10 Months: A Snapshot

I am currently chronicling our little guy’s life through (in part) a series of letters that I’m sharing on this blog. It’s important to me to document his little adventures, his growth, the changes I notice in him, and our memories of him.

 

This one is a bit late in the month, but late is much better than never. My overall goal for this project is presence, not perfection.

Snapshot 10 Months | The Orange Slate1

Snapshot 10 Months | The Orange Slate2

DEAR MILES.

10 MONTHS! In one sense, this first precious year is flying and in another sense, ever single day and week are so much more full than any other time I’ve ever experienced.

Here are a few things I want to remember about you at this age:

I want to remember how enthusiastic you are about life. You love sitting outside; you love playing with Mommy and Daddy on the floor. You love exploring new objects (especially ones that aren’t designated toys!). You clap wildly at the end of every song, at the last page of every book, at the conclusion of every new trick.

I want to remember how this month you suddenly decided to crawl. After tormenting us for weeks with “almosts”, one morning after church you got up and took off across the floor.

I want to remember how easy-going you are. I feel like parenting you at this stage is somehow a little unfair. You nap and go to bed on time with almost no irregularity; you happily let us tote you all over on adventures; I can solve almost any problem by simply dropping whatever I’m doing and holding you or playing a game.

I want to remember how sometimes you exert your tiny will.

I want to remember how your little blue eyes look every day more like your Daddy’s.

Snapshot 10 Months | The Orange Slate4

Snapshot 10 Months b| The Orange Slate1

I want to remember the things you are doing and loving and learning too. I want to remember that you are

loving SAND and water. We are enjoying a long vacation with Mimi and Grandpa and you love the feel of the fine powdery sand in your fists. I just wish I could teach you to keep it out of your eyes! You love swimming in the pool with your baby tube and dipping your feet in the ocean.

trying to stand. Now that you are crawling, you spend so much time in “Downward Dog”. Standing up isn’t far away!

banging everything that will be open and closed. Cabinet doors, bedroom doors, wooden spoons – everything is a noisemaker.

learning to feed yourself water from a sippy.

discovering balloons. You met your first balloon at a little friend’s birthday party and have been in love with them every since.

Snapshot 10 Months b| The Orange Slate2

reading books over and over and over.  Goodnight MoonThe Going to Bed Book, Guess How Much I Love You, and your Monkey Alphabet book are some of your favorites.

brushing your baby teeth and hair- sometimes you like it and some days you don’t, but you expect it during your routine now.

hating getting dressed. You love bath time and love to get dirty, but clean clothes send you into a tizzy.

Can’t wait for the next month of adventures, my sweet boy!

Weekend Links.

Volcanic Rock | The Orange Slate

Kona coast | The Orange Slate

Hello! We’re currently enjoying some restful vacation in the sunshine and fun adventures with family (follow me at @emilyamccord on Instagram for some fun vacation shots!). What does your weekend hold?

Here is some weekend pool reading – inspiration and great pieces from around the web.

Shakespeare, the abridged version. (via The Washington Post)

Why Vietnamese women dominate the nail industry. (via CapHillStyle via Yahoo)

The fantastic face of today’s real journalism. (via Mic)

As a former Hill staffer, I can attest to the sometimes unfair and often uncomfortable dynamics of navigating interactions between women (often outnumbered) and men (especially senior staff or Members) on the Hill. This piece sheds some light. (via National Journal)

So sweet. The best moments in weddings are the unexpected, unplanned. (via A Cup of Jo)

Drinking coffee in Tokyo. (via Life & Thyme)

Gorgeous shots (can you tell that the ocean is on my mind right now??). (via SURFER)

It’s graduation time for many students! Some advice as they venture out. (via The Orange Slate)

Happy weekending!

 

Weekend Links.

Lighthouse

Sunset_Driftwood

It’s been one of those weeks. It involved a lot of cleaning and packing and cleaning and packing and unpacking and cleaning. How has yours been?

BUT! Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to you readers who are also mamas! Do you have fun plans to celebrate? I am SO excited to see my Mom for a belated Mother’s Day celebration on Monday as we head to sunshine and beaches together.

Here are some fun links I stumbled across while I was procrastinating packing. Enjoy!

An end to excuses – you probably aren’t trapped. (via Seth Godin)

A sweet reflection on Mother’s Day (and the expectation traps we lay for ourselves). (via Smile and Wave)

An inspiring interview. (via Clementine Daily)

Some cute ideas for Mother’s Day cards. (via Lovely Indeed)*

I’m a little obsessed with this book.

Brilliant. (via LifeHacker)

As soon as we are settled for the summer, I’m planting again, starting with this list. (via Apartment Therapy)

Great blog design tips. (via HubSpot)

Happy weekend! May your Sunday not involve moving boxes, tape, or organization of any kind. And for Heaven’s sake, if you’re tempted to go shopping this weekend, *don’t*. The stuff you will acquire at Target will simply haunt you later. #lessonsfrommyweek

*Source: Oh So Beautiful Paper

Conversations about Creativity with Katie

Creativity with Katie Albania | The Orange Slate

On Monday mornings around here, I interview people who inspire me. In April and May, the theme has been CREATIVITY. Today I’m excited to introduce you to Katie, a fellow blogger and new mommy (she also has two of the cutest dogs!). Katie and I have never met in person, but we have so many things in common that I feel like I know her (among the things we have in common – our babies were born days apart!). I love it when the world of social media feels small and cozy, don’t you?

Have you always thought of yourself as a creative?

Honestly, I haven’t. And I’m not sure even do now, at least not in the sense that it’s my strongest trait, a specific hobby, or part of my career. So I had to think hard about the ways I am creative. I think any creativity I have was developed from two very specific sources when I was a kid- observing my mom and being in 4H. We never had tons of money growing up, so a huge garden and homemade cooking were staples for us.

Watching how my mom tackled everything on the budget {that requires tons of creativity!} was always fascinating to me. And 4H? I know it seems random. But I was in it for 10 years {with projects from foods and gift wrapping to health and consumer clothing}, exhibiting nearly 100 separate projects over that time. I was so stretched to be creative and think outside the box and push myself! Both of those have poured over into my life now.

What are your creative outlets?

I would say I am most creative in how I encourage others. Maybe the sounds silly, but as a social worker and therapist, I have learned so much about relating to others and identifying emotional needs. Every single person needs to be heard and feel understood, but that can look a million different ways.

The way I approach people {whether in actual therapy sessions or in my everyday relationships} is unique and creative. I like to show up for people in ways they maybe aren’t used to and don’t expect, but in ways that encourage them. This could be sending a letter in the mail, dropping off fresh baked brownies on a doorstep, or planning a really fun girl’s night out!

Everyone is so busy! How do you make time to be creative?

Because my creative outlet {relationships with others} is a part of my regular life, I think this just happens naturally for me. Sometimes I’m crazy busy and don’t have time to connect with people in creative ways, but I always feel that gap. I am in a routine of mailing one package a month {a different friend each time!} and two letters a week. Having those constants reminds me to stay creative in loving other people in my life as well.

Who inspires you?

My mom! She is SO creative and is always doing fun things to let us know she cares. Also, Instagram. I’ve intentionally filled my Instagram feed with people who do life in a way that I’d want to- not because I compare myself to them, but because I’m encouraged by them. So I follow women who decorate their homes intentionally, who follow hard after Jesus and share their wisdom along the way, mom’s who raise their kid’s in ways I’d like to, etc. I think surrounding yourself {online and in real life} with people you’d love to be like is so important!

What do you do when you’re in a creative rut?

Read a book or go to coffee with a friend. I’m an introvert, so both of those things fill me up and bring me back to basics!

 Why do you think it’s important to make time for creativity?

Every single person has a creative side- they may just not realize it because they don’t explicitly make/sell artwork on Etsy. Because of that, I think we all need to give ourselves room to create and grow; whether that’s through leadership roles at work, parenting, loving on others, or actually running a handmade Etsy shop.

What are ways you’ve challenged yourself or grown as a creative?

In my professional life, I’ve worked really hard to make play therapy fun and effective for the kids with whom I work. From making up games, art projects, etc, I’ve tried to find fun ways to help kids feel safe and begin to address the issues on their plates. In my real life, I’ve stretched myself to just do something, anything. I think sometimes we second-guess ourselves or think it could turn out silly or we might fail, but there is so much value in the process! I’ve learned the most and felt the most creative when I just simply act on a small idea!

What are some creative goals you have for yourself?

I’d love to start something for women in my community. Maybe a monthly Bible study or mentorship program. Stay tuned!

Check out the other interviews in this series with LindsayMonicaGwen, and myself.

Friday Links

 Eliot | The Orange Slate

Albania | The Orange Slate

Happy Friday! What’s on your agenda this weekend? It’s baby shower season around here and I’m so excited to help celebrate the pregnancy of a dear friend tomorrow.

A fantastic roundup of podcast suggestions to refresh your listening list. (via Design*Sponge)

An interesting perspective on friendships after college. (Do you agree?) (via Cup of Jo)

Green smoothie inspiration for the summer months ahead. (via Real Simple)

Wisdom for growing up and prioritizing. (via Shauna Neiquist)

A breathtaking collection of photos. (via VSCO)

Hilarious tongue-in-cheek tips for anyone who has ever sat in a meeting that ran over-time. (via TheCooperReview)

One of the most inspiring fundraising drives is going on right now. (via Opportunity International)

Some lovely Mother’s Day gift ideas. (via The Edwards Dinner Party)

I’m excited about this great way to protect Miles’ baby skin during long sunny beach days. (via Amazon)

Tips for conquering procrastination and forming new habits. (via Zen Habits)

 

*Some links are affiliate. Thanks for supporting The Orange Slate!

Conversations about Creativity with Emily

Creativity | The Orange Slate

Creativity | The Orange Slate

On Monday mornings around here, I interview people who inspire me. In April and May, the theme is CREATIVITY and there are just a few more really wonderful interviews to come. But for today, I’m going to tackle the questions myself.

Have you always thought of yourself as a creative?

Yes and no. I’ve always loved to create with words. And as a pianist, I’ve always felt like music was tightly connected to creativity. But it wasn’t until the last few years that I saw creating as a broader brush (pun totally intended) that could apply to every facet of my life. Also, despite all of the art lessons my mom tirelessly signed me up for, I’m not the most talented with visual media.

So it’s taken me a while to get brave enough to experiment and stretch in this area, because I know that what I produce doesn’t hold to candle to what other can do. But when I started to think about creativity as something that is good for me, something that is good to practice no matter what the result, I started to be more intentional about trying things and creating, even with imperfect results.

What are your creative outlets?

Writing. This blog. Photography. Different memory-keeping projects. Also, motherhood. I think we talk a lot about how one needs outlets from motherhood (and this is true!), but few people told me how much motherhood itself would become an outlet of sorts for me to be creative. With a growing baby, I am constantly on the lookout for new projects, new games, new ways to play, new ways to help Miles experience the world. My sensory board project was a moment of realization for me – that Miles and I can actually enjoy being creative together. As he gets older I think these kind of experiences will only get better and richer.

Everyone is so busy! How do you make time to be creative?

It would be disingenuous to say that this isn’t really tough. I’m sure it’s tougher for others, but it gets a little crazy around here sometimes – Mark is in school full-time, we both work part-time, and of course we both want to spend as much time as we can with Miles. I try to be disciplined about things that I really want to do. I blog regularly, in part, because of this. If I don’t make a steady habit of it, it won’t happen. I try to commit to projects like CREATE2015 to help inspire myself to try things. I make time to organize my week and if there isn’t enough time for everything, I prioritize and toss to-dos or get up earlier. Some weeks, I feel more tired than creative. But simply being intentional and goalsetting and continuing to work towards carving out time for creativity is a huge part of the battle, I think.

Who inspires you?

Miles and Mark, for sure. Mark is always such a supportive cheerleader, however random and far-fetched my projects. Watching the pure joy of Miles as he experiences life and discovers his world is inspiring – I feel as if I’m rediscovering the world. Bloggers, chefs, entrepreneurs, and artists who have been intentional about their dreams and successful at reaching their goals inspire me. Authors, from now and decades and centuries past are always a source of inspiration.

What do you do when you’re in a creative rut?

