Introducing, Baby Hayden!

Hi everyone, 

We have our baby girl. I’m so thrilled she is on this side now and I can look at her beautiful face.

We are all smitten (including big brother Leif).

Ofcourse my hormones are raging so I’m super emotional. You can expect a lot of gushy poems in the near future. 

(I was an emotional wreck when she held my finger for the first time while nursing.)

We still don’t have our new office set up. Miles is almost done building the desk. I promise I will be back soon. 

I miss you all.

Rachel

Advertisements

The New Addition 

I’ve been a little absent lately. Not just from this blog, but in many social aspects of my life. 

I’m excited to tell you guys why…

We are expecting a baby girl in August! I’m so thrilled and excited, but nothing turns me into an introvert like pregnancy. My mind has been filled with family and preparation – I’ve really just been enjoying this time.

Thank you all for your friendship and patience with my attendance of this blog. 

-Rachel

Top 10 Titles for Toddlers (Chosen By My Toddler)

Have you ever been shopping for a baby shower or a first birthday and thought to yourself, I want to buy the little one a book, but which one? Fortunately there are thousands of baby books out there, but my son will tell you, not all children’s books are created equal. Children are fickle, but no with their literature. My son is loyal to his favorite titles. He carries them around with him, and flips through their pages repetitiously. He implores me to read these books over and over again.

A toddler will also let you know quickly if the book is not his cup of milk. Mine will turn on his diapered bum and ignore me if I read him a story that is not from his “favorite” list.

Here are ten children’s books that have been proven tried and true by my toddler.

  1. “A Baby Is Born” by Melanie Zanoza bartelme (Author), Steve Whitlow (Illustrator)
  2. “Little Owl’s 1 2 3” by Divya Srinivasan (Author, Illustrator)
  3. “Red Truck” by Kersten Hamilton (Author) Valeria Petrone (Illustrator)
  4. Moby Dick: A BabyLit® Ocean Primer (BabyLit Books) by Jennifer Adams (Author) Alison Oliver (Illustrator)
  5. “On The Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman (Author, Illustrator)
  6. “Barnyard Dance” by Sandra Boynton (Author, Illustrator)
  7. “How Do I Love You?” by  P. K. Hallinan (Author, Illustrator)
  8. “Little Blue Truck” Alice Schertle (Author) Jill McElmurry (Illustrator)
  9. “In My Jungle” Sara Gillingham (Author) Lorena Siminovich (Illustrator)
  10.  “I Love You Through and Through” by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak (Author) and Caroline Jayne Church (Illustrator)

The best part about this list, is that you can find all of these books on Amazon. I hope this makes baby shopping a little easier for you.

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee

 

Happy Father’s Day

There literally isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t thank God for my husband. His gentle touch calms our family, his patience and forgiveness humbles me. He is our hero.  The look of adoration on my son’s face when he sees Miles confirms that I picked the best man to father our son. I will forever be grateful that our paths crossed and we walk the road of parenthood together.

Thank you Miles for being the incredible example our son deserves. Thank you to all of the fathers and father-figures in the worldthis day is for you.

♥R♥

HOW I MANAGE AS A WRITER AND MOTHER

 

I haven’t talked about my YA novel in a  LONG time. Mostly because I have prioritized other writing opportunities, and lets face it, writing time is precious and rare. A lot of my writing has been personal essays about motherhood because that has been the consumption of my life. It’s easy for me to write about funny, special, horrible moments about motherhood because they happen ALL OF THE TIME and I can complete a short essay while my son is sleeping.

While I want to continue writing about motherhood, I have also made my YA novel a priority again. With all of these writing goals and raising a son I have had to learn some time management and prioritization.

outlining

This is how I attempt to manage writing and motherhood:

CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT

This is what my average day looks like:

7AM-8AM

Wake up at 7am and build my social media platform i.e. IlluminatedLiteration (blog), Twitter: @Illuminate_Lit, Pinterest,  Facebook, and LinkedIn. I try to make my rounds as quickly as possible before my son wakes up around 7:30-8:00am.

8AM-11AM

Then I take care of my son (and clean house) until he goes to sleep around 11-11:30am.

11AM-1:30PM

Naps are PRIME writing time. I get two solid hours of uninterrupted writing when he takes a nap. I try to do a lot of my blog posts while he is napping, I also try to catch up on a lot of my blogs that I follow.

