Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Lantern Fest

When I learned that the Lantern Fest would be in Arizona, I was ecstatic! My older sister had gone to one in Albuquerque and raved about how beautiful and photo worthy the event was. I had high expectations for the evening, especially for all of the gorgeous photos and videos I had anticipated making. Well, if you follow my Instagram account you've probably read my rant about how the night went terribly wrong, ha! There are lots of negative things that I could say about that night, but in doing so, I feel like it won't help me get over it (yes, it happened over a month ago and I'm still a little bitter, but when my high expectations are not met, I tend to hold a little grudge....). I've included my Instagram post about it below:

Are you the type of person to get really bummed out when things don't turn out how you thought they would? I am. It's hard for me to get over things when my expectations don't line up with reality. (Think about that heart wrenching scene from 500 Days of Summer. Oof.) The lift-off from the Lantern Festival was supposed to be the most exciting part of the night, but instead it was the most stressful for a few reasons. 1. My toddler- fire was literally surrounding us, from the fire pits to the tiki torches to the lanterns themselves, and we had no way to contain her (kicking myself for not bringing our stroller to contain her during the launch). So when we found out that lighting the lanterns was a two person job, I was heartbroken because one of us had to hold Gwen at all times so she wouldn't run off into a fire pit, making it difficult for the other person to light the lantern by themselves. 2. I didn't get as many videos or pictures of the launch as I wanted to. Again, this is due to keeping my eye on Gwen the whole time. This may seem trivial to some, but I really wanted to take like three times as many photos as I did tonight. It's the photographer in me. 3. Ryan and I got in an argument about how to light the lantern. He apologized. I threw myself a pity party. Life goes on. 😓 Sorry for the massive caption- but mommin' is hard! I want to take Gwen to do fun things like this, but tonight just proves that we should never leave the house. 😂😂 I'm totally joking... It just feels like it's not worth the stress, sometimes. I wanna hear other mothers' stories about going out with their kids, expecting the best and coming out of it thinking "Why did we do this??" Sorry for all the complaining!! Mom life is rough, but it can also be pretty sweet. It's just hard to see that balance with a toddler that drives you up the wall 😬 There were some really fun parts about taking Gwen to this festival, like dancing to the live music and playing with the hula hoops, and the lanterns were gorgeous in the sky 😍 #lanternfest #lanternfestival #momlife #toddlerlife #thisiswhywecanthavenicethings
A photo posted by Beverly Houpt / What A Day (@bevhoupt) on

I did take some videos of the event! Of course, I wish I would have been able to give better attention to my artistry while using my camera, but also I wish I could have given Gwen better attention, instead of just being cross with her half the night for trying to run away.  Mom guilt for sure. It was stressful. At least I know for next time that we should bring friends and take turns watching each other's kids while we launch the lanterns. I learned a lot that night!

Friday, November 11, 2016

My "Hospital" (Birth Center) Bag

During my last pregnancy, we were so unprepared in this department. I had kind of started putting a bag together, but there were maybe only diapers and baby clothes in it. When the time came for labor, I progressed pretty quickly. When we realized that we needed to leave to the birth center, my husband was the one who had to scramble around, getting everything together while I gave him instructions on what to bring in between contractions that were maybe 2-3 minutes apart. We hadn't even installed the car seat, so Ryan just threw it in the car to install after the baby was born. Yes, it was hectic. On top of that, there was an insane rainstorm going on the entire time I was in labor. Read all about Gwen's birth here! 

We've learned our lesson the hard way, so I'm determined to be prepared this time! I thought I'd share the things I've put into my bag for this time around-.

For your baby:

1. A swaddle blanket

2. Pajamas- I only packed one set of clothes because I'm certain that we'll be doing a lot of skin-to-skin snuggling while at the birth center. This is just an outfit to drive home in. I packed something that could be unbuttoned in the middle to make room for the umbilical cord clamp if need be.

