Decorating with the Feeling of Fall

I don’t do a ton of seasonal decorating throughout the year, but the months of September – December just hit different for me. I love switching things up for fall and then Christmas! This year I felt inspired to decorate for fall but felt less drawn to “typical” fall décor like mounds of pumpkins and more drawn to subtle things that have the feeling of fall.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I shopped my home and hit up the thrift stores for inspiration. Today I wanted to share some of the things that I’m using that felt like fall to me. There’s a good mix of things from Target, things I thrifted, and things I DIYed (like these cute pumpkins made from old books!) – in other words, a collected mix that fits right in with the rest of the house!

Warm Metals

I think warm metals like brass and copper mimic the golden yellow and orange leaves of fall, and while use these metals in my house all year long, adding even more into my décor this time of year definitely strengthens the fall vibe.

Two copper-colored pots caught my eye at the thrift store – they were just the right size for planters. I added a few small rocks to the bottoms to create some drainage before adding in plants. In one, I decided to combine beauty + function and filled it with a cilantro plant I can snip from for meals. I especially love the copper + wood combination; it feels so warm and cozy on my kitchen counter!

Even the playroom got a little fall addition with this fun little brass and copper pot I thrifted!

I’ve slowly been thrifting a small collection of brass candlesticks and a variety of tapered candles in different colors and sizes. Brass candles + white tapers felt like the perfect fall combination for my dining room table. I had initially hoped to use thrifted candles, but the ones I found ended up being too discolored so I bought a simple set from Target. Add in a fall garland and plaid tablecloth and it feels just right for a simple fall tablescape.

And speaking of candles . . .


I don’t burn many candles throughout the year, but come fall, I love to have a candle burning. It not only makes my home feel cozy and warm, but I love the scents of fall candles. I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin scents but I enjoy things like apple, amber, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. I love that candles have the power to make you feel like you’re sitting around a campfire or walking through a farmer’s market! I particularly love this autumn candle from a local small business:

Also, did you notice that white pumpkin peeking out from behind my green glass jars? I picked that up from Target a few years ago and it’s currently housing treats.

Colored Vessels

To me personally, bright orange feels “Halloween-y” but muted orange feels like “general fall.” Does that make any sense? Unless it is an actual pumpkin or gourd that came from nature, I kind of reserve any bright orange décor for just the month of October. Otherwise, the oranges I use are muted and soft and I work to incorporate other earthy fall tones like shades of brown, green, red, and yellow.

In my search for non-traditional fall décor, I thrifted some vessels in earth tones – dark brown pitchers and the tinted green glass bottles shown on my kitchen island above – that feel like subtle nods to fall. I pair them with objects in wood, stone, copper, brass, etc. and the overall effect is definitely a fall vibe.

Thrifted: cutting board, copper container, ceramic pitcher. Target: frame, candle (old).

PS – I don’t really do fall artwork but couldn’t resist this digital download print. The print itself was about $4, printing it at my local FedEx print shop was about $2, and I already had the frame. Inexpensive and cute seasonal artwork!

Dried Florals/Greenery

The easiest and cheapest way to incorporate fall into my home is to head outside and bring it in. Last September, I snipped some hydrangeas from our bush outside and stuck them in a vase in our bedroom. They have held up for an entire year as cute – and FREE – decor. This year, I once again headed outside to forage for fall and was not disappointed.

I scoured the trees and flowerbeds and Justin brought some clippings from the woods – it was fun to see what all we could gather!

Along with greenery, another very inexpensive option I decided to display was my seasonal groceries, like the apples in a wooden bowl above.

I placed some bosc pears on a black wooden pedestal I thrifted a while ago; paired with a few fall leaves from outside and a copper candle, it creates a simple little fall moment (a temporary fall moment anyways; as I type this up, LJ is looking through the pears deciding which one he wants to eat!)

Patterned Textiles

I had hoped to thrift textiles like blankets and napkins that felt like fall, but the thing about thrifting is sometimes you hit the jackpot and other times you don’t. It’s a waiting game that rewards the patient and persistent, so I’m not giving up, but I currently don’t have as many textiles as I had hoped for. One thing I did find is a large swatch of plaid fabric for $4. It’s unfinished, and I actually bought it with a Christmas project in mind (stay tuned!), but it was just large enough to work as a fall tablecloth for now. I threw it over the table in our basement and love how it looks paired with these vessels + greenery.

Mix and Match!

You probably picked up on this, but my favorite fall moments are a mix of things on this list. It was actually pretty hard for me to figure out which picture to include in each section on this post because they all had multiple elements! I also love the juxtaposition of something new from Target mixed with something thrifted that is likely years, if not decades, old. It creates a unique mix that feels just right for me.

I also had a lot of fun shopping my own home and seeing things with fresh eyes. I pulled out my cookbooks from the cabinet and displayed a couple that had a fall vibe. I rearranged various bowls, vases, and trays that I’ve picked up over the years to display different fall items. It’s always amazing to see what I already have by just shopping around the rooms.

