52 Weeks of Happy: 7

It is February 24th, or otherwise known as our baby Ev is ONE MONTH OLD already!  The fresh newborn stage is growing into periods of more wakefulness, stronger cries when we want something, and her parents are starting to feel more comfortable in the business of parenting.

This past week included a lot of happy, to include naps on daddy after vigorous rounds of swing dancing to calm us down:

52 Weeks of Happy: 7

Staring at our faces with wonder and curiosity:

52 Weeks of Happy: 7

More sleeping and eating, then hit repeat:

52 Weeks of Happy: 7

Awake yet again and ready for play!

52 Weeks of Happy: 7

The best, happiest part of the week, meeting one set of grandparents! Mom and Dad Swoboda are here and we are LOVING the extra set of hands around the house to hold baby, fix meals, and they’ve definitely given me more confidence to get out and about.

52 Weeks of Happy: 7

I’ll keep updating you as I can, thus far any semblance of routine is out the door and we take each day as it comes.  I feel like my days are a flurry of emotions wrapped in a new package each hour;) Baby Girl is rocking our world as we knew she would, and I can’t believe that we’ve made it a month already.  So far we’re staying true to the statement “the days are long, but the months/years are short”.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 6

I never knew why parents act like they have ZERO time for anything with a newborn until this past week.  Ev hit a growth spurt and it has been all about feeding this crazy little girl around the clock.  I’m not going to lie, it is tough business.  However, each day we are still experiencing such joy in watching her grow!

I want to remember the happy of: watching Daddy dance with her around the living room, and how he’s continually kept his sense of humor and inspired me to do the same.  How different she already is, and how proud we feel experiencing her journey with her.  I want to remember how I learned how to reach out this past week and invite visitors, and ask them for HELP.  That one is never easy for me, I want to do it all. But, it does wonders to have a little help from our friends.

52 Weeks of Happy 6

Our friends here are amazing. Cost of admission for seeing our doll baby has been a meal for mommy at lunchtime.  Thank goodness.  We were spoiled with love, affection, yummy treats, and passing the time not completely alone with Ry going back to work.  Amazing.  They also held her so I could get a shower.  Double amazing.

52 Weeks of Happy 6

I sorted out how to use our baby carrier.  I’m still panicked and checking her breathing every minute, but it is nice to wear my tiny cuddler, giving my arms a break.

52 Weeks of Happy 6

And for fun, I had to throw in a picture of her at the “baby spa” otherwise known as calm for 10 seconds and then hate, hate, hating being cold and getting our head wet;)

52 Weeks of Happy 6

Bring on week 4 of her adventure, how is she almost a month old??? This week we also welcome Mama and Pops Swoboda to the island, just in time to help us re-stock the freezer and she gets to meet her grandparents!! Exciting business all around.  Here we go Week 7 of 2015!

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 5

Oh my goodness what a week! Our baby lady is officially 2 weeks old already.  We’ve definitely hit the parent wall of sleepless nights and pajama wearing round the clock.  There have been phone calls out for support to our parents and friends, and we are taking it each day (sometimes each hour, each minute) as it comes.  However tough this “fourth trimester” can seem sometimes, there are an overwhelming number of wonderful moments too.

Making me Happy in Week 5:

I can not stop taking photos! She’s more alert this week, and those wise little eyes gazing up into mine melt my heart.

52 Weeks of Happy

Tiny feet!

52 Weeks of Happy

Wee hands that grasp to hold mine.

52 Weeks of Happy

Our first serious proud parent moment as we placed her on a blanket this week for tummy time.  Look at that neck strength! Already you are trying to grow up my darling, and I love/hate it at the same time.  Your only job right now is to grow, grow, grow.  Ours is to keep you safe and love you to pieces while you do.

52 Weeks of Happy

We’ve been able to take some walks this week and my recovery is coming along well.  I’m trying not to push it, but instead enjoy leisurely strolls.  Evelyn wearing her adorable knitted hat from Erica here;)

52 Weeks of Happy

This is a journey that changes EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I don’t know what I expected, but there have already been so many indescribable emotions.  Week 6 is going to be a challenge, Daddy is going back to work and we’re going to rock this solo little girl.  I know we can do it.

Here’s to Week 6!

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 3 & 4

I am so excited to write this post.  Reason #1 being that I now have a baby snuggled on my chest in the process, it’s my first time not resting whilst she’s resting ~I know it’ll bite me later, but sometimes you just need to do a few things for you soul, ya know? Writing is one of those things for me.  Reason #2 because Week 3 and 4 of 2015 were VERY distinct weeks.

Week 3= life without baby.

Week 4= baby arrived.

An incredible life shift in such a short time, a matter of days.  There have been moments of elation, exasperation, tears, fears, laughter, joy, and we’ve realized with a daughter born, two parents were birthed into the world as well.  We are as messy, wild, silly, loving, and growing just as much as she is.

