2014 In Review: family, the house, motorcycles, and leather goods

How did that happen so quickly? Weren’t we just here? The Holidays and another year over, with a couple months of dark, cold, gray winter still looming. To cheer us all up, we thought we’d put together a look back at 2014– it was a great year, and believe it or not, the top posts on this little blog of ours reflect what we’ve been focusing on and what’s important in our lives.

The top 5 posts based on views this year were: Read More…

With child (and partner)

I can officially say, speaking from experience, that having a baby alone is infinitely more challenging than having a baby with a partner. I always fantasized about what it would be like. But at the same time, I remember – I knew being a single mother was easier than being with my ex and in a toxic relationship. I was right in that. For sure.

Here is my parenting pain scale:

- Parenting with a partner (it’s hard and demanding)
– Parenting solo (it’s incredibly hard and demanding)
– Parenting with an asshole (trumps both of the above and then multiply the pain by 100)

I say “parenting with a partner” because parenthood really is a partnership. You have to be on the same page at all times. And if you aren’t, you have to have the capacity to understand each other, forgive each other and move on to the next moment. You have to be able to let each other sleep in, or go out for a night or work without guilt. There are about a million things you need to do for each other to succeed as parents together, but from what I can tell – so early in my co-parenting relationship – all of these things center around trust, respect and love. If you have all three – you’re set. Without one of them – you’re doomed.

In Seth I have found everything I ever dreamed of having in a partner. At night, he wakes up with the baby if I can’t. During the day, he stays home with the kids so I can trot off to the office without worry. And, astonishingly, he never complains, not even on Fridays when he’s just about had it with all of them. And he always, always offers me hugs and love and support – even in my darkest moments he is there for me, unwavering.

To all of the single mamas out there (one day too late) – happy mother’s day and happy father’s day. In many cases, you are both and you deserve two days to celebrate your strength. And no, you are not imagining it, being a single mom is by far one the most challenging things any one person could ever face. Remember to trust yourself, respect yourself and love yourself. Do that first and love with someone else will follow.

And to Seth, you are a treasure among men. I am so lucky to have you… Happy Father’s Day (one day too late).



This place.

During the first few weeks we couldn’t believe it was ours. 

We walked from room to room just shaking our heads in disbelief. We had convinced ourselves we would have to wait years to buy a larger home and we had also convinced ourselves we would never find anything this unique, this magical…

We don’t know much of the history yet.

When a house has been around as long as this one has, it’s humbling to know we are just another family between the walls. There were so many more before us and there will be even more to come. How many babies grew up here? How many mothers tucked their little ones in at night in the same rooms? How many fathers scolded their boys for slamming the doors?

The family before us bought the house in the 1960’s and when they did, according to their daughter and son-in-law, everyone thought they were nuts. The place was in shambles. But, they set out to make the house over and build an addition. With their several children as inspiration they built in secret passages and little pint sized nooks that only little kids can fit into. Bud and Mary Stimel raised their children here and eventually left the world here.

I can’t say I blame them. And just like I knew Seth was my soul mate the moment I laid eyes on him, I know this house is where we will live most of our lives, if not – our entire lives.

We have our first before and after picture for you!!!

I give you … the dining area when we moved in. I stole this from Zillow because I, of course, didn’t take my own before pictures. This is the dining section of the kitchen.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 8.29.10 PM

And now… after three weeks of painting (and we still have another coat or two to go) – here is the dining area again. We still have the sitting area by the bay windows and the entire kitchen to finish, but hey! this is progress! Read More…

The big yellow house.

Living in a 1200 square foot house with four children, one of them a newborn, a 78 pound dog and a husband-man may be tolerable for some, but this mama was losing hope of ever having a private moment in the bathroom again, let alone a quiet moment in any room. We could hear the children constantly, no matter what room we tucked them into.

But our effort to find a larger and affordable alternative seemed futile. Every one of our Zillow searches produced the same results. McMansion A or McMansion B. Same houses, different suburb and nothing at all appealing to us.

Seth and I both grew up in century-old houses with solid wood floors, creaky doors, quiet nooks and massive wooded yards. In our childhood homes, imaginations could run wild and we were constantly entertained. A newer house without history, solid floors and a private yard was out of the question.

So, refusing to settle, we waited.

When Foster arrived our online searches became more frequent. 1200 square feet now felt like 800 and we were literally tripping over each other. And then we found it.

The big, yellow house.

