Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A First Birthday Letter: To Our Last Little Baby

Oh Collins, I can't believe we're here.

Happy birthday. my sweet one, our last little baby. Today you turn one and although I stand here in shock and disbelief that we are here in this moment and you are one, I can say without a single doubt that I am immeasurably happy, grateful and satisfied to be here celebrating you on this day.

I say "satisfied" because in doing so, we are closing the door on a chapter of my life that has been nearly five years in the making. It is one thing to make the decision to stop having babies but it's a whole other emotional labyrinth accepting it. It's not that you are not enough because, believe me, you are more than enough and your Daddy and I could not have asked for a more amazing baby to end this chapter of our lives with. I mean, you want to talk about going out with a bang? You are our high note, Collins. Without a doubt. 

Selfishly it's a strange place to be in, knowing we are done having babies, that we get to now spend the rest of our lives focusing purely on raising you, enjoying you and your brothers and one day stepping back and admiring our handiwork. I just can't imagine what it's going to be like not getting pregnant three months from now, feeling that baby grow in that space beneath my heart, and a year from now, see my husband hold his newborn baby for the very first time. That's what our life has been like these last few years and in a way it's a little unnerving knowing that's not how this next year will go. 

Collins, you have given me the greatest gift I could have asked for this last year and it was the gift of being acutely aware of how quickly time passes by. It has been the constant reminder to slow down, be present and enjoy it all, even the exhausting parts. On one hand, even though I've slowed and soaked and enjoyed nearly every moment of your first year, there are moments when I still feel like it still wasn't enough. As if this first year wasn't long enough- as if it's somehow been miscalculated that we're here celebrating your birth day so soon, that I should have more time. More time to soak in your baby-ness before it's gone forever.

Between you and me, Collins, I don't really remember much of my first few days with your brothers. Sure I can recall bits and pieces here and there and pictures certainly help but with you, my last little baby, I remember our first few days together as if they were yesterday. I can sit here and with just the blink of my eye, it's as if I'm taken right back to our hospital suite. 

I remember the weight of you in my arms as I tucked your head on my chest, you curling your knees and feet up beneath your belly as I brushed my lips back and forth over the peach fuzz on your shoulders. I remember how awake and alert you were during the day and how I would cradle you in my lap, gazing into your big round eyes, trying desperately to imagine who you would grow up to look like, what you would be doing a year from now. 

I don't think I slept a wink those first two days, knowing that if I did, fearing that if I closed my eyes even for a minute that I would miss out on time spent alone with you. That's where you lucked out as our third- I was a pro at missing moments, wishing time away, waiting for the next big milestone by the time you arrived. And by that time I knew better. I knew to savor every middle of the night waking, even opting for the hospital bonus day so that I could have just one more day alone with you- before I had to share you with the rest of the world.  

And it has been nothing short of amazing, our last first year together. Today, those same knees and feet stretch all the way past my hips when I hold you, that peach fuzz long gone from your shoulders but I would be a fool not to spend time each day just staring into those large brown eyes of yours, still trying to imagine the kinds of thoughts you think behind them. And you still love that place between my neck and my shoulder. Please don't stop loving that space. Even when you're thirty. (Because that's not weird, right?)

Did you know that you were our easiest decision? With you, there was no question. When planning for your brothers, there was a whole lot of "are we ready?" "can we do this?" "are we crazy (again?)" talk and while we spent months ruminating on those questions, when the time came to pray and plan for you there simply was no question. It was as if we needed you and you were meant to be a part of this kind of Crazy all along.

Even though we needed you, prayed for you and waited anxiously to meet you, you slept in a nursery that bore your brother's name above the crib for the first eight months of your life. You came home to a space that wasn't your own and even though it means nothing in the grand scheme of things and you will never remember nor care, I always will. 