I fully expect these little fall moments in my house to fluctuate throughout the season – first of all, the fruit is going to get eaten ha! But also, I’m going to continue to have my eye out for little things here and there that feel like fall and I’m sure I’ll be tweaking things as time goes on. For me, that’s half the fun!

Happy Fall!

Six Weeks as a Family of Five

I’ve popped onto the blog sporadically over the past six weeks, but mostly I gave myself this time as a maternity leave. For these past six-and-a-half weeks, I took off time from my job, I paused or greatly reduced my volunteer commitments, and I cut back on my time spent on the Simplify the Chaos blog and social media. In other words, I actually simplified the chaos of life and reduced my days to one major purpose: adjusting myself and my family to life as a family of five.

It’s been wonderful to have this time off, but I’m feeling ready to ease back into more things, including this blog. Last week I shared a Day in our Life and that gave a pretty accurate look into our life right now, but today I thought I’d give more of an overview of the past six weeks. Fair warning: this is a mammoth post! Since ultimately, this blog serves as a type of journal for myself and the things I want to remember in the future, I decided to just accept the length. Grab a coffee, get comfy, and settle in!

Photo Credit: Natalie Joy Photography

I shared Ollie’s birth story here – I had a scheduled c-section that went according to plan and spent the next 2.5 days recovering in the hospital. We had a great hospital stay but were ready to get home and settle in. I felt such contentment in the first few weeks of his life – knowing he is our last baby made me want to just savor everything as much as I could.

Thanks to having lots of help from Justin and our two sets of parents, I was able to spend the mornings sleeping in (after being up in the night) and snuggling with Ollie. We have a rocking recliner set up next to the bassinet in our room and I spent many mornings just sitting there with him; I often wouldn’t emerge from our room until like 9 am or so. I have specific memories of just feeling so content and happy – I’d finish breastfeeding and just gently rock with skin-to-skin snuggles as the warm morning light filtered in through the nearby windows. Truly some of the most fulfilling memories of early motherhood I have and I’m extremely grateful!

Mr. Ollie

Ollie is a super sweet baby. I personally think he’s a pretty chill newborn – there is obviously still a certain level of crying and fussing that we expected, but overall he has been content and easy going.

From day one, he has been a good sleeper. Even in the hospital he was snuggly and hardly ever cried. He started giving us long stretches of sleep at like, 10 days old, and has been pretty consistent ever since. Of course we’ve had some rough nights where he’s up more often, but I’m typically only getting up 1-2 times a night with him which has been a wonderful surprise.

As a third-born child, we needed him to kind of just slide into the family and go with the flow. He started tagging along to swimming lessons and daddy’s softball games and various errands in his very first week of life and has been an absolute trooper from the beginning.

He almost always falls asleep in the car seat as he is shuttled around to preschool drop-off/pick-up, gymnastics, church, grocery shopping, and other events. He takes it all in stride and has been a sweet little tagalong.

Around the house, he naps fairly well if I put him down, but I also like to carry him around in my Solly baby wrap. Sometimes he naps, other times he squirms, but I do love wearing him around as I get things done around the house. I love this picture Vi took of us swinging on the porch swing with him in the wrap. ❤

One area we’re struggling in a bit is with breastfeeding, but I’ve been working with a lactation consultant and I’m confident we will get to a good place with this as well. I’m grateful that Ollie takes a bottle well, which allows Justin to help with feeding when he’s home. It’s been quite the journey and while I am not quite ready to go into details with this, I anticipate sharing more about our feeding journey at some point in the future.

Sibling Love

The two older kids have been truly amazing with this transition. I expected tantrums and regressions, I expected jealousy and sibling rivalry, I expected the initial excitement/novelty of a baby to wear off and they’d be over it and ready to send him back to the belly . . . I mentally prepared myself for struggles and a hard transition but none of that happened. The kids have been smitten since they first met Ollie. Just look at the first moment they saw him:

Initially, they both wanted to hold him all the time. After a few days, LJ’s interest in holding him kind of faded but Vi still was really into it. Then after a couple weeks, she stopped asking for it quite as much too.

Now, they ask to hold him every once in a while, and particularly like to practice holding him while standing up (with close adult supervision), but mostly they just want to love on him. First thing in the morning, they come into my room and head straight to his bassinet to check him out. Throughout the days, they want to know what he’s doing and where he is and if it’s at all possible, they want to be touching him in some way.

They love to be close to him. They’re constantly wanting to hug him and kiss him or touch his little hands or feet. I often have to remind them to give him space, especially when he’s trying to nap and they’re trying to bombard him with love. Whether he’s snuggled in his bassinet or tucked in the car seat or breastfeeding on the couch, they are not short on affection for him!

When Vi was born, LJ was only 21 months old. He was practically a baby himself: mostly nonverbal, in diapers, needing help and supervision for almost every task and heavily dependent on me. This time, the kids are older and more capable and actually helpful! They will bring me my Haaka when I’m breastfeeding. They can grab me a diaper/wipes/burp cloth/whatever I need from another room. If Ollie starts fussing, they’ll pop his pacifier back in. They can complete simple tasks like getting their own water and filling it up or grabbing a snack without needing my help. Obviously, they still have their own needs for my help too but it’s just so nice to have older kids who can be somewhat independent and helpful in this newborn stage.

They also like to bring him toys to tuck around him while he’s sleeping or breastfeeding – so sweet! Now I’ll be honest, while I’m so glad the kids love him and have adjusted well, there have been some major challenges to moving to three kids and we’ve had our fair share of struggles and learning curves. I’m planning a blog post that details more on the transition for us going from 2 to 3 kids and will share more there, but just know it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows.

Our Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and we have been SO grateful for ours. I don’t share any of the following to brag, and I know we are lucky to live near some family and have other family willing to travel. I just want to be honest and give credit where credit is due: this transition time would absolutely have looked different had we not had the generous support of many people and we are incredibly thankful.

I’ve already shared how multiple friends came through in watching the big two when we unexpectedly had to change childcare plans right before giving birth to Ollie. We also had invaluable help from both sets of our parents who came to stay with us (mine for 8 days, then Justin’s for 10) and provide help with meals, cleaning, diaper changes, allowing me to nap (!!!), and especially taking care of the older two kids. (I actually think that is part of the reason the kids did so well with the transition – even once Ollie was home, there were enough adults around to give them plenty of focused love and attention.) I really appreciated having extra hands around so I could focus my energies the first few weeks on recovery, breastfeeding, and bonding with Ollie.

We also had many friends offer to bring us meals, and a meal train was set up to begin after our parents all left. It has been SUCH a gift to have the mental load of figuring out meals to feed our family taken away, especially on the days where it feels like I just move from child to child taking care of needs and don’t have time to think about much else! These sweet people in our lives are not only bringing delicious food, but also just this incredible feeling of love and support and we’re so so grateful.

My Recovery

I think this has been my best physical postpartum recovery yet. Once I left the hospital, I stopped taking my heavy pain medication and then at about a week postpartum, I stopped needing to even take Ibuprofen. I wasn’t trying to be superwoman; I truly felt good and didn’t feel the need for medication. I hesitate to even share this because I know not everyone’s experience is the same and truly, MY OWN experience hasn’t been the same each time. Recovery after LJ’s birth was ROUGH and I was in a ton of pain for a while, so I’m very grateful this time was better.

I think there are probably a lot of factors that helped this time around: lots of help so I wasn’t needing to overexert myself, getting up and active early on by taking gentle walks pushing Ollie’s bassinet down the hospital halls, and also, I think my body kind of remembered this process and what to do. I also gave myself grace to listen to my body – if I felt good, I did more and if I felt tired, I took it easy. Again, this was only possible because I had help from others in the first few weeks. Once all the grandparents left and Justin went back to work (he saved his days off for after they went home), I was almost a month postpartum and had recovered enough to be able to keep up with the kids well. Since we had slashed ALL unnecessary commitments and preschool hadn’t started yet, I had time to slowly adjust to a 3-on-1 dynamic during the days. And when Justin isn’t working and is home, he’s super involved with taking the older two kids so I have time with Ollie, or has even taken all three for periods of time so I can rest or get things done. It all helps!

Now at six weeks, I’m going to start easing back into gentle exercise for my body and scar massage at my incision site. I feel good and ready to do more!

Mentally, I’ve had periods of ups and downs. I’ve been overcome with gratitude, love, and contentment AND I’ve also been overwhelmed and stressed and frustrated. I’m trying my best to remind myself that the roller coaster of emotions and hormone shifts is so normal, but there have definitely been tough moments.

I know this is likely my longest post to date so I’m going to wrap it up, but I do want to give a little shout out to two other major things that happened in the last six weeks:

Vi’s 3rd Birthday!

Our sweet Vi turned 3 years old in August and we had her birthday party 10 days after Ollie was born. We invited our family and I had a few simple decorations: our usual Happy Birthday banner, two large balloons, and a princess cake. I picked up an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and they just so happened to have one with Disney princess rings on top – it was absolutely perfect for our princess-loving girl! I added a ton of fun sprinkles and three big candles on top and she was absolutely thrilled.

Vi is so much fun to surprise – she is easy to please and gets excited for everything. She is just as joyful getting a ring pop as she is getting a big present and it was a blast to see her eyes light up and hear her delighted squeals with each gift. I especially enjoyed that LJ wanted to get her a little gift (he picked out nail polish for her!) and he was genuinely excited for her to open presents and feel celebrated.

We loved celebrating our girl! She is sweet and spunky and adventurous and wild and just the most fun three-year-old I know.

Preschool Began

LJ and Vi both started preschool a couple weeks ago! We were all ready to start some sort of routine and the start of the year has gone so well.

They both love their teachers and are making new friends and I’m grateful to have some one-on-one time with Ollie in the mornings while they’re at school.

WHEW!! If you’ve stuck around this long, I’m impressed. It’s hard to squeeze in such a monumental six weeks of life into a blog post, but I’m glad to have all this documented to look back on someday. The days are long but the years really are so short. Ollie already has lost his newborn baby look and things change in what seem like the blink of an eye. This six weeks has been full of ups, downs, love, support, challenges, triumphs, and so much gratitude. I am thankful for this life and this family of five and want to savor every stage as best I can.

A Day in the Life {9.9.22}

Every so often, I like to do a “day in the life” post to just document a random day. These posts are so fun for me to look back on later and see a peek at our life at a particular stage – things change so much with kids and yet, while we’re living it, it feels a little like groundhog day (just wait until you see how many pump parts I have to wash today ha!) Days slowly shift, routines slowly change, and before we know it, we’re in an entirely new phase. I love just taking the time to document a full day so I can remember the ordinary things that seem unremarkable at the time, but feel so sweet and special looking back on. I decided to document last Friday, the last weekday before preschool started and therefore the last day of what felt like my “maternity leave” at home all day with the kids.

September 9, 2022

Ollie is currently sleeping in a bassinet next to my side of the bed, and I love waking up and peeking over at him! The morning light filtering in through the windows and his sweet little face peeking out of a cozy sleep sack (my little baby burrito!) – it’s moments like these, and the feeling of contentment that comes with them, that I want to remember forever.

Right now, our bedroom is rearranged so we can fit both the bassinet and a recliner and small table for late-night feeding and pumping. It’s not glamorous, but it works well for us in this season.

Sometimes I try to wake up before the older two kids, but often there are mornings (like this one) where I’m exhausted from being up in the middle of the night and they come and wake me up. They crawl into bed and we snuggle a little and I try to keep them quiet to not wake Ollie and it’s one of those beautiful chaos kind of things that I know I’ll look back on nostalgically very soon.

On this morning, Ollie miraculously stayed sleeping after the kids came into my room so I got up to let the dogs out and get breakfast around. I’ve been transitioning us away from cereal every day (it’s just not filling enough and my kids always want a snack soon after) by giving the kids choices of simple, hearty options. Today Vi picked a frozen waffle and breakfast sausage and LJ picked a hard boiled egg.

After breakfast, the kids worked on a puzzle together on the floor while I picked up and re-folded the laundry I had folded on the couch the night before. . .and the kids had messed up the piles when they woke up before me and came downstairs.

Ollie was still sleeping so I headed into the office to work on a blog post (today I was writing a list of my postpartum favorite things).

I had a little visitor playing with her Lego castle at my feet!

After a bit of work, I heard Ollie start to stir, so I quickly went upstairs to wash my face and put in my contacts. Vi loves to come with me and “get ready” too. She’s in a stage of wanting to do anything and everything that mommy does, and this includes skincare haha. I’ll give her a tiny dot of whatever I’m applying and she puts it on too. Notice all the jewelry – that’s all her!

I got Ollie up and out of his sleep sack, changed his diaper, and headed downstairs to snuggle up and breastfeed. I finished up my blog post while feeding (and using my haaka) so this is quite the multitasking moment haha!

I’m not ready to go into all the details, but right now Ollie is not transferring enough milk by himself to get full. I am currently pumping after every feed and feeding him that milk via bottle. This is a very typical view of feeding – one or both kids usually wants to be right next to us. (LJ is obsessed with that farming simulator game right now!)

Once Ollie was finished, I headed into the kitchen to do the dishes. Right now, I’m having to do dishes frequently due to all the pump parts constantly needing washed.

The older two came in for a mid-morning snack of yogurt and granola . . .

. . . while I hard boiled another batch of eggs for our breakfasts. With our shift to heartier breakfasts, I find that it’s really helpful to batch prep something to always have on hand. Sometimes it’s a baked oatmeal or a big batch of pancakes; today it’s a batch of hard boiled eggs! I also reach for these if I need a mid-morning snack full of protein.

Vi asked if she could let her Ariel doll “swim” and even though I knew I’d probably regret it, I set up a small bowl on a towel for her to play with her toys. LJ wanted to join the fun and brought their little stool for a diving board ha! It always does my mama heart good to hear them play happily together, even if it does result in a bit of a mess.

I left them to it and headed upstairs with Ollie to put away laundry and tidy up a bit.

He wasn’t content in his bassinet anymore so I wrapped him up on me. I love my Solly Wrap – makes household tasks with a newborn so much easier!

We headed back downstairs and spoiler alert: the water DID make a mess but you know what, it entertained my kids for a while and truly wasn’t hard to clean up quickly so it was worth it.

