Chasing Grey

I took a bit of a hiatus from The Modage Cottage to dedicate time to the new and wonderful addition to my family. And what a joy it has been! There have been a few pitfalls and tears along the way – you DO NOT want to mess with a girl going on multiple months of sleepless nights! – but my God, to watch my little guy discover the world in all his innocence…it is something magical.

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This blog, however, has become my lifeline. It is my little piece of heaven, where I somehow find the briefest of moments away from my little to carve out time for myself. But I am never truly away from him, am I? Yes, the little devil is in my every thought and you will see a lot of him on this here blog. Greyson, Little Man, Mister, Dude, and the occasional Curmudgeon, we call him a lot of things, but I’m certain he will want to go by Grey once he has his say.

I am constantly amazed how quickly time passes with a babe to entertain you. In fact, I’m convinced babies are a black hole for time! Which is exactly why I find myself chasing Grey, because I don’t want to miss a second of this beautiful life we are building together or forget how quickly he will grow.

But I also don’t want to overlook myself and how I am growing with him. His innocence, his helplessness, and his ingenuous frustrations make me want to be a better person. A more selfless person. A happier and more carefree person.

So this is my story with a fresh perspective. One that embraces motherhood: the joys, the strains, the desperations, and the desires. But most of all, this is a story about love and family and all the little, wonderful things Life has to offer.

Welcome to the new chapter in my life. Welcome to the new and improved Modage Cottage!

Finding Myself in Motherhood…

We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too.               – Kristin Martz

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately, and I’ve struggled with putting into words my feelings as of late. You see, I have lost myself in this thing called motherhood; it brings me the greatest joy, but there also runs an undercurrent of apprehension and frustration. Life will forever be altered and I am no longer who I once was. But who have I become?

This is the question that keeps me up at night. I am a mother and a wife; these are roles that are so incredibly fulfilling in so many ways. But there is a part of me that still craves…something more. I just don’t yet know what that something is.

What I do know is that while I have lost myself in motherhood, I am also in the process of finding myself there too. No, I am not who I once was – I am something better. I created a person and that is something magical. But my priorities have changed and my focus is shifting.

What does all this mean for my blog? Well, it means that my inspirations have also shifted and I’m not yet sure in what direction I want them to go.

I do have a few grandiose ideas, just not the time to execute them. And rather than split my time between blogging and baby with neither getting the full attention necessary, I’d rather delight in my little one and give him my all. Motherhood has most definitely become an all-encompassing priority (and finding any semblance of a routine has been quite the arduous path. If anyone has any advice on getting a 3 month old to nap for longer than 35 minutes at a time, please let me know!). So, until I have the time and the proper mindset, my blog will have to take the back seat.

When I do recommence (and I have every intention to!), I hope to have a better focus, a style that is entirely my own, a few more DIY’s under my belt, and a voice that truly embraces all of the realities of motherhood: the joys, the strains, the desperate need for a shower, and the desire to instill a little bit of fashion into the new mom wardrobe.

Mainly, I hope to rediscover what I initially set out to achieve with this blog: to feel inspired. And lately, that’s exactly what has been lacking.

So for all of my readers, thank you so very much for following me. I’m sure I will lose a few of you as time lags and my focus shifts, but it was a fun ride while it lasted and I thank you for giving me the chance. And for those of you that do choose to stick it out, you are my greatest inspiration and I hope that I don’t disappoint.

I’ll be back, it’ll just take a little time to find myself again through the things I love.

Self care and taking time to live your life will give you the energy and creativity to put back into your work.ps…I will still be posting on Instagram and Facebook so feel free to follow me there in the meantime!

In His Hands…(and 1-4/52 Weekly Portraits)

In His Hands

1/52: “To see the world in a grain of sand, to see heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour”   -William Blake

I must admit, motherhood is one of the most rewarding yet challenging roles I have ever assumed. Every day is a new experience, every hour is a new demand, and every minute is an absolute delight. There are definitely moments I doubt myself and this enormous responsibility. Many moments, in fact. Raising a child is hard. But at the end of the day, it is also immensely satisfying.

