the Summer of 2017 summed up in pictures...
the Summer of 2017 summed up in pictures...
the Summer of 2017 summed up in pictures...
Hi! Just averaging less than one blog post a month over here.... As you can imagine - any spare minute I had this summer was spent showering, feeding myself, or watching Game of Thrones (let's be honest), leaving little time to sit down and write a blog post. If you want to keep up with me in real-time, I post more frequently to Instagram :) >> @laurenlashway
Anyways - LIFE WITH TWO! I'm not the first to do this, and I'm not the last. I'm writing about worked for me with my two girls, some of it might work for you and some might not, just sharing some things that have made life more manageable these past 3 months.
In a nut shell, I've accepted tons of help from family, I've barely worked out, and I haven't been away from James Kate for more than a couple of hours (and only once!). My daily priorities are to spend some quality time with Roswelle and keeping myself healthy enough (fed and hydrated) to nurse James Kate. That is all I have the capacity for at the moment - both mentally and physically.
(5 quick tips I try to implement on a daily basis, no matter what comes at me)
Things I don't suggest....but often do ;)
Over the past month I've been battling the typical physical challenges post delivery:
I'm recovering from a tear. My back kills from on-demand breastfeeding...and picking up a 40lb toddler in between. Speaking of breast feeding, I'm fighting off clogged ducts - I do NOT have time for mastitis. I have stretch marks that are more and more visible as my belly goes down. I have frequent headaches from a month of disrupted sleep. BUT...these are all physical complaints and challenges.
Mentally, I'm feeling almost 100%. I have much more energy than after my c-section with Roswelle. I have even more patience than I ever thought possible. Of course I've cried - but it's been over normal things...exhaustion, a mouse problem the week we returned home with James Kate, and even our wash/dryer busting the second week. These are all normal life issues that are just plain frustrating and warrant some tears every now and then. What I have noticed is that my anxiety and fears are short lived - and I'm very thankful! Yes, I still worry about whether I will hear her cry, is she still breathing in the backseat, is she eating enough, and am I good enough mom to BOTH of my girls - but thankfully I'm able to quickly talk myself off the ledge.
As I have mentioned in some recent posts, my postpartum recovery has been a priority to me. My c-section recovery after Roswelle wasn't that bad - I still connected with her, she nursed well from the beginning, and I didn't battle with any sort of postpartum depression - but physically and mentally I wanted to feel myself again faster than I did. I'm 4 weeks out from my VBAC with James Kate and I can say that by comparison, I didn't feel this good after Roswelle until at least 7 weeks. I did a few things differently this time around, most notably the birth, but also a few self care steps before and after that I think have made a difference in my recovery.
I delivered early with both of my babies (Roswelle at 37wks4d & James Kate at 38wks4d). With James Kate I had almost everything ready at 37 weeks and would advise any expecting mother to do the same. Bag ready, clothes selected, bills paid, forms filled out, amazon orders made. There may be the fear that if you have everything done at 37 weeks you will be twiddling your thumbs but let's get real - life keeps happening and things will come up for you to do. You can see some of the prep I did in this post: http://www.bostonbelleblog.com/www.bostonbelleblog.com/2017/5/12/comfort-in-the-wait
- take those pictures (don't put it off because you may go into labor!) Paul took this picture above less than 48hrs before my water broke!
It seems so simple, but it can be quite the task when you are exhausted and needed every 20 minutes those first few weeks. Every night after Roswelle went to bed, I passed James Kate off to Paul or my mom and showered. The hot water helped relax my back, I shaved my legs, did a sea-salt scrub, moisturized, and even put on a face mask post shower every couple of nights. Spending 15 minutes on myself every night was incredibly restorative.