1:30-9pM

I’m on parent duty with my husband from 1:30pm- 9pm.

9pm-You can’t keep your eyes open any longer

So guess when most of my writing time happens… late evening and into the night. Sometimes I crawl into bed around midnight or later if I’m on a roll.

Don’t forget to make time to do your research.

If you want to be a successful writer you have to read A LOT. There are some evenings when I skip writing because my brain just can’t even because I know reading your target genre is crucial for a good artistic outcome. Sometimes, if I really need to multi-task I watch a movie adaptation (*gasp*!) and take care of my son. Honestly, the point of writing non-fiction is to tell a story, and watching the movie adaptation of a novel still teaches you structure.

Get Social

This is honestly my favorite part of writingmeeting other writers and professionals in the industry. Unfortunately, this is the step most writers struggle with because at the end of the day, they have to spend a ton of time on their own craft and when you are a mother you have other priorities that you need you RIGHT NOW! I try my best to read other blogger’s work and respond to comments between feedings and when my son is playing and really any time I can grasp a smidgen of time to interact with other writers.

Embrace Chaos And Accept That You Can’t Do It All

I have so many blog posts, stories, words, ideas floating around in my head. I also have a pair of hazel eyes that look to me for nutrition, exercise, learning, and loving. We CAN’T do it all, we can only do our best. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the things we want to do. I know that this blog post could have been 10x better if I had more time, but my son is going to wake up in 30 minutes and I really should eat SOMETHING today.

♥R♥

One Question We Need to Stop Asking Pregnant Women

 

My husband and I were ecstatic to announce that I was pregnant. All of our family, friends, and acquaintances gave us very positive responses and well-wishes, but amid all of the felicitations, there was an odd question that kept cropping up, “Were you guys trying?” and it never got less awkward or surprising.

 

394701

 

The question wasn’t malicious; these people were genuinely curious if our baby was… an accident? A surprise? I’m still not entirely sure what they were trying to ask us, and I’m still left wondering why the question even mattered. I understand that in the moment people (myself included) can lack a certain finesse, but there is no correct answer to the question, “Were you trying?”. This leaves the expectant couple with two uncomfortable answers: “No, we weren’t trying.” but then feeling like they have to profusely explain that they are happy about the surprise. Or, “Yes, we were trying.” Which I found was quickly followed up with people wanting to know the time-frame of conception. Neither option is what the excited couple wants to talk about when they announce they are pregnant, so it’s unfair to ask the question in the first place.

 

My husband and I were indeed trying, and when we awkwardly nodded our heads to confirm that our baby was planned, it inevitably led to that other awkward question; “How LONG were you trying?” Short answer: My husband and I didn’t have the fastest conception story, there were a few months of waiting, and trust me, a few months with no baby was enough to make me anxious about our ability to conceive. Then it happened; I thought I was going to get my period a few days early (I was crampy, bloated, fuzzy-headed) and I peed on a stick and confirmed our greatest joy—I was pregnant. In the grand scheme of things, we didn’t have to wait long, spend a ton of money, and endure years of worry. We had it pretty darn easy, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the question, “How long were you trying? made other couples feel who had to struggle to get pregnant.

 

i-gots-to-know

 

Fertility stories are something that should never be dug out of a person. It’s a personal journey that someone honors you by sharing—in their own time. I couldn’t begin to imagine how painful this question might be to someone who had a much longer and complicated conception story. Sure, there are some women who love to talk about their journey and scream from the mountain tops about their pregnancy when it finally happens, but there are others who would rather not re-hash that painful time in their lives. They should not have to feel obligated to talk about it. We are all curious by nature, but sometimes we have to remember to reign in those inappropriate questions, especially around the topic of babies and fertility.

 

Then there is the other side of the binary of planned vs. unplanned pregnancy. What if my husband and I weren’t trying to get pregnant? Did these people really expect me to say, “No our pregnancy was not planned, lets clear that up right now so we know what to tell the baby when he asks.” If I don’t know a person well enough to share that our pregnancy was unexpected, then they have absolutely no right to ask that question. If a couple is announcing they are pregnant with smiles on their faces, it doesn’t really matter if the baby was planned or a total surprise. A big “Congratulations!” is probably all they are looking for. Proceed with questions about their hopes and dreams for their little bundle, rather than nit-picking the conception.

 

I learned after planning a wedding and a pregnancy that acquaintances can exhibit strange behavior during these momentous milestones in our lives. I can usually shrug off the awkward questions, or change the topic, but this particular question really stuck out as completely uncomfortable. I don’t like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Which is why I awkwardly nodded my head when I explained that the pregnancy was planned every time I was asked that question, and I reluctantly talked about the time it took to conceive. I learned early-on in my pregnancy that people assumed I was an open book because I was growing a baby inside me, and no questions, gestures, and comments were off limits. Pregnant women are unfortunately the target of unsolicited advice, inappropriate questions, and super offensive comments. We must remember that pregnant women still deserve respect and privacy.

♥R♥

COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY

Six Comparisons Of Being A Stay-At-Home Mother VS. A”Real” Job

Hi Readers,

No, that’s not me in the cover image, that is the gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor. I know the resemblance is uncanny (I wish!!!!).

I wanted to share my latest article that xoNecole published. It’s about my life as a stay-at-home mother compared to my life in the workforce.

I hope you enjoy it.

http://xonecole.com/six-comparisons-of-being-a-stay-at-home-mother-vs-a-real-job/

Happy Friday.

♥R♥

Cover Image Found Here: http://womanbody-childemotions.tumblr.com/page/24

Published: The Unexpected Way the Women in My Life Helped Me Through Labor

I’m excited to tell you all that I was published again on xoNecole!

This is an article about how the women in my life inspired me through my labor, even though they weren’t in the delivery room. Also, how my nurse made all the difference in my labor.

Here is the link.

Daffodils Baby!

Yesterday my little fam and I drove to La Conner, Wa to see the daffodils in bloom. We normally go a little later in the season to see all of the tulips, but we had the perfect opportunity to get away yesterday, so we took it!

We had a blue-sky drive, our son Leif was chatting in the backseat playing with his toys while Miles and I listed to Trampled by Turtles. We laughed and shared some of our day dreams. While driving on Interstate 5, I was humbled, as I am on every drive through our beautiful home state. The diverse landscape is truly staggering,  in a matter of 30 minutes we saw three different mountains (Rainier, Baker, Pilchuck), the Olympic Range, the Puget Sound, and fields of various crops. Spring in the Pacific Northwest is an incredible thing to behold.

My husband is an avid photographer. Some of my favorite shots of his are of the La Conner tulip fields. We try to go every year. Here are a few of Miles’ shots from yesterday.

DSC_2795
La Conner, Wa Daffodils.  Photo courtesy of Miles McKee Photography

 

DSC_2781
Our son Leif taking in the view. Miles McKee Photography.

 

 

DSC_2787
There is the photographer and his apprentice!

 

DSC_2790
Miles McKee Photography

 

DSC_2808
The red tulips are just starting to bloom. Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_2810
A blanket of yellow. Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_2820
Leif loved the grass. Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_2825
Leif wanted to pick the flowers. Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_2832
Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_8246
Miles took this photo in 2010. It hangs in our bedroom. I call it “The Kissing Lips”.           Miles McKee Photography.

All photos in 2016 were taken with Nikon D750 and Nikon 80-200MM F\2.8.

♥R♥

 

 

When You Wish Upon a Star and the Universe Answers

Last night after nursing my son I held him in my arms for a few extra minutes. The tension in my shoulders melted as he wrapped his arms around my neck. I breathed in the fresh baby smell that radiated from his warm body after his bath. The scent of banana bread baking wafted through his nursery door. Over the gentle clanging of my husband scrubbing pots and pans, an acoustic version of Disney’s When You Wish Upon a Star played on the radio. I gently began to sway with my son as his body melted into mine and he drifted off to sleep.

In that moment I felt gratitude more profound than at any other juncture in my life. I wished upon a star two years ago for a baby and the universe answered. At that precise moment I felt completely enveloped with the love that surrounded me. My incredible husband was cleaning up the muffin mess that I had made after he worked all day so that I could put our son to bed. One of the many ways he said, I love you throughout the day. My eight month old son told me he cherished me by resting his head on my shoulder; gently giving over to sleep in my trusted arms.

I knew I was experiencing a blessing.

One day when my son leaves the house or he takes a bride of his own, I will resurrect this dance and reflect on that one time I was his whole world. I will remember a time when I wished upon a star and the universe answered. When your dreams really do come true, rejoice.

♥R♥

Blogging the Senses

Cover Image Found @:http://hipster-lyrics.tumblr.com/page/17