You’ve gotta see the baby!


It’s been one month since little boy Brown made his appearance, and I’m finally sitting down to write an update!  I honestly am a bit proud of myself for getting to it this quickly 😉

So now for the all-important birth stats:

Born at: 8:18pm on 5/15/17 (due date was 5/27)

Weight – 8lbs 9oz

Length – 21 inches


I’m going to try not to give that many details about my “birth story” today, but here’s a short version!

At about 12:30am (why do these things always happen in the middle of the night?), I was home trying to sleep when my water broke. Since I was feeling perfectly normal otherwise, I picked up my mom and grandma and drove us to the hospital. I was admitted around 2:30am, and I then called the Red Cross to get the ball rolling for Mr. Brown to come home, but was told that I shouldn’t have called. Apparently I was supposed to wait until the baby was born to call, which was bad news at a bad time. I wasn’t too happy about that obviously… I mean, at this point the baby is definitely coming soon, so why the wait?  

I ended up texting Mr. Brown with the situation, and in the end (MANY hours later), I found out that he was able to find a way to come home as soon as he got my message that morning.

Did I mention that this whole process took MANY HOURS? Since I wasn’t experiencing any contractions, I had to be induced around 8am. Luckily for me, modern medicine came to my rescue when things got tough, and my epidural was a complete success! Yes, I had an epidural… I’d actually put in my request and signed the paper as soon as I was admitted. So my long labor wasn’t bad at all, and I’d highly recommend my birth plan to anyone asking!

Mr. Brown’s plane ended up landing about 10 minutes after Walter Finlay made his appearance, but it was wonderful that he could make it so much sooner than I’d thought he’d make it.

One month in, Finlay and I are still figuring out how things work, but he’s still alive! His daddy spent about 10 days with us after the birth, and a few days last week, but we’re on our own for the next 9 months or so. This little baby is super-cute (obviously), but I know that it’ll be a hard road ahead. I’ve never been a baby/kid-person, so I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Apparently this is normal for newbie parents. At least according to my Google searches on “How to get my newborn to sleep in a crib.”

So there’s the update! The past week of my life has consisted of hauling around car seats, baby swings, and my “lightweight” stroller to doctors’ appointments, errands, and visits. I’ve been waging war against an onslaught of pests that seem to think my new/old house is their new/old house, and I’ve been tracking baby naps, my diet, and baby bowel movements. It’s a brave new world! Oh boy…

 

 

 

Advertisements

Last Minute Mother’s Day Printable

Happy Saturday everyone!  Do you know what today is?

It’s the day BEFORE Mother’s Day!

That means that there is still time to make sure the moms in your life know that you’re thinking of them.  If you haven’t managed to get out to the cards department in your local Target to get a sweet card, I have a treat for you!

IMG_0112

I wanted to create a lovely card for my lovely mother, and decided to share.  Just DOWNLOAD the PDF, print on some white cardstock, fold & cut, then open up to write a custom note perfect for the mom you love.

Mother’s Day Card Printable

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  I can’t believe that this is my last Mother’s Day before I’m a mom myself…eeek!

***These beautiful watercolor flower designs are available on Freepik.com if you’re interested!

The Art Journaling Habit: First Steps

Once I’d stumbled upon the idea of keeping an art journal on the Trumpetvine Travels, I immediately began gathering the supplies I’d need to recreate the system that Martha had outlined as her favorite.  While I enjoy a bit of creativity, when I find an existing system that I like, that also seems to be perfect for someone else, I like to start there.  Trying to reinvent the wheel to start a habit that I’ve never even attempted just seems too overwhelming!

Just in case you are interested in starting up an art journal, and feel the same way about reinventing the wheel, here’s how I started up:

Journal Making

The easiest way to start an art journal is to go to your favorite craft store (think Michaels or Hobby Lobby), and buy a blank notebook filled with watercolor paper.  First step is done!