Week 3 Happy meant writing in my journal A HEAP TON.  I was insanely nervous she was just never going to come out.  There were doctor visits that week and talks of membrane stripping and induction and I was praying upon prayers that she would decide to venture into the world on her own.  I was trying to soak up every last bit of “alone” time, but truth be I was past it.  It was like Christmas morning was around the corner but when?!

52 weeks 2015

Ironically, I took this photo on Friday evening.  40 weeks and 3 days.  That night I went into labor.

52 weeks 2015

16 hours later BOOM we had a baby!

52 weeks 2015

Week 4 Happy has meant baby snuggles.  Around the clock feedings.  Hoping for poopy diapers.  Parent struggles and finding ourselves redefining life as three.  It is awesome.  And awesomely hard.  I think of all my parent friends that tried to prepare us, but there’s no prep.  There’s just to keep swimming, and then feeling amazed at her growth and presence every day.  There’s healing for mama, and a dad that is working at taking care of both of us.

52 weeks 2015

I find myself reaching for my journal during feedings and jotting notes just so I don’t forget a thing.  I want to remember all of it.  I’m loving all of it, even the hard parts because it is a challenge and we are doing it.  Each hour, each day, we’re making it work.

52 weeks 2015 52 weeks 2015

I think you’ve gathered by now I’ll be writing on the fly, checking in when I can.  The best way I know how to do any of this right now is by staying low key, relaxed, and being proud of what we do get done…even if that means constant days of rest. Here’s to a Happy 5 ahead!

Welcome to the World Evelyn

You might have noticed we’ve been a bit absent from the internet world.  We had very good reason to be;)  Our daughter Evelyn June Swoboda swept into our world on Saturday, January 24th at 3:53 pm.  She weighed in at  7lbs, 3oz and was 20 in long.  I feel like everything I could say after those stats is cliche, but whatever, here it goes:  Our hearts are crazy full. I’m so in love.  I can’t believe how perfect she is and that she’s all ours.  I can’t even put into words the extreme joy, the excitement, the contentment I feel to have her finally here.

Ev is here!

I am contemplating sharing my birth story in this space, and may on another day.  I feel like there are so many painful, horrifying, scary birth stories out there and I felt none of that about our birth.  It was everything I wanted it to be, honestly.  The briefest of recaps: I starting contracting at midnight, January 24th.  My husband was my rock and helped me get through 7.5 hours of labor in our own home.  We went to the hospital when I was 3 minutes apart in contractions, they were 1 minute long, and I was super serious in concentration of managing each one.  We were admitted at 8 am and I was at  6cm dialated and 90% effaced.  It took till 1:30 pm for me to be ready to push and I worked at it till she came out! There are more amazing emotions and details to share, but she came out with a whoosh, a yell, I caught her, daddy cut the cord and now here we are today!  I did not use any interventions or medications, which is something I can say I am fortunate for and worked hard to do.

Ev is here!

Now, look at that hair!!  A full head of crazy jet black mop.  We love it.

Ev is here! Ev is here! Ev is here!

Team Swoboda gained a third member and another suitcase to our crew.  To our family and friends that waited so patiently to tell our tale and share in our own time, thank you.  Thank you for your loving words, support, and we are now in baby-mode at home of feeding, diapering, and a whole lot of adoring this little girl.

Welcome to the World Evelyn June, we can’t imagine it without you.

Bring on the Baby Books

I can admit now, and will freely…I did not do a whole lot of pre-baby reading.  I did do some.  But I felt like much of what I read just freaked me out. I wasn’t ready.  I don’t know if it was the tone they were written in, or the fact that reading it all before Ry came home before deployment made me feel jinxed somehow…like the more I studied up the closer she would come to arriving early.  It was a weird spot to be in.

However some reading was had, and I’d like to share those choices with you!  I enjoyed the following titles:

Bringing up Bebe:  LOVED it.  I found the take on an American mom in France really refreshing, especially as I was an expat for two years in Seoul, S. Korea.  I gained new insight on parenting from living in Asia, and have adopted even more thoughts on the matter as we’ve continued to move around the globe.  I also enjoyed the smattering of recipes and tales of the extensive daycare/preschools in France.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:  I was conflicted on this read.  I agreed with some of the tenacity and strictness the mother was introducing to her children.  After all, I want my child to be her very best as well.  I’m still thinking on exactly how I feel about it!  It was great to challenge some of my thoughts of raising a child, and how I view “success”.

The Mindful Way Through Pregnancy: This was the very first book I picked up when I saw that stick change color.  The honest stories of the women in this small book truly spoke to me.  With Ry-guy gone I also appreciated the mediation and yoga practices that were introduced, because I needed my head and heart to be strong in this process.  Bottom line: my yogi mamas out there would adore this.  It’s an easy, compelling little book that nurtured me in the first trimester.

