Richie Owen's first Christmas and the days leading up to it were nothing short of magical. Every night, he would spend time staring at the Christmas lights on the tree. He loved getting presents and all the attention that the holiday brought. Sharing some of our special captures from the holiday season including ringing in the New Year together.
Pregnancy can work wonders for your skin, hair and nails. At least for me it did, especially my HAIR. It was full of volume, shine and had amazing texture. I’ll never forget my hairdresser telling me how luscious it was. Then, she told me something that I thought was completely insane.
“You know your hair is going to fall out post pregnancy, right?”
My jaw dropped.
“Think about it,” she said. “Has there been any hair in the shower drain or in your hair brush lately?”
“No,” I thought.
And she was right. Not one strand of hair fell out when I was pregnant then boom, three months post pregnancy, and my hair was falling out like crazy.
An average woman sheds about 100 hairs a day but not all at once so you don’t notice them. During pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen prevent fewer falling out each day, so you have thicker, more luxuriant tresses. However, after you give birth, your estrogen levels take a tumble and a lot more hair follicles will shed.
“It’s perfectly normal to start shedding more hair than usual in the first few months after giving birth. The good news is you will not go bald. Your hair needs to shed since it didn’t while you were pregnant. This unusual shedding will taper off and your hair will be back to its pre-pregnancy thickness about six to 12 months after you give birth,” says Norma Romero of Vivo Salon in Island Park, NY.
Many new moms experience this. “I've had a lot of loose hair coming out regularly and like crazy in the shower, said Megan Robbins from Lakeland, FL. “I'm 4 months postpartum and I find hair in my little one’s hands all the time too, getting wrapped around her fingers.”
“I clean my brush three times a day, plus the shower wall, and probably five handfuls out of my hair that are just hanging loose, not to mention the hair all over my shirt, down my pants and on my pillow. I don't see how I'm not bald,” said Nola Branch from Little River, SC.
“This happens with so many of my clients,” says Romero. “Especially women in there 30’s because their bodies change a lot more than a women in her 20’s during pregnancy. Women in there 30’s need a little more TLC.”
Romero shared 5 Tips for New Mom’s Experiencing Hair Loss:
A personal note to new moms with long hair: Strands of hair can end up tightly wrapped around your baby's tiny appendages, including his fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, and penis. This is called a hair tourniquet, and it can be quite painful for your little one so be extra mindful.
What I love about babywearing
Babywearing has been a big part of child rearing in many cultures for centuries and has become more popular in the Western culture over the past few decades. By doing a little research, you learn that there are many reasons why it is good for you and your baby. My personal favorites are:
Finding the right carrier
I was on a mission to find the most comfortable carrier for Richie and I because I have a far walk to my car garage and there are many steps up to my doorway. It didn’t and still doesn’t feel safe to carry him all that way without the support of a carrier. I also need to have free hands so that I can carry packages in when my husband isn’t home.
I tried three different types before I found the one that works best for us. Let me tell you, Babywearing can be trickier than it looks and it can seem daunting at first. Most baby carriers have a learning curve and they require practice to become comfortable with them. However, once you’ve chosen the right carrier and learned how to use it, babywearing will become second nature.
The brands we tried
It was important that I could put it on without the help of someone else because I planned to use it when my husband wasn’t home. This wasn’t possible with the Ergobaby carrier because it has a very hard to reach clip in the back in between the shoulder blades and neck. I have very flexible shoulders and arms but it was still impossible for me to clip it on my own. I also didn’t love how bulky it was. Richie never felt close enough in this carrier. In all the times I used it, he never once fell asleep in it so he was never as comfortable as I would have wanted him to be in it. This carrier was also hard to store because it’s so big. I wanted something I could throw in the diaper bag after using,
This wrap was very easy to put on but was very constricting. There are loops to put your arms through then wrap the baby in but because those loops are sown in, it’s hard to have wiggle room for when the baby grows or if you want to wrap it in a different way. It is, however, small enough to store in your diaper bag.
Solly Baby Wrap
This is the wrap we liked best because not only is it easy to put on, it doesn’t require the help from someone else. It is super comfortable too – soft, flexible and lightweight. The wrap has a lot of fabric and is super long so it allows for you to really wrap your baby up so he or she feels close and comfortable but it’s not to constricting like the Baby Kat’an. Even though there is a ton of fabric, its very easy to wrap up and store. Another plus!
Tips for getting on a carrier
Happy babywearing mamas!
We baptized our precious little man yesterday and it was super special. He was showered with so much love from friends and family but most especially from his Godparents - my sister and my husband's oldest brother.
Richie received his first Sacrament in a ceremony that was very private and intimate. The priest that baptized Richie was kind, soft spoken and had beautiful words to share. I, of course, teared up a few times. The day was just magical.
Richie slept the entire ceremony then woke up when the water was poured over his head. We cracked up because he was super shocked, trying to figure out what was going on.
Richie loved the gorgeous cross his Godmother Alexandra gave him.
Afterwards, we celebrated with our immediate family at our home. It was a small gathering – just the way we wanted it.
God Bless Richard Owen forever and always.
This post isn’t about a fancy diaper bag or some extra accessory that you may or may not need. I wanted to share with you tried and true products that have helped me survive as a first time mom. These six products have saved my life. Ha! No, but really.
I always knew I would breastfeed. I have said that on here before. It was never a question for me. The number one reason was to provide my baby with the best vitamins and nutrients. The second was to lose the baby weight. And fast!
