Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Few Good Men

This Father's Day is bittersweet.  Super sweet because we're celebrating my sperm donor husband's very first Father's Day as the awesome daddy that he is. We planned a great day- correction: weekend, which he's proclaimed to be all his- to celebrate how incredible it's been watching him become a dad. At the same time, though, I can't help but think about how this is our first Father's Day without his dad, and I've been missing him so very much, as I know our whole family is. This must have been on my mind as I read through this, perhaps my fav Buzzfeed of all time, this morning.

While reading it, I was moved to tears at the goodness of humanity that is rarely on display like that anymore. With things like all the awful school shootings in the news these days, I have often found myself wondering what is wrong with humanity rather than what's right with it. This Buzzfeed was a great reminder that there is still so much good in this world, and that kindness and goodness is what really matters.  

Afterwards, my thoughts immediately drifted to my beloved father-in-law and how we are constantly reminded of what a good man he was. He is proof that kindness is really all that matters in the end. At his funeral,  the huge church was packed with people who have since shared the kindness he shared with them with us. The priest who knew him personally gave a most beautiful, memorable, on-point homily celebrating his life that so many people who attended the service have since commented on.  I can only hope that when my turn at this worldly life is through and I move on to the next level that I'll be remembered so fondly. 

One thing that always comes to mind when I think of the kind of man my father-in-law was is how he paid attention to and validated the big people and the little people alike. He took no interest in people who only acknowledged people who could do something for them, even when it was the popular route- that was something I remember Mike saying his dad taught him a long time ago.  As a devoted Catholic, he took communion to the sick. When I met him, he would go to the jail weekly as a volunteer to teach business to inmates nearing the end of their sentence and getting ready to be released so that they were well-equipped to succeed once they were back in the real world. In attendance at his funeral was the dry cleaner who he was a loyal patron to when he lived in Moco.  I recently went to the same dry cleaner to have Brody's heirloom baptismal gown restored, and he came out from behind the counter to hug me... just because I'm Don Barnes' daughter-in-law.  Around the same time, my sweet mother-in-law went to the dry cleaner Don more recently used over on the Eastern Shore.  When they pulled up the account and realized it was Don's and that she's his wife, they said how they love him and asked where he is. My precious mother-in-law apologized and told them that he'd recently passed away. They responded with immense sadness and told her how he was the only customer that would come in and really talk to them and truly take interest in their lives. That's because they weren't just the dry cleaners to him. They were people; his brothers and sisters. 

I know that these and many other memories that so many people have of Don are the legacy he left behind- the legacy of being good to one another.  Of all the worries that a mother has for their child, Brody being a good person isn't really one of them for me because I know who's blood he has pumping through his veins.  

There's a quote that I selected for a piece of art that's now displayed in Brody's nursery (I know, I know... I'm slacking on the nursery blog) that I think encompasses the legacy his Pop left behind:
"Remember when you go into the world to keep your eyes and ears wide open and be kind.  Love one another.  Take care of each other.  Tell the truth.  Always do your best.  Listen to the big people and the little people.  Explore new paths and have fun.  Know that you are loved like crazy.  Give thanks for all your blessings.  Above all else, love, and you will do wonderful things in this world."

Michael, Mimi, Kelly, Mary, Adam, Bob, Chris, and Justin- I love your guts and know that he's looking down and saying- as he always did- "I'm proud of you."

Happy Father's Day, especially to my love and my big brother on their first one.

I'm going to end a la Ellen Degeneres and say.... be kind to one another...

Mrs. [proud to be a] Barnes

ps- the Buzfeed link again because it's that good and worth the read

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day! Our little love is HERE!

We are so happy to announce the arrival of our little love bug!  Our sweet Cupid wanted to spread the love, so he debuted his modeling career in a li'l at-home Valentine's Day photo shoot….

I'm not familiar with Photoshop, so I messaged the shop owner who recommended I reach out to Sally from Sally Cavanaugh Photography who could put my .jpeg files into the template for me.  Sally was great to work with!  She also had them printed for me.  