I shared on my insta-story that I was taking my placenta pills. My doula (Keelia Reigg) offered the service of encapsulation and so I jumped on it! I decided I'd rather take them than not, as the positives out-weighed any negatives in my opinion. Much like a pre-natal vitamin, I'm can't pin-point the effects, but I know it's working and doing good things. If you'd like to read more about the benefits - check out this website: http://www.placentawise.com/
I don't mean to discuss diet for the purpose of losing "baby weight", but simply making good choices for mental and emotional stability. I returned to a whole30 based diet as soon as I returned home from the hospital (hospital food, while free and no clean-up, is quite unhealthy IMO). It felt good to eat really healthy those first few weeks, but whole30 takes a lot of time, commitment, and cooking - which I didn't have the energy for. Over the 4th of July weekend, I kind of ate whatever I wanted, and while it was enjoyable, I didn't feel great after and worried how it was effecting James Kate. I've since decided that the best solution for me is to just eat gluten & dairy free - which I find much more manageable .
I make no apologies for the amount of help I've received the first 4 weeks with James Kate. My mom stayed with us the first 3 weeks and I was with Paul's family the 4th week in Cape Cod. I'm a firm believer in accepting help from your family/friends - the saying "it takes a village" should be a reality not a saying! There is no reason to do it on your own! My doula also gave me great advice: when people ask you if you need anything - always give them an answer and an opportunity to care for you. You always need something. Case in point: my girlfriend was at target and asked if I needed anything, we actually needed ziploc bags. I told her those and she brought them over (along with some peonies and dark chocolate ;) ).
James Kate Lashway arrived just over 2 weeks ago on Sunday, June 11th, at 1:05pm. She is named after my dad (who was known as Jim or Jimmy), who passed away 8 years ago, and my grandmother, Katie, who is still here to love on her great-grandchildren. We are calling her by both her first and middle names - I just love the double name! It’s probably going to take a little bit of time to make “James Kate” stick up here in the North, but this Southerner is up for the challenge.
At 10:45pm on Saturday night, while I was in bed and just about to fall asleep, I felt my water break. It was not as dramatic as when it broke with Roswelle, but I knew it was the start of a long night for us. We started packing for the hospital – they wanted me to come in just to get checked out – we were planning to return home to work through the initial stages/hours of labor. We arranged for Paul’s brother to come over to our house, as Roswelle was already asleep in bed.
On the way to the hospital, I had 2 or 3 contractions but was still fairly comfortable. By the time I was checked in and evaluated at the labor and delivery triage, my contractions had moved to 2-3 minutes apart. The midwife suggested that I go ahead a stay at the hospital as I was headed into active labor and attempting a VBAC, which meant the baby would need just a little more monitoring.
By 2am I was checked into our delivery room and very uncomfortable. The midwife checked my dilation – I was 2cm. I could.not.believe.it. I was in so much pain! This was just the beginning? It was discouraging news to say the least. Thankfully, my doula, Keelia, arrived around that time. Paul and Keelia didn’t leave my side for the next 4 hours – helping me through each contraction which were consistently 90 seconds to 2 minutes apart. I was gradually becoming utterly exhausted. We later laughed that Paul would help me count through my breaths. As the contraction started, he would say "ok, 5 breaths you can do this!" - and we'd begin counting and wouldn't stop until 12 or 14 - the contractions were coming often and they felt longgg. After 6 hours of labor I asked for the epidural – it was 6am, I had been up for 24hours (since Saturday morning) and was 6cm dilated.
I decided that it was more important to me to have the energy to push and not feel so exhausted once she finally arrived. I wanted a successful VBAC and to enjoy her post delivery more than I wanted a drug-free birth. All births are different and their own, but my c-section experience with Roswelle was definitely influencing my decision-making this time around - I wanted to feel good.
The epidural was a dream, with no side effects; I could move my legs and actually did feel the delivery. By 9:30am, 3 ½ hours after the epidural, I was fully dilated. My doula encouraged me to wait as long as possible to push, allowing James Kate to continue to move down. We wound up waiting 3 more hours, as she worked her way down on her own and I finally pushed for 25 minutes before she was placed on my chest.
