Monday, October 9, 2017

Special Newborn Moments Captured

When Bill and I found out we were having a baby back in September 2016, we opted to not find out the gender, and that ended up being a blissful surprise on the day of!  Our sweet baby daughter was born June 26, 2017 @ 5:02am weighing 7 pounds 7 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long.  To be honest, labor and delivery was the most wild experience of my life.  I did not know what my body was capable of until that day.  I still cannot believe this tiny person grew inside of me and then was pushed out of me... yes, a little graphic, but seriously the most incredible thing I have been a part of.   The process is long, but the reward is the sweetest.

These pictures are my favorite from her first few weeks of life.  What an incredible honor to be able to be at home with her while she discovered the world and learned about life and what it holds.

To my sweet daughter:

Reagan Marie Rogers, you have changed my world forever.  What can I say to encompass my feelings?  I love you to my deepest depths and as soon as you appeared I could no longer imagine life without you.  You are everything to me and I find so much joy in just watching you breathe.  Thank you for making me a momma.  I am forever grateful and will always remember these days together so fondly.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Penny for Your Thoughts: On Wrapping Up Maternity Leave

I have been on maternity leave for 3 months now, and these have been some of the greatest months of my life.  I truly and without a doubt cannot imagine my life without this little person and that honestly blows my mind.  I love her with every fiber of my being and wish I could just sit and stare at her every day of my life.  I will do a little back tracking and tell you more about life thus far, share lots of pictures and tell my birth story when time permits.  

When I think about the emotional, physical and mental journey the last few months have been, I am overwhelmed.  I am completely changed and feel like it's impossible to really explain becoming a parent.  It's incredible and wonderful and exhausting and exhilarating.  I just feel so fortunate (because blessed somehow is played out in today's culture) to get to call this sweet person my daughter.  I want for nothing and constantly remind myself that this is my life and I really am living it.  I spend so much time just staring at her sweet face.  Sigh, what a blissful 3 months it has been.

As my maternity leave comes to a close, I have some thoughts I wanted to share (and I thought I would use pictures of Reagan to show them), but please bear with me, because this post just kept getting longer and longer as my thoughts poured out - apparently I have a lot to say on the subject!

1. I'm Tired.  

This is a different type of exhaustion.  I have been tired before from staying up all night and working double shifts, but what I didn't consider is that my body is producing the food to feed my baby.  This is an exhaustion from the deepest parts of me, and our little Reagan sleeps through the night!  I can't imagine if she didn't!  I always felt like people were exaggerating or being dramatic about new parenting exhaustion, but I can now attest that being a mom is absolutely exhausting and I get it.  Isn't it funny how you always think it will be different for you?

Is this tiredness worth it?  
100% yes.  
That little person just holds your heart.  
It's really so surreal.

2. There is NOTHING Better Than Newborn Snuggles

Y'all...  How did I not know?!  
This must be a drug.  
I feel insane about wanting to snuggle this baby.  
I had no idea how incredible baby snuggles were because I have always been too afraid to hold other people's newborn babies.  But there is a special magic in a tiny person holding so tightly to you.  I mean, honestly, what an incredible honor to get this little person's trust and to assist them in finding rest.  There is just nothing like it.

3. Family is EVERYTHING

This one has taken be by surprise.  I hoped and prayed I would love our little one as much as I do, but I had no idea how much my family would love her.  It has been so incredible for me to have every member of my family reach out excitedly to hold her and realize how much she will be loved throughout her life by the people surrounding her and already is... it brings me to tears to think about.

Our West Coast family brought us meals and gifts and spent time in our home letting us nap and shower when Reagan first arrived.  They always told us we were doing a great job and really encouraged us to keep resting and pushing through the hard moments.  I always felt like we were doing so well and was so encouraged by visits.   I underestimated how much I needed that support.

My mom came to visit for a few weeks after Reagan was born and she cleaned and cooked and took care of me both emotionally and practically, and it just meant the world to me to have her in my home caring for me in that way.

Bill and I got to take Reagan on a vacation to the East Coast where the majority of my family is and she got to meet so many friends and family.  I was amazed how many people encouraged us and told us how sweet she is.  Sharing her with those people in those places was so special.  Introducing her to my brothers and sister in laws and niece and nephew was amazing.  She got to meet her great grandma Wecker as well, which was a moment I cherished.  Every single minute spent with them was special to me and I am so glad we took the trip before my maternity leave ended and while she is so little.

4. I'm Confused on the Baby Haterade

I guess I should have seen this one coming.  Just like before I got married people were referencing "the ball and chain" and saying I will never feel freedom again, so many people said I will never sleep again and how exhausting babies are.  So much negativity really got me thinking maybe I needed to be more worried than I was.  However, I fought the tendency towards anxiety and chose peace.  Well I am here to announce that marriage is wonderful and having a baby in our home has also been an incredible experience.  

When something is hard, people always focus on the tough parts.  If someone were to ask me about becoming a parent, I wouldn't even bring up the long nights and crazy crying fits - I would talk about the first time Reagan made real eye contact with me.  I would talk about how when she gains weight it feels like a personal victory because my body is producing the food that sustains her.  I would talk about how incredible it is to see her smile at me and how wonderful it is to watch her sleep peacefully.  I would tell anyone that becoming a parent has changed my life for the best and that what I have learned has helped me understand the Lord better and myself better.  It has given me new purpose and brought me great joy.

More on momma life coming soon... I will definitely be sharing my favorite parenting and pregnancy books thus far, although I haven't used most of what I learned yet :)  You guys... I also have SO many pictures.  Brace yo selves.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nursery Inspiration and Thoughts From an Almost Parent

As most of you know, Bill and I are expecting a little one at the end of this month, and I wanted to share how our gender neutral nursery turned out, since we don’t find out the gender until the big day!

I read a lot about making the space inspiring for you, since the baby has not developed their own likes and dislikes up front.  Make it somewhere you can stare at the walls and dream for them.  Make it a place you are excited about spending time in and, most importantly, get a very comfortable chair.  We made sure to do all of these things, and the space turned into something we both love.  I go in their daily dreaming about how it will begin to shape our little one into an animal, book and travel lover.  I can’t wait to meet them and see them begin to dream big dreams of seeing the world.

The gallery wall was inspired by many adventures Bill and I have been on together – Thailand, Hawaii, Italy, Seattle and New England all have pieces represented.  In addition, I snuck in some produce inspiration on that bulletin board because we both are passionate about produce and farm fresh health (One day we dream of living on a farm).  There are also a few images of places we haven’t adventured to, and I imagine our little family wandering the streets of in the future.   The giraffes and elephants are from my life shaping trip to Africa in college and the zebra and lion we stumbled upon in Target and thought they were the perfect whimsical addition to tie it all together.  Lastly, my wonderful sister in law gifted me the wood plank for the wall and I think it encapsulates such a resounding message… even though Bill and I have seen so much of the world together, this baby will no doubt, be our greatest adventure.  That little reminder will stick with me as I dream for our family and for them as an individual.  

I have been struck lately with the vast responsibility parenting is going to be, but also the amazing opportunity to care for another person and learn another facet of who the Lord is.  So often he is referenced as our father in the Bible, and without being a parent, can we really comprehend that love?  Maybe partially, but I always think first hand is best.  I believe phases of our lives are designed to bring us closer to Him and learn about sides of His being that we can have a taste of here on earth, and this just feels like such a wonderful opportunity to really grasp another part of God and another reality to lean into Him for.

All of the furniture in this room was gifted to us, which is such a blessing and something I am humbled by.  We also have a cradle that will go in our bedroom that we are borrowing.  And you guys, that brown dresser that looks like it is at least 30 years old is… it was Bill’s in his nursery… How AMAZING is that?!  Every single piece in this room brings my heart so much joy.  All those tiny books purchased by family and friends, the side table a dear friend gave us, the travel related posters, the framed picture with the excited grandparents and of course the ultra sound pictures.  I just can’t wait to begin this new chapter and bond with this sweet little love.  It’s gonna be wild and exhausting, but oh so worth it.

If I don’t pop on here for awhile (again) don’t be surprised.  Send up a prayer and send some wine my way… I am sure future me will appreciate that.  I am openly committing to limiting social media and thus the need/pull to compare my mothering to others.  I will reach out to friends and family rather than random internet strangers.  I will take my time and enjoy the moments, because I know they go by quickly.  And every time I am up in the middle of the night, and yes I mean every time, I will think of how deep the Lord’s love is for us. 

I’ll make sure to introduce our little one on here eventually!  
Love to each reader out there :)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Words of Affirmation and Parties in the Sunshine

Showers are such a special celebration.  All anticipation and excitement.  Lots of advice and gifts.  I really soaked up our baby showers that happened a few months ago and tried to remember these are the moments you hold dear.  When all your people rally around you in support and encouragement.  When you know life is about to change in ways you cannot even fathom.

We held a large shower at our home on a Saturday in April.  Tons of family and friends came through our house and enjoyed tacos and margaritas and brought so many gifts for baby my eyes welled up with tears multiple times.  Everywhere I turned people were laughing and chatting.  Neighbors mixed with family.  Friends from different circles collided.  It was so amazing to see so much bonding taking place in our home.  People offered to host the shower, but I selfishly wanted the memory where we live, because now when I look into our backyard, I think of our baby shower, and my 30th birthday party, Faith and Joshes 25th birthdays, Friendsgiving, Chase’s 30th Birthday, Mikaela’s bridal shower and all the times we have had people there.  Our home is special and as often as possible, I love to be the person who is hosting. 

When I woke up the next morning and everyone was gone and the cups and plates and balloons remained, I could not help but feel so happy.  So happy that so many people could feel hugged by our home.  So happy that I was able to enjoy time with so many wonderful friends.  SO happy to have sat on a blanket with women from different circles of my life and laugh together.  So happy my sweet dog was running around greeting everyone who came in the door.  So happy my husband loved showing people our home and the nursery (pictures of that will be posted on Thursday).  What an honor to host people and make them feel welcome, because in our home, they always are.

My sister’s and dear friend Mikaela threw me a small shower on a Friday night in Mikaela’s beautiful home.  They had a huge spread of delicious food and the small group of women spent time going around affirming things they saw in me that will make me a good mom.  Emotional? Yeah, you could say that.  It was humbling.  My sister’s bought me this beautiful flower crown with cream colored ribbons that fell down the back, and I just felt really beautiful.  Not in a conventional way, but in a soul touching way.  These women said the most amazing things to me, things that I could only hope people see in me.  I am so thrilled to have people such as them in my life.  People who get me and love me and know me and are encouraged as much by me as I am by them.  They gave me a beautiful journal with words from people who could not be there - my mom and best friends from home.  It is such a special keepsake and will continue to be where I write all about the beginnings of motherhood.

When we transitioned into prayer for me and baby and our little family my heart felt peace.  Peace that this baby was being born into such an incredible group that would love them no matter what.  Peace that the Lord already knows baby so deeply and they have not even emerged yet.  Peace that while I know this will be difficult and a transition, I will never be in it alone.  I left that night knowing my heart was understood and cared for, and who could ask for anything more?

Not sorry for the picture overload, because I could not limit these wonderful memories.  My lovely sister Faith took most of them, and these images alone are such a gift.  They are memories I will carry with me as our baby grows up and we learn more and more about what being a parent really is.  I can’t wait to tell you more about this lovely adventure ahead of me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

And I Think to Myself, What a Wonderful World

Bill and I wanted to snag a little time away before I got too big to really enjoy it, so a couple months ago (when I was around 6 months pregnant), we headed about an hour away to downtown Redlands and then into the mountains for some fresh air and quiet time together.  This day was blissful.  We had no agenda and took it as it came.  We checked out Downtown Redlands for some breakfast and discovered a small farmers market and a great little downtown area with an outdoor book sale and Norm made a new labradoodle friend named Ziggy.  We found a crepe place and a quaint little ally set up with tables and beautiful murals to sit and enjoy our breakfast to-go.  We both agreed it was a great stop on our way to or from the local mountains.

Upon the recommendation of a local, we went to a smaller lake than we had originally planned.  This was one that we could walk all the way around, and when we got out of the car I felt some tension fall off my shoulders immediately.  Isn’t is crazy how sometimes all we need is a change of pace?  To breathe some fresh air and get away from the congestion and the day to day for a bit.  We soaked up every moment up there, and Norm was a very popular dog.  Everyone stopped us to say hello to him, and of course he loved all the attention.  Spending time in nature is something I am increasingly realizing is very important.  It is a spiritual connection as much as it is physical.  It reminds us how small we are and how great the landscape of the world is.  

 I wasn’t quite ready to leave in the afternoon, so we stopped at a coffee shop/outdoor patio spot (the identity of the place was a little lost – there was a tiki bar with taps that didn’t work but locals would just help themselves to a beer/wine fridge on the patio AND a coffee shop run by a mother/daughter combo) and listened to a local group of guys play some throwback rock n’ roll from their era.  It was like we stumbled into an episode of a small town sitcom.  Everyone knew each other and Bill and I thought it was hilarious and wonderful and the perfect way to end our day. 

When we headed home that evening I was at peace.  It reminded me to get out in nature more and take in different settings more often.  I can’t wait to go back to this little town again.  While my pictures of the day are limited, my memories are vivid.  I slept blissfully that night and look forward to many more days like it.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Rogers Family Garden Update: Summer Produce

I am not the best at taking lots of garden pictures as a progression (especially with Bill and I in them), but I generally catch a picture of the produce when it is on our counter drying from being washed off and harvested.  Over the last few months we have had tons of stuff come out of our garden and have been using it as creatively and frequently as possible.  Beets, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, Swiss chard, zucchini, cucumbers, berries, sage, dill and recently a jalapeno and a couple of tomatoes (we are about to have a surplus of tomatoes and peppers on our hands).

Over Memorial Day weekend we re-planted a good amount of our garden and as the weather warms up our garden seems to be signaling that is thrilled with the changes we have made.  Originally we had liners in the bottom of the beds, but what we realized is they were preventing the plants from growing deep roots and fruit and after ripping them out we have found much better results.  

Being nine months pregnant makes it difficult to help as much as I would like, but as I look forward to my fast approaching maternity leave I am reminded that I will be able to spend lots of time gardening with a sweet baby wrapped next to my chest.  Some of their first few months will be spent outdoors soaking in the smells of fresh produce and seeing firsthand what a backyard garden is all about, and that will be so glorious.

I love summer and all the fruits and veggies that come with it.  Looking forward to experimenting a little this year and coming up with some original recipes worth sharing on here.

Also, just FYI, if you want to follow the garden via Instagram it has it’s own account for reporting all our successes!  Follow: Growallthethings

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things: On Being Pub People, First Borns and Book Lovers

 A little over a year ago, at one of my very best friends weddings, an idea for a book club was born.  After that discussion, dancing commenced and wine was drank and a few weeks later I could not get the idea out of my head.  So I reached out to the two girls I had discussed it with (and another dear friend) and we decided to move forward and see where it went.  We had all been in book clubs before, but for one reason or another they had ended, and we were all feeling like we would give it a shot, but didn’t have the highest of expectations, especially since no one knew each other.  The common threads were friendship with me and a love for reading.