All the experts will tell you that by breastfeeding you’ll lose the baby weight quickly. Even all the mothers that had breastfed assured me that the weight would just melt off. One of my best girlfriends described the weight loss so great that she was in her skinny jeans a few weeks later. I even remember looking at a photo of my mother a month after she gave birth to me and she was even skinnier than before she was pregnant. She blamed it on the breastfeeding.
Well, I’m here to call their bluff. It’s been three months since I had Richie and I’m still holding to more weight than I would like to share. And I’m not the only one. I have spoken with other mothers that have said that they did not completely lose the baby weight until they weaned from nursing.
I gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy and at my first doctor’s appointment a few weeks after giving birth I had dropped 15 of it. Awesome! But even with a healthy diet and moderate exercise, not a single pound has been shed since then. Not ONE!
When I stop to think about it, it makes sense. Why wouldn’t my body hold onto to fat – the quickest, most energy efficient source available? Wouldn’t it make sense for our bodies to hold onto it so that we could feed our babies even if we couldn’t get the proper nutrients?
Or maybe it’s the fact that I have zero energy to hit the gym as often as I would like because I’m feeding another human being and I’m up all night doing it. Or maybe it’s the cookies that I sneak at night because I have major cravings from these darn breastfeeding hormones. BUT aren’t those extra 500 calories that the experts assure you will burn while breastfeeding supposed to take care of that?
My point is, not everyone loses the baby weight from breastfeeding. So if you are going into it for that reason only then re-think your decision.
Regardless of the weight loss, breastfeeding has been super rewarding for me. I genuinely love the bond it provides me with Richie. I love that fact that I’m able to feed him such great nutrients. I feel proud when I look at his little rolls and at every doctor’s visit when I learn how big he is getting and how healthy he is. So for now, I will hold onto this breastfeeding weight and with pride. I’m feeding another human being and if my body needs to hold onto this weight so be it.
Once the baby has weaned, I will get back in shape. Right now, it’s just not about me. It’s about providing my baby with what he needs.
Friday night, the hubby and I went out on a date for the first time since the baby. Our dinner was fantastic but all we did was talk about Richie Jr. We wondered how he was doing and talked about all the funny things he does. It made us realize that we love being with him and while having our time together is important, its not completely necessary right now. We love spending time with the babe. Our priorities have changed and going out to a bar or to a fancy dinner is just not in our cards right now. Don't get me wrong, we totally enjoyed it but at the same time, all we did was think and talk about the babe. Maybe when he gets older, it will be different but he is so little now and he is such a good kid that we don't want to be away from him. We went out as a celebration for my hubby's birthday so we made the best of it.
The next day, on my hubby's actual birthday, we went to Belmont Racetrack for a picnic and to bet on the horses. The weather was fantastic for October so we spent most of the time outside. It was such a fun day. We won two races. Richie Jr. had to be our good luck charm. It was a perfect day.
I’ve always loved makeup. When I was a little girl I used to sit in the bathroom and watch my Mom apply hers. She actually found me going through her purse and apply makeup to my face when I was 5 years old. I'd beg her to wear it to kindergarden. I was born a girl girly what can I say.
My beauty routines have generally been the same since I started wearing makeup at the age of 13 except for a few product swaps like anti-aging lotions and different shades of makeup. As a new Mom, I quickly realized my makeup routine would need to change big time. First and foremost, I have less time. Secondly, the dark circles are insane from the lack of sleep and constantly being ON! I needed a makeup routine that would help keep me looking refreshed and awake. Here are a few of my essentials.
Since I'm short on sleep, looking refreshed and awake makes me feel better. My favorite concealer for hiding my hideous, dark circles is Nars. I add a little extra to the corner of my eyes to act as a highlighter which also helps disguise the circles.
Eye Brow Pencil
Another great way to look awake, define your eyebrows! It helps bring attention to the arch of your brow instead of the bags or dark circle under your eyes. Anastasia’s Brow Wiz glides perfectly and comes in many different shades.
Apply any color you chose in the crease of your lid then swoop the eye shadow up towards your brow. It will instantly lift the eye making it look more awake. Urban Decay's Naked 2 Eye Shadow palette has a slew of different shades to chose from. Everything from dark colors for the evening to softer pinks and golds for day.
I always had long nails but it's just impossible to keep them when you have a baby since you want to avoid scratching them. I’ve included my favorite soft shade of pink, Pink-ing of You by OPI. Perfect shade for a clean, simple manicure.
If I could only chose one product to carry around with me, it would be blush. I love how a little bit of color can really brighten up your face. My favorite blush is from MAC.
I never wear perfume around the baby. It can irritate them especially if you are nursing. I keep a small pulse pen of my favorite perfume, Prada’s Candy, for date nights and parties. It has a really soft, sweet smell.
You don’t have to be a cat eye expert to use eyeliner, adding just a little line across your lids will do the trick. MAC’s liner lasts long and is easy to glide.
Lip Stain & Gloss
You can’t beat the all-day wear of a lip stain. Glide some lip gloss over the stain for shine. A nice moistened and bold lip is a sure way to stand out. If you wear nothing else, a sure way to look 'put together' is a bold lip. I love Stila's lips stain and Vince Longo's gloss.
Lastly, I throw some business cards in the pocket of my makeup bag since I always have it with me. You never know when you might need to hand one out. It happens on the playground more often then you think!
Many people have asked me how I get Richie Owen to pose for photos. Yes, the fact that he is a total ham makes it easy but there are a few things tips I can share for capturing the best photo.
A Shiny or Glittery Phone Cover
Richie always stares at the back of mine so it’s easy to get a straight on photo of him. If you don’t have one, then I would suggest a small toy that you know they like and will focus on.
