Friday, November 22, 2013

Advocare 24-Day Challenge: Progress Report

As you probably know from following my blog, I gained nearly 50 lbs while pregnant with Cooper. Everyone kept telling me I was all belly- but let's me real, I didn't deliver a 50 lb baby (thank goodness - that's like a four year old or something!!).

40 weeks pregnant!

I stayed very active throughout my pregnancy, but my eating habits weren't the best! I mean, you guys know how much I loved my tater tots. 

The day I had Coop! 40 weeks, 4 days pregnant!

Now my little man was worth every lb and every stretch mark I gained. I wouldn't trade him for the world! And Justin and I have quickly started calling my stretch marks "beauty marks." 

"Because (the stretch marks) are proof that you carried and delivered our son...and that's such a beautful thing," Justin told me once as I cried over my new body. 

But I quickly realized I needed to make changes for my health- I want to spend as much as time possible on this earth with my family! 

The ORIGINAL birth announcement!

Right after I had Cooper, I still looked about 4 months pregnant. 

Post-baby hospital mirror selfie...what did you expect!?
Of course I would do this...

And within a week, I had lost about 20 lbs! 

One week post-baby!

But I still had a long way to go! 

And I had a laundry list of goals and dreams ahead of me - so I started the 24-day challenge! 

My experience has been wonderul! I lost 5 lbs within the first 48 hours of the cleanse. The fiber drink is not the that delicious, but it gets the job done! So I started my job chugging that, drinking my meal replacement shake, and enjoying spark - my new fav obsession!!! 

I bounced around a lot in the cleanse phase. I had a few cheat moments when I snuck in dairy or had a piece of chocolate. But I just took bites - I didn't binge eat or let one bad meal result in a full day of bad eating! 

Spark and the advocare supplements give me the energy and nutrients to feel full, balanced, and refreshed. I don't crave fast food or fried food anymore. In fact, we only ate out once so far! And I ordered a grilled chicken with a boat load of veggies! I felt great and stayed full all night long! 

I still have five days left in the max phase and I feel great! 

The challenge has helped me make healthier decisions. 

Inspired me to put my health over my cravings. 

Taught me to eat for fuel - not pleasure. 

Given me the energy to hit the gym hard and tone up my body! 

I don't eat my emotions anymore. I don't binge eat when no one is looking.

I have such a healthy and responsible relationship with food now. 

And the advocare team and products have certainly helped me get to this healthy state of mind! 

I won't tell you how much weight I've lost yet. 

I will let the pictures do the talking instead! 

I fit into my wedding ring again: 

I DO love my wedding ring.
Justin picked it out all on his own too - he has great taste!

I fit into real jeans again ( aka pre-baby jeans that have buttons): 

This was amazing until I ripped these pants.
To be fair, a rip was already there...I just fueled the fire by bending over to get Coop!

I've hit the gym 3-5 times a week, which is great for being a new mom!!! 

Workout buddies.

I am fitting into my "skinny" workout clothes again: 

November 2012 (pre-pregnancy) vs. November 2013 (post-baby).

And I am losing inches and toning up like a boss: 

Right = 18 days on The Challenge

Right = 18 days on The Challenge

I feel amazing.

I am on the right path toward health and happiness. 

But simply sharing a number on a scale wouldn't be as powerful as sharing these pictures and little success stories.

Success and happiness are not always about a number. And thanks to my husband- I am inspired  to keep hitting new milestones and creating new goals at the gym! He has encouraged me to get back to my active lifestyle - he's my biggest fan and the best personal chef. 

My other better half.

As for Coop, all he needs to do is smile and I am inspired to never give up! 

My whole heart.

And Bandit is still the best running partner in the world! 

My fur son is the best running buddy!

And as for you - my lovely blog reader - you help keep me accountable and inspired! Each positive comment and story you share with me gives me inspiration to keep fighting toward my goals. You're the best - thanks for always cheeringe on!!! 

Much love, 

P.S. If you want to learn more about Advocare, check out my personal page here:

Send me a message to tell me more about your goals and challenges - I can help you purchase the 24-Day Challenge or build your own bundle of products to support your goals and lifestyle! GOOD LUCK!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How Children Change Us

There is no denying that children change us. Many parenting blogs and baby books will talk about the changes new parents should expect when their little one arrives.

New habits.

New worries.

New pains.

New concerns.

New plans.

New priorities.

A new, deeper love.

But sometimes it's hard to explain these changes to someone who hasn't had a child yet. Everyone just always told, "You'll know what I mean when you have your child."

And they were right. I do know what they mean...but still have a hard time finding the right words to explain this change. It's amazing that literally the moment a child arrives into this world, parents experience a new love that quickly changes us.

Welcome, Cooper.

Some people ask me, "How is parenthood? Is it everything you imagined?"

Dinner time snuggles.

Honestly, parenthood is better than I could ever imagine. 

Most of the time I know EXACTLY why Cooper is crying. I can solve the problem and we can both move on. Other times, it takes longer and I find myself getting frustrated. We both get frustrated.

What is it? What do you need? What am I doing wrong?

But that's just part of parenthood. You'll always wonder, second guess, and take chances to solve problems and help your child. You'll make mistakes, but you'll have many, many victories and inspiring moments too.

Yes, parenthood is hard. I've had many sleepless nights and I've shed many tears. But being a mom is the best gift and my best job in this world.

Cooper is my everything. 

I loved you before I knew you.
But saying that Cooper is "my everything" can mean so many things. And that doesn't sum up exactly how Cooper change me. Before I had Cooper, I was very career-driven. My career was my baby. But having Cooper gave me a new purpose in life.

A new job that I never want to retire from. 

Cooper's laugh = the most magical sound in the world.

Don't me wrong- I still feel excitement about working again (some days). I just wish I could take him with me OR work from home! Maybe I'll feel better once we get into our new routine....returning to work is an entirely different blog post. One that I'll likely write soon as my maternity leave is slowly coming to an end...

Anyway, Cooper giving me a new meaning and passion for life is just one of the amazing ways he has changed me.There are countless of other ways he has changed me too.

Sure, I don't sleep as much (but it's truly amazing how well I function when I only have a few hours of sleep).

I'd rather go shopping for Cooper than myself (HUGE for a shopaholic like me to admit).

I don't get grossed out by baby puke or poop anymore (I used to gag just thinking about a poopy diaper).

I've fallen more in love with Justin, who continues to amaze me as both a husband and a father.

Sometimes your baby will kick you in your face.

I workout so that I can chase him around and remain healthy - the healthier I am, the more years I have with him!

Workout inspiration.

I don't care so much about being on a strict timeline or schedule (this one is HUGE!!!!).

I used to OBSESS over plans and details. But guess what? When you have a kid, especially a newborn, your plans get thrown out the window.

And I don't mean that in a negative way. I simply mean -if your baby needs to eat, you stop what you're doing and feed them. If your baby is crying because his diaper needs changed, you find a clean place to change him. Even if that means pulling over on the side of the road or hitting up the nearest parking lot to turn your backseat into an instant porter potty and feeding room.

Also,  Cooper has taught me to TRULY put his needs, wishes, feelings, and emotions over mine. It's true that children teach you how to care for someone else's health and well-being over your own. But don't just take my word for it, here is a story that has greatly touched my heart.

This story helps me explain to you how children change us.
I was doing my nightly Facebook stalking when I came across a post from my dear friend Ashley. Both her sister AND brother-in-law are battling cancer. They have two young sons. And as a parent, my mind instantly wonders to the children.

What would their lives be like without both of their parents around?

How would they deal with the loss of both their mom and father around the same time? 

Cancer sucks.

I've been following their story and praying for miracles and healthy recoveries...And that evening, Ashley's sister (Holly) shared that she was in remission. Holly does a few tumors on her liver - but due to the stage and size of the cancer - they haven't yet grown in size.

She said, "Jack and Brody (their sons) are doing well. Along with my Faith, they are my two biggest reasons for living and keeping a positive outlook on life."

Children give us a new purpose and reason.

That was the first life lesson from her post.

As I continued to read the blog post, the bad news came when Holly shared that her husband isn't doing well. The prostate cancer metastasis to his bones. He's so ill that he lost 20 lbs in 10 days and can barely pull himself from bed. He's had surgeries (one of which put a pain pump in his spinal cord to help with the tremendous amount of pain that he's experiencing).

But he's not giving up.

He's holding on and fighting hard.

Despite his unimaginable pain, he wants to see his son turn 2 this Sunday.

He wants to fight to see his two year anniversary of his intial diagnosis of Stage 4 prostate cancer. One last attempt to kick Cancer in the face!

He wants to see his family for Thanksgiving and watch his children open presents on Christmas.

Can you imagine only having one more Christmas with your child? One more birthday? One more day....

It's absolutely heartbreaking and his battle with cancer inspires me (even more) to cherish every little second I get with Cooper. Who knows how many birthdays, holidays, and extraordinary days I'll get with him. 

Children help us fight our battles.

That was the second life lesson I gathered about how children change us. Children make us fight because we want to experience all of their smiles, moments, and milestones.We don't want to miss a single moment of their life.

When I look at Cooper, I am reminded that everything I do...I am doing for him.

To make his life better.

To care for him.

To love him.

To make sure he is the happiest and healthiest baby (as much as I can influence).

And whatever challenge or battle I face, I am encouraged to fight even stronger and harder knowing I have Cooper in my life.

Children give us light.

As I was texting Ashley about these updates I read online, she told me, "God brings light into the world through innocence like Cooper."


I cried.

Oh, how I cried...

Maybe it's selfish of me to listen to that story and think of myself and my own family. But I confess I did..

I thought about Cooper.

I thought about Justin.

I thought about Justin having cancer and Cooper only getting one more birthday with him. One more holiday. One more day with us.

Tears instantly fell from my eyes and my heart just ached for the family.

Ashley continued, "It's true. Brody and Jack are my sister's light. Without them, I don't know how she'd be reacting to everything she's going through. Children give people purpose for surviving and providing."

Her words were beautiful. Cooper is my light. He lights up even the darkest day with his smile, laugh, and personality. He lights up my entire world simply by being close and near me.

I'm not saying your career or spouse or pet or anything else doesn't give YOU purpose or reason... I TRULY believe people can have purpose, meaning, light, and the urge to fight through battles without having children. I have a few friends who never want children - and I believe that they will absolutely live a happy life.

But there is no denying that children inspire us to live a healthier, happier life.

They need us to.

And as it turns out, we need them just as much.

That smile just gets better and bigger each passing day.

P.S. If you pray, please keep Holly and her family in your prayers. If you send positive vibes, we'll take those too. xoxo!

Much love,

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Never Trust a Girl If Her Thighs Don't Touch: Part 2

If you're a frequent blog reader, you might recall reading about my drip to Washington, DC to visit one of my good friends and her husband.

While we had a blast catching up with Britt and Jimmy + eating delicious food, there is no doubt that all the walking took a tole on my pregnant body. We literally walked 7 miles one day.

Now obviously all that walking (especially when you're five months pregnant) can result in some serious chaffing. I've been a chaffer for as long as I can remember. I think I was born with my thighs stuck together (kidding). But pregnancy just fueled the chaffing fire.

Skin-to-skin chaffing can result in a serious rash (as some of you probably know from experience). But you can also experience chaffing when you're wearing leggings or jeans - if your thighs tough when you walk- then will chaff one way or another. As a result, many of may pants thin out in the inner thigh area.

Now yesterday, I tried on a pair of my pre-baby jeans! I have been SO nervous to dust off my "skinny" jeans and try them on...I was worried they wouldn't even go up my bigger thighs and wider hips. And I didn't want to get discouraged. I've been doing SO good on my Advocare 24-Day Challenge...I'm down 6 lbs (almost 7), my energy levels are incredbile, my wedding ring fit again, and I just feel healthier overall.

But because all of my leggings, jeggings, and yoga pants seemed to be in the washer at the same exact time (bad laundry day planning on my part), I had no other choice...

