Jack's Birth

Today is both Jack's 6 month "birthday" and also Father's Day, so it feels appropriate to post this today.  I figure I should probably write down Jack's birth story before it fades too far away. So here goes.

Jack was "due" on December 8th, 2016.  My pregnancy was almost bizarrely easy; no morning sickness whatsoever, no back pain, none of the adverse symptoms it seems most women encounter.  I didn't even have trouble tying my own shoes by 9 months.  So I had an inkling he was pretty dang comfortable in there and wouldn't be interested in making his debut early or even "on time."  I should note I use quotes around "due" and "on time," because it's been shown now that there is a span of 5 weeks in which birth timing is normal, so a due date or on time birth is somewhat misleading.  Anyway.  

My doula/BFF, Kristina arrives on Dec 1st.  I take her to my prenatal yoga class with me.  We hang out.  A few days later on the 3rd, my birth photographer/other BFF, Amy, arrives.  Both are from Tacoma, so they flew up to be with me for my labor and Jack's birth.  We commence waiting.  A week goes by.  Nothin'.  At every prenatal yoga class people start being like, "wait, you're still here?!" to which I reply, "tell me about it."  With no signs of labor, we start trying to entice him to make his way into the world in various ways.  We go to a hockey game, where I eat a burrito so spicy I was sweating profusely.  Spicy burritos and multiple fog-horn blasts do not work.  We try karaoke.  Nope (though Amy won the Karaoke contest that night!).  Next up: Zumba.  Zumba at full term is, well, it's a helluva thing, y'all. Mom, Amy, and Kristina joined me and we were all exhausted afterward.  I was pretty sure I'd get some kind of reaction out of the kid for all that jumping and bouncing around.  I was right.  That night I woke up feeling some cramping and Dan called in letting his job know he wouldn't be coming into work.  This was Wednesday, I believe.  Well, while I did get some action, it was just some Braxton Hicks contractions and the rest of the day I was back to business as usual.  Except I got to hang out with Dan all day because his work thought I was in labor.

No more signs of labor for the next couple days and by now I'm a week "overdue."  I have what I hope is my last prenatal appointment and my midwife checks my cervix and I'm dilated about 3-3.5cm, which is encouraging since it means I'm at least on my way to labor-ville!  She sweeps my membranes, which was an interesting sensation to say the least. We talk about some other natural labor induction methods and I decide to try my hand at castor oil to help get things moving along. Since I was a week overdue at this point we go in for a little ultrasound and a non-stress test to see how kiddo's doing.  He's in ship shape so back home I go, with a castor oil assignment to complete.

If you're wondering how effective castor oil is at moving things along in your GI tract, I'm here to tell you: Liz used castor oil and it was SUPER EFFECTIVE.  Well, at least at clearing out my gut.  Woof.  About 20 minutes after taking a shot of castor oil and I scooted my way to the bathroom where things moved along.  Everything but the baby.  Amy, my photographer, has moved her flight back a few days already and has to fly out.  She predicts I'll go into labor in the next day, because of course I would.

Next day I go back into my midwife for another check of my cervix and another membrane sweep.  At this point I'm solidly at 4cm, and it's at least encouraging to know that I'm almost halfway dilated already and haven't even had to labor to get there!  I go home and decide to do more castor oil and bouncing on my exercise ball.  At some point in the past week Dan's parents had arrived (expecting their grandson to already have made his debut), so that night we had a family dinner with both our parents and then make our way to the living room to play some funny board games.  As we're playing games, around 8:30-9pm,  I start feeling some periodic, light, contraction-like sensations.  They keep on coming, staying pretty light, and pretty regular. That night I go to bed to try to get some rest before the work begins, but I don't think I got any.  I may have dozed off a bit, but by 2:30-3am rolls around I have to get up and walk around and then I find myself ritually heading to the bathroom to grab the edge of the sink counter, swaying back and forth to get through the contractions.  I text Kristina what's going on and she decides to head over.

By 4:45 things are getting pretty intense so Dan heads down to start and warm up the car because it's Alaska in December and temps have been in the negative and single digits.  My swaying and moaning get me through my contractions.  Our bags head down to the car and I get in the back seat of the red van I've been driving since coming back home.  The same red van I would drive to school after getting my license.  If you'd told me back then that 15 years later I'd be in the back seat of that same van, in labor, I'd be incredulous.  For months there had been a weird, small trash can rolling around the back of the van making tons of noise every time I made a turn.  The day before I had finally taken that trash can out of the van, and as I get in the van I grab that trash can and bring it in with me because I'd been feeling a little nauseous and had zero interest in throwing up all over the car.  I think the trash can might still be in the back seat...

We get to Alaska Native Medical Center around 5am, maybe 5:30, and go in through the ER, since it's too early to go in the other doors.  We head up and go into the L+D Triage where, to my great dismay, I have to lay still for 20 whole minutes while they do another non-stress test.  I hadn't stopped moving through my contractions up until this point, even in the car I was swaying and up on my knees, not sitting down, so having to lay down and be still for 20 minutes was a pain.  Plus they had to put in a Hep-Lock so that I could be easily hooked up to an IV in the case of an emergency, which I was not anticipating and wasn't thrilled about.  So it goes. 
 

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My room becomes ready and I shuffle my be-gowned, laboring, self the 50 feet to my room where we get the tub filling and I slip in to begin the work.  Things are pretty hazy at this point, not really like in the way that things are fuzzy when you're drunk, but kind of.  Everything goes internal and I'm not aware of much outside of like 2 feet from my body.  Kristina and Dan are giving me double hip squeezes and I get pretty intimate with the walls of the tub.  It's intense and by the time I'm starting to feel a little pushy, I vomit a couple times after contractions and then decide to get out of the tub and move to the toilet.  Nurses have been coming in and out periodically checking on Jack's heart rate and, I'm assuming probably, other stuff, but for the most part it's just me, Dan, and Kristina.  

By the time I'm on the toilet I'm feeling pretty pushy, and between contractions at one point I'm like... I feel like maybe a midwife should be here... right?  Kristina went and let the midwife know that things were happening and at some point she shows up-- again, things are hazy and my sphere of external awareness is pretty small.  At first I'm laboring leaning forward on the toilet but as things progress my midwife has me lean back and put one foot on Dan's thigh and one on her thigh, both of whom are kneeling in front of me.  In retrospect I can't imagine Dan's staring-down-the-barrel view, I imagine it was intense, to say the least. There is a lot of groaning and pushing.  I keep trying to push after my contraction has ended, I just wanted to get it done with, but my midwife tells me to stop pushing when the contraction is over, and my over achieving self complies grudgingly.  Mostly I just remember groaning and having her tell me to groan lower and feeling a little ridiculous as I modulate my groans awkwardly from a higher pitch to a low pitch.  That and feeling like I might just rip the metal stabilizer bar off the wall with my hulk-like labor strength.  I think I probably squeezed Dan's hands or arms or shoulders or something uncomfortably hard.  

