Happy 2nd Birthday, Roman James!

May 6, 2015

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

Oh, my sweet boy. I’m writing this on the day before your birthday and these photographs are actually from last week. I just don’t know if I’ll get to write tomorrow — you know how crazy these days are. You had your haircut today, too — so you look older & more handsome than these pictures show. But it’s alright. What matters is that I’m sitting down to write this to you now because I never want to forget. I love you with every fiber of my self. You are my sunshine. I cannot believe that we’ve been together for two whole years already (well two years and nine months, really). The time is passing so quickly. You’re getting bigger and smarter every day. I find myself wanting to freeze time so often, but I remind myself that I can’t. Instead, I cherish every moment. I snap images of our life, as it is right now, in my mind’s eye so that I never forget — your tiny, sweet voice; your bright blue eyes; your sweet, little feet; your soft blond hair; your fearlessness; your joy. I love every piece and part of you. You are perfect. (Here come my tears.) I love you, little one. Now and for always. Happy, happy birthday my darling boy. I am so grateful that you are mine.

at the lake // thoughts on “getting out”

May 4, 2015

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

May is here and I’ve never been happier to see it. (Even if it means that I’ll be turning thirty-one tomorrow!) The sun is shining, the weather is sweet. After being cooped up all winter, it feels amazing to be out and about once more. I’ve been getting out with my babies as much as possible.

It’s a lot more work getting two ready and out the door than it was with just one; but the payoff is completely worth it. We’re all so much happier on an outing. As I mentioned in my last post, Marina is colicky. I think that she’s cried more in the past two weeks than Roman has in his entire two years of life. She cries on outings, too, but at least I can distract her a bit more when we’re out. Plus, she loves to be worn in the baby carrier. I’m so grateful for that. Wearing her around the house can be annoying, but wearing her while we walk around some place lovely is a joy.

Taking care of the two of them while we’re out takes all of my attention and energy, so I haven’t been bringing my big camera out with us often. Most of the time I just snap a few photos with my phone. (You can find me over on Instagram, too.) It makes me a little bit sad that I’m not “hyper-documenting” things like I usually do, but it’s just a part of this season of life.

The pictures in this post were from a morning spent at the lake. There are lots of gorgeous lakes near us, but this one is my favorite. Sometimes we bring Roman’s sand toys and he loves to play on the beach. There’s also a beautiful playground that’s perfect for wearing him out before nap time. On this day we set out our picnic blanket and enjoyed some delicious cantaloupe. I caught Marina in the act of one of her many fits. She’s fine in the carrier, but the moment I take her out, the bloodcurdling screams commence. I keep telling her that I’ll leave her out for the bears if she doesn’t quit it, but she seems un-phased. ;) Good thing she’s so cute!

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

at the lake // livelovesimple.com

Happy Monday, friends. I hope that your week is off to a beautiful start. xo


portraits 01 // roman + marina

April 30, 2015

roman + marina // livelovesimple.com

roman + marina // livelovesimple.com

“Happy are those who dream dreams
and are ready to pay the price
to make them come true.”

A few portraits of my two little “dreams come true” and a quote to remind me how worth it they truly are. It’s been a rough little while around here. It turns out that Marina is an even lighter sleeper than Roman — which I honestly didn’t think was possible.

Our house is tiny and these two are constantly waking one another up. I don’t mind my own lack of sleep, but overtired, cranky babies are just so hard. Also, Marina is colicky. I’ve been stubbornly avoiding that conclusion, but there it is. I spend 90 percent of every day & night working to keep her from crying.

Ah, well — it’ll all be over in the blink of an eye. Such is life.

roman + marina // livelovesimple.com

roman + marina // livelovesimple.com

roman + marina // livelovesimple.com

roman + marina // livelovesimple.com

roman + marina // livelovesimple.com


spring afternoon at the farm

April 23, 2015

farm // livelovesimple.com

Over the weekend, during one of our “we need to get out of the house, right now” moments, we decided to take a ride through the Warwick Valley. It’s a beautiful ride over country roads with beautiful, little farms along the way. We made a quick stop at Heaven Hill Farm to see the animals. Roman is just enamored with animals right now and he had such fun feeding wild chives to the goats.

Marina enjoyed coasting along in her stroller, too. She is content in a moving stroller or a moving car — other than that, things get tricky. I don’t think I’d call her colicky, but she’s not a content baby like Roman was. She wants to be held or to be moving constantly. When I put her down, she screams.