Ironically, that is not at all what I did…

I was taken in by Martha’s step by step tutorial on how to make your own custom sketchbook, and found myself learning to how to Coptic stitch a book block before ever putting pen to paper!  Over the years I’ve made several of these little black books, but I’ve also gone off the beaten path with bought books and smaller Coptic stitched books.  I’ve found that the original version is the best for me, and that my best journals (the ones I actually finished!) were always the original style.  It’s worth the work to me, but I could see it as being a stumbling block to others, so you’ve been warned!

Supplies

Another “aha moment” that came as a result of reading the Trumpetvine Travels blog was my discovery of the waterbrush and a travel watercolor palette.  The waterbrush is simply a paint brush that stores water in its body, so there’s no need to find a cup of water when you want to stop and paint on the go!  You can just pull out your waterbrush and treat it like a pen…if you have watercolors with you of course…  Which brings me to the watercolor travel palette!

If you visit your local craft store, you will most likely be able to find a watercolor travel palette like this:

That’s the easiest way to get started, but if you tend to enjoy DIY projects (like this blogger), you might want to consider making your own travel palette.  The tutorial that inspired my personal palette can be found at: http://artezan.blogspot.com/2007/04/home-made-watercolour-bijou-box.html   Although, you can find many more options online these days.

I ended up using a Whitman’s Chocolate tin that I had on hand,  with some white enamel paint and plastic paint pots that I just cut apart and Velcro-ed into the tin.  The lovely thing about watercolors is that once they dry, they keep to themselves until re-activated by water, so perfect for mess-less travel.  Awesome.  I just tuck a piece of paper towel into the top of my tin, and I’m ready to go.

Other handy supplies would be a pencil, a good eraser, and a waterproof ink pen.  That’s it!  You are now ready to go out and start art journaling.  Stay tuned for the next installment of the Art Journaling series!

A Season for Everything

I’d have to say that there have been specific months & years in my lifetime that seem to combine several momentous occasions and life changes all together, and then there are others that seem to pass by with very little changes to remember.  Spring of 2017 will most certainly embody the former! 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m expecting a baby boy in the next month.  That by itself may be the most extreme change I have yet faced in my 32 years (well…besides being born).  I’ve moved several times, married, lived overseas, and went off to 2 very different colleges, but from what I understand, becoming a mother is something else entirely.  Am I ready???  Of course not!  Until about 8 months ago, I had my doubts that I would ever have children.  Don’t get me wrong, kids were part of the OFFICIAL plan since I married Mr. Brown almost 5 years ago, but deep down I don’t think I honestly believed it would happen.  

So there’s that…

A new baby that will forever change the course of my life. DUE May 27th 2017. 

In January, I was also aware that I would most likely say goodbye to my lovely father this year.  After fighting his way through a bout of stomach cancer a couple years ago, it came back with a vengeance before he’d had a chance to gather his strength to fight it again.  Choosing to spend the rest of his days enjoying his family and projects instead of starting another intense round of chemo treatments (that weren’t likely to succeed), Dad accepted his fate and so did we.

In mid-April, surrounded by his family and showered with love, dad breathed his last. 

I have never seen a death before, so I don’t know how these things usually go, but I was honored to be sitting beside him.  I prayed till the very end for healing, and even now catch myself wanting to ask God to change his mind and bring dad back, but I’m so grateful that I spent dad’s last days near him.  I’m so grateful that my father lived a life of integrity and showed all of us just how much he loved and appreciated us.  There was no business to resolve, or wounds to mend, and although it’s easy for me to find myself very sad about losing him, I know that it’s also ok for me to look forward to the future and be joyful.

The day my father died, another significant occasion occurred… 

My husband left for his deployment. 