I had dilated 1cm per hour, experienced 6 hours of labor and 6 hours of rest before pushing. We delayed cutting the umbilical cord and left the vernix on her skin, rubbing it in rather than washing it off. It was a perfect delivery – she and I were both safe and healthy. We didn’t have any visitors that first night, not even Roswelle. Paul and I held her on our chests, kept the lights down low and the room quiet, getting rest and enjoying our new baby. I showered; we ordered food from Darwin’s just down the street from Mount Auburn Hospital. The next morning was sunny and I felt rested and was excited for Roswelle to come visit.
Our hospital stay at Mount Auburn was great and we got just enough rest and quiet time with James Kate before returning home to our new life with two daughters. The transition has been what you would expect – mostly good and joyful with a few tough moments - toddler tantrums and new mommy tears mixed in. Because this post is already so long, I’ll be writing soon about the first few weeks at home – including what I’ve done for self care, helping Roswelle transition to big sister, and how I kept things as simple as possible when it comes to baby gear.
Thanks for all the well wishes, we’ve read every single one and appreciate the love and support. The journey to our second baby was one I would have never predicted but I’m thankful for all of it as it only prepared my heart more for sweet James Kate.
I've been making small changes around the house. The two most notable changes are detailed below: my dresser and our bedroom blinds. Before pictures included!Read More
We are down to just a couple weeks left for baby girl #2 arrival. I've found myself enjoying the routine we, as a family of three, have for just a little while longer.
I told Paul the other night, my goal right now is to set myself up for a successful post-partum recovery. Right now I'm trying to "dot every i and cross every t" so that when baby comes and something unexpected happens (or most likely I just won't have time to do anything), at least the background noise of everyday life is taken care of. I've become laser focused on decluttering our house. I spend every morning on Amazon Prime trying to think of things I will need or stocking up on items like paper towels, batteries for the fire-alarms, diapers. You name it, I've probably considered it. Of course even the best laid plans go array - I have learned this time and time again - especially with Roswelle's unexpected c-section in Maine and my journey through IVF. BUT it makes me feel calm to make lists and cross things off these last few weeks, so that's what I do every day.
I've witnessed enough friends have their second child to know things are about to change A LOT. And many of them have warned me so much about it, that I'm even a little nervous. But for now I'm remaining blissfully hopeful that the transition will go smoothly. Isn't that what everyone must tell themselves when adding yet another baby to their family? ;)
Finally, a few other things I'm enjoying while we wait...
Spending a lot of my time pouring into Roswelle, enjoying our special days, just the two of us. I tell her all day long how much I love her, planting the seeds of stability and confidence before the imminent change ahead of her arrives. Going to bed early with Paul, and still having the energy to have conversations with him. And finally, I will miss the quiet moments by myself - reading at night and having my coffee alone in the morning.
Paul and I have been married 5 years today!! Our wedding day was the stuff out of fairytales, as everyone's should be. He's my best friend, the person I want around the most and also drives me nuts, but that's what a best friend/husband is right? Our biggest challenge this past year has been learning to allow each other to grow individually, while maintaining a united relationship. We have both changed since we got married, and will continue to, but keep working on a strong foundation and always, always working on how we communicate. We are headed into another big life change, baby #2!, and I wouldn't want anyone else by my side for it.
We were married down South, on St. Simons Island, with our reception at Crane Cottage of the Jekyll Island Club & Hotel. The Spanish Moss, warm sunset, family style dinner, and party that went until the early hours of the next morning are details we don't take for granted.
Tonight we are headed to a new-ish restaurant, Frenchie, to celebrate. I booked this spot solely on the interiors which came across my Instagram feed! However, we have been told by friends that the food is just as good as the decor.
I took engagement pictures for my friends, Kathleen and Tyler, back in November while I was at home in GA. They live right in the heart of Atlanta, only a short walk from Piedmont park. It was a beautiful sunny evening, which allowed for some very soft, sun-filled pictures. It seems fitting to finally blog these - the week of their wedding. CONGRATS Tyler and Kathleen!
With just a few weeks left to go, I'm in full prep mode, which includes packing the Hospital bag! 3 years ago, I was not prepared for Roswelle's arrival in Maine at 37 weeks, my brother-in-law had to go to our house and pick-up what little I had packed and bring it up to us. So this time around, baby's and my items are ready at 35weeks! I even have a list on the fridge for Paul with those last minute items included - chargers, tooth brush, etc.
I'd love to hear from you as well - what did you pack that you couldn't live without, and maybe what did you forget to pack?
The first few days with Roswelle all I did was nurse or have her on my chest, so I focused on button down options for myself, allowing for style, comfort, and easy access. I'm not much a robe person, I decided instead to pack 2 versions of button-down pajamas, 1 short set and 1 long shirt. I'm also packing a very comfortable "going home" outfit. I've detailed the main items in the bag below, omitting the obvious items - tooth brush, important forms, and the not so photogenic undergarments.
click on any of the images below for direct links >>
I know this list for a newborn may be over the top, but I'm a planner, a photographer, and a little crazy excited, so I love the idea of having a few special items for her. I 100% intend to take pictures, assuming all is well and calm in the room. However, for the most part, I expect she will be naked on mine or Paul's chest.
I'm planning to bring all of my own baby blankets, onesies, socks, hats etc for her that I have pre-washed in a chemical-free, plant-based detergent. Additionally, I'll be bringing water wipes and honest newborn diapers. I don't plan to give her a bath for a while so no need for any baby toiletries.
All the items are detailed, with links, below!
click on any of the images below for direct links >>
I never thought to have Roswelle's 6 month pictures taken, but I wish I had! It really is a milestone age and is worth documenting. This sweet little guy did his own thing on a Sunday afternoon, being curious, skeptical, and downright adorable. Michael, it's clear in the pictures - your parents think the world of you!
Also - here is Michael as a newborn >> http://www.bostonbelleblog.com/www.bostonbelleblog.com//2017/01/newborn-portrait-baby-michael-alexander.html
Before I had a child, I was an devoted reader, mostly because I had the time! Over the past 3 years, my reading rate slowly dropped off to 2-3 books a summer and maybe 1 during the winter. However, as I've recently shared, we've implemented some lifestyle changes including cutting cable and changing our nightly routines. These changes re-kindled my love, and allowed time, for reading and I'm only happier for it.
My reading philosophy:
Paul and I typically get Roswelle to bed by 8pm and our entire house shuts down for the night by 8:30pm! Paul and I both go up to our bedroom to get ready for the night and have at least an hour (if we fall asleep around 10pm) to read - although we both often only last 20 minutes before falling asleep with our books on our faces. The point is, its been amazing! We love winding down this way, and I'm certain we sleep better because of it (and we are now morning people:)
Also, make plans around reading! My girlfriends recently started a book club where we are planning to meet once a month, with the host of the month selecting the book we read. This gives me encouragement to prioritize finishing the book and allows me to make time for myself, my friends, and my mind!
I ONLY read hardcover books, finding the pages and substantial weight of the book comforting and relaxing. If I know that I am going to an appointment solo (doctor appt/oil change/nail salon) I will toss my book in my bag opting to read it rather than scrolling on my phone while I wait.
If you become an avid reader, it can be expensive to buy the books. With more and more friends using their kindles, I have less books to borrow. I renewed my membership at our local library (after paying $51 in late fees/lost books (whoops!)) and always look forward to the emails that my requested book is ready for pick-up! Roswelle and I make a trip out of picking up my books, and she has so much fun in the children's space. We usually checkout a couple books for her as well.
Know your genre and stick with it. Most of the time, if someone tells me they just don't enjoy reading, I assume they haven't found the right genre. I love chick-lit and fictional mysteries so that's what I read and I don't apologize for it. Paul and I couldn't have more different preferences when it comes to reading (as you will see below) and that's ok. This is about restoration and time for yourself - so you do you! Once you find the genre you love, you will be more likely to actually read, which is the whole point.