At this point, I can’t decide if it’s normal newborn behavior or something else. She is more gassy and she spits up more often than Roman did, which makes me wonder if maybe she has a food sensitivity or reflux. Since she is breastfed, I’ve decided to cut out dairy, garlic, onions, and broccoli from my diet for a little while to see what happens.

In the meantime, we’re getting by the best way that we know how to. I’m hoping that all of these “we need to get out of the house, right now” moments lead to lots of adventures.

farm // livelovesimple.com

farm // livelovesimple.com

farm // livelovesimple.com

farm // livelovesimple.com

farm // livelovesimple.com

farm // livelovesimple.com

farm // livelovesimple.com

farm // livelovesimple.com

farm // livelovesimple.com


spring, blossoms, parties // Bloominous

April 21, 2015

roses / livelovesimple.com

roses / livelovesimple.com

I am ecstatic that spring & warm weather are finally here! This past winter was one of the coldest & snowiest on record. It was miserable. I didn’t mind winter when I was younger. Snow days were always welcome when I was in school! But that’s changed as I’ve gotten older, and the past couple of winters have been particularly awful. As a stay-at-home mom, being trapped inside month after month is especially difficult for me.

We’ve even talked about moving to a warmer climate. It’s painful to think about because both of our families are here — but we’re an active, outdoor-loving family, and winter genuinely depresses us. It takes a toll on our quality of life for a solid four months out of the year.

Anyway, those are just some of the thoughts swimming around in my mind lately. On a much brighter note, this post is actually about spring which brings two of my favourite things: parties & flowers! Honest to goodness, those two words make my heart sing. I just love to party plan and for me, there’s nothing better than warm weather & outdoor parties, BBQ, s’mores, cold beers, and warm sun. And of course, no party is complete without some beautiful decorations — most especially, fresh flowers.

Presently, I’m planning Roman’s 2nd birthday party. Remember last year’s party — Camp Roman? This year is going to be much smaller, I simply can’t do as much with a newborn in tow, but I’m still wildly excited about it. The theme is “The Wild West.” It’ll be in our backyard and there will be cow print, red bandanas, and hobby horses to boot! I’m still debating on flowers, but I’ll DIY something beautiful like I always do.

Speaking of parties, flowers, & DIY — I’d like to introduce you to Bloominous. Bloominous is a company that’s on a mission to make DIY flowers easy — you already know why I love this! They sent me the beautiful roses that are pictured in this post from their Party Pop collection.

This June will mark our three-year wedding anniversary, and of course three years since I DIY’d our wedding flowers, too. As someone who’s been through the process, I appreciate the Bloominous mission to make DIY accessible for everyone. They ship Priority Overnight to ensure freshness and provide video instructions that explain how to arrange your pieces easily. They also ship their flowers clean, which saves you from the time-consuming process of stripping leaves, thorns, and excess petals. I know first-hand how time-consuming that process is, since I spent hours doing it two days before our wedding! ;)

Bloominous offers custom designs and can modify any of their current collections to suit your needs. If you’re interested in a custom experience, click here to get started. Mention “Live, Love, Simple” and receive a free consultation (a $50 value).

roses / livelovesimple.com

roses / livelovesimple.com

roses / livelovesimple.com

roses / livelovesimple.com

roses / livelovesimple.com

roses / livelovesimple.com

roses / livelovesimple.com

Okay, friends. I’m off to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather we’re experiencing at the moment. Have a beautiful day!


This post is in partnership with Bloominous. Thanks for supporting the companies that help to make this blog possible.


One-Month-Old Marina Grace

April 20, 2015

one month // livelovesimple.com

I honestly can’t believe that this sweet face is one-month-old! My first month with Roman went by so slowly. Every day and night with him felt like an eternity. Matthew was working long, 14-hour days. My postpartum hormones were all over the place. I was sore as hell. Breastfeeding took the life out of me. And I cried for hours every day. Fast-forward to this time around and I literally couldn’t believe that four weeks had passed. I checked the calendar to be certain — three times.

one month // livelovesimple.com

I wouldn’t say that it has been “easy.” Life with a newborn is not easy, but it has been significantly easier and different in many ways. My labor was quicker, Marina was smaller, and my physical recovery was a lot quicker & less painful. Matthew and Roman are here with me every day, so there’s no such thing as lonely. Breastfeeding has been a breeze — I am very comfortable with it after the nineteen months I spent nursing Roman.

one month // livelovesimple.com

The two most significant challenges we’ve faced have been sleep and her lack of independence which are tied together. Long story short, she simply hates to be put down. She wants to be held constantly, preferably by me and preferably with a boob in or near her mouth. For the first few weeks, this was ideal. I needed to rest and recover, so I spent most of my days on the couch. She was so quiet and content in my arms and it was really beautiful.

Now, however, it’s a month later and I’m ready to start getting on with life — or at least ready to do some laundry, play with Roman, clean dishes, vacuum, take photos, blog, and so on. Much to my dismay, little Miss Marina is having none of it. As soon as I put her down, she screams bloody murder. Early on, I tried to use a baby carrier in an effort to simultaneously hold her and get things done, but it just wasn’t working for us. Now that she’s a little older, and her neck has gotten quite strong, I will try again.

one month // livelovesimple.com

The challenge that we have with sleep is much the same. I put her down and she cries. So, I’ve ended up going the same route with her that I went with Roman and sleeping with her in my arms. We slept on the couch for the first month and we’ve just recently started side-sleeping and we spent half a night in my bed, as well. I didn’t resist it the way that I did with Roman. With him, I lamented for three months over the fact that he wouldn’t sleep alone. This time around, I know just how quickly these early months will pass and I’m doing my best to cherish every precious moment.

one month // livelovesimple.com

Overall, things have been good. We have our good hours and our bad hours. There are plenty of tears. Sometimes — especially in the middle of the night when I am bone-tired and nothing will settle her — I feel like I’m about to reach the end of my rope and I pray for a way out. That said, there are also plenty of smiles, so much laughter, and so many moments of such overwhelming gratitude that it brings me to my knees. The good outweighs the bad by leaps and bounds. This sweet girl is the most beautiful addition to our lives. She is the piece of the puzzle that was missing and we love her so much that it hurts. ♥


Our Second Birth Story

April 14, 2015

birth story / livelovesimple.com

A couple of weeks before March 20th, the forecasters started calling for snow on that day, the first day of spring. I immediately thought, “Oh boy, I’m going to get my spring baby… in a snowstorm.” I half-jokingly shared my prediction with friends & family in the following days, but with her due date a couple of weeks out, no one took me seriously.

On the night before the 20th, we went about our normal routine. At bedtime, M. and I had a long, meandering talk about all sorts of things. It was the type of deep, personal conversation that a couple seldom has time for when there is a hyper toddler and a tired, pregnant mama in the mix. It was nice, and afterward, I fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.

Roman woke up crying around 10:30 pm. It’s unusual for him, he sleeps through almost every night. When the crying didn’t stop, I went to his crib. Sure enough, he had a fever and clearly didn’t feel well. He pointed to his right ear, saying, “ear hurt.” After some Tylenol and an episode of Curious George he felt fine and I laid him back down in his crib.

Later, I woke at 1:30 and 3:00 am to use the bathroom. I woke again at 5:00 am. I lay in bed and felt “something.” I wondered if it was a contraction. I lay still and waited. Soon another contraction came. They were strong but not terribly painful. I thought maybe I should try and fall back asleep. But I decided to time them first to be certain. They were one minute long and coming five minutes apart. I didn’t want to wake M. prematurely, so I timed them for 25 more minutes to be certain. They were consistent. At 5:30, I woke him up and said, “I’m having contractions.”

We spent the next half hour deciding on what to do with Roman and readying last-minute things for the hospital. My mother-in-law arrived around 6:45 am. At that point, my contractions were coming about two minutes apart and had grown in intensity to where I needed to breathe deeply and lean on something to get through them. We left the house around 7:00 am and arrived at the hospital around 7:20.

My mother was there waiting, she works at the hospital where I delivered, and she helped us through the admission process. We got up into labor & delivery and were given a room. The nurse brought me my gown and M. helped me to change in the bathroom. Soon I was examined. I was 7 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. Yes. It was really happening. I was going to have my baby girl on the snowy, first day of spring.

birth story / livelovesimple.com

birth story / livelovesimple.com

Going into this delivery, my goal was to have another medication-free, intervention-free birth. I hated the fact that the nurse forced me to remain in bed for the entirety of my first delivery. This time, I knew that no one had the right to force me to stay in bed and I did not intend to do so. However, they did insist on having me lie down for twenty minutes while they monitored the baby — then I would be free to move. Those twenty minutes of lying down with those straps around my belly were twenty of the worst, most painful minutes of my life. I understand why they monitor the baby in that way, but there has to be a better option.

During that time, the nurse asked me a couple of times if I wanted my doctor to break my water and said that it would help things go even faster. I declined, repeating that my goal was to have an intervention-free birth. I believe in the ancient wisdom of my body. It knew exactly what it was doing and needed no help.