Photo Props:

Cupid Bow and Arrow Set + felt wings from ImaginationCouture
I wanted less "fluffy" wings- she had the felt ones I got available for an additional $6.

"I love Mom Heart Tattoo Crochet Beanie" from NaomisDayDreams

We are loving this little man and getting acclimated to life as parents!


Mama Neely :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Sorry I've been MIA, return promised soon...

Happy 2014 to all!  I know.  I suck. And I'm sorry.  The end of 2013 could not have been any worse for our family, and it was only right that I disconnect and focus on what's really important during our time of battling disease which ultimately led to a great loss.  Mike and I were very excited to ring in 2014 to feel like we could really begin anew after two most difficult months of loss and mourning surrounding the holidays.  However, when that ball dropped, we were just reminded of our overwhelming sadness.  Hence, the reason for my neglect here… CANCER SUCKS!!! Anyway, enough of the pity party… I just wanted to quickly post to say Happy New Year and give a quick update, which I will follow soon with actual posts.

I'd planned on doing a lot of holiday posting, however the holidays were very different for us this year.  One thing that did not stop, though, is this growing belly of mine… I'm 37.5 weeks!  And the nursery is almost done! We've been busy with lots and lots of DIY projects to distract us. Can't wait to share our progress with you all, which I promise will come soon.

Brag alert!  Hate to boast but I can't lie, I was given the most incredible baby shower by some of the most lovely ladies in my world. I have no idea what I did to deserve everything they did, but man… it was…. just…. beyond.  Truly a special day that I will never ever forget.  I absolutely have to share their amazing work.  Again, coming soon… hoping maternity leave will allow me to get back into the swing of things here.

A bunch of our friends are off to Mexico today for a destination wedding we couldn't go to this close to Baby's arrival, but we are dreaming of warm weather in these frigid mid-atlantic temps, especially having had to cancel our babymoon with everything that was going on.  And so, I leave you with this, which is totally fitting….

Oh yeah, and who decides to take on a client and plan a wedding in 3 months that takes place when she's 9.5 months pregnant?  You guessed it: this girl.  So that's this weekend.  Last wedding before baby boy!  Hopefully I don't pitch my awesome, beautiful bride a baby down the aisle! Will be sharing this lovely, understated, "warm winter elegance" wedding with ya, as well...

Until next time, stay classy, San Diego ;)


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Vintage BrOdY Nursery: Bye Bye Beloved Dressing Room

So we are FINALLY making moves in starting Brody's nursery!  Step one (aka the hardest step of all) is closing up shop in the room that was my dressing room.  When Mike and I first bought our li'l love nest in our fav neighborhood right after we got married, we decided we would each get a room for ourselves instead of having extra bedrooms.  We thought for as often as we don't have out-of-town guests, when we do have them, we could put them in a still private area in the downstairs family room that has a comfy pull-out couch and adjacent bathroom all to themselves.  We figured we'd get a lot more daily use out of our own areas.  For Mike, that came in the form of an office in the spare room downstairs, and for moi, what other choice was there than to make the extra bedroom upstairs a closet?!

I know it's for a good cause (Brody Barnes, when you are old enough to read this, just remember who loves you more! Note: I also gave up my own en suite bathroom for your sweet cheeks!).  Nonetheless, it is so, SO hard to say goodbye!  In order to make this happen, we had to have 2 standard, builder grade (hanging rod with a shelf over) closets in the master bedrooms professionally redone.  We had a few companies come out and draw plans for us and ultimately went with Closets by Design.  It was by no means the more economical option (actually quite the opposite), but we figured this is something we are going to use everyday, and as I told Mike, this was investing in my sanity and thus our marriage (not that he needed convincing- I am totally the bargain hunter in this relationship)!  Annnnnd.... I hate it already.  Don't get me wrong, it's a great product.  But how was I ever going to love it going from an entire bedroom turned into a dressing room to a regular ol' closet?  This feels like poverty (I kid.. sort of).  I had to purge of LOTS of clothes, which was actually quite liberating for me, but I am still bursting at the seams with the new closet.  I'm sure it will be well worth it when we make more progress on the nursery.