It didn't take long before the baby plopped out of me and everyone fumbled with this slippery little screaming, bloody new human and placed him on my panting chest. To which I responded, "this is weeeiiirrrdd!"  It was, you guys.  It was super weird.  After that there were lots of hands.  Doing various things.  Cleaning things, moving things, moving me, stitching me, cleaning Jack.  8:43 AM.  

Kristina went and told the parents, who had been anxiously awaiting the news out in the waiting room, that the thing had been done successfully, the new human seemed healthy, and told them to wait a little longer cuz my vag was getting stitched up (I'm also positive she said all of this in a much more lovely way, thanks Kris. This is why you are a doula and I am not). Shortly after all my "housekeeping" is done, the fam files in an ogles the bebe.  My Dad ogles him in his own way.  As a neonatal intensive care doc, he does his own examination and finds Jack to be a-okay. 

After that it's just a lot of chit chat and eventually we moved to the post-birth room for recovery, which is. a. bitch.  I had no need of an epidural for the actual birthing, but damn if I didn't want to cut off all sensation to my lower half for like the next week.  I may or may not have sobbed in the hospital room on one of the two nights we slept there because I felt like I still loved Dusty the most, my nipples and vagina were in excruciating pain, and Jack was crying and I couldn't make him stop.  Some angel nurse came and took him away and magically put him to sleep. Her witchcraft was a godsend

Oh, you might be wondering, "If your birth photographer had to fly out a day before you gave birth, who took all these photos?"  Well, I set up my settings on my camera, handed it to my Doula, Kristina, and between all her amazing Doula support she also pulled double duty as my photographer.  Dang.  

Anyway, that's pretty much that.  We didn't finalize Jack's name until we were basically heading out the door.  We had his first name picked out shortly after he was born but could not for the life of us pick his middle name.  We were vacillating between Tiberius and Gabel (Star Trek and Against Me! fans may recognize those names) but Dan threw out Polaris at the last minute and it just fit perfectly.

Jack Polaris Morrow it is.  

What I Wore: Erryday mommin'

I wear some iteration of this outfit pretty much on the daily.  Black jeans, black graphic vintage tee, these boots, probably a cardigan because summers in Alaska, and my diaper bag backpack.  I legit don't even own any jeans that aren't black any more.  I just want a wardrobe that is almost to the point that I could be blindfolded, grab a shirt and pants and they'd go together just fine.  Cuz sometimes that's what getting dressed feels like these days.

I dyed my tips purple a few weeks ago and just have let them fade and for a sec I didn't like it, but now I love it.  I have black hair dye in the pipes, but I'm enjoying the way this purple is fading for now, so it stays.  Once I dye it black, I'll probably trim it up a bit too because my ends are feeling sad.  Thankfully I think my postpartum-hair-loss-mass-exodus-of-hair-falling-out has come to an end, or is at least slowing down, so I'm feeling a little less frustrated with my hair situation.  Being a new mom is all, "oh hai, I noticed that you're feeling not so hot about your physical appearance, and also are stressed out and sleep deprived, how bout I make all ur hair fall out too?  K, cool."  Like throw a dog a bone here, yo!  I was at least prepared for it, since I had it happen when I went off the pill like 4 years ago, but it still sucks.  

I do miss doing outfit pics some days.  And having fun putting together outfits.  These days I feel so busy with a bajillion things that being able to put together a cute outfit feels like a luxury.  I like my more casual style nowadays, and I don't think I'll go back to my vintage-y modcloth-esque style ever again, but sometimes I walk through the mall and see cute clothes I'd like to buy to create an outfit with and I just pass it by.  

Shoes: c/o Cat Footwear | Jeans: H&M | Cardigan: c/o Modcloth | Hat + Glasses: c/o Moorea Seal
Baby Backpack + Changing Pad: Fawn + Cub
Necklace: Mojave Moon | Shirt: Vintage via American Archive

Painted Carrera Marble Countertop DIY

When we were trying to decide what to do with our counters for our kitchen renovation, we knew we didn't want to spend a ton of money.  First, we live in basically a little mother-in-law apartment above the garage of my parent's house, so it's not a fancy joint or anything. We didn't want to put real marble in or anything, and even faux marble was pretty spendy, so we figured we'd try painting the existing formica countertops and if it turned out awful, then we'd rip them out and just shell out for new, faux marble formica counters.  After stalking Pinterest for a bit and looking at various countertop painting DIYs I decided on using Giani's Faux Granite DIY countertop paint in White Diamond to create a faux marble look.

The kit comes with a black primer, a pearl mica paint, two cans of white limestone paint, a metallic gold paint which I didn't use, and a clear top coat.  I would recommend buying two extra white limestone cans if you're going to use the kit to make a white marble look.  I didn't and I ended up just using some regular paint to finish it off (I had a time crunch and couldn't wait for more white limestone to ship) and it worked fine I think, but I wouldn't recommend doing that.  The paint in the kit is more of an enamel type paint (I had a really hard time getting it off my fingernails, whereas the regular paint scrubbed right off), so I think it probably hardens and sticks better.

You start by rolling the black primer on to a very well cleaned counter.  My counter had a little bit of texture to it so I didn't really sand the existing counters first, but if your counter is super shiny and slick, it'd be a good idea to give it some texture with some sand paper before putting down the primer.  I just did one coat and then touched up a couple spots where it was a little thin.

Next, you start layering on the paint.  The kit comes with a sponge you can cut into pieces to sponge on the paint.  I started with the pearl mica.  I started creating the flow of my veining from the beginning, doing a kind of diagonal veining pattern.  After the pearl mica I started the white limestone layers and then you basically do as many layers of the white limestone as you want to achieve the lightness of marble you want.  I think I did about 4, maybe 5 layers. I sort of got lost in a haze of sponging and didn't keep track after like 3 layers.

To do the veining, mix a little of the black primer with the white limestone and use a small brush.  Keep some white limestone handy with your sponge to go over top the veining if you don't like the vein you put in, and also to fade them a bit so they blend.  I google searched for marble slabs and found one that I used as a reference for my veining look.  

The top coat gets rolled on and goes on in 2-3 layers.  You don't want to put anything heavy on the counter for a couple days and it cures fully in 2 weeks.  In terms of durability, it's not the greatest (that being said, I didn't use only the countertop paint, I did those top couple layers of white with non-countertop paint, so I'm not sure about what the durability would be if I only used the kit).  I can tell that if I scratched it with something hard or metal, it'd probably put a gouge in the paint. We had an electrician come in to fix our outlets and he totally scratched through the paint somehow (I think he leaned against the counter with like tools on his belt or something), so that was a bummer, and it does stain if you're not careful.  We have an espresso machine and over by that we already have a couple small yellow-ish coffee stains.  I bet wine and certain spices would also stain it.  We use our butcher block island for most food prep stuff that might be staining.

If you're looking for a stop-gap that's a cheap (but a bit time-consuming) way to get the look you want until you can afford getting real marble (or real faux marble) counters, this is definitely a way to do it.  If you're super rough on your counters, this might not be a great solution.  It'll work for us for the time being though!  You can wipe them down easily, they just recommend not using any harsh chemicals and not scrubbing super hard.

I used one whole kit (plus 2 extra white limestone cans) and we have about 15 feet of counters.  Here's what she looks like before.  Kind of dingy, off-white, ivory:

And after!  Crisp, white, and fresh!:

Five Months

I haven't been hit with mom-brain too hard, but this photo session got hit with some hard mom-brain.  I did the entire shoot with the letterboard saying "four months old" and didn't realize it until I was telling my mom later that day that I had done his five month photos and was like, "WAIT..." looked at the sign and did a full on facepalm.  Cue the photo re-do.

At 5 months Jack is army crawling, started eating some solid foods (his face when I feed him is preeetty hilarious), and he's all around a pretty happy baby.  Some days he doesn't nap as much as others and I think I might go insane, but all in all I think we're doing okay.  Motherhood still doesn't feel much like a shiny sea of glowy bright feelings, and a lot of the time I miss the freedom of just being able to do basic shit without having to stop every 2 minutes to manage an infant, but we're getting used to the new life, even if there are some growing pains and crying sessions (for both of us).

The Sexually Liberated Mother's Day Gift Guide

Happy Mother's Day!  No seriously HAPPY mother's day.  Mother's Day usually gets boiled down to some decent flowers, brunch, and a quickly scrawled card, and, well, I think we think of moms in a very mom-y way.  But listen y'all, let's not forget how moms became moms in the first place. This is a mother's day gift guide of a different sort.  I think being a mom is great, and celebrating all the mom-y mom things is nice, but sex is an area of a mom's life where she can shed all of that.  She doesn't have to think about cutting crust off of sandwiches, or changing diapers, or her son's algebra grades in the bedroom.  And hey, did you know that (conveniently) May is also Masturbation Month? So this gift guide is celebrating mom sex life.  Yeah, it looks a helluva lot different now, doesn't it ladies?  Postpartum sex is like a whole 'nother thing, and so sexual self care has been very important to me, especially since my healing process took for-ev-er. It's so worth cultivating a healthy and pleasurable sex life, so here is my NSFW Mother's Day gift guide.  Have fun, mamas!

1. Chakrubs Sex Toy
Chakrubs are sex toys made from pure natural crystals.  To be honest, walking into a sex shop and being confronted with a veritable cornucopia of differently shaped dildos and toys that do all sorts of fancy things to get you off is intimidating and overwhelming.  When I came across Chakrubs I loved the simplicity of the design, and that they're created from something natural, not plastic or rubber or silicone.  While I'm all for a good vibrator or what have you, I much prefer the simplicity of the Chakrubs.

2. Insane Stimulating Personal Moisturizer
I've never been very into lube, but it's super recommended to postpartum mamas due to the low personal lubricant production caused by the drop in hormones after giving birth.  So I've been looking around for something a little more fun than your standard lube and have seen some good reviews on this!  I think I'll try a sample before splurging on the full bottle, but they've got tons of sample packs to try, so that could be a fun activity!  Test all the lubezzzz.

3. Herbivore Jasmine Body Oil
I believe that sensuality is a holistic pursuit and that means treating your body with love, even if you aren't actively pursuing a climax.  A delicious body oil like Herbivore's Jasmine body oil can be a lovely way to love on your body by slowly rubbing it into your skin post-shower, or you can have your partner give you some foreplay action by using it as a luxurious massage oil.

4. Unbound Box Subscription
I will be the first to admit that I kind of hate subscription boxes.  Not because I dislike the concept or the products that are in them, mostly because I feel like a lot of the time I'm ending up getting stuff I don't need sent to me every month.  Like, I like makeup, but am I really going to go through enough make up that I need a box full of new products every month?  The thought of all the *stuff* cluttering up my house stresses me out.  But when I heard about these Unbound Boxes, I was intrigued.  Not only are they not monthly, they're quarterly, but I can totally get behind getting new fun lubes, toys, and other sexy goodies to try.  Plus, I'm pretty sure that with the subscription only coming quarterly, I'd forget about it and then it'd be a very exciting surprise in the mail! 

5. She Comes First- The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
This book was recommended to me by a gal who does work in marriage and sex therapy years ago and I keep meaning to pick it up! Heck, you could save this one as a Father's Day gift as a gift to yourself disguised as a gift for him, muahahah.

6. Pleasure-Proof Lipstick
Having your lipstick get all over your face when you're making out with your lover is super lame.  But not getting to wear pretty lipstick out on dates is also lame.  When I first discovered LipSense I was skeptical, I was used to taking my lipstick and lip brush with me out on dates so I could run to the bathroom after a few drinks and re-apply.  But this stuff seriously does not budge.  So, yah, you can shove your face into that pillow as hard as you want, your lipstick won't ruin it anymore.

And if you're looking for some Sexual Liberation inspiration and guidance, head over to Sex Love Liberation, an amazing blog run by the gorgeous Ev'yan Whitney, and check out her podcast The Sexually Liberated Woman too! I hope you have a sensual Mother's Day, ladies! (even if you're not a mom!).  You can have brunch too.  Brunch is totally foreplay.

Life Lately

Life has been pretty sweet lately.  I've felt really positive and like I'm getting into a decent groove with being a mom.  Things have come into my life that have helped me reconnect with my creativity and boss-bitch vibes, which just feels so nice after having to throw myself 110% into mom-ness the first few months of Jack's life.  Being a mom on my own terms is super important to me, and being able to feed the parts of me that bring me alive feels like the best way for me to be the best mom possible.  