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: This book I found to be very nurturing as well, for my mind and spirit.  It took me awhile to decide to pursue my thoughts on birthing and labor, and this helped tremendously with my final “wishes” and “preferences” for the big day.  I might share those someday, at the moment they feel very personal and I’m not ready to go there just yet.  But this book is a celebration of women and what our bodies can do.  It was calming and invigorating.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting, & What to Expect the First Year: An American Standard! I liked reading along with my baby’s progress that she was making each week.  I also liked being re-assured that much of what I was feeling was “normal”.  Ry and I read chapters of …The First Year to one another, and will most likely continue to as our wee one grows.  They are great guides, but I don’t think should be studied verbatim.  Every child is different, so I’m reading and keeping an open mind.


If I find anymore compelling parental reads, I’ll be adding them on here.  I’m thinking much of what there is to be learned as a parent is in the field, on the baby battlefield, and not so much in a text book;)

Throwback Travel Thursday: I <3 PARIS in the Springtime!

Perhaps it is all this talk of baby that makes me think of my original bebe.  My man.  I know, gag.  But honestly, whatever! I can’t help loving that man of mine.  And with all these mushy-gushy feelings of love and the anticipation for our first child, it got me thinking of one of the most romantic cities.


Ah yes, Paris.  In the springtime no less.  Ry and I hit up this lovely city in May of 2013.  We held hands through the streets, marveled at art, ate lusciously long lunches, and were enamored by the beauty of it all.  These are some of my favorite photos from our time there.  If you are interested in reading more, I’ve included some of my favorite links for Paris re-cap posts at the bottom;)Paris in the Springtime Paris in the Springtime Paris in the Springtime Paris in the Springtime Paris in the Springtime Paris in the Springtime Paris in the Springtime


The last Paris post: C’est la Vie

Sacre Coeur 

Beneath the Streets: The Catacombs

Arc de Triomphe 

Sainte Chapelle

The Gardens of Versailles 

Versailles Inside

Au Revoir, Mes Amis!

A Nice Little “Nursery”

We are all set! Now we really just need a baby girl to come on out and greet the world;)

Our nice little “nursery” turned out beautifully.  I put “nursery” in quotes due to the fun fact that this room is still a gear locker and guest suite~ hey, small apartment but BIG function.  I don’t know if you remember what this room used to look like, here’s a peek back:

Before Guest Suite Before Guest Suite

Drum roll, please…


Baby Girl Nursery

The crib is awaiting the right time to be put together, baby is sleeping in a co-sleeper next to our bed for the first bit anyway;) The bookcases were moved against the back wall and now hold both Ev’s and her Daddy’s things.  A cute little changing table, her clothes hamper, plus diaper pails to pull double duty for cloth and disposables.

Below, I’ve started an art wall for baby girl.  The quotes make me smile, saying:

“Adventure is HERE”

“Though she is but little, she is but FIERCE”

and from our Aunt Christie, “She believed she could, so she DID”

I hand-painted the letters and love them hanging on the driftwood stick.  I know we’ll be adding to the art wall and changing it up as we go along, but for now this will make Mama happy to look at especially during those late night feedings.

Baby Girl Nursery

I created a closet book shelf for her fancier outfits, and then made tags that I laminated so that they are now dry-erase.  The green frame will soon hold photos of our wee one, and the bins below contain clothing in coordinating sizes.

Baby Girl Nursery Baby Girl Nursery Baby Girl Nursery Baby Girl Nursery

The black unit holds beige bins, filled with children’s books.  Depending on the number, I have a little library folder with all the books listed. For now…I’m sure when she gets bigger they will turn into just chuck it all in for a quick pick-up, or a great place to coral toys!

Baby Girl Nursery Baby Girl Nursery Baby Girl Nursery Baby Girl Nursery

Your first room is ready little lady. Who could have guessed you’d be born on this special island? I never would have guessed it, but now it seems like right where we are supposed to be.

Capturing Our Baby Lady: Ideas!

I know, I know, I already anticipate looking back on this post and feeling the guilt of “oh man, I did NOT do all of that” but let’s set that pressure aside and instead think that it could ALL be possible;)  It is such a fleeting time, as my dear friends have played this saying for me on repeat,

The days are loooong, but the months and years are short.

I have already started setting aside Ev’s memory box items.  We have an amazing baby album that I can not wait to share.  I have big hopes of switching our albums over to Project Life format this year, to take some of the pressure off of immaculately scrapped pages.  I simply do not think time will allow for that.  I want to capture this first year in more of a living art journal format.  I’m looking into at-home printers, but am also secretly celebrating a new Target that’s moving in 3 miles from my home.  Perhaps many a morning walk there with babes and the stroller for prints?!

Adventure on the way!

I also have collected a great many ambitious memory-keeping ideas from bloggers.  I have been following all four of these blogging ladies for a year ++ now, and I love how they captured their little ones’ journey.  I especially think it’ll be important for me to do what I can as our family’s memory keeper  for the fact that our daddio will not always be present due to deployments, and our family lives so far from us.  Why would I not want to capture this adventure with the same vigor I did as Ry and I trekked across the globe?!  Here are a few of my favorite gems:

1. Weekly Baby Pictures as seen on Young House Love.  I adore this project.  I want to delve in and get as many weeks as I can.  Such subtle changes over that first year.  Such chaos from the very start, and then the wonder of watching your child grow.

2.  I followed along with humble joy as I read Elise’s story on her blog.  I’ve thought of it many times as I’ve entered the world as not just a soon-to-be mama, but as one with a military spouse.  Her Dear Ellerie letters were fantastic, raw and beautiful.  She turned them into a gorgeous book for her daughter complete with photos.  I hope to do the same.

3.  My own 52 Weeks of Happy actually was derived from reading Her Library Adventures.  Author Sophie has been capturing her daughter each week, very much like the project on Young House Love.  But she’s done portraits, tried to capture a little lady in action as she grows.  This year she’s even doing weekend photos, instead of just her girl.  I love growing into this idea.

4. Katie at Yes, I Want Cake has been doing gorgeous video interviews with her young daughter.  I adore this.  The personality, the changes, and what a tiny voice has to share is completely precious.  It is on my list to not just add a series of photos to our family stock, but videos too.

Now hopefully I’ll be sharing with you soon our own Ev.  It is an overwhelming thought to think, she’ll be here soon.  But don’t worry little one, I promise to not be so busy trying to capture the memories that I quit living them.  Let’s try for both, shall we?

The BEST Advice I Received in Pregnancy

If you are on your pregnant journey, beginning or end, chances are you’ve already heard a TON of advice…whether you asked for it or not.

I guarantee much of it was given with good intentions and love.  But I found on my own path, some of it feels like it’s out there just to scare you.  I think women in our culture are set on exposing “what it’s really like”.  In the past I guess we feel like we weren’t told the truth…no one told us how hard it was going to be.

 I don’t think you know how hard it is to be a mama or be pregnant until you are in the thick of it.  So the advice is given to prepare you.  With raised eyebrows and a frightening jubilance women have shared with me how much pain I should anticipate. How my husband and I will not recognize one another any more.  How for 4-6 months I should anticipate my world being upside down and then I can slowly get back on a path.  All you can do as a first time mama is mumble “thanks” and then go silently worry away what days of freedom you have left.  Eeeeeeeeeeek.  Serious eek.  I felt frustrated by this process.

baby girl clothing out to dry

At the end of each negative story and experience I started asking, “well, what’s good about it all then?”  Each woman would pause, and then here is were I found the good stuff.  The unimaginable love that awaits us as we greet our child.  The magic of my body growing a human, birthing it, feeding it.  These snippets today are from a few of my friends that whether they knew it or not, gave me the BEST advice I could have received in my pregnancy.  I’ve kept names anonymous, but just know if you took the time to share joy and not just horrors, I appreciate you.

Believe me. I appreciate hearing the scary part too, because it is not going to be all glitter and gloss.  BUT I think sometimes life is hard enough.  I want to be a mama that can do both~ give an honest take on where we are at, but also let others know there is so much sparkly-amazingness ahead too.

The Best Advice I Received: 

  • Love your child with everything you have.  That’s all they need at the end of the day is you and your love.  Whatever that means to you, practice it, show it, shower them with it.  Especially as an infant, you can not spoil her in this time. Snuggle, kiss, hold, love.  It is a brave new world for both you and her.
  • You will come home from the hospital and it will feel like you are living with 3 strangers. Yourself, your baby, and your husband. It’s okay. Take the time to get to know each other.
  • Educate yourself. What kind of birth do you want to have? You have options.  Do the work, figure it out.
  • I don’t think people talk about the “good” of it as much because there is no way to truly capture how much love you are going to feel. It is unlike anything you have ever experienced, so you just wait.  It is beyond words.
  • Your child is YOUR child. What worked for someone else may not work for you. That is okay too. Just keep trying to puzzle it out.  Don’t compare, don’t despair, just keep trying.
  • If baby is safe and you need a moment, take it.  Walk away.  Have that shower.  You have to be healthy too.

I’m sure along the way I’m going to have my own set of advice I want to give new mamas.  Today it is simply what is above.  I’ll be meeting my little lady soon and I’m going to love her with all my might. I know it is going to be one of the hardest adventures I ever go on, but it is also one of the most thrilling.