I feel like I experience more creative walls than ruts. By that, I mean that I tend towards perfectionism and organization, so sometimes an abundance of possibilities and options overwhelms me to the point of paralysis. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled out a huge pile of pictures only to stare at them in helplessness and just pile them back in the box. Sometimes searching for inspiration from others (Pinterest!) on a similar project helps. But really, it’s normally more beneficial for me just to take a break, go outside, play a game with Miles, read, cook dinner, and revisit the project when I’m in a better frame of mind or have a clearer vision.

 Why do you think it’s important to make time for creativity?

So much of our sense of purpose and meaning is tangled up in creativity. I think God has put these enormous wells of creativity into each of us and – if we’d only be brave enough to let it out of the box a little, in whatever way that looks for our careers or hobbies or families – we’d be amazed at the results. One of my favorite quotes is by Dorothy Sayers: “It is our task to rebuild the world along creative lines.” I think continually creating is part of what redeems us and our world.

What are ways you’ve challenged yourself or grown as a creative?

I’m trying to allow myself to try projects (especially things that fall under that “traditional crafting” umbrella) that I used to just assume were for people who were far more talented than me. Projects like painting lyrics on canvas (ridiculous example, I know) are just so intimidating to me and I realize I’m probably missing out on a lot of fun. So I’m trying to challenge myself to try projects that I know I won’t be succeed at on the first try or that might take practice. I’m also trying to practice just executing. I act as though there’s some kind of bar out there that my memory-keeping or projects have to hit and I intimidate myself with grand illusions and then never start. I’d be better off just starting and (even finishing) something that’s not perfect but that is done. So I’m challenging myself to just execute more this year.

What are some creative goals you have for yourself?

I would love to complete our wedding album and Miles’ 1-year album in the next year. I think one of my Goals with a capital G is to learn how to build a family life and home that encourages and embraces creativity for Mark and me and Miles in an authentic way, even if current schedules and routines don’t allow for crafting or memory-keeping or whatever we brand traditionally as “creative pursuits”. Even if that just looks like time for reflection, imagination, creative thinking, reading or growing a tiny potted garden, then I want to embrace and cultivate that space.

Check out the other interviews in this series with Lindsay, Monica, and Gwen.

Friday Links.

Inspiration | The Orange Slate

Friday Links | The Orange Slate1

It’s the last Friday in April. Is that unbelievable to anyone but me? I am so excited about this weekend, mostly because we have all sorts of fun things planned, including a barbecue and a kite festival. A KITE FESTIVAL.

I’m working on my summer beach-reading. Any suggestions? Also, if you read on an e-reader, this might be the perfect time to try a free Oyster subscription, on the house. Hope your weekend is grand, lovelies!

A beautiful reminder about friendship and time. These words, especially: “We’ve made an exchange. More friendships, but less time to deepen them. Our networks have exploded, but our time to dip beneath the surface diminished.” (via Ungrind)

A fantastic roundup of travel tips – so many great ideas! (via Balance and Blueberries)

The April’s Fools joke that went viral. (via Business Insider)

And a better explanation of the joke. (via Vox)

A fascinating study on parenting and childhood attachment. (Hint: pick up your child’s sippy cup again!) (via The Brookings Institute)

Advice on weddings and marriage, from the Washington Post know-it-all. (via Cup of Jo)

The sweetest article on what your kids remember. (via Coffee + Crumbs)

Life-changing tips on party-planning. (via Cupcakes and Cashmere)

On the motivation myth. (via Darling Magazine)

My Search for The Perfect Summer Sandals.

Summer Sandals | The Orange Slate

Summer Sandals 2 | The Orange Slate

It has been the longest week – good in so many ways, but lots of early mornings and full full days. I’m also trying a new schedule/day structure with Miles to see if I can make our days a little less frantic and more peaceful and organized and it seems to be working well for him, for which I’m so grateful, but it leaves me feeling a little breathless at the end of the day.

Especially for work at home mamas, bur really for all mamas, do you find that your schedule and your juggling strategy change as your baby grows? (This feels like such an obvious question now that I’m writing it.) But seriously, do you have something that you *know* works and that sort of acts like the goal-post for structure or do you continue to flex? And when do you hit a wall and say “Ok, let’s change some things about how this day flows?” Anyway. That’s where we are.

Miles is suddenly much more active and needs a lot of intentional engagement and I am so excited that we are moving into a stage where he is discovering so much. BUT. My old (infant days) system of “I will answer all 300 emails while Miles plays quietly in his gym next to me and maybe falls asleep” is no longer functional. When Miles is up, I (or the babysitter, or Mark) needs to be focusing on Miles. And so I’m having to really think through our days and weeks carefully in advance to make sure that all of our time is organized and allocated and that Miles is getting what he needs and that Mark and I are fulfilling our work/school commitments.

I am also in the middle of a closet overhaul/packing for some summer adventures. I am not normally prone to a lot of style blogging. BUT. Summer is coming quickly and my shoe wardrobe desperately needs a little makeover. This girl needs some new sandals. Not flip-flops. SANDALS.

I love the leather gladiator styles (I’m so original, right?) and as I scrolled, I noticed that my picks were almost all falling in line with the natural leather color. I want to be able to wear this shoe comfortably all summer, but I want something dressy enough so that I can wear it without feeling like I’m dressing down – skirts, dresses, church, dinner out. You know. (So demanding. I want my sandals to do ALLLLL the work.)

I have all but given up heels for this moment in time (carrying a baby in a front-pack while wearing heels is possible, but risky, take it from someone who has tried.), so flats or nearly-flat is optimal.

So here is a run-down of the sandals I like. Which is your favorite? Cast your vote! I would love your opinions.

Summer Sandals

1. Tommy Hilfiger Ladonna. / 2. Tommy Hilfiger Leona Gladiator Sandal / 3. Steve Madden Comma / 4.Guess Rehon  / 5. Aersoles Back Atcha

I’m leaning towards a t-strap, but I really like the structured look of #3. And I like that #4 and #5 have the tiniest bit of a heel (although I would probably try to find #5 in a different color – maybe navy?).

How are you refreshing your summer closet?

P.S. I use occasional affiliate links on this site to support my work. There are a few affiliate links in this post. Thank you for reading!

Friday Links

 41715 Quotes | The Orange Slate

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How is it Friday? This week flew. Lots of fun projects are on my list for the weekend – what about you? Miles and I are excited to hang out with friends, hunt down some more basil plants, and watch a few episodes of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls. We’ll be playing quietly and cuddling a lot too because he is still under the weather, poor little guy!

Mark is tied up with school commitments for a lot of the weekend, but we are going to try our local Frisbee golf course on Sunday afternoon. (Any tips?? I’ve never played.)

Such a sweet post on motherhood. (love Taza)

I think I will just eat this for lunch every day forever. (smitten kitchen)

The most adorable gift idea (even for a non-teacher. Hostess gift?) (via Jenny Collier)

A fun travel hashtag project. Gather tips and share yours! (via Balance and Blueberries)

Danish parenting – I especially love this quote: “Play is considered one of the most important things a kid can do.” (via MOTHER Magazine)

My photos are legion at this point. I need an organizing strategy like this one. (via Lil Blue Boo)

What would your ideal work uniform be? (via Cup of Jo)

A beautiful (and terribly nerdy) essay about typography. (via I Love Typography)

A fantastic list of photography tips. (via Digital Photography School)

On having a moral bucket list. (via The Guardian)

Lullabies That Aren’t – 14 Songs to Update Baby’s Playlist.

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Baby Songs | The Orange Slate

Singing is such a special part of a baby’s life and development and bonding. Those early songs imprint us in a deep way that nothing else ever does, don’t you think? I can still remember the songs that my parents sang to me at a very early age.

For Miles, days involve a lot of singing and music. During the day, we sing and listen to lots of traditional lullabies and baby-playtime songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “The Muffin Man,” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!” (I also sing him The Alphabet Song every day because I was a (double) English major and am a little obsessed with early literacy.)

But then there are the not-so-traditional songs that aren’t really written for babies, but somehow belong to a mother or daddy and their young baby. (I grew up listening to Dedicated to the One I Love by Linda Ronstadt, an entire album of well-known rock hits interpreted as  lullabies).

Some lyrics just take on a whole new, beautiful meaning once you have a baby. Others are so soothing or sweet that they are like lullabies in disguise. I asked a couple of people with wide-ranging playlists to suggest some songs for this post.

Here’s 14 that we gathered:

Do you agree? What are your favorites? (Also, if you’re searching for a special baby gift, this playlist would make a fantastic surprise!)