2017. The year that Sean and I unexpectedly fell into some of life's biggest chapters! From buying a house, to welcoming our baby girl into the world, it has definitely been a year that we'll never forget. I've learned so much this year, but most importantly, I've learned a lot about myself. It's definitely been a year of changes, and I really feel like more now than ever I'm coming into who God has always intended me to be in this season. I wanted to do a little reflecting for my own sake to look back on so, fair warning, this is going to be a long one! 😅
TELLING OUR FAMILY I WAS PREGNANT
This was definitely up there in my favorite moments! Sean and I found out that I was pregnant in December of 2016 (on his birthday to be exact), and since we were still processing our miscarriage from a few months prior, we decided that we were going to wait to share the exciting news with our family until after our first doctor's appointment. I don't know what my thought process was here, and looking back I wish we had just told everyone immediately, but my heart was still in a place of healing and extreme anxiety that something was going to be wrong. I think in my head I was trying to save everyone else from the potential heartache that we had all just navigated through. We ended up sharing the news the day we had our first ultrasound at just 7 weeks, and casually handed the envelope of ultrasound photos to our families to open! They all had a hunch that something was up because I'm terrible at keeping my own secrets so it wasn't a huge surprise, but there was so much redemption and answers to prayers in sharing that news with them!
BUYING OUR FIRST HOME
There are few things that make you feel more like an adult than buying a house. I mean, I was clearly pregnant at the time so you would think that's pretty adult-like, but signing your name to a mortgage just feels official. We had never intended on buying a home so soon, but thanks to some pretty amazing blessings that came our way, we found ourselves looking at homes to bring our baby girl home to just a few months after we found out I was pregnant. Never in a million years did we expect to end up in the house that we're in now. Honestly, I don't know if we'll ever have to move! It's absolutely perfect in every way, we're in walking distance to my parent's house, and I honestly don't know what I would change if we had the option to build ourselves. This one belongs in both my favorite moments + personal accomplishments!
IT'S A GIRL!
2017 was very obviously the year of Emerson Grey. 😍 Almost all of my favorite moments have to do with her! She's seriously our whole world. I had every intention of hosting a big gender reveal party, but thanks to never ending sickness and pregnancy basically hating me, we kept things small. I actually ended up preferring the way we decided to announce over having a big party, anyways! I'm SO not a planner, and the idea of getting my house ready for large amounts of company is a surefire way to send me into a panic. We ended up ordering cupcakes from the same bakery that did our wedding cake (Plehn's Bakery in St. Matthews if you're in Louisville!), and had them filled with pink frosting so when you bit into them you saw the news!
We told our families separately on Mother's Day. Sean's family was first because we told them right after his mom's Mother's Day brunch, and hilariously enough, we ended up sharing the news in a Texas Roadhouse parking lot! 😂 My SIL had work that afternoon (she works there!), and no one wanted to wait to find out. So, in the insane heat on a blacktop parking lot, everyone bit into their cupcakes, and the tears started flowing!
We ended up going over to my parent's house later that night to celebrate Mother's Day with my mom, and we brought the cupcakes over. We were all hanging out on my parent's back deck, and everyone took their guesses on whether they thought Em was a boy or girl. I have four little sisters, so there were a few guesses for boy to mix things up, but I think everyone was secretly hoping she was a girl to keep the tradition strong. 😉 We all bit into our cupcakes, and the tears and cheers and laughing started! My sister Savannah is seriously one of the most sentimental people I know, and she was crying like crazy! She just kept hugging me and saying "Oh my gosh I'm going to have a niece" in-between laughing and sobbing. 😂 It was definitely a moment I'll never forget!
BRINGING EMMY GIRL INTO THE WORLD
I shared Emmy's entire birth story last month so I won't go into crazy detail here, but this will forever be one of my favorite moments of not only 2017, but of my entire life. It's no secret that pregnancy wasn't my favorite experience, but I would do it all over again one hundred times over if it meant I got to have my baby girl in my arms at the end of it. She has seriously changed our family's lives for the better in every single way, and we love her so much I can't even explain it!
