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A few weeks ago our sweet friends casually invited us to spend the day with them in Laguna Beach.  They had rented John Wayne’s beach house for the week.

Umm…let me think about that.

Yes.

And I’m so glad we did!  Our first official family daycation.  This quaint little cottage was nestled in the sand right below the bluff.

Perfection!

I told Travis I would rather live in a small cottage by the sea than the big houses on the bluff.

Oh how modest I am, right?

Selah had a blast  even though she preferred the kiddie  pool to the  ocean.   And Duke even fell asleep on me a few times.  Success!  Can you believe I forgot my camera?  All images were  captured on my iPhone.

*linking up with Blair


 

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Photography:  Closer to Love Photography Sweatshirt: c/o Skip N’ Whistle, Shoes:  Anthro, Skirt: Target

I know.  I’m neither skipping, nor whistling.

Is this an accurate representation of my life right now?  Some days, yes.  Some days, no!  But I’ve learned to cherish these simple pleasures whenever they present themselves.  A walk through the leaves with my family.  A tiny hand that reaches for mine.  A babe whose eyes light up upon seeing my face.   A day when I’m wearing real clothes and makeup.

I’ve had these moments lately when I question what on earth I’m doing and how I can take another step.  In the heavy darkness I hear my boy grunt  for me.  I roll over drifting back to sleep because “that can’t be for me…..”  The next shriek quickly awakens me  to reality and brings him back into my arms.  Holding a sleepy nursing baby is what these arms were made for.  This is my life right now.  I’m incredibly blessed.

 


I stopped reading how to be a better mom books right after I had my first child, Selah.

Before having children I imagined myself an endless supplier of love.  I imagined what it would feel like cuddle my baby to sleep, breathing in her baby scent and nuzzling her peach fuzzy head against my chest.  I determined I would speak to her tenderly, and discipline her in love always.  I daydreamed about the day she would be old enough to go on planned adventures.  We were going to have so.much.fun.

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And then she was born.  And then my romanticized view on motherhood came toppling down around me.

Since having my second child, my perspective on motherhood is a bit more realistic.   I DO believe motherhood is a skill that can be learned and developed, which made me rethink my ban on being a better mom books.  So I made it a goal to set some time aside to read up on the topic again.

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But I didn’t feel like a good mother at all.  A good mother doesn’t wake up with a feeling of dread or anxiety about being left alone all day with her baby and toddler.  A good mother doesn’t go to bed with the house in shambles, let her children watch TV so she can have a minute to herself, serve frozen pizza for dinner, or any of the other myriad offenses I committed on more than one occasion.  And I admit it:  I didn’t always like being the mom.  I mean, I loved my children, but I didn’t always like the work associated with being their mother.  And don’t good mothers love what they do?  //Allyson Reynolds, Deliberate Motherhood

Okay.  There is a ton of helpful, practical advice from over 60 mothers in this book, Deliberate Motherhood.  I especially enjoyed the sections on how to foster individuality, waking up with intention for each day, finding balance, organization, and cultivating optimism.  I was super encouraged and I plan on implementing some of these things in my life.  But you know what?  I found myself drawn to stories like the one above.  Because it confirms that:
1.  I’m not crazy for feeling like this sometimes, and
2.  I’m not the only one who feels this way.  I mean, there is at LEAST one other person who feels this way and she decided to put it in a book.

I’m always careful about the stories I post on my blog.  I never want my children one day read a post about them and walk away feeling anything but loved and cherished.  That is truly how I feel about them and I hope they feel it every single day.  That being said, I feel I would be doing them a disservice if I wasn’t honest about my struggles.  (I mean, I’ll share with them when they are older and have families of their own.)

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So Selah and Duke if you ever happen to read this down the road, please know that Mama loves you with all her heart.  But man on man, there are days when I feel I’m treading water.  There are days when I don’t have joy or fulfillment in motherhood.  But Honeylamb, Duke-boy, I love you more than I can adequately express!  I’m honored I was chosen to be your mama.

 


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Cardigan: Gifted from Ever+Mi Crush, Necklace: Gifted from Pink Lemonade, Skirt: Target

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. // Mary Jean Iron

Isn’t that the truth? I’ve been treasuring up these normal days in my heart.

Such an exhausting-

so joyful my heart might burst-

sometimes lonely-

but I’m never alone-

season.

 


Starting a new feature called snippets which is just a collection of  photos taken throughout the week.  I hope you enjoy these snippets of our lives!

 

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Pure joy right there.

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I’m starting to write more letters.

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We talk a lot.  He gets me.

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Treasure from the front yard.

 

 


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How  was your long weekend?  We were just trying to keep it cool over here in the 100+ degree weather.  And nothing says cool like a vintage sailor outfit that matches your sister’s dress.  Nothing.

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He makes my heart go pitter patter.

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Oh, and in case you missed it on Instagram, I have a crazy story about this outfit!  Some sweet woman was admiring Duke.  Her son who is now 25 used to have the same sailor suit.   She had just cleaned out some boxes of old clothes to donate to the Goodwill.  Well wouldn’t ya know, I just happened to pick this up at the…you guessed it….Goodwill!  This used to be her sons!  I don’t really believe in coincidences.  I think for some reason this was some sort of divine appointment.  She was pretty delighted and blown away seeing Duke in that outfit, I tell ya what.  I would have stuck around to engage her a bit more, but I had just broken my toe.  Literally broke my toe, people.  And Duke was recovering from a meltdown.  And we were all starving because of Duke’s meltdown. Turns out we get pretty self conscious when it comes to screaming babies and restaurants.

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Aaand moving on to other news on the home front.  This is a more realistic picture of what OUR weekend looked like.  One sickie girl and one naked baby boy.  I admit I love the extra cuddles and the way she lets me run my fingers through her hair when she’s under the weather.  She slept in our bed for the first time since she was an infant.  My independent girl likes her own room and crib, so it was a special treat to have her reach across the bed and touch my hand before we both drifted off the sleep.

 



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Headband a gift from Oh Tiny Gifts.  Moriah from Oh Tiny Gifts has offered Swish and Swoon readers a 10% off discount code “JESSICAROCKS” which is good for 1 week.  

This girl has been such a trooper these past few weeks as I have fumbled my way towards getting to know this new boy of mine.  It’s been one heck of a week.  It’s becoming more and more clear to me that my “laid back” baby isn’t quite so laid back.  I went a few days thinking he had colic, but upon further examination I feel like the boy was just overtired.  He doesn’t fall asleep in the car.  Or in the stroller.  Or anywhere but home as a matter of fact. I’ve also learned that it only takes about 45 minutes after he wakes up for his eyes to turn  as wide as saucers.  Which means it’s time for a nap.  But boy or boy, those 30 minutes of between naps when he is happy and smiling? Pure bliss I tell you.  He’s such a talker already, making the sweetest coos.   We’ve had some pretty sweet conversations, me and my boy.

Basically Selah and I are hunkered down here at home for the time being.  So we try to make due.  We explore in the backyard.  We chase imaginary mice down the hallway, and then put them to sleep.  We put on aprons and make pancakes in the morning.  We dress up and wear cute headbands even when no one else will see them but Daddy when he gets home from work.  Yes, that’s what we’ve been up to.


Sometimes it’s the simple things that make me so happy.  I yearn for a life made up of bare feet running through tall grass,  sheets drying in the breeze,  twinkle lights in the backyard,  lovely music without any words,  hearty conversation  and a lot of giggling.  And I got to thinking about how my life feels pretty ordinary.  I have my fair share of days where I feel busy but bored, tired but restless.  And an ordinary life can sometimes feel like I’m  living a life without significance.

Any other mamas out there that can relate?

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But can I just say that is a lie?  A lie that we tell ourselves.

