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On the morning of March 9 2018, our alarm went off at precisely at 6:15 a.m.… I awoke with a huge smile on my face. After nine long awaited months, today was the day that Ryan and I would welcome another sweet baby BOY into our family. It felt like Christmas morning! I laid there in bed for a few more moments just rubbing my huge belly, soaking in those last little kicks and hiccups that I would routinely feel every morning.

While it felt like my pregnancy went by in a flash (thanks to an on-the-go toddler keeping me distracted!)… it seemed the last month of my pregnancy took foreverrrrr… Despite the sciatic nerve pain, swelling, nightly heartburn, and waddling around… I loved being pregnant. But, I was certainly ready to meet our little man. I spent the last several months nesting, decluttering, organizing… the house was clean, pantry was stocked, bags were packed. We were ready!

Our hospital bags were already packed in the car and ready to go! My parents spent the night so they could watch Michael before our babysitter arrived (so they could then join us at the hospital). We spent the next hour fixing Michael’s breakfast, playing in the playroom, and snapping a few photos of Michael’s remaining time as an only child. It was 7:45 am and time for Ryan and me to head to the hospital. After giving Michael one last big hug goodbye (my last as a mama of one!) we hopped in the car, and off we went! A few happy tears were shed (by me!) as we drove off because I knew the next time we walked into our home it would be forever changed. Michael would officially be a big brother and we’d be raising two under two!

I remember it being such a surreal feeling during that 12-minute car ride to the hospital… Ryan looked at me as we drove off and said, “Okay! Let’s go have a baby!”. It was a sunny Friday morning, 50°, with a slight breeze in the air. The roads were clear. We both chatted about all of the anticipated excitement that was to come in the next few hours. “King of the Road” was playing on our Coffee House Sirius radio station.

We parked and arrived with 3 minutes to spare prior to our check-in time. A nurse greeted us and walked us to our triage room where the C-section prep began. If you heard or read Michael’s birth story then you may recall we ended up having an emergency C-section due to Michael’s heart rate dipping and my irregular contractions (we later found out his umbilical cord was wrapped around his foot). While an emergency c-section wasn’t at all part of my birth plan at the time… we were blessed with the birth of a healthy baby boy and that’s all that matters. No matter how babies enter this world… birth is birth is birth. So, when we found out last August that we were pregnant (read more about that here!), we decided to go the C-section route again this time around since the birth and the postpartum recovery was all that I was familiar with. A small part of me wanted to try for a VBAC just so I could experience both… but the unknown of the concerning risk of having a uterine rupture (when the uterus tears open along the scar line from a C-section I had just 16-months prior) was something I definitely wanted to avoid. Yikes! So, early on in my pregnancy we scheduled our C-section for the morning of March 9th, 5 days prior to my actual due date. I was at peace with it.

I slipped into my labor & delivery gown (polka dots, of course!). Our nurse hooked me up to an IV and various monitors to watch baby’s heart rate and my vitals. Shortly after we were settled in, my parents and Ryan’s mom arrived at the hospital. It was almost time!!! Again… such a surreal feeling! No crazy contractions, no epidural, no pain at all… yet, I was about to have a baby within the hour. What?! I was starting to really enjoy this whole scheduled C-section thing! Everything was going to plan which you can’t always say that with the uncertainties of birth.

My OBGYN greeted us with a smile and was excited for our baby’s arrival (she’s the same doc that delivered Michael). We met our anesthesiologist and she talked us through step-by-step on what to expect throughout the surgery. I was told in advance that she was the gatekeeper in allowing me to have one extra person in the delivery room (in addition to Ryan)… she was super nice and gave my Mom permission to be in there with us! That meant the world to me since she couldn’t be in the room with Michael’s birth. It was time for Ryan and Mom to slip into those fashionable scrubs!

I walked down the hall and into the operating room (Ryan and my Mom would soon join me once I had my spinal block). The operating room was as clean and bright as I remembered it… just 16-months ago with Michael’s emergency C-section, I was being wheeled into this room on my hospital bed with an entirely different perspective on how things would unfold. This time around the birth team was moving at a much slower pace… I was calm, cool, and collected… with no fear as I knew I was in great hands by the Henrico Doctors medical staff. Coming from a girl that used to be terrified of needles, blood, surgery… I must say I was one tough cookie that day! I remember saying “girl power!” as I looked around the room… all women doctors and nurses on my birth team today! I slid up on the operating table and my hands started to get a bit clammy… time for the spinal block. As I said, I’m not a huge fan of needles. For this medicine to be administered you have to bend over, stick your back out, and remain completely still (much easier to do this time around without having contractions)… my nurse was amazing – she gave me a pillow to hug and as I hunched over she wrapped her arms around me. One of my favorite hits by James Taylor “You’ve Got a Friend” was playing quietly on the radio… my Dad used to sing it to me when I was little so it immediately put me at ease (insert “God wink”). I felt a cold chill go down my back and seconds later my legs were totally numb. Man, that stuff works fast! I laid down on the bed, they pulled the drape up, and it was showtime!

