Thursday, January 29, 2015

silas says.

Two years old. He's hilarious, infuriating, sweet and precocious, all wrapped up in one blonde-haired, green-eyed little boy. And the things that come out of his mouth leave me snickering with Chris long after Silas is in bed at night. 

While poking a cooked onion on his plate with a little pointer finger... 
"This feels stinky."

After finding a bobby pin on the ground, kneeling in front of an electrical outlet...
 "Lemme just stick this thing in here real quick." 

(Don't worry--I caught him in time, we had a serious chat, and a wayward socket protector was returned to its rightful place.)

After spitting an unwanted bite of food into my hand, and before I tossed it into the trash...
"Noo! Don't throw it away, Mom! Put it in your pocket!"

While holding his nativity scene's baby Jesus...
"I'm sucking on baby Jesus. I think him a lollipop"

Moments after a particularly powerful sneeze...
"I bless you'd in my hot cholk-lik"

After a loud crash in the other room, rather than "Everything's okay...
"Something's oookay!"

While rubbing my dad's bald head...
"You have sunshine on your head. I'm trying get it off."

Peering over at my plate, which had the same food his did...
"Mommy's food is my favorite food!" 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

cozy and well-prepared // an outfit post and giveaway from Lily Jade

what I'm wearing::  hat:: c/o fountain top creations // blanket scarf:: aerie // sweatshirt:: aerie // mid-rise super skinny jeans:: american eagle // boots:: c/o lulus // Elizabeth bag in red canvas:: c/o lily jade

 As I type this, the world outside our dining room windows is swirling white. Winter storm #Juno has hit. There are drifts about 3 feet tall in our driveway, and a gigantic backhoe just went by pushing a pile of snow the size of an SUV. Thankfully, we haven't had any power outages, but I don't think we've been hit with the worst of the storm yet. Our friends who live down the block came over last night with their newborn to weather the storm with us-- we spent the night drinking wine and playing games, with our fake fire DVD playing on our tv, checking the accumulation every now and then. The homemade spaghetti sauce is made, and we have plans to make baked potato soup for dinner. I think we're pretty well prepared, even if we lose power, which hopefully doesn't happen.

Speaking of being well-prepared, check out this diaper bag.

(How was that for a transition? Eh?)

Seriously though, besides plenty of hot coffee running through my veins, this Elizabeth bag by Lily Jade is one of my top essentials for mommy-ing. There's not much that doesn't fit in this bag. On any given day, you'll find at least the following-- our Skiphop diaper changing kit, loaded with three diapers for Delia, and two for Si, a change of clothes for her, either my Happy Baby wrap or my Sakura Bloom ring sling, my nursing cover, two burp cloths, a toy truck or five for Silas, a random orange that Si tossed in last week, my wallet/purse, my keys, two pacifiers, a bottle of hand-sanitizer, and my Camelbak water bottle. With its many pockets, and the unique removable (and washable) Baby bag, it constantly impresses me how easy it is to fit all of that in AND keep it organized.

My go-to uniform of late is this-- a low-key sweatshirt, a gigantically cozy blanket scarf (pretty handy for disguising and covering up spit-up...) and this bag. Easy-peasy, comfy and warm.

I realize I've had a lot of sponsored posts and giveaways the past few weeks, but if I promise that I've got some non-sponsored content coming up (a post chock full of silly Silas sayings, some of my personal tips for recovering from C-sections, and a few of my favorite ways to wear this blanket scarf), can you put up with another giveaway? I hope so!

Enter in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win a sleek and chic Anna bag in black! Though a bit different from the bright red Elizabeth that I own, this bag comes with the same awesome organizational Baby bag, and looks just as beautiful.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

delia at four months... and a giveaway from Quail Lane Co!

I love writing out these update posts, mainly so I can look back on them as she grows. Since they're obviously not everyone's cup of tea, I'm excited to be partnering with some of my favorite baby brands each month this year! Scroll to the bottom for this month's giveaway! 

She's four months old today, this sweet girl. I could fill this post with cliches about not wanting her to grow a minute older, but the truth is, the older she gets, the more fun she is. I love seeing her laid-back, happy personality emerge more each day, and watching her discover how fascinating her fingers are, or how to make bubbles with her mouth. 

This morning, as I got dressed in the next room, I heard her slowly waking up, and when I peeked in on her, she was just gazing around her room, still swaddled up, cooing in the sweetest way. Her puffy cheeks have welcomed more kisses than a person can count, and I never thought someone's breath could smell so good. 

She seems to have no interest in rolling over, which I'm perfectly happy about. She still loves being swaddled, and rocking her in the crook of my arm that way is a sure way to get her droopy eyes to close. Her favorite person, hands down, is her big brother, and he's pretty fond of her too. Watching them start to play together is making all my mama dreams come true.

She slept through the night for about 6 weeks, but after coming back from being in Maryland for the holidays, she's waking up to feed more frequently. It's easier to just nurse her back to sleep, but I think we'll start working with her soon to make it through the night without feeding. She's still a much better sleeper than Silas was at her age, so I have no complaints! 

And because I couldn't decide which pictures to post, I'm gonna make you scroll through way too many shots of that sweet face to get to a super awesome giveaway below. 

Delia's first pair of shoes was this sweet red pair of moccs from Quail Lane Co. I'm so sad that she is already outgrowing hers. Butter soft, and superb quality, you will love their moccasins-- especially the oh-so-sweet bow moccasins!  Enter below to win a $40 shop credit to spend on your own littles!

And if you're impatient (like me!) head over to their site right now and take $10 off your entire order with the code HELLOHUE at checkout! The code expires on Sunday-- perfect timing for a Valentine's gift!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

closing doors.

I still remember the conversation I had with my mom, as we sat eating crepes by a sunny window in my favorite little restaurant on Oahu. She and my dad were visiting me while Chris was deployed, and that day, she was encouraging me to start selling my paintings on Etsy. We talked through the logistics of packaging, and about how good it would be for me to have something creative to pour myself into while Chris was gone. I had just quit a painting class at a local art school, and was feeling rather like a failure, but determined to discover what I really wanted my creativity to look like.

It took me 6 more months before I opened up shop. My first sale was from my Aunt in Texas, and I spent copious amounts of time packaging two 16x20 canvases for her, and probably 20 yards of bubble wrap. Pretty soon, I was selling little 6x6 paintings (I called them Cuties) faster than I could create them. It was so much fun for me to send out those tiny colorful squares out into the world, to sit on shelves and hang on walls, and make people smile.

After we moved to Florida in 2012, I was determined to figure out how to make my artwork into prints. I was tired of tediously packaging canvases, and after having Silas, I needed to simplify. Selling prints of my work allowed me to spend less time packaging, and more time creating new products. Soon, the shop filled with smaller, easier-to-manage products, and large canvases were reserved for custom orders. One of those new products was my hand-painted mahogany necklace pendants, and they remain one of my very favorite products to date.

This month, I'll be closing the doors to HelloHue Studio. I'm excited for the freedom it will bring me-- to spend more time kissing little cheeks, to explore new areas of creativity, to create artwork without the pressure of making it sell-able. But closing this chapter is certainly bittersweet. This shop, and my artwork, has been a part of my identity for a long time. For some reason, 'stay-at-home mom with a small blog' sounds much more dull when I don't add in the "and I sell my artwork online in my "free" time". But the reality is that it is not dull at all- it's a beautiful, difficult, precious calling to be a mom to these kids, and I'm ready to sacrifice a few things up to be a better one.

I'll still be accepting custom orders for paintings, necklaces, and canvases, so feel free to email me if you are interested in that! In the meantime, in order to get rid of my current inventory, I'm offering 50% off the entire shop with the code HELLOGOODBYE at checkout. Many pieces are sold out already (I'm pretty amazed they went so quickly!), so hurry if there's something you really want.

It's really been an honor and a joy to share my artwork with you over the past few years. My hope is to continue sharing artwork and my creative endeavors here, even if there's not an Etsy shop behind them. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Four practical yet stylish coats to keep you warm this winter.

Just thought I'd pop in with a quick post before signing off for the weekend. I know, crazy-- three posts in one week! Who is this person?!

Since November, I've been on the hunt for a great winter coat that would keep me warm through our second Boston winter. I decided to go with a down-filled puffer coat, but everything I found seemed like it would make me resemble the StayPuff marshmallow man. Until I found the one. 

My Yukon Classic coat from Eddie Bauer arrived this week, and it's kind of amazing.  From adjustable cinching on the sides, to a removable faux fur hood, and the cozy faux fur-lined collar, it's functional without losing the style. This isn't an ad, I seriously just love this coat. Thirty seconds after it was tossed on my doorstep by FedEx, I threw on the coat to try it on, and checked myself out the mirror. Awesome, I thought, it fits! The only thing that would make it better would be if it had secret side pockets, instead of just the patch pockets on the front. And then my hands slid into the secret side pockets... practically perfect in every way. 

Since I found a few more options in my search over the past few months, I thought I'd share them with you, just in case you are on the hunt too. 

Keep warm this weekend, friends! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

a 4moms review and Mamaroo giveaway!

Over the course of my past six years blogging, I've had the opportunity to work with close to one hundred small businesses and companies. And by far, one of the most generous and fun to work with is 4Moms. I love that they donate so many of their unique rockers to NICUs around the country, and this month, they are celebrating the new Mamaroo rocker with giveaways every day. I'm super excited to team up with them today to give a Mamaroo away to one of you! You've probably seen their stylish and techy baby gadgets around the blogosphere-- they're smart, gorgeous, and babies and parents everywhere are loving them. And the Wilkins fam is on board-- their products are a major hit at our house.

When Silas was an infant, he barely slept all day, and all night. I'm tired now just thinking about it. Practically the only thing that would get him to sleep would be his bouncer, which I had to rock with my foot. He liked to rock hard and would start stirring as soon as I even hinted at slowing down. I'd stand at the kitchen counter and rock, sit on the couch and rock, paint at my desk and rock. All day. Erry day. I would have killed for something like the Mamaroo. 

Thankfully Delia is a much better sleeper, and an easier baby all around. But my arms still get rubbery if I try to hold her all day, and she likes motion just as much as Silas did. To the rescue comes the new Mamaroo (or as Silas says, the "Mommy-woo".) Sleek, gorgeous, and versatile, it's where you'll find Delia during the day, unless she's in my arms or playing on the floor. It's tucked in next to our couch, between the living room and dining room, where D can keep an eye on all the happenings. 

The new Mamaroo has five different motions, with varying speeds, that mimic the crazy mom dance (you know what I'm talking about-- I think I look like a crazy person when I'm trying to get her to calm down in my arms!). It has built-in white noise ( that's Silas' job, and he takes it pretty seriously...), and even an auxiliary cable to play your favorite Pandora lullaby station. And the coolest part? The new app (available for Android and iPhone) lets me change the motion, speed, and white noise volume all from my phone. 

The Mamaroo doesn't replace me, but it gives me my arms back so I can play train tracks with Silas, fix dinner, or even just drink my coffee before it's icy cold. Silas will even tell me, "Mom, put her down, put her in the Mommy-woo!" if he needs a little bit more attention from me. I love that the Mamaroo helps me do my mom job just a little bit better. 

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win a new Mamaroo! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 5, 2015

Delia Bea's birth story.

It's been about 3 months since I first started writing down Delia's birth story. I figured I better get it all written down before I completely forget the little details. Here's the story of the day Delia Bea came into the world. It's a long one, so settle on in.

The week before she arrived, we decided to have a simple weekend with just the three of us-- no plans, no company, just enjoying some down time and preparing for D's appearance. On Saturday, we went for a short hike in some nearby hills, where Si found walking sticks, scrambled around on boulders, and said 'hi' to every passing dog. We ate lobster rolls for dinner, and ended the day with a special movie night  on the couch with Si. Cuddling under blankets with my boys, watching "How to Train Your Dragon" was the perfect end to my pregnancy and to being a family of three.

Around three am on Sunday morning, I woke up to contractions that were pretty intense and about 20 minutes apart. After a few of them in bed, I woke Chris up and told him that I was going downstairs to walk, drink some water and see if anything changed. They continued to get stronger, and remained about 15-20 minutes apart. Being that this was a week before my due date (and Si had arrived a week late), I was hesitant to get my hopes up, but started getting excited as I realized that this was most likely the day she would join us. I went upstairs to rest for a little bit, assuming that we had a long day ahead of us. 

The contractions continued as I laid in bed, and started to get closer together. Chris helped me to get as comfortable as possible, and whispered encouragement to me for the next hour and a half. Around 6am, I called into my midwife's office, and they told me to head in to the hospital. We called Chris' cousin, and she started to make her way down to our house to stay with Silas. I took a shower and did my best to blowdry my hair through contractions, but ended up spraying myself in the eyeball with hairspray during one. Thankfully I didn't go blind, and laughing at myself for just a minute helped relax my nerves.  

God's timing and planning is so good. We saw His hand in so many moments that day. Silas slept until 8am, which never happens anymore. It allowed us time to pack last minute additions to our bags, and get some fuel in our bellies. I laid down on the couch while Chris went upstairs to get Silas out of bed. I heard him tell Si that baby sister would be here soon, and Si exclaimed that he would give her a high-five when she got here. His excitement for her arrival made my own excitement trump the nerves that were creeping in. Since I had been anxious about the plans for Si's babysitter while we were at the hospital, I heaved a sigh of relief when it happened to be the very last day that Chris' cousin, Lisa, was available to watch him. After we walked out the back door, with him waving happily at us, I was able to focus on the day ahead instead of worrying about him back home. 

When we arrived at the hospital, we were taken to the maternity triage area, where I donned a gown,  and they hooked me up and checked me out. I had fantasies of being 7cm dilated upon our hospital admission, but I was barely dilated at all, and with that news, my heart dropped. Also disappointing was the news that my beloved midwife, Nannette, was not there that day, and I'd have another midwife with me for my labor and delivery. They told me that I may have to go home for a bit, but soon noticed that Delia's heartrate was dropping during some contractions. It was concerning enough to admit me.

By ten am, we had settled in to our labor and delivery room. Because Delia's heart rate was dropping during my contractions, I had to be attached to the monitor at all times. Even though I felt much more comfortable in certain positions (like sitting on the yoga ball, with my arms resting on the side of the bed), they soon determined that her heart rate was dipping too low, so into bed I went.

The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful as the nurses kept a watchful eye on D's heart rate, I struggled through contractions, and we worked out plans to get my mom to Boston.

By noon, I had been awake and contracting for nine hours and I hadn't dilated even one centimeter. I was beginning to feel incredibly discouraged, and frustrated at my body's apparent inability to progress.

Through all of this-- my lack of progression, and the heart rate issues, I was told by the doc that it looked as if we were headed towards a C-section. I appreciated the heads-up, but we kept praying and hoping things would allow for a VBAC.

As the day wore on, I grew more tired and stressed with each coming contraction. During Si's labor, I was determined to hold out for a natural birth as long as possible, but this time around, I didn't have the same resolve. So, around 1pm or so, I told Chris that I was ready for the epidural. My nurse agreed, telling us that if Delia's heart rate dropped too much or stayed down too long, and I needed an emergency C-section, I'd have to get general anesthesia unless I had an epidural in. Even more reason to convince me that this was a great decision!

By 2:30 pm, the epidural was in, and Chris even managed to get some homework done while I chatted with our nurse, Andrea, and tried to snooze for a little while.

The next few hours held few changes, and we continued keeping a watchful eye on Delia's heart. Occasionally, I was not even aware that I was contracting, except for the slowed beeping of the heart monitor and the rush of nurses that came in to change my position or move the monitor around. Through the fright of it all, I had an overwhelming and unexpected sense of peace.

When my mom walked into the room at around 5pm, I had still not dilated beyond 2cm. It was looking like a C-section was imminent, but we were still waiting on the doc to make that decision.

A bit later, my nurse came into the room, and began to make preparations for surgery. At this point, nobody had come in to tell me that it was C-section time, so as she shaved me, my mom and I looked at each other wide-eyed, wondering if we had missed some communication. That was first of several interactions that set me on edge for the rest of the evening, and unfortunately left me and Chris feeling pretty peeved at some of the hospital staff.

Around 7:30pm, another small crowd of nurses came running into the room, and when things settled down, my doctor (and the surgeon who would do my C-section) told us that Delia's heart rate had dropped too low and too long that time. It was time for a C-section. I was thankful for the clear communication at last, but annoyed that C-section prep had started before we even had the conversation.

Fat, wet tears rolled down my cheeks as I started to sob. The simmering of emotions from the day-- the fear, the pain, the uncertainty, the exhaustion, the frustration was all boiling to the surface as I realized that this was it-- time to meet our baby girl. I remember the same moment from Si's birth- the declaration that it was C-section time. Though I've never heard the words, "It's time to push!", I imagine that many of the emotions are similar-- fear, excitement, the prospect of meeting that long-awaited little person in just a few short moments.

As the rush of surgery prep whirled around me, the anxiety and fear pummeled me. They wheeled my bed out of the room, Chris disappeared somewhere behind me, and my mom clenched my hand and whispered a hurried prayer before she was left behind too.

Into the operating room we went, and someone started briefing the room-- "OK, we have Brooke here..." Even as one of the nurses looked me in the eyes, assured me that they knew who I was, and the team re-started the brief, I felt panic rising in me. Tears streamed freely down my cheeks, and sobs shook my chest as I lay on the operating table with my arms spread wide and bright lights in my face. One warm hand wiped away my tears and spoke reassuring words to me in a deep, Indian accent. Even though I never saw his face and I don't even know his role in the room, I am forever thankful for his presence in the midst of my panic.

As I felt the deep aches and pulls of the surgeons making a way for Delia, Chris stepped into the room and took a seat at my side. At 8:08pm, the surgeon held up a sweet screaming, messy little peanut of a girl, and introduced "Delilah" to us. I whispered, "Delia...", and focused on that sweet, loud cry of hers. Chris held my hand and looked into my eyes, as I shook violently and tried to get a handle on my nerves before meeting our sweet girl. He held her face to my hand, and as I shook, and the doctors sewed me up, I stroked her soft, warm cheek.

For one miserable hour, I was completely overwhelmed with my shaking body, and refused to hold her until I could calm down a bit. Chris is convinced that I was in a bit of shock, but I never got any explanation from the nurses, and it remains a pretty fearful memory for me.

Later that night, in our postpartum room, I was finally able to relax, stare into the deep blue eyes of our daughter, and take a deep breath, as we marveled at her tiny chicken legs, her itty-bitty fingers, and button nose. Despite all the ways the day could have ended, we were holding our perfectly healthy, beautiful girl, and couldn't wait to introduce her to her big brother the next day.

Even though there were buckets of frustrations surrounding Delia's birth, I will say this. I'm grateful for modern medicine that allowed both me and my daughter to survive. I am beyond grateful for the surgeon who was able to take Delia out of my womb, unravel the cord around her neck, and bring her safely to me.  After Delia's birth, my surgeon informed me that she had seen evidence of a prominent sacrum, which meant that there was part of my pelvis tilted in such a way that did not permit me to progress in labor. This news was almost relieving to hear, since it freed me from beating myself up about "failing" to labor the way I wanted. It also sealed the deal that any future children will most likely end up being scheduled C-sections. I'm still reconciling with that fact, and at times, I grieve a smooth labor, and delivering my baby like so many women around the world get to do.

As I write this last sentence, Delia is laying on a blanket on the floor of our living room, squawking like a mad woman at the reflection in her toy mirror. She is an angel baby, sleeping through the night, and giving us gorgeous smiles through the day. There are moments in my day where I can't help but giggle from the joy she brings us, and seeing her light up at Silas' voice feels a little bit like heaven.