay positive and patient, not get bogged down with advice and opinions, and follow my own instincts.

Levi has an incredibly happy disposition that I hope he never loses. I know Mother's Day is to appreciate moms, but on my first Mother's Day I felt overwhelmingly appreciative of Levi, and appreciative of being his mom. He's truly a sweet boy.