We were both shocked that it was actually available. It has to be sold, we thought. This listing can’t be accurate. We scoured through the listing, trying to figure out why no one had snagged her up. Yes, the rooms were old. Yes, it needed work – but “Hello, World!” would you look at her?


When we walked in for a showing, the realtor didn’t have much of a sales pitch.  Read More…

Home birth video

I have had so many questions from friends and family about the decision to have a home birth. To Seth and I, this is a natural choice as our siblings were all born at home. Having witnessed my mother giving birth to my little brother, comfortably in her own bed and then having experienced my first birth in a hospital, which was a far cry from that peaceful scene – the choice is clear for me.

However, that choice is extremely personal for every woman and I have zero judgement to anyone who wants to have a hospital birth. But, I think those choosing hospital births should educate themselves on their options. So, I wanted to share an awesome home birth video I love in hopes that you, too, may one day consider having a natural birth with the help of midwives in your own home.

NOTE: this is a tear-jerker. Always makes me cry. Read More…

The finish line

10 days until our official due date…

I am hanging on by a thread in the sanity department. I just want to be back to my normal self, walking at a quick pace, off from one place to the next and wearing whatever I want. Right now, I’m lucky if I can get from my car to the office without being short of breath and I am down to about four outfits that are acceptable for public consumption.

On the bright side, I was a nesting fool before I came to this screeching halt, so, we’re as prepared as we can be for the home birth and for Foster. If you can really be prepared for either.

They will both be firsts for me– a birth at home and having a child with someone I love. I imagine both unpredictable experiences daily and feel as equally exhilarated as I do terrified. Will we ever sleep again? Will the kids adjust okay? Will Seth and I ever get time to ourselves? Yes. Yes. And, yes, I tell myself. But am I just lying to myself– did we ignore all of these obvious things when we decided to have another? Seth says all of our questions will be answered the moment we see his face. And, as always, he’s absolutely right. Knowing this is all happening for a reason and knowing that fear had no place in our decision assures me that everything will be more than fine.

Remarkable, really, how life just comes at you, like a wave.

I am a woman of few words as of late and have been extremely antisocial. I can say this- I miss you World and will be rejoining you very shortly in my skinny jeans back and with an extremely adorable baby on my hip.





Foster will be making his debut in five weeks.

As a result, I have a serious case of nesting. Not only at home, but at work. With the business being my business and all, I have to make sure all of the ducks are in a row. Fortunately, I have hired an amazing team and they are already proving that they’ll be just fine without me. At home, Seth and I have purged every nook and cranny and we even have the children on a strict chore chart. Turns out they are completely capable of vacuuming, dusting, polishing and even picking up after themselves.

In the quiet moments Benjamin and I have together, he rests his hand and head on my belly and waits for Foster kicks. When he feels one his entire face lights up in awe. I tried to capture it with my camera, but only caught this moment – just after the face lighting up. Here he is just calmly listening and feeling, waiting for another…

Big brother feeling baby

I am sure it is a common feeling for the mother of one to wonder what Read More…

I take it back (and where we’ve been),

Nine days ago, I set off with all three kids on a flight to San Francisco to meet Seth. He had driven out a week prior for his little brother’s bachelor party and we were joining him for the wedding.

The plan – drive back home to Ohio from San Francisco and camp the entire way. After three nights in a tent, and two in a hotel for the wedding – my back and hips decided to stage a mutiny.

Suddenly my last post about pregnancy being a breeze became a haunting jinx as I struggled to walk without pain. We weighed our options- I could fly back or we could keep going, staying in hotels. I would stay back and bench it while the rest of the family hiked. We opted with the later and I am feeling much better, but still have to rest as much as possible. Eleven weeks to go now.

We started in Yosemite, Heaven on Earth- by far my favorite stop so far- then headed through Idaho to meet my brother, Ezra in the Grand Tetons. Now we are in Wyoming and headed toward Iowa City to see another brother. Keep up with us on Instagram – @alaina_gray or @sethgray.

Here is a view from last night as we drive through Bighorn Canyon, a hidden treasure just west of Yellowstone.


More pictures when we get back.



My guys.

With Benjamin’s father largely uninvolved (he sees him once a month for a few hours, at most), Seth is it. The man who will raise him, teach him right from wrong and the man who will love him unconditionally, no matter how hard he pushes back.

And he will push back. He does push back. Every day.

Benjamin is a defiant little guy. It’s hard for me to watch because I was the same way, and still am. I am as passionate as I am stubborn and while these can be strengths in adulthood, children with these traits are often a handful. So, while Seth issues his stern warnings and Benjamin stands his ground, I am torn. Read More…

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