Below are some lists of what I've recently read (and my review of the books), what's next on my list to read, and what Paul is reading (just to give y'all a broader context of some books out there).
Happy reading, y'all!
(for some balance to my chick-lit/mystery)
It rained all day, and then the sun came out just in time for a photographyRead More
Blush is the new Millennial Pink. Seems fitting as I am currently loving everything Blush I shared a few ways it is currently in my everyday life and a Blush-themed gift guide just in time for Mother's day!Read More
Recently, I got together (outside of the salon) with my favorite hairstylist, and friend, Ashley Jarrel. After talking hair for almost an hour, we came up with 4 different categories to share –Communication, Hair Care, Blow Drying/Styling, and Trends. We also ended our time with my favorite thing in warmer weather (besides iced coffee) a messy, yet styled, braid!Read More
Trend alert I have been seeing wood garland pop up all over the place – mostly in styled interiors on Instagram, but most recently available at Target in their new bohemnian Spring line (I actually don’t like they version AT ALL - see below).
I decided I would make my own and I couldn’t be more proud of it! I was able to customize the size of the wooden balls, the length and the tassel ends exactly to my liking, which made it worth the little time it took to plan and put together.
I purchased the birch dowel caps online thinking the hole went all the way through, only to open them and discover the hole is one sided – they are intended to be caps on a pole/rod. All you need is a drill, the right sized drill bit, and a sturdy vice to hold the ball to take the hole all the way through, allowing it to be strung on the rope.
I also found leather tassels at Hobby Lobby (I couldn't find it online), removing the key chain to leave me with the perfect ends for the garland. I knotted it between the last two balls so that the tassel would be flush with the end - does that make sense? I tried to show it via pictures below.
I’m so excited to find endless ways to style with the garland and I personally think it gives any vignette an effortlessly, sophisticated look.
There are many maternity dresses out there, but I have found that I’m most comfortable in a fitted yet stretchy dress that has plenty of give...I have this dress in 4 different colors and have had so much fun creating different looks with it.Read More
A few weeks ago, sweet baby Hani made a cross-country trek all the way from Seattle to see family and friends! Instead of jumping around all over the NorthEast, his parents hosted loved ones in the center of Cambridge to give hugs, catch up, have lunch, and meet the new sweet baby boy. I think a sip 'n' see is just a brilliant way to welcome the baby to world and also get some great photos of everyone. The mood was cheery and joyful and I was happy to capture it.
In truth, Paul is with me on our babymoon. But it's actually a work conference so he has meetings, dinners, and tee-times to attend (don't feel too bad for him, he still managed to enjoy the pool, gym, and golf). But for the most part, I have been by myself. I ate by myself at the hotel restaurants, got ready by myself, sat at the pool solo, and even gave myself my own hour long yoga class - no teacher, no phone app - just me and the mat. I did very little talking and a lot more thinking. It's been incredibly restorative.
I think moms in general could use a solo vacation, almost more than a getaway with their partner. I had a girlfriend who, before her second baby was born, took a solo trip to the cape. She rented a tiny, cute airbnb space and had 3 full days of solitude. I found it incredibly inspiring and admired her for it. I've also read of couples who intentionally book 1 solo vacation a year, without their partner. The idea is intimidating at first but I think there is really something to it. You many think to yourself, "but what will I do??" You were a single person once, maybe forever ago, but she/he is still in there. Trust me you will find things to do...just for yourself, or maybe you don't do anything at all for a full 24 hours - can you imagine?
Paul and I have found that balancing alone time when we are "together" really keeps our relationship healthy. While on this trip, we had some time together at the pool and later in the afternoon he went to the gym for a few hours while I went back to the room, turned on Rachael Ray (I've started watching her show recently, and kinda love it??), had some time to pick up our room which instantly calms me, and took pictures for this post. I actually told him not to come back to the room until after 5pm - I wanted some quiet time.