Yes, with the exception of 2 weeks leave once baby Brown appears (in May hopefully!), Mr. Brown will be MIA for the rest of this year and into 2018.  Obviously the timing isn’t great…  But we’ve known for awhile that this was a possibility, and I’m trusting that our baby’s birth was actually timed out perfectly.  I never planned on mothering a baby on my own, and I’m not going to lie, I’m still not nuts about the idea, but deep down I know that I won’t be alone at all.  If I’ve learned anything from the past month, it’s that I am most certainly not alone.  In addition to luxury of trusting God with my future, I also am surrounded by loving family and friends, many of whom have made it perfectly clear that I have help and support.  That makes all the difference.  

Happy Spring everyone!  Anyone else out there expecting big changes this season?

 

 

The Art Journal Habit: A History

IMG_0002.jpg

Roughly a decade ago, my past self stumbled upon an art journalist’s blog and I began what has been an on-again/off again relationship with art journaling.  The blog was called “The Trumpetvine Travels,” and Martha’s posts about her travel sketchbooks made a huge impact on how I saw my own artistic abilities and inclinations.  I’d say it completely opened my eyes to the possibility of pursuing art when for years I’d assumed that I had no talent and had missed the boat for mastering any art form whatsoever.

Trumpetvine Header.jpg

A bit of history: Like many rural kids, I attended a small school with little to no funding for developing artistic talent.  Once I graduated out of the elementary school construction paper projects, there were no longer any classes available to explore art.  None.  My little school dealt exclusively with the major classes required to help its students make their state and federal requirements.  If I had been an art prodigy, with above average talent and drive, I’m sure this wouldn’t have stopped me from learning on my own, but I wasn’t.  I was an average kid, with average talent, and a slightly above average interest, but not enough to challenge the system in any way.  I accepted that I wasn’t artistic.  It was a shame, but it was reality, and I honestly didn’t lose any sleep over it.

bay_650

Martha’s San Francisco Bay sketch

I took my first art class my junior year of college, a design theory elective, and I’d say that this experience began the “awakening.”  I followed it with a couple of graphic design courses the next year, and found out that though I was not at the prodigy level, I really enjoyed making time for artistic projects.  The instructors also affected the way I saw my capabilities and encouraged me to pursue my artistic inclinations further.  I was a history major in my senior year, so a career in art wasn’t on the table, but I felt inspired to figure out a way to make it part of my life.

After graduating from college, I went home to find a “real job,” and to prepare myself to start grad school.  The next 3 years would be some of the most frustrating of my young life!  I felt stuck, without any real drive to enter a grad school program and I really really HATED my office job.  I was certain that I was wasting my life away and treading water, but low and behold, I was wrong!

 

An adventure was just around the corner, and it was during this waiting period that I developed some of the habits that I most cherish now.  I learned how to play the piano using the chords method, which is now a big part of my life and a great source of joy for me.  I also discovered the world of art journaling, and I began another habit that continues to bring me joy.

There concludes my (lengthy) backstory!  Next time: The Art Journal Habit: First Steps

Do you have any habits/hobbies that brought you joy in a difficult time?

Springtime Favorites!

IMG_0089.JPG

It may still be chilly outside, with the trees bare and my heavy coat still in use, but spring is definitely lurking nearby.  Everything feels a bit lighter, the nice days seem to be growing more and more prevalent, and the idea of spring cleaning doesn’t feel completely ridiculous.

As we are heading into a new and wonderful season, I felt like adding to the positive vibes with some of my current favorite things!

HOME:

Flowers…

roses.jpg

The Valentine’s blossoms that graced the Brown household last month have somehow started the ball rolling on having fresh flowers around.  Mr. Brown gifted me a lovely bouquet on the 14th, and then I just couldn’t walk away from some lonely, but sweet roses left behind in our Walmart (at 50% off).  These flowers are just beginning to lose their luster, and I plan on replacing them in the name of Springtime!

Cleaning Videos…

So cleaning is not my preferred pastime, nor is it a talent of mine, but my YouTube subscription feed has been cleaning-heavy over the past week or so, and I have to admit that I find myself slightly inspired.  Here are a couple of cleaning videos that I’ve liked lately:

Do It On a Dime

Rachel Talbott:

PRODUCTS:

New Haircare goodies!

I finally decided to have my haircut a few months ago at our local Ulta Beauty store, and walked out a new woman!  I absolutely loved what that amazing hairstylist did with my troublesome hair!  Let me tell you, I NEVER feel this way after a haircut.  Even the professionals don’t seem to have much luck working with what I’ve got, but this stylist made my hair look better than it’s ever looked.  Now, this may be TMI, but I don’t wash my hair everyday (and no, that is not my problem – it’s a fairly recent habit).  I go a few days between washing, and obviously, the last day on the cycle isn’t quite as good as the first, but my Day 3 hair after this haircut and style still looked amazing!  It was so hard to breakdown and wash it…

Sheer talent has most to do with that wonderful hair transformation, but by golly was I gonna try to recreate the magic.  I bought a few products that I remembered the stylist using, as well as switching the brush I use to blow-dry my hair, and I’ve honestly seen such a difference!!! 

One such product is the Redken Diamond Drops.  I’m loving this stuff!  I only use it when I blow-dry my hair so I don’t use it up too fast, but that combined with a couple of new drugstore products has really helped making my hair behave better.  It could still use some help, but I’m already pleased with the improvement!

My Sephora Z-Palette…

IMG_0091.JPG

Have I mentioned my z-palette before?  Here it is!  I’m really enjoying having my favorite things all in the same palette 🙂  Although, I suppose it’s important to mention that none of the products in my Sephora Z-Palette are actually from Sephora…

TECH:

img_0092                 img_0093

Instagram

I’ve been “on Instagram” for years, but over the past few months I’ve enjoyed it so much!  I do enjoy posting my own pics, but the best part is scrolling through my feed.  I’ve collected a lovely bunch of Instagrammers, and there are so many beautiful things to see!

Bellabeat Leaf

I’d say the next most used app on my phone currently is the Bellabeat Leaf app.  This is the 3rd fitness tracker I’ve owned, and it’s my favorite.  I love how pretty it is to wear, and I’ve managed to use it daily.  The app is also pretty, and I really like the Mindfulness piece to it.  Meditation is something I’ve dabbled in over the past year, and I like how this app allows me to easily listen to short and sweet exercises, and then have that practice filter into my overall health data.  Sweet!

ENTERTAINMENT:

the_bob_newhart_show-show

What a long post this is turning out to be!  Well, here’s the last bit…

The Bob Newhart Show

Say what?  Yep!  I’m loving the Bob Newhart Show on Hulu.  I’m on season 3, and find the show a relaxing and funny way to wind down.  It’s a bit different, and maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s awesome.  I love Bob, his neighbor Howard, the receptionist Carol and Jerry his dentist friend the most.  I also love the style of this 1970s sitcom.

Ok, enough for today!  I seem to have a lot of favorites right now, which is wonderful as far as I’m concerned 😉  Let me know if there’s anything you think I’m missing out on!

5 Scotland Travel Tips

It’s been about 6 months since Mr. Brown and I traveled over “the pond” to my beloved Isle of Lewis, and I realized that I never shared our trip on my blog! Terrible.

So today I’m going to share some photo memories of our trip along with 5 travel tips that could prove useful if you’ve never ventured to the UK and would like to take a trip to Scotland in the near future.

img_0085

  • PACK LIGHT

Try to limit yourself to packing a carry-on sized bag and a personal item (like a backpack). If you’re heading to bonny Scotland from the US, you will most likely have a free checked bag, but my advice is to keep to a carry-on size if possible. Go ahead and check it if you’d prefer, but believe me, hauling around a large bag through the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is not the ideal scenario!

On our trip in September, I brought a carry-on and my husband brought a VERY large bag. Now this worked ok for us, because my husband makes hauling an oversized bag look like a piece of cake, but it’s good to only bring what you think you can personally handle.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

  • USE PUBLIC TRANSIT

Quality public transportation is something that we here in America rarely can take advantage of unless we live in a very large city. I happen to live in an area with practically no public transit, even though there are plenty of very rural areas in Scotland still serviced by buses and trains. It’d be easy for someone like me to completely overlook the possibility and convenience of using what’s offered in the UK, and I’d be missing out!