SEEING SEAN TURN INTO THE BEST DAD
You don't know how much you can really love your husband until you see them love your baby. Sean wins all of the number one husband / partner / father / life awards for this past year. He worked his butt off to make sure that we were taken care of when I was too sick to work consistently, he took care of me every single day for nine months of sickness, he calmed me down when I would get anxious about something Emmy related when I was pregnant (which was about every five minutes), he got maybe 4 hours of sleep total when we were in the hospital after Em was born because he wanted to make sure she was ok ... He insisted on waking up when I was up when we first brought Emmy home (even though there wasn't much he could do since I'm breastfeeding), he scoops Em up as soon as he gets home from work so I can get my own work done or take a hot bath if it's been an especially long day, and he has continued to support me in every single way possible to be the best version of myself that I can be. And now I'm crying. All of this to say, I am so thankful that God chose me to be this man's wife! I love you, babe!
LESSONS I'VE LEARNED
FAMILY IS EVERYTHING
I've always been super close to my family, but when they say raising babies takes a village, they aren't kidding! We've had more family in our home in the last year than we have since we moved in together six years ago. Em is definitely the furthest thing from an "easy" baby, and the support I've found in my mom and sisters in particular has been above and beyond what I would ever expect of anyone. I honestly have no idea what I would do without them! When everything else fades, family always stays the same!
PEOPLE PLEASING HIDES THE REAL YOU
Where are my fellow people pleasers? I swear I've been that way my entire life ... until this year. I don't know what switched in my brain, but all of a sudden I was unapologetically speaking my mind and trusting my gut. If I didn't want to do something, I didn't do it. If I thought or felt something, I communicated it. I didn't make decisions based on what I thought other people expected from me, but what I personally felt like doing. And it's been amazing. It seems like for my entire life I've always done things based on other people, and for other people. Maybe it was knowing I was about to dive headfirst into motherhood, but I felt such a pull to do things on my own terms. Now when I do something for someone else, or ask for someone else's opinion, or don't agree with someone, I know that I'm being totally true to myself, and that in and of itself is incredibly freeing!
DISCONNECTING IS A NECESSITY
This past year I've disconnected from technology more than I think I ever have. It wasn't necessarily an intentional choice, but anytime I got in a mode where I just didn't feel good physically I shut down. I spent weeks at a time without even opening my laptop, and even though it probably wasn't the best course of action because, well, this blog is kind of my job, it was so needed. I would basically ignore my phone unless my mom or Sean was calling, and realized yesterday that I spent collectively six months where I didn't post on Instagram. And to that I ask, who the heck am I? I wish I had documented more of our life this past year, but I learned so much by stepping back for a little bit. I was able to really soak in every bit of what we were experiencing as a family, and though I can't say I'll ever disappear for that long again, I'm glad that I did it. It allowed me to truly relax, take a step back from what everyone else was doing, and fully focus on what was right in front of me.
MOTHERHOOD IS THE HARDEST AND BEST THING I'LL EVER DO
I've never given so much of myself to another soul, and it's stretching me. I'm learning to ask for help, to balance my days between being mama, wife, and just me ... I'm learning that nothing else I'll ever do in this life is as important as what I'm doing right now, and I'm learning that as exhausted as I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally, one smile from this amazing baby girl can fill me right back up. They always say that having a baby changes everything, but you don't really know how much it truly does until you're in it. I feel like an entirely new person that I'm still trying to figure out, but I know that I'm coming into who I've always been meant to be ... I wouldn't trade these days for anything in the entire world. Emerson Grey, you make me better by simply existing, and for that I will be forever grateful. 💗
PLACES WE TRAVELED
In February we took a ski trip with my family, and as beautiful as Telluride is, it wasn't my favorite of trips. 🙈 The mountains are absolutely stunning, but I'm a warm weather kind of gal. I can do the snow on Christmas, and after that I need 70 degrees and lots of daylight! Not to mention the fact that I was only 12 weeks pregnant and SO SICK at the time! I couldn't ski or snowboard so I spent the week in the house that we rented, or down at the Starbucks in the village working. I have to say, if it's between working from home or working with a view of the mountains, I'll pick the mountains every single time! Unlike me, Sean absolutely LOVED this trip in every way. He's the kind of guy who's naturally good at everything, and was snowboarding the most difficult routes by the last day of the trip (it was his FIRST TIME SNOWBOARDING). He's seriously been planning his snowboarding routes for this year's trip for the last few months, and seeing him so pumped is making me excited to go back! Well, that and the idea of Emmy rocking a Patagonia + the Uggs my mom bought her for Christmas at only 6 months old. 😍
SALT LAKE CITY, UT
So, I officially want to move to Utah after this trip! The heat was intense, but I'd rather hang out with a view in super dry heat than deal with the crazy humidity back home! I was 7 months pregnant, AND SO FREAKING SWOLLEN, but Utah is seriously one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen! My family rented a house on a ton of land that sat on a river so the guys could fly fish, and we just relaxed around the house for the weekend. It's definitely a place I want to go back to when we can do a little bit more exploring since we were only there for a few days!