Ryan and my Mom joined me at my bedside. My hubby looked so cute in his scrubs. He grabbed my hand and kissed my forehead. He was quiet… I could tell he was a bit nervous. Mom took my camera and started documenting video. “Mac the Knife” was playing on the nurse’s playlist – I was diggin’ the music that day! Roughly 15-minutes went by… strangely familiar feelings of pressure, tugging, pulling… it was in that moment on March 9, 2018 at 10:36 a.m we heard the sweet little cries of our baby boy, our Thomas Daniel.

My doctor opened the flap to the drape in front of me and immediately passed Thomas through and onto my chest. My sweet Thomas… finally in my arms! Happy tears streamed down my face! He was 7 lbs., 4 oz. and 19.75” of pure perfection. My heart exploded with immense JOY! I was so surprised and happy to see that he had much of my features as a baby — Michael came out as Ryan’s mini-me! When I was pregnant with Thomas there was this quiet fear inside me thinking… How could I possibly have more love to give when it’s all wrapped around my first son, Michael?? A recent birth story article I read sums it up beautifully on how I felt welcoming Thomas into our family… “But as any parent of more than one child knows, your heart, instantly, inexplicably, miraculously, graciously, and magnificently expands with more love than you ever believed was possible, as soon as you lay eyes on your baby, and hold {him}, and feel {his} body on your own body…”. It’s unexplainable, raw, love.

Once they stitched me up and the spinal tap had worn off they wheeled us up to our Postpartum room where we stayed for 2 nights. Thomas was so alert those first few hours exploring the world around him, meeting his grandparents, and lots of skin-to-skin snuggles!

The following morning my parents brought Michael to the hospital so he could meet his little brother for the first time. Those first few moments as a family of four… it’s a memory that I will forever cherish. The look in Michael’s eyes, his gentle and lovingly touch, his smiles just warmed my heart! They became instant buddies.

The following day we packed up our room. We were so grateful for the incredible care the nurses provided but we were ready to head home sweet home. Many, many thanks to the family and friends that visited us during our stay to celebrate our new addition!

A huge thank you to my Mom for taking my camera into the birth room so Ryan could be fully present for the birth of our son. I will forever treasure those memories captured. We’re also so very grateful to Kathryn Ivy Photography for visiting the day after Thomas’s arrival to photograph Michael meeting his little brother and those special moments as a family of four. And last, but certainly not least, thank you to Andrea Pesce Photography for documenting our in-home newborn portraits!

Welcome to the world Thomas! We love you bunches! XO!

I loved putting this slideshow together of our time in the hospital (*** this does include a few beautifully graphic moments from the birth ***)
and some favorites from our newborn session once we got settled in at home.

 

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  • Emily - May 17, 2018 - 2:08 PM

    I so loved reading your post and seeing the video! I really felt like I was there with you guys again! What a perfect addition he is 🙂ReplyCancel

By popular demand… our backyard renovation project is live on the blog today! My hubby and I are so very proud of the transformation. Watching our vision for this space come to life has been so very rewarding. Before I went on maternity leave, you may have caught my On Air with Allie episode where I did a walk-through of what our backyard used to look like (you can watch it here). As I mentioned on the episode, this Summer it will be 6-years since we moved into our home. Over the years, we haven’t had to do too much to renovate. There are many reasons why we settled on the house we’re in… one being that we are in a cul-de-sac and our backyard backs up to wooded wetlands which offers lots of privacy. In the spring/summer months, the woods are filled with luscious green leaves and when you’re on our back porch it feels like you’re in a tranquil tree fort.

Over the years, we’ve invested in our patio space because we love to entertain but we haven’t done much with our backyard area aside from a firepit and a hand-me-down Little Tykes playset. In the past, it’s really only been a play and bathroom area for when we had a dog… so, late-February we knew that with a rambunctious toddler and a soon-t0-be newborn in tow it was time to make some changes so we could get the most out of our backyard space.

Michael loves to spend time outdoors so what better place to explore and make memories than in our very own backyard?! » OPEN POST »

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This has got to be one my favorite indoor before & after fixer upper projects yet! Just before Thomas was born, Ryan and I did a complete overhaul of our master bedroom complete with fresh new paint, new furniture, and a new layout… it truly is a brand new room and we couldn’t be more pleased with how everything turned out!

This coming Summer, it will be 6 years since Ryan and I moved into our house. Over the years, thankfully we haven’t had to do any major projects around the house. Shortly after we moved in, we scored an amazing deal on Craigslist for a 6-piece victorian style master bedroom suite. This lady was basically giving it away and as almost newlyweds we couldn’t pass up on the mondo savings! This furniture was huge and extremely heavy (a whopping total of 1,500 lbs.!)… but our room is large enough to accommodate it well. At the time, I liked having all of the furniture pieces match and it worked for us. As the years went by the dark taupe colored walls paired with all of the dark, heavy, and matchy-matchy furniture started to feel stiff and drabby. With the slanted cathedral ceilings, I never found the right artwork for the walls to fill up the space… aside from a few frames on our dresser and nightstands I didn’t have any family photos hanging on the walls… so our master bedroom, that we sleep in every single night, was feeling very boring and hodgepodgey (that’s a word, right?).

At the time I started this project I was 21-weeks pregnant with Thomas… I was in full nesting mode and eager for a project! Plus, when I make my mind up on something… it’s almost impossible to stop me! Ryan has learned to just go with the flow (but he puts his foot down sometimes!) once I start brainstorming — my room design inspirational ideas haven’t failed us yet! 

I started an inspiration board on Pinterest to gather my design ideas on this fixer upper project! I’m certainly no interior design guru — I learned most of my home decorating skills from my Mom over the years! I knew that I wanted my new and improved master bedroom to feel more like a dreamy retreat, an escape, and a relaxed environment that felt bright, cheerful, and cozy. The look I was going for was light and airy, cottage antique chic, charming, with a french country farmhouse flair. We’ve revamped the furniture downstairs in our home over the last few years so it was time to start blending our acquired style into the upstairs.

I did some research on what our bedroom furniture suite was actually worth since I knew it was worth more than the great deal we got on it several years back… it turns out that it most certainly was! I cleaned up our room to take photos of our furniture and posted our bedroom suite back onto Craigslist (see “before” pictures of our room below). It took several weeks to sell since we weren’t technically in a rush to get rid of it — we waited it out so we could turn a rather awesome profit (which then funded our new furniture, and then some!). We were sad to part with it because it was such a beautiful and sophisticated collection… but it was time for a change! I scoured online, browsed and shopped local antique chic stores to narrow down our new furniture choices. I didn’t want to have any pieces perfectly match (aside from the nightstands) because I wanted the room to have more character and style.

The fresh paint in the master bedroom (SW Tradewind) and master bathroom (SW Rain) is so much more cheerful and inviting! The walls are now filled with special family photographic prints that mean the world to me! We now have a cozy sitting area where Michael can play, I can nurse Thomas, I can snuggle up to focus, read, pray, relax… or let’s get real… to sort laundry! Our entertainment center and dresser are lovely new additions to complete the overall look and feel of the room. I can already picture it… early Saturday mornings, my boys playing together on the floor while Ry and I are snuggle up on fluffy pillows, sipping coffee, and laughing with our little goofballs. I’m in LOVE with how everything came together — my new favorite room! Scroll down to see the transformation!

Bedroom furniture & décor:

  • Welcome Home Collection King bed — We went shopping for a bed the day after we sold our bedroom furniture. After spending one night in our room with a mattress and boxspring on the floor… we were ready to have our bedroom back in order! Ryan and I spotted this sleigh bed at Havertys and instantly fell in love! It’s weathered white which is what I was looking for (it really POPS against the wall). It’s gently distressed with an upholstered chic nailhead trim headboard. It’s lower to the ground than our previous bed which is a nice change — I had to use a stool during most of my pregnancy to climb onto our last bed, LOL. The bedspread and shams we got at Bed Bath and Beyond — it’s so soft and cozy! In the past, I would never get away with a white comforter with dogs in the picture… I’m still a bit nervous to have white with two BOY kiddos but it’s nice that if when it does get stained I can just bleach it.

 

  • Nightstands — I was searching for nightstands that had a shabby elegance to them to match the overall look in our room — a classic look but casual feel. After lots of searching online and in stores… I stumbled across these Bayside cottage style nightstands on Joss & Main and my jaw dropped! Love, love, love them! I especially like that there is just 1 drawer… our bedside tables can easily turn into cluttered junk drawers so only having 1 drawer to work with will help avoid that problem. The lamps I already had — purchased from HomeGoods. 

 

  • Entertainment Center — My Mom takes the credit here! She found this beauty on Facebook Marketplace and the lady was basically giving it away… it was originally a pine wood throughout so I coordinated with MyFleurDeLis to come to my house and do a custom paint job on it. It was my first time outsourcing a furniture paint job and I highly recommend them! They knocked out the project in 2-days and the before/after is stunning! I’m obsessed with the bookshelf storage on the sides to hold photos, knick knacks, books, etc. The large double doors in the center hold our TV and we use the remaining drawer space for clothes. It has built-in overhead lights too! Before our room remodel we had an armoire on this wall — it was nice that it held our TV but there was a lot of wasted space on either side of the furniture piece. This entertainment center fits much better!

 

  • Dresser — I found this little gem at Gracie’s Cottage. It was featured on their Facebook page and I called to buy it sight unseen! It was perfect! It’s solid wood (so heavy!) and goes along with the grey/white distressed look in our bedroom. Lots of drawer storage space too for Ryan and I to share.

 

  • Crawford sofa — We actually bought this sofa several years ago on Joss & Main and it’s been in our downstairs living room. That room is rarely used and ends up being a place to put purses/coats when we entertain. So! I knew this sofa would get more love being in our bedroom. The oatmeal color is great as it goes with anything! I added a warm blanket to give it some additional texture along with some squishy, colorful pillows (found at HomeGoods).

 

  • Storage bench — This wooden bench under the double window is part of a kid table set I got for the boys. I love that bench  seat lifts up to hold toys. Michael comes in our room every morning to play with his toys before breakfast while Ryan and I are still waking up. It’s great that I can easily throw all the toys back in the storage bench to hide everything when we aren’t playing with them.

 

  • Coffee table — I fell in love with this Stephanie Coffee Table when I found it on Joss & Main. It’s curved legs, scalloped edges, milk paint finish, and unique reclaimed wood features are beautiful.

 

  • Wood Framed Signboard — I was scrolling through Instagram and came across the Smallwoods website. I just love this quote hanging over our bed — it warms my heart and is a beautiful everyday reminder.

 

  • Gallery wall — I couldn’t love this gallery wall more! As a photographer, it’s no surprise that preserving memories is important to me. We have a lot of wall space in our bedroom and since we moved into our home I’ve wanted to fill the space with special family moments. I chose to do all black and white photographs so it gives off a more timeless, classic, cohesive look. I found these antique silver frames on Joss & Main and we hung them around our sitting area by our sofa. I wanted prints versus canvases so I can easily swap them out as my family grows and new family memories are made.

 

  • Wall clock — I’m so glad that we swapped out our boring digital clock (that we constantly turned sideways before bed because the light was so bright!) with this oversized distressed clock from Hobby Lobby. Thankfully it doesn’t make a loud ticking noise — I’m a light sleeper so that would’ve driven me crazy! We got a great deal on it too! It fills the space on our wall nicely and adds a touch of rustic character.

 

  • Oversized mirror — Still on the hunt for a mirror to go above our dresser. It will make our room look and feel even larger!

So! Without further ado… here you go! Before and after photos of our master bedroom retreat fixer upper project!!! Hope this inspires you to do a fun project in your home this Spring!

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Since becoming a mother, each special occasion is so much more special to experience… because I get to watch it through the eyes of my children. The joy, the wonder, the excitement… it all is so very heartwarming! This year, Easter was extra special because Thomas has now joined our family. Also! My brother, his wife, and their 3 kiddos recently moved from New York to be back in Richmond so watching all 5 cousins together is such a blessing. » OPEN POST »

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One of my love languages is gifts! Giving gifts that is (…although who doesn’t like to receive gifts every now and then?!). I love the process of finding the perfect gift to give someone special and the joy that comes from watching them open it!

How many of us have had a family member, friend, or someone special in our lives that has gone through a difficult time and you want to help brighten their day? I think we all can relate here. In those times you want to do something generous for your friend in need to show them that you care. Sure a delicious home-cooked meal, flowers, or simply mailing them a card are all thoughtful ideas…

I recently discovered a fun and unique way to bring a smile to someone’s day and it only takes roughly 20-minutes of your time and is budget friendly! Insert… The Sunshine Basket!

The key here is to find goodies, snacks, and thoughtful little gifts that are yellow to go with your sunshine theme. The ideas on what you can put in your basket are endless! Pinterest has some great tips too!

Supplies you’ll need…

  • 15-20 yellow goodies, a card, and a white basket (all easily found at your local Dollar Tree)
  • Printable sunshines found on Google (this one makes me smile)
  • Printable sunshine quote (this one and this one are cute ideas)
  • White tissue paper, scissors, and tape

Tune in below to this quick pre-recorded On Air with Allie episode and watch me put a Sunshine Basket together! Hope this inspires you to create one for someone special. It will surely brighten their day (and yours!). Cheers friends!

 

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OH this boy mama heart is so very full! We welcomed Thomas Daniel into our family on 3.9.18 💙 7lbs. 4oz. and 19.75” of pure perfection! It’s been a whirlwind at home getting settled into a new routine with raising two boys under two. Michael is so proud of his big brother role and gives Thomas sweet little kisses all throughout the day. Soaking up every minute of our family “firsts” with Thomas.

Stay tuned for a full blog post coming soon on his birth story…

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Dear Thomas,

OH! My sappy boy-mama heart just can’t take it! I’ve been crying tears of JOY all throughout the day today in anticipation for tomorrow! I still cannot believe that in less than 24-hours I will be holding you in my arms. Your Daddy and I cannot wait to welcome you into our family, introduce you to your proud big brother, and savor those sweet first moments in the hospital as a family of four.

While this pregnancy feels like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye… I’ve still cherished every kick, every hiccup, every rumble in my tummy that is the miracle of you. It honestly still doesn’t feel real that this is all happening until I hear your sweet cries tomorrow morning and feel your warm newborn skin snuggled on my chest. Your Daddy and I are so anxious to meet you! Will you look just like your brother?! Our last ultrasound was over 19-weeks ago… at the time you had a head full of hair and a little button nose (just like Michael!). We are so excited to watch in awe as you grow and develop your own unique personality while celebrating every milestone along the way! 

This time-lapse video below is so very special to me! The first part of this video was captured last July (when Michael was 9-months old) before I even knew that at the time I was 7-weeks pregnant with you… you were the size of a blueberry growing inside my belly! The second part of the video was captured today at 39-weeks pregnant! You’re now the size of a mini-watermelon… my how much you’ve grown!

We are counting down the hours until tomorrow. You are so, so loved little one! See you soon! XOXOXO!!!

Love,
Mommy

Image credit above: Andrea Pesce Photography

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If you follow along on this blog or my Instagram page then you know that I love fun house projects! I’m a sucker for a good “before and after” makeover! Too many Fixer Upper episodes maybe?? Well, it doesn’t help that I’m now 38-weeks pregnant and in full-on nesting mode… poor Ryan is doing well in keeping up with my crazy ideas! We’re a good team!

This Summer it will be 6-years since we moved into our home. Over the years, we haven’t had to do too much to renovate. There are many reasons why we settled on the house we’re in… one being that we are in a cul-de-sac and our backyard backs up to wooded wetlands which offers lots of privacy. In the spring/summer months, the woods are filled with luscious green leaves and when you’re on our back porch it feels like you’re in a tranquil tree fort. » OPEN POST »

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OH my goodness! I still cannot stop smiling… my dear girlfriends Kendall, Emily, and Missy hosted a baby shower in honor of me and my little Thomas. I woke up bright and early yesterday morning to a beautiful day! After having snow and chilly weather in the single digits… I was pleasantly surprised to have a sunny 68° day to enjoy! I scooted over to Avenue 42 Style Studio. The lovely and talented Arianna did my makeup and made me feel absolutely flawless! In addition to my baby shower yesterday morning… my family got together with Andrea, Thomas’s maternity and newborn photographer, yesterday afternoon to have our maternity portraits taken. It was simply an unforgettable day!

I arrived at Kendall’s house for the baby shower and was in awe of what all the lovely hostesses had done… it brought me to tears… I was truly speechless! These ladies planned this children’s book inspired baby shower to absolute perfection! They put Pinterest to shame — not a single detail was overlooked! The decorations, flowers, delicious brunch (and desserts!!), yummy mom-osas, the clever emoji game, thoughtful gifts, and “book worm” party favor candies… it was all so surreal! As I walked from room to room soaking in every detail I couldn’t help but get a little teary-eyed… this was my baby shower! It was all starting to feel real that this was actually happening… in less than 7-weeks we’ll be welcoming another sweet boy into our family! My sweet Thomas, you are already oh so loved!!! Spending the morning surrounded by such loving, inspirational women whom I respect and look up to was such a blessing! » OPEN POST »

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