Here are some pics of my beloved, to which I bid farewell:

The monogrammed parasol was from our wedding

My stuff included lots of handmade artifacts (like the silver frame here) made by one of my very talented besties, Athena (who is another one that I'm going to one day convince to at least have an Etsy shop), books, and some sweet greeting cards from amazing people that I couldn't bear to throw away.  They made me smile all the time and reminded me how lucky I am to have such awesome people in my life.  There's also little vintage touches that Athena and I scored from a day of antiquing like this old school iron.
The shelves housed my jewelry, and stuff to get ready like lotions, perfumes, etc., as well as more pics and books, gifts from friends (like the geisha doll from Okinawa), and more Athena artwork!  This piece with the awesome quote will actually be staying in Brody's nursery!
Think I'm going to stick with one curtain panel for B's nursery, and tie it back with something more masculine like a nautical rope; I used a sequin scarf on a sheer panel from Pier 1 here

Loved all the natural light from the window- I did my makeup right next to it in front of my wall o' mirrors ('cause I'm obvi the fairest of them all!) ;)

 used a towel rack to hang all my scarves from

Both clothes racks were from the Portis collection from Ikea.. score!

More pics and memorabilia from my Mardi Gras bachelorette party in Nola (and more fun cards from my sweets)

 wicker chair (pad here) for a little spot to sit (or throw clothes on while trying on!)
One of my favorite things was another sign made by Athena (she gave us all kinds of this goodness for our wedding and housewarming), hung next to my wedding shoes
mirror mirror on the wall, and a decorative hook from Pier 1 (similar here)

 Annnnd a lil peak inside the nursery (aka the silver lining)....

I didn't want a catalogue theme or anything too babyish.  I wanted decor on the masculine side that could grow with him.  I came up with just a "vintage boy" theme- not one thing in particular, but a mix of vintage sports stuff, aviation stuff, nautical stuff, toys, etc.   Here's some of what we have in the works to give you an idea!

Pinnochio puppet we picked up at a wood maker's shop in Greece this summer; vintage alarm clock; vintage model airplanes, red one here (these will be hung from the ceiling above the glider)

The inspiration for our dresser and changing table.  Det's on our ongoing DIY to come!

This vintagey crib is known as a Jenny Lind crib... Brody will have one in cherry just like this
distressed barn wood and Brody's name in rope will go behind his crib...

RH Baby "vintage airplane blueprint" sheets

RH Baby "vitage locomotive" sheets
vintage sailboat mobile

DIY pegboard organizer/art above the changing table

....And much more to come!  Think moody walls, faux taxidermy and hide, rugby stripes, mismatched monogrammed plaid throw pillows and blankets, maps, vintage pennants, industrial lighting, a chalkboard accent wall, etc.!  We're on a roll and can't wait to share our progress and see the final product!

Boy oh BOY, do I love ya, baby BB!!  

A little bitter, but a lot more sweet-

Monday, October 28, 2013

Maternity Monday: The Curse of Women NOT Sharing The Woes of Pregnancy

In light of the tragic passing of a new mother who I've never met, but that many people that I know knew, I felt compelled to write about some of the awful things women go through when they're pregnant that for some reason, perhaps because it's too painful, we don't talk about.  There are so many things that can and do go wrong.  These things are so common, yet unfortunately, often times out of shame and embarrassment, women don't talk about, even amongst ourselves.  Having been through one of these experiences this year myself, I know first hand what a shame it is that we don't openly share such things with one another.  Even though you'd never wish it upon anyone, it is comforting to know you're not alone.  So, I wanted to talk about a couple (of the many) such experiences.

Valentines Day this year was what would be one of the most exciting days of my life.  Mike and I had our first go at trying to conceive about a month before.  He was away on business, and I decided to take a pregnancy test that morning.  I was beside myself and absolutely elated when that test came out positive.  I spent my lunch break running out and putting together the most special valentine for Mike ever- the news that we were going to be parents.  In addition to the gifts I'd already gotten him, I put together a package with the book My Boys Can Swim: The Official Guy's Guide To Pregnancy and the positive pregnancy test. Here's pics and a [very personal] video of him opening it- something I was so excited to capture:

(pardon the excited expletives!)