I threw together some simple lunches for the kids – chicken nuggets in the air fryer, tomatoes, cucumbers, and an “Oreo” (it’s really a plant-based version of the cookie with some cleaner ingredients that tastes surprisingly good!) LJ couldn’t wait to eat it 😉

For my lunch, I had some leftovers. We feel so lucky to be surrounded by a caring community here – a friend set up a meal train for us and we’ve been receiving three meals a week from friends. It has been SUCH a gift as we adjust to life with another baby and we are so grateful! Today I finished up a chicken pot pie that a friend dropped off a few days before.

After lunch it was time to feed Ollie again. This time, Vi wanted to snuggle up against my arm and “hold” him.

Another feed, another pumping session. I’ve been working hard to keep my supply up and I’m proud that it’s adjusting to get what we need.

Had another visitor during the bottle portion of this feed!

Once Ollie was finished, I gathered all our stuff and loaded the kids into the car to head to a playdate at a friend’s house. It was so good to get out of the house and have some mom conversation with a friend while our kids played – bonus points for it being gorgeous weather and getting to spend time outside! As you can see, Vi made herself right at home in their dress-up collection.

After about two hours we loaded back up to head home. Once we got there, Ollie was ready to feed again. This time, I settled in with a book while he fed.

And of course, we did have a visitor. This time, Elsa came to join 😉

Justin got home and took LJ outside to enjoy the lingering warmth of the day and play some golf in the yard.

Meanwhile, Vi, I mean Elsa, wanted to hang out inside and play in the playroom,

while I did another round of dishes.

Another friend dropped off dinner for us (cannot overstate how grateful we are for this!) It was a yummy salad, chicken tater tot casserole, and sliced pineapple – filling and delicious!

My cousin, who lives nearby, just had her first baby in June and she and her family stopped by for a bit in the evening to meet Ollie. It was so fun to see these two little second cousins meet and I can’t wait to see them grow up together! We chatted about life and ended up feeding our babies at the same time; I enjoyed swapping stories and suggestions for things we’re each going through with our little ones.

The kids played a bit more and then Justin rounded them up for bedtime. Our bedtime routine involves brushing teeth and the kids picking out two books each to read in their beds. We’re currently trading off on bedtime duties and it was Justin’s turn, but Vi likes for me to read one book so tonight I did. Justin started with LJ and then took over both kids while I slipped out. (I decided I prefer not to share pictures of my kids in their beds).

I headed downstairs to snuggle Ollie and wait for Justin to come join. We had to wait for him because . . .

. . . we’re currently binging “Only Murders in the Building” together. It’s so entertaining!

Justin got some time with Ollie awake and alert, then I fed him one more time and we all headed to bed.

What a full day!

To see previous Day in the Life posts, you can check out the links below:

November 16, 2018

July 9, 2019

January 14, 2020

March 26, 2020

February 13, 2021

September 13, 2021 (almost exactly a year ago – my how things have changed!)

June 2, 2022

My Postpartum Mama Favorites

It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow Ollie will be one month old! This time of postpartum has been sweet, challenging, beautiful, overwhelming at times, and delightful at others. I’ve been trying my best to focus on savoring this stage because as a third-time mama, I know it goes so very fast.

There are a few things that I’ve been reaching for again and again over the past four weeks and today I thought I’d share them in case they might be helpful for anyone else preparing to have a baby. It’s like a Friday Features: Postpartum Mama Edition! While these are my top favorites, this was by no means an exhaustive list of the things I’ve needed and used postpartum. I plan on devoting a future post to all the things I’m using and loving for baby, or maybe an “if I was registering again” post that includes the essential items I’ve used in my pregnancies and postpartum journeys. For today though, here are my current top items I’m using all the time!

Nipple Butter

Currently, I am both breastfeeding and pumping and this stuff is a lifesaver! It’s organic and you don’t have to wash it off before nursing or pumping, so I feel good about using it for myself and my baby. Right now Ollie is feeding every 2-3 hours and I cannot imagine that much action without a protective balm helping to restore and moisturize. I have not had chapping or cracking at all and it has definitely helped keep the pain level of initial nursing down. I do highly recommend nursing pads too, which help soak up any extra cream and also soak up breastmilk leaks. I love these washable ones!

Sculpt and Recovery Postpartum Leggings

These leggings are a splurge, but have been SO worth it for me. These give me a great amount of compression and helped me feel secure after my c-section. I started wearing them in the hospital and continue to wear them nearly everyday. It didn’t agitate my c-section incision and in fact, I feel like it actually provided a protective layer for my incision to heal without rubbing against moving fabric. I feel like the compression and support these give to my core have really aided in my quick recovery. They are not only super comfortable but are high-quality and made to last. I only have one pair but I used it postpartum for both Vi and now Ollie and they have held up amazingly well.

Postpartum Support Bloomers

These bloomers are also pretty splurge-y, but again, I used them postpartum for both Vi and Ollie and they have held up great. These provide core and pelvic floor support, both of which are so needed postpartum. I sometimes wear these with the recovery leggings, but usually I choose one or the other. The bloomers are comfortable and, like the leggings, don’t bother my incision area at all. I don’t have any other support garments or belly bands or anything – the leggings and bloomers are all I need!

