Wednesday, December 31, 2014

merry christmas and happy new year.

from us and our joy baby in Michigan!

I never really prayed that for her like I wanted to before she was born. but I've recently been praying that strength and dignity would be her clothing and that kindness would be on her lips. that she would laugh at the days to come. (proverbs 31, I'm sure you know it well)

and she is just that. so much joy. so I am thankful for the joy I don't even ask for and continue to pray over this beautiful girl. I also pray this holiday season is a special one for each of you. love you all!

here's to another great year.

beautiful cards : artifact uprising | beautiful photo : Trevor Mark Photography

Friday, December 19, 2014

looking forward.

what an interesting week. let's move on, shall we? at least I have something nice too look at. (: in the next couple of days, we'll be on our way to Michigan to spend lots of time with family. I think I'm most excited that Chad has two weeks off. here's to a great two weeks.

if you think of it, would you be so kind to say a prayer for our travels? we're driving, so this will be the longest trip she's made in the car. Tennessee wasn't so bad, so we're hopeful.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

seven months.

a couple of weeks late, but I want to write to remember this age. and all ages.

I love that I am her safety.

when she's upset and I pick her up, or if she's around other people, she pushes her legs against my stomach and grabs my shoulders, pulling herself up as close as she can in the crook of my neck (usually biting my shoulder (; ). and I keep thinking about the moment we connected on the outside. as I pulled her up on my chest for the first time. and it was like she couldn't get close enough. brand new in this world and instantly I was her safety. instead of scooting down to nurse like I heard babies might do, she just kept getting closer and closer to my neck only to rest there, after what I can imagine was probably a little traumatic. I love this girl. I would do that day all over again for her. just for that moment. but I love that for now, even still, she finds comfort in that spot. in me. that I am mama and I am safe.


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

teeth. not tooth.

photos c/o Trevor Mark Photography. celebrating six months of Norah. you can visit his site to see more!

that guy's smile, am I right? I'm a lucky gal.

pray for our sweet babe. what I thought was her first tooth, was actually four teeth. she's a trooper and still such a joy, but I feel so bad when I can tell she's feeling it. I guess it's nice to get it over with faster? yeah, I'll just look at it like that and keep cuddling her up for as long as she needs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

getting creative.

many of you might remember my little Etsy shop I had a while back. it's been "on vacation" for a bit, for obvious reasons. but I've recently felt the itch to be creative again. maybe I'm finally getting the hang of being a mom and an Ali at the same time (probably not). I'm a work in progress. (; anyway, I've been putting together some things with all of my leftover materials and have decided to sell it all!

being an artist is such a vulnerable thing and comes with many insecurities. if you let it, it can be really fulfilling as well. but the creative burst seemed to "come out of nowhere" and I just felt like I needed to do something with all of my leftover material. so when I had some visions of what I could do with it all, my hands got to work at any small break I had during the day. or late at night, ha.

so Southwood Drive is in the coming again soon stages and I hope you'll like what you see. I will open the shop Friday morning. keep an eye out for a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale and maybe a drawing for free shipping on top of that. perfect timing for Christmas gifts for the lovely ladies in your life. everything must go!

here's just a few things that will be up for sale. happy tuesday!


Thursday, November 06, 2014

six months.

yesterday marked six months of Norah's life. I willingly left her in her crib all night for the first time. She was probably ready a while ago, but if I'm being completely honest, it made me too anxious and she slept fine in our room and what's the point of rushing that. Now I'm less anxious and I just felt like we were ready (and also, she's getting too long for her rock-and-play). 

I've been a mom for six months! and doing so over one thousand miles from family. I just felt like I needed a part or something. so I took her shopping for a new teether. I know she doesn't know any different, but I think half a year is worth celebrating. I also bought myself some dark chocolate, so there's my party I guess. I know. I'm so fancy.

truth is, though, that every mom with a child at any age is worth celebrating. I'm not special because we don't have family close. but please, I beg of you, don't take that for granted, people. facetime is incredible, but real facetime, you can't compare.

I just really felt like I should soak up the day yesterday; this week even. all of the moments.

I'll be honest again and say it's not easy and it's lonely and maybe those aren't the moments I think I want to soak up sometimes. but I'll be glad I did and I'm so  grateful to have this little beauty to do life with us and that I'm the one she'll call mama. that alone is really so special and worth celebrating everyday.

she really is one of the happiest babies and that makes me feel like I'm doing at least some things right.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

five months.

in the last couple of months, we've all been on a work trip to San Francisco (had her first belly laugh on that mountain you see below and Chad's dad just happened to be taking our photo. the wind just struck her funny. dreamiest moment.), a family visit in Michigan, and a quick trip to Nashville. Norah is a great traveler. I do hope that sticks because as long as we live here, we'll have a lot of traveling to do.

our girl is five months old. she's already changed so much from these photos. we haven't been to the doctor since her four month wellness check and we don't own a scale, so I'm guessing she has doubled her birth weight. she was almost there at the last check up anyway. as much as her rolls are taking over, she still has dainty feet. I especially love her hand dimples right now. she thinks everything she sees is supposed to be in her mouth, but still no little tooth sightings. she stared sitting up this week and rolled over for the first time last night! three times in a row. and my darling sleeper started sleeping a little bit less at night. a sign for those teeth coming, I'm sure. she's been a drool bucket since about two months, so we've been wondering when they will come for a while now.

so I'm tired, but she is doing just great. (: she loves 'talking' to us and is showing that towards others now too, only using a cute, quiet voice until she warms up. and her favorite spot to nap is in our arms or our bed. I know, 'that will come back to bite me', or whatever. I'm willing to risk it. she's only this size for today. but she's the sweetest. and teaching me more and more about grace and unconditional love everyday. I have big things to learn from this little one.

oh and our fuzzy little bird is back. her dark newborn hair has gradually fallen out, which made my heart a bit sad seeing her get so big, but she's got this blonde fuzz happening, more and more each day, it seems. just one more thing to add to the list of reasons she looks like her dad. (: I can't wait to see if she's got our curls. but let's be honest, she's surrounded by them. we'll be shocked if it's really straight.

I hope everyone is doing well. I'll try to update more often. I just want to soak up every moment without too many distractions.

Friday, September 05, 2014

four months.

four months of life on the outside today.

here's how it went:
four month wellness check up in the morning. girl is going for gold (fifteen pounds!). we stopped for coffee because.. coffee. and I guess, because neither of us grown ups slept well. she and I went to target while Chad worked in the shed. once we got back home she nursed and fell asleep. she woke from an unusually long nap with the saddest little baby cough and a stuffy little nose. but the happiest of grins. we're sitting on the porch now, while it storms somewhere nearby. she loves the breeze. (which, I meeean, hallelujah for that in late Louisiana summer, am I right??)

my head doesn't like it and my heart finds it sad, but I know there is protection from someone greater.

thank you, Jesus, for healing little bodies and for giving bigger ones just what is needed for the little ones to prosper. 

happy four months, our little Norah Jane. you are the sweetest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

kindness of strangers.

I was told, the other day, that I won't break my kids. he could probably see the newness and a little bit of fear in me being out in the world. the sauna that is New Orleans. after hearing Norah is our first, he could remember how that felt for him and he said, "don't worry, you're not going to break her. just love her and be there for her and she'll be alright."

and I thought, what a nice and encouraging thing for a stranger to say. he didn't tell me the normal; how fast it goes or how it only gets harder. he didn't say, she's good now, but just wait until she can talk. or don't blink, she'll be eighteen tomorrow. or enjoy it while you can.

no. just love her. 

so mommas and dads, those beautiful babes of yours, just love 'em.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

i am blessed.

feeling so heavy as I read of a couple who lost their baby after an early delivery, already knowing her heart wasn't beating. I know, of course, why it hits so close to home, but something about this couple.. their faith and strength is the most beautiful I've seen. I've been following his Instagram account, admiring his photography and the way he loves his wife and has been documenting her pregnancy.