3. Pacifier- Not really sure if we'll use this so soon after he's born, but it may be useful, so I'd rather have it than not. Gwen never took a pacifier! So we'll see how this little guy reacts to one. I realize that most hospitals have pacifiers for newborns, but if you're birthing in a birth center, you should probably bring your own.

4. Cute outfit for newborn photos- this one is definitely not essential! But usually, women will spend at least one night in the hospital and have time to do a "fresh 48" photo session with their photographer. So if that's your plan, don't forget the cutesy garb. Upon further thought, I'm not sure that we'll do too many photos at the birth center, but I'm packing this just in case I feel like a rockstar after birth.

5. & 6.  Wipes and diapers. Hospitals and birth centers should have plenty of these, so I wouldn't be  worried about packing too many/too few.

For you:

1. Comfy undies and a nursing bra- You'll definitely be given a couple of pairs of mesh, disposable underpants at your hospital/birth center, but if you think you'll need some extra coverage, a pair of old undies may come in handy. If you're going the breastfeeding route, a nursing bra is obvious. I've packed my trusty, soft, "old faithful" bra that I used 80% of the time when Gwen and I were in the thick of our breastfeeding relationship. If you're a first time mom and don't already have a trusty nursing bra, don't worry about it yet, and just pack a cheap one from Walmart of Target for now. Just make sure to get one that's supportive! Because if you're anything like me, your ladies are gonna feel like melons after your milk comes in.

2. & 3. A comfy outfit to go home in- I packed a long, flowy t-shirt and Lula Roe leggings (they so sooooofffftttttt). I know that I'm gonna look about 5-6 months pregnant after giving birth so clothes that fit and aren't maternity will boost my confidence a bit.

4. A robe!- I'm excited about this one because I didn't have a robe last time and I really could've used one. I gave birth au naturel and stayed that way for the majority of our stay at the birth center. At the end of the day Ryan was like, "Uh... are you going to put some clothes on, yet?" Hahaha.

5. Slippers- Will I actually use these? I don't know. I'm not really a slippers person unless the floor is freezing, which doesn't happen too often in Arizona. I'm bringing 'em just in case!

(I realized I spelled toiletries wrong in my photo above! I'm annoyed by it, but I'm more lazy than annoyed, so it shall remain unfixed...) 

1. Nursing pads and Lanolin- Pamper your breasts! Stick those cotton pads in your supportive bra and slather your areolas in lanolin! Your breasts are in for a rude awakening. 

2. Essential oils- These may be used more so during labor. I've packed lavender to relax, peppermint to wake up, and Breathe to just remember and breath! All are doTerra brand. 

3. & 4. Travel sized toiletries- I went ahead and just bought mini sizes to make my life a little easier. Soap, lotion, deodorant, toothbrush, tooth paste, shampoo, and conditioner. 

5. Makeup remover wipes- Because who knows if I'll have leftover makeup on my face from the day before? It certainly happened last time. 

6. Hair styling tools- Another thing that's not absolutely necessary, but would be nice to have if you're planning that "fresh 48" photo session. 

7. Under eye patches for bags/dark circles- Another thing that would be nice for taking photos because you won't know what time your labor will start and end (first time moms may be in labor for 12-24+ hours), so you may look exhausted afterward. 

8. Small bag of makeup- Let's not go crazy. 

9. Razors- This is last on the list because I doubt that I'll use it, but thought it still might be nice to have "just in case I feel like a rockstar" after birth and my legs might look noticeably hairy. I don't doubt this will happen because shaving your legs while 8-9 months pregnant is no easy feat. Plus, it'll be winter, so that'll give me less reason to shave ;) 

10. I forgot to include this in the photo above! But hair ties! Bring 'em. Especially if you've got lots of long hair. If your hair is too short to put in a ponytail or braid, a headband would be a nice alternative to keep that bothersome hair out of the way.

