The motherhood marathon

The house is quiet. I can hear myself think.

The bedroom door closes as Woody takes Fox to do “shower boys,” and I am struck by the moment of calm—of aloneness. I’m transported into my own private oasis as I shove the last bite of an Oreo cookie into my mouth.

I’ve realized lately how I don’t get many times like this anymore. Time to hear myself think.

The quiet, alone times often seem filled—filled with catching up on cleaning or cooking—or cleaning. Or willing myself to stop production and sleep—not as a form of luxury, but as a matter of survival. Like a runner “carb loads” before her next race.

Motherhood is much like a marathon now that I think of it.

Sometimes you’re walking, sometimes you’re running, but you’re always, always moving. I suppose bedtime (mine, not theirs) is my own personal finish line. And no matter how I place in today’s race, I’m always invited to run again tomorrow.

A Bunny Themed Baby Shower

One of my favorite parts of hosting a party is developing the theme. I love thinking about components such as who we’re celebrating, what the occasion is, what time of year it is, and what would make it memorable to help me decide the right direction to take. I usually toss around a few ideas until the right one just sticks. And when that happens, it’s one of my favorite moments because then I can start fine-tuning the vision and bringing it to life!

When it came to planning Katherine’s Baby Shower with my friend Rachel, we knew we wanted to really get the details right. Katherine is someone who appreciates sweet touches, beauty, and design, so we knew putting our energy into these areas would mean a lot to her.

As Katherine was designing her nursery, bunnies emerged as a subtle theme. It wasn’t over-the-top or even that intentional, I don’t think. She was just drawn to a few bunny elements and it started to develop from there. So, this is where we ended up landing for the shower theme, and I just love it!

As with any theme, we wanted to steer clear from a cheesy or overdone approach. We wanted it to feel classic and “baby” as well as special and attractive. Also, Katherine was planning to incorporate a surprise gender reveal at the shower so we couldn’t be too gender specific in our decor. But, I do feel like there is always a little room to have feminine touches at a baby shower because after all, the Momma is a girl!

The sweet little bunnies, greenery, and linens made for a perfectly charming and meaningful day. I’ll share a few details as we go, too, in case you want to replicate anything you see! Enjoy!

Photos by Mary Margaret Smith

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We found these adorable little bunnies at Michael’s, and they were a subtle surprise in our flower arrangements.

Rachel found inspiration for the greenery bunny online, and we used floral wire wrapped in paper, floral tape, and fresh greenery from Trader Joe’s to create our own! Then, we accented it by using floral hoops in different sizes with ribbons hot glued and greenery wrapped with floral tape. It was whimsical and sweet.

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Y’all. This cake! I can’t even. I loved it so much! It was delicious for one, but also so perfectly lovely I could squeal. Our favorite local baker, Bec’s Cakes, created this wonder and took the bunny ears we made to finish it off! We saw the idea online and shaped these bunny ears out of the same paper-wrapped floral wire we used for the large greenery bunny.

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The bunny cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches were as tasty as they are cute! A perfect touch for our mid-afternoon celebration.

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Katherine loves to read, so when we found this antique bunny made to rest on books, we knew we had to get it for her. It doubