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June 30, 2016

Ava Turns One (plus some updates on the house)!

Hey y'all! So, last week we celebrated Ava's birthday.

I can barely believe it's been a year since this precious little human was born. I look at that picture to the left and my heart melts. I forgot she was ever that tiny.

From the moment she was born, Jesse and I were pretty much smitten.
The experience was so much more powerful than either one of us had ever imagined it would be.

It had been such a difficult pregnancy followed by a really peaceful birth. I'm thankful for that, as I know it doesn't always happen that way. I think my water broke around 4:30 am and she was born by 7:30 am. I know a lot of bloggers go into great detail with a birth story (and I loooove reading them), but I just feel like I want to keep it as my own private moment. 
Plus, I think sometimes you get just enough from a picture to understand. 

There has been no greater joy than watching Ava grow and develop her own little personality over the past year. I've especially enjoyed the past 2 months. She's just so much fun (and let's be honest, so much work) and there are times when I truly feel like we share a sense of humor. 
I mean, what is that?! Like when they look at you and laugh and you think it's funny, too. And you're just both laughing. Or when I see her so determined to figure something out (like walking) and she tries over and over and over again. And then she finally gets it and walks from couch to couch, and then I scream with joy, and she is almost overjoyed by my joy over her accomplishment. 
These are the little moments I am just loving right now.
Very thankful. Very happy. Feeling good about life.

And things are so much easier now. I've decided that perhaps I'm not cut out to enjoy the early part of the first year. It was hard on me. Really hard. And that's just the truth. Granted, I struggled with postpartum depression for about 7 months, and Ava had colic for 6 months, but even with those hurdles, I just enjoy this part so much more. So many people told me it would get better (and they were right), but for me, having a baby was such an abstract thing because I had never done it before. I feel like if I ever do it again (which I don't know yet...there's a lot to think about when you know you'll be a high risk pregnancy), I assume that it would be different in a lot of ways, because you would know what to expect, or at least you would know more than your first go-round.

I'm rambling. These are just things that I often think about and wonder if other women have had experiences similar to mine.

I remember the first few weeks better than almost anytime of my life. Because it was so surreal, almost euphoric. I was so excited, kinda terrified, nothing made sense, and my body hurt like hell. And I was pretty sure nothing could ever embarrass me again. I felt liberated. And Jesse had witnessed the whole ordeal and felt pretty liberated, too. It was hilarious. He loved to talk about the birth he had just witnessed with people who were coming to see the baby, and I had to be like, okay, no one wants to hear about the details of this situation, SHUT IT DOWN.

Another memory that comes to mind is about baby clothes. I know so many new moms have experienced this...surely I can't be the only one. I had been lovingly collecting tiny newborn clothes for over a month when I was pregnant, folding them, and them putting them in her dresser. I even bought baby hangers at one point (stop it). I had all these frilly, multiple piece outfits and I was so excited to dress the baby. And put her in shoes. Freakin' shoes.

And then I brought this tiny little human home, weighing in at about 6 pounds, and I was literally afraid to hold her at first, much less cram her into a three piece pants suit. I figured it out pretty quickly, but those first few weeks were just a parade of mustard diapers, hand washing the 45 pieces of my Medela, and swapping two hour shifts with Jesse because each of us were afraid to sleep and someone needed to watch her breathe at all times. 

I also remember trying to bathe Ava for the first time. I had bought this cute little sunflower sponge when I was pregnant. After the first time we used it, I was back on Amazon in a matter of minutes ordering one of those really ugly hot pink infant tubs with a sling. The sling tub was hideous and worked perfectly and I mourned it when we outgrew it. That was a big lesson for me, too, that for probably the first time ever I totally valued function over form, and I actually even kinda enjoyed filling our house with baby crap. And then Ava outgrew it and I was hawt to get rid of it..... texting my friends like WHO NEEDS A ROCK N PLAY??!?

One of my biggest takeaways from the experience of being a first time mom over the past year is that I'm so thankful for Jesse. He's always been a really great partner, but I truly fell in love with him all over again watching him be a father.

From day one, he's woken up early with Ava, changed her diapers, and just been present for her. He's been by my side to encourage me and support me and pick me up when I felt overwhelmed. He's shared equally the hard times and the good times, and he's shown us both unconditional love in ways I can't even express in words. He feels like Ava is his responsibility as much as she is mine, and that has truly been life changing for me. I love him madly.

A few of my favorite pics of Jesse and Ava early on...

 Ava's little face (below)...can't handle it.
I think she was 3 months there. 
Loves him.

And this one. Obviously.

Some of my other favorite pics from Ava's first year.

Her first game day around 3 months. I'm not a big football person, but Jesse is, and hey, I love to socialize, so let's go. Her dad ran out and bought her an orange onesie from Walgreens. She was obviously loving it. I was so happy to be going out with friends and to not be pregnant. I had morning sickness almost throughout my entire pregnancy (oh the joy), so I truly felt like celebrating the first few months following Ava's birth when I no longer felt nauseous. 
I love how bald she is there. Did anyone else's baby go bald around 2-3 months? It's so fun to remember all the weird things that happen along the way. I remember feeling like, but does Walgreens have a headband?!

First visit to mall Santa. And a look of pure disgust. This pic will live on my fridge for all of eternity.
The best part is that we did not plan that at all. We just randomly took Ava to the mall around thanksgiving, dressed like that, and saw Santa, and looked at each other like, 'Well, obviously, we have to.'. 

First snow. I think she's about 6 months here. 

First swim. Also at 6 months. We went to visit Jesse's parents in Michigan after Christmas and got to enjoy snow and a swim. It was my first hint that she was going to be obsessed with being in the water.

Around 8 months. Finally a big girl who can sit in the shopping cart and 'help'. This was also the time period when we were really into headbands. It lasted about a month before she started ripping them off. It was fun while it lasted.

10 months. Finally getting some teeth (She has 6 now!). Loves going out to eat, which is such a nice change of pace and makes me so happy.
 Loves nothing more than people flirting with her, the wind through her hairs, a sippy cup, and a pile of cheerios. 

 12 months...sporting a tutu I've been saving for a special tutu occasion, but Jesse told me everyday is a tutu occasion, so we wore it to brunch.

And on her birthday last week. 

We went swimming and I took these awkward pictures. But, we had the best time, and Ava was in pure heaven splashing around with other toddlers. She makes friends wherever she goes....if you're under 5, she really wants to know what you're up to, and wants to share your toys. If you're lucky, she might take off her hat and give it to you. She'll definitely want it back though, thanks.

And then we went to dinner with ChiChi (my mom) and let Ava smash her hand around in a little cake. She's never had cake before. She immediately realized after that first taste that she wanted ALL the cake, and these pictures explain the sequence of events pretty accurately.

She loved the cake and didn't appreciate me taking it from her. At all.

Then, her ChiChi gave her a tiny bus, and she spent hours riding it around the basement.

I feel like that's a pretty decent birthday when you're one.

And I also feel like you guys are really special people to read a blog post about my baby. :)

In house related news, we closed on our house this week!!!! We'll be walking through with a contractor next week and getting a better idea of what's what. I'll be getting some ugly before pics for you, too. We won't be moving into the house for a few more weeks, but I've been spending all my free time brainstorming and hatching my plan for the new house. I can't wait to share more. And I eventually will, I promise.

Thanks for being here, y'all. 
Until next time.

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  1. I feel you. First few months of motherhood are so unbelievably hard, and no one really prepares you beforehand (plus hormones suck). Your first child will always be the hardest put it bluntly, they are your "guinea pig". My poor kiddo is eleven, and everything we encounter with him we are encountering for the first time. He has no clue his parents are rookies when it comes to him.
    I promise you when the second one comes around, it is SO MUCH easier. Mostly because you know you can get through it, you know what to expect, and you recognize phases when they are occurring and don't constantly worry you're doing this whole parenthood thing wrong.

  2. What a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing with honesty. You are a beautiful, brave, and caring person. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. She is such a doll! How is she one already?!

  4. OMG what a lovely foto story from your little sweet girlies and you and your husband. It through me back when my son (18!) was so small ☺ this big emotions paired with so much joy.
    I prominente you will a lot more of this ☺☺☺☺ the next years and please write them down -ALL.
    In the moment you think you will never forget but some years later you saw the picture and dont know why every body is loughing on it!
    I waiting for new storys about this little Mouse and of course your new house πŸ’•
    Wish you all a good time from Germany

  5. Ava's so adorable I can hardly see straight. Love all the pics, plus obvious shout out to my unashamed favorite: Jesse and Ava in knit hat/beard/braids. L.O.L. <---literally. Ha ha, made my night! And now *I* want a cabbage patch knit hat. (Would that be weird? If I wore it at the office? Daily? I'm not a child, btw. Either that or I'm a very good typist for a child, and I have sophisticated blog preferences.)

    I don't mind reading all about your first year with Ava because it's great to see a life-update, see how one of our favorite bloggers is doing/surviving. Bonus: loads of cute photos of one of the cutest babies!! It's so wonderful that Jesse has been such a great partner during your new parenthood, what a blessing! Your family is so cute and cozy and it's spectacular that you're doing so well, even though it was hard to get to here. Yay for "here"!

    And speaking of yays - yay for closing on your new house! Can't wait to see the pics! Thanks for your (always-entertaining, always fun to read) update! And Happy Birthday to sweet pea Ava!

  6. Girl, you are quite a talented writer. I love your sense of humor and am so happy you've shared Ava's first year. I'm excited to follow you through the process of updating your new home!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this. I remember when you gave birth last year and here I am one year behind you - I gave birth to our first child 4 days ago and we just got home from the hospital yesterday. I find myself overwhelmed with all the feels - I cry over EVERYTHING. They're usually happy tears - like the time I think she accidentally smiled, or when I watch my husband with her, but a few times they've been "oh god, I'm not sure I'm cut out for this" tears (particularly breast feeding). It's so nice to read all the wonderful memories your family has shared over the past year - it gives me so much to look forward to in this next year, even when I can't see the forest for the trees :).

  8. Congrats on everything! When my little one (now 5) turned one, my husband and I thought we were the greatest parents ever for getting him to that milestone! We only have one, so I completely get not knowing what you are doing. The fun part is, you always find a way to figure it out. Looking forward to the next house! :)

  9. Ugh, hormones are the worse, I miss those baby days, but I am so glad I have "old" kids now (9 and 7), enjoy every moment, it really does fly by, but it really does just get better and better. Happy birthday Ava!!!!

  10. Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing :)

  11. I was a young first-time mom and it was hard. During pregnancy, I worked full-time, and was a full-time college student. I had severe morning sickness for about the first six months. Luckily, I had some understanding professors. One particular professor’s wife was also pregnant, with the worst case of morning sickness and nausea that I’ve ever heard of. She projectile vomited on our final essays, so he tossed them and gave us all A’s.
    I had an easy labor and delivery, but the following months were exhausting. My daughter didn’t have colic, but she came out screaming and didn’t stop for about three-and-a-half years. He father was my high school sweetheart, but he and I weren’t married, nor did we live together (we split shortly after her first birthday). The first six weeks she woke up about every two to three hours to eat and fought sleep in between, which means I was getting almost no sleep at all. My sister had just moved home from North Carolina and was a great help. I was exhausted, though, and in tears nearly all of the time.
    Sixteen years later, she’s awesome and I couldn’t imagine life without her or her two younger brothers. I’ll admit I was terrified to have more children because of my experience with her in the first few months of her life, but my husband has been amazing. I promise you aren’t the only person to not enjoy pregnancy or the first stages, and it does get better and better, this coming from a mother who currently has a teen, pre-teen and toddler. I love each of my children’s different personalities and special qualities. They’re truly my greatest joy in life.

  12. As always thanks for sharing and keeping it real! It is good to see all of you with such beautiful smiles of joy. Wishing you all the best in your new adventure. Ava is beautiful!

  13. I've been reading your blog a long time, and I love it. You give so much helpful information, and I love your voice! I really like the way you mix family & home-improvement stuff.

    And I really loved this post. Your words on the joys (& difficulties) of motherhood are beautiful. And yes, it seems that you are very, very fortunate to have found such a wonderful partner. It was so great to see Ava's progression in the pictures. It makes me miss the baby years (my youngest is nearly 12), even though, yes, they were hard in so many ways. I do clearly remember how overwhelmed I felt with my first baby, who was such an "easy" baby--just the idea of having brought this fragile little person into the world, and being overjoyed but also kind of scared to even touch her. Before I had kids of my own, I often brought my friends with new babies little overall sets, because they were so cute! Then I had my own squirming infants and realized what a horrible idea that was....

    Anyway, thanks for the post. And good luck with the new house. I can't wait to read about it.

  14. Loving all the pics of Ava! She obviously didn't like that cake being taken away from her at all!

  15. You have such a beautiful baby, and you look like such a lovely family! It will be exciting to read about your new house. Greetings from Ingela in Sweden

  16. Our daughter (our first) was born in May of last year, and yeah...I am not a newborn mom. I loved the sunggle naps, but those first months were hard. I am LOVING this stage though, where I can see her learning and developing her personality. Looking forward to seeing what y'all do with the new house (and Ava updates, of course)!

  17. I had my second boy a month ago (my first is 2 years old) and it's crazy how you forget! Thank you for sharing Ava's first months and being real about it. There are moments of pure bliss, and moments which are so hard, so tiring, so stressful.
    It does get better with the second one i feel like, only because you've "practiced" before, and most of all you are much more relaxed and serene with everything.
    Congrats on the new house , looking forward to your posts :)

  18. Thanks for sharing all of the beautiful pictures!!! Happy Birthday Ava!πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

  19. What a beautiful post! As someone who is thinking about getting pregnant for the first time in the near future, but utterly terrified, this made me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy and like, "yeah...I want this." Even though I know it's going to be tough, the love you have for your beautiful little girl is so inspiring!

  20. Her little tantrum over cake ... So cute!! Im sure it wasn't so cute at the time though πŸ˜‚

  21. I never know if what I write will actually get published....sometimes my comments don't seem to make it,something to do with the "comment as button" so I quit commenting.....but, I am going to give it a try.
    I have enjoyed your blog ever since I stumbled upon it several years ago. It brought back lots of memories of building our house and all the projects we have done over the years. I was so excited for you when you announced your pregnancy and worried when you were not well. My daughter suffered from severe nausea with both of her pregnancies. The first time she was in the hospital a lot and with the second she had a pic line and was fed intravenously. Her condition is called hyperemesis gravitas ( I think that is spelled right) It was tough.I wondered if maybe that is what you suffered from. Her children are now 8 (girl) and 6 (boy) and precious and totally worth all the trouble. The second was very much a surprise, which was really scary at the time....lots of crying....but now it seems a distant memory.
    Ava is precious and I look forward to seeing all your new projects and creative ideas.

  22. I've loved your blog for a long time and feel a sense of connection as you shared a bit of your experience with Ava. The first bit is so complicated! I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love for my family, but also the most intense fear, anxiety and depression. For about the first 2 months, every time I experienced a tender moment, those negative emotions accompanied it. I felt like my baby deserved someone better than me. It was making it through that experience that made me realize how tough and brave I am and how strong the love is that I have with my husband and now our little son. Congratulations on being a mom! I hope all goes well with your move and that all good things head your way.

  23. I totally wanted to read your whole post! My babies are 21 and 26 now! And they were born like two weeks ago! How's that possible?!! That euphoria is so're amazed that the rest of the world is going about its hum-drum business.....The biggest revelation for me was that I thought I knew what love was and had a lot of it in my life....but after my baby Martin was born, the TRUE love was revealed!

  24. thank you so much for sharing this! i love how honest you are, and it is very refreshing when i feel like the internet is full of happiness and rainbows. i'm not a mother, but having a child scares the dickens out of me for tons of reasons. one day! anyway. everyday is a tutu day, love it :) happy 1st to Ava, and congrats on the new house!

  25. What great stories and photos. Thank you for sharing. I'm 56, never wanted to have children and have no regrets. I'm always impressed, however, at lives like yours that are purposeful, mindful, and full of life as parents and individuals. Ava is very blessed.
    I'm eager for your ideas for your new home! We're moving to Astoria, Oregon and I want to create a different look for our home than it is now. I'm wanting our new home to exude beach comfort and non-cluttered shelves... Be well and keep laughing.

  26. Virginia... Love, love, love your photos and reading your timeline! Precious is the only word!!! God bless!

  27. Please don't be afraid to have another child! I had a VERY similar experience (extreme morning sickness, postpartum depression, a baby with reflux who screamed pretty much every waking minute, etc) and I can tell you from experience that the second time around was awesome! I wasn't sick at all, no postpartum depression, and a very laid back baby (probably because she didn't have a choice but to be laid back, bless her heart!). I have two girls so it's not a gender difference, I really think that every pregnancy and baby is different and having experience under your belt makes all the difference! Good luck to you and congratulations on surviving the first year and on your new house!

  28. Thank you for sharing Ava's sweet first year! I'm looking forward to seeing her helping out with projects around your new home. Enjoy every minute of it....mine turns 30 in a month and it seems like yesterday he was one.

  29. Already a year went by... My oh my..... Happy birthday Ava! And many blessings to all of you.....


  30. Virginia, sweet birth story...I love that you kept some just for yourself. I just wanted to encourage you as someone who was desperately sick the whole first pregnancy. My second was a dream (still a lot of vomit but otherwise very healthy). So plan your family knowing that a nightmare first pregnancy gives an angel...and a second could be much easier (no promises though) but still leads to a new angel in your life. #worthit! But always do what you believe is best for your family :)

  31. Girl. When a mom asks me, "awwww, don't you just love the newborn phase?!" While I'm holding my 3 month old baby, my hair hasn't been washed in a week and I'm struggling to accomplish a task as simple as grocery shopping - I must look at her like she has 3 heads. The newborn phase is so not my jam. The great news is I love me some toddlerhood, so I manage to hang in there. And while it may not happen to you this way, I will reiterate to magical second baby phenomenon. While having a baby is still hard (duh), my second baby is so. much. easier. I mean really freakin' amazingly easier than my crazy colicky, crying her head off first. Who I love dearly, of course. But she's 5, and there's a reason it took 5 years to talk me into number 2. Real talk. Congrats on making it through the first year - it's no small feat, and you're entering what I think are the best years of baby raising. Plus another fist pump for not only surviving that first year, but coming out of it with a thriving kid and marriage. I don't think we recognize the success of that enough. Lots of love to your sweet family.

  32. I love that your hubs said every day is tutu day! :) You all look happy and Ava is adorable...I totally see her Daddy in her!

  33. Time flies and babies grow and cakes are sweet and so was this postπŸ’–

  34. Ava is just about the prettiest baby I have seen! And you look hotter than ever! Kisses and hugs!

  35. Awesome post and family, thank you for sharing!

  36. Glad to hear things are getting better and I love that you've updated your blog about 3 times in the past month - yay! But yes, motherhood is hard. I have 3 kids and sometimes I wonder what I was thinking. Thankfully I've found it get a little bit easier with each kid. Prayers and hugs and know that everyone struggles. There are no such things as perfect parents or children but that is ok!

  37. Love this! Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's refreshing to read an honest reflection on parenting, instead of only the "rainbows and butterflies" version. Parenting is HARD! I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one who struggled in the beginning. All of these pictures are adorable, and yes, everyday is a tutu occasion :)

  38. Before I had my first daughter I was working full-time and not used to being home. I didn't realize the emotions I would have once I had her. I struggled with postpartum stuff for a few months and it was hard! I feel you. I can't imagine seven months. Let me tell you my second daughter is now two years old and having her was so much easier! I felt way more confident at being a mother (she still threw me some curve balls but that's expected with a newborn) I just handled them better :) And because I already had a routine in place my new little baby just fell into place in that schedule and it was so great! No postpartum at all. Glad things are better now! She's a cutie

  39. Sweet pictures, love your writing style and your humor!

  40. So tardy in this but love the cake smash sequence ����


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