Beauty

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).

xoxo

Alaina

This place.

We have been too busy living to blog.

But here is a picture of my sweetest little Foster.

FosterSweetFaceEveryone has adjusted to his presence. All three of his brothers and sisters adore him.

And Archer is always near (this shot is from yesterday)

Foster and Archer

FosterandArcherStretch

Life is just flying by and there hasn’t been enough time to blog. That’s not okay… this is my forced journalling, this web really. If I don’t do it here, buy I don’t do it anywhere and then all is lost. The details that make up the memories will be harder to patch together later.

xoxo

Alaina

We have been too busy living to blog.

But here is a picture of my sweetest little Foster.

FosterSweetFaceEveryone has adjusted to his presence. All three of his brothers and sisters adore him.

And Archer is always near (this shot is from yesterday)

Foster and Archer

FosterandArcherStretch

Life is just flying by and there hasn’t been enough time to blog. That’s not okay… this is my forced journalling, viagra dosage really. If I don’t do it here, website I don’t do it anywhere and then all is lost. The details that make up the memories will be harder to patch together later.

xoxo

Alaina

Assuming, here of course, case you are married to a wonderful manperson.

I can now say with authority that having a baby with a man who supports and loves you both to the ends of the Earth is divinely easy compared to having one solo.

Raising Benjamin now feels like a lifetime ago… But sometimes she I am holding Foster I forget he isn’t Benjamin. “Oh, viagra dosage right, this is a different baby entirely.”

Benjamin, the seven year old seems frighteningly huge to me. His big, brown eyes watch me closely as I tend to baby Foster. He reaches out to touch Foster’s cheeks and between asking him if he has washed his hands in one second and reaching for a diaper in another, I drink in the view, hoping I can preserve this moment forever and open it whenever I need to feel pure joy but knowing it will be gone just as quickly. Benjamin is the evidence. Time has no mercy.

He is still adjusting to the idea that I am not solely his anymore. That he has to share me with Seth, Lily, Cohen and now Foster. When he says to me, “Mama, I wish sometimes it was just you and me again.” I say back, “me, too, my love. I miss those days as much as you do.”

“You do?” He asks, surprised.

“Yes! Of course – we had so much fun.” Then tell tales of our adventures and he soaks them up like a sponge, chiming in with his own.

“But,” I add, “Do you know what you wanted more than anything then?”

“What?” He asks.

“A dad.”

His eyes look off into the distance and then back at me. I continue, “and brothers and sisters.”

“Yeah,” he concedes.

“And you know what? When you are 10 you are going to tell me how much you miss being 7. It’s just the way life works. Things are always changing and we all always miss the times before the change.”

He is so strong and brave, my little Benjamin. I wonder how different Foster will be…. Having a mother he shares from the start.

Xoxo mamas, thinking of you out there…

Alaina
Assuming, case of course, you are married to a wonderful manperson.

I can now say with authority that having a baby with a man who supports and loves you both to the ends of the Earth is divinely easy compared to having one solo.

Raising Benjamin now feels like a lifetime ago… But sometimes she I am holding Foster I forget he isn’t Benjamin. “Oh, right, this is a different baby entirely.”

Benjamin, the seven year old seems frighteningly huge to me. His big, brown eyes watch me closely as I tend to baby Foster. He reaches out to touch Foster’s cheeks and between asking him if he has washed his hands in one second and reaching for a diaper in another, I drink in the view, hoping I can preserve this moment forever and open it whenever I need to feel pure joy but knowing it will be gone just as quickly. Benjamin is the evidence. Time has no mercy.

He is still adjusting to the idea that I am not solely his anymore. That he has to share me with Seth, Lily, Cohen and now Foster. When he says to me, “Mama, I wish sometimes it was just you and me again.” I say back, “me, too, my love. I miss those days as much as you do.”

“You do?” He asks, surprised.

“Yes! Of course – we had so much fun.” Then tell tales of our adventures and he soaks them up like a sponge, chiming in with his own.

“But,” I add, “Do you know what you wanted more than anything then?”

“What?” He asks.

“A dad.”

His eyes look off into the distance and then back at me. I continue, “and brothers and sisters.”

“Yeah,” he concedes.

“And you know what? When you are 10 you are going to tell me how much you miss being 7. It’s just the way life works. Things are always changing and we all always miss the times before the change.”

He is so strong and brave, my little Benjamin. I wonder how different Foster will be…. Having a mother he shares from the start.

Xoxo mamas, thinking of you out there…

Alaina
We had been searching online for months– for more space, rx for a home that could accommodate our growing family, diagnosis now at a head count of six, cost were were all living in a charming, but absolutely tiny 1200 square foot house. The effort to find a larger and affordable alternative seemed futile. Every search result inevitably produced McMansion A or McMansion B. Same houses, different floor plans and all situated in a suburb 25 minutes North of Downtown Columbus.

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

So we waited, refusing to settle.

When Foster arrived our online searches became more frequent. 1200 square ft now felt like 800 and we were literally tripping over each other. Bathroom jams were a frequent occurrence and I thought I was going to lose mind. And then one night, when Foster was about two weeks old- we found it in an expanded Zillow search to include another county near ours.

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?

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The next day, we booked a showing. When I walked in, with baby Foster in my arms, the realtor didn’t have much of a sales pitch.  Read More…

The big yellow house.

Living in a 1200 square foot house with four children, patient 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?

