Belmar Beach with Baby

A couple of weeks ago we were so lucky to have my little sister come visit for a full week. We missed her so much! I love spending time with Audrey because she is so different than me – her soft-spoken, laid back, personality is relaxing and refreshing. She has a big heart for God, others well-being, and I can’t wait to watch her graduate college (I’m getting freaking old) in just a couple of weeks. Although, can we do without the ceremony where they call everyone one by one in a monotone voice and just have a party? JK. Kinda.

  

In the middle of the week we decided to hit up the Shore when we saw that it would be super nice – 75 and sunny! (PS-why was it warmer 3 weeks ago than now?) Being so close to the shore is the best thing about living in NJ and I wanted to make sure she saw it! Also I wanted her to think where we lived is kinda cool. So basically I’ll take you to the beach if you come visit me this summer: hint hint.

I chose Belmar because it is a straight shot from our house, super easy to park (out of season) and the boardwalk is super nice. Getting around with a stroller is not the easiest so this is key when taking baby. The worst thing about going to the beach out of season is that the public bathrooms are closed… no we didn’t sneak into a private beach club to go… We did, however, see some Mom’s having a “play group” at the playground on the beach – rough life 😉

On the way we drove past a cafe called Stay Gold, and decided to swing in (literally we found the most VIP of all VIP parking spots right out front) to check it out. First, off we should’ve known a place with the name “Stay Gold” was going to be bomb. The menu was full of smoothies, gourmet coffee, salads, paninis, juice bar, and all around goodness. It’s the little things, ya know? They even host live music on a small stage on the weekends.

stay gold     ^We got the chunky monkey (banana, chocolate, peanut butter, almond milk) + a shot of espresso – can’t visit a cafe without adding caffeine!
^our own chunky monkey

 


^little elf ears 

Calvin slept the entire car ride, the entire time we were there, and the entire way home. He started screaming right as we pulled back in to home, so we timed it just right. Now that I think about it, the beach is actually a great place to take a baby because of the calming wind and waves sounds. I see many trips to the shore in our future this year! 


Shop my casual look:

vans
Classic Vans Slip-Ons
Striped-Sleeve Tee
Striped Sleeve Tee (Similar)
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Linen Relaxed Utility Jacket (Similar)
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STRETCH 1969 True Skinny Jeans (Similar)
ray bans
Ray Ban Gradient Lens Aviator
earrings
Small Square Stud Earrings

So for real on the visitors thing – one of my best friends, Caitlin, is coming to visit next weekend and I am so excited. She is the down-to-earth, talk about anything with, dislike someone just because they wronged you (promise we aren’t mean girls) type of friend. We have lots of iced coffee, wine, and adventures to fit into 3 short days.

Anyone else from the East Coast: any must-do, must-see beaches for future trips this summer?

Happy Sunday, all – wishing you all rest & relaxation as you head into a new week.

❤ Kayla

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6 Weeks into Motherhood: My New Normal 

The past couple of weeks have been somewhat of a honeymoon phase with Calvin, Craig, and I’m really just trying to enjoy every moment of maternity leave. We’ve had so many amazing visitors that have helped us out, and also forced me to get moving again! My family made us frozen casseroles that lasted us a month – and who doesn’t love a good casserole? Craig’s family came and treated us to several meals, drinks, and kept us company for a weekend. My sister came for a week and fell in love with Calvin, just as all of us have. There were definitely tears from multiple parties when having to leave – if we thought it was difficult living far from family before, throwing a baby into the mix takes that to a whole new level! Thank god for snap chat, which BTW is my new favorite form of social media. Add me @greenskm to follow our adventures 🙂

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Despite such an exciting and life changing time, the blogging juices haven’t exactly been flowing as much as I’d like. As we get more situated, and we get out more, this will change. It’s really easy to scroll Instagram and get caught up in what other mommy bloggers are doing and compare yourself – the opposite of what motherhood should be. I figured I’ll take the pressure off myself and just write exactly how I’m feeling 6 weeks post-partum.
When I started the pregnancy journey I had no close friends in the same boat as me. Suddenly I’ve discovered all of my closest friends/acquaintances in New Jersey are new moms or expecting very soon…most of whom I met BECAUSE of having a baby. It’s funny how god’s timing and plans work out. Several ladies I know living in OH have had little ones within weeks of me, and thanks to social media I’ve been able to connect with and follow along with their journeys as well. It is refreshing to receive and give advice to others who are in the same exact boat as you – and I’m so happy to see everyone doing so well! Becoming a new Mom is a lot less lonely when there are others to relate with.

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A ton of people have asked me, “How are YOU doing?” and I find myself responding with the same generic answer of “Good, just trying to get back to normal & feel like myself!” It hit me the other day that while some things will return to normal (going back to work, being able to exercise, etc) I’m never going to feel like my old self. My life, my body, my feelings, my emotions, my decisions, are never going to be the same. Having a child transforms you into a new person completely and it’s time to stop expecting to feel like I did 10 months ago, or even 6 weeks ago. It’s time to stop trying to get to a previous “normal” that no longer exists. I’m never going to wake up and feel like the Kayla I was for 26 years. But I don’t want to be that person any more – we stand still in life if we cannot accept or welcome change.

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Here are a few {but not limited to} new life changes. We heard them in the form of advice leading up to birth, but we’d never understand until now;

Constant interrupted sleep.
3 hour maximum trips out of the house.
Shortened shower time.
A diaper bag for a purse.
Double the laundry.
Constantly chugging water.
Dark circles.
Hair & skin changes.
Baby socks, bibs, and blankets everywhere.
Milk stained everything.
Taking out the trash every day.
The awkward 4th trimester mom-body.
Feeding as much as a part-time job.
Sore arms and back from rocking baby back to sleep.
Leggings as a wardrobe staple [STILL.]
Quietly “shushing” until your mouth hurts.
Realizing how bad you are at singing, and that you need to learn some lullabies, stat.
Planning all aspects in life months in advance.
Being 30 min late to everything.
No room in the cart for groceries.
No more making decisions on the fly.
Spending more time shopping for baby, than yourself.
Realizing you need ‘handicap’ access everywhere with a stroller.
Wanting time to stop.
Always putting yourself second.
Tearing up at the D word (daycare.)
Being responsible for someone else’s well-being, completely.
‘Wasting’ hours with a sleeping baby on your chest.
Loving someone else so much, it honestly hurts.

This is my new normal.

This is our new life.

And I wouldn’t change one thing about it.

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{Month One}

Well we’ve made it one full month with our little man 👶 It’s been the fastest month ever,  yet we feel like he’s been been ours for much longer. I’m trying to soak up every second as I know how fleeting time truly is at this stage. My favorite things to do with him are try to get him to smile, kiss his little cheekies & chin, and allow him to nap while holding him. There’s something humbling about a baby sleeping soundly on your chest that allows you to be present, slow down, and enjoy that moment. For the first time in a long time I’m wishing time would stop right in it’s tracks.

Month One Fun Facts:

  • Sleeps for about 2 hrs at a time during the day and 3-4 at night
  • Loves his bath time – we’re hoping this means he’ll love the pool and beach this summer!
  • His arms and legs never stop moving
  • Can get his arms out of a good swaddle
  • Only fit in newborn diapers for a few days and now wears size 1
  • Can fit in his 3 month clothes
  • Has shown us a few good smiles
  • Has discovered his lungs and has shown us how loud he can scream
  • Loves his car seat and car rides
  • Is an expert at crossing his eyes 😳

Our Adventures so far:

  • Starbucks date with my friend Ashley and little baby Knox who is due in April
  • Shopping with Mom @ the mall
  • Target
  • Stroller walks around our apartment complex
  • BW3s to meet Craig’s coworkers
  • Triumph Brewery to meet my coworkers
  • Panera for lunch date with Mom & Dad
  • Small World Coffee, Princeton Library and long walk around Princeton Campus to meet new friends Lisa and baby Lucas
  • On the Border Restaurant with Laura
  • Visits from my family and our friends Max, Mary, Laura & Naveed

As you can see he truly does enjoy his car seat, car rides, and getting out of the house. He’s like his Mom, as we both get a bit stir crazy when inside for too long and we both need time outdoors every so often. His content demeanor while traveling allows us to get some fresh air, spend time with friends, and basically helps us to keep our sanity 🙂 Calvin also let me take some “1 month” photos this morning to share with you all! He’s so damn cute.



    

Thanks for checking in! 💕

Kayla

Our First Fam Walk + Springtime Activity Guide 

Two weekends ago, we got out for our first family walk since having Calvin (he was 10 days, now he’s 3 weeks)- it was 65 and sunny so we had to take advantage!  We didn’t make it very far due to this recovering mama, and all our pics are super posey in only our apartment complex, but we don’t care, haha. We were just happy to get out of the house and get some fresh air – I’m so excited for more family outings as I begin to feel like myself and the baby gets older.

  ^green smoothie in tow – making some strides towards that #healthylife
  ^cuties!
^ he slept the entire time!
^the black suit strikes again & I seriously need a tan
^super Dad looking super serious

With less than 2 weeks left until the first official day of Spring and temps in the 60’s & 70’s this week, I’ve started thinking about and looking forward to all of the things I want to do this Spring. Last Spring we had just moved here, and shortly after I was entering the first trimester of pregnancy. AKA we had no idea what there was to do around us, and I wasn’t feeling so great most of the time.

Here are a few ideas I’ve put together for this year – I’d also like to hear your ideas or plans for when the weather warms up!

 Dine/Drink on a Patio 

Is there anything better than the combination of food, drinks, and fresh air? I love finding restaurants with nice patios and outdoor accommodations.  Since I’ll be going back to work where I sit in an office all day, this is at the top of my list. I really dislike wasting great weather by being inside, especially on the weekends!

Wine Tastings
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Our area has some really beautiful wineries (Central NJ – who knew?) and last year we got to go to a few. I’m really looking forward to going again and finding a few new tastings to try. It’s generally pretty inexpensive for the tastings, you get a free wine glass, and then you can decide from there if you’d like to buy a bottle (or three.) It’s a great way to try new wine as opposed to buying barefoot every time you go to the grocery. Oh, and you can usually buy specific cheese plates that pair best with each wine. There are not a lot of things I love more than cheese. These are my favorite in our area:

Hopewell Valley Vineyards

Terhune Orchards

Laurita Winery

 Picnic/Photos in the Park

Now that we have a baby, I imagine we will be finding local parks to take walks and get out of the house. I don’t particularly like doing loops around the apartment complex, although sometimes that has to suffice! You could pack a picnic, and take some photos of the scenery, your family, or with friends with use of the natural light. We first did this when coming up with “it’s a boy!” announcement photos. I know, we’re big losers sometimes! 🙂

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Make a few new healthy go-to recipes

I’m a huge advocate for grocery shopping, always having food in the house, and cooking at home. I’ve mentioned in a previous post how much healthier this is both for you and your wallet! I do often find myself making the same things over and over, which long-term can lead to boredom and an increased chance of unhealthy snacking. It’s important to find new, healthy eats on a regular basis and it has become very easy thanks to Pinterest. You do have to set aside time to find them, but then you can just add them to your page and pull up the pin at the store for the ingredient/shopping list. You can follow my food board here. Below are a few recipes I have saved to try soon:

Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad 
 

Veggie Pasta Primavera

Easy Burrito BowlsEasy Burrito Bowls - Skip Chipotle and try these burrito bowls right at home. It's easier, healthier and 10000x tastier!:

Find a Local Coffee Shop

As much as I love my Starbucks, it’s nice to find new local or small business coffee shops. They always have the nicest employees, best menus, and make your drinks look IG worthy. I don’t believe there’s any better way to catch up with a friend on a Saturday or Sunday morning, then over a cup of coffee.

Attend a Baseball Gamephillies

Nothing reminds me of Spring more than a MLB baseball game, a draft Budweiser and a good ole hot dog. My sisters and I grew up going to Reds games with our Dad. Now that we live in NJ, we have a few options for teams in NY and PA, but we are planning on taking Calvin to a Phillies game this Spring. They play the reds in May so we might have to be that family rooting for the visiting team!

Try a New Workout 

As you may have noticed, a large portion of this activity guide is consisting of eating and drinking, so we better offset with something that burns calories! Now that the weather is warming up, it’s a great time to mix it up and get out of your winter treadmill running rut. Name a specialized workout, and I have tried it in an effort to not get burnt out or plateau in my fitness goals. Orange Theory, Barry’s, Pure Barre, CrossFit, Boxing, Cycle Bar, Hot Yoga, Body Pump, Les Mills, and the list goes on. I’m one of those weirdos that actually likes working out, especially if it is a new challenge. Pick something you’ve been wanting to try, and go for it. Most of these “boutique” gyms will let you do your first class free, and then have better rates for your first month. If you get hooked, you’ll have to decide whether the membership fees are worth it to you. I have found in the past that I’ve never regretted investing in workout classes I truly love and bring results. I am also a BIG fan of at-home body weight workouts. I will do a full post on this in the future (if not multiple), but my favorite FREE at-home works are Body Rock TV.  They are hard as shit but so quick and effective!

I’ve really relied heavily on Yelp since relocating, but your opinion on your experience will be most valid. Find the activity or place you want to visit, do some quick research, and then try it out!

Happy [almost] Friday – enjoy your weekends & get out and take advantage of those warmer temps! What is your favorite springtime activity?!

I’ll be writing a post-pregnancy update here soon!

Thanks for reading 💕

Kayla

 

Newborn Photography for Beginners: 4 tips + Our Little Bear 

I started researching newborn photography about two days before Calvin arrived. Not being from this area, I had to start from scratch online while looking for a photographer, as opposed to using one of the amazing photographers I know at home in Ohio that I could get a WOM recommendation on. I discovered 1, that this is extremely late in the game to start looking as most people book these sessions months in advance – and 2, holy $$$. I have to say that several months ago, I was still trying to wrap my head around the idea of having a child, let alone taking pics of him.

New Jersey is out of control with cost of living, daycare, services such as photography, and everything in between. I’m not even going to tell you what it would cost here in the Princeton area 😳 Professional newborn photography is amazing, the photos are priceless, and I wanted them badly, but I decided I just wasn’t willing to fork over several months of (NJ priced) rent to have these photos done right away. We did purchase the photos the hospital offers to take, as they are extremely cost effective and conveniently done, just not the same quality as a boutique photographer.

We are going home later this Spring and I hope to use a local photographer in Ohio when he is just a couple months old. 😊 Let me know if anyone has a solid recommendation!

*Insert brilliant idea to try this on my own here*

Once I accepted that we would have to wait on pics of our little angel, I started doing some research (mostly high quality pinteresting) on how to take photos on my own. Call me cheap, but I’d like to use the word resourceful instead! Being someone who knows nothing about photography (I didn’t even take photo 101 in HS), here are the 4 easiest & most important steps I discovered and applied:

1.) Make sure baby is content – I recommend doing this right after a feeding. Calvin is either out like a light after eating, or pretty awake and content. Either way you’ll need a happy baby I order to pose how you’d like and get still shots. A well-fed baby will pretty much let you do whatever.

2.) Make or find a back drop/setting – for my photos I took a large blanket from Pier 1 and laid over a boppy pillow. This way baby was in a comfortable position and blanket covered nearby surroundings. You can really take any piece of material and fully cover the item in which you are placing baby.

3.) Find natural light – This is key! You’ll need a lot less editing if you are able to use the natural light coming in through a door or window. This light shouldn’t necessarily be direct sunlight, as you don’t want over exposure. Is that the right term?!

4.) Use a camera you are comfortable with – I used a Nikon Cool Pix L120, which I am still trying to figure out, but honestly if you do a good job with iPhone, that would work as well. It doesn’t have to be fancy. iPhone actually has a decent quality camera (8mp, auto focus, auto image stabilization, etc) with minimal complicated settings and is what I use/prefer 95% of the time. Photogs, don’t judge me! Gotta give my dad a shout out here – he takes some amazing photos and had only an iPhone 4 until just recently. Check him out on IG here.

Below is my attempt at in-home newborn photography with our Little Bear:



  
  
  
  
  
  

Blanket – the one I used is sold out, but here are several other Pier1 options.

Boppy 

Baby Hat  – the one Cal is wearing is from Gymboree, but here is an option from Carters.


So how did they turn out? Let me know what you think! We personally believe Calvin could make anyone’s mediocre photography skills look professional 💙

Thanks for reading!

❤ Kayla

 

 

Welcoming Calvin into the World + a few pieces of hospital advice

What a life changing week its been! A week ago today we were heading to the hospital about to welcome our son Calvin William into the world. I was scheduled to be induced at 7am and went into labor on my own at 6am that same day. My water was scheduled to be broken at 11:50am and it broke on it’s own at 11:40am. I can’t make this stuff up. I’m so thankful for that timing as 2/18 is truly the day he was meant to be born. The whole process was very smooth and my midwife was amazing – we had baby in our arms by 12:56pm. We are so grateful.

Craig & I are pretty obsessed with him and our newly formed family…and can’t stop talking about how cute we think little Calvin is (even if he pees on us daily and farts more than anything this size should be able to.) It’s such a surreal feeling to finally have him with us, when just last week (and for the 9 months prior) he was in my belly and we were wondering what he would be like. While it’s not easy in any way, it’s so much better than I could have imagined. I tried to send pics to as many friends as possible, but I wanted to take a minute to share all of our favorite personal hospital snapshots for you here!

img_1619IMG_0257Ready to go! Large & in charge! ^

IMG_1715IMG_1717IMG_1712IMG_1714IMG_1711IMG_1713IMG_1626IMG_1642I look frightened here (which I prob am) ^ but I’m actually in the middle of saying, “He’s SO precious!”

IMG_1708So sleepy by this point! ^


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You can see on our faces as we leave the hospital, how excited we are to head home to our own place with this sleeping angel. We dressed him in a 3 month outfit to leave, BTW. We had to stay an extra night (everything is ok!) so by this point we were going stir crazy and were ready. It’s so much more comfortable having our own space to take care of our ‘lil man. At his first doctor’s appointment on Monday, they confirmed he is right on track and perfectly healthy – there’s not much more you can ask for! We are overwhelmed with the support and well wishes from our family & friends and Baby Calvin can’t wait to meet all of you!

There is a lot of “advice” on the internet and every hospital is different, but there are a few things I’d wish I’d known! Mom-to-be friends, seriously feel free to ask me anything while it’s still fresh in my head! 🙂  Here are a few pieces of advice I’d recommend:

  • Bring your own shower towel – turns out it takes about 5 hand sized towels to dry off after a shower.
  • Bring a boppy nursing pillow – it’s really hard to get in a good position in those hospital beds and I wished that had provided something other than plastic-ish sleeping pillows.
  • Bring socks, cotton mittens, hats, and plain onesies for baby – they didn’t provide these items (except for 1 hat after delivery.) Apparently you aren’t supposed to cut baby nails right away and he would have scratched his face so much without the mittens. Here are the kind we like.
  • That you can get an epidural at 4cm – I came to the hospital at 4cm and ended up asking around 6cm. They don’t really offer it up, until you ask.
  • How amazing and necessary the epidural is – God bless Moms who do this shit naturally. It did not take away from the birth experience at all. You feel no contraction pain, but can still feel your legs! After the epidural I was laughing and watching Netflix on my iPad.
  • You can take ALL the baby and mom extras they leave for you in the room (diapers, wipes, gauze, pads, nursing accessories, etc) – my sister is a Nurse Practitioner at Children’s and says they can’t re-use anything extra anyways. In fact, ask for more of everything the day before you leave and then swoop it up and take it with you! Make sure to bring an extra bag for everything you get while there.

I hope this helps!

Next up, I will be posting tips for taking your own photos at home and Calvin will be my model as a Little Bear 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Love, Kayla ❤