Although the OB’s in my group do not deliver via water-birth, they do allow women to labor in a birthing tub. That was my plan. However, when the time came, it was decided that I was too far along. By the time they could setup and fill the tub, my baby would already be there. My body agreed with the decision. So instead, when it came time for me to move, my nurse recommended that I stand up and lean over the bed. Her recommendation was a wonderful one. By that time, I was in extreme pain. My contractions were close together and intense beyond words. When I stood and leaned over the bed I felt some relief.

My doctor was in and out but the main nurse remained at my side and M. was there cheering me on and feeding me the ice that I’d requested. The nurse kept saying that things were moving quickly and that the baby would be here soon. Almost as soon as I got into that standing position, my water broke in a big gush all over the floor. I looked down and saw some specks of blood (totally normal) in the water streaming down my legs to the floor. I was transitioning and the pain and pressure that I was feeling was beyond words. The nurse kept talking to me and I needed silence to focus my way through the pain. I said, “I just want to be quiet now and focus.” I put my head down on the bed and closed my eyes.

My doctor was in the room. After a couple more contractions, I said, “I’m feeling tremendous pressure. With the next contraction I am either going to go to the bathroom or have a baby.” The nurse said, “It’s the baby, we need to get you into the bed.” I remember feeling daunted at the prospect of getting into the bed. I don’t remember actually getting in, but I got there. The next thing I remember is pushing. Oh, pushing. It makes everything else feel like a walk in the park.

I remember so much and so clearly that it’s hard to put it into words. There was so much going on. There was M., my nurse, my doctor, a laborist, and an assistant. They were all around me cheering me on. I was screaming. I swore. A couple of times the pain got so intense that I didn’t think I could go on and I said so. Everyone encouraged me. I screamed at the top of my lungs because it helped me deal with the pain. Everyone supported me. They told me that they could see hair. They wanted me to pull my legs back but I couldn’t. Two people, I can’t remember which ones, pushed my legs back for me. I was so exhausted and in so much pain that I just wanted to stop. I felt my body slowing down. There was a long pause without any contraction.

I breathed through it and told myself that I could do this. Everyone was talking to me but I couldn’t really hear what they were saying. I remember looking into the nurse’s eyes and M.’s eyes and it was like I was looking straight through to the other side of them.

I remember my doctor saying that I just had to give her the head and she could do the rest. Finally a contraction came. I pushed and the pain was, once again, beyond words. I don’t remember what I said, but I must have been doubting myself because M. said, “Her head is halfway out! That is why it hurts so much. It’s halfway out!” This thought relieved and horrified me at once, but it most definitely gave me the strength I needed to put all of my strength into one final push. I breathed in, closed my eyes, and pushed with every ounce of strength that I had inside of me and out she came.

I couldn’t see it, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and ankle. The doctor removed it quickly, determined that she was just fine, and within moments she was handed to me for skin-to-skin contact. My heart exploded. She was beautiful, just like Roman, the most most beautiful thing I had ever laid my eyes on. She was perfect. A perfect, little girl. I was blown away by her dark hair & dark eyes! The very opposite of her brother. But other than the hair and eyes, she looked exactly like him — spitting image. I had been dreaming of a little girl with dark hair & eyes for months, and there she was, my sweet Marina Grace.

birth story / livelovesimple.com

birth story / livelovesimple.com

The past nine months had been, in many ways, the hardest of my life — but there she was. And in that moment, she made everything okay, she made everything perfect. I held her and I nursed her and I fell deeper & deeper in love with each second that ticked away on the clock.

She was born at 8:23 am, less than an hour from the time that I had entered the delivery room. It was fast & furious. It was beautiful & perfect. It was — she is — everything that I could have hoped for.

When I reflect back on it all, my mind wanders back to August, eight months before her birth. I’ll never forget the day when I thought that I was having a miscarriage. I’ll never forget that heartbreaking pain. I left Roman with Matthew and went out into our yard, laid down in the grass, and sobbed. I knew that it wasn’t right. I knew that my baby was supposed to be with me. I was simply shattered. Later, when I learned that it was not, in fact, a miscarriage, I felt the greatest relief of my life.

birth story / livelovesimple.com

birth story / livelovesimple.com

I went through so much during this pregnancy, from the bleeding, to the severe sickness, to M’s injury. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. Month after month of obstacles and pain. But in the end, I got my little girl and I would do it all over for eternity just for the opportunity to hold her in my arms. It was worth every second, every tear that I shed. I love her with every ounce of myself. Just like her brother, she is my sunshine — the light of my life. I am full of such a deep, overwhelming gratitude for these beautiful babies of mine.