And- to my surprise - THE JEANS FIT!!!!

Kim Kardashian, this is a REAL new mom / back side selfie.
I was BEYOND excited. Sure, I had a LITTLE bit of a muffin top- but wearing the right top can cover that bad boy up while maintaining my new confience!

But my excitement was short lived...

Cooper started to wake up so I bent down to pick him up from his bouncy chair and that's when it happened.

(Insert crotch / inner thigh ripping sound).


The infamous rip.
So I tried on another pair of jeans, but they were tigther.

Now I could button them. And they would stay buttoned if I didn't breathe or move. Considering how that's not a viable option, I busted out my bella band and decided to rock the jeans anyway - reminding me of my early pregnancy days.

"Mom, it's OK! I still love you even if you rip your pants while picking up the baby." - Bandit
And this experience further supports why I STILL don't trust a woman if her thighs don't touch.

Final side note (which also appeared in my first post): If your thighs do touch, I am only kidding. Good for you - now go eat a burger and fries (with ranch dressing ) for me!!

Much love,

Hermit Crab Syndrome

Hi, my name is Ashley Sieb and I am suffering recovering from Hermit Crab Syndrome.

My new self-portrait.

What's this disorder?

Can't seem to find it on WebMD?

Well Urban Dictionary gives this description for Hermit Crab Syndrome:

"A psychological impulse in which you start seeing another person before ending things with your current partner. Not cheating necessarily, the Hermit Crab Syndrome reflects the ways of the Hermit Crab, who starts moving into a new shell before leaving the old shell."

However, that's not the illness I've referring to...although, they are clever with this description.

Well, MY form of Hermit Crab Syndrome commonly affects new mothers.

Symptoms include:
  • The fear of leaving home with a newborn
  • The inability to make plans because you can't predict how your baby will do or react in public and / or around certain people
  • The constant changing of plans because you can't seem to find a good time or date to meet up with friends or family (because you fear leaving home with a newborn)
  • The never-ending worries of leaving home and experiencing any (or all) of the scenarios: a screaming baby in public, not having a good changing area for the blowout your baby just had, not having a change of clothes for when your baby spits up all over YOU and maybe themselves, forgetting something important (like gas drops or enough diapers) at home, etc.
You may experience one or all of these symptoms with Hermit Crab Syndrome. I've found that one negative experience can trigger Hermit Crab Syndrome. Mine happened after a bad shopping trip to Meijer. I needed more diapers and wanted a snack (we literally had nothing appealing in our house). So I packed up Cooper and headed to the store.

I only intended to get the diapers, grab a snack, and get out of the store. Five minutes or less. Ten minutes if you count the drive.

But then I started remembering all of the birthdays I had forgotten throughout September - so I ran to the card isle. Then I remembered that we're out of toilet paper - so I hiked across the store to get more TP.  Cooper managed to keep everything together until I got the check-out line.

Conveniently, I picked the line with the slowest check-out lady in the world. I thought my bad luck ran out when I picked the squeaky cart with a wobbly wheel. But I was wrong.

The woman in front of me had a million canned goods hiding in her cart and a thousand more coupons to scan.

Cooper must have felt my annoyance because he started crying. I glanced down at home and pulled his onesie to the side - a wet diaper. I checked the clock and realized that he was approaching feeding time too.

But there wasn't much I could do. All my items were on the belt. The woman in front of me CLEARLY had no plans for the rest of the day. And people were lined up behind me.

I did my best to "Shhhh" him and rock the car seat - but when you're hungry and peed your pants, you aren't going to be a happy camper. I mean, I wouldn't be smiling either.

So he cried and cried and cried - and I felt helpless.

And that's when I really noticed my Hermit Crab Syndrome start to pick up. I wanted to stay safely secured in my home (shell).

So, how can you recover from this illness? Will you ever be able to leave the house again!?

YES- there is hope for you (and me too)!!!!

Treatment includes:
  • Realizing that emotional breakdowns, spit-ups, and blowouts will happen no matter WHERE you go - the day of time or location doesn't matter...babies have their own plans (and your plans don't seem to matter anymore)
  • Gaining confidence as a mother that you know what's best for your child and you will eventually calm them down, change that diaper, or run to the store to purchase whatever you left at home
  • Remembering that it's good for both YOU and your adorable little babes to get out of the house, catch up with loved ones, meet new friends, or simply window shop at Target
  • Learning to laugh at yourself and certain situations - laughing is sometimes the only way to keep your sanity and move on 
  • Reminding yourself to stop caring so much about what other people think (everyone will always have an opinion about what you're doing - or NOT doing - as a parent)
I've gotten a lot better leaving the house since realizing I was suffering from Hermit Crab Syndrome. I do my best to have a positive attitude, maintain a free spirit about leaving the house, and I pack everything under the sun in my diaper bag. I basically have arms of steal after carrying around that car seat and diaper bag everywhere I go. One woman at the YMCA even commented on how strong I look carrying around Coop and all of his belongs. 

Since my early days of Hermit Crab Syndrome -  I have traveled (solo might I add) with Cooper to Decatur to meet his new nephew. And I've made many other small trips along the way!

Cooper and Hayden - Coops is getting good at flashing the "peace" sign.

Grandpa Bedwell and two of his grandsons.
 I've made a few tips to the office to see my best friends and co-workers!

Cooper and Aunt Cay at IASTA's Halloween pitch-in.
 I've ventured to the YMCA for workouts while Coop makes new friends at the daycare.

Yes, this is horrible form. I promise I had proper form when I actually DID the leg press.
And I have went on many other small trips along the way.

Sleepy Target baby.
Also, to readers who don't have children (or young children) - you can help new moms overcome Hermit Crab Syndrome by being supportive and helpful.

If you see a mom struggling to find something in her diaper bag while holding her baby and a much-needed Starbucks drink, ask if you can grab something for her.

If you hear a baby screaming in public, don't judge the mom. She's probably doing her best to get the situation under control. If not, she is probably plotting a plan to ditch her cart and quickly leave the store. And some babies just like to scream - so there is that...

If you have a friend who keeps canceling plans or doesn't want to make plans, go over to her place for some adult interaction. Then, have a heart-to-heart and tell her that everything will be OK if she leaves the house. Fresh air, a good coffee, and some smiles from strangers can turn anyone's day around.

Here's to inspiring new moms to bust out of their shell!!

Much love,

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Baby Shots (aka The Worst Day)

As I approached Cooper's two month doctor appointment, my mom friends warned me that this would be a very hard day.

Baby shots day.

The worst day.

I didn't really know how to prepare for the day. A lot of woman said they cried. Many suggested turning your head. And a handful made their husbands come with them.

So obviously I made Justin come! He worked from home that afternoon. Once he got home, he quickly picked up Coop for a quick snuggle session.

Coop and Daddy snuggling. I die.
After snuggling for a bit, we headed to the doctor's appointment. Coop ate about an hour earlier, so I thought he would be OK with a half-empty belly. I wasn't sure if he should come on a full belly or we went half-empty!

Once we got to the doctor's office, Coop was being his little, happy self!

Smiling and kicking!
He had no clue what his future had in store...
Once we got into the room, the nurse took Coop's measurements.

He is 24 inches long (putting him in the 89th percentile).

For some reason I can't recall what his head size is, but I'm thinking it was above average. Little man has a pretty large head.

Then we had to strip Cooper down to a clean diaper to get his weight.

That face.
You guys, I live for this little face.
Coop gained 2 lbs from his one month check up! He now weighs 12 lbs and 5 ozs.

He is a big, healthy, and happy baby boy!! What else could we ask for?!

Isn't he so adorable?
We chatted with the doctor about the recent changes in the last month. We didn't have any major concerns- just mentioned that he snores + seemed to have SOME cradle cap. She told us to start using the aspirator before bed to clear his nose and try to brush the dry skin out from his scalp.

Next came the second worst part of the doctor appointment.

"I'm a little concerned about the shape of his head," she said. "His head is starting to look a little flat."

I came clean that Cooper hates tummy time. He usually just lays there or screams until I roll him over.

She turned him on his belly and like I predicted, he started having a meltdown.

"Oh yes- you're right," she said. "He really doesn't like tummy time. But you have to keep working with him on tummy time. Make it more of a habit. Start doing tummy time at least 4 times a day for 10 minutes or more. He really needs to strengthen his neck. I'd like for him to come back next month to see how he is improving or we might have to put him in the helmet to re-shape his head."

That's when it happened.

The mom guilt.

The "OMG- I AM FAILING MY BABY" emotions started filling my body.

You should have tried harder with tummy time.

You should have rotated his head more while he was sleeping.

You should have ....

But before I could keep beating myself up, the doctor assured me that I'm doing a fine job and everything else looks great.

So we put Cooper's onsie back on and couldn't resist lighting the mood by making him look like a baby T-rex.

You're not funny, mom.
Justin and I also got the T-dap shot yesterday - so it was a family affair of shots at the doctor's office.

While the nurse was getting the shots ready, Coop started fussing like he was hungry.

"Well maybe if we feed him he will calm down and feel more content before the shots," I suggested.

So we got out his bottle and fed up about 1.5 ozs before the nurse came in.


Hey at least you can learn more my mistakes...

The nurse gave me my shot first while Justin held Cooper.

Then Justin got his shot.

And was my sweet baby Coop's turn.

He was just laying on the table so peaceful.

So calm.

He looked at me and gave me a half-smile.

I died on the inside. Oh, I simply felt so bad for him...he literally had NO clue what was about to happen. And years and years from now I KNOW he will never remember this moment.

But I will.

I'll always remember his sweet little face.

The calm before the storm.

The innocence in his eyes.

"I promise it hurts the parents worse than the baby," the nurse said. "And this is my least favorite part of the job too."

She gave him the liquid first (which I am awful and totally forget what it was...I just know Coop took it like a champ and didn't complain or take forever to down it).  

She had us hold down his hands while she held down his legs and lined up the shots.

I could see his face start to turn into more of a panic.

Why is everyone holding me down? 

What's happening?! What's going on?

That's what Coop was thinking. I just know it.

"Okay," the nurse said. "Here we go!"

Once the first shot went into his leg, he screamed louder than I've ever heard him cry.

Real tears were pouring out of his eyes.

And his entire little body was bright red.

I wanted to pick him up right then and there - I tried to soothe him and tell him everything would be OK.

Children - even babies- can sense your emotions. They can tell when you are tense or upset or sad...I firmly believe that your emotions feed their emotions. (That's why I always try to smile and laugh with Coop - I think it makes him a happier baby)!

Anyway, I stayed strong. I didn't cry (even though I was bawling on the inside) and just kept focusing on remaining calm for him.

Once all the shots were done, I picked him up and wrapped him in my arms. He was still screaming and bright red. I thought he was having an allergic reaction.

"Babe, is this normal?" I asked, as if he was a pediatrician himself. "Do you think he is OK!?"

"Yes babe," Justin said. "He is fine."

And Justin started rubbing his forehead and kissing him too.

A minute or so later, he stopped crying and just looked really sad.

My poor baby.

Please don't hate me, Coop!

I got a shot too!!

The doctor said some babies get fussy after shots. Sometimes they get a low-grade fever, but most babies are just really sleepy.

"Don't be surprised if he just wakes up to eat and then sleeps again," she told us.

Once he calmed down, we put on his pants and headed to the check-out.

Remember when I told you feeding him before the shot was a BAD idea? Well that's because he PUKED all over himself in his car seat when we were walking out. He barely complained - it just came out all over the place.

Poor guy screamed and cried so hard that everything just came back out.

We snuggled with him in the lobby until he started to fall asleep and we drove home.

And once we got home, all I wanted to do was snuggle with him and put him close to my heart. 

My little love.
I kept beating myself up about not being so diehard about tummy time. And Justin could tell I was super upset.

"I just hate thinking I've failed him," I said.