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So often we miss what’s truly important because we’re on the quest for the extraordinary.  Not understanding  the ordinary moments of our lives is really where we can find the most joy and purpose, beauty and meaning.  Because this is where life happens.

Lately I’ve had to dig deep to see beautiful things.

The other day I was sitting in my living room and noticed a perfectly placed tiny hand print on my white wall.  And I promptly took a picture and put it on Instagram.  Because it was so symbolic of my life right now.  And it was strangely beautiful to me because it was reminder of my little girl who was sleeping upstairs.  I started thinking about my life in terms of this hand print.  I began wondering: Are these “hand prints” everywhere? Am I missing them? Or maybe I see them but fail to see the beauty in them?

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I’ve begun to view life through this “hidden beauty” lens. Since spending time thinking about this hand print, I can tell you – they are everywhere! (Literally, haha!)   I’ve made it my mission  to see these beautiful moments that no one else notices.  And can I just say it has been a lot of fun!?  It just takes a little change of perspective.  And hey, if you have a camera or an iphone laying around then bonus!  Snap a picture or two and share it with the world.

 


It took me months, maybe even a full year to revisit pictures of Selah’s birth.  She was my firstborn.  My labor was different this time around with my second.  It was harder than I imagined, but without the trauma I felt after Selah’s birth.

I was much more relaxed in the beginning stages of labor.  Travis and I took walks around the neighborhood.  Hey I could do this all day!  This isn’t so bad!  Bring it on.

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We put Selah down for her nap, while I labored unbeknownst to her.  In this picture I’m in labor (not having a contraction) and saying goodbye to Selah while she goes to stay with her grandparents for the night.  I got really emotional after she left.  I wondered how much her little life would change when she came back in the morning.  I wondered if she would still feel loved and cherished by me.

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Travis was obviously very relaxed during the early stages of my labor!  There were many hours of this early labor stuff.

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I’m getting Duke’s heart rate checked by my midwife.  For some reason I camped out on this chair.  I hardly ever sit here!

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AAAnnnnd it’s not too long after this picture was taken that I went in the pool.   I’ve got my labor face on and it lasted for the next 9 hours or so.

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My eyes were mostly closed the rest of the day.  I forgot how hard labor was.  And I got scared.  I remember thinking, Jessica what did you get yourself into?!  This was a dumb idea!  I will NEVER do this again.   As my labor continued into the night I began to doze off between intense contractions.  I started really regretting not working out during this pregnancy.  I began to feel like I lacked the stamina it would take to birth this boy.  Travis’ encouragement became less convincing.  I could tell he was scared too.  His confident, You got this babe you’re doing great, had dwindled to a mere, You’re doing okay. You’re okay.  I could tell he wasn’t so sure and neither was I.  During transition, doubt began to flood my mind and I had to get out of the pool because I was so exhausted I wanted to just lay down and sleep.

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This  is the part where most women say, I can’t do this anymore.  Give me drugs.  And I assure you, I would have said the same thing, given the option.  I didn’t say those words outloud, but they raged loudly in my ears. Clearly exhausted, I laid down on the window seat and fell asleep.  I woke up to yet another  intense contraction but this time coupled with a feeling to PUSH.  Praise GOD!  I couldn’t believe it!  I knew the end was near and the adrenaline kicked in.  Back in the pool I went, this time carrying another set of fears.

I dreaded pushing.  Could I bring myself to push with the strength I knew it took to push this baby out?  Four contractions later, the answer was YES.   Yes I could. Duke was born in the caul, meaning he was born in his bag of waters.  He was also born with his cord wrapped around him about 4 times, including his neck.  My midwife quickly and calmly untangled him and placed him here on my chest.  Where he currently spends most of his days:)

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My bond with his was so immediate and intense.  He’s my treasure, my prize after all that hard work.  Weighing in at almost 10lbs, everyone tells me how big he is.  But to me, he looks so small.  My little one whom I love dearly.