I can’t deny that I have become frustrated at times. There is very little time for myself, for my writing, for this blog, for showers, for the multitude of little things that I would like to do, but then I take one look at his face, his curious, smiling face, and realize that it really isn’t about me anymore. It’s about him, and I’m ok with that.

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I recently stumbled across this beautiful blog and immediately knew that like Jodi, and as my son grows right before my eyes, I want to capture as many treasured moments with him as possible.

Greyson 2

2/52: I am learning to appreciate the uncertainties of motherhood, but there is one thing that I am certain of: this little guy holds my heart in his hands, for infinity and beyond.

Thus begins my own 52 Project for 2014: a memory keeping (and making!) journey that I hope to look back on year after year with love and bittersweet nostalgia.

I’ll be posting a portrait of the week every Monday and linking up with Practising Simplicity every Sunday going forward. I hope you can join me (and excuse me as I play catch up)!

My Guys @ Grace Winery

3/52: “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies” –Aristotle

G in Jumperoo

4/52: “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one!” – Dr. Seuss

Bring It On…

imageHappy New Year! Is it really 2014 already? I’m so excited for what this year will bring. With a new accessory on my arm – my handsome little man – I am already flying high.

I have no doubt this year will be a thrilling one!

Looking back on 2013, however, I realize that I was a bit lost. I was somewhere between motherhood and wanting so badly to hold on to my autonomy. I wanted everything and nothing at the same time – I wanted to become the best mother possible, I wanted to be that perfect homemaker (there’s that word again; perfect), but I also wanted to let loose, have fun, feel young again, and somehow rediscover my life’s purpose. I suppose I was afraid of losing myself and couldn’t grasp the fact that I could have all of these things and more (aside from perfection). I wasn’t unhappy, but I think this confusion caused quite a bit of strife within my mind.

Are there others out there who have felt this way?

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But this year, it is my resolution to let go of those petty annoyances, enjoy the small things, and to revel in motherhood. And instead of floating in a limbo of worries and insecurities, I hope to adjust my purpose and rediscover myself – a happier and more positive self. Because truly, what isn’t there to be happy about?!

Munchkin Face

Seriously, how does one NOT smile at that face?! Makes my heart melt.

Yes, this is the year of good thoughts and passionate living. It will be a year full of little giggles, sparkling eyes, and bubbly toes. But I also hope to concentrate on myself outside of motherhood; refine my style, rediscover my creativity, live a healthier lifestyle, and fall in love with myself again.

I mean, what’s not to love…?

A “few” more resolutions I have:

  • Stop waiting and start living – take more risks and go outside my comfort zone.
  • Don’t dwell on the past.
  • Have more fun! Put aside to-do lists and instead, concentrate on what makes me happy.
  • Laugh more. Don’t take life so seriously.
  • Be more patient, loving, and affectionate.
  • Put heart into everything I do.
  • Be the best mom that I can be. Have fun, treasure every moment with my little guy, and let him experience the world and grow at his own pace.
  • Do something creative every day.
  • Paint a picture.
  • Take a photography class.
  • Join a mom’s group.
  • Find studio space.
  • Run at least 2 races
  • Start yoga.

Tell me, how do you plan to love yourself more this year?

I am so ready 2014. Bring it on!

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For a little extra motivation, you can purchase this print here.

Baby Advice from a Recovering Perfectionist…

My little guy is a little over a month old now and my God, it has been such an incredible learning experience. As all mothers know, raising a child is hard. The worries, the sleepless nights, the constant crying that pulls at your heart strings… motherhood is most definitely not for the feint of heart! But that innocent and content face and those inquisitive eyes make it all so worthwhile. It still boggles my mind that I actually cooked this guy up for nine months and now he’s this living, breathing, beautiful little person. Just…WOW.

