Fast, Furious, and Natural Labor: My Birth Story

This post is written in collaboration with The Honest Company. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

At 12:00 A.M. I felt my first contraction. At 4:10 A.M. I was holding my child. I’m a first time mom, and I had a 4 hour natural labor. This is my story.

Let me preface this story by telling you that every labor is hard. Natural, epidural, cesarean section, fast, dreadfully long, hospital, home-birth, water-birth, and everything in between. It’s emotionally taxing, and it tests every physical part of you! Sometimes there is the assumption that fast is synonymous with easy. I can assure you that this is not the case.

So it begins.

Denver and I were expecting to have little Oliver on December 31st, 2016. As the new year came and went, I knew he had to be making his appearance soon. Being 40+ weeks pregnant is incredibly uncomfortable. We were SO beyond ready to meet our little boy and every hour past our due date felt like ages.

In the weeks leading up to his arrival, I had been walking 2 miles a day, climbing a set of 99 steps up and down, and I had been using an outdoor gym. Anything to spur on labor!

natural labor exercise

I used an exercise machine that my husband and I have now deemed “the contraction machine”. Essentially, it spreads your legs apart and you squeeze them together (no weights attached). On New Years day, I did rounds of the above listed exercises. That night came and went and I didn’t feel anything progressing.

Bummed out and getting impatient, I decided that the next night (January 2nd) Denver and I should have a date to distract ourselves and to celebrate our last days as a family of two. We grabbed a coffee and walked around town, went out to eat, and then decided to go to the theater. When Denver and I were at the movies I legitimately felt like I was sitting on Oliver’s head. Little did I know, I was in early labor as I was chowing down on popcorn. Oliver had been low for quite a while, despite not being dilated at all at my previous exam (which is not what you want to hear at 40 weeks).

We had so much fun on the date, and we ended up getting home at about 10:30 P.M. We had decided to watch Vine compilation videos on YouTube because we are still mourning the loss of Vine (R.I.P.), and at this point the night felt like any other. At 11:45 P.M. Oliver was kicking around as per usual, but I had a little bit of back cramping. I had back pain my whole pregnancy, so a little back cramping was pretty normal to me at this point. I grabbed a heating pad and we continued watching videos.

Midnight.

I started to notice that my dull back cramps were coming and going in waves. It hit me. This might be the start of something! I told Denver, “Hey, I might have him in a couple of days!”. I texted a few of my friends to tell them that labor could be starting in the days to come, and upon hearing my symptoms, they all agreed it might be possible!

About 10 minutes later the cramping got worse. I felt like I just needed to live on the toilet. But nothing was coming out. Denver and I had been to a birthing class so I knew that this was a sign of early labor. I informed Denver and he was excited and started to pack up our toiletries into the hospital bag. I told him to calm down and that it could be days before we go into active labor. Then I realized my cramps were coming in stronger waves. I texted my friend Kylie (a nurse and a recent first time mom), and she said, “Time those. They could be contractions.”

I felt excited.

Now, I knew I would have back labor. Every hormonal occurrence I have had leading up to labor has been carried in my back. What I didn’t know is that with back labor, you might not ever feel one single contraction in your stomach. I didn’t feel any tightening, but I started to feel a lot of pain.

While standing in the bathroom with my pants around my ankles, I tried to determine whether I wanted to sit on the toilet or walk around. Denver came in, and asked if I was okay. I said, “I need to braid my bangs back, I think things are happening!”. Denver threw off his house shoes and put his tennis shoes on. I told him to take them off because we wouldn’t even go to the hospital until the next day. He looked at my face and said “Okay, but I still think it’s going to be sooner.” Silly boy. Didn’t he remember our class? Our instructor had said that in many instances, early labor can last hours and hours or even days before it transitions into active labor!

Early labor was likely with my symptoms, and I knew it was time to put our birthing class knowledge into practice. Move, move, and keep moving. I grabbed a microwaveable corn bag so I could start walking around the house. I told Denver to grab the timer and I would tell him when I needed him to time the “contractions” I had felt.

At this point, I had only felt a few waves of pain. We timed my waves of back pain for about 15 minutes. Denver said “Babe, these are 3 minutes apart and lasting close to 1 minute long”. We were confused. In our class we had learned that a good time to go to the hospital was known as 4-1-1.

Contractions 4 minutes apart.

Contractions are lasting around 1 minute long.

You’ve had these consistently for 1 hour.

Well. I had contractions less than 4 minutes apart lasting 1 minute long, but I had only had them for 15 minutes. We were confused. Why did my contractions start out at the point you’re supposed to be heading to the hospital? Don’t you usually get to work up to this point? The pain was getting stronger with each contraction and I was practicing everything I had learned. I was breathing through them, moving around, squatting, leaning over the bed, swaying, and making low noises to push through it. While leaning over the bed, I felt a really horrible wave of back pain. I popped up and told Denver, “I think we need to go to the hospital, how many have I had?” To which Denver replies, “You’ve had 8 contractions”.

That’s when I felt fear.

Only 8 contractions had occurred and I already felt like I had been in a mild car accident. I have a high pain tolerance, so thinking we were probably in the earlier stages of labor was devastating to say the least. “How do people do this for 18+ hours?“, I wondered, not knowing I was already in active labor. I decided to try to labor for at least an hour at home so that it would be consistent with the 4-1-1 instructions. The pain started to get really intense, but I still never felt any tightening in my stomach or abdominal area. I hated this. Why was my labor so strange?

After an hour and a half had passed, I allowed myself to go to the hospital. Then I saw it. The car. How was I going to have a contraction in that thing. I found myself thinking, “Why do we have a Prius? It’s so small.” We got into the car and I felt a contraction coming on as soon as I got in. I pulled back the passenger seat and straightened my body out and took a big breath and groaned it out. Denver drove to the hospital and I had two contractions in the car and one in the hospital parking lot. We only live 7 minutes from the hospital (now so thankful for this), so I knew they were close together.

We walked into the hospital lobby at exactly 1:30 in the morning. The nurses politely asked me how long I had been in labor. When they learned that it had been just over an hour, they looked a little calmer and said we had time to get things together. I was breathing through the contractions but felt like I was going to vomit all over the lobby. I began pacing around and felt incredibly embarrassed knowing it could be a possibility that I came in too early. They wheeled me back to see how dilated I was.

I was terrified. What if I was barely dilated? I couldn’t imagine going back home.

When the first nurse came in to check me, she told me that she didn’t know how dilated I was because she couldn’t reach my cervix. I knew my cervix was far back because my doctor had told me the same thing in prenatal appointments. The nurse brought someone else in to try. I’ll never forget the pain as I looked up at the florescent lights in the little holding room while someone struggled to reach my cervix. This nurse couldn’t reach either. They said that Oliver’s head was in the way of checking.

