Monday, March 31, 2014

DIY Geometric Mobile

DIY Geometric mobile

When I was dreaming about baby stuff and what would go in his room and all that fun stuff, I was eyeing some really fun geometric baby mobiles... but some of them were like $100. I was kinda disappointed but I knew I would end up DIY'ing a different type of mobile... maybe felt triangles or pom poms but then I came across this website that had templates for these paper geo shapes (I believe the correct term is Platonic Solids:)) and I saw all my baby mobile dreams coming true.

This isn't really a full blown tutorial because its just way too simple for that. But since approximately 1million of you asked how I did it I thought it did indeed deserve its own post. Here's how you can make one of these for yourself! Baby or not I think they are a fun way to decorate.

First you'll need to get card stock in the colors of your choice, just one sheet for each shape. Then go here and print the template on said card stock.

Follow the instructions in the link to assemble the shapes. You just cut them out, score the lines that you need to fold and glue it together. It can be a little time consuming on the shapes that have a lot of folds but for the most part its super quick and easy.

DIY Geometric Mobile
DIY Geometric Mobile

Make a stitch through the corner of your paper shape with a sharp sewing needle and light-colored thread, knot it and cut the thread to the length you need it to be. No need to stitch through multiple times since it is so lightweight.

After a failed attempt to make a wire frame I ended up just hanging them from the ceiling and it does the job just fine!

DIY Geometric Mobile
DIY Geometric Mobile
DIY Geometric Mobile
DIY Geometric Mobile
DIY Geometric Mobile

If you have any questions about the mobile that I overlooked leave me a comment!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Beck's Nursery

Beck's Nursery
Beck's Nursery

Beck's Nursery
Beck's Nursery
Beck's Nursery
Beck's Nursery
Beck's Nursery
Beck's Nursery
Beck's Nursery
Beck's Nursery

We opted out of the themed nursery which probably makes us the most unhip parents on internet right? This room is pretty tiny so I wanted to keep it simple and minimal. We picked a dresser that could double as a changing table but also be a piece we could use for years, I'm super happy with this one. Since we bought almost everything used (and made the other things) we spent next to nothing for his sweet little room (which is good because I would've spent way too much on it)
It's bright and airy and my favorite spot in the house.


Crib and Dresser: Ikea
Geometric Mobile: DIY (tutorial coming soon!)
Black Arrow: DIY
Fan: Vintage
"I love you to the moon and back" Canvas: Red Envelope
Knit Blanket: Handmade
Rocking Chair: Baxton Studios
Fox Print: Kelli Murray
Gray Changing Pad Cover: DIY

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Being pregnant and why it was important to not complain

(Maternity photos I never got around to sharing. This was 34 weeks)IMG_4547IMG_4565


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I've been wanting to write this post for ages, but I couldn't get it out. I got pregnant this time last year, so it's a good time to publish it, right?

Being pregnant was so surreal. The whole thing. I remember waking up on easter morning super early and had a feeling I was finally pregnant. I took a test but it was so so so light I shrugged it off and decided to not take another one for a few more days when my period was supposed to have shown up. We picked up a digital test so there would be no guessing, and I handed it to josh after I peed on it so he would know first. When he finally looked at it he ran around the room and finally came back and said, "there's a baby in there!" I know it's cliche but I instantly felt different.

Being pregnant is such a gift. I know its such a normal thing that it starts to seem like nothing, but it isn't nothing—your body is growing a freaking human. That is INSANE! And it drove me crazy to hear people complain so much about being pregnant. Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Yes, I threw up more in nine months than I have in my whole life. Sure, your body changes and it isn't always cute. Yes, you can't eat sushi or drink wine. But, complain about something I've been wanting my whole life? I seriously couldn't even fathom it.

So I was positive about it. Not forcefully, but if I was asked about it, I gave an honest answer about how much I enjoyed being pregnant. And I can't count how many comments, emails and in-person chats where people said things like, "it's so refreshing to hear someone talk positively about being pregnant." Why is that not the norm?

One of the main reasons I think it's important to approach this mindset during pregnancy (or even before) is because I think it sets you up for your birth. If you think getting stretch marks, uncomfortable sleep, swollen ankles, and whatever else is bad, where is your mind going to be when you're having painful contractions every few minutes? If you come from a place of gratitude throughout your pregnancy and you just roll with the punches—learning to love it knowing what it produces—then come labor, you are already in a place of confidence, gratitude and positivity which I think puts you in a good place for birth.

However, the more important reason I have a hard time stomaching the complaints is knowing how many women are heartbroken over infertility, and the trouble they're having getting pregnant. Or women who have lost babies. You have something they so desperately want and would give anything for, and showing anything but gratitude for the life inside you—no matter how uncomfortable—is really insensitive. To those women: You deserve apologies. And lots of them. 

I'm a complainer to my core. It's something I've been trying to work on for years in every area of my life. So I know the temptation. I know it well. Whenever I would get "complaining thoughts" I tried to take them captive immediately and realize just how lucky I was to have a baby, alive, inside of me. More than worth every ache and pain, stretch mark and sleepless night. 

I know this can be a controversial subject and people are entitled to complain about whatever they want—big or small—my hope is that you simply find this encouraging. Growing babies, birthing babies and raising babies is hard but staying positive and remaining thankful is so important. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Snow Days in February

February
February
February
February
February
February
February

A few weeks ago a couple big snow storms hit Portland and it was transformed into a winter wonderland (why can't this ever happen on Christmas?). We holed up inside for 4 days and watched a lot of The walking dead and ate a whole package of Oreos.

Of course we bundled Beck up in his bear suit and showed him his first snow—he promptly fell asleep.

I kind of wish this is what it looked like all winter but I know I wouldn't feel that way after awhile. Grass is always greener eh? It was fun and beautiful while it lasted but it was also pretty great to leave the house after being stuck inside.

Who's ready for spring?




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bump Nest: The best sleep I ever got

Bumpnest forever
Bumpnest forever
(Totally convincing you that I'm actually asleep huh...What? You don't sleep in jeans and make-up?) 

I'm a 100% stomach sleeper so it was torture when I got to that point in pregnancy where you had to make the switch to sleep on your side. My hips were achey and I seriously woke up every hour trying to get comfortable. By the time I was 6 months pregnant I was sleeping with 4 pillows—one between my knees, one to hug/support my growing stomach, and two positioned around my head and I was still so uncomfortable all night.

Then I got a Bump Nest and it changed my life. That sounds so dramatic and infomercial-ish but I'm dead serious! It's a full body pillow that engulfs you in a comfy cloud. It is perfectly fluffy yet firm enough to support well. I loved that it went around my back and growing bump, especially towards the end of pregnancy when no matter how you lay you feel heavy and awkwardly huge.

I would like to say that I have since stopped using it because it is, after all, a pregnancy pillow but it's so comfortable I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to give it up. No joke, Josh and I now trade off every other night because he's also become obsessed with it. (He lovingly calls it the "bump nest hot tub" because the comfort level is hot tub status I guess?)

Basically it is the most comfortable pillow I've ever used, it made sleeping possible while hugely pregnant, the cover comes off easily to wash and it folds up neatly so you store it in the closet during the day.

One question I've been asked over and over: Is it worth the price? Yes. I'm notoriously cheap and I would've easily paid twice the price just for the comfort during pregnancy. The fact that I still love it is an added bonus!

Check out the Bump Nest website (they have tons of cute patterns) and if you're looking to buy one you can use the code VANILLATEN to get $10 off your order.


P.S. Told you it was husband approved.

Bumpnest forever

Full disclosure: I didn't get paid for this review. However, the kind people at Bump Nest sent me a pillow to save my sleepless nights. All opinions are totally my own! 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Theology of Childbirth

These words are from Josh, a guest post if you will. He is so eloquent it's almost un-human. I asked him to write something about Beck's birth and left it at that. This isn't so much the "story" as much as what he observed in me that day which isn't the approach I necessarily expected but I thought it was lovely and could be inspiring to some. I'm aware that the fact that I'm posting this could come of as braggy but that is not my heart whatsoever. I'm not she-woman who just sneezed out a baby on accident, I'm a small wimpy gal who had doubts about natural childbirth and read a book that gave me a whole new mindset. More on that soon... - Abi

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Daddy love


I like theology. I like it a lot. As fun as theology is to read and to write, how one applies their theology is the “proof in the pudding,” as they say. That’s tough.

This is one reason why watching my wife have our son was a deeply impacting experience. Sure, you cry because you see your baby for the first time. Sure, it’s beautiful and spiritual and all that mumbo jumbo. And, of course, it is as Chandler Bing so eloquently put it: “One disgusting miracle.” But, my wife, who impresses me daily with her character and integrity, managed to wow me with her applied theology.

A theology of child birth.

She studied for months. She prayed over and meditated on what she learned. She recited beautiful liturgy. She thought critically through what she had been taught (good and bad) and what she had learned that called into question what she had been taught (good and bad). 

On the heels of the massively influential Grantly Dick-Read work, Child Birth Without Fear, my wife explained to me how she had laid down each of the old horror tropes hopelessly tethered to labor and childbirth for centuries. Excruciating pain and agony, terror, turmoil… My wife had come to believe that none of these things belonged in her paradigm for what it meant to deliver a child.

For Abi, labor was to be understood as hard work. Toil, even. But not as agony. Not as anything to be afraid of.

And on November 28th, 2013, I watched with my own eyes and heard with my own ears my wife apply her theology of childbirth. Her application was steadfast. Unflinching. No drugs, no intervention. It was nothing short of beautiful to behold. 

Abi did not scream or panic. There was no grimace of torment. There were no yelps of anxiety or fretful murmuring. I can only assume many women have resigned themselves to the supposed inevitability of suffering in labor, and in their resignation and their fear, created for themselves the very physical pain and mental anguish they feared. In the same way, my wife resigned herself to hard work without pain, and thusly made it so. (Abi's note: Not entirely. I definitely did experience pain in labor but the point here is how it is dealt with. Embracing it as a means to a beautiful end as opposed to a punishment or just pointless pain.)

Don’t get me wrong, often things go awry in birth. Sometimes all the right thinking in the world cannot spare one from a painful complication when delivering a child. But my wife did not believe pain was an inevitability, and I watched as she carried her belief into reality.

Calm, collected, serene. She smiled and laughed through contractions, nurse after nurse asking with genuine disbelief, “are you sure you’re feeling these?” One physician calling her “the poster girl for natural childbirth.” At one point, someone leaned over to me and asked, “did she take hypno-birthing classes or something?”

No, she didn’t. She’s applying her theology of childbirth.

A doctor joked to me (with, I think, an edge of sincerity), “maybe don’t tell too many women about your wife. They’ll all think it’s as easy as she makes it look.” 

What a disservice it would be not to tell Abi’s story! She never said it was easy, in fact, she said it was hard work. But if Abi was able to throw off the shackles of fear and agony, I have to believe others can follow in her example just as she walks in the example of those to do the same before her.

At the heart of this whole “childbirth theology” thing are beautiful concepts like the fact that children are blessings and that love involves risk. Cliché, I know, but there they are nonetheless. It was only in the last hour of Abi’s labor that I realized how deep these truths resonated with her, how profoundly they had formed her thinking and her practice.

Waiting between pushes for a coming contraction, I could hear her whispering to herself. Barely audible, but there. And when I leaned toward her, I discovered no whimper, no lament.

Over and over again, to herself she whispered: “He’s worth it. He’s worth it. He’s worth it.”

And when, moments later I held Beck Henson Porter in my own arms, I could see what Abi knew before me. He was worth it.

Daddy love


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beck's Birth Story

**Before I jump into this I just wanted to quickly note that I spent a great deal of time during my pregnancy preparing myself mentally and physically for a natural med-free birth. I knew my body was absolutely capable of this and I read some fabulous books on the subject and they we're so important to how this all went down and I have so much to say that I feel like it needs its own blog post. So there will be a post later this week about how I prepared myself to the best of my abilities to have a natural unmedicated birth, what that was like in a hospital, what worked and what didn't and all that jazz!

But anyway, this is story of Beck's birth.

On Wednesday (November 27th) around noon I started having contractions 5 minutes apart but this was very normal for me so I didn’t think anything of it and decided to clean the house like a maniac to take my mind off of it. Around 5pm during a contraction i would also have a little back pain so I called the advise nurse to see if this could be “it” and she said it probably wasn’t but if it got to the point where I couldn’t talk through a contraction then to come in to Labor and delivery. 

At 7pm, I was still having contractions and they were 2-3 minutes apart but not very painful at all. Maybe it was in my head but for some reason I just felt different so I hesitantly told josh I thought it’d be a good idea to go to the hospital just in case. I ate a baked potato and we left for the hospital. We told the kitties we’d be back in an hour and as we walked to the car I reminded josh that on the way home I needed to stop by trader joes to pick up food for thanksgiving dinner. 


We got to the hospital around 8pm and I honestly felt silly checking myself in because the contractions felt like they had slowed down and I wasn’t in pain at all. I went to a triage room where the nurse hooked me up to the contraction monitor and after a couple minutes she came in with a surprised look and said “are you feeling these??” and my honest answer was…”not really, maybe a little” and she explained the contractions were coming really often and lasting long enough to consider it “Real” labor so she checked my dilation and sure enough I was dilated to 5cm and she told us she would get a L&D room ready.


Josh and I looked at each other really wide eyed and I said to the nurse “So I’m not going home?” and she laughed and said “Um, no! You’re having that baby soon.” 
We nervously giggled and kept saying “what???” to each other and I got a little teary eyed because I couldn’t believe it was actually happening and we would be leaving the hospital with a baby! 

Beck's Birth Story

Beck's Birth Story


Once I got to my room I immediately got on an IV to get a round of antibiotics since i was GBS+. I was told that no midwives were on call since it was the night before a holiday (Thanksgiving) but I didn’t feel too nervous about that since the nurses and OB on call we’re both aware that I wanted a totally med-free birth and everyone was happy to support me in that.
I wasn’t in too much pain and I just hung out in the room with Josh, my sisters and mom talking and joking around to distract myself. Josh and I walked up and down the halls for awhile trying to progress labor… we talked about how excited we were and prayed for things to go as smoothly as possible. 

Beck's Birth Story

After a couple hours I wanted to be checked again so the OB came in and i was at 7cm now. YAY progress!! So we walked more. The nurses at all the stations told me I was the first person they’d ever seen calmly walking the halls at 7cm. After more walking and bouncing on a ball I was starting to feel the contractions even stronger and I would get back pain during them, so I just focused on breathing and staying as relaxed as possible. At this point it was the middle of the night and I tried laying down to get some rest since this was pretty much my last chance for that. The OB would be switching over at 9am and I would be rechecked then to see where we were at. I dozed on and off, talked and prayed with josh more, and did more bouncing and walking. 

At 9am the new OB came in (who the nurses described as a "midwife in disguise" and he was AMAZING) and he checked me and I was still at 7cm. He thought I could possibly be dehydrated so before we talked about doing anything else he wanted me to drink as much as possible and also get fluid through an IV and we would talk about what to do next at noon.

At noon, he came in and I was still 7cm and had been for about 12 hours with no progress. My water still hadn’t broke so we weighed the pros and cons of him doing it for me and since my water was going to eventually break anyway it was a no brainer, I definitely wanted him to do it because at 24 hours there would be talk of pitocin and I was trying to avoid that at all costs. This was the most natural way to progress things.

And boy did it! At 2pm he poked my waters. Two things I remember distinctly about it: 1) that is A LOT of water 2) that was very warm!

Beck's Birth Story
Beck's Birth Story
Beck's Birth Story

Almost immediately my contractions we’re stronger and pretty uncomfortable. I sat on the ball and leaned over the bed to just relax. I figured I still had a ways to go and I wanted to stay calm. Josh tickled my arm and I remember a couple tears streaming down my face, not because of pain but because it was feeling VERY real and I knew he would be coming soon. Each contraction got more uncomfortable and I was trying different positions and stances but it was getting really hard to focus. During contractions I would just close my eyes and pray and think about how each one of these was one step closer to my baby being here. About 40 minutes after my water broke, the nurse came in and could tell I was definitely in more pain than before and asked if i wanted to get in the tub. The answer to that was a big fat yes. Josh and I walked down to the private tub and it was seriously instant relief. I had one regular contraction in there and I kept telling josh how much better it felt and I was pretty excited to labor the rest of the time in the tub. Well, the next contraction I got I started to involuntarily push.. and I was like Josh!Go get the nurse because i’m pushing. That contraction passed and she came in what seemed like a half second later and told me I couldn’t push and I needed to get out. (I couldn’t give birth in the tub)

Beck's Birth Story

I stepped out of the tub and started to put my clothes back on but another contraction came and I jumped back into the tub. It felt physically impossible for me to not push during these contractions and there was no way I was doing that while walking back to my room. As soon as that one finished they threw a hospital robe over me and I pretty much ran back to my room, most likely with my butt hanging out (no shame when you're in labor). 

When I got back, the nurse immediately checked me during the next contraction and sure enough I was 10cm and ready to roll! She called the amazing OB but told me not to push during contractions until he got there. This was the only part of my entire labor and birth that was actually extremely painful. I tried doing these few contractions on my hands and knees but I was shaking from being soaking wet and back in the air conditioned room, and I was pretty tired at this point and couldn't hold myself up very well with my wobbly arms. 

The OB got there and he explained his pushing method, I got in an upright sitting position on the bed, they positioned a mirror (because I knew seeing the progress would help me) and Josh talked me through the pushes using the OB instructions. It felt SO GOOD to push, like instant and amazing relief,  Which definitely isn't what I expected the pushing phase to be like. Don't get me wrong, pushing was hard work and physically exhausting, like running 10 marathons.. but not agonizing pain like is always depicted on TV shows and such. Another thing I was surprised by: in between contractions it was like I wasn't even in labor… I felt so at peace and closed my eyes, drank water and talked about how it was going. They were just what I needed to regain the energy to push again. 

At one point the doc said something about how one of the pushes was really great and I replied "Is he crowning???" and he said "You wish!" and we all laughed. His sense of humor was awesome, even if I was maybe a tad disappointed by his answer ;)

 I was having really strong pushing contractions but they weren't super close together so when one ended I was like "Gah! I wish I would just have more contractions so I could keep pushing"… the nurse and OB laughed and said they had never heard anyone say that before. It was true though, Even though the rest in between contractions was amazing and blissful, I knew I needed contractions in order to push and I wanted to see my baby! 

After about 45 minutes of pushing, I was told this was it and to give it all I got and I did just that. At 3:45pm on Thanksgiving day, with one last push he was out! What an intensely beautiful moment. They immediately put him on my chest and I was so overcome with emotion. I couldn't believe I had actually done it and he was here. Nothing can prepare you for that moment, having your child who was just inside of you seconds ago, now looking up at you. The best high you could ever imagine. I looked up at Josh who had tears streaming down his face and deep look of a new love in his eyes. Holy cow, he was actually here!!!
 He stayed on me skin-to-skin for an hour and I couldn't stop kissing his sticky little head. My greatest accomplishment, laying on my chest so content. 

It was a life changing experience and a day I will never forget. I feel so grateful and blessed to have had the birth I was hoping and praying for and more importantly a healthy and beautiful baby boy.

Beck's Birth Story
Beck's Birth Story
Beck's Birth Story
Beck's Birth Story
Beck's Birth Story



p.s. Josh will be sharing a few of his thoughts on childbirth tomorrow. He's much more eloquent than I am so I couldn't put the two in the same post ;)