That video now breaks my heart.  After going to the doctor and confirming we were in fact expecting, just a few days later, I woke up knowing something was wrong.  I had been feeling very pregnant, experiencing a lot of the symptoms of pregnancy- extreme fatigue, breast tenderness, all-day morning sickness, etc.  That morning, though, I woke up and felt great.  I remember telling Mike while we were having breakfast that I kind of miss feeling like crap because it was reassuring; I didn't even feel pregnant.  Mike told me to chalk it up to a good day, and I thought maybe he was right- I should appreciate a little respite from the miserable parts of pregnancy!  Later, I began spotting.  That got me googling.  I found that spotting could be okay, but any combination of things happening, including loss of pregnancy symptoms and bleeding, you should call your doctor.  When I got home that evening, the spotting became bleeding accompanied by sharp pains and cramping, and I immediately called the after hours line at my doctors' office.  They told me to get to the ER.  I cried the whole way there, praying as hard as I could that the baby was okay.  A few hours and lots of uncomfortable tests later, we found out that we had lost the pregnancy.  They told me that I had experienced a very common type of miscarriage called a chemical pregnancy.  Although we had conceived, the fertilized egg, for some reason or another, did not successfully implant in the uterus. It didn't feel common at all to me. It felt like the worst thing that could possibly happen.  I felt like it wasn't the pregnancy that had failed, it was I that had failed.

That's when I quickly began realizing that these things really are common, they're just not spoken about.  The sweet ER doctor taking care of me told me it had happened to her, too.  The next morning (just a few hours later), after tearfully calling my and Mike's moms, my next call was to my boss to let him know I wouldn't be coming in.  And guess what he told me- the exact same thing had happened to him and his wife, too.  And another one of my bosses called me a a few minutes later saying they'd gone through it, too, only their miscarriage was well into the second trimester (which I cannot even began to fathom).  And a co-worker of mine said the same thing.  Then family friends said it'd happened to them.  I was overwhelmed by all the people who it had also happened to.  I was sorry for their painful loss, but in a way comforted in that it wasn't just me.  I was also in disbelief that it took me going through this to realize this was even something that happened... quite often.  The doctors told me that it happens to about 50% of women, and half of those women (so 25% of all women) don't even know it happened to them (they weren't looking for a pregnancy, and thus think it's a really awful period).  Here is another forum that shows how common it is. Even though it doesn't make a miscarriage easier, it does offer some comfort that you didn't do anything wrong and that you're not alone. Mike is a pretty private guy, and I didn't exactly feel like shouting it from the rooftops, but I knew immediately that this was something that I wouldn't be withholding; I knew it was something that women should share with each other and be aware of.

I took the time to heal, and Mike and I were able to try again successfully a few months later.  As many of you know, I am the very proud, thankful, humbled, scared sh*tless expectant mother of a sweet bun in the oven.  I am obviously currently in the midst of one the happiest time in my life, almost into my third trimester with our sweet baby boy who I already love so inexplicably much.  I've never prayed harder for a healthy, successful pregnancy and happy, healthy baby.  I am optimistic that everything is okay this time, but still so scared, knowing I might not be one of the lucky ones.  My experience with miscarriage has humbled me so much.  I am thankful beyond words for this baby in my belly, but so aware of the many things that can go wrong.  We've had still birth in our family and amongst friends, and have friends with babies born with tragic diseases as well as non-life threatening but life altering diseases and disorders.  And most recently, which will be my next point, I've learned of horrible things that I would never think would happen to me happen to women just like me after giving birth. I know I am not immune to any of these.  While this is by far the happiest time in my life, I am sensitive to these things and the people who are going through it or have gone through it.  For this reason, I don't complain on social media about my morning sickness or other, normal, crappy pregnancy symptoms.  Because I've been the woman wishing I could have that stuff back, willing to trade anything in the world for it.  You never know what someone on your Facebook friends list is going through, and I've become sensitive to that and have learned to truly appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with being an expectant mother.