20131211-145630.jpg

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

Home birth video

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, stuff physician 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.

xoxo,

Alaina

 
10 more days to go…

I am hanging on by a thread in the sanity department. Everything, pharm thanks to my serious case of nesting, viagra approved is taken care of at the office and at home. So, now, it’s just preparing myself for the birth – at home – and the arrival of little Foster.

As far as the home birth goes, I feel completely comfortable with being here. The rates of C-section for our midwives are a low 4% compared to that of over 25% at area hospitals. Then there’s also the experience of having Foster here, in our home, where we all belong and feel safe and comfortable. I’m actually incredibly excited about the birth. I have been reading piles of books from my dad’s old office. The stories of the births are beautiful versus the stories of the births you often hear now from our generation, given that most are in the hospital.

A hospital birth is my worst fear. Isn’t that interesting? I will freak out if something happens and I have to go in.

As far as the excitement

Mentally, I’m fine one day and totally down the next. Being physically unable to move at my normal pace is what’s gotten me. I can’t even go shopping for more than an hour without feeling faint and short of breath.

But, I know this is completely temporary. It’s just so hard for me to stop as someone who typically never does. For the most part I am directing the kids from the couch. And they have been amazing. Cleaning up after themselves, only when asked (finally starting to do it unprompted), making themselves breakfast, and even playing and keeping themselves occupied for hours without TV or Wii. They’re creative little minds are in full spin right now

I day dream about wearing my skinny jeans and riding with Seth. That’s what I miss the most. Riding with him. Isn’t that odd? I knew I would And being able to walk, to run, to play for hours with the kids instead of in bursts of about 15 minutes at a time.

These last few weeks have been rough the hardest by far. We’re so excited to meet Foster, and I don’t want him to arrive any earlier than he needs, but – ugh – not being able to even shop for more than an hour is torture.
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, thumb walking at a quick pace, this web 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. If anything, my greatest challenge will be accepting that life can really be this awesome.

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.

xoxo,

Alaina

 
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, more about walking at a quick pace, information pills off from one place to the next and wearing whatever I want. Right now, drug 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.

xoxo,

Alaina

 
I have had so many questions from friends and family about the decision to have a home birth. To Seth and I, look this is a natural choice as our siblings were all born at home. Having witnessed my mother giving birth to my little brother, sick 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, stuff physician 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.

xoxo,

Alaina

 

Nesting

We started in Yosemite National Park.

And I must say, salve this was the highlight of our trip. Yosemite competes with Glaciar National Park in pure, pills downright, jaw-dropping beauty. I made this nifty gallery instead of embedding a million photos. (Love you WordPress). You’ll see the beginning of a photo bombing “bunny year” war by Benjamin, which continued through the entire trip leaving us with very few good pictures of all three of them.

We camped in Yosemite – for three nights – in a tent. Normally, my un-pregnant self loves camping. I adore every minute of it, even squatting in the woods. So… I was willing my body to just do it. But, by the third morning when Seth had to literally roll me over because I couldn’t move, we decided hotels would be best from there on out.

The tent sleeping damage had been done though and I couldn’t hike at all from that point on.

We drove into Yosemite on the West entrance and exited from the East. So, in what seemed like moments the mountains changed from these

Yosemite13

to these

Nevada1

After Nevada, we met Uncle Ezra at Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho where he was waiting with a picnic and cool presents for the kids.

UncleEz1

UncleEz2

An oasis of lava fields, the kids loved this place and felt like space aliens.

Craters1

Craters2

Craters3

This is what the lava looked like up close…

Craters4After Craters of the Moon we headed on to the Grand Tetons, which after the light crowds at Yosemite seemed crowded and jam-packed with tourists.

Being tourists ourselves though, we couldn’t really blame them.

Grand Tetons Picnic

I stayed back while Uncle Ez, Seth and the kids hiked up to Inspiration Point and reached 7,200 feet in elevation.

Grand Tetons hike to inspiration point

I wasn’t there, so I can’t be sure, but this looks like Ezra when he spotted a moose.

Tetons4

After the Grand Tetons we ventured up to Yellowstone. The park paled in comparison to Yosemite and it was about Yellowstone when the kids decided to turn into full on Gremlins.

Yellowstone2

The rest of the trip was a bit of a blur as we made the long dash back to Ohio from Wyoming and the Dakotas. We stopped along the way at Devils Tower, Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and Wall Drug, where the entire family got to unload some frustration on a shooting range.

ShootingRange

So, we made it! Alive and well.  By the time we got home we were all so happy to be here and out of the car that all five of us

 

 

 
We started in Yosemite National Park.

And I must say, erectile this was the highlight of our trip. Yosemite competes with Glaciar National Park in pure, cialis 40mg downright, look jaw-dropping beauty. I made this nifty gallery instead of embedding a million photos. (Love you WordPress). You’ll see the beginning of a photo bombing “bunny year” war by Benjamin, which continued through the entire trip leaving us with very few good pictures of all three of them.

We camped in Yosemite – for three nights – in a tent. Normally, my un-pregnant self loves camping. I adore every minute of it, even squatting in the woods. So… I was willing my body to just do it. But, by the third morning when Seth had to literally roll me over because I couldn’t move, we decided hotels would be best from there on out.

And, in case you were wondering, Seth’s beard turned into this: Read More…

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

Nine days ago, dosage 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, online 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.

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More pictures when we get back.

xoxo,

Alaina

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