Photograph them when they are in the best mood. For Richie, that’s 20 minutes after he has eaten.
Set up the picture beforehand. I usually get an idea and start to set it up while he is napping. That’s if it requires a set-up.
The craziest, funniest, silliest noises you could ever make to help get them to smile. Seriously, like no one is listening! Richie cracks up over my craziness and that’s how we score the best photos of him.
Natural Light is Best
I try to take photos in the day versus at night. If I’m taking the photo inside, I open up all the curtains.
Make sure the room is nice and warm. This is most important for a newborn. They should always be bundled up and they usually aren’t for photos.
Richie isn’t sitting yet so I use props like pillows and blankets when I want to capture him in an upright position.
There are so many fun things to do on Long Island, NY. Aside from the beautiful beaches and summer fun, there are plenty of fun filled family activities in the fall. Our favorites are wine tasting, pumpkin picking, visiting our favorite farms and taking trips to our in-laws house out east. That is exactly what we did this weekend.
We visited W&K Farms, Harbes and Hanks to pick pumpkins, purchase some fresh veggies and nosh on roasted corn & apple cider donuts.
Sunflowers are my absolute favorite flower. We made sure to load up on a bunch.
Saturday was raining but we were able to make it out to Bedell Cellars. The winery we got married at. It was so special to take our little man there for the first time.
After a day visiting the farms, we headed to my in laws who live on the bay in Center Moriches. Love these family photos we were able to capture by the water.
It’s been exactly two months since Richard Owen was born. He is a happy, healthy little man but my husband and I feel like we’ve been hit by a truck. I’m so amazed by how much we have muddled through. Here are some things we learned to make your first eight weeks easier.
Holy Crap! Literally. The first poop is like black tar. We weren’t prepared for that. Its very thick too so it sticks like glue to their little bums. It’s called Meconium and it’s made up of everything he collected while in utero. Very different from the poops that come after, those are mustard yellow and seedy.
The first month, he pooped after every single feeding. Insane diaper duty! Oh and what they say is true. Breastfed baby poop doesn’t smell. I thought it was bull but it’s true! We are, however, bracing ourselves for the odor that will come once he starts eating real food. Not something we are looking forward to.
No one told me how much a newborn baby sneezes. I remember Richie having a sneeze attack at the hospital and we franticly called the nurses in thinking something was wrong with him. Nope! It’s totally normal. It’s how they clear their nasal and respiratory passages of congestion and airborne particles.
The sneezing is actually cute. Richie would sometimes sneeze 3-4 times in a row and we would crack up over it.
New Parent Worries
The first two weeks are easy breezy. All he did was eat and sleep. Aside from the new parent worries – for me, that was checking him 1,000,000 times to make sure he was breathing – and lack of sleep since they feed throughout the night, it’s a pretty chill time so enjoy every second of it.
Around three weeks, we learned what gas was all about. My goodness, that was insane and still is. The remedy: burp them like crazy, bicycle their legs and make sure they sit up for 20 minutes after eating. Works like a charm!
Sleep or Lack Thereof
The truth of the matter is you are not going to get sleep so don’t obsess over it. Just get used to it and do whatever works. For me, it is all about survival! I let Richie sleep on my chest, in bed with us, in the swing. Whatever works! I learned from my pediatrician and tons of research that babies cannot form habits this early on so I’m doing whatever it takes.
For the first month or so, Richie slept in a bassinet. Pediatricians will tell you that babies have to sleep lying on their backs since new research suggests that it’s the best way to prevent SIDS. However, once your baby gets a fussier because of all the gas, you will do anything to make sure they sleep more comfortably and for us, that is keeping him a little elevated.
A few of my parent friends suggested a Sleep and Play long before we even had him but we didn’t listen for the reasons I mentioned above. At week six, we broke down and bought one! So happy we did because it allowed him to sleep a little longer without waking up from the discomfort of gas. My advice, get the Sleep and Play!
By week three, I had to store away his newborn clothing and newborn diapers. There were clothes he didn’t even get to wear. I cried putting them away (yes, I’m hormonal! I blame it on the breastfeeding). I couldn’t believe my little itty, bitty baby graduated from his newborn clothing already. My advice to any new moms, don’t invest in clothes or diapers in this stage. You are better off getting size 0-3, not NB. They will last longer.
By week four, he was much more alert when he was awake and we started to see his first smiles. This was the best time to break out the camera!
Now, at week eight, not only is he all smiles, he is trying to talk by cooing and gurgling. It’s the cutest thing ever! It really helps remedy the lack of sleep we are getting.
Month two to three will all about scheduling and getting him to sleep throughout the night. I pray to the sleep Gods that by month three, I will be sharing with you how I got him on a perfect schedule.
Every day is a new adventure with our baby boy but we are listening to all the advice and soaking up all the newborn deliciousness. He won’t be little like this forever so we are cherishing every step – challenging or not!
Richie and I spent some time in the park today. It was absolutely beautiful out. Warm with a crisp cool breeze in the air. We enjoyed every second. Here are some photos from our day. Below, you'll find the items I carry with us on our trips outside of the house.
Some items I pack in my diaper bag and stroller:
My diaper bag is made from Skip Hop. I purchased the backpack so that I can be hands-free to carry Richie.
I love Pampers. Old school, I know, but the hospital uses them for a reason. The NEVER leak and fit him so comfortably. I tried almost ever other brand out there but keep going back to Pampers.
The Honest Company is my favorite brand.
Organic Healing Balm
The balm I use is also made from The Honest Company. I put it on him every diaper change to prevent a rash. I love that it is made with all organic ingredients.
Johnson & Johnson Face and Hand Wipes
I use these on Richie's face and hands as well as my own. I prefer these over the baby wipes.
I purchased this portable one called Hush and I hang it this in the stroller if he gets a little fussy. The soothing noises help to calm him down.
I love Aden & Anais’ muslin swaddles. The material is soft and breathable.
Also Aden & Anais.
I use California Baby’s brand. It’s all natural and organic.
Hands down the best brand is MAM. It is the ONLY pacifier he will take. They are BPA-free Orthodontic pacifiers that were developed by dentists to allow for healthy jaw and teeth development.
Same brand as the pacifiers, MAM. I like to keep these handy so that I can make sure his pacifier is germ free at all times.
One of my best girlfriends bought me a Stroller Organizer and it's genius. I clip it on the stroller and it makes all the items I need easily accessable. The organizer is also made from Skip Hop. In it, I put the following items.
This is so uber important to have handy at all times. I purchased a ton of the mini ones and planted them all over the house, car, stroller, etc.
Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso Can
I get these delivered from Pea Pod so that I can grab one when I’m on the go. GOD knows I need my coffee. All Moms do!
It’s important to eat enough calories throughout the day when you are nursing so I always carry something to snack on.
Cell Phone and an extra charger (just to be safe!)
I want to start by saying I'm no expert on the topic of breastfeeding. I can only tell you what has worked for me. Believe it or not, I dreamt of breastfeeding since I was a little girl. It's just incredible that our bodies are able to feed another human being and I was determined to nurse my baby long before I even got pregnant. I took a breastfeeding class, asked friends questions about their breastfeeding journeys, purchased a breast pump and was just very prepared mentally.
I think that determination allowed me to nurse my baby within 30 minutes of him being born. Since then, I have managed to feed him every two hours and during some growth spurts, every hour. I'm proud to say that he is in the 50 percentile in terms of weight gain and I've never had to supplement with formula. I'm also able to pump 4 ounces out of each breast in 20 - 30 minutes every other day. In fact, this morning I was able to get 5 ounces out of each breast in 30 minutes. If I pumped every day and for longer, I may be able to get more but there is no need since I'm able to fed him exactly what he needs. He is satisfied and growing. That alone makes me happy.
In addition to patience, determination and education that nursing your baby requires, I do believe you need to eat the right foods to keep up your milk supply. I'm including some foods that have worked for me.
Oatmeal is considered a super food for breastfeeding moms. The best thing about oatmeal is that there are plenty of ways to mix it up – you can add nuts, seeds, fruits, syrups, sugar, to name a few. The Food Network has some fantastic recipes. My favorite is to add agave syrup and blueberries (another breastfeeding super food). I make sure to have a bowl every morning for breakfast.
I’m a green juice connoisseur. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are fantastic for your milk supply. I love all types but my absolute favorite combination of vegetables and fruits to throw in my juicer are kale, spinach, apple and ginger. Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is great for digestion. Recipe below.
2 cups of spinach, tightly packed
4 cups of kale, tightly packed
2 red apples, quartered
Half a piece of ginger (or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
My personal favorite is Harmless Harvest because its 100 percent raw and organic thai coconut water. It's the best way to stay hydrated since nursing can making you very thirsty. It has tons of potassium in it to help replace what you lose.
Raw Almonds are a great source of protein and calcium, which is good for you and your baby. They make for such a quick and easy snack too. Almond Milk is also a great replacement for Whole Milk.
Between decorating a nursery, registering for gifts, and getting acclimated to the demands of a newborn baby, the last thing you want to fret over is putting together a baby announcement. Here are a few quick steps I took to put ours together that may help make the process easier.
We chose to get professional images taken but newborn photos are just perfect no matter what. Everyone enjoys baby spam! It’s important, however, that the photo is high-resolution, clear and doesn’t have a busy pattern in the background. It is also important that you chose the same theme and color for the photo that you do for the invitation. For example, we chose grey and blue as our theme.
I, personally, think its best to keep the announcement simple to celebrate the beauty of your new baby.
The announcements should include the following:
We chose to use Simply Impress to print our birth announcements and they came out beautiful. The cards were delivered quickly and packaged in a cute box.
I have used Tiny Prints in the past, they are a bit more expensive but also high quality. There are other companies, like Shutterfly and Zazzle that I don’t have experience using but have heard good things.
Most mothers, including myself, tend to spend most of their time preparing for the baby during pregnancy that they forget to think about themselves. There is a fourth trimester that many women don’t know about called the postpartum period. This trimester is the first three months after giving birth where you are learning, healing and having MANY sleepless nights. I’m going through this period right now and there are a few services we signed up for that have helped me adjust. Most importantly, they have allowed me more time with my baby boy.
I read many articles about the essentials for postpartum. Most of which included things for the baby like swaddles and diapers then things for Mom like nipple cream and a good nursing bra. Sure, those things are important but what has really helped me are these five services. They make for great gifts for new parents and if you are expecting, I’d suggest adding them to your registry. In my opinion, they are just as important as a stroller or bottles because they will allow you more time with your little one.
Meal Delivery Program
Sorting through menus for takeout or scrambling to look up recipes to cook dinner is NOT something you are going to want or have time to do. We were lucky enough to receive Blue Apron as a gift from my in-laws and it is magical. It’s a company that delivers a weekly shipment of three original recipes and all the ingredients necessary for making them – portioned, packaged, and refrigerated. There are other programs similar to Blue Apron such as Freshology, HelloFresh and Purple Carrot. Whichever works for you but a definite timesaver!
Even if you have a washer and dryer in your house, this service is fantastic because they not only wash and dry your clothes but also fold them for you. Folding clothes after the third sleepless night will be impossible, trust me. Many local laundry mats offer this service. We use one that is just around the corner from our home. There are even some companies that will pick it up and drop it back off for you.
Stop & Shop’s Pea Pod service will make your life easier by delivering your groceries to your door. You shop online, set up a delivery time and boom, they show up with your groceries to your home. It costs $10 for delivery but when you sign up as a new customer, you get 60 days free delivery.
Housekeeping services can be expensive but so helpful. To cut costs, I set it up so that the company (I use Molly Maid) comes only once a month for a deep clean. That good scrub really helps then its just maintenance from there.
Amazon Prime is my number one recommendation. It's an online shopping site with fast delivery as well as free shipping and returns. I have used this service almost every single week – sometimes twice a week – to purchase things like diapers, baby wipes; you name it. It’s by far the best site to shop on. You can order something on a Wednesday and it will arrive on Friday. Genius!
My husband and I got married at a winery on the Northfork of Long Island, NY called Bedell Cellars last August. Next to my son being born, it was one of the best days of my life!
I was never the type of girl who obsessed over being engaged/married or who had her wedding planned since she was a little girl. But once Rich proposed, I was over the moon excited to start planning and I did all myself in just 10 months.
10 months may seem like no big deal but the winery we chose included nothing but the venue. We had to pay a site fee to host the wedding there then bring in every single vendor separately. The vendors we had to hire included a caterer, a party rental facility for tables, chairs, flatware, etc. We even had to bring in lighting for outside. Unlike a catering hall where everything is included, every single piece of the wedding was a separate cost. That made the wedding pretty expensive but we did cut costs in other ways which I will get into later but first, here is a look into how I broke it down and carefully planned each detail of the day.
Choosing the Wedding Venue
Vetting locations is the number one step in planning a wedding. We wanted our venue to have meaning and since the vineyards have always held an important place in your relationship, we ended choosing Bedell Cellars. We spent every anniversary celebration at the wineries on the Northfork of Long Island and on our three-year anniversary, Rich proposed there. Since it is truly a special place for us and we both love to be outside (and drink wine!), there was no question that we would also get married there.
Once you have the venue, you'll need to choose a theme. The theme for our wedding was Rustic Chic (ceremony) then Vintage Glamour (reception). The design direction was to begin with a more natural outdoor ceremony setting incorporating elements of rustic charm. The evening transitioned into an atmosphere of romance that resonated a sophisticated and glamorous style. We chose this theme/design by pulling inspiration from Pinterest. We wanted to add the right amount of detail to the natural beauty of the garden, oak tree and vineyard. All of the greenery was in full bloom in August so we already had an outstanding backdrop.
There are so many different traditions to chose from. Rich and I wanted to get married at the same venue as our reception so that everyone would be present for both. When you have the ceremony at a separate location, it can be a challenge to get everyone to attend the ceremony and reception.
We also chose to do a Handfasting Ceremony. It was something I always wanted to do. It is an old Celtic tradition, and it is part of where the adage "tying the knot" comes from. The cords or ribbons that you choose can have different colors, each color representing a certain quality or part that you wish your marriage to have (i.e. green for wealth and prosperity; white for purity; blue for tranquility and patience; red for passion and love, etc).
Once I explained the process of this beautiful ritual to Rich, he was all for it. We chose the color of the ribbons together. The colors we chose were blue and green because they represent balance, peace, home, children, loyalty, understanding, too name a few.
Since we worked so hard to craft our own ceremony, we decided to put together a program for our guests. I created the one below then had them printed on card stock. They were handing out to guests as they got off the shuttle buses we rented. We had everyone transported from the hotel to the venue so that everyone could drink and not worry about driving.
The devil is in the details! This is important to remember when planning a wedding. I tried to think of every single detail I could for each part of the wedding. As far as the table decor, we pulled inspiration from wedding magazines and worked with the florist to create a vintage yet glamorous feel. The tablecloth I chose was Rattan Wheat Cotton in a burlap color. It actually looks just like burlap but is softer.
The reception took place under the beautiful pavilion. Six Restoration Hardware type wood boxes filled with all local flowers: limelight hydrangea, cafe o lait dahlias, blush pink spray roses, and white snapdragon were placed on each communal table to exude a vintage feel. I also wanted to place tons of candles on each table to add a feeling of romance. Tall glass cylinder candles were placed in between each arrangement, with a scattering of gold votives. The flatware and chairs we chose were gold to add a touch of sophistication and glamour.
The table numbers were ordered with the same card stock as our invitations and we put gold glitter number stickers on them. In addition, we spray painted tall, metal table cardholders gold to match our vintage glamour theme.
We started with appetizers that were passed around at cocktail hour. For the main course, we chose roaming stations so our guests could eat at any time throughout the night. We never enjoyed the structure/timeline of a wedding. We wanted our guests to party, dance and eat whenever they wanted.
We had a three-tier buttercream cake that was soft pink in color and had white pearls in between each layer. At the bottom of the cake there was flower detailing. The cake topper was gold and the cake was placed on a wine barrel for display. The cake flavor was chocolate, the filling was cannoli and the icing was buttercream.
The Wedding Favors
Our party favors were mini mason jars filled with HOMEMADE strawberry lavender jam that Rich’s stepmother made for us. We decorated the jars with raffia and stickers ordered with the same design as our invitations.
1. The morning of our wedding I sent Rich a beautifully bounded book that included a love letter as well as "101 Reasons I love Him and Can’t Wait to be his Wife.”
2. DYI Cigar & Scotch Station - Rich loves scotch and cigars so we set up a station at our wedding for guests to enjoy. Rich had his fair share of scotch at the wedding and he danced all night (something he never does!)
3. We always say, “I love you to the Moon and Back” so it was only natural we would use it as our cake topper.
4. Our DJ lit up the dance floor with a monogram of our hashtag #AurigemaWedding
5. At the bar, we had DYI chalk board signs that highlighted our cocktail offerings including, “His & Her Cocktails.” Rich loves Rum and his nickname is Gemma so he named his “Rum Gemma." I love margaritas with jalapeños so I named mine “Natty Spice.” We also had a few of our engagement photos propped up and an “A” for Aurigema was lit up on the bar.
6. The program for the ceremony was really special and took me some time to create. We thought it was important for everyone to know who was who. We also wanted to make sure there was a moment of silence for family member that were no longer with us.
7. On our RSVP cards for the wedding, we asked our friends and family to put down a song they would like to dance to at our wedding. We then sent this list as well as some of our favorites to our DJ. We truly believe that this is the reason the dance floor was NEVER empty. Everyone danced that night! We received a ton of feedback from our guests that there was no dividing of sides. You couldn’t tell which was the bride’s family & friends or groom’s. Everyone got along and hung out together all night. It was like one BIG family.
It rained all morning and afternoon the day of our wedding. Even in the limo on the way there it was pouring out. Then, all of a sudden, the sky cleared up! Just in time for our ceremony. It was like magic. I’m definitely a worrywart but the day of my wedding, I was surprisingly calm. Like uber calm and collected. Did I will the rain to stop by not being my normal crazy self? I have no idea but it was EVERYTHING!
Getting married under that Oak tree was a huge selling point for Rich. When we were looking for the perfect vineyard for our wedding and did a walk through of Bedell for the first time, I remember Rich saying to me, “I’m going to marry you under that tree.” He loved that garden and that beautiful tree. If it continued to rain, we would have had to move the ceremony under the pavilion but man, did we get lucky! It was everything we dreamed of.
After the ceremony, we moved under a tent (that we had to put up because of the rain) in front of the pavilion for cocktail hour and thank God we did because moments after we all got under the tent it rained again. Then once again, like magic, the rain stopped for our first dance under the pavilion where our reception was. Which is the reason we got that PERFECT sunset I mentioned above – a bright, beautiful and super colorful sunset. After our first dance, we ran down to the vines to capture that sunset (which you can see in the photos). A memory that will last FOREVER!
How We Cut Costs
We loved sharing that intimate moment with everyone close to us and at such a special place but I would have loved it just as much if it were just the two if us. When we renew our vows 20 years from now, we probably do it alone (just us) on a mountaintop over looking the ocean on the Almafi Coast (where we had our honeymoon).
Our feature in Bridal Guide Magazine
Richie Owen loves to be outside so we headed to Long Beach today. We had lunch, went for a walk and relaxed. There were a ton of other moms and babies on the boardwalk so we fit right in. Here are a few photos of our day.
This is what leaving the house looks like now. It took me forever to get us dressed and out of the house but we did it. Richie loves this Baby K'tan Active Wrap. It keeps him super close to my chest and he always falls asleep in it. It's super easy to put on too.
I'm obsessed with my UppaBaby Vista Stroller. This bassinet clip-in is perfect for him to take naps in which he did the entire time.
I was able to park my stroller and feed him on the bench while watching the surfers and beach bums enjoy what is left of the nice weather in New York.
Mr. Happy after he eats. A big smile and spit up on his shirt to prove it.
The boardwalk has all these cute little places to eat. This is where I had lunch. Since it was outdoors, I didn't have to worry about exposing him to too many germs.
My heart melts when he stares at me. What a fun day with my babe.
I’ll start by saying that I definitely didn’t think labor would be a walk in the park but there were things that no one told me. Here are five pretty big things that surprised me the most.
LABOR IS INSANELY PAINFUL
When I was pregnant and asked mothers about their birthing experiences it was like no one wanted to tell me the real gross, horrible truth about their labor.
"It was painful but so worth it in the end" is what they all said. Is this some type of universal response that I don't know about? Is it because mothers don't want to scare moms to be? Or perhaps, it's to convince yourself that it wasn't that bad so you will do it again? Maybe it’s just a super personal moment that women don't want to share? I don't know but today, I will share what no one else shared with me.
Labor is not only painful, its scary. The unknown of how you will deliver is nerve racking. Well, it was to me. Unless you plan to go straight into a C-section, take your birth plan and throw it out the window! Sure, you MAY follow some of your plan but you cannot control how your body will respond to labor, which way the doctors will advise you go based on how you and the baby progress and what your mind will tell you (because its a whole new mindset once you feel that pain!).
There are so many variables that will happen or not. Will your water break on its own or will they have to do it for you? Will you dilate on your own or will you need to be induced? Will the baby be face up or down? Breech? Can you handle the pain or will you need an epidural? C-section or vaginal delivery? Will you tear?
You can’t control how labor will go down so birth plans, in my opinion, are really just a way to get your mind off of all the other ways your body might respond.
You won't be wearing your cute thongs for a long time. In fact, you won't even be wearing your ugliest period underwear. You'll be wearing these mommy diapers they give you in the hospital because you bleed for up to 6 weeks and very heavily for the first two postpartum. Awesome.