We prepared differently for you as the third baby than we did for your brothers, right down to celebrating their first birthdays with gross grandiosity. In two weeks we will celebrate you, surrounded by the greatest friends and family we could ever ask for and there will be no theme, other than the sheer celebration of you, our last little baby, and that will be enough because you are enough. I will always feel badly for the lack of undivided time and attention I've been able to give you just because you are our third, our last little baby but I hope that as you grow up you will never, ever feel slighted. 

Everyone always remarks what a perfectly content, wonderful, happy baby you are and if I had to think of three words to describe you, they would undoubtedly be "loved," "joyful" and "content." Your Daddy and I always joke that you're so quiet and mellow that it's easy to forget you are around but that last part isn't true at all. We could never forget you. The way you light up a room with your cheesy grin, the way your eyes sparkle beneath those insanely long lashes, the way you reach for us and wrap your arms as far as they'll reach around our necks when we hug you- you are our everything. There is nothing forgettable about you and our last first year together.

You are so happy. Like think of the happiest person you know and multiply it by one million. That's you, every single day. You begin the day with a smile and often go to sleep smiling too and every minute in between is spent giggling, shouting and laughing. It is impossible to have a bad day when you're near and people are drawn to you like a moth to a flame. 

I'd like to think that all three of you are destined for great things, but my sweet one, there is something extra special about you. I cannot wait to watch  you grow and share your light with the world.

All I ask from you, Collins, is that you continue to be patient with me as I mourn the last of the firsts. Years from now I know you'll want to laugh at me while I blink back tears over something as simple and as silly as your first t-ball game but try not to laugh too hard. It's bittersweet to watch you grow and selfish of me to want to keep you little forever but as your mother, as the woman who literally grew you in her own body from scratch, it's not easy letting you go. 

I keep waiting for a time when the sheer wonderment of being a mother to three incredible boys will wear off. Even during the hardest days, especially during the hardest of days, I'm reminded of what a blessing it is, being your mother and I stand in awe that I get to spend each day with you, with your brothers, doing exactly this.

Collins, you have brought so much more love, laughter and sheer joy to our family since you were born. More than we could ever imagine from someone so small. We all go absolutely crazy for you, your brothers even fighting over who gets to be the first to greet you in the morning when you wake. You made Maclane a big brother, one of the greatest gifts in the world and I feel sad knowing we'll never do the same for you. In a way, however, this keeps you the baby of the family indeterminately, and I'm definitely okay with that.

Deep down I know that although this part of our journey together is over, there is still so much adventure that lies ahead. Here's to growing up, to the both of us, to stumbling our way, together, through the years that lie ahead. You, desperate for independence and me, giving you the space you need to explore, all the while clinging to our last little baby. I love you so much, Scooby Bear.

Happy 1st Birthday, Collins Mason. We love you more than carrots! 
Love, Mommy, Daddy, Carter and Maclane. 

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Baptisms, Babies and Little Black Dresses.

I'm doing all that I can to avoid thinking that tonight is the last night I will put my baby to bed as a baby

Never mind the fact that he spends more time vertical walking, than crawling these days. and babbling and virtually hurtling towards toddlerdom, full speed ahead. Yes, I know what you're going to say. "But he'll always be your baby!" And I'm calling bullshit on that right now. Because yes, he'll always be the baby of the family but he won't always be twenty-three pounds and he won't always curl himself into a ball with his legs wrapped around my hip and his head tucked beneath my neck. He won't always eat his puffs with that adorable little pincer grasp and point that chubby little finger in the direction in which he wants you to carry him. 

He isn't going to be a baby for very much longer- I've been here before and I know that in like thirty-three minutes he'll be three years old and running circles around me and giving me attitude of the century while throwing the missalette on the floor of the church during his Baptism. And in like two weeks he'll be ready for college. So no, he won't always be my baby and that makes me sad. 

Yesterday, the Baptism of Maclane and Collins was a welcome distraction from this inevitable growing older. In fact, I was so focused on getting through the day and celebrating our two newest Catholics that I didn't even realize that Collins' birthday was just two sleeps later. 