Obsessed with: LipSense. For reals guys. And for so many reasons. The obvious one being that this shit does. not. budge.  Which is so wonderful as a mom of a tiny human who really enjoys swiping his paws at my face.  And getting to kiss him and my husband without getting lipstick on them.  But after starting my lipstick biz I've had the most wonderful excuse to put makeup on and feel pretty again.  And get to do something for myself every day.  And be surrounded by the most positive and encouraging group of women.  It's the most wonderful thing.  I don't think I ever could've predicted that I would've started selling lipstick 3 months after having a kid (super random!) but it's like one of the best things in my life these days. Plus, I get to have the best group of girlbosses on my team and I love love love being able to support them and encourage them in their businesses.  (seriously, best team of gals ever.  If you want to find out more about being on my team, let's chat!!)

Getting excited for: a quick trip to Tacoma! I'll be heading down mid-May to shoot an Elopement. I'm only in town for a week, but I'm sure it'll be packed full!  Jack is coming with me so it'll be fun for my Tacoma friends to be able to see how much he's grown since we were in town in February when he was only 2 months old.  He'll be 5 months by the time we're there!  He's scooting around so I'm sure by then he'll either be close to crawling, or crawling!  Crazy how fast they grow!
I'm also doing an afternoon of Boudoir mini sessions while I'm in Tacoma again!  I loved my last boudoir mini session afternoon while I was in town so I'm really excited to do it again! I've got a gorgeous white brick studio for the sessions this time, which is going to be such a beautiful backdrop.  If any of you guys are local to the Seattle/Tacoma area and want to do a Boudoir session, shoot me an email

Listening to: lots of Patsy Cline.  A long time ago someone mentioned I had a similar voice to hers and lately I've been doing a bit more singing and it's always so nice when you sing songs by someone whose voice has a similar range and tone.  Plus, I just love those old-timey country songs.  Dolly Parton, Nancy Sinatra, Loretta Lynn, June Carter, they're all so good. 

Super thankful for: finally being healed from Jack's birth.  Like holy moly that took way longer than it was supposed to.  Of course, having never given birth before or recovered from delivery I had no point of reference for how long things were supposed to take to heal.  I ended up having to go in to the OR to get my scar cut and re-stitched, which was a bit traumatic as I had gone in to the doctor that morning for a checkup and ended up staying all day and getting into the OR later that day, so needless to say I was not mentally or emotionally prepared for going into an OR, even though it was a super minor procedure.  But I already feel 500% better than before the scar revision.  There are so many things I will never take for granted ever again (tmi warning: hello not being afraid to pee!).

Changed: my hair color!  I've wanted to go grey for ages, but right now an expensive salon visit isn't in the cards since we're saving money for our eventual move back to the PNW.  So instead I decided to do something I could DIY.  So: purple it is!  I can only go so long without dying my hair fun colors.  My hair is super shitty right now with postpartum hormones wreaking havoc on it. Greasy, limp, crazy dandruffy, and falling out by the handful.  Super lame, but having it be a fun color is a nice consolation!

Happy about: having my parents in town.  Right before Jack was born my brother went into the hospital in Oregon where he lives and the next few months were full of trips to the hospital, him coming up here for the holidays and to see his doctors here in Anchorage, my parents taking him back down to Oregon and going to doctor appointments down there, and then them coming back and forth a few times.  They've been back in town for about a month solid now and it's so nice to have them, not only to help with Jack, but just to have other humans around.  Because they live right next door to us, I can go visit with them while Dan is at work during the day.  It's nice to know that I can hang with them or invite my mom to go on an adventure to Target. Just silly little things.

Reading: I started watching Thirteen Reasons Why and then realized I bought the book a couple months ago, so I stopped watching so I could read the book first. I also downloaded the free copy of Girl Code from Amazon and am excited for some girl power reading material! Also, I'm watching The Handmaid's Tale (talk about a super heavy show) and really wanting to read that now too! Such great shows based on books!

Alaskan Maternity Shoot

Back in December I was 39 weeks pregnant and got together with Catie Bartlett on a chilly 15 º day to take some maternity photos before my little buddy arrived.  At this time I thought his arrival was nigh, but I'd have to wait over 2 weeks before I got to meet him.  In case you were wondering, it only takes about 10 seconds of standing barefoot in the snow before your feet go completely numb.  ANYTHING FOR ART!!  Between outfits we thawed out in the car with the heat blasting, haha. 

I had made the quartz crown and bought the huge yardage of black sheer fabric for a burlesque routine I had planned on doing in June of 2016, but found out I was pregnant around the time I had started planning the act and decided to postpone completing the act until later.  I'm glad I brought these two pieces up to Alaska (I put all my other burlesque costuming in storage) because they had just the witchy-mother vibes I wanted for this shoot!

If I'm being completely honest, these pictures are super weird to look at.  And actually, now that I've given birth, pretty much all pictures of pregnant women freak me out a little. Which is weird because, like, shouldn't it be the opposite?  But I feel like now that Jack is out of me and I see him, it's even weirder that he was once inside me.  I know some people see pregnant women as beautiful and glowing, but it currently totally weirds me out to see pregnant bellies. #realtalk

DIY Diaper Wipe Spray

When we decided to go with cloth diapers, at first the thought of doing cloth wipes as well wasn't something I even considered.  I don't even think I thought that was a thing.  Then at our baby shower a friend who had a new baby was changing her and used a reusable cloth and wipe spray and my mind was blown.  

There are lots of reasons to forego using regular disposable wipes: nasty chemicals and fragrances, the wastefulness of the packaging and throwing away the wipes themselves.  But what really got me was just the cost effectiveness of creating my own wipe spray and using cloth wipes.  

We've been using this method since Jack was born and I really really love it.  The wipes just go in the wash along with the cloth diapers, and I've gone through maybe 4 or 5 batches of this recipe so far.  It's super quick to make and I make two at a time so I can have a spare one to take in my diaper bag for when we're on the go.

DIY Baby Wipe Spray

  • 2 TBSP Aloe Vera (liquid. we use this stuff)
  • 2 tsp oil (jojoba, hemp, avocado, etc)
  • 1.5 tsp liquid castile soap
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • ~4 TBSP water
    (yields 4 oz)

1. Add all ingredients (except water) to a 4 oz dark glass spray bottle.

2. Add water, just enough to fill the bottle to the top (leave enough room for the displacement of the spray tube). Swirl gently to mix.