I don't know if you can really count this as a "trip" as much as it was a quick afternoon, but I'm adding it anyways! I somehow missed out on the whole 8th grade Washington, D.C. trip thing so this was my first time there. My step-dad had a huge meeting for his company, and we decided to take advantage of that by taking a weekend family trip to the east coast! We were only in D.C. for a few hours, but we saw everything you would wish to see. Plus, this was Emmy's first official "trip" outside of Louisville at only 2 months old! We always fly private when we're traveling with my family so it made her first time on a plane an absolute breeze. She was a champ, and slept the entire time which I was so thankful for. I was super anxious that her ears were going to be killing her, but thankfully I don't think she even noticed the change in pressure! 🙌
LAKE PLACID, NY
This was our final destination after the quick stop in Washington, D.C.! We were hoping to catch the Adirondacks when the trees were still full of color from autumn, but we had just missed it. We did catch some really beautiful trees, but I can't even imagine what they would have looked like in peak season! This trip was planned so last minute, and since my step-dad was slammed preparing for his meeting, my mom and I got to figure out where we were going to stay. Y'all ... never again will my mom and I be in charge of organizing one of our trips! First off, when you're traveling with 10 people, finding a house to accommodate everyone is a struggle in and of itself. Not to mention that none of the homes we were finding had been updated (for real, I don't think even the comforters on the beds had been replaced) in over 30 years. 😳
When we got to the house that my mom and I picked, we were getting ALL THE CREEPY VIBES. For real, y'all. Look at this place. We walked in, and it legitimately smelled like a museum. There were random antiques everywhere, super old (and dusty) portraits on the walls, mouse traps in the bedrooms, and the kitchen appliances were literally from 100 years ago. We immediately started searching for somewhere else we could stay, and thankfully the real estate company we booked the house from had another one come available last minute, and it was perfect! Brand new, on the lake, and it didn't smell like mold so, you know, that's a plus. 😅 I do have to say though, the original house would have been perfect for photos. Sean took a ton while we were trying to find somewhere else to stay, and they turned out so great! They're all over on his Instagram if you want to check them out!
Anyways ... since this was another quick weekend trip we didn't do much exploring, but spent a lot of time hanging out and spending time together as a family. We found a few local restaurants for dinner and brunch, went on a hike to see a waterfall, and watched the STUNNING sunset over the lake behind the house. It really did end up being a great trip at the end of the weekend, but I can't say that it'll ever be somewhere we visit again. 🙈
LAKE CUMBERLAND, KY
If you've been following along for a while, then you know this is my family's one consistent vacation every year. We ended up going a little bit earlier in the summer this year so I could go because being any more than 6 months pregnant on a houseboat 30 minutes away from civilization probably wouldn't have been the best idea. 😅
Like the rest of our trips last year, I didn't do a whole lot that week because of the baby in my belly, but I did somehow manage to get my pregnant butt into a kayak! It may have taken my mom balancing the kayak, my step-dad holding the other end (while balancing himself on a jet ski), and me trying not to fall into the water (SO not a lake water kind of gal ... you don't know what's under there!), but I made it! I explored around our cove with my momma, saw the BIGGEST fish that was way too close to us (seriously getting chills thinking about how it could've knocked me into the water 😂), and got a little bit of sun without having to ever lay out. I also got to shoot a campaign with Dr. Pepper while we were on the lake, and y'all know how much I love my Dr. Pepper. 😍 It totally made the trip for me!
