June’s buffalo check and Liberty print nursery

19 January 2017

I am not one of those people who had the nursery tied up with a bow by the time their second trimester rolled around – in fact, we were still adding the finishing touches several months after our girl arrived! On time or not, I’m happy with how my vision came together, and on a budget of less than $500, too. Let’s take a little tour, shall we?

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Not to start off on a negative note, but I used Jenny’s pelmet tutorial for the blue buffalo check curtains and MAN it was a beast. I don’t know if I was doing something wrong, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I will begrudgingly admit the pelmet is still on the wall and looks good a year and a half later, though, so I guess it worked out in the end…?

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The dresser was a vintage find at the Raleigh Flea Market (I LOVE the color of the wood!), and the painting was a very special gift from one of my best friends – she made it herself after the wallpaper I was considering was discontinued! So talented!!

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One of the main differences between my nursery inspiration and June’s finished room is the crib skirt. I originally planned to do blue toile like Jessie, and even ordered a blue toile skirt off of Etsy, but when it arrived it just didn’t seem right. A few months later I bit the bullet on a favorite Liberty of London fabric, and my aunt graciously sewed it into a skirt. The fabric itself was not exactly cheap, but it’s my favorite thing in the room and added the feminine note the space was missing!

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That little cat is the first stuffed animal we bought for June, when we were in Paris and I was pregnant!

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My amazing aunt also KNIT this horse mobile after I showed her an exorbitantly expensive one I had fallen in love with! I have absolutely zero sewing skills, but it’s definitely a goal of mine to learn so I can one day make my niece or granddaughter’s nursery dreams come true. Gotta pay it forward :)

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Let’s talk about one more project that may or may not have been worth my while. We wanted to have a line of scripture or a hymn on June’s walls, and while I considered a beautiful piece from Between You and Me or House of Belonging, I was scared off by their pricing. So I decided to make one myself, and while I am mostly happy with how it turned out, it was a lot of work! AND, I knowingly had to spell one alleluia wrong, because I couldn’t fit another L on that line!! Argh. Oh well…

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Missing a few nursery-specific items you expected to see? June’s glider and changing station are both downstairs in our bedroom, because that’s remained our hub of activity for the most part. We also recently hung her baptism cross over her crib, and it’s one of my favorite additions!

I’ve listed sources below, but if you have any questions, ask away! I’m happy with how June’s sweet space came together, and hope you like it, too!

All photos by the very talented Nancy Ray.

Wall paint: Simply White by Benjamin Moore (were I to get a redo I would paint the walls Love & Happiness by Ben Moore instead) | Buffalo check fabric: Calico Corners in Blueberry | Twin bed: Craigslist | Pink pillow: Target | Blue quilt: Garnet Hill | Dresser: Vintage | Wooden frame: Target | Horse painting: Custom | Lamp: Target | Crib: Hand-me-down | Liberty print fabric: Alice Caroline Supply | Mobile: Custom | Sheep rocker: Pottery Barn | Faux sheepskin rug: Ikea | All Creatures art: DIY | Book bin and stool: Homegoods | Flush mount light (which you can’t see in these pictures, but is really cute!): Pottery Barn Kids

NC Museum of Art family photos

16 January 2017

Tired of seeing photos of my family yet? :) I hope not, because I’ve got a few more to share from our session with Nancy!! After our photos at the house, we drove to the North Carolina Museum of Art to take some outdoor options, mainly for our Christmas card. We love going for walks at the NCMA, and it’s also where we took our engagement photos, so it was fun to come full-circle with this location!

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I always see people posting these beautiful photos while holding their babies up in the air (ahem, Victoria Strader :))… and then I tried it and was like, yep, this is as high as I can lift her! Oh dear. Mine’s kind of a halfway hold :)

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I’ll end with perhaps my favorite photo from all of the ones we took that day…

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That’s my heart right there. Love those two.

Thank you again to our dear friend Nancy Ray for these photos. They are a gift our family will treasure forever!

Back soon to share June’s nursery!

Day-in-the-Life Family Photos with Nancy Ray

11 January 2017

I’m so happy to share the first part of our family photo session with Nancy Ray today! You may recall that Nancy gifted me the session of my choice at my baby shower. I thought long and hard about how to use it, and eventually decided to save it until June was a little bit older. I am SO glad I did, because these photos, with all of June’s grandparents, could not be more precious. (They were visiting for her baptism!)

I’ve broken the session into three posts; today, I’m sharing a few favorites from the ones we took at home, day-in-the-life style. (This was our inspiration.) Enjoy!!

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A favorite!!!

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Please enjoy that John is wearing his crocs in almost every photo… he considers them the equivalent of slippers :)

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And now let’s mix in some grandparents! I mean, how much are we all going to treasure these for the next 50 years???

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June’s main goal in life is to get the cats to let her pet them, so this was a very exciting moment that Nancy captured.

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This particular photo is very special to me… reading with my Dad is pretty much my number one memory from childhood, so seeing him do the same with June almost makes my heart explode. I am SO, so, so grateful our baby gets to have all four of these wonderful people in her life, as I know not all kiddos are so lucky.

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Best Dada I know :)

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I hope you love these photos as much as we do! I know I’m biased, but I think Nancy’s work here is just magical. Next up: more family photos outside!

P.S. In case you are wondering, my sweater and June’s dress are from Old Navy (I ordered it in a size large so it would be oversized!), and her headband is from Simple June. I did my own makeup (what?) and conveniently scheduled my regular hair appointment for the morning of our shoot so it looked better than usual :)

Happy one year, June

9 January 2017

This last year has felt slow, in the most wonderful way. From 4:15 to 8 every week day (and more on weekends, of course!), I was just with her. We were together. Sometimes we cooked, sometimes we folded laundry, sometimes I just sat on the floor and watched her explore. For the most part, I didn’t try to direct her activities. I didn’t share our moments on Snapchat or a Story. We smiled at each other and made each other laugh (and of course, sometimes there were tears!). We read books and stacked blocks. We hinged and unhinged the guitar case a million times. We listened to music and sang. We rolled around. We took lots of walks. We sat on the porch, quiet, and watched the tree in our front yard wave in the breeze. We tried to pet the cats. We took baths and ate dinner. Later, we climbed the stairs a million times, played with puzzles, danced, shook the tambourine.

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Photo by Nancy Ray

Since my most important job was to be present, it was easy to succeed and to feel accomplished. I am her mama, and in that role I felt like exactly enough. I had everything I needed to give her exactly what she needed. I didn’t feel guilty, distracted, or frenzied. I left my phone in the kitchen, so I wasn’t tempted to look at it. I didn’t do everything right, but I felt purposeful and content BECAUSE I very specifically narrowed my focus to only this one thing while I was with her.

Did that mean I took and shared fewer pictures?
Did that mean I had to stay up later some nights to finish Etsy orders?
Did that mean I wrote fewer blog posts?
Did that mean I read fewer books?
Did that mean our house was often messy, and, let’s be real, a little bit dirty?
Did that mean it took weeks for me to get back to some emails?

Yes.

Was it worth it?

Yes.

Throughout this year, I constantly heard my grandmother in my head: “I just tried to enjoy them.” Well, I enjoyed every – and I do mean every – moment with my little Junebug. It was the best year of what has been a beautiful life, and I know John would say the same.

I didn’t spend too much time mourning how fast she was growing, and I firmly stopped myself from thinking too much about the future. I just sat in the present, with her, with John, and it was good. I am doing the same now.

Whenever I feel a wave of sadness about how she’s no longer a little baby, I remember something else a wise woman in my life recently told me: we are not called to keep our babies little, but to raise them well and help them grow. Yes, yes, yes, amen!

So to our sweet, cheerful, funny, smart, patient one-year-old June Chen Thomas: We love you. We are so grateful you are ours. And we are so excited to see what your next year holds!

xoxoxoxoxo

P.S. Thank YOU for your encouragement, enthusiasm, ideas, and wisdom this past year! You made my first year as a mama even sweeter. Very thankful for this community and the ability to share! So much love to you all!!

June’s first Christmas

5 January 2017

I know I’ve already shared my 2017 goals and am looking ahead to the new year, but before it fades too far in the distance I wanted to share about June’s first Christmas! It was simple and very sweet. Here’s a little peek, if you’d like to see…

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On Thursday, December 22, we fed June dinner, gave her her bath, put her in her jams, and then John loaded up the car while I fed her. After that, we popped her in her car seat and hit the road!! I drove north from 9pm to 4am (!), and June only woke up briefly on our one stop for gas. John took over driving for the last leg, from 4 until we arrived at his parents’ house in Connecticut at 6:30am (while I slept in the backseat).

You guys, this COULD NOT have worked out better – I would drive overnight a million times over, especially a baby June’s age. It was completely painless for her, and relatively painless for us — there was no traffic, and no stopping for meals or anything else, so we made fantastic time. The only downside was that because I drank a fair amount of coffee (maybe 8 ounces?) to help stay awake and LITERALLY never drink coffee – the most I had probably ever had before this was a single sip – I felt queasy the following day. Thankfully, by our second day in Connecticut, I was back to normal. Next time, I think I’ll plan to step up and down the caffeine intake a bit more gradually :)

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We spent the first four days of our trip with the Thomas side at John’s parents’ house. Everyone was there, meaning eight adults and three kids (2.5, 1.5, and 1). Yes, it was a little crazy, but overall so much fun! John is representative of the whole Thomas clan in that they tend to be low-key and easygoing, so that helps :) We played lots of board games, did a 1000-piece puzzle, went for walks in the neighborhood, pretended we were tigers and seagulls with Wes, sang along with Johnny Guitar (John’s uncle-name!), and ate delicious food made by my mother-in-love.

On Christmas Eve, we went to the candlelight service at John’s childhood church and dressed the cousins in matching jams for bed, then spent Christmas morning opening presents and eating monkey bread. June got lots of clothes, a toy train, books, and some chunky puzzles! The grandparents also held down the fort one night so the siblings and spouses could go see Rogue One in theaters. (Loved it, but I really want to see La La Land!)

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Midway through the week we packed up all of our stuff (LOTS of stuff)… then drove it ten minutes across town to my parents’ house and unpacked it all :) We spent the next four days at the Ayer casa. I got to see my parents’ new kitchen renovation (amazing!! Thinking of sharing photos here because it is so beautiful!), plus see extended family at a dinner we hosted and lots of childhood friends and my parents’ friends at a cocktail party one evening. In between, we went for walks, visited Sift in Mystic, ate peanut butter balls, followed June up and down the stairs, and played more board games. We also had a second “Christmas morning,” which my older sister Kate joined via Google Hangout – she and Cormac decided not to travel this year because my newest nephew was born at the very end of September!

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On New Year’s Eve we again packed up our stuff and drove about 6.5 hours to Northern Virginia, where Natalie and Joe recently moved. This was the perfect stopover on our drive, and in addition to June getting to check out all of her cousin’s toys, we had a lovely low-key, pajama-clad, takeout-Chinese and Trader-Joe’s-raspberry-tart New Year’s Eve.

We made it home on Sunday with enough time to unpack a bit, go grocery shopping, and generally get ready for a new week. June was SUCH a traveling champ, for which we are so grateful! Time with our families is so precious, and this week did not disappoint.

Since Marget and Seth now live in California, there’s talk of a Cali Christmas in 2017… so June’s second celebration might look very different than her first! :)

Hoping you all had wonderful holidays, as well!!