Pack some food! Especially if you're going to a birth center and there's no cafeteria. I've packed a couple of protein bars and a huge bottle of water. I'll probably get a drink with electrolytes to pack as well because it's important to stay hydrated and fed while laboring. If you've been instructed to not eat in the hospital, just sneak some food. Seriously. Well, unless you're a high risk patient! But otherwise, I just think it's mean to keep a pregnant woman from eating, especially when she needs it most. There's my two cents.

And of course, bring your camera! Document this awesome occasion in which you've powered through! Even if it's just the camera on your phone, have someone take a photo of you with your new baby. Don't worry that you still look swollen or your hair is a mess. You'll be glad to have those photos.

It's important for your birthing partner to pack a bag as well! Make sure they pack these things:
-phone and charger
-snacks for themselves
-bathing suit (if you're planning to have a water birth)
-a change of clothes

What have you packed in your hospital bag to make your labor and after birth experience a little easier?

All photos taken by Photography Hill.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

Our Favorite Books About Babies

Gwen could go through her entire little library of books about 2 times a day. Thankfully, she doesn't rely on me to read to her every time she wants to look at her books. When we were still co-sleeping, Gwen would wake me up each morning by literally throwing a book on my face so I'd read it to her. It was so rude. And often painful. I think she still grabs a book or two to "read" to herself every morning before coming to wake us up. It's really cute to hear her little voice mimicking the phrases that she's memorized from her books. You can imagine that this makes my mama heart so happy and then I want to BUY HER ALL THE BOOKS. Thankfully places like the library and thrift store exist so I don't end up breaking the bank. 

When I found out about this pregnancy I was determined to help Gwen understand that we'll be adding a little baby to the family, and that he's staying for good. Also, it would be nice if she learned where the baby came from, but I don't really expect her to grasp that just yet. We already had a couple books about babies but I've added a few more to Gwen's library since finding out the good news. 

Baby on the Way- Martha Sears, William Sears, Christie Watts Kelly.
Martha and William Sears are responsible for "attachment parenting." If attachment parenting isn't your jam. this book is still for your family! The authors mention how you can tailor the book to your specific beliefs and needs of your family. I like this one because AP kind of is our jam, plus I love how it shows the mom going through all the pregnancy symptoms, and it mentions how the kids in the family can help out. Example- "During mommy's contractions you can help by being really quiet." That's perfect advice.

What a Baby Needs- Martha Sears, William Sears, Christie Watts Kelly.
I've mentioned this book on the blog before. This book explains why babies cry so often, what breastfeeding is, why newborns need to be close by mom, etc. Having a newborn and a toddler is going to be rough, so I predict we may be reading this one a lot after baby brother arrives.

How a Baby Grows- Nola Buck, Pamela Paparone.
This one is not too informational. It's just a cute rhyming book about cute things babies do. Gwen really enjoys it and it's fun to read. "These are the things a baby needs: Bottle, blanket, rattle, beads." I figure any book that gets Gwen interested in babies could potentially prepare her for baby brother. 

The Baby's Book of Babies - Kathy Henderson, Anthea Sieveking 
Holy smokes! I'm just finding out that the cheapest copy of this book is $30 on Amazon! What?? And the most expensive copy is $470. Jaw drop. Looks like we've got a much coveted book on our hands! This book was a birthday present from a friend when Gwen turned one. She said her sons loved it when they were younger (it was her old copy that she gave to us), and Gwen has loved it as well. Half of the pages in our copy is covered in tape because of all its wear. Usually when Gwen tears a few pages from a book I just throw it away, but this book is too cute and the rhythm of the text is fun. This book is full of photographs rather than drawings and I think that's what Gwen loves most about it. 

Baby books and photo albums
I've been trying to show Gwen photos of myself when I was pregnant with her to help her understand that she was once a little "baby inside mama" too. I don't think she gets it. But maybe? She likes the photos of herself as a baby, but I don't think she understand that the baby in the pictures is her past self. I'll keep trying. 

Books on Amazon Free Time
I am a firm believer that printed text will never become extinct. I just love the feeling of a paper book, especially for children's books. Digital books are ok and I can definitely see the appeal of carrying hundreds of children's books with you without the weight. We bought this tablet for Gwen before our two trips last summer and it did come in handy.

We Just Had a Baby- Stephen Krensky, Amelie Graux 
The illustrations in this book are adorable. After the little boy gets used to his new baby sister, it shows several scenes of them playing and bonding. It's just sweet. 

A Baby's Guide to Surviving Mom/Dad-  Benjamin Bird, Tiago Americo
I've saved these two for last because they're definitely geared more towards new parents, rather than a child. The books are clever and quirky, ending with the perfect "Aw!" moment. They'd make a perfect baby shower gift.

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books? Does your toddler have a favorite baby book that we should check out? 

p.s. I felt like the photos in this post were portraying my life as too perfect, so I'll add this outtake photo of Gwen throwing a little tantrum over not wanting to sit in this chair with me. I wanted so desperately to take photos in our rocking chair because that's where we usually read half the time, but this little girl wouldn't have it. #reallife 

All the photos in this post were taken by Lydia of Photography Hill 
Y'all should check out her Love Project on her blog ^. I'm featured! ;) 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Looking Forward to November

These photos were taken last week at the pumpkin patch, which also happened to be the hottest day of October! Ugh! I've been trying really hard to be patient about the weather cooling down here in Phoenix, but being pregnant has made me a bit more irritable on the matter.  I've only got 2 months left of this pregnancy, and hopefully the majority of that will be in cooler temps. 

There are a lot of fun things to looks forward to this month! 1. My sisters are coming into town! For my baby shower! 2. We're going to the Lantern Fest. 3. My in-laws are coming to town for Thanksgiving. 4. New Gilmore Girls! 5. My golden birthday is this month :) 

I feel like this time last year, I was itching for Christmas. This year is different because I just want Halloween to last a little longer! So sad to see it go. Thankfully, pumpkins are still a part of Thanksgiving. If you couldn't already tell from these photos, Gwen is obsessed with pumpkins. We'll have to keep some around until the end of the month.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Little Red and Granny Wolf

I was pretty excited when I realized I would have a baby bump during Halloween! I really wanted to utilize the bump in this year's costume, and I think this idea worked pretty well...? Can you tell why? The bump is supposed to be my "belly full of grandma." Not sure if anyone made that correlation at our church party on Saturday, but whatever! My costume was a little hard to place if Gwen wasn't right next to me. A friend thought I was an old cat lady, which would've been pretty clever!  

My husband didn't make it into these photos, because we do things last minute over here. The sun was quickly setting, and he didn't have his (very easy) costume put together. Plus, he's the one who took all these photos! He dressed as the Woodsman who saves Little Red- he was basically dressed as a lumberjack. I'll include an Instagram photo at the end of the post :) 

I was stressing a little over Gwen's costume because I wasn't sure if I wanted to make a red cape (I haven't sewn anything in years, so the thought made me a little nervous), or order one online (I was afraid it wouldn't arrive in time). I tried looking in a couple of thrift stores and Halloween stores for a toddler sized cape but had no such luck. I had given up on this costume and had decided to just dress Gwen in her skeleton PJs for Halloween. Then I went shopping at Target and was surprised to find this red hoodie thing in clearance!! It was a Target miracle. I bought the basket for $1 at Savers. The rest of Gwen's costume are items already from her closet. 

The only thing I had to buy for my costume was the black face paint. Luckily, my sister was a wolf last year for Halloween, so I just asked her to send me her ears! I made the granny glasses from an old pair of sunglasses, gold paint (that I already had), a necklace, and a couple of Gwen's elastic hair ties. 

I'm so excited to see what we'll come up with next year once we're a family of four! I already have a couple of ideas in the works....

Happy Halloween! Have fun trick-or-treating!