3. Before each use, invert or gently swirl to combine ingredients.  Spray directly onto baby's skin or on the wipe itself (I find the former works best for us).

Four Months

Four month old Jack is quite the morning person.  He's super happy in the mornings right after waking up.  I plop him in his crib where I've made a makeshift play gym and he coos and plays for a good hour or so, which is so nice while I brush my teeth, make coffee and breakfast, and chill on the chair in his nursery reading news, catching up on social media, or checking emails.

Our new family photos

final morrow family-0071.jpg

A couple months ago AlisaMarie of Sons & Daughters Photography came over to our little apartment and captured our new family.  I don't even remember how old Jack was here, I think it was in February, so probably 2 months-ish.  It's crazy how much he's grown in just those short months since we did this session!  Today he actually turns 4 months old!  He's smiling and giggling and holding toys, all of which sounds super boring before you have a kid, but it's pretty amazing to see those tiny milestones happening in these first months of life.  He wants to crawl, but he's not quite there yet.  I'll be enjoying these last weeks or months of having a stationary child before he starts cruising around.

I had a hard time culling these down, so here are a bunch of photos from our session!

Learning to love beauty

Growing up I was a serious tomboy.  I thought girls were lame, hated pink, and preferred getting dirty with the boys. By the time puberty was on my doorstep, deep down I wanted to feel pretty, but for whatever reason I felt like wanting to be and feel pretty was a bad thing.  Frivolous. High Maintenance. Silly. I wanted my hair to look cute (oh what a struggle with my big, fluffy, untamable curls). I wanted to wear makeup and feel fancy, but I also was afraid that if I wore makeup it would mean that if a boy liked me, he wasn't liking me for ME, but for the made-up version of me. I wanted to wear cute outfits, but they never felt quite right on me, so I stuck to tee shirts, jeans, and skater shoes all through high school.

It wasn't until college that I was able to slough off all that weird baggage and start to enjoy expressing myself visually.  I fell in love with Amy Winehouse and rocked giant winged eyeliner and beehive hair.  I had a David Lee Roth Phase and teased my hair out and wore shiny spandex to class. Playing around with hair, makeup, and style became fun.

Growing up in a church I got the message that if I wore a bunch of makeup, dyed my hair crazy colors, got tattoos, or even dressed a certain way, that I was rejecting the body that God perfectly designed for me.  Along the way I realized that inside the body God made for me, he made a brain for me too and that brain is creative and independent and that I have ownership of my body and I get to decide what I want to do with it.  While I don't ascribe to organized religion anymore, sometimes I still feel like certain parts of traditional femininity (having fun with makeup, wanting to feel beautiful, etc) are frivolous and not worth pursuing.  I have a lingering sense of shame when I put on fancy-ish makeup (i.e. more than just fixing yesterday's smudged eyeliner) for a day where I'm probably not going to leave the house. The inner monologue tells me that it's silly to want to feel pretty for myself, and the underlying message there is that my beauty is only for other people's enjoyment. 

And that's bullshit.  My beauty is for my enjoyment.  I have to live in this body every day for the rest of my life so I can damn well enjoy the hell out of it while I can. I can put on fake lashes when all I'm doing all day is going to the grocery store to pick up toilet paper.  I can dye my hair green and get a full sleeve of tattoos. And I don't care anymore what other people think is acceptably beautiful because they don't have to look in the mirror and see my face, my body every day.  I do. I don't care if some men think women who have lots of tattoos are gross.  I think they are beautiful.  I don't care if people are put off by crazy colored hair.  I think it's fun and pretty.  

No one else gets to infiltrate my mind with expectations of how I should look or be. No one gets to tell me feeling beautiful is frivolous and that things that are traditionally feminine are less valuable than traditionally masculine things.  I'm so over the insidious misogynistic messages that tell women that things they like are stupid or petty. Put the makeup on. Do your hair. Wear the outfit. And then go out and run the world-- whether that's your family, your business, your schoolwork, your hobbies, your relationships. Whatever. Don't let anyone tell you you can't. #whoruntheworld #girls

Three Months

I'm slacking, cuz we're already 2 weeks past the day I took these photos, but here's my little 3 month old babe!  He's pretty damn cute.  These days he is smiling and laughing, he can grab and hold onto things, and he's pretty in love with a rabbit stuffed animal friend.  He's trying to crawl and rather annoyed that he can't get it down.  He sleeps through the night some nights.  He's a fan of baths.  He sleeps in the car and is great during outings.

As for me, I went in for another postpartum check up because at my 6 week check up things still weren't healing, so we did some silver nitrate cauterizing to see if that jump started the healing.  Unfortunately it did, but not enough, so when I went in for my follow up checkup, it was decided I needed to go into the OR that day and get the scar revised and re-stitched.  Oooof.  That sucked.  The thought of re-starting the healing process was so overwhelming.  There were tears shed.  But, a week later and it has felt better this whole time than it did at any point since giving birth, so I'm feeling super optimistic about it healing properly this time around.  I go in for my follow up appointment on Tuesday, so we'll see what the doc says then!

top: carters | pants: h&m | hat: carhartt

Family (Friends) Values

If you've been reading my recent posts you've probably caught on to our deliberations about where to move next.  For the time being we're living in Anchorage with my parents, but are planning on moving in the next year.  I ran across this article the other day and it echoed and clarified a lot of thoughts I've had while mulling our move about in my mind.  It's a quick, short read so hop over and read it real fast.  I'll wait.

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In some ways it can feel a little depressing to think about how short life is and the limited time we have here on earth. But it also makes you really evaluate how you're spending your life.  We moved up to Anchorage for two pretty major reasons, 1. my healthcare, and 2. to be close to my family for their support.  We didn't know if we'd end up loving Anchorage and find a niche here, but it turns out we haven't and Anchorage doesn't feel like a great fit for our family.  But one of the big reasons is that we really miss our community in Tacoma.  Even though the grey, dim, soggy winters make me stabby, our friends in Tacoma are just so amazing.  My life long best friend lives in Tacoma (after I convinced her to move out to the PNW when she graduated college), and even this hermit introvert realized after leaving how many people I truly had connected with in my 5 years living there.  

Now, I know if we decided to plant roots here in Anchorage I could absolutely build a community here. But my parents are considering a move down to Portland (again, to be closer to family-- my two brothers live there), and if we moved back to Tacoma, that's only a couple hours away.

