Three Years a Mama

One thing you hear a lot when you are expecting a baby is, “your whole world is about to change,” and it’s true. Nothing is ever the same after having your baby! I learned this myself after having our first daughter, Norah. A month and a half ago, we welcomed our second daughter, Elsie, into our family, and again I say, our world has forever been changed. Of course I mean this in the best way possible! She has been such a treasure to get to know and love, and we are all smitten–especially her older sister!

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Elsie Jo Pianalto:: sweetest little pumpkin

Along with the life changing experience of becoming a mother, and then again recently for the second time, I’ve learned some life lessons for myself and my fellow mama friends who may be reading this. So with this being my first post up since Elsie’s arrival, I felt it appropriate to compile that list on here today!

First, I’ve learned that no matter what stage or season of motherhood you are in, you’re a mama! Whether it’s the first week of baby’s conception, or your last week of pregnancy, you’re a mama to that sweet life inside you. Whether you only carried your baby for a short while here on earth, you are a mama. Whether you are an adoptive parent, a foster parent, or are still waiting for that call, you are a mama. This is something to take pride in.

I’ve learned that your heart triples in size when you have your first baby, and that a mother’s love is rooted so deeply into your soul that nothing here on earth can quite compare to it. When you welcome your second (or fifth) baby, your heart triples again, and that unconditional love is equally felt for them.

I’ve learned that no two pregnancies are the same. Not your pregnancy and your friend’s pregnancy. Not your first pregnancy and your second. Stop comparing your beautiful preggo baby body and be thankful to have a baby body.

I’ve learned that no two babies are the same. Don’t place expectations on your baby to match your first baby or your friends’ babies; they wont meet those expectations! Enjoy getting to know your baby, enjoy watching your baby meet his/her own milestones, and soak it all in.

I’ve learned that when it comes between a nap and a meal, many times, a nap wins.

I’ve learned that when it comes down to having that nice shower you were hoping to get, and lying on the bed with your baby because it’s the only way she’ll sleep right now, you decide that your shower can wait.

I’ve learned that your baby body will linger, and that’s okay. Those extra pounds and stretch marks won’t go away over night (or in two months). Your post baby body is a beautiful representation of being a mother…it’s part of it. Allow yourself some grace to give it time to heal!

With this, I’ve learned that when your baby pounds do come off, your body really won’t ever be the same. Sure, you may fit into your old jeans and bras, but you’ll notice your boobs have taken a new shape, and your hips maybe changed ever slightly. You’ll take on a new woman’s body, and it’ll never be what it was before children. It’s okay; it’s beautiful, it’s sexy, it’s a new you.

I’ve learned that breastfeeding comes easily to some women, and to others, like myself, it is a huge obstacle. It hurts, you bleed, your supply isn’t overly abundant, your baby doesn’t latch to you, it puts you into a depression. Or, it works. No matter what end of the spectrum you are on, that’s okay.

Along with this, I’ve learned that fed really is best. There is no right or wrong for you, mama. Is your baby happy, and growing? If so, it does not matter what route you take. Don’t cause yourself so much stress and angst over this–your beautiful baby will be absolutely okay.

I’ve learned that you just can’t compare yourself to other mamas. Be inspired? Sure. Be encouraged? Yes. Ask advice? Okay. Learn from? Absolutely. But you can’t compare. Stop comparing.

I’ve learned that sometimes, the days seem never-ending, but I promise when you blink an eye you’ll be staring at your once tiny newborn who now is a beautiful, spunky, witty little girl. During those midnight feeds when your tired body and brain are tempted to wish for the day she sleeps through the night, try, try to remember this, and soak in every last hour with your sweet baby. Every day they are growing to need mama a little bit less, and someday, you’ll wish these days back.

I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. It’s okay if you can’t get your picky toddler to eat anything but a pouch and a hot dog for lunch one day. Tomorrow, they won’t even like hot dogs! It’s okay that you napped with baby instead of doing that load of laundry today. Soak all that cuddle time you can get; laundry will be there tonight.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no to some things. If you aren’t the mom type who has a Pinterest home, goes to social gatherings every day, runs a small business, has a homemade meal in the oven every night, spends quality time with your kiddos and saves an extra hour for a bubble bath and a book, I deem you normal. It’s okay to say yes to some things and not feel guilty to say no to others! Say yes to the things that are Kingdom work, and say no to the things that aren’t purposeful and intentional.

I’ve learned that you are watched every minute of every day. Be intentional with what you watch, listen to, say, how you treat others, how you react to things. Our kids’ minds are soaking it in and learning from our actions.

I’ve learned that children are the easiest way to bring us to our knees in prayer. It is a blessing and a privilege to be a mother, and we need to be in constant prayer for those sweet babies.

I’ve learned that our children are our biggest and most important ministry.

I’ve learned that raising children is the best way to grow yourself; in patience, in character, in wisdom, in love, in creativity, in discipline, and on a spiritual realm. Norah and Elsie bring out the best and the worst in me, but they also make me want to be better!

I won’t tell you I’ve mastered all of these life lessons, but I am thankful for all that my girls have taught me so far! Being a mama to Norah and Elsie has truly been my biggest blessing, and the greatest adventure that my hubs and I have ventured on together! To my fellow mamas out there: what are some of the most important things you have learned on your motherhood journey? I’d love to connect with you and hear!

I don’t know about you, but Oak and Earth is super excited for the upcoming holidays! Keep an eye out for some fun holiday inspired posts that will be coming your way really soon! Follow @oakandearth on instagram, and my personal handle @terapianalto for blog updates and my every day snippets!

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Peace and Love,

Tera -xo

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter in your mail box? Do you remember a time when you had to wait weeks instead of seconds to hear from someone? With the advent of email, texting, and instant messaging came the swift decline of what is now affectionately (for me anyway) referred to as “snail mail”. While modern forms of communication and social media undeniably have their perks, there is something about old fashioned mail that is incomparable.

Mailing a letter is the next best thing to showing up at someone’s door. You pick out the stationary or card and pen. You spend time writing out your thoughts and questions, stories and sentiments. You touch the paper with your hands. You seal the envelope. You place it in your mail box, and they retrieve it from theirs. They open the letter you sealed. They touch the same paper. They read the words you wrote by hand. There is an intimacy there that texting can never come close to.

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I picked up this stationary, dip pen, and wax seal kit at a little shop in Florence, Italy

For those of you who have been following along with us for awhile, you might recall that I have a pen-pal, Becca, whom I have been corresponding with for the past 15 years. In fact, the last piece of mail I’ve received was a “Save-the-Date” to her wedding. Becca and I started writing when we were in 5th grade, but didn’t meet until we were 21. I was studying abroad in Scotland at the time, and she came to visit me from her home in New England. Becca and I have both experienced and been through so much since we began writing all those years ago, and she has been such a blessing to me. I never would have had the pleasure of knowing her, had it not been for handwritten letters. (Becca is also an amazingly talented illustrator and you should definitely check out her work here!)

Another thing I love about letters is that they are a legacy. They don’t disappear with the click of a button. They are a written history to be treasured and passed down through generations. I have letters from my great grandparents and grandparents, many of whom have now passed, and I deeply treasure the words they left behind. Seeing the handwriting of someone you can no longer speak to is almost like them being there with you for a moment as you read.

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In the fast-paced world of 2016, NOW is the time to slow down… and start writing letters. To help you get started, I’ve created this Pinterest board with lots of letter writing/snail mail inspiration! I also encourage you to go out and buy some stationary! Letter writing is an art, and writing on beautiful stationary is an easy way to “pretty up” your missives. Some of my favorite places to pick up something special are Rifle Paper Co., Studio Oh!, and locally, Shindig Paperie!

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Some of the stationary I’ve amassed

Do you love letters? Are you passionate about snail mail? Comment below and tell us why! Share memories of your favorite letter-writing/receiving experiences. We can’t wait to connect with you! Maybe you’ll even wind up with your own pen-pal.

As always, live healthy and love hard!

-Shelby

PS: Grab a mug from Sweet Water Decor, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and get writing!!

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