The truth is that my life hasn’t always been easy. I’ve known my fair share of heartache. But when I look at these two babies of mine, I think how truly blessed I am. I may just well be the luckiest woman in the world.


New Motherhood + The BeliBea Nursing Bra

April 10, 2015

nursing in public

During my pregnancy, I spent a lot of time preparing for life with a newborn. Having been through it once before, I thought I had an idea of what to expect. However, it’s just one of those things, like childbirth itself, that you simply can’t accurately or completely remember. It’s not until you find yourself knee-deep, in the thick of it, that you really remember. “Oh right, this is what it feels like.” The all-encompassing love, fear, and exhaustion. A set of physical and emotional feelings — both difficult & beautiful — that nothing else in life will ever compare with.

There are a few things that have been critical to my emotional health through these first couple of weeks. At the top of the list are: 1. the support of family/friends and 2. hot showers. Another thing that has been a Godsend is my new nursing bra. I know it might sound crazy, but it’s one of those things that I didn’t know I needed until I had it.

After my last pregnancy, I picked up a couple of cheap, flimsy nursing bras thinking that “it didn’t matter.” I was wrong. When I look back at photographs from my last postpartum period, I can see that those bras provided no support whatsoever. They weren’t even comfortable or remotely cute. Believe me, high-fashion is not at the top of my postpartum list of things that I care about, but I don’t like to feel like a frumpy mess (all of the time) either.

This time around, I was determined to find something that was both practical and flattering. Cue the BeliBea nursing bra. It’s everything that I was looking for. It gives me great, flattering support at a time when — let’s face it, hello milk! — I really need it. It’s practical & easy to use.

The bra has a v-neck scoop and center ruching that gives it a feminine shape. It also comes with removable pads that offer extra support & coverage if you need it, like me. Most importantly, it’s comfortable. It’s got a seamless stretch fit, plush-lined adjustable straps and a ribbed band that all provide flexible support.

Another bonus is that it gives you the flexibility to pump, hands-free. This is a feature that I have yet to take advantage of, but I look forward to trying it out when Marina is a bit older and my supply is well-established.

In my experience, having the right nursing bra has made such a difference in this postpartum period. When you’re hormonal, sore and sleep-deprived, little things go a long way. Considering that I nursed Roman for nineteen months, I realize now that a good nursing bra is a wise investment. I’d recommend the BeliBea if you’re in the market or if you’re looking for a thoughtful gift for a new, nursing mama.

Check out the BeliBea website for more information and find them on Facebook and Twitter, too.


I was not compensated for this post. The folks at BeliBea sent me a nursing bra in exchange for an honest review. As always, thank you for supporting the companies that help to make my blog possible.


Spring at Last?

April 6, 2015

livelovesimple.com

livelovesimple.com

We’ve finally gotten through a couple of weeks without snow. Hooray! I’m hopeful that Spring is finally upon us. It hasn’t been warm exactly, but it’s been warmer. I’ll take it.

Last week we took Marina on her very first outing to the park. The ground and ponds are still frozen up here, but a short drive down the mountain, it’s a bit warmer. The pond is almost thawed, the ducks are swimming, and there are tiny buds on the trees. Such beautiful sights to behold for my winter-weary eyes!

We’ll be in shorts and t-shirts before I know it, and I’ve never been so excited for a change of wardrobe in all my life.

livelovesimple.com

livelovesimple.com

livelovesimple.com

livelovesimple.com

livelovesimple.com

Happy Monday, friends. I hope that you had a lovely weekend. As for me, I’m slowly making my way through the maze of being a mama of two. I am really spoiled with having M. home at the moment. He’s been taking great care of Roman while I adjust to life with a newborn.

Gratefully, Marina is the most darling baby. The challenge that I face with her is the same challenge that I faced with Roman — she never wants to be put down. The beauty of it is that if you’re willing to hold her all day, she’s as happy as a pig in mud and never makes a peep. (What a dream!) Of course, however, holding an infant in your arms all day (& all night) isn’t the most practical thing in the world.

I find myself exactly where I was when Roman was newborn — bending to her every whim. I just don’t have the heart to hear that little cry, not yet anyway. This time around, I’m trying really hard to embrace it, even at the most challenging moments. It simply doesn’t last and there will come a day — far too soon — when I will give anything to hold my baby in my arms all day & night.


Happy Easter!

April 5, 2015

easter // livelovesimple.com

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. –John 3:16

easter // livelovesimple.com

easter // livelovesimple.com

easter // livelovesimple.com

easter // livelovesimple.com

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