Anyway, all of that to say, all of these thoughts had been mulling about in my mind about what we should do, where we should move, and reading that article just condensed those thoughts into a very clear, succinct picture of why certain things really matter.  Because we aren't going to have forever with our best friends, parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.  Because proximity matters.  

So for now we're here in Alaska, but I think our time in the great north is coming to a close.  I always took pride in being an Alaskan girl, but while my roots are Alaskan, I've realized that I bloomed in the Pacific Northwest. And for my whole life I thought, having been raised in Alaska, that I'd want my kids raised in Alaska.  But that's not really important to me anymore.  I know how I want to raise my kid(s) and it doesn't have to be in Alaska.  

All that being said, this place is heartbreakingly stunning.  Having grown up here I think I'm blind to it in some ways, but films like this remind me of the utter magnificence and meaningfulness of the beauty of the landscape around me. And imagery like this isn't unusual.  I'm stunned on a daily basis by the colors of a sunrise (which I see so regularly now, nursing Jack in the wee hours of the morning), the hoarfrost on naked trees, the sunlight illuminating the mountain range on the borders of town.  It really is something else to be surrounded by natural beauty of this magnitude on a daily basis.

Eating Plants/Animals

Somewhat, seemingly, randomly, food has become a pretty forefront subject in my life.  Lots of things converging all at once, urging me towards a deeper thinking on food.  I feel like there are ebbs and flows in my life when it comes to considering eating habits.  I was quite conscious of it back when we were members of a CSA in Tacoma.  Then again, when we did Whole30.  Recently there have been various things that have all come into my life regarding food.  I got Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.  Dan mentioned wanting to pursue a vegetarian lifestyle. My good friend recommended the Jeong Kwan episode of Chef's Table on Netflix.  And I'm super conscious of what I'm eating right now because I'm breastfeeding and trying to increase my milk supply so that I, in turn, can nourish our son. 

Living in Alaska actually triggered a return to lazy, lax thinking and acting in regards to food.  For one thing, Alaska isn't the mecca for community supported agriculture or small, organic farms in the same way that Western Washington was.  While there are some prolific farms in Alaska during our short summer, winters are a bit of a food wasteland in terms of local, organic, sustainable produce.  And really, to live sustainably, regarding foods, in Alaska means eating in the way the native peoples of Alaska do.  Lots of hunting, foraging, and fishing.  And lots of storing up for winter.  The produce here is expensive and goes bad quickly.  It comes from thousands of miles away.

There's also the psychological issues, for me at least, that come with living back in the house I grew up in, and feeling the pull back to eating how I used to eat growing up.  And we obviously eat with my parents relatively frequently, at least once a week, and while my mom has occasionally wanted to shift towards a vegetarian lifestyle, it's hard to make that shift when not everyone in the household feels the same way, and you're the one who does most of the cooking.

So, there's the table with the cards, so to speak.  But despite the barriers, having the support of my partner in pursuing a vegetarian, and maybe vegan, lifestyle is so crucial.  In one way, it's just a nice accountability.  Having someone else helping you remember the choice you made, and supporting one another to continue making that choice daily.

I know a lot of meat eaters find vegetarians annoying.  I've been an omnivore almost my whole life, and even wrote an article for my college newspaper opinion column about how vegetarians aren't more compassionate than meat eaters after a friend posted a status stating as much.  But here's the deal.  I was defensive because, well, she was right. Every day I eat meat I choose to be an active participant in cruelty to animals.  And as someone who loves animals, some with a fierceness I didn't know possible (I'm looking at you Dusty, goddamnit), that choice to eat animals came with a lot of purposeful forgetting.  Forgetting the origins of the slab of meat on my plate.  Forgetting the intelligence and sentience of the creature whose torture and slaughter I invested in when I made that meat purchase as the supermarket.  

I've come to realize that one reason I've avoided confronting the issue of vegetarian vs. omnivore is that once I open the door to vegetarianism, it asks me to confront other lifestyle choices.  If I'm committed to changing my diet for ethical/moral reasoning to do with animal welfare, then I also must address the issues regarding human welfare in the clothing manufacturing industry.  If I'm committed to changing my diet for sustainability/environmental reasons, I also must confront the issues of fast fashion's contribution to pollution.  If you've been around the blog for a while you remember my commitment to buying only secondhand, vintage, or ethically/sustainably manufactured clothing that I made a few years back.  I've been pretty good about it until recently, mostly with buying clothes for Jack.  Damn you, Target, and your cute baby clothes.  It's hard when you're excited about your kid and want to get him all the cute things.  You push out of your mind that commitment you made.  And with myself, I don't buy a lot of clothes anymore since I'm not a fashion blogger like I used to be, posting outfits daily.  My wardrobe is a fraction of what it used to be back in my heyday of style blogging (and a lot of it is in storage in Washington right now, since I couldn't fit into much of it being pregnant last year).  But I recently shopped at Forever21 and H&M and I'd be lying if I didn't feel the twinge of guilt knowing that I was fulfilling a selfish desire for some new, postpartum clothes on the backs of the people who were exploited to make those clothes. 

So really, for me, it's a bigger commitment than just not picking up meat at the grocery store or restaurant anymore.  It's a question that cuts through the bullshit of doublethink and willful ignorance and forces me to confront the things I engage in everyday and how those actions affect my world.  The world I live in, and the world I will have to one day hand down to my son.  And beyond that, it's modeling the values that I want to pass on to my son as well.  Valuing other humans, animals, and the planet more than my own selfish desires and appetites.  

Life Lately

Years ago I used to do regular "life lately" blog posts.  Just little posts sharing some little things I'm currently thinking/doing/into/etc.  I've been taking more random photos lately, so instead of sharing them with no words, I thought I'd start doing "life lately" posts again.

Watching: This Is Us. After finishing Parenthood, I was on the lookout for a feel-good family tv show, and This Is Us delivered.  Also, it's great if you need the occasional cry.  Jack, the father in the show, reminds me a lot of Dan, so it gets extra emotional at times.  It's wonderful to see Mandy Moore again, too.  I won't lie, I loved A Walk to Remember.  I'm a little envious of her gorgeous hair in the show, too.  If you want a show with happy feels, I recommend.

Reading: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd + Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I just finished the former and it was a wonderful book.  It was recommended my many and definitely lived up to the praise it received.  
I got three Jonathan Safran Foer books, Eating Animals being one of them.  Since I finished my last novel, I'll probably pick up one of the novels I have of his and read it at the same time.  I watched the Everything is Illuminated movie many years ago in college so perhaps I'll read that one first.  But anyway, back to Eating Animals.  I've wanted to, for some time, change my lifestyle to a non-animal-eating diet.  It's always difficult, despite believing 100% that it's ethically and morally right, healthy for my body, and ecologically sustainable.  And since there are practically no places up here in Anchorage to access more sustainably produced animal protein, as opposed to in Washington state, eating animals has been even more problematic.  Jonathan Safran Foer's impetus for writing his book, Eating Animals, was the birth of his son and the responsibility that comes with parenthood, which is a place that Dan and I are in as well.  Dan came home from the grocery store the other day and announced that he'd like to eat a vegetarian diet, and I immediately grabbed Eating Animals off the shelf and started delving in.  
While my book reading resolution was focused on fiction, I'm looking forward to getting further into Eating Animals, and reading some of his fiction work simultaneously.

Thinking About: Getting back in shape.  While I'm certainly the flabbiest, and heaviest, I've ever been (not counting that time I had another person inside me), I mostly just miss feeling strong.  I feel very weak and out of shape.  My body feels like my muscles are atrophied and I really want to get back to some semblance of fitness.  My dream would be to join a Crossfit gym as I've wanted to do Crossfit for years, but $175/month for a membership to the local gym is just out of our budget right now.  I love going to a gym so I might join the Planet Fitness gym that is literally across the street from us, which would make it easy to get out of the house for an hour while Jack is watched by Dan or my parents.  I still have my Kayla Itsines workout PDF so I might try to work through that for now.  

Wanting to: Take more candid life photos.  Now that Jack is a part of our family, documenting little daily moments feels more important.  I've been trying to keep my big DSLR around to capture little moments with Jack.  I've been posting them here, but ultimately I'd like to cull them down to create an annual photo album.  I always adored flipping through my old family albums, seeing my parents when they were young, and remembering fun times from my childhood.  I've been very bad at printing photos, mostly because I was pouring so many images into my blog.  But I feel like it's important to capture the little moments, especially right now when Jack's development is blazing so fast and he's growing bigger every single day.

Missing: My family.  Mom and Dad, who live next door to us, have been gone since, basically, mid-January.  First, they were down in Portland getting my brother settled back into his home after he went to the hospital and was dealing with some medical problems. Then they came back, but we almost immediately left for Tacoma for a week.  Then they left for Hawaii the day before we came back from Tacoma.  They'll be gone for another week at least, though my brother is back in the hospital in Portland again, so they could cut their Hawaii trip short and head back to Portland to be with my brother.  It's hard being far away from family, especially when there are medical problems happening.  I'm used to being able to go to the hospital and us all being together to support each other.  Thankfully my other brother lives in Portland, and we have lifelong family friends who are basically family who are also in Portland, so he's not alone.  In the meantime, it's awfully lonely up here with no family around.

Two Months

This weekend has been so wonderful.  I always like the weekends because, even though I'm at home all day, erryday, having Dan home all day with us feels like such a treat.  Mister Jack turned 2 months old this weekend and it's so crazy to see how much bigger he is, and how expressive he is compared with just a few weeks ago.

I've had a renewed interest in capturing candid life with my "big" camera.  I think since I got a 35mm lens, capturing lifestyle stuff has been more enjoyable.  It's definitely a lifestyle/candid-friendly lens and I love taking pictures with it.  I feel like I'm out of the survival-mode period of new-mom-ness, so feeling like I have time and energy to be creative is really nice.

The boys are back in town

Well, the boys and me.  This past week we flew down to Tacoma, where I was shooting a good friend's wedding.  Jack went on his first plane trip (and the nice Alaska Airlines flight attendant gave him his wings!), met his great grandma, and was introduced to all our friends in Tacoma.  It was so wonderful to be back in a city where we feel so loved.  

We are at a crossroads thinking about where we will find ourselves, geographically, this time next year.  We don't really want to stay in Anchorage, even though it's affordable for us, and Jack + I get great healthcare, and my parents are here.  I guess when I put it that way it sounds pretty stupid to leave.  Anchorage just doesn't feel like the right spot for us.  So we're at a crossroads, trying to figure out where to plant our little family.

In the meantime we are back home in our little Alaskan apartment, staying cozy while the snow falls outside our windows.  I snapped these shots of Dan and Jack at our Airbnb in Tacoma last week.  These two dudes are my fav.

Cloth Diapering with Flip Diapers

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I knew long before I got pregnant that I wanted to use cloth diapers.  Other than the cost of purchasing disposable diapers every month, I was also concerned about the environmental impact of billions of disposable diapers filling landfills. Since babies typically use 6-8 diapers a day, that puts the number of diapers used before potty training in the thousands. Add in the disposable wipes and that's a luot of trash. Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest consumer item in landfills.  7.6 billion pounds of trash per year. I felt gross throwing away my money on disposable diapers, but more gross about how much trash we'd be producing. We had to use disposable diapers for a couple weeks when Jack was first born because he was too small for the cloth diapers, and I was amazed how quickly our trash can filled up with diapers. 

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After doing a little bit of internet research I settled on Flip cloth diapers. Basically, you get the diaper covers (the colorful exterior shells), and then put the absorbent insert inside and snap the cover on, similar to a disposable diaper. After using disposable diapers for a couple weeks I was afraid I might get too used to the ease of disposable, but found that that was largely just a mindset. Cloth diapers aren't any harder to change, the only part that is a bit more labor intensive is laundry. More on that in a bit. 

I also went for cloth wipes as well. Again, same reasons, cost and waste. I also make my own spray to spritz on his bum to clean him up. Not only does it save money but I don't have to worry about weird chemicals being in the wipes. 

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Here's my little diaper station. Inserts up top, diaper covers on the left, then my wipe stuff in the white bin- cloth wipes, spray, and diaper rash cream. I also have a little trash can to the right that is my diaper "hamper."  It had a lid and a step opener so it keeps at smell in and I can open it with my foot to toss the dirty diaper in.  I bought a couple wet bags to use for storing dirty diapers in my diaper bag when I'm out and about (one of them is the polka dot bag hanging from my diaper station above, which I put dirty wipes in).

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When Jack has a bit of rash starting we use Angel Baby Bottom Balm to soothe it. Also au naturale, which makes me happy.  

In terms of laundry, I do a small load every 1-2 days, which is a lot more often than I used to do laundry, but it hasn't felt overwhelming. I know some people shy away from cloth diapering because they don't have a washer/dryer in their home, or are worried about water/electricity usage. There are some awesome options for small, portable washers that use only a couple gallons of water per load and are the perfect size for washing diapers. There are also centrifugal spin dryers that are small, and both are pretty affordable! The diaper covers must be hung dry anyway. 

I really love cloth diapering.  The only limitation I can see so far is travel.  We'll be traveling next month and I'll do disposable diapers while we're out of town.  Since we won't have a washer/dryer and will be gone for a week, there's not really any way to clean the diapers.  Other than that, I'm super happy with our decision to go with cloth diapers.  We have 17 Flip diaper covers, 18 newborn cloth diaper inserts, and 6 one-size cloth diaper inserts.  We're only using the newborn inserts for now, so I'll probably end up getting more of the one-size inserts once he's grown into those.  But our set up right now works great!  I'd definitely recommend cloth diapering.  It was a few hundred dollars initially to get everything (I found some of my covers on craigslist, so if you're trying to find cloth diapers for less than they cost brand new, consider second hand stores or craigslist), but compared to the thousands I'd spend on disposable diapers and disposable wipes over the next couple years, it made sense to me to make the investment.  Plus, I can use these diapers for any future kids we may have!

Jack's Eclectic Nursery

Eclectic Nursery

Jack is 5 weeks old now, so it's about time I shared his nursery!  He actually spends very little time in here right now.  We've got a bassinet set up next to our bed, so he's sleeping in our room for the time being.

I didn't really have a theme in mind when I started working on his room.  I wanted it to be something I would like, since he's not going to remember the room decor anyway, and I'm really not into super gendered decor, so it ended up being a room that, if you take out the crib, could be an office or studio, just another room in the house.

I really love statement walls, and after using WallsNeedLove to do the wood statement wall in our old bedroom, I browsed their selection of wallpaper to see if anything struck my fancy for this room, and I fell in love with this graphic black and white print.  It may be a little crazy and non-traditional for a nursery, but I love it.

I DIY'd quite a few pieces in the room.  The hanging wall shelf is a DIY from my old office.  The succulent print and color spectrum prints I made by just stapling the prints to two pieces of lath and then attaching a string to hang each one from.  The succulent one is actually a photo which I printed as an engineering print at Staples.  The changing table/dresser is a cheap Target dresser with midcentury modern legs added from Pretty Pegs.  The "Be Kind And Brave" banner was made by cutting out letters from black fabric and iron-on backing, then attaching the letters to the white fabric by ironing them on.  Then, I cut a dowel a little longer than the width of the banner, made a channel for the dowel to go through at the top of the banner, and tied a string to the dowel to hang the banner from.  The bunting/prayer flags were DIY too.  Square fabric pieces attached to bias tape using iron on hem tape.  Easy peasy. A fun little artsy DIY was the embroidered b+w photo (the one above the sailor print, next to the succulents).  I want to do more embroidering on photo prints!  This one was an easy starburst design in yellow embroidery thread.

I've had the 5-point paper star lamp since before our wedding. I got it as a possible wedding decoration but never ended up using it.  I've had it sitting around since then and never found a space to hang it until now!  My mom had the other star lamp and also didn't have anywhere to hang it.  We hung them both in the corner before Jack was born.  We hadn't decided on Jack's middle name until mere moments before checking out of the hospital and turning in his birth certificate form, when we finalized his middle name as Polaris.  Polaris is the north star, and is actually a multiple star with the  main star in orbit with a smaller star.  When we brought him home I realized I'd decorated his room with stars before his middle name was even thought of! 

Rug + Curtains + Diaper Cart: Ikea | Chair: Thrifted | Star Lamps: Ikea + Fireworks | Changing Table: Target + Pretty Pegs | Crib: Babyletto | White Shelf: Target via Craigslist | Metal Baskets + B+W basket: Target

Succulent Photo + Winnebago Print + Joshua Tree Photo + Chalkboard Word Bubble + Be Kind and Brave Banner: by me | Tacoma flag + Color Spectrum Print: Stocklist Goods | Pike Place Photo: Charcoal and Ash | Paint by Number: Thrifted | Gospel According to Tacoma Print: Beautiful Angle | I Love My Family print: Beauchamping

My reading resolution

Before Jack was born I received a gift from one of my mom's friends: a bunch of wonderful children's books along with The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  I started reading the handbook right away, mostly because the woman who gifted it to me spoke so highly of the book and the concepts in it, so I was intrigued.  I found the book fascinating and I was inspired to start reading more fiction.  I read relatively frequently, but the books I read are mostly non fiction or sort of self-help type books.  

I really want to read aloud to Jack, but in order to do that, I want to have books I've read and am familiar with to read to him.  I have plenty that I remember reading in grade school, but there were also lots that I remember not reading.  Classics and such.  Books that I was *supposed* to read for class but ended up procrastinating to the last minute and relying on spark notes to do my essays/assignments.  I read for pleasure, I guess, when I read self-help books (I mean, I like the content) but having the goal of self improvement doesn't really mean I'm reading for pure enjoyment.  

So, since it's the beginning of a new year, I decided to make a resolution to read more fiction for pure enjoyment.  We have a local used bookstore that is being sold soon and my mom has a ton of credit there from selling books to them, so I've been putting together a list of great books to buy there to use up her credit!  It's perfectly serendipitous that right when I decide to get a bunch of books to read, she's got this crazy huge credit she needs to use up in the next couple months!  

So far on my list I've got:

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Hatchet by Gary Paulson
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Dogsong by Gary Paulson
The Raven's Gift by Don J. Rearden
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Dream of Night by Heather Hensen
Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
Scorpions by Walter Dean Meyers
The Redwall series by Brian Jacques

I plowed through Wonder in about 2.5 days, so my next one to read is Where the Red Fern Grows.  A lot of these are young adult and children's books so they're pretty quick reads, but I want to read them so I can at least be familiar with the stories when Jack is old enough for me to read them to him.  

If you're curious about the effects of reading aloud on children's reading ability and education, I definitely suggest checking out The Read Aloud Handbook. The research is fascinating and I'm really inspired by the anecdotal evidence and Jim's passion as well.  Super super interesting stuff.

If you guys have great book suggestions (fiction only!), share your favorites with me in the comments!  I'm trying to read a lot of books that are more kid friendly just because I want to find some really awesome books to read to Jack when he's older, but I'll probably also want some books with more adult themes/complexity sprinkled in there too.  Let me know what your all time favorite fiction books are, or what you're reading now and loving!