"Ashley - you haven't failed him," Justin said, "Just try harder and become religious about tummy time. Even if he cries, just keep him down there. You can do this...and so can he! Just move forward and don't worry about the past."

I barely smiled, but I agreed that he was right.

"But the fact that are so beaten up about this is proof how good of a mom you are," Justin said. "You care so much."

I'm thankful he was there to remind me that I'm doing a great job and the only thing we can do is move forward! And that's exactly what we did.

And we discussed how lucky we are to have a healthy baby! He doesn't have any major health issues and he is growing and happy. Some parents have to see their child battle cancer or heart problems or seizures or a thousands of other health issues...We are lucky. And if the biggest problem we have is cradle cap and Cooper wears a helmet for a few months...well then, I'd say we are STILL very lucky. And we will still look super cute - helmet or no helmet. The glass if always half full.

Today was a good day!

We did more tummy time throughout the day - Coop complained (of course), but we fought through! I also added a pillow to his favorite old man chair:

"What do you mean my head is a little flat?!"
But Coop is back to his regular self! Happy, smiley, and making hilarious faces / poses.

Also, please don't be a thumb sucker Coop. Stop eating your hand!

So moms out there reading this blog, let this be a reminder to relax.

Don't beat yourself up. 

If you're upset, that means you CARE! And a caring mom is the best kind of mom. 

No matter what battle you're fighting - parenthood is full of battles - just remember to find the support you need (whether that support be emotionally, physically, financially, or all three forms) to climb the mountain and come out on top with your babes right by your side or in your arms. You're doing great.

You ARE great.

Much love,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Letter to My Son: Month 2

Dear Cooper, 

One year ago, I blew out birthday candles and made a wish for you.

You were the only gift I wanted. 

I remember feeling the heartbreak of a negative pregnancy test month after month. But looking back - I am reminded that everything happens for a reason.

Those negative tests.

Those tears.

Those heartaches - all brought me to you. 

And now that I have you, the only birthday wish I'll ever have is for your continued health and happiness.

Which, by the way, you're the happiest baby in the ENTIRE universe.

Big smiles.
On Thursday, you turned 8 weeks old! Below you'll find a few of the 20 pictures I took of you that day:

You make my heart melt.

I think you're farting in this picture.
You get it honest.

Puppy brother loves you VERY much.
He never leaves your side.
I am in complete shock (and denial) that you're already 8 weeks old. I cherish our days together so much. And the thought of returning to work completely breaks my heart. I know we still have another four weeks together, but I just can't bare the thought of leaving you with a woman I barely know.
You won't hear my voice when you're scared or upset.

You won't hold my hand when you're eating.

You won't feel my beating heart when you lay down for a nap.

And you won't see my face when you wake up from each nap.

My eyes are burning as they fill up with tears...thinking about the moments I'll miss and minutes - no seconds- we will spend apart from each other every single day. 

I hate to think of the morning that I must drop you off and don't return for 8 hours. I hope your babysitter is prepared to send me hourly updates and pictures.  Seriously- at minimum.

But I am so happy that I'll be working part time - I will be taking one day off each week so I can spend it with you. We can do WHATEVER you want! For now, I'm sure our days will include jamming on your kicking piano.

And of course, we will spend time snuggling together and catching up on everything I missed earlier in the week while you were at daycare.

But eventually we can take trip to the zoo to see the fun animals. Maybe one day I'll even let you pet a shark!

We can visit the Children's Museum to dig up fossils, learn about history and animals, and play with new friends!

We can go play at the park - I'll swing you until my arms hurt and go down all of the slides with you.

We will go runs and walks with Bandit, run errands together, and simply enjoy our day- mom and Coop day.

Oh the memories we will make...I can't wait!

Speaking of memories, here is a snapshot of some of my favorite moments from weeks 4-8:

You and your daddy started reading together.

Insert my heart melting.

We drove around together to watch the changing of the leaves. Fall is my favorite time of year.

"MOM! I love Fall too!"

 You went to your very first football game to watch your Uncle Loshe walk during senior night!