Compression Socks

During this pregnancy, my feet and hands started to swell and tingle. I expected it to stop once I had the baby, but it’s still affecting my feet a little bit. I have found that compression socks are really helpful in keeping the swelling down and reducing the tingling sensation. I don’t wear these with my compression leggings, but I will wear them around the house with shorts or to sleep in for a couple hours.

C-Section Cream

Technically, this is a future favorite since I haven’t been able to use it yet this time postpartum, but I know I will use it multiple times a day! If you have a c-section, scar massage is so important! I have done scar massage each postpartum period and it was a big reason why my scar healed so well. I don’t care if this is vain, but I want my scar to look good. It’s important to me that it heals nice and flat and as smooth as possible. Expecting and Empowered is an amazing resource for pregnancy and postpartum and I highly recommend checking them out. This info they put together for c-section scar care has been incredibly helpful for me! I used this scar massage cream when postpartum with both LJ and Vi and will be using it again this time as well.

Rechargeable Book Light

This is a super random addition to the list, but it has really made my postpartum experience better at night! I am obviously up often during the night and right now, Ollie is sleeping in a bassinet in our room. I don’t want to turn on a light and bother Justin, but I also don’t just want to scroll my phone at 3 am (that backlight wakes me up too much!) This booklight is the perfect solution – it allows me to read while nursing but it really only illuminates my page and doesn’t cause too much light to wake up Ollie or Justin. I love it!

Like I said earlier, this list wasn’t exhaustive of everything I’ve used postpartum, but these are the top things that have made my recovery and newborn mama life better. I highly endorse each item! Now I’m off to go snuggle my newborn – the time with an itty bitty baby around here is going fast and I’m going to enjoy it while I can!

Ollie’s Birth Story

Happy Tuesday! We had a great Labor Day weekend around here, and with “labor” on my brain and some extra time on my hands, I finally had a chance to sit down and write out Ollie’s birth story. Today we’re taking it back to August 10, 2022!

Because LJ and Vi were both c-section deliveries, I knew that this third baby would also be one. During pregnancy, I mostly kept my mind focused on the baby and hadn’t given much thought to the actual surgery but as the date approached, I have to admit my nerves started to kick in. A c-section is a pretty major surgery and there is always a level of risk with surgery, even a planned one. I started to feel more anxious as the date approached and those emotions mixed with excitement for meeting this baby soon to create a kind of nervous adrenaline energy in the last week of my pregnancy.

We encountered some stress in the days before my surgery too: my parents, who were originally supposed to come stay with the kids while we were in the hospital, found out they had been exposed to COVID-19 just two days before they were planning to come here. There wasn’t enough time to wait and see if they also tested positive, so we had to scramble and come up with alternate arrangements. We’re so thankful for our community here, as we had multiple friends step up to offer help and watch our kids while we were in the hospital. The night before my surgery we dropped the kids off with some of our best friends and both our kids and theirs were SO excited about their first ever sleepover. It made me feel so much better about the situation knowing LJ and Vi were safe and having this special experience with their little buddies. It was kind of surreal tucking them in and kissing them goodnight knowing the next time we saw them we’d be a family of five!

Justin and I went home and got ready for the next morning. I re-used my hospital packing list from Vi’s birth and double-checked to make sure I had everything. The beauty of a planned c-section is you can actually feel pretty prepared beforehand; I showered and washed and dried my hair before heading to bed, so all I needed to do when we woke up (bright and early at 4:30!) was wash my face, put on a tiny bit of makeup, and take my last belly picture. 🙂 I honestly LOVED my round belly – pregnancy gives me a whole new level of body positivity and I savored my bump each time.

We had to be at the hospital at 5:30 am for my 7:30 surgery. Once we got there, we were taken to a room for me to get prepped for surgery.

I had to scrub down with sterile wipes and get in my hospital gown, then was hooked up to all the monitors and IVs – I have to admit I don’t love this part. It was a little uncomfortable for me to just be sitting in a hospital bed with all the wires and monitors and not be able to move around much. Plus, it was around this time that I really start to get nervous about the surgery. This last-minute anxiety happened for me with Vi’s birth too, so I just reminded myself of the same things I did back then: I am capable, I am brave, and I am doing this for my baby! So many friends and family members were checking in with us via text and Marco Polo by this point – letting us know we were in their thoughts and prayers and they were excited for us – and this was also a big comfort to me and helped keep my mind from spiraling to worry and negative energy.

Surgery time rolled around and I got wheeled into the (very cold) OR for my spinal block. This was honestly the worst part of the whole thing for me. I had the same anesthesiologist as my previous two surgeries which was comforting because I trusted her, but it’s just a nerve-wracking process regardless. This time was unfortunately my worst experience with it; I was feeling the burning pain too much on my left side so there was additional poking and pushing as she worked to get it set more centrally. I really had to breathe through the pressure and pain and try my best to relax (tensing makes it harder, but dang it’s hard not to tense when you’re feeling pain!) I was incredibly relieved when it was finished.