YOU WILL CRY - A LOT!
The hormonal changes in your body are so intense that you become very emotional after having a baby. For me, I cried because I was happy and nervous, not because I had the postpartum blues, which some women do get.
I remember feeding Richie in the nursery and just crying because I loved him so much. My husband came into the room and was like, "What's wrong?" I had to explain that they were tears of happiness. I cried when someone told me not to pick up my baby every time he cries. I thought, what type of monster would do that to a newborn. I want to attend to every single one of his needs. I also cried (a lot!) when my husband had to go back to work. He got one lousy week off to spend with us. It flew by and I was so sad. I wasn't only sad that he wouldn't be there to help but that he would miss those very first moments of his son's life. I can cry right now as I type this. Anyway, my point is. You will cry. And that's ok.
THE SHAKES & SWEATS
The drenching night sweats after childbirth will be a shock. They were for me. I will never forget, in the hospital, being completely drenched and shaking so violently that my teeth were chattering. I buzzed the nurse and she just gave me an extra blanket. Like no big deal, it’s just your hormones going haywire. Yikes. This continued for about two weeks.
SITTING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE
I had a vaginal birth and was so completely sore down there that I needed strong pain medicine. The worst part was that I was breastfeeding and needed to sit to feed my baby. Those first two weeks were BRUTAL. One of my closest girlfriends had a C-section and sitting for her was just as painful because of all the stitches. My recommendation – ice packs!
In the end, I got through being uncomfortable and in pain. I did what I had to do to take care of my baby just like everyone else. I never knew I could endure this much and take care of another human being. Cliché as it sounds; women are strong and amazing! We have a strength that cannot be measured. You really realized this when you birth a baby. It's such a beautiful thing and I feel proud to have gotten through it although I am pretty sure this thing called motherhood is just getting started...
The best piece of advice to new moms is to get outside! It has helped me tremendously. Here's why I was out of the house on day 10 postpartum.
This photo was taken outside an outdoor restaurant we visited. Week 3 and a half after giving birth.
Since Richie Owen is my first baby, I didn't realize that I would be encouraged to stay in until he is able to get his vaccination shots at two months. Two months in the house and away from crowded stores when shopping is my favorite thing in the world to do is a nightmare to me. I mean, that has to be the reason women get postpartum. Sure, getting acclimated to his feeding schedule, breastfeeding, paying close attention to his hunger cues and mastering diaper changes did take some time and staying in for a few weeks to nail them down was essential but two months is insane. There is also the recovery. Which for me, was the hardest part. I had NO idea it would be as tough, weird and uncomfortable as it was and still is. I know that's crazy considering a 6 pound baby came out of me but I just didn't think it would hurt so bad and all over my body. Then, the dreaded baby weight. I guess it makes sense for some people to stay in since it takes 6-8 weeks until your uterus shrinks down to its normal size. Out of all people, I understand wanting to look your best but I was jonesing to get out of the house even with the extra weight.
For me feeling good starts with the mind. Its probably the yogi in me. If I mentally have it all straight, I can figure out exactly what will make me feel better, then focus on it. That was getting fresh air and trying to feel like a normal person. I realize now that it's not only important for me but for my baby. If I feel good then I can take better care of him.
It was only day 10 when I packed the diaper bag, put Richie in a baby carrier and got out of the house!
I'm including a little round up of places we've taken Richie Owen. They are all outdoor places where we weren't exposing him to too many germs.
Our trips to the park. Both photos were taken the second week after giving birth.
1.) By the water - My husband and I are beach bums and we want our little man to be one too. When I was pregnant I lived at the beach and some of Richie's first outdoor experiences were visits to the beach and the bay. He loves the salt water breeze and sound of the ocean, just like we do.
2.) Restaurants with outdoor seating - We've done this a few times. The key is to go when the restaurant isn't that busy. We have gone around 2/3pm and its been less crowded. That way, we can get a table away from other people (and germs!). We also were afraid he might cry and wanted to be as far way from other people for privacy Ha. We are new at this.
3.) The park - Richie's very first visit out of the house was to the park. It was so nice to get fresh air and relax outdoors. We sat under a big oak tree where there was a nice breeze. I fed him there and he sleep almost the entire time at the park then on the way back home. It's amazing how much babies like to be outside.
4.) For a walk - Anywhere. I usually plan a trip to go a certain distance and as long as my little guy is enjoying it, I will take it a bit further. My usual strategy is to feed him right before we leave the house so I have some time to enjoy before having to nurse him again.
I really enjoyed designing my baby's nursery. From carefully choosing each piece of furniture and deciding on a theme to playing with different decor elements and keeping it as organized as possible, it was such a fun project. It kept me very busy especially in the later months when I was so anxious to meet my little man.
I spent many of my pregnant days just sitting in the nursery wondering when my baby boy would arrive, what he'd be like, what he'd look like, how I'd handle motherhood, etc. Designing the nursery was exciting since we'd spend the most time in it together. It's where I would be feeding him, changing his diaper, rocking him to sleep, playing with him and I wanted it to be a bright, airy, comfortable space that we'd both enjoy.
The overall theme for the nursery is gender neutral. A nursery that screamed boy with ton of blue hues didn't resonate with me. I wanted to design the room so was modern, bright and airy. A room that could work for any baby - boy or girl.
Here's a look inside.
Finding the perfect rocking chair was probably the most challenging. I was really determined to find a vintage rocker that was both comfortable and the perfect size for the nursery. I ended up purchasing this one from Nursery Works. Yes, it's a bit girly but I figured I'd be using to feed him and if there was one element of the nursery where I could get away with some girly-ness it would be the rocking chair.