I was freaked out. I’m a Type A personality! I like to know what’s going on.

The nurses came in and told me that they would check me in 30 minutes, and that I might not be far enough along for them to feel the dilation. I looked at Denver and I felt the panic in my heart. 30 minutes sounded like a lifetime. It felt almost impossible to breathe through the pain at this point. I hadn’t told them how much pain I was in, and I felt really alone. Why was this happening? Why could no one tell me how far along I was in the process? Denver sat there clutching my purse, and he and I exchanged silent glances of frustration.

After about 20 minutes had passed I had started grunting and holding the rail of the tiny bed I was on. When are they coming back? I told Denver someone needed to come in and check me, because I felt like I was going to poop him out! They sent in an entirely different nurse. She was tall, and strong, and she told me she wouldn’t leave until she knew how far along I was. As she was putting on her gloves, I felt a rush of warm fluid all over my legs. It was at this point that I realized my water had broken.

When this nurse checked to see if I was dilated, I screamed. It felt like it would never end. She took her glove off and got the other nurses. They started speedily wheeling me into the hallway and they told me that I was dilated to an 8 and progressing very quickly.

Two thoughts went through my mind almost simultaneously. Relief and fear. Relief that I was justified in my pain, and fear that I wouldn’t be able to get the epidural.

Going into labor, Denver and I had decided that we would listen to my body. I would like to try naturally, but if I felt like it was too much to bare, that I would get the epidural. In our birthing class, someone had asked how far along you have to be to not get the epidural. She told us that it was incredibly rare to be too late for an epidural your first time, and that you can even get it when you’re 10 cm dilated, so not to worry.

As they wheeled me into an actual labor and delivery room, I asked this question: “Am I able to get the epidural?”. They all looked at each other, and one sweet nurse looked at me and said “We’re going to try.” Did you hear that? Try. 

Every ounce of pain that I was feeling was in my back and my rear. It was excruciating.

The nurses quickly hooked me up to an I.V. and told me that they didn’t have time to move me to the nice delivery bed. That’s when I remembered, I wasn’t even admitted to the hospital yet! They started the I.V. drip, and I asked again about the epidural. The nurse looked at me and told me I had to get I.V. fluids for an hour before they could administer it.

An hour.

I looked at the clock and I felt defeated. I was clinging to the fact that it might happen and relief would be right around the corner. At this point I was starting to get light headed and I felt like I could simultaneously vomit and pass out. I wanted to push him out so bad. But all I saw was clip board after clip board of paperwork being handed to me. Signing agreements  in between frequent contractions was not my idea of a serene natural labor experience, but it’s exactly what was happening.

Although I had been breathing through contractions thus far, this is when I started screaming. I never thought I would scream! Why couldn’t I hold it together?

Denver looked at me and mouthed that I was doing well. I couldn’t even think about doing well, nor did I feel like I was doing well. I felt like I was screaming and was embarrassed to be doing so. The nurses told me that I was the only one in the wing and to let out whatever I wanted to. So I did.

I clung to the rail and laid on my side. My arms were shaking. I felt like I was on a ride and no one was letting me off. Denver moved over close to me for support. That’s when a labor and delivery nurse came in. This nurse would be my saving grace. She was confident, to the point, and supportive. She looked at me and told me that I had to breathe. That it wouldn’t get better until I could breathe.

I felt like my back was breaking.  I knew I would need to look into the eyes of the nurses and my husband, because  they were going to help me through this. The delivery nurse told me that it was time to push. I asked her about the epidural. “Can I please get the epidural now?”. She looked at me, and I knew. “Sweetheart”, she said. “You’re not getting the epidural”. I said, “Is there any way?”. That’s when she gave it to me straight. “If you sit up to get the epidural, your body will start pushing. He’s coming”.

I looked at Denver and I said “We got here too late.”

This is when I had to make a decision. I was either going to be strong, or I was going to crumble. As I grabbed my husband’s hand, he nodded at me in support. This made my decision easier. I chose to be strong.

Denver called my mom to tell her that we were close. They rolled my body over to push. I held my legs up to my chest, grabbed the back of my thighs, and listened to everything the nurse told me to do. Through pain and exhaustion, I asked the nurse a very important question. “Is he going to break me in half?” Although my husband and I laugh about this question now, at the time it seemed valid. She grabbed my feet and put them on her arms and assured me that he would not break me in half.

“He has dark hair.”, she said.

I could feel my eyes get big. That one statement made it all so real. I looked at the clock. It was 3:40 in the morning. I couldn’t believe it was all happening so fast. I had to grin and bare it. There was no turning back. I was going to have this baby with no epidural, and I was going to have him soon.

I began to push. It was the best feeling I had ever had. Pressure relief.  I pushed for a while and the nurse was assuring me that I was doing well. I kept asking the nurse how many more pushes she thought I had. She said that if I brought my legs up to my chest more he would come quicker. That’s when I got down to business. I was desperate to meet my son and wanted the agony to be over. I relate this feeling to the likings of pushing a watermelon out of a straw.

At about 4:00 A.M. she said it was time to go get the doctor. The doctor sat down in front of me and I began to push again. That’s when I felt it. I had heard about it.

They call it the ring of fire. That’s exactly what it is.

I could feel Oliver crowning. I remember in all that pain all I could say was, “Ow”. And that word felt so funny. I let out the tiniest laugh, the word “ow” had never held so much weight before. The doctor looked at me and Denver, and he told us that the baby had come so fast that I wasn’t stretched out enough.

This is where a fast labor has a downfall. I felt so blessed that I wasn’t worrying about him days on end or having contractions for hours and hours with slow progression. What people don’t often think about with this quick of labor is that your body goes from 0-60. The severe pain was coming from my body not having enough time to work up to it. And since every one of my contractions were in my back, my stomach and abs couldn’t help push him along.

The doctor told me that he never does these anymore, but that he suggested I get an episiotomy. I was surprised. Basically they wanted to make a small incision to help things along. He calmly looked at me and told me that I would rip badly, because of how quickly I progressed, but that the decision is totally up to us and to only do what we felt comfortable with. I looked at Denver and we agreed.

Let’s get him out.

I was scared. I didn’t have an epidural and I really didn’t want to get cut. How scary is that! He gave me a topical numbing shot and made the incision without me even noticing. There was too much pressure to feel a cut! He told me to push. I shut my eyes and pushed as hard as I could. I felt the worst burning and pain of my life, and I remember yelling, “I feel him”. That’s when I saw him cross over my knees and onto my chest.

He was here. If this moment doesn’t make you sing “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce, I don’t know what will!

We had done this. Denver stood over us and I felt blessed beyond belief. He had dark hair and I immediately knew that he looked just like my husband. They took him away to wipe him off and Denver went over to give our son a closer look. The doctor stitched me up and then I was handed my son once again. Being able to breast feed him right away was an unforgettable experience, and I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I was expecting to be bawling, and I was expecting my over-emotional husband to be bawling along with me.

What I felt was shock.

I had just been through a blur of the most unbearable physical pain, high adrenaline of my life, and then I had the emotional reality of holding my first child. I looked at Denver and said, “Well, you better text your family and tell them that he’s here.”

It had all happened so quickly and in the middle of the night, so we didn’t even have time to tell people we were at the hospital! We sent out our texts and pictures to family and friends and my mom came back to visit us.

The nurses came in and told me that it was an incredible delivery, and they hadn’t seen a first time mom deliver that quickly before. They also congratulated us because Oliver was the first baby of the new year born in our hospital! It was all so unbelievable.

I started to see light pour through our blinds. As I looked at my son, I said a prayer. A thank you to God for giving him life. A thank you for allowing me to be the vessel. He was my baby. He was my joy. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. I felt like I had just won a battle. My heart swelled with the greatest and rarest love I had ever known. I was holding the embodiment of the love between my husband and I.

I was holding family.

Tears are rolling down my face as I write these words in a coffee shop, because I still can’t believe God’s gift to me and Denver. A four hour labor from start to finish was never what I expected. But I love it because it’s our story. Be it genetics, all the working out leading up to it, or by chance, I still don’t know what I can attribute the fast delivery to. But believe me that I will go to the hospital right away with our next!

While Denver and I still can’t believe his epic travels to get here, our journey as a family is just beginning! At three months old, he has the sweetest personality and is a reflection of the love I have for my husband. To keep up with our adventures as a family, you can follow my personal Instagram at BethanyMPoteet and our blog Instagram at OakAndEarth (my co-writers have lovely adventures as well).

Thank you so much for reading my story. We feel so blessed for our healthy little one. Every story is unique and special. The Honest Company is sharing many birth stories to unite us all in this beautiful journey we call motherhood. You can view their video about it here! Go celebrate other moms!

Until next time,

Bethany

Natural Labor

Downsizing: The Simple Life

My husband and I began talking about a pretty significant idea back in April of last year: downsizing. (Side-note: I cannot believe 2016 is now past tense…where does the time go?!) It was our 4th anniversary weekend, and we had sent our oldest with some family and had a mini stay-cation at a nice hotel here in NWA. Being just the two of us, we had all the time in the world to discuss things that are many times otherwise interrupted and pushed aside these days. On our last morning “away,” while we ate our breakfast, we flipped our hotel television on to our favorite channel: HGTV. Of course a show popped on that we didn’t ordinarily watch, but it was immediately intriguing to us so we kept it going; it was a show on ‘tiny living’. “That is so cool, but I just don’t see how these families do it. Especially with kids!”

I remember saying this to Jer a few times while we watched these families (some with kids, some without) take their belongings and their space and condense it all into a space of about 400 sq ft or less. We marveled at the idea, and slightly envied the people who nipped America’s stereotypical house in the bud, dropped 80-90% of their belongings, and headed straight for the simple life. It was a concept that we just couldn’t get out of our heads.  “What if we did this?”

At first we thought it would just be too hard. After all, we had one toddler and had recently found out we would be having a second baby in the fall. How in the world would we make the (lack of) space work? We lived in a decent size home, about 1800 sq ft, and we had “stuff” in every room! I should also note that we had only moved into this nice home months before, adding even more insanity to our scheme. But what we finally realized, was that much of our living space was not utilized; it was just holding all the stuff we’d accumulated over the course of our marriage, much of which we could certainly live without.

The idea of simplifying our lifestyle grew more and more compelling to us, and the more we researched and read, the more we loved it. Not just for the mere fact of getting rid of “things,” though that was a large portion of it. We also loved the idea of taking our girls out of the cycle that we tend to get caught up in of not being content unless we have the latest and greatest, the nicest, the biggest and best, [insert ‘thing’ here]. Taking them out of this cycle and raising them in an atmosphere that was safe, promoted creativity, created closeness, and of course was always truly ‘enough.’ We were sold.

Downsizing Simple Life

A few days after listing our house for sale, we placed an offer on a small home in my childhood hometown, and were accepted. A couple weeks after our house was on the market we were under contract, and thus officially began our downsizing! “Simplify” quickly became our word for the remainder of 2016. Bit by bit we sifted through our things, donating a substantial amount of our belongings that we would no longer have the space for. A few weeks later we packed up what was left of our things and moved into a home that is just under 1000 sq ft. Of course, this was our version of a big downsize, and we didn’t move into a truly tiny home. But those of you with kids know that moving a family of four into a very small, 2 bedroom home is quite a feat! Simplify.

It is in no way an easy thing to accomplish, especially with kids, and we are still in the process of slowly downsizing more of our things even 6 months later, but as we’ve moved into 2017, we haven’t once looked back! I believe our word to live by this year is “intentional.” One of the biggest things we’ve had to do in our downsizing process has been to be so intentional with our space and how we utilize it. Do I love this piece, and does it make me smile? Like (Emily Gilmore, anyone?) Every piece we own must serve a purpose, and if it can serve for more than one purpose, even better!

Our space is very intentional. One of the main things we wanted to fit into our small home was our full size dining set. We wanted to have a space to bring people into our home and have good food, good discussion, and close relationships. I have my reading corner, the girls have a play space…every part of our home has been thought out, and is utilized! As far as the girls’ things go, we haven’t cleaned them out of all their toys, and they have a substantial book collection in the making, but we do have regular “sorting” days where we filter through and weed out the toys that have since become unexciting, and make room for the new. I can tell you our oldest never misses a thing!

downsizing simple minimal

Since downsizing and simplifying, we’ve decided we love it so much that we are working toward ways to simplify even more! There is such a freedom in knowing that there isn’t a wrong or a right way to “live,” and for us this lifestyle has been so rewarding! Don’t get me wrong, we see nothing wrong with consumption, and having “things.” We still have things, and we still love to buy certain things! But where I have seen a difference in our consumption is in the intent behind our purchases. Is it compulsory, or is it intentional and for a purpose? Let’s be real, in this small space we live in, there isn’t room for anything but intentional and purposeful–and I love that!

My favorite thing about downsizing has been that it consistently makes us reflect and consider the things that are most important to us, and then the freedom we feel when we condense down to only those most important things! Living small may or may not be forever for our family, but the idea of working toward more freedom with how we use and spend our time and where will be a theme that sticks with us wherever we go from here on out.

I am excited to share more about our downsizing, different projects that have ensued in order to make a small space the most efficient, and updates as we progress to an even more minimalist lifestyle. My husband jokes that our next downsize will be our wardrobes…okay, he’s only half joking (insert nervous sweating emoji).

For more updates and peeks into our day to day, follow me on Instagram ( @terapianalto ) and be sure to follow all of Oak and Earth’s social media accounts!

Here’s to a fresh start to your 2017!

Tera, xo

 

 

Holiday Roundup: Our Favorite Seasonal Posts

Stockings are hung by the chimney with care, presents are wrapped and nestled cozily under the tree, the kids are out of school, and their parents’ sanity is hanging by a thread (of tinsel, obviously). It’s Christmas Eve!! Would you like an early present? We thought so! Our gift to you this year is a holiday roundup of some of our favorite seasonal posts. We hope you enjoy!

The 12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS

Bethany’s “12 Dates of Christmas” post is sure to light up the holidays for you and that special someone. A list of 12 holiday inspired date ideas, designed to bring you together during the most joyous season of the year. Once you get out of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised at how much closer it makes you as a couple. Don’t worry, she threw some binge watching dates in as well. After all baby, it’s cold outside. (PS – these ideas are good all winter long!)

diy holiday dreamcatchers

One of our favorite things about the Holiday season is decorating! If you’re looking for a fun DIY project to do with your kiddos while they’re out of school, or just with your besties, Shelby has the perfect thing – Holiday dreamcatchers!

This is such a fun project, and we are so excited about it! So, grab some cocoa, slip into your comfy clothes, put on your favorite Christmas album, and get ready to craft the night away!

Making Christmas Memorable

This most wonderful time of the year happens to be Tera’s favorite (Going in her house anytime from November to February is a little like stepping into the North Pole). With a growing little family of her own, she wanted to be certain they were making Christmas memorable, while keeping their main focus on the true reason for the season. She created a list of simple things you can do as a family that will make great memories, provide quality time, and can respect even the most frugal holiday budget. Check it out!

Oak and Earth Holiday Roundup

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little roundup, and that you’ll try some of the ideas found within. This season is all about making memories with those you love, while always remembering the true reason for the season.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” – Luke 2:11

From our families to yours, have a very Merry Christmas.

– Oak & Earth

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

An Open Letter to My Unborn Child

This is Bethany here, and I wrote this letter to my son, Oliver.

I start the third trimester of my pregnancy next week! My husband, Denver, and I (that’s our family above) are so excited for him to arrive. This is a sentiment close to my heart, and I welcome you to peek inside our little family.

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Oliver,

As I sit down to write this letter, I’m overwhelmed with the thought that you have been in my tummy for almost 7 months. Even though there are times when you knock the wind out of me, my heart swells with so many wonderful emotions. When I found out I was having you, I was so surprised and happy! Even though I was excited, I was also a little bit scared.

My mind was abuzz with thoughts. Had I taken care of myself when I didn’t know that you were inside of me? Would daddy and I have to move, make more money, and would we be able to shuffle our busy lives to make enough time for you? As I looked at the positive pregnancy test, I realized that all of these little questions could be wrapped up into one heavy one. Would daddy and I really make good parents?

With these questions looming, I still had to do one important thing — tell the love of my life that we made you!

When I told your daddy that we are having you, he hugged me and cried. He was so surprised and so beautifully happy! This is one of our favorite days. What a special memory you made for us, Oliver. We made an appointment to see the doctor. You know, the guy you’re always shy around! As the doctor was searching for you in my tummy, all of those scary questions started flooding back.

Then we saw you.

You were nothing but a white speck in a sea of black. As small as you were, we saw the flash of your precious heartbeat. Oh my son, I will never forget that moment. Do you know what I found out? You are a strong and perfectly healthy baby. This made me realize that the love we already have for you overshadows all the worry! God is so good to remind us of how blessed we are to have you in our lives.

I want you to know a few things about your daddy. As soon as he found out about you, he started praying for you every day. I am always so grateful for how much he does for us. Daddy and I work really hard so that we can have a happy home, but daddy works especially hard. Aren’t you proud of him? He brings us food when we are hungry, and he even eats ice cream before bed because he thinks it helps you! That’s your silly daddy. He kisses you goodnight, and he waits by my side to feel you kick and roll.

He held my hand so tight when we went to a big check up to see how you’re growing. On this day, God gave us peace about you. Your daddy lit up when he saw your face and features in 3D for the first time! You were just 22 weeks old! He thinks you have my nose, and when you wake up from a comfortable sleep, I think you scrunch up your forehead just like he does! We got your picture taken, and he took it to the office and showed all his coworkers. He’s already so proud of you.

Most of all, I want you to know how much your daddy and I love and respect each other. In fact, we love each other so much that we asked God to bring you into our lives! When God said yes, He let us learn so much about you.

This is what we know about you so far — You like to roll around my tummy at work and hide away when we visit the doctor. You love it when I rest, and when I sing and play my guitar. The only time I feel you take naps is when I exercise! I even know a few things you don’t like. You don’t like spicy food at all. Don’t worry, your daddy doesn’t like it either. You must not like it when I try and bend over to tie my shoes or paint my toenails, because you stick your little feet in my ribs when I try. It makes me grunt and laugh. You sure are a stinker. You’re so active, and I love it when you circle around my tummy and play.

Do you want to know my favorite thing about you? You’re so sweet and loving to us! When I am sad, you dance around. When I am tired, you kick me and remind me that you’re there for me. And when daddy and I are overwhelmed with how busy we are, we pull out the pictures of your face and you remind us to slow down and to count our blessings. Thank you for all of that, little one!

Although your room isn’t all the way put together yet, and we aren’t rolling in a big pile of money, all that really matters is the love and time we share together as a family. We have to wait a little bit longer to share this time together. You’re due to be here very soon after Christmas! Don’t worry little one. Whenever you decide to come, we will make your day so special. I know right now you think somersaults are fun, but you should see all of the wonderful and colorful things of the world! Your dad and I like to draw, play music, hike around, and see friends. Some people have told us that we can’t do these things when you get here. But we will find a way to make our own special and fun memories with you by our side. We can’t wait to share all of this with you!

Oliver, whenever this day arrives, I want you to know the world you’re coming into. Not everyone in this world has peace in their hearts, and this world can be a scary place. Despite all of that, know that God is always holding you in His hands. I have a few important promises I’m making to you. I want you to remember them when the world seems too much to bear.

I promise to show you love and understanding. I promise to guide you when you’re unsure of what to do, and I promise to listen to what you have to say. I can also promise you that I will make mistakes. Some days will be hard, and on those days you might not like me very much. So when those days come (and they will come), know I still love you because you are my son.

Do you know how I can promise you this? You have already helped us know a kind of love we never knew we could feel.

We still have so much to learn about you, but we can’t do this until we meet you face to face! All of your cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents are so excited to see you too! Some of your little cousins have been practicing your name. So be sure you answer to the name of “Obbaler” when you come out so that you don’t hurt their feelings.

Daddy and I are ready for the sleepless nights and for our world to be turned upside down. Because that means that you have arrived.

I can’t wait to meet you, son.

Mom

Thank you so much for reading! I enjoyed opening up my heart to my son, and to you as well. You can follow our family journey on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet.

-Bethany

D.I.Y. No-Sew Pillow Covers

Hello Oak and Earth readers! It’s Bethany here on the blog this week. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for us Oak and Earth gals. In the midst of all this craziness, Denver and I have been doing a few home projects (more on this later), and I have decided to show you one that I did recently!

This project came about because we had finally decided to purchase a real couch. Now, when I say real couch, I mean not a passed down (but very comfortable) love seat that we’ve had since we were married. In fact, almost all of our furniture has been passed down to us. We have been so thankful for it, but it’s time for a furniture face lift! Most of it we have been painting or re-inventing.

Ain’t nobody got money for all new furniture (except for Kimye).

A new couch, however, is something we have wanted for a long time and felt the investment was worth it. We found one that we love, and it came with throw pillows! The throw pillows weren’t awful, but they weren’t anything I would have chosen. Instead of tossing them or putting them in a garage sale, I decided to re-invent these too!

I had remembered seeing a video on how to do no-sew slip covers for pillows, and this sounded like a perfect project for a busy girl like me. I had two of these pillows, and I chose a different fabric for each. Why do this project? Simple — all (yes all) throw pillows are expensive, and the fabric I chose is not. I also love that if we change our style later down the road, all I have to do is go grab a new set of fabrics! Win and win. Let’s check it out.

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STEP 1: Pick out fabric for your pillows. I was covering two pillows and chose one yard of white fabric, and one yard of navy fabric with white arrows (as pictured). I found mine at Hobby Lobby.

STEP 2: Lay your fabric pattern face down, and measure it into a square. Fold up excess fabric.

STEP 3: Rotate your fabric into a diamond shape.
STEP 4:
Fold the bottom corner onto the pillow.

STEP 5: While holding the corner of fabric on the pillow (see above), roll the pillow into the middle of the fabric.
STEP 6:
Grab the top corner of the fabric.

STEP 7: Pull that corner over the pillow.
STEP 8: Tuck the corner under so that it makes a straight edge.

STEP 9: Tuck the edges of the fabric in like you’re wrapping a present. This just straightens the edges.
STEP 10: Pull the two sides together in preparation to tie them. As you do this, make sure your fabric is pulled tight and crisp.

STEP 11: Tie the edges into a double knot.
STEP 12: Tuck the excess fabric into the side folds to hide them.

Once these steps are done, you can either display the knotted side, or the flat side (both options are pictured below). The white pillow displayed below is also a cover done the exact same way!

I enjoy having these on my couch or on my bed. Let’s take a look!

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This was a really quick and easy D.I.Y.! I am so glad I decided to keep the original pillows and turn them into something I can use in multiple rooms of my house. Being the D.I.Y. loving woman that I am, I can’t wait to experience (and possibly blog about) our next set of home projects! In the mean time, you can keep up with me on Instagram @bethanympoteet, and with our Oak and Earth accounts located in the side bar or footer.

Happy last couple weeks of summer!

<3 Bethany

5 Ways to Know You and Your Tot are Totally BFFS

Hey, readers! Self proclaimed nap time writer is back at it this week (it’s me, Tera). When I’m not drowning in last night’s dishes and days of laundry, I love getting to use Norah’s nap time to squeeze in a little down time for myself, and let’s be honest, sometimes a nap of my own (second trimester insomnia has me dragging these days)! Today’s nap time is consisting of a few of my favorite things: a bowl of fresh raspberries (all to myself), burning the best candle ever made (Capri Blue’s Volcano…mmmm), and this–blogging!

Since motherhood is one of the biggest roles in my life, I love getting to share little snippets of my everyday happenings and experiences, mom fails, and mom successes! This week, I wanted to share something light-hearted and something that all moms of toddlers (maybe even more specifically, moms of little diva tots) can relate to. We mom’s need to give ourselves a break every now and then from the pressures we feel with doing this mom thing the “right way,” and just have a good laugh. Motherhood is messy, tiring, never ending (I mean like 24/7 all day, everyday, whether you work or stay home), humbling, and completely wonderful! Now, have I done research and created this compilation based on facts? Yeah, basically. No better way than living it first hand, #amiright?

So, with that, I share with you my list of 5 Ways to Know You and Your Tot are  (Totally) BFF’s

Mother and daughter

  1. You’re Attached at the Hip

You and your tot go everywhere together. You’re the inseparable duo, two peas in a pod. You’re the peanut butter to their jelly, the glaze on their donut, the cheese to their macaroni–catchin’ my drift? So much so, they want to go everywhere with you. Literally. You wanna just run and pee really quick? Not without the ying to your yang you don’t! Thinking about taking a nice bubble bath to soothe your sore muscles at the end of your day? Funny you should think that, because that’s exactly what your tot would like to do–and look! You’ve got it all set up and everything…how convenient! Wanna make a quick run to the s-t-o-r-e for a few to grab a couple groceries? They see that glance over to your spouse. Spelling the words don’t help, they know that glance, and they “pobby need to come get sum snacks too, tay?” In true best friend fashion, you two are attached at the hip; many times, very literally. They don’t want to be separated from your actual hip. If this sounds anything like you and your tot, this could mean that you two are BFF’s.

2.  You Tell Them Everything

Here’s the thing: it’s not a true BFF unless you tell them everything. You tell your tot the things you never imagined telling anyone! I mean it. You don’t tell just any friend not to eat your family dog’s dog food, or to please not pick up said family dog’s poo from the yard to bring inside to show you that said family dog did indeed poo in the yard. No, this is BFF level talk. I’m fairly confident you wouldn’t inform just anybody that yes, panties are a must when walking out of the garage, and no, wearing them on top of your head is not an acceptable form. “Get down,” and “don’t jump off of that!” and “no, we don’t poo in the yard like the family dog,” might not be things you’d say to the average Joe of a friend, but BFF’s get down to the nitty gritty. You’ll tell each other the things that no one else will. Is your tot an actual good secret keeper? Negative. She’ll tell every stranger at Walmart that she saw mom’s boobies today (speaking from experience). BUT, you can expect some real honest talk moments–like, “Let’s not talk about mom’s boobies to people, ok?” If you tell your tot things you don’t tell anyone else in the world, you might just be BFF’s.

3. You Share All the Things

Best friends share the motto, “what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours.” Mom’s food tastes better. No, it doesn’t matter that it’s the exact same thing…it might taste completely different on mom’s plate than it does on theirs. Or, that last cookie you hoped to enjoy to yourself…it won’t matter that you’ve already given your tot 2 cookies to eat, they will still give you the sad begging puppy eyes and ask “petty peas, jus one more bite?” until you give in, and it’ll be a bite the size of a large mouthed bass. That warm bubble bath we mentioned earlier? Your tot will insist that it’s more enjoyable if they join you. I mean you could run a separate bath for them, but it just isn’t the same as the one you currently have waiting for you; no, yours is way better and bubblier and the perfect amount of water. Your ice water is what your tot prefers. Not their ice water, not their juice. Your ice water. “I hab some of your dink, mom. Iss perfec’ for me,” they’ll tell you. In the early am when your tot sneaks in to your bed for some morning cuddles, your pillow becomes 3/4 their pillow. No need for them to bring their own pillow; your pillow will suit them just fine. You share potty time together, movie time together, you toot together and laugh together, all day. Have you been an excellent sharer lately? I’m sensing some BFF action–sharing is caring.

4. They Wanna Be Just Like You

Monkey see, monkey do. There is no greater role model in your toddler’s life than you, mom. You’re the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas. Whatever you do, wherever you go, your tot wants to do and go also. When you leave your bathroom with a fresh face of makeup, little tot will sneak in and apply that bright red lipstick on her lips (and let’s be real, her cheeks and forehead). She’ll layer her neck with half a dozen of your blingiest necklaces, because she wants to be a superstar like mom. Your tot sees the strange contraption you wear across your chest, and they want in on this action. You’ll need to find a nearly identical bra and assemble it for them, and yes, it’ll be a fight to get it off when you need to leave the house because, “mom wears her bra!” If you’re leaving the house in your sandals, your tot won’t leave until they change out of their sneakers, and into (you guessed it) their own sandals. Are you wearing your sunnies? Well, then I hope you brought a spare! And when you say a phrase that is deemed the funniest phrase ever spoken (by your tot of course), be prepared to hear that phrase for the rest of the day, from them. You’re a rockstar, mom! If only we could get our tots to copy cat us when we ate all of our veggies at mealtime (sigh). If you have a little mini me at your heels all day, then I’d say you’ve found yourself a little BFF.

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5. You Could Talk for Hours

A sure sign of a BFF: you two never run out of words. Best friends never shut up (I mean this in the nicest but most sincere way possible). From the moment they wake up, to the moment their eyes close for the night, words are spewing out of your tot’s mouths. If your tot could text, you’d have 56 unread messages by 7 a.m. Questions of “what’s dat,’ ‘what happened,’ ‘what you sayin’ about,’ and ‘why?” are oh so commonly asked by your tot, many, many times in a day. You’re even graced with the occasional 3 a.m. wake up call from the monitor with: “Mom, I wake up!” and an hour’s worth of conversation that follows. No matter if you’re in the bathroom peeing or showering, there is never a short in small talk with your tot; they do not run low on exhaust. Cows, princesses, toots, boogers, feet, raisins…do you see what I’m getting at here? The conversation is endless. Throw in 500 questions in the mix of small talk, and you have a whole 27 hours worth of words exchanged! What’s that you say? There are only 24 hours in a day? If you’re close to losing your voice and your eyes are nearly crossed at the end of the day from all the question answering, pretend phone call taking, and smorgasbord of conversation, you and your tot may just be best friends forever status.

 

There’s no one that loves you, looks up to you, wants to be like you, and who’s always by your side like your BFF.

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Me and my BFF

Thanks for reading! We are excited to share some fun summer DIY’s, recipes, and more, so keep an eye out for more posts! Follow our insta page @oakandearth or my personal handle @terapianalto for updates, and more!

 

XO,

Tera

Amazing Avocado Chicken Salad

Hey, reader! It’s Tera here this week on the blog. I was inspired recently by one of my favorite go-to recipe sites (Six Sister’s Stuff) when they shared their avocado chicken salad. Being a devoted lover of all things avocado, I of course had to try this recipe for myself…immediately. I’m all about delicious and healthy food that is simple to make, that my family loves to eat, and that I can feel good before and after eating it. Oh, and everything avocado. I’m all about that, too. I tried out the recipe, and with some of my own tweaks to it, I wanted to share my rendition of the avocado chicken salad because it’s so delicious and seriously takes about 5 minutes to whip up!

If you keep up with our page, you may have seen the news that I am expecting our second baby in September! For a little lifestyle update, baby and I are doing well, and I am already nearly halfway through my pregnancy! Aside from some mild discomfort, I have my energy back since my first trimester, and I’m feelin’ good! We recently found out that we are having another GIRL, and we are so excited! Little Norah is especially excited for baby sister to get here, and she’s been telling us from the beginning that it was indeed a sister.

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We’re pretty eager to meet her! Much like my first pregnancy, my appetite has increased a bunch these last couple of weeks, and I’ve been trying to keep healthy snacks around the house, along with some meals that are healthy and easy to prepare. Fortunately for me, my daughter (and husband) both love avocado, so anytime I make a batch of this stuff up, it’s gone in no time. What’s that you say? A healthy meal that my finicky toddler LOVES to eat? Obviously, you can count me in every time!

Let’s eat, shall we?

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I made this avocado chicken salad today for lunch–and seriously, I can’t get over how easy this is to prepare. The avocado is used in lieu of mayonnaise, so it makes for a super healthy and guilt free meal! (I apologize in advance for my poor photo quality; I used my iPhone to take these pictures)! Here’s what I did to tweak this original recipe to make it my own, and I think it turned out yummy!

Here’s what you need: *This makes about 4 servings

-2 cups of (cooked) shredded chicken (I usually use rotisserie because I love the flavor)*

-1 avocado, rinsed, pitted and scoop out the pulp

-3/4 cup diced up apple

-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

-1-1 1/2 tablespoon(s) of lime juice

-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

-salt and pepper, to taste

ps. Here’s a crazy fact about me: I do not like cilantro. I know. Crazy. The original recipe (linked above) has cilantro, and if you love it, it would be a great addition!

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Feta makes it betta! (And, croissants of course).

In a medium sized bowl, add the chicken, apples, walnuts and avocado, and using a fork, mash the ingredients all together until the avocado totally coats them. Then, add the garlic powder, salt and pepper, and lime juice and blend all of these into the salad. It tastes the best when you can refrigerate it for a while after making it, but if you’re ready to eat it right away, like for me today, it tastes yummy at room temperature too!

Would you believe me if I told you that was it?! Because, it is! So fresh, and delicious! My family loves eating this salad on a croissant bun, but you could also add a scoop of it to your favorite spring salad and get some extra fruits and greens in your meal! It tastes great either way. The salad should keep for a day or two in the fridge if you seal it air tight, and the added lime juice is meant for both flavor, and also to help the avocado keep its color for a while longer.

Voila! I will be making this chicken salad all spring/summer long. And in case you are doubting the toddler approval of this meal, here is proof that my 2 year old picky pants loves to eat it as much as I do!

What are some of your favorite avocado recipes? I am always looking for fun ways to incorporate even more avocado into my life, because you know, avocado. Happy weekend wishes to our readers! Follow our social media pages to get updates and stay in the loop with our blog happenings!

Peace, love, and avocado,

-Tera, xo

 

I Let My Husband Dress Me for a Week: Here’s What Happened

My name is Bethany, and I let my husband dress me for a week.

I’m sure you’re asking what I asked myself all throughout this process– why would I go through this? I wanted to stretch myself! I like situations that I can control. I like everything in its place, and I live by plans and organization. The only way to really learn about yourself is to get out of your comfort zone, and for me that means letting go. The rules of the project were simple. I didn’t have a say in what I wore, he could utilize anything in my closet, and when dressing me for work, it had to be office appropriate. Right out of the gate I knew we would have some challenges. Spring weather is unpredictable. Some days it’s cold and raining, and then it can warm up into the mid 80’s. I also have a pretty minimal wardrobe! I hate clutter and excess, so I try and keep it simple to mix and match. He didn’t have it easy.

I know that appearance isn’t an incredibly important part of life. This project tested that. Yes, I’ve known my husband for eight years, but there’s no one who knows you better than yourself. I know how to hide my insecurities, I know what makes me comfortable etc. I love being creative and fun and simple, and the clothes I choose help me guide that expression. Denver dresses well, but it’s not something he spends too much time on. Giving up my opinion was pretty tough.

Although he was nervous, Denver agreed to the project.

bloglovinphotoTo start us out, I asked him to describe what he thought of my personal style.

“Comfy Chic. You’re really fashionable yet you always look comfy.” – Denver

I looked up “Comfy Chic” on Pinterest. Apparently it’s a real thing. I love outfits that fit my personality, but I also value comfort so he’s not entirely wrong! How would he translate that himself?

Let’s take a look at how he did.

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Monday: “I’m sweating because my husband dressed me”

“I picked this because I think these pieces are really pretty, and I really like black and white.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Low

He chose this shear business button down, black and white sweater, and  black ankle slacks. An all black and white ensemble is something I love, but this just seemed over worked and awkward!  I love this sweater, but it’s for the dead of winter. It was sunny and 75, and I felt strange. Everyone else was walking around in t-shirts, and I wanted to shout “I’m sweating because my husband dressed me!”. He knew he wanted me to wear this shirt, but everything else seemed like a rushed after thought. I think he could tell I was sweaty and not thrilled, so I had high hopes for a turnaround! Overall, I like these pieces individually, but not necessarily together.

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Tuesday: “You should wear rain boots. It’s going to rain”

“I picked this because I’ve always like this combination. And I think you look good in this color. I like the patterns.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Confident

He chose this orange sweater, white and black button down, and black ankle slacks. He bought me this sweater a couple of years ago, and I love it! This day was a cloudy and cooler day, so this outfit was much more appropriate. I think the polka dot button down under the sweater was a smart pairing. I got a little scared when I saw him look over at my bright orange and white rain boots saying “You should wear rain boots. It’s going to rain.” Thankfully he grabbed my more professional shoes. I wear a lot of basics to work, so wearing this bright and patterned sweater is always a bit out of my comfort zone. I got three compliments before 9:00 in the morning, specifically on my sweater. Maybe Denver dresses me better than I dress me? I felt proud of him.

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Wednesday: “You need more pants”

“I picked this because I really like the lace detail on this shirt. The burgundy pants are different.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Moderate

He chose this denim lace detailed button down, burgundy ankle pants, and a gold necklace. Once he found out I only have three pairs of work pants, he went straight for these burgundy pair while saying “You need more pants”. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like my husband saying I need to go shopping. Maybe this experiment is golden. These pants are more like capris than ankle slacks, but I couldn’t say anything!  I felt okay other than my pants being too small. I feel good about the button down choice, and I love the lace shoulder detail. He put this gold necklace with it, and I think it pairs well. Overall, he didn’t seem as confident as the day before, but I think he did a good job. This day made me realize I need to donate these pants.

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Wednesday Night: “I thought the cardigan would fix it”

“I picked this because I think the pizza shirt is hilarious, and I really like the casual comfy look of the flannel with the leggings. Pom pom hats are awesome.” -Denver 

Casual–Life Group

Feelings: Exhausted, but happy

He chose this pizza t-shirt, zip up flannel, leggings, vans, and a beanie. We are always under a time crunch on this day, and that added pressure to this process. Denver knew that he wanted me to wear this pizza shirt, but he also wanted me to wear my boyfriend jeans. I already knew this would be a problem. They’re both relaxed fit, and I felt pretty sloppy when I tried it all on. The cardigan he picked out was too small to go over this shirt, and I legitimately felt like a stuffed sausage. He was really confused— “I thought the cardigan would fix it”. He went back to the drawing board. It was so hard to bite my tongue! I wanted to help him fix it. He had me try on different pants, shirts, jackets etc. Denver wanted nothing more than for me to feel comfortable and confident, and he finally landed on this. I felt a little bit like a black ninja, but over all I think he ended up picking something that was very me! This day he admitted that dressing a woman is much harder than dressing a man.

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Thursday: “You need a pop of color”

“I picked this because I really love this blazer. I think it’s  a trendier look  as opposed to a business suit. I think the burgundy top contrasts really well with the light blazer.” -Denver

Office Wear and Life Group

Feelings: Happy

He chose these high waisted black ankle slacks, burgundy tee, cream blazer, and a statement necklace. The weather was perfect for this kind of outfit. I was really excited about this one because I had never worn all of this together before. For the first time all week, I felt like I looked like me! I was really impressed that he picked out this necklace, and I got a lot of compliments on it as well. He was so cute picking this out. I could hear the hangers sliding around as he yelled “You need a pop of color!” On this day he learned to think of the outfit as a whole, instead of just putting together individual pieces. Progress.

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Friday: “Where’s your Papa’s flannel?”

“I picked this because I just love the over-sized flannel with the simple top and leggings. I like the fact that it’s casual and you can still wear it in public. It’s your grandpa’s shirt, and I think it’s really neat when you wear it.” -Denver 

Casual Wear 

Feelings: Comfortable and fun

He chose this flannel, white t-shirt, black leggings, and camel boots. This flannel means a lot to me, and I’m really glad he picked it out for me. I babysit on Fridays, so I felt comfortable. He knows that I run errands or do things afterward, so he wanted to give me something that I could also wear out and about. For the first time in this process, he had a couple shirts he wanted me to try on so that he could see what he liked best. Overall, I think this outfit looked the most like something I would pick out.

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After this experience, I realize just how much thought and care you put into getting dressed each day. You are always able to find multiple combinations of tops and bottoms to create a really great appearance. I didn’t realize how difficult that can be for a woman until this. As I was picking your clothes, I had to take more time to think than I would if I were dressing myself. I just really learned that it’s a creative process that takes time and consideration just like any other art. I can see why the fashion industry is a high art now. I had to learn how to paint with a different palette. -Denver

This process was both fun and exhausting, and we learned more about each other than you can possibly imagine. I learned that I’m hanging onto a few items that could be donated. I learned that Denver takes great consideration of wanting me to feel confident and comfortable. I learned how hard it is to let go of control. You don’t realize how much your clothing impacts your confidence, until you’re no longer given a choice! Denver is right. Fashion is an art, and I love having the freedom to express myself every day. If you think it’s not important to you, try this yourself!

Let’s keep the conversation going! You can follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. You can also see our blog updates easily by liking our Facebook page, or following our blog Instagram @OakandEarth.

-Bethany

A Celebration-Norah is TWO

I just had to share a little life update this week, as we have had a lot going on this past weekend! Norah turned TWO  years old Saturday (HOW can this be?!). We gathered around our sweet girl and she was celebrated–and she could feel the love. She felt so special! I was visiting with a close friend yesterday about how our girls (only one month apart) both had a very good grasp of their birthdays this year. They both realized we were celebrating them, and they just loved having everyone they love surround them on their special day. This could not be more true for Norah! She soaked up the whole afternoon of family and friends!! We are so blessed to have so many who love our family and share our celebrations with us.

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If you have been reading along with us for a while, you may recall my last birthday post, here-. I shared a few things I learned over the course of Norah’s first year of life; the ups and downs for me as a mom, and how each stage brings a new season of parenthood. I have to say though, that this second year has probably been my favorite stage so far! I treasure every baby stage and share some sweet memories of Norah’s baby innocence, but man this past year has been a blast! Just like that, she turned into a little girl right before our eyes. It is bittersweet, but it has been a blessing for my husband and I to watch what a sweet, sassy, hilarious, beautiful, little girl Norah has blossomed into.

Though she has become quite the independent little girl–we hear “Norah ‘dood’ it” an awful lot–there is still such a precious innocence about her. Still marveling over the things that we adults would rarely think twice over, causing Jeremy and I to pause and acknowledge these little things every now and again that in her world are new and amazing (like the sound of a “choo choo,” or a little anthill in the yard). She keeps our imaginations running, and I hope that never ends! There is so much about her life that we treasure. We could not be more grateful to God for another year of life with our girl!

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One of the things Norah loves right now is ice cream (i-keem), so naturally, we decided to have an ice cream sundae themed party for her! We supplied the ice cream and a plethora of toppings, and let everyone create their own sundaes; it was a huge hit! She loved helping me prep for the party and only tried to smuggle the M&M’s under the table a few times (ok, ok…if Norah’s honest, it’s really the only thing she was concerned about regarding the party prep). Note to self: next year, hide all party food until the day of party to avoid stolen bags of candy around every corner turned.

She truly loved having all of our friends and family come over and celebrate together, and the ice cream sundaes weren’t a bad way to do that! Though it will likely never happen again, the weather on Norah’s (winter) birthday reached about 73 degrees! We lived it to the fullest with a bounce house, courtesy of a family member, and trampoline for the kiddos, and they hardly stepped foot inside from start to finish! We kept it simple with the food and decorations for her birthday, and made the focus more on who we spent the day with. We loved how it turned out, and Norah adored every minute of her special day.

 

Year two had some exciting and some challenging stages surface. The beginnings of potty training, the development of a very stubborn independence that begins to battle with you over things from which socks to wear, to bedtime, to what foods she’ll eat (today). Learning colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and songs. Building strong bonds with loved ones that are treasured. A quizzical nature that tends to get into mischief, daily. On the go bright and early, and no stopping until we crawl into bed that night. So many days can feel so draining and even mundane at times, though it will always be worth every long day. I am so grateful for a God that allows new mercies in the morning to start each day with renewed energy and grace (He knows I need it)!

A letter to Norah Grace:

Sweet Norah,

How fast your second year flew by, but oh how I treasured every bit of it. Our selfie queen, ice cream lover, little ham. You give us sunshine every day, and I could not be more proud and humbled to be called ‘mom’ by you! I love your gentle, caring spirit, your one of a kind facial expressions, your love of donuts, and your obsession with all things pink and all things princess. My heart swells with joy when you talk to us about how you love Jesus, and how excited you are to go to church every week. I love listening to your sweet singing voice as you perch on a cinder block outside and belt “Let it Go.” I love that you call me ‘mom’ on occasion to get my attention (“Mom. Hey mom. Here you go, mom. Mom, look”). I love that you love to read and be read to! I may be tired more days than not, but I still love that you still need your mama for an occasional extra cuddle, to kiss your booboos, to feed you, and tuck you in at night. I love how you are learning new things every day, and I love the way you pronounce some of your words (to-mah-loo “tomorrow,” oo-ah gace “Norah Grace,” and so on). I love that you ask me to play pretend in your kitchen, and with your million and one baby dolls. I love that you already possess a nurturing spirit, and I pray I can be an example to learn after. And I love that your favorite thing to do is play chase and be tickled! God created a most beautiful “you,” and I pray that you will grow up living and knowing the fullness of Christ’s goodness and love, and that you would chase after His will for you. I am so incredibly thankful for another year God has blessed us with “you”, and I pray He blesses us for many, many more years to come. I love you most forever.

-Your Mama 

 

Someday, there will be a last time Norah plays with her baby dolls. She’ll wake up one morning and “Oo-ah” will be “Norah.” She’ll outgrow her need for cuddles, and one day she won’t need me to prepare her food or tuck her in at night. And someday, she’ll use her cinder block in the yard as her performing stage one last time. As I type these thoughts out, my heart already weeps preparing for this day. No, it won’t all happen at once, and for that I am thankful. It will be gradual, over the course of time, but in my heart I know it is all too fast approaching. Seeing how fast the first two years have flown by, I am saddened at the thought of waking up one morning and being a mom to a teenager, just like that. I pray that in the long days where I am so exhausted and just want a shower or to eat my meal that was overlooked in the busyness of my day, the Lord will slow me down and let me cherish all of these little things about Norah that won’t last forever. That He’ll prompt me to cuddle her a little bit longer before bed time (even though she may be stalling), and to not be frustrated after preparing four different foods before finding one she will eat. This is such a precious time of our life. So challenging, but even more so rewarding. Lord, help me to slow down and live in each day, to soak it all in. Amen.

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Here was our big surprise for everyone at the party!! We feel blessed to be adding a little one in September. Norah is so excited to be a BIG sister!

 

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Love and Peace,

-Tera, xo