Once I was positioned on the table, I said some prayers and mentally prepared to meet my baby soon. Justin was able to enter the room and hold my hand while everyone got ready – I was thankful for that warm, reassuring touch and instantly felt more prepared once he was there. My OB came in and things got rolling! There’s something very energizing about the room at this point – baby is coming soon, everyone is excited and alert, there’s a little suspense as we get closer and closer, and I just have this feeling of being READY. I prefer to have the curtain up during surgery but my OB and Justin kept me informed of how things were progressing and pretty soon, I’m hearing that they see the head and here comes baby! One of our nurses was Justin’s cousin and she graciously offered to take some pictures of the process so we could both be fully present in the moment.

With LJ’s birth, we didn’t find out the sex ahead of time AND we didn’t know we were going to need to have a c-section after 25 hours of labor (which started 10 days early!) With Vi’s birth, we planned the c-section but once again didn’t find out the sex ahead of time. With this baby, we knew the sex, we knew the c-section date, we had the name solidified . . . I wasn’t sure how I would react when he was born because there wasn’t really any element of surprise if you know what I mean. And yet, the MOMENT I heard his tiny cry, I instantly teared up. My heart was just FULL knowing my baby was here. They lifted him up for me to see over the curtain (and he looked rough haha – lots of gunk all over his tiny body!) and I was just so dang happy. I smiled the whole time and couldn’t wait to get snuggled up with him. I had requested skin to skin asap, so as soon as they had him cleaned off a tiny bit and finished their initial assessments he was on my chest.

Justin’s cousin remarked that I looked so content laying there with Ollie on my chest and it is so true – I felt so much peace, love, and contentment in that moment. I think because Justin and I debated for so long whether or not to even have a third child, and then we weren’t sure if we would actually get pregnant once we decided to try, it just seemed even more incredible that he was actually there.

After I got stitched up and cleaned up, we were transferred to the post-op room and then eventually back to our bedroom. The whole morning just felt so joyous and exciting and we loved calling family and friends and introducing them to our sweet Ollie. And later that day, the MOST special moment happened when our kids came in to meet him! I’ll save that post for another day though 🙂

We are so thankful for Ollie – he just feels like he was always meant to be part of our family and I’m incredibly grateful that he’s here.

August 2022 Book Reviews

Happy September 1! Many people celebrate this day as the start of fall but I personally celebrate it as the start of birthday month. 🙂 And it’s also a great day for my monthly book review! After not being able to read very many books in June and July, I’ve been taking advantage of all the time sitting, snuggling, and breastfeeding my newborn to get more books in lately. In August, I read five books, including one brand new children’s book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you. Let’s get started!

Mama, Sing My Song by Amanda Siebert


I consider myself lucky to be part of the launch team for this book and to have received a free advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Mama Sing My Song is a company that writes personalized songs for children – I bought a personalized song for LJ two years ago and it blew me away! We still sing it to him regularly and I’m planning to order a song for Vi soon (and one day, Ollie will have one too!) This book is like a song written for all children and it is very sweet. It’s a Christian children’s book that reinforces how unique and special the child is and how they have purpose and are so very loved. It’s encouraging and uplifting and the illustrations are beautiful and whimsical. I can see this book being one I reach for again and again for bedtime stories! You can pre-order the book now and it’s set to be released on September 27th.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Minnie has had a lifetime of bad luck on her New Year’s Day birthday. From losing out by minutes on being the First Baby of 1990 (and the big cash prize that came with it) to getting locked in a bathroom all night during a NYE party, something disastrous always seems to happen and she blames one person for her misery: Quinn Hamilton, the man who beat her out for First Baby of 1990 and took her name along with it. When the two finally meet on their 30th birthday, Minnie is determined to hate him and the charmed life he has seemed to lead. But as they bump into one another more often and their lives start to overlap, she realizes maybe they’re not so totally different after all.

It took me a few chapters to warm up to Minnie – she was a little too woe is me, too obsessed with her luck, and too jaded against money/anyone rich at first. Once I warmed up to her, I enjoyed the rest of the book! I thought the setting was going to keep jumping forward New Years, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the timeline actually shifted between moving along in present day, and flashing back to previous New Years. It’s a little far-fetched at times but if you can allow for a bit of unreality, it’s sweet. I loved seeing the progression of Quinn and Minnie’s friendship and I appreciated the growth that each of them went through. I also felt like there were the perfect amount of side plots and secondary characters – just enough to keep things interesting and add to the plot but not too much that it got confusing or took away from the main storylines. I’d rank it as PG-13 for a bit of language (mostly from one side character) and one pretty brief make-out scene. While it’s centered around New Years and would make for a good read to cozy up with a blanket, it’s not so festive that it can’t be enjoyed year round. It’s a cute little read and I liked it!