Sleepy Head copy

What surprises me most of all, however, are the many things I have discovered about myself in the process. The boundless patience and newfound ability to calm myself down, the incredible instinct to nurture and protect, the desire to be the best that I can be while allowing myself room to make mistakes, and the amazing capacity to thrive on little to no sleep! Don’t get me wrong, deep down inside of me is still this person that strives for perfection, but luckily the more logical, sane, and imperfect part of me has taken the drivers seat.

So, from one new mom to another, here are a few words of advice from a recovering perfectionist:

1. LET IT GO. That mess will still be there for you to clean tomorrow. Your post-partum belly will not disappear in a day, a week, or even a month. And your precious little package (aka…baby) will not die if slightly off his feeding schedule. Instead, get some rest! TRUST ME. Letting it go is the best that you can do for yourself and for everyone around you. (And sometimes I need to learn to take my own advice…!)

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2. Speaking of a feeding schedule, and for those that are breastfeeding: DON’T PANIC if your babe doesn’t feed by the books. I still struggle with this one, but it’s imperative to your sanity and peace of mind. Putting it nicely, most babies become pretty darn vocal when hungry. If they seem perfectly content after a feed, and if they are gaining the appropriate weight, there is no need to freak out. This said by the Queen of Freaking Out.

3. DON’T BE AFRAID. I’ve heard stories of mothers that are too afraid of making one little mistake to handle their own baby. Fortunately, babies are malleable, squishy little creatures. They are meant to be handled, cradled, snuggled, and often contorted into awkward positions. They will be ok, and so will you. Just give them that hands on comfort they will inevitably crave…and scream for.

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Snuggles

4. Watch out for what I have dubbed as the “MONSTER PHASE.” It is something I am currently experiencing and I cannot understand for the life of me why this phenomenon isn’t more often vocalized by mothers around the world. For all you newbies and moms-to-be out there, if you think you have a quiet, sweet baby…just wait until the 6 week mark. I will tell you now, shit will hit the fan. That innocent baby of yours will become the devil reincarnated. This may last for a few days and even up to a few weeks for some of you poor souls out there. If you hear nothing else, hear this: it will get better! Those horrific screams will slowly subside into laughter and smiles. At least, that’s what I have been told…

5. Lastly, if you do choose to breast feed, don’t ever let anyone undermine your feelings of frustration and despair. Breastfeeding can be hard. It puts all the pressure of sustenance onto one human being. Add to that the fact that you are feeding every 2 hours or so and you quickly begin to feel like nothing more than a milk machine! And yes, there may be production problems, allergy problems, and/or extreme gassiness problems. I’ve already had numerous meltdowns over breast feeding and have on occasion substituted formula just to give myself a break. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, feel like a failure if you choose to give your baby formula sometimes or all of the time. I was a formula fed baby and I turned out ok (if I do say so myself!) so turn a deaf ear to any naysayers out there! No one knows what’s best for you and your baby but you.

Perfectionist or not, the most important thing you can do is enjoy this time with your little one. Despite the screams, despite the messy house and dirty diapers and the sleepless nights, take pride in this little human you created and remember, there is a very bright, sparkling light at the end of this tunnel. It will all be worth it in the end!

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ps….for all you non-mommas out there, I will get back to the basics soon! Please bare with me while I revel in babydom for just a little longer Smile

My Everything…

I knew motherhood would be one of the most exciting, satisfying roles I could ever undertake, but to truly put into words how I feel is impossible.

Fingers

Truth be told, I didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of love and attachment the moment he was in my arms. I felt a sense of relief and awe, but a large part of me felt numb and incredibly humbled – it was all a bit surreal and I couldn’t quite fathom that this tiny being was mine.

Was I really allowed to take this perfect little person home?

But that love and attachment grew day by day as I began to accept that this little man truly was mine; that he was a part of me, dependent on me, and ready to be filled with all the love and joy and experience that I could offer. And dear God, I have a lot to offer.