We're so proud of you Uncle Loshe!
All bundled up and watching the football game.

You are getting stronger and stronger each day, but sometimes tummy time just isn't your thing.

I'm bored. Where is my piano?
My heart skips a beat when I hear you laugh and see you smile - which is always.

Yes, you're already wearing Christmas jammies.
Tis' the season!
You continue to make hilarious facial expressions and noises during bath time.

And apparently I have a bald spot in the back of my head?
We went to your cousin Braxen's birthday party - it had a camo theme. You loved it so much that you slept the entire time.

Sleeping with Nana.
You had the biggest blow out ever and made the most awkward, hilarious face for about 15 minutes until I noticed that spot of poo on your belly.

"Hey mom. I've got a surprise for you."
I continue to constantly watch you while you sleep. You look so happy and peaceful - and my favorite is when I catch you smiling or laughing in your sleep.

Sweet baby dreams.
I also continue to take a million pictures of you each day. I never want to miss a moment.

This might be my favorite collection of your facial expressions.
 And now you're starting to notice that I am always creeping on you and taking pictures.

Busted! You caught me snapping your pic.
My chest remains your favorite place to sleep.

And I must admit,  having you sleep on my chest is my favorite too.

Dad continues to be the BEST ever - helping us by cooking dinner each night, feeding you, and wrapping you up in your Nemo robe after bath time. Watching you and your father together is the best feeling...

I fall more in love with you both each and every single day.

We're so happy we found you, little Nemo.

Your grandparents own a shoe store in Richmond - the store has been in the family for YEARS! And each year, mommy and daddy go back to help at the annual shoe sale. This year, you came to help us too!

Taking names and descriptions of people as they walk into the store!

We matched! Twinsies!

Daddy would come snuggle with you when he had a "free" minute.

And Grandma Sieb loved snuggling with you each night.
We were ALL exhausted after the long day.

People kept asking if they could buy YOU!
So we put this sign up!

You got changed on the famous bath tub couch!
Your daddy got changed on this when he was your age and went to the shoe store!

 We celebrated your first Halloween!

I love that you're smiling in this picture.

You dressed up as a fox while we passed out Halloween candy.
And you were passed out / sleeping the entire time.

We were The Hangover crew for Halloween.
It was amazing.
One day you'll watch this movie. It'll be a classic.

 Mommy's little pumpkin butt.

What did the fox say!?
Mommy's friend Sarah from On a Good Note made you personalized thank you cards!

How amazing and talented is Sarah!?
 You are slowly starting to grow more hair, but for now - you still have a mullet going on. Don't worry, your father and I BOTH had mullets. We're awesome.

Team mullet.
Your puppy brother never leaves your side. Nap time or feeding time or bath time- you can count on him to be right next to us!

My boys.
Mommy and daddy went on their first date night without you. We missed you 2 seconds after we pulled out of the drive way.

Um hi, can our baby come? We miss him.
Why are we so awkward?
 And I was SO happy to get home with you and do what we do best- SNUGGLE!

You're my whole world.
OH and how could I forget!! You finally got to meet Sarah and Dusty, your long-distance friends from San Francisco!
I think you have a crush on Sarah.

And today, we went shopping together. You must love shopping as much as your father because you slept the entire time!

I was happy to find this shirt for $11 at Banana Republic!
AND I fit into a size large again. Whoop whoop!

As you can tell, we've had an amazing four weeks together. On Wednesday, we have your 2 month doctor's appointment. I'm making your daddy come along because you are getting your shots. And I'm sure that will make both of us (you and me) tear up! Daddy better be strong or they better have shot of vodka there for me. Either way, I'm excited to see how much you've grown. And our hope is to hear that you're still a very healthy, happy, and perfect baby boy.

Thank you for being an incredible baby.

You've given me a new purpose in life.

You've taught me patience.

You've inspired me to love harder and cherish each and every second we spend together. 

And you've stretched my heart and the ability to love to unimaginable depths. 

Being your mother is the most amazing and joyful gift in this entire world. This birthday and all my birthdays to come will be complete with you in my life.

Much love,