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

Jenny Tate decides a change is necessary after her divorce, which was so weirdly amicable that she has stayed friends with both her ex-husband and his new wife, so she moves out of New York City to set up her wedding dress design shop in her hometown. This puts her closer to her mom and sister, Rachel, who leads an idyllic life with her handsome lawyer husband and their triplet (!) daughters. But things aren’t quite what they appear to be in each of the sister’s lives: Rachel’s perfect marriage is starting to fall apart and Jenny can’t seem to shake herself free from the hold her ex-husband has on her or figure out what the deal is with her charming and elusive downstairs neighbor. More than ever, these sisters are going to have to rely on one another and find their own inner strength to reach for the happiness they both crave in their lives.

This book has been on my list of top recommendations but I read it several years ago – long ago enough that I don’t have a book review on the blog and couldn’t actually remember much of the plot. After re-reading it this month, I’m not entirely sure why this made it onto my list of tip-top recommendations. There are redeeming qualities for sure and I certainly didn’t hate it, but I spent most of the book incredibly frustrated. I wanted to root for Jenny and Rachel, who are both likeable, relatable characters, but their inability to stand up for themselves in their respective situations for so long just made me angry. I think maybe I personally have changed since first reading – as a wife and now mother, there were certain aspects of the plot that I was just so bothered by. While the ending is mostly gratifying, it takes a really long time to get there and I’m not totally sure it’s entirely worth it. On the other hand, the author does a good job of depicting flawed, real humans and the complicated realities of life and relationships. The dynamic between the sisters felt really authentic to me; there is support and love and also they have to work through hurts and mistakes. There are pieces of the plot that break your heart and others that make you want to cheer. Overall, it’s a decent read, but I’ll be removing it from my top recommendations list, as it now feels more like a B+ level read.

With Love from London by Sarah Jio

Valentina Baker was only eleven years old when her mother, Eloise, abandoned Val and her father in Southern California and moved back to her native England, never to be seen or heard from again. Twenty-three years later, Val receives the news that Eloise has died and left her beloved bookstore to Val. Fresh out of her divorce and needing a new beginning, Val decides to travel to London and take over the bookstore, only to discover upon arrival that Eloise left her a scavenger hunt as well. Is it too late for Val to connect with and understand her mother and the choices she made in her life? As Val works through the scavenger hunt, she starts to fall in love with the neighborhood, the cozy flat, and the people who lived with and loved her mother and comes to realize that her mother’s life was much more complicated than she ever realized.

This book has a charming setting, a likeable cast of characters, and a little bit of mystery – all elements that I love in a book. Told in alternating past and present perspectives from Val and Eloise, it weaves together a story of love, loss, heartbreak, forgiveness, and family. I should have loved it, but I found myself only moderately interested because I kept having the feeling that I’d read it before – it felt like the combined pieces of several other books I have read. It seemed predictable to me but I think if I hadn’t read other similar stories (specifically, it felt a lot like How to Find Love in a Bookshop meets The Forgotten Room) I would have enjoyed it much more. I did also struggle with some of the more tragic elements of the plot; although it portrayed the missed chances that are often the case in real life, I think I was hoping for a little more feel-good escapism? Overall, I this this was a just-okay read for me but I don’t actually think it’s a bad book and would suggest giving it a try if small-town English bookstore vibes are what you’re craving.

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Single mom Nora Hamilton wrote a screenplay based on her divorce and now her home and beloved tea house out back have been taken over by lights, camera, and action as it’s now the set for the movie adaptation. After filming is finished and the crew leaves, she discovers one person has remained: the star of the movie and highest-paid actor in Hollywood, Leo Vance. Leo is in need of some time away and makes Nora a deal: he’ll pay $7000 to stay in her tea house for a week. To steal this from the book cover: “Seven days: it’s the blink of an eye or an eternity, depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.”

I’ve seen a lot of buzz about this book lately so I was very eager to check it out and it didn’t disappoint. I LOVED Nora and wish she was real because I want to be friends! I also loved Leo and how refreshing their dynamic and desire for simplicity in life was. It actually felt like a realistic romance between a 39-year-old mom of two and a 40-year-old Hollywood movie star. My biggest complaint with this book (and maybe this is a bit of a spoiler) is that the conflict takes up a lot of time. I felt similarly reading this as I did reading The No-Show – there was a point where I was like oh my goodness what do I even want to happen here? How is this going to be redeemable? And yet, when I finished, I realized I actually loved the book. I went back and re-read so many parts and I have to say, that part of the reading process was extra enjoyable. The overall vibe of the book reminded me of Evvie Drake Starts Over, so if you loved that book, I highly recommend this one (and conversely, if you hated it, you might not like this one either). I personally really enjoyed it and think it will make it to my top recommendations!

What have you been reading and enjoying lately?