the thing that gets me the most is realizing how unworthy I feel to have such a healthy little girl. they spent the few hours they had with their baby just praying and celebrating her life. I have this beautiful, living baby. one who came into this world the most natural way, just as I hoped. even better than I had hoped. who nurses better than I dreamed. finds comfort in my touch. I had all of these hopes and God has exceeded them more than I ever expected and I'm not even on my face everyday asking for any of it. 

don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for our Norah girl and there are hard things I am going through. but how are we walking in so much favor when many days I don't even pray? and this couple prayed over their baby so much in anticipation, but only had a short time to hold her. I can't imagine not being able to hold the baby I carried inside. I know we just don't understand some things that happen, but things like this.. sometimes I wish we could understand.

so I've just been pondering all of this and praying for that family. and we're obviously still figuring out this new life of ours. trying to navigate all of this overwhelming love we have in our hearts that my mind can't fully comprehend. so much love, it hurts. and I still get emotional, you can call it the baby blues if you want, but it's more than that. your heart is wrecked when you have a baby. it's a spiritual thing as much as, if not more than, it is a physical or emotional thing. (so mommas, don't feel bad about being confused or emotional! just don't be afraid to ask for an ear to listen. (: )

I listened to a podcast today, from a good friend of ours in Idaho, which is rare for me (I can never stay focused listening to podcasts, so I usually just don't do it, to be honest), but I feel like God took me right to it because I needed to know that I am blessed. and that's just it, and that's okay. and because something terribly hard happens to someone else, it doesn't mean I shouldn't be blessed. 

your identity isn't achieved, it's received.
God doesn't say, "Do holiness and I'll call you holy". He says, "You are holy, so do holiness". He is a good dad who begins with blessing. you can't work for it, it's just given to you. no strings attached.

I don't have to manipulate God to bless me. He just does it. He just loves me.
He just loves you.

“What primitive people who thought that they needed to manipulate the gods, or the goddesses, or God to bless them..” c.s. lewis.

the best thing you can give is yourself. the best thing He could give, is Himself. and He did. God likes to bless us.

obviously I want everyone to listen to the podcast because I think it is so great, but I know that won't be the case. maybe though, it is just for one person reading this. so I thought I would share.

and here is the song he speaks of at the end.
(he didn't ask me to post this and doesn't know I am, but his heart is one we've always admired and it might do your heart well to follow him. who knows. hi, Adam!)

now I am going to snatch up my little bird who is sweetly sighing in her sleep, because I'm all sappy and can't help myself. she needs the extra squeeze today, I just know it. (okay, or it's me. I do. I need it.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I can't remember a birthday where it hasn't rained for at least part of the day. today was no exception. it's almost become a comfort. I actually like it. and sitting by the window with our girl sleeping on my chest, listening to the thunder.. kind of beautiful.

also, a little bit funny.. I was surprised with a bench for our front porch this morning. so the only thing occupying the seat is a bunch of rainwater. (: looking forward to sitting out there in the future though.

I figure you're probably more interested in Norah right now though, so I'll let you know that she is doing great. ten pounds at her one month check up last week (she was 7 lb 9 oz at birth) and starting to lose that pretty baby hair. makes my momma heart a little sad, but also happy just to know she's thriving in this great big world.

hello twenty seven. I think I'll probably like you.

Monday, June 02, 2014

our little Norah Jane is four weeks old today. she's the greatest.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

for the mommas.

from a brand new one to all the rest out there, you're incredible. I hope you were kind to yourself today and took time to rest in the beauty of what it is you get to do as a mom. it is a real gift, whether a birth mother or not, and you are the perfect one for it.

thank you to all of the parents in our lives who have taught us in your own special ways. especially the four that have shown us the most love and taught us the most valuable things while raising us in the best of homes. our parents are a big part of the reason we are living this life and our moms are two of the greatest.

and thank you for all of the kindness and congratulations you have been sending our way. Norah is a true joy. she is already way too good to us and we are enjoying this beautiful, sleepy, head-in-the-clouds time at home with her so much.

our fuzzy little bird.. I think you're really going to like her.

love.. so much love.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

we've had an interesting couple of weeks. in all of the anticipation of new life, we found out she might not be lying the right direction. while that's not the end of the world and I have always known a c-section is a possibility for anyone, and that sometimes it is the best way for things to happen, my emotions were a little thrown off when they said we might have to go that route. in short, it's really okay if that has to happen, but my heart desires that it doesn't have to.

so we had to schedule another ultrasound. eventually I decided to not stress and wait until we knew for sure to make any big decisions. I know God will take care of us no matter what happens.

today was that ultrasound, and I can't tell you enough that I've never been so happy to get kicked in the ribs, ha. we thanked God that He can turn babies and that we would have peace and be encouraged with whatever the outcome. and right as the ultrasound started we could see she's facing the right way and ready to go! which makes the fact that it is much harder to walk lately make a lot of sense. so in the next few weeks I'll be feeling the most pain ever and I can't wait! (;

for now, this is the obligatory "here is my baby that just looks kind of like an alien at the moment with her face pressed up against the placenta" sonogram. enjoy.


Monday, April 14, 2014

so, mid-April, yeah? haven't written since February? slacking over here. sorry 'bout it.

since we're in the ninth month of this pregnancy, it's probably pretty clear what we've been up to and that we've been busy. I know I never finished updating you all about Michigan at Christmastime, so here it is (a short version), if anyone is even remotely interested anymore..

^when the belly and I felt so big and now I realize we were hardly big at all. (;

there was a lot of ice and below zero temps. beautiful, like I said before, though freeeeeezing. then we both stood in an absolutely beautiful wedding in Ann Arbor. the one where our good friends promised each other life long love and both thanked one another for marrying them at the end of their hand written vows (the sweetest thing). still so honored to have been a part of that day. 

then there was this blizzard on the way home from the wedding, we couldn't see any lanes on the highway, and it was so late and tired out. heavenly protection is the only way we can explain getting back safe (that, and my husband is a champ). and I don't say blizzard lightly. almost two feet of snow. that whole polar vortex and what not. so pretty the next day though!

the days following got very cold again but lastly, we decided to brave that ice and snow and drive back to New Orleans. most stressful drive adding hours to our travels (that last photo is us stopped in traffic for an hour because of an icy accident) but again, Jesus protects and he was faithful in that.

so there you have it. I'll be back tomorrow. I mean it this time.

watch: Saving Mr. Banks (I knew I'd probably like this since Mary Poppins is a favorite, but I loooved this so much! I want to buy you all a copy). // also just finished Twin Peaks. what even?!

listen: Satellite | Dave Matthews Band (mostly because my belly dances when that one plays).

read: Igniting Faith in Forty Days | Steve and Wendy Backlund // a negativity fast/positivity feast I've been doing for Lent. not necessarily succeeding every day, but it has been encouraging and motivating and is more than worth a read.

"Abundant gratefulness: a flourishing soul. Even if circumstances haven't changed, thankfulness will alter perspective from doubt to faith."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

we interrupt this Michigan updating with a little something special.

yesterday we had the pleasure of having our friend Trevor over to do something I thought I didn't want to do. (: I'll be honest. I usually don't like the thought of maternity photos very much. I love seeing everyone else's though, so hopefully I'm not making you feel bad if you're really into that sort of thing. they just really aren't very.. me. but Trevor had some really great and different ideas and I'm really glad he talked me into having these done. I know I will be so so glad we have these to look back on.

a couple of things.. first of all, if you're in Louisiana and need photos for anything.. give this guy all of your monies. I mean it. or if you want to fly him somewhere because you don't live here, I'm sure he'd go for that too. both of those.. totally worth it.

also, if you're lucky, his lovely wife will tag along. she has an even more lovely heart and will be sure to make you laugh. they make you feel comfortable and will capture the real you. you're destined to have genuine smiles in your photos. not the fake kind. (; his work is absolutely beautiful.

it was a little last minute, so I didn't have time to think about what I was going to wear or try to coordinate anything. but I kind of love that. I feel like I didn't try too hard to find the perfect outfits or make my hair too fancy. this is us. right now. and that is how I want to remember this time. I remember people asking if I was going to make Chad take out his lip ring or take off his glasses for our wedding. but I always wondered why I should make him be something he normally isn't. I want to remember things as they are. in that very moment. that's one of the best things about looking at old photos. (I do, however, wish that I had something more exciting and aesthetically pleasing to make for lunch, but we really need to grocery shop, ha. so chicken salad sandwiches we ate. it's whatever.)