Speaking of Facebook, just the other week, I saw a friend post something about one of her best friends passing away and sending her love to her friend's widower and their little baby.  Of course, thinking of Mike and our baby alone, that struck a chord with me, and I wondered what had happened.  Soon, other Facebook friends of mine (all from the same area) posted about the same girl, and I learned that she took her own life while experiencing postpartum depression.  I read a beautiful blog posted about her death and was overwhelmed with so many thoughts.  I'd heard of postpartum depression, but never postpartum psychosis or someone going so far as taking their own life from their postpartum depression.  Also, I've spoken to two of my friends with babies who both said they were depressed after delivering their babies.  This, too, is more common than most of us know.  It struck me that, like me, in talking about it, the author of the blog was surprised to learn just how common it is.  When she talked to women who said they'd had postpartum depression, she asked why she never knew this, to which they replied, "I was ashamed. I felt like I wasn't a good mother."  Perhaps what resonated most with me was that this new mother, Alexis, "was strong. She was happy. She was loved. If this could happen to her, it can happen to any of us."  Whenever I think about it, I see the picture of a happy, pregnant Alexis, I girl I never even knew, at her baby shower and see myself in her.  I felt compelled to pass her story on since she can't, and I hope that it can help women be informed, not feel ashamed, and share their experiences with one another.

If you've followed my blog at all, you know that I enjoy and celebrate my pregnancy.  As we should!  Pregnancy is a happy time that should be celebrated.  At the same time, there is SO much that an expectant mother worries about.  I just wanted to share about a few of these worries to hopefully open the door to women sharing and talking with one another rather than keeping painful experiences private, as knowing we are not alone when something bad happens helps.  Women should not be ashamed of such experiences happening to them.  Often times, these things are beyond our control, more common than we realize, and can happen to anyone.  I think sharing our stories can help to diminish the shame that women feel when these things happen.  I know it helped me get through such a difficult time. The other thing that helps, especially in things like postpartum depression, is being informed.  As I've learned through Alexis's story, it really can happen to anyone, however there are things you can do to prevent it, starting with being cognizant of it.

Not fun, not fancy, but certainly simple... not alone and here for you, too, girl...


Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Simple/Fancy/Fun 1st Birthday: Stella's Pink Party!

Our dear friends, Carrie and Derek's sweet baby girl, Stella just turned one!  Carrie reached out to me to help throw her a party for her first birthday.  Together with our very talented friend, Nicole (and Stella's awesome grandmother, Robin), we had so much fun throwing one precious "Pink Party" (like a "white party," only pink, pink, and more PINK!)... complete with lots of S/F/F touches, and all the guests sporting pink, of course!
Stella's adorable invitation and coordinating thank you note From Etsy shop, MommiesInk

The Drink Bar:

Mimosas and Bloody Mary's for grown ups, lemonade (in beverage dispenser and juice packs) and waters for everyone!
Custom matching water bottle labels from Etsy store, MommiesInk

The obligatory mimosa bar!  Carafes and vases from Ikea with juices and corresponding fruit for garnishes; straws from Etsy, Shoppe3130

Stella's Sweet Shoppe:

Bunting banner made by Carrie over a simple streamer/crepe paper curtain (adhered to yarn and hung with balloons)

Amazing cupcake cake homemade by Nicole!

Candy bar for take-home treats!

Custom mini cupcakes from Lilly Magilly's 

Pink Rice Crispie Treats!

Other sweet det's...

Carrie made a Shutterfly album of Stella's first year for guest to sign with a message for Stella.  We placed it on the gift table with a name sign made by Robin

Birthday banner handmade by Robin using patterned paper and yarn

Deck setup with toys for the tiny tots, including a pop up castle from Amazon
Simple pink Gerbera daisy centerpieces on the outdoor tables
The brunch spread by Robin, including a "baby buffet" with gold fish, pirate's booty, and Cheerios for the little ones

Happy Birthday to our favorite little Chunk!!

the mastermind dream team ;)

What a cool family?!

The family donning pink for Stelly Belly!
4 generations

Gifts galore!

We hope you had the BEST 1st birthday, beautiful baby girl!!!