Staring into that little face, my heart fills with an indescribable joy; my love and happiness are overflowing…

Greyson 1

…and I am so thrilled and grateful to not only embark on this journey into parenthood, but to share this journey with such a remarkable man, husband and father.

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Daddy & Son

I am a lucky girl indeed.

Greyson & LambWelcome to the world Greyson Rhys! You are my everything and I can only hope that one day you will realize just how much you are loved.

Hello October.

Hello October

I can’t believe it is October already. With the cooler weather and the turning leaves, it already happened to be my favorite month, but now – now it becomes that much more special because it is the month my son will be born. My little Greyson. My mini man, my heart, my soul.

It seems like yesterday that he was just a part of my imagination. Then, one day, he suddenly became a reality. I didn’t know he was a HE at the time, just a tiny bean growing in my belly. But eventually, that little bean did become a boy, and he just kept on growing. And now, with only ONE week to go (hopefully…), it’s amazing to think that this reality will become even more real. And tangible. And squishy! I will finally have this wonderful baby boy in my arms. It’s mind-blowing, actually.

I can’t wait to revel in the joys of motherhood. And I know that it’s not all joyful – there will be some hard, hard days. And even harder nights. But they will all be meaningful and full of purpose, and to me, that will make them joyful (please remind me of this after a few weeks of no sleep…!).

via Marshalls Abroad

With this small shift in perspective (motherhood, that is), I now find myself drawn to an even wider variety of blogs. Blogs that are not only about home décor, DIY, and fashion, but Life in general, and Love, and Family. It’s so exhilarating to peek into the daily existence (and struggles) of a mother…

via Fairytales Are True

IHOD-Happy Baby Wrap

via In Honor of Design

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via The Weigands

via Steve and Jess Marcum

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via Day Dreaming Mama

…and it’s encouraging to read that despite these picture perfect images, every single one of these mothers had – and continues to have – her share of doubts, insecurities, and imperfections. Despite those bad days, weeks, and even months, they survived, and they remain fabulous mothers.

Almost There

Hello October. I look forward to the many challenges and unconditional love you will bring!

What’s On My Registry…

With just a little over two months to go and a baby shower coming up next weekend (woo hoo!) I wanted to share with you a few things from my registry.

Now, if you’re expecting and anything like me, you were – or are – absolutely clueless as to where to start. I actually began creating my registry at about month 3, researching some of the big ticket, gender-neutral items. And of course, in perfect Kristen fashion, I began stressing. I finally calmed down once I discovered the gender of my little bean (around week 22) and realized Aha!This should actually be a FUN process, not a stressful one! So, keeping my registry private, I then went a little crazy and began adding whatever struck my fancy.

Baby Giraffe No. 4 : horizontalBaby Elephant

Baby White Tiger No. 2Baby Monkey No. 1

Like these guys from the Animal Prints Shop. How can I possibly resist baby animal prints for the nursery?!

Over the last month, I finally began weeding through the crazy and finalizing the registry to go public prior to the shower. And believe me, it is hard to weed through the millions of baby products out there because, well, it’s baby stuff – it’s all pretty darn cute! It’s easy to get lost in the cuteness of it all and fall into the opinions of everyone else. But what kept me sane was the thought that the registry was for me, not for everyone else. It was – is – a way for me to stay organized and keep track of what I think is best for my baby, my lifestyle, and my home.

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from my registry:

newborn bundlegood morning sunshine gPants

gDiapers.

In my attempt to go a bit more organic/natural with baby products, I’ve been contemplating cloth diapers but figured that it would be way too messy and time-consuming to keep up with the laundering and sterilization of it all. And then I came across these beauties! gDiapers give you the best of both worlds: a reusable diaper cover made of 92% cotton, 8% spandex with a snap-in pouch of breathable nylon, and disposable, biodegradable inserts that are composed of cellulose rayon, fluffed wood pulp, and super absorber (all chlorine free, latex free, perfume free, and dye free). They come in sizes from newborn to large and a variety of colors and patterns. The bottom line is – they are safe, environmentally friendly, and most importantly, pretty darn cute!