The predictability during this trip has been comforting. I told Paul on Wednesday night that I couldn't wait for Thursday, because I was going to have the exact same day as I just had. Walk for a coffee, Today show while browsing blogs and drafting my own posts, breakfast at 8 by myself, yoga from 9-10 and then setting up poolside for the remainder of the day. And ending the night with ice-cream delivered to the room while watching Real Housewives. yes, yes, yes.
The conference is at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale Arizona this year, which is quite luxurious and is just such a special treat. I have loved the dry heat during the day and crisp, cool mornings. I'm still trying to decide which cactus is my absolute favorite out of the thousands covering the grounds. I knew I would be spending 100% of my time on resort grounds so I packed very simply - prioritizing comfort and simplicity.
Below are details of items I used most on the trip - again very simple and thoughtfully chosen. I hope this inspires you to intentionally plan some time by yourself. Even if it's just a weekend in your own home while your husband takes the kids to his parents - you will be better for it I promise!
For most of us, warm weather is here! Once the days start getting longer and the sun gets a little brighter, I tend to pull out my crockpot less and lean towards cooking for a lighter palate. Enter a light dish of scallops and lightly sautéed vegetables...Read More
The room with the most updates in the 5 years I have lived in our townhouse is BY FAR the kitchen. I can't stop changing it! The cabinets and backsplash were the first thing I changed after we were married in 2012 and I think I liked my impulsive, colorful choice, for maybe a year. We updated our stove in 2014, and then I repainted the cabinets to an off-white last year, 2016. And now, the most recent change was to rip down the tiny, multi-color, tile backsplash and replace it with the most simple, whitest of white shiplap.
Below is a pretty good documentation of the progress!! Unfortunately I didn't take a straight on shot of the most recent version - and now I'm in GA and have to just use what I have from shooting last Sunday.
Paul and his dad completed the reno project while Roswelle and I were in GA for a weekend in February. I literally left the house with the old tile backsplash and came home to new wood shiplap - and I didn't have to see one speck of dust from the project (helped that Paul hired a cleaning lady after they completed).
The overall cost was only $130 which included 3-4 2x6 wood planks, nails, and a thin backing between the insulation and the wood. When they tore down the tile backsplash, the drywall came with it. I painted the wood with white Benjamin Moore semi-gloss paint - which can be wiped clean easily.
I think some changes that may be ahead...because why stop now...new hardware? And the shade of the cabinets, in person, is just a smidgggeee cream. I've thought about painting them one more time, just one more coat of white. But then am I just making a mess? Paul jokes that our cabinets are like a box of chocolates...you never know what color you are gonna get :)
Below are some pictures of different views of our kitchen. The wall gallery in the dining nook has two empty frames, waiting to be filled with pictures of baby girl #2 soon! The benches are from IKEA and i love them as we needed the extra storage. The table is something we made up, between ikea legs and a top we took off another table we had. I'd love a tulip table one day. Bar stools are from Home Goods and were so popular I'm sure you can still find something similar. And the butcher block island is a treasure we inherited from Paul's parents. Paul's mother fondly tells stories of Paul and his brother, Rob, playing/eating at the base of the island when they were little.
A few sources:
The only appliance that is ever on our countertops is the kitchen-aid mixer, mostly because I like the way it looks. We store our ninja blender (even though we use it everyday) and cooking utensils in the cabinets below. It helps that our coffee maker and coffee mugs have their own station in between our kitchen and living room. It makes me feel really good to have clean, clutter free counters when I walk into our kitchen every morning.
I styled the countertops with a teapot from Homegoods, a pitcher from Goodwill, and some marble cutting boards, one a gift and one from Target. The white tray for the lemons and sparkling water is from Ikea. I didn't buy anything to style the shoot, but instead went around my kitchen rearranging and repurposing. The styling process is so good for me, allowing me to be creative and is actually my favorite part of any blogpost. I encourage you to do the same in your home!
Links for style items: