one month

Carmen turned one month old this Sunday! Today we received these adorable baby bellies from Designs by Jessika and had Carmen's one month check-up, so that worked out perfectly!

Today she weighed in at 6 pounds, 15 ounces and measured at 19.5 inches tall. She seems so petite to us since we're used to Ethan, who was bigger than her at birth, but it's still fun to see how much she's growing. She's worn a few 0-3 outfits the past couple of days and so we've officially donated her preemie clothes to the NICU where she stayed when she was born.

She is such a happy, content baby and is finally starting to stay awake a little longer during the day which makes Ethan excited and hopeful that one day she won't be so very "boring." (His words. I'm cool with her, I swear!)

Unlike her big brother, she really loves car rides. She loves being worn in the Boba wrap and ring sling. She is still sleeping in her bassinet and sleeps like a champ. She's also a huge fan of her pacifier, which Ethan wasn't at all. It's been fun seeing the differences between the two of them.

Happy one month to our sweet girl!

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"Mommy? How come whenever you talk about me turning five, your eyes get tears in them?"

It's in this moment I have to explain -- or try to, rather -- to my four and a half year old child what immense, unrelenting love and pride feels like. Inexplicable joy. Honor beyond measurement. He asks me if it means I feel a little sad when he gets older. "It's not sadness," I try to explain to a child who wakes at four in the morning wondering what Dr. Seuss looks like or who invented the toilet. I don't even have to close my eyes and I can feel them placing him on my chest in the hospital, the shakiness of blood loss and post-Cesarean pain numbed only by the love for this little boy who had created life for me in that moment.

And then there's been every day thereafter. I watch them play like a movie in my mind.

Lately Ethan's been discussing his fifth birthday party. Five feels like a milestone worthy of me crying over, knee deep in my known privilege and also at a loss over it all. I have spent every waking moment of Ethan's life with him. I've elongated the baby phase until five, until he lets me know that he's not a baby anymore and is ready for more than I would have hoped and, yet, his desires are all my very hopes themselves. This is him taking the lead. This is him calmly letting me know from the backseat that he wants to stay a kid for a long time but he wants to go to "a little bit" of preschool in the fall even if he's nervous and believes he might change his mind, and he also wants to go camping but maybe just in his teepee in his bedroom. This is him reassuring me that he needs me still, even if he is the one who always remembers where I lose my keys or leave my coffee cup.

Like most parents I do this thing where I whine in a half-joking manner about how I blinked and my baby emerged into a child. In truth, some nights I challenge myself to remember the little moments. The zoo trips. The museum trips. The park picnics. Every laugh and milestone filed into the past half a decade that we have spent glued to one another's side. "Are you nervous when Carmen does that?" He asks me this as she sneezes, or coughs, or gulps down her formula little too quickly. "No, buddy. I'm not. I learned it all with you." There is immense truth in that. It was he who made me a mother. It is he who unlocked the newness of every day, of every phase, of every worry and desperate wonder.

Today I did laundry and Ethan built Legos and I recalled the Halloween when he was two and won tickets to a Halloween party and how excited he was, his face lit up by the strobe lights on the walls. I smiled and my eyes teared and I knew then that I would never be able to explain to him the depths of my love, the strength of my gratitude for getting to spend every day of his entire life with him so far.

"I'll always be your baby," he's taken to saying whenever he sees that pensive look wash over my face, the realization that time is slowly creeping on. "I'll be your baby even when I'm 100 years old but now I have to just build some Legos."

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carmen's birth announcements from minted

I'm a card person. I love sending cards and I love receiving them, as proved true by our 'fridge filled with the smiling faces, announcements, save the dates and invitations from friends (okay, mostly from Ethan's friends. He has more than us!). Since Carmen joined our family, I've found myself upping my do it big mantra. I mean, she's our last baby. She's our last baby and we've been through hell and back in adding her to the empty space within our family. I wanted to announce her arrival from the rooftops! Here she was, the most beautiful, wonderful dream come true waking us up at three in the morning for a feed. We were fortunate enough to be able to team up with Minted to create Carmen's birth announcements.

After much (much, much) deliberation, we decided on the Sweetest Gift design. I'm really into the handwritten, minimalist thing these days and the soft, sweet gentleness of this card seemed to pair up perfectly with the impromptu newborn photosesh that Carmen, Ethan and I had in our living room after she was released from the NICU when her ever-fleeting newborness was fresh. If you're unfamiliar with Minted, let me tell you something that makes this company stand out from the rest.

Minted brings you designs from independent designers across the country and around the globe. Our design in particular is the creation of designer Kerry from San Francisco. It's easy to get bored with the typical, routine, predictable cards that every other stationery retailer seems to churn out. I absolutely love that Minted incorporates designs from independent artists ensuring that the products listed are always innovative, fresh and one of a kind.

Not only does a lot of love go into the creation of each product, but a lot of heart goes into the packaging, too. The staff at Minted was so unbelievably supportive as we announced Carmen's impromptu arrival and adoption, and that meant so much to our family. I've ordered cards before from other retailers and find myself sorely disappointed at the flimsy, thin quality. This was not the case with our cards from Minted. Everything arrived packaged beautifully and printed flawlessly. There was no room for bends, tears or folds. In fact, our cards were such a strong, quality cardstock paper that they take effort to even bend. I love that these will hold up beautifully as the years go on and serve as a timeless keepsake of the time we brought home our incredible daughter.

Minted offers customization options on each design as well. From font styles to the shape of the edges on your card, there are many options for you to pick the design that is best suited for you. I loved being able to customize the back of our card as well.

"And then my soul saw you and it kind of went 'oh there you are. I've been looking for you.'"

I've been so eager to unveil Carmen's birth announcements. They are an absolute treasure to our family and we are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to team up with Minted. It's always awesome to support independent designers, creators and makers and what an added bonus to end up with such a high quality, cherished announcement to shout our daughter's birth to the world (many of whom had no idea we were adopting -- hey, surprise!).

Craving some fun, new art but have nothing to announce at the moment? No worries. Minted also offers incredible designs for the home (including fabrics and lampshades, as just an example) and tons of beautiful typography.

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the kids are alright

When Ethan was a newborn (and I was totally spoiled by my husband having six weeks paid paternity leave, but that's beside the point), I would stay up until 2 in the morning making sure he was breathing and watching That '70's Show reruns. My husband would turn in early and then, at 2, pick up where I left off and finish monitoring Ethan's breathing until morning. Ethan and I had our nightly routine down pact then. It was always the same: after his midnight feeding, I would give him a massage with his Earth Mama Angel Baby lotion and swaddle him in a Miracle Blanket for bed. I can still smell that vanilla-orange scent of the lotion deep within my being and I can still feel the delirious levels of exhaustion that swirled around me as That '70's Show played boisterously in the background. My fingers were dry from washing bottles in scalding hot water, my mind desperate for rest -- and to just make sure, just one more time, that the rise and fall of his chest was there.

Four and a half years later and Carmen just finished her midnight feeding. That '70's Show reruns play quietly in the background as to not wake up Ethan who will be up with the sun regardless of how late I stay up ensuring Carmen is breathing. My fingers are dried and peeling from sterilizing bottles alongside the hum of the washer where I've been prepping cloth diapers all evening. The room smells like chamomile from Carmen's Shea Moisture lotion and she, wrapped snugly in her Miracle Blanket, is softly sleeping in her bassinet.

There are so many similarities and yet there is this vast divide where time and life tore through everything, whipping across my perfectly planned life and hurling the pieces back to the ground with anger. Most days I feel like I'm still trying to pick up the pieces, but Carmen is holding us all together pretty impressively. She is the glue we knew we were lacking and sought so desperately and, yet, couldn't prepare ourselves for how well she is able to piece us back together again.

The delirious levels of exhaustion permeate through every bone in my body, every muscle tired and desperate for sleep, for laundry to be finished, for floors to be steamed and Legos to make their way to the corresponding bins.

May I never take a single moment of any of it for granted.

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jumper cable lips

Life lately has been a whirlwind. I've never used that word quite so often as I have lately.


Carmen turned two weeks old yesterday and it feels like I can't remember a time when she wasn't so deeply rooted in our family. At the pediatrician two days ago, she weighed in at five pounds, five ounces and, oh, how I celebrated. She was four pounds, ten ounces at birth and it was easy to mistake her petite size for frailty in those early days. Ethan himself was born early at 36 weeks and tipped the scales at eight pounds, four ounces. He was never that tiny and, yet, my early memories of his infancy are filled with the same fears of fragility. As Carmen quickly let us know, she isn't as fragile as her small size lets on. She is a go-getter already, a lovable little body of calm and babbling. Lately she falls asleep on my chest with her fingers tight around a piece of my hair or fabric of my shirt and those tiny sighs, they are so very healing.

Ethan has settled into his role as big brother as if he's been doing it all along, as if he, too, has known Carmen for much longer than the two weeks we have known her. He is the wrapper of blankets, the holder of hands, the "let me do it" that follows me around doting on her every move. Sometimes it still very much feels like a dream that I'm going to wake from and how badly I want to stay asleep.


Today we had family photos taken by Meghan Nesom Photography. I ran out of time to straighten or do my hair, Ethan came down with a cough and refused to wear pants and our kitchen sink is still leaking but Meghan assured me this was all good. This was all us and real life and all of that good stuff that is masked by ironed hair and clean, lint rolled yoga pants.

It's impossible to pick a favorite, but I wanted to share a few. In the midst of the chaos and leaky sink and pants that I'm pretty sure I've been wearing for four days in a row now, there's this blanket of peace and joy that is covering our family. It's not so scary under here, cloaked in the reverie that Carmen has brought to our home.

She fits. She just fits so perfectly into the missing space.

Welcome home, sweet girl. You are home.

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carmen fable

I'm a little (okay, a lot) late posting this to the blog. We've been busier than I think we've ever been before, but for good reason. For the best reason.

Our beautiful daughter Carmen Fable joined our family eight days ago.

Last week I received a call from a friend urging me to speak with her friend who worked in adoption law. I did, unsure of what to expect and realizing how much work (and time and effort) we'd already put into the agency route. However, as I listened to my friend's friend speak, something tinged in my heart and I knew. I just knew. We submitted our application and family portfolio and received a call the next day letting us know that we'd been chosen by a brave, beautiful birth mama to parent -- and that our little girl had come five weeks early. Carmen weighed in under five pounds but was healthy and happy and, after a short NICU stay, we got to bring her home on Thursday evening.

When we began the adoption process, everyone warned us that it could take months -- years, even -- but instead we had under a week from start to finish.

I've been rehearsing perfect announcement posts over and over in my head, trying to do justice to the level of joy and hope and peace that Carmen has breathed back into our family. Of course, there's life with a four year old and a preemie and a husband with no time off of work and I'm learning that perfection has to slide by the wayside. Sort of like laundry. And washing dishes. You know, priorities.

I couldn't wait any longer to give sweet Carmen her blog debut. Slowly but surely we'll figure out a new normal and a new dynamic, but bear with me as we all revel in this new, tiny (so tiny!) human who has swooped in and completed our family, healing our hearts and bringing with her more love than I ever imagined possible. Seeing Ethan get to actually be a big brother is magical in itself and me? I am so filled with peace and love and joy. And lots of espresso, too.

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