At home, DIY

DIY // The easiest raised garden bed ever


Ever since we bought our first house a few months ago I’ve been itching to start a little patio garden out back. It’s been a sort of dream of mine for awhile to grow fresh produce for my family…for health reasons, for teaching purposes (homeschool curriculum down the road?!), and just for the fun of it! I wanted to start while Jameson was young to make sure I got a handle on how things are done by the time he’s old enough to learn about it. And since Arizona has two growing seasons (spring and fall), October was the perfect time to get started.

We have this big old slab of concrete off the patio where the previous home owners had a hot tub, and it’s the perfect little corner for a raised vegetable garden. Good sun exposure, close to a water supply, and empty/ugly enough to need a little spruce up. (Eventually I’d like to add flowers and wall vines and other pretty things like that, but maybe in the spring.)


When I brought the idea of a raised garden bed to Alex, he had two criteria:

#1. It had to be easy to put together. And…

#2. It had to be relatively cheap.

(But not in that order. Ah, my sweet penny-pinching hubby. ❤ I love him so.)

Anyway, challenge accepted. We originally planned to build it completely out of wood, but why do things the easy way when you can find an even easier way? Laziness, my friends. This plan stemmed from laziness. When all was said and done, our raised garden bed was made entirely without the use of any sort of tool. 

And it only cost us about $67.

This is way cheaper than any DIY raised garden bed kit you can find at the store. (The closest I could find was $88 and it wasn’t even as wide or as deep as I wanted mine to be). Following this method allows you to get creative with the size and even the shape of your raised garden bed without costing you a fortune. Plus it looks super cute! Sort of a mix between farmhouse style and urban industrial, which I really like.


We got all our supplies at the good ol’ Home Depot. Probably the only time in the history of our marriage that we went in and came out with everything we needed and avoided an angry whisper argument in the middle of one of the aisles due to our confusion and/or our inability to make quick decisions. (We’re really not the home improvement types.)

The supply list for this do-it-yourself project is very short. Our garden bed is 3 feet wide by 6 feet long, with a depth of 1 foot. In total, all we needed were six pieces of redwood (2in x 6in x 6ft each, four of them being full length and two cut in half) and eight planter wall blocks (two for each corner, stacked on top of each other).

After we decided how large we wanted our garden bed to be, the rest was easy. We chose redwood for our lumber because of its resistance to rot and warping ($8.27 per board, but there are even cheaper versions if you’d like). We had a guy at Home Depot cut two of the six foot boards in half, we grabbed two more full-length six foot boards as well as the eight cement blocks ($2.87 each), and we took it all home.


We stacked two cement blocks for each corner of the garden bed (making it about a foot deep), used a little heavy duty glue to keep them solid, and slid two boards in the grooves on each side. Tada! All done!



The most challenging and most expensive part of this project really came after everything was built. We invested in some good, organic soil (in addition to some soil amenities) to make sure we’d have rich, healthy crops. This is where things can get pricey. But that’s for another post. 🙂

This project was really so easy and so much fun. And we already have cute little sprouts popping up all over the veggie garden! Jameson loves to look at all the plants and even give them kisses, and I’m so excited for our first harvest!


Good luck to anyone planning to give urban gardening a try! Trust me, if Alex and I (two of the least handy people on the planet) could get this project rolling…you most certainly can too. 🙂

DIY, Uncategorized

DIY // Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Ohhh my friends. Is your skin getting super dry this winter? Are you looking for a great homemade gift for the holidays? Do you need a snack while you shower? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your search ends here. I present to you the simplest, most moisturizing, most delectable homemade body scrub on the inter webs. 

Only three ingredients and ready in five minutes. This stuff is about to blow. your. mind. (And your taste buds, oh man it tastes just like a cookie.) You might already have all the ingredients just chillin’ in your pantry, waiting to be combined into pure magic.

I don’t know about you, but I love body scrubs. I love how they exfoliate, I love how they moisturize, I love how they smell. But I really can’t justify spending $25+ on one little tub. It’s over too quickly and then I have to shell out more money for another one. This handy sugar scrub recipe, however, takes care of that problem. It’s quick, easy, and made from all natural ingredients…so natural that you can literally have a quick taste while you’re using it. (Or two tastes. Or three.) Yum! That’s my kind of body scrub. 🙂  Homemade beauty products for the win.

Stick it in a cute mason jar ($8 for 12 at Target), add some ribbon and a cute tag (or make one out of cardstock paper and fancy tape like I did), and you’ve got yourself a great holiday gift for your friends and family. Yippee! (Speaking of which, if you’re reading this and we’re friends in real life…act surprised when you get your scrub for Christmas.)

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Yield: fills one 8oz mason jar

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (soft but solid)
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Optional add-ins: cinnamon, a little honey, essential oils, vitamin E oil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Soften coconut oil in microwave for a few seconds, if necessary.
  2. Add all ingredients into a standing mixer, food processor, or mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together on medium-high speed for a minute or two until the coconut oil begins to break down and mixture resembles creamy cookie dough.
  4. Place in mason jar and make it look pretty. 🙂

Note: If you mix it for too long, the coconut oil will start to melt and your scrub will be almost liquid. No worries, though, just put it in the fridge or freezer for a few, wait for it to solidify, and whip it up again.


Store your scrub at room temperature. I keep mine in the shower and so far our bathroom has stayed cool enough for the scrub to remain in its creamy/solid state. Over time, though, it may melt down and become runny because of the steam in the shower. Again, just pop it in the fridge for a bit until it returns to the consistency you prefer. 


Enjoy! xo

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Out & About

Oct 2016 // Mother Nature’s Farm

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Monday nights are family nights for us. Alex gets home for work, we pack up Jameson and the Charlie woof, and we head over to my parents’ house for dinner and dessert (right now my mom has these really yummy sugar cookies from Costco at her house, which have this weird power over me like for real I eat them until I feel sick). My sister, her husband, and my niece meet us there and we all eat together, let the babes play, and watch The Voice exactly at 7pm (sometimes a minute or two later if we’re all fighting about who has to find the remote to turn on the TV).

This past Monday night, though, we did something a little different. It’s FINALLY kind of sort of Fall-ish in Arizona (not really, but we’re pretending) and Monday was a really nice cloudy evening. So, we all (minus my dad) met at Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert. Last year we took the babies to Schnepf Farms, which is the cutest place, but it’s really more of an all-day thing and right now the days are just too hot for it to even be fun. Maybe in a few weeks.

For now, this little farm was perfect for the toddlers. We got to take them on their first hay ride, feed the animals, and pick out pumpkins. Such a fun time!

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Jameson’s favorite part was definitely the pumpkin patch; he was beside himself with joy! I’m preeeetty sure he thought it was just a giant field of orange balls, which is basically his dream come true.

I’m praying we get some cooler weather up in this oven of a state very soon. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are flooded with gorgeous autumn photos featuring cozy sweaters, colorful leaves, hot tea, and cloudy days. And I’m over here like, Jameson and I played in the sprinklers today. Ugh. It’ll happen soon, I just need to be patient.

If you live in a state where it’s actually Fall, please enjoy a pumpkin spice latte for me and fill your lungs up with that crisp autumn air. And know that I am jealous of you.

At home, DIY

DIY // Front door makeover

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Yay!!! I finally finished my first home improvement project for our new house and I’m so excited about how it turned out! Ever since I can remember it’s been a dream of mine to live in a house with a red front door. And even though our new house has almost everything on my dream home wish list, the front door was definitely in need of a face lift.

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Sad. It just looked so sad. First of all, it was painted this weird creamish color (terribly done, by the way, streaks just everywhere) which faded it completely into the side of the house. No character or charm to report there. And second of all, the previous home owners had a large dog who apparently liked to scratch at their front door and lay right up against it, so it had taken quite a beating (not to mention it was filthy and it smelled like dog, ew). I couldn’t just leave it like that.

So, I did a some quick Pinterest research, looked at a few front door painting tutorials and thought to myself, I can fix that. (“Holes” quote, anyone? Anyone?) And so I did! And you can too if your front door is as desperate for some personality as ours was.

I’m putting together my own DIY tutorial now to add what I’ve learned to the mix. There are some things that worked great for me and some things I wish I had known beforehand, both of which I’ll share with you today. But first, here are the supplies you’ll need:

  1. 120 grit sandpaper
  2. Painter’s tape
  3. High density foam rollers (at least two) – make sure they’re relatively small so you have more precision with where you get the paint
  4. Small foam paint brushes (at least two)
  5. Primer (we got about one quart)
  6. The red paint! (about one quart)
  7. **Optional: spray paint for the hardware

We went to Home Depot for everything. I picked up some sample paint chips a few weeks prior, went back and forth a zillion times on which color I liked best, and finally settled on a gorgeous shade called Red Delicious (by Glidden). Make sure you ask for the exterior version of whatever paint you choose, as your door will be exposed to the elements.

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Your first step will be to remove all the hardware and tape up the holes from the inside so that no dust/dirt can get in your house. Then, if you’d like, remove your entire door and place it somewhere you won’t mind dripping paint on (I laid out a few garbage bags on our back patio and put the door on top). I’ve read that you can do this entire project with your door still in its frame, but we chose to take it out completely because #1, it’s summer in Arizona and we couldn’t have our door just hanging open while the paint dried all day… #2, I didn’t want to spend all day trying to keep Jameson away from it… and #3, I didn’t want to take any chances with paint dripping and ruining the project. But it’s entirely up to you! If you’re using the foam rollers you probably won’t have issues with dripping anyway.

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Door removed and ready for sanding
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Our ghetto solution to no front door

Once your door is ready, you can start to sand it down. I guess sanding isn’t necessary for everyone, but for us it was. I wanted to get off that top layer of ugly cream paint (plus nasty dirt and grime) and give my new primer and paint a clean surface to grab onto. No need to break your back over it, though! A light overall sanding (with special focus on any rough parts or imperfections) will do the trick. When you’re done, wipe the door down with a damp cloth to get rid of the dust.

Next, prime your door using a foam roller. I used this deep gray primer that was recommended to me by the nice men at Home Depot. (The can says “white” but it was actually the gray version.)

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Our door only needed one coat of primer but the original paint was pretty light to begin with and, again, I was using a deep gray shade of primer. You may need a second coat if you’re painting over a dark color door, or if you’re using a white primer. The guys at Home Depot told me that red is tricky in general to get thick and even coverage with so it’s better to be liberal with your priming than to get stuck doing like six coats of red later on.

Give your primer an hour or two to dry and then break out the red! There is a particular order you need to follow when painting a six panel door to get that smooth finish. There are a couple of slight variations, but I found a general example online to follow and I love how my door turned out. Here are the steps (shown as I painted on the primer, which isn’t necessary but I did it to give myself practice before starting on the red):

  1. Paint the insert parts using a paintbrush or a small foam brush. (I used a paintbrush but in hindsight I wish I had used a foam brush because the regular paintbrush leaves brush strokes. Not absolutely crazy about that, but oh well!)
  2. Paint the raised panels using a foam roller.
  3. Paint vertically between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
  4. Paint horizontally between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
  5. Paint vertically along the two edges of the door.

Give your door a good 3-4 hours to dry really well before you start on the second coat of red (advice given to me once again by my friends at the Home Depot). I only needed to do two coats of red total and I still had a little bit of red paint leftover from the quart I bought (I actually ended up using some of that to touch up around the peephole). After you’re done with the second coat give the door a few more hours to dry again before you reattach it to the frame and close it. Otherwise it will stick to the weather stripping and mess up your beautiful work!

Once the door was done and lookin’ real purty, I knew I couldn’t just leave the hardware all brassy and outdated. But I also didn’t want to buy all new stuff either because $$$. So I did a little more Pinterest research and found a great alternative… spray paint! Seriously, so cheap (I think the can was like $7) and so easy too (I just sprayed the hardware, let it dry, and screwed it back in). And the results look awesome and super professional! I used an oil-rubbed bronze shade and it’s exactly what I was hoping for.

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I left a little gold on the deadbolt because I was afraid of tampering with the lock’s functioning, but I may go back and touch it up carefully. And when we repaint the outside of the house (hopefully this winter), we’re planning to fix up the door casing as well. For now, though, the front door makeover is complete! What do you think??

DSC_8566I’m absolutely loving it. Makes my heart so happy! I also added a couple of pretty plants to make the patio more welcoming, and eventually I’d like to replace that light with something to match my newly bronzed hardware (because right now it is yeesh). But that’s for a later time! For now, I live in a house with a red front door and I am happy. 🙂

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Abroad, Life with Jameson

CA 2016 // Laguna, Disneyland, + California Adventure

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We just got back from our five day stay in California and I couldn’t wait to write up a summary of our vacation! Partly because I don’t want to forget anything, and partly because I just have a deep love for these pictures and wanted to share them as soon as possible.

I took Jameson by myself to Georgia a few months ago to meet some relatives on my dad’s side, but this trip to California was our first official vacation as a whole family. And it was amazing. Seriously, it went so smoothly and Jameson was a perfect angel the entire time. In fact, he got compliments from strangers for being such a well-behaved and happy baby everywhere we went. He made friends everywhere and we had an absolute blast! I don’t even know what my favorite part was.

The whole trip was arranged by Alex’s company as a fun getaway for many of the employees…but we really had the freedom to plan whatever we wanted to do in the time we were there. We actually went a few days early with Alex’s parents (his mom also works for the company) just to give us time to do everything we wanted, and it was perfect.

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We left on a Wednesday and took a short flight to California (Jameson slept the entire time, bless his angel baby heart) and spent the afternoon settling into our room at The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna, which was absolutely goooorgeous. The ocean was literally just a short walk down a path from the hotel…you could see it and hear it and smell it and feel the breeze through open windows all over the resort. So lovely.

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It was a long day of traveling.

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That first evening at sunset, Alex and I took Jameson down to see the ocean for the first time. I was so excited and ridiculously giddy. The ocean is my favorite place in the world to be and I hadn’t been able to see it for several years (Arizona is not really the best place to visit the beach, ya know?). We half-skipped, half-stumbled down the steep path and finally made it to the sand. I scooped Jameson up and together we hurried to the water’s edge. He was absolutely mesmerized. I was too. Something about the ocean makes you feel infinitely small but also infinitely loved by the One who created it. It is the most wonderful feeling. We played in the waves until the sun was almost all the way down and then went back up to our room to get a good night’s sleep before our big Disney adventure the next day.

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It was HOT at Disneyland. We got there in the morning on Thursday (me, Alex, Jameson, and my in-laws who were a huge help the entire vacation) and we could feel the heat already. It was crowded too, but we still got to do a lot of the things we wanted and we had a blast anyway. Some of my favorite moments were meeting Mickey Mouse in his house in Toon Town (Jameson was obsessed. He even kissed Mickey on the nose! And actually all of Toon Town was great…so many fun things there for little kids), going on a few rides with Jameson (his first ride ever was Small World with me and Alex, which he loved, but we also went on the Winnie the Pooh ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, and King Arthur’s Carousel and he loved those too), watching the Paint the Night Parade (sooo amazing! Definitely a must-see!), and playing in the Star Wars Exhibit (odd, but Jameson had so much fun toddling around and exploring all the Star Wars stuff haha).

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That evening as the sun was setting, we walked around Downtown Disney (which Alex says was one of his favorite parts). It was so much cooler without the sun beating down on us, there was live music, and we got plenty of shopping done. 😉 I love all the shops in Downtown Disney (especially the big old World of Disney store and the Lego Store) and it all feels so magical even though you’re not actually in the parks anymore.

IMG_0625IMG_0621IMG_0624IMG_0627IMG_0630IMG_0631IMG_0632Saturday was kind of a chill day for the most part. We went to breakfast with Alex’s parents in the morning, Jameson took a good long nap when we got back to our room (we had to wake him up after the second hour!), and then we spent awhile on the beach. Jameson had the time of his life throwing sand around, walking all over and sticking his toes in the water, and splashing in the waves with me and Alex.

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DSC_8288DSC_8292DSC_8294DSC_8299DSC_8301DSC_8305DSC_8307DSC_8315DSC_8329DSC_8330After we got all cleaned up, we headed to a cocktail party hosted by Alex’s company on a patio overlooking the sea (the only work event we had to attend). It was gorgeous and the food was delicious! Plus, Alex’s uncle Andy (along with his girlfriend, Nina) drove over two hours just to spend a little time with us and finally meet Jameson. It was so nice to see them and introduce them to our sweet boy.

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After the cocktail party, we all (except Alex’s dad, who stayed behind to hang out with Andy) took a bus down to the docks where we boarded a boat that took us about 6 miles out into the ocean for a whale & dolphin watching tour. We got to see a giant pod of dolphins and one really cool humpback whale, but near the end of the tour poor Jameson got sea sick. 😦 He woke up from a nap about halfway through the boat ride and was acting kind of strange, but we thought maybe he was just sleepy still…it never even crossed my mind that he could be sea sick! He loves being tossed around and he loved all the rides at Disney, but I guess being on a boat is different. Plus he’d been snacking on random food with us all evening so maybe something just didn’t sit right. Either way, it was his first time ever throwing up for real and I felt absolutely horrible. We took him onto the steadiest part of the boat we could find and I just held him and sang quietly in his ear until we got back to the docks. Thankfully by the time we got on the bus to take us back to the hotel, he was back to his normal happy self. He even started greeting people in the lobby, waving and chatting and showing off his favorite shovel! What a ham.

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Sunday was really just a travel day. We enjoyed a quiet breakfast out on the hotel patio with the foggy ocean as our view and then packed everything up and headed to the airport. Jameson once again slept for the entire flight (seriously, this kid is a dream) and we made it home safe and sound!IMG_0674IMG_0676

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Last glimpse of the ocean before heading out.

I think what I loved the most about this trip was seeing the world through Jameson’s eyes. Being a parent gives you the chance to enjoy things you’ve done a thousand times before in completely new ways. It is such a gift! I think I actually spent most of the vacation just watching Jameson’s face to see how he’d react to everything around him. And with every bit of joy and wonder and excitement he felt…I felt it too.

Honestly, this vacation was so much more than I could have asked for. I loved getting to share it all with some of my favorite people and I loved spending so much time with my two boys. Showing Jameson the ocean and all the magic of Disneyland and watching his face light up over and over again was truly something I’ll cherish forever. I can’t wait to bring him back in a few years and see how excited he gets to experience it all again!

** One more thing I’ll mention… If you’re traveling to Disneyland with an infant, definitely check out the Baby Care Centers! They have one in Disneyland and one in California Adventure and you can find them easily on the Disneyland app. They’re quiet and air-conditioned and they have the cutest little old ladies there to help you out (at least they were there every time I went inside). There’s places to change your baby, high chairs for feeding your baby, small areas for your little one to crawl or walk around for a bit, and my favorite part was the rooms they have for nursing your baby (or for pumping). The room was darkened and secluded and was filled with these comfy wicker chairs for you to sit in. Perfect for if you need a break from all the hustle and bustle out in the park.

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A Day With Jameson, Life with Jameson

A Day With Jameson – 7.19.16

A few years ago I came across a series of photos on Pinterest of a little boy named Grant. The series was called “Life with Grant” and the photos were simple, everyday moments captured beautifully by his mother. Completely natural and unposed. It stuck with me all these years, and today I want to share with you my own version of that series – “A Day With Jameson.” I’m hoping to make this into a somewhat regular series (maybe once every few months) because I think it will be fun to look back and see how our days together have changed. But, maybe more importantly, because I think it’s important to take notice of the pure and beautiful moments that happen on even the most mundane days. This project forced me to slow down and intentionally find beauty in a typical Tuesday at home – something I may have missed out on otherwise. I was reminded again that some of the sweetest moments I share with my son are the ones that happen every day. And maybe that’s part of what makes them so sweet.

Without further ado… A Day With Jameson.

Morning.

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Lunch.

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Playtime.

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Reading.

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Dinner prep.

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Let’s play outside!

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Outfit change.

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Boycotting afternoon nap.

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Late afternoon feat. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

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Daddy’s home!

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Early evening hangs.

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Catnap.

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Baby jail while parents do yard work.

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Monsoon is brewing.

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Bathtime.

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Just before bed.

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Life with Jameson, Personal Writing

A last time for everything

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A few weeks ago, we started transitioning Jameson into his own room at night. We’ve been co-sleeping up until this point and I’m honestly so thankful for the time we got to spend together each night, snuggled up with his sweet, sleepy body between the two of us. But his four month sleep regression is hitting hard and we knew it was time to start adjusting him to sleeping in his crib.

I sobbed the first night he wasn’t with us. Of course, Jameson was absolutely fine sleeping by himself…but I wasn’t fine sleeping without him. My whole heart ached not having him within arm’s reach, not being close enough to swoop up and hold close at a moment’s notice. In reality, he was just down the hall and we could watch him comfortably on the video monitor but I still felt this odd, tremendous loss that night.

Then, suddenly, I knew exactly what it was. What was truly breaking my heart was the realization that there is a last time for everything with your babies, and most of the time you have no idea when it will come. At four months old, Jameson has already had plenty of “last times” for plenty of things…there was a last time that we swaddled him, a last time his cry sounded like a newborn’s, a last time he stretched in my favorite way. The change is gradual and you don’t always realize it’s happened until you stop and think, “When was the last time he needed my help for sitting up?”

Of course, all these changes aren’t complete losses. Things fade away to make way for other exciting things, like Jameson learning to roll or how to grab toys he wants or how to make fun new sounds. Suddenly you have twenty more things to be proud of your baby for. But still, deep down, you long for those things that faded away and wish you could have just one more chance to enjoy them.

Someday (hopefully a long time from now) there will be a last time that I get to hold Jameson. There will be a last time he comes to me asking to play. There will be a last time I help him with school work, a last time for kissing his scraped knees, a last time he’ll want me to hug his tears away. Someday all my favorite parts of his childhood will be only memories and it’s impossible to say exactly when it will happen.

I guess that’s what makes parenthood so special and compelling and beautiful, though. You just never know if this is the last time your sweet, sleepy baby will want to snuggle in your arms. Each moment is precious and each moment is fleeting.

So today I’m going to scoop my son up a few extra times. I’m going to kiss his little fuzzy head a bit more often and try a little harder to make him giggle. I’m going to rock him until my bones ache, sing to him until I have no more voice, fill up my lungs with his ever-fading baby scent, and…when he finally falls asleep in my arms and breathes a deep sigh of contentment, my soul will do the same.

Someday there will be a last time for all these sweet and simple moments. But today he is still small, and I still have just a bit more time to revel in the very precious blessing of being a mother.

 

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