PREGNANY + BIRTH
This was absolutely, hands down, my biggest person accomplishment of LIFE. I definitely didn't do it without my fair share of complaining, anxiety, or just generally being uncomfortable, but I freaking did it! Pregnancy is so different for every person, and it was nothing like I had pictured in my head. I mean, being physically sick for basically nine months straight is no joke! But I am so proud of myself and completely in awe of what my body was able to do. God created our bodies to be the perfect safe place for our babies, and even though pregnancy wasn't my favorite experience, it's such a beautiful thing to watch your body change and grow and to outwardly show the world what you're capable of. Swollen feet and all. 😅 I may not be able to slip back into any of my pre-pregnancy clothes, and my wedding ring still might not fit, but every single moment (good and bad) since I told Sean on his birthday last year that we were having a baby has been worth it a million times over. Not to mention the fact that my body created the most perfect tiny human to ever exist, and brought every ounce of her sweet self into the world in such a beautiful way. Birth story over this way if you missed it!
Motherhood is not easy in the least bit. It's one of those special things in life that's, for me at least, so effortless, but so consuming at the same time. It's second nature for me to take care of Emerson's every need, and for that I am so grateful. Being a mom is the one thing in life that I've always known I'm supposed to do, and waking up every single day next to my best friend and taking care of Em is the biggest blessing of my life, and something I'll never take for granted.
I have two modes to my personality ... get things done + overly chill. For the past few years of working towards and becoming self-employed, I've been in a get things done mode. Working 24/7, not giving myself the breaks I probably needed, and staying hyper focused on what I was going to do next. And that's exactly what I needed to be doing in that season of building a business in order to ultimately do what I'm doing now. Staying at home with my baby girl, working when I have the time, and really focusing on what's important to me every single day. I've been really thinking about how I spend my time, and take the moments as they come. I'm discovering a new normal, and for me that looks a lot like more time spent with my family, and less time hustling my life away.
MY FAVORITE PARTNERSHIPS SO FAR
Even though I slowed down a lot in 2017, it brought me my absolute favorite brand partnerships on the blog so far! I was so honored to work with Dr. Pepper, Secret, World Market, Old Navy, FRYE, and so many more amazing brands that I personally know and love!
CELEBRATED MY 5TH YEAR OF BLOGGING
HOW has it already been five years!? I remember my very first blog post, and it was a Motivation Monday with a quote and some inspiring words. Now it's my full time job, and I'm able to work from home with my baby girl while being as creative as possible. I am so proud of what this space has become, and I can't wait to see where it leads me in 2018!
DESIGNED + LAUNCHED 4 COLLECTIONS
This was a crazy one, and I am so proud of myself for the work that went into these collections! The Gilmore Girls Line, The Beloved Collection with my friend Ashley Glass, and then I launched both Summer and Fall related designs! It was the first year that I released big collections all at once, and so much work went into getting them absolutely perfect before I launched them out into the world.
HOSTED MY 2ND POP UP AT MADEWELL
Madewell is one of my all time favorite brands, and getting to partner with them for a second time to host a pop up was awesome! Both times I've hosted the event as a blogger, but they've encouraged me to bring some of my lettered products to sell in-store which is seriously a dream! I'm so thankful for the appreciation for the creative community in Louisville, and I plan to hopefully host a couple more pop ups at Madewell again in 2018! Here's a peek at what the full event looked like.
STARTED MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL
I've been setting this on my list of goals every year for like the last three years, and honestly? I'm just super proud of myself for finally DOING IT! And I'm also super proud of my husband for finding a new passion in photography and videography (because that definitely helps). 😅 I don't have a super solid vision for my channel yet, but I'm excited to start something new to spark my creativity in a new way! Full post all about my channel announcement right this way!