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Boppy Bare Naked Pillow with Pillow Protector and Organic Slipcover

Again, this is my attempt to go organic. You don’t have to go with an organic slipcover and there are many other options available. However, this is a time where I have taken the opinions and advice of others into account – Boppy pillows are supposedly an essential! These suckers not only provide the perfect ergonomic support when feeding, but they also transition into props for tummy time, play time, and learning to sit up. Meaning it is money well spent!

Bestever Lamb Plush Play Mat Set

Ok, this is neither organic nor essential but it’s super cute and I couldn’t help myself. And it looks insanely comfortable! Sometimes, you just gotta give in to the crazy, ok?!

Britax B-Agile & B-Safe Travel System

I did A LOT of research on strollers and read WAY too many reviews, but this is the stroller that I determined best fit our needs. Is it perfect? No. I’ve come to the conclusion that there really isn’t one perfect stroller out there! I would love for it to have more urban wheels and for the car seat attachment to be a bit smaller and lighter, but after testing it out at Buy Buy Baby and comparing it to others, it does seem to ride exceptionally smooth, folds and compacts easily (with the push of a button), and has multiple adjustments to keep baby comfortable. And per the reviews, it’s extremely durable and should last for years to come!

Bundleme Hat, Mittens & Booties – JJ Cole Collections

Again, just because it’s so darn cute! And with an end of October due date and Winter on its way, I think it is pretty essential…

For all you mommas out there, what are some of your favorite, can’t-do-without products? Do you have any must-have advice for us mommas-to-be?

GENDER REVEAL!

For 22 weeks I waited with baited breathe to find out the gender of this little bean growing inside of me. I tried not to think about it. I tried not to guess. I tried to content myself with calling it “It.” But it didn’t help. I was drawn to the baby section of every store and longed to by something for…him? Her? I kept mulling over names…Ryder? Jax? Lily? I even took a few online gender predictor tests (which revealed the wrong gender, by the way!). Yes, for 22 weeks I had a whiney, pleading voice in the back of my head screaming tell me, tell me! Pleeeease!

And now, at 23 weeks 5 days, I’m happy to say (drumroll please….)

It's a Boy! (22 W 5 D)

IT’S A BOY! And I can’t wait to meet this little man of mine.

Speaking of little man, I am now in the process of picking out a baby shower theme and I think I’ve actually settled on one: mustaches! Or in better words, a summertime ‘stache bash! Because heck, everyone loves mustaches…

Mustache balloons!

Real Men Eat (fill in the blank)

Little Man First Birthday Party {Mustache Bash}

Baby Boy Shower Mustache Theme

Oh boy, it is on!

A VERY SPECIAL DAY.

Today is just one of those days in which the world seems to have come together and everything has fallen into its perfect place…

Two years ago today, I married my best friend.

Ceremony 079

Formals 179

Reception 196

And in these two years we’ve traveled together…

T&K

Tom & KK on Boat

…laughed together, cried together, and had many a drink together…

Tom & KK Drinking

Croatia Wine

Tom & KK

…snuggled together, played together, and worked out together…

Funny Snuggles

…made a house into a home together and found a new addition to our family together…

Ollie 1 copy

…and now, at exactly 4 months today, we are expecting another addition to the family…

16 Weeks 1

16 Weeks 2

A little baby bump!

It’s amazing and thrilling and exciting to have shared in these moments together and to look forward to the many wondrous moments we have ahead.

Of course, the last two years haven’t always been easy – there’s been some heartache, a lot of screaming and yelling (at least on my part…), slamming of doors, and the occasional silent treatment, but it’s been worth every minute of it.

I love you honey – happy anniversary!