Despite the priest wanting to initially baptize Maclane as "Marlene" and later, anointing "Connor" with holy Chrism, it was a beautiful celebration and I cannot wait to see how God works inside the hearts and minds of our boys. I don't spend a lot of time writing about our personal relationship with God- as a matter of fact I don't really talk aloud about it all that much either as my faith has always been kind of a private matter- but when we're gathered in Church, surrounded by family and friends that love our boys just as much as we do, it's really an incredible thing and I am so thankful for that. Our three boys are blessed with some pretty amazing godparents and I don't know if it's birthday eve hormones or what, but I'm so glad we have them in our lives to stand beside our sons.   

Let's pause for a moment and talk about that dress. That was not the initial dress I planned on wearing for the Baptism. In fact, that wasn't even the second dress I planned on wearing for the Baptism after I decided the second dress wasn't really church-appropriate.

That dress is the product of a late night (and one too many glasses of wine) spent on Rent the Runway searching for a romper to rent for Collins' first birthday coming up. On a whim, I rented that dress and figured that if it didn't fit right when it arrived that I still had two other options to choose from and really, what did I have to lose? 

But then it arrived and I fell in love with it and wished that I had a dress like that sitting in the back of my closet to pull out for events that require me to shave my legs and wear a real bra. I love that dress and wearing it rekindled my love for RTR. You can use my referral link to sign up and we both receive a $20 credit to put towards future orders. 

I mean really, it's a win-win if you ask me! I hate to say it but even my husband was a little disappointed when it came time to putting that dress back into the mailer bag last night...

Happy Baptism Day Collins Mason and Maclane Allen. We're so proud of the little boys you are becoming- now to soak up every last bit of baby in that little one on the left up there before he turns one tomorrow... 

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Friday, April 17, 2015

A Laptop-Tablet Mash Up for the Modern Mom (And Giveaway!)

Before I became a mother, I had one job. That job was working as a registered nurse in an acute care setting. I juggled very few things during that time- mostly striking a balance between long hours at the hospital and keeping a happy house and husband as a newlywed. Soon enough, the fog of newlywed-ed bliss cleared and with career shifts came major life changes such as a move south and a baby on the way. It wasn't long before I became a mother and a stay-at-home one at that!

As we began to settle ourselves down with deeper roots, I tested the work-from-home waters. In addition to being a brand new mother, I also became much more dedicated toward engaging brands and businesses within my blog. Over the last several years, not only did my blog become a working passion of mine but I also launched a photography business (in addition to adding two more babies to the mix!) 

Our life looks much, much different now than it did just five years ago and if you ever mentioned that I would not only be a mom of three boys but also the owner of not one but two businesses, I would have laughed and said, "not a chance!"

"Never say never," am I right?

I love every single second of our crazy busy days and I wouldn't trade them for the world. As a mom of three and business owner, it's been a difficult road to navigate. Sure there are contracts and deadlines to be met but at the same time, my family has been and always will be my number one priority. I've spent many long nights burning the candle at both ends, learning not only how to run a business from my home but also how to do so successfully and without detriment to my family. It hasn't always been easy and I'm sure I've failed both my family and a client on more than one occasion but in every instance, there's been a lesson learned and growth as both a mom and business owner.

As a mom and business owner, I'm always on the hunt for technology that allows me to transition seamlessly between roles. Whether I'm in Kindergarten prep-mode scouring Pinterest for readiness activities, in the pediatrician's office for a unforeseen fever, on the road doing some hands-on research for a brand or sitting down with a freshly swaddled newborn and her family in my at-home studio, I need to not only be accessible but also access email, apps and the Internet in a way that benefits myself, my family and my business.

The Lenovo YOGA 3 Pro is a tablet laptop mash-up that in layman's terms is "simply freaking amazing." It's ultra-thin, incredibly lightweight and boasts an incredible 6-hinge design that allows it to fold back a complete 360 degrees. Want to learn more about the YOGA 3 Pro and enter for the chance to WIN ONE? Head over here! 

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