When we got together to discuss what books we wanted to read at my house over Mexican food and margaritas it became obvious that this group had the potential to be kind of amazing.  No one jinxed it for awhile though, we kept meeting and reading and discussing and as the chemistry got better and better we realized that we had stumbled into something life giving.  We started openly talking about how much we looked forward to our debates and how book club is shifting into a priority for all of us.  Now we get together once a month and all our type A, first born child personalities are fueled by the structure we have set up – Monday nights in a local pub where we each pick a book every round and we sit over dinner and drinks considering each other’s take on whatever we have read for that month.  

It’s hard to explain the magic of our little group, but it’s just glorious.

We recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary of book club, and y’all, I think this could go on for a lot of years.  The pictures above include the books we read together over the last year, and I loved that we immensely enjoyed some of them and forced our way through others.  We tried to pick a variety ranging from a couple of memoirs to mysteries to a short story circuit.  I look forward to every time we get together and the inevitable fish and chips one of us orders. 

Cheers ladies!  
To one year down and many more to come!

Friday, March 31, 2017

In the Kitchen - Pesto and Preserving Greens

Bill and I have been gardening in our new home for a little over a year now (to be honest, Bill does the majority of the work, we’ll called it 70/30), and the amount of produce our beds have produced really brings my heart so much joy. Little did I know what happiness could come from the food we would grow, and now I talk about wanting a small farm (including chickens and more land) and I am learning what it takes to care for our plants. It really is such a wonderful therapy.

One of the challenges I have found, is when it takes you a few months to grow something, you don’t want to waste even the smallest portion of it. The first crops we had, the concept of waste was not as clear to me, but as we continue, I am learning that every little part of every single plant is precious and hard work. Composting has become a part of my life and I embrace the decomposing of anything that can’t be used in cooking because eventually it will be returned back to our earth to continue to help our plants be healthy. I have been seeking out ways to use up every part of the plants we grow – beets greens in our smoothies, keeping a jar of lemon juice on hand at all times, citrus finishing salts to use our lemon and orange zest (recipe on the blog next week) and this week’s edition which is carrot top pesto! (I have also experimented with mint, arugula and basil pesto’s to preserve other garden goodies, and Y'all they are all wonderful!).

This is a recipe I found through Pinterest, and made a few modifications. I always double (or quadruple) the garlic. I did not measure anything out, but ended up using Romano cheese (similar to Parmesan in flavor) because that is what I had on hand. Bill and I used this pesto as a pizza base this week and it was excellent (added a little extra olive oil to the crust first to ensure that golden baked goodness), and in the link below you will find a roasted carrot recipe that we also tried, and turned out fabulous. 

 Pesto is such a great way to preserve most greens and herbs, and I encourage you to try it the next time you find yourself wondering what to do with greens. If you make this without cheese, put it in airtight container (we have about a million different sized mason jars) and it can be frozen for up to 6 months. With cheese it lasts in the fridge about a week. Make sure to date your jars! We have a very sophisticated blue painter's tape system that works like a charm :)

carrot tops from one bunch of carrots (approximately 2-3 lightly packed cups)
large handful of basil
1 medium clove garlic, chopped
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (chopped walnuts may be substituted)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
flaky sea salt, to taste

I haven’t given many updates on our life through this means in a while, and I won’t make any promises, but I felt called to put a few posts together as I felt led. I think the focus is going to shift a little, but I can’t be sure until I dig into this side of myself again. For now, I will let you know, that what I am discovering is my life is what I make of it and I am attempting to be learning to be present with those I love and appreciate every moment I have with them.

Thanks to anyone who reads these words, but the truth is, I am learning if no one reads them, it is in the action of writing them out that I get my reward, not in the followers or comments. Reminding myself that the value lies in the process is so important and has been something I’ve been grasping in a greater way. Eliminate comparison and you will thrive.

Original Recipe Found Here