The storage bins for his toys, blankets and other essentials were purchased at Homegoods. I can't say enough good things about that place. I'm completely obsessed. I can spend hours just shopping around. The elephant painting, shag rug and curtains (they're blackout curtains so that he can easily take naps during the day) are also from Homegoods. The curtain hang-backs are from Joss & Main. An awesome site for furniture!
I organized my baby's closet with these closet ring dividers that have every age on it - newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, etc. Those were from Amazon and the boxes are from the Container Store.
I already had these bookshelves from Ikea hung in the room because it was previously an office so we kept them and replaced our office supplies with baby books and decor. The table and baskets underneath are from the container store.
I placed glass jars I had around the house on top of the table to store teething rings, pacifiers and travel toiletries. We also hung some extra hooks for coats, baby towels, etc. You can never have enough storage!
The changing table is Babyletto. It matches the crib we purchased and is from their Hudson Collection. I love this table. Its perfect height for changing Richie and is super spacious for all his onesies, baby products and diapers.
I always knew I wanted a gallery wall so I started to collected each of these pieces from different online stores as well as Homegoods and TJ Maxx. I lined up each piece of wall art in different orders on the floor so I could chose which would look best above the changing table then had my super handy husband hang them for me.
Richie's second day home. He loves the changing table too.
I chose this crib from Babyletto because of its size and simplicity. I also love its clean, modern look. Many of the cribs on the market were bulky and would take up too much space in the room. This crib gave the room an open and radiant feel allowing me to keep an eye on Richie from all angles. In addition, it was made with sustainable New Zealand wood, can be converted to a toddler or day bed and the mattress is adjustable. The decals and bedding are also Babyletto.
Richard Owen was born on Sunday, August 7, 2016 at 9:06pm. He joined us weighting 6 pounds, 10 ounces and measured 21 inches long. The photo I'm sharing above is super raw, unfiltered and I love everything about it. My heart throbs over my baby's eyes. He came out so alert. I guess that is because he was 5 days late. He was very ready to explore the world and meet us.
It all happened Sunday morning at 4:00am when I woke up out of my sleep in labor. I had cramping all night Saturday but choked it up to Braxton Hicks contractions since I'd been having them a lot and quite frankly, I thought I'd never go into labor because he was so late. I woke my husband up and we got ready to head to the hospital. At the front door, I noticed my husband had my packed hospital bags ... great! But he also had a towel over his shoulder. What was the towel for? He was so nervous he brought it in case we needed it on the way. I think he thought I was going to have the baby in the car or something. Hilarious.
The funny story he likes to tell is that I made him change his outfit. He was unmatched and crazy looking because he was so nervous. I couldn't let him go to the hospital that way. Even in labor, I was making him change his outfit and was bossing him around. Ha.
On the way to the hospital, my husband got pulled over for speeding and by two cop cars, not one, TWO! As if we robbed a bank or something. The officer that came over to the car was very sweet once he saw I was in labor and of course, let us go. We cracked up over it. It was like a scene out of a movie. We were like, "No one is going to believe this!"
17 hours of labor was not easy but I was grateful for the deep breathing and meditation techniques that yoga has taught me because without that, I would have never made it through. I tried to go as far as I could without an epidural. I made it to 7 centimeters! I'm so proud of that. I'm also super happy that the pain was not as bad during what I thought was the best part...the pushing! I mean, I felt it because at that point, they turned the epidural down but it was not as intense as it could have been without a little pain medication and the deep concentration during all that pushing was essential. My yoga skills came in handy there as well. I was able to push Richie Jr. out in 30 minutes. There were so many nurses in the room getting involved and cheering me on. The intense girl power was EVERYTHING to me. Everything!
My husband was my rock as always. He was hesitant about labor. Seeing what was going to happen down there and really just the unknown was scary to him but on game day, he was a pro! He rubbed my back and was truly saving grace during the really bad contractions. During the pushing, he was holding my leg back and cheering me on. "He is almost here. Another push!" It was amazing. I'm so happy he was so involved. What a phenomenal experience to go through together. Best day of my life.
When my baby came out into the world, he...wait for it...POOPED all over the doctor and everyone of the nurses. He was 5 days late so I get it. But really kid, as soon as you enter the world? We laughed so hard.
Once they laid my sweet baby boy on my chest, it was a feeling that I could never ever put into words. Not ever. My world changed forever!
Within 30 minutes of him being born, the craziest thing happened. He moved his way from my belly to the corner of my chest. He glared into my eyes for sometime then made his way to my breast. And boom, he was breastfeeding. I kid you not! So, my kid came out pooping then wanted to eat. Ha. But really, it was amazing to me that he fed so quickly and latched so easily. It was such a beautiful sign that I would be able to take great care of him. I was so worried about being able to breastfeed. Would he latch?, Would I produce milk?, Will it hurt so bad I won't be able to bear it?, etc. All I wanted was to breastfeed him. Its beautiful, natural and there are so many benefits. Most importantly, the opportunity to bond with him in that way was something I wanted to experience. What is even more crazy is that when I took a breastfeeding class, the teacher talked about a newborn's crawl instinct to find their mother's breast. I thought, "Come on! No way!" and it happened to me! I mean, animals find their way so why wouldn't it happen with humans? Google it (breast crawl). You'll see videos of it. It's BREATHTAKING! And I thank God, it happened to us. I'm forever grateful.
Sharing a close up of Richie's first day in the world.
natalie ferro aurigema
Sharing all the things that make me happy through this blog.
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