My husband and I used about every public transportation method available on our 2 week trip, including an Uber from the airport in Glasgow to our AirBnB, the Glasgow Subway system, trains from Glasgow to Edinburgh & then Glasgow to Inverness, a ferry from the mainland to the Isle of Lewis, and buses sprinkled in the gaps. My favorite method by far is a train. I never experience motion sickness on trains and I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. On our train from Glasgow to Inverness we had the pleasure of chatting with a young couple from England about their tourism business and their new life in Sweden!

Here are a few links if they’re helpful:

https://www.calmac.co.uk/

https://www.scotrail.co.uk/

http://www.citylink.co.uk/

  • EMBRACE TOURS

Many people will tell you that need to step off the beaten path on international trips to really experience the culture and avoid tours at all costs. I say that you really just need to spend enough time in other countries to really experience the culture. I don’t think it’s a good plan to pop over to Scotland for 5 days and wander around aimlessly unless you’ve already spent time in the country or plan to return soon!

A first trip to Scotland is the perfect time to make use of tours, free or paid. These tours will introduce you to so many facets of the area that you would probably never stumble onto on your own. Plus, you can sit back and relax when you’re taken care of on a tour! When you’re experiencing a new country for the first time, it can take a toll on you. Joining a tour takes the pressure off while you’re on it.

My suggestion is to book a nice paid tour prior to leaving the US, then finding some free or paid tours to join once you’ve arrived. Free walking tours of major cities are WONDERFUL! Check online to see when and where they meet, and join up with one when you’re in that city.

Mr. Brown and I took a bus/boat tour of Loch Ness, and it was awesome. My favorite tour to date is a paid walking Ghost Tour I took in York, England years ago. I was on my own, and loved having people to chat with and finding out all about the history of this town.

  • MAKE MUSIC A PRIORITY

As a music lover, finding places to hear good music always sounds good to me, but I’d suggest making music a priority even if you don’t find it that interesting personally. Music plays a huge part in Scottish culture, and if you’re interested in seeing locals enjoying themselves, find a pub music night to join in on.

Local concerts and ceilidhs are also great ways to experience the musical scene, especially in the Highlands and Islands. You will probably be surprised how much you enjoy what you see and hear!

  • TRY THE LOCAL FOOD AND DRINK

Obviously, this tip applies to visiting anywhere in the world! However, many Americans will LOVE what they find in Scotland. Now I’m not much of a drinker, but Scotland is known for its whiskey, so if you’re so inclined…. Don’t miss out!

img_0083

My favorite dishes are as follows:

Steak Pie

Victoria Sponge

Indian Curries

Desserts of all kinds! Oh the meringue…

Seafood

If you’re really feeling adventurous, try taking a peek at the locals around you. See anything different about how they use their silverware? Like, maybe they actually use all of it? Try out the method!

My last tip, which probably applies to anywhere you’d like to go, is find out what the weather is like year-round. If you’re going to Scotland, I’d recommend trying to stick to June through August. Yes, it will be busier and possibly more expensive, but it’s worth it! A trip from the US to Scotland will be more expensive than staying in country anyway, and you might as well ensure that you can enjoy it as much as possible! One of the best bits about Scotland is the scenery, and it’s wonderful to have some warm and sunny days to explore it!

img_0088

That’s it! We had a wonderful wonderful time! We only had one challenging day…. The tale of the Clisham will have to wait for another time, but honestly, even though it involved Mr. Brown stuck on a mountain for hours, and my friend Catriona and I slugging through the mud and driving through pouring rain with Catriona powering the windshield wipers manually, it’s one of our best stories from the trip!  The good news is that neither Mr. Brown and I were deterred from planning another trip over to lovely Scotland.  Hopefully even by next year!

Happy Travels!