counting these at thirty week photos, too. a few days short of thirty weeks.. crazy!

visit to see the rest (you'll find all of his contact information there too). I'm having a really hard time picking my favorites. he even makes our house look really cool.. such talent. thank you so much Trevor!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I said I would be back to share more of our time in Michigan, so this is that. but there is a lot so it may take a couple days.

anyway, you read the really exciting part- when we found out this little one is a girl. pretty special. but that was just the beginning. below is the day of our ultrasound (twenty weeks), also the day before we left.

^ excuse the face.

our December in Michigan was nothing short of eventful. eventful in the sense that a lot happened, but we were also stuck inside a bunch too.

we had a beautiful drive up; not even one drop of rain. and I was much less uncomfortable than I expected I'd be, thank you Jesus. we got to Michigan, celebrated our nieces birthday (real fun. so much personality, those two.), opened that suspenseful envelope one morning, and that night a massive ice storm hit. massive in the sense that almost the entire county and some of the surrounding areas lost power for many days. with ice and low temps, it was a tad dangerous. the ice took out a lot of trees and power lines. but as usual, God was taking care of us. we went out to breakfast the next morning at one of the few places with power, sat in front of a fire for a day, a generator was lent to my parents, and Chad and his Dad drove to Ohio to buy one of the last and closest generators around for their house. the electricity came back on Christmas evening after four days of listening to the hum of a generator.. which really didn't bother me since I'm a white noise person. hardly noticed it, ha.

then a few inches of snow came and rested on all of the ice and it was the most beautiful I've ever seen Michigan. all of those evergreens! I know I'm crazy, but when I see trees like that I get the feeling that most of you get when you see a photo of the beach (and don't give me that, "you don't have to live here or have suffer through it" junk. I lived there for over twenty years. I just like it, okay?). don't get me wrong, I'd love a trip to the beach. but, I mean, this..

for Christmas, we bought the girls ice skates (per their request). so a few days later we all went to try out the new skates with Uncle Chad, since he is the pro. (; it was so fun seeing him in his element again and also really fun watching the girls figure it all out. I cherish those family days, since they are few and far between. and don't worry.. I was behind the camera most of the time. no skating for pregnant Ali.. she's no pro.

^ after probably five minutes. (; hard worker!

^ one for the books, am I right?

the rest of our trip was full of some exciting wedding festivities for good friends and a polar vortex blizzard, so that's fun. I told you it was eventful. (: I'll post more about that next time. hope you're having a great day!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

pregnant ladies, I see your waddle. and I raise you.. another waddle.

okay, not quite, but I'm almost there and I totally understand why it happens. (: it's beautiful, really. the miracle happening inside of you, and the fact that you can even still stand and function some days is a whole different miracle in itself. embrace your drastically different body and soak up each moment. be thankful for it. every new curve. every discomfort or twinge or pain. because it goes by so fast. (talking to myself here, too, ha.)

this is today. twenty eight weeks. she's growing folks; think eggplant size. and getting strong. and I love her.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

little girl had a moment yesterday. I got to watch my belly dance around for probably thirty seconds straight, while trying reallllly hard to not laugh because I didn't want to stop her. one of my favorites so far. it usually feels like kicks or movements with moments in between, but this one was just continuous movements and a real treat. I know it will be absolutely amaaaazing to have her in my arms, but I'm trying to soak up all of these dances while she's inside because I think I will miss this part. I read from someone once that with two in one body, you feel so alive. I think that's one of the best ways to explain it. she's a beautiful soul already and she's still just a tiny babe inside of me.

twenty five weeks of life inside of me and I'm loving every moment. she weighs roughly 1.5 to 2.5 pounds and is somewhere around fourteen inches (close a head of cauliflower apparently). she knows which way is up and which is down, and is currently growing more hair and fat. which is more than clear by the new size of my belly these last couple of weeks.

that's all I've got for today. I'll be back soon with an update on all that we've been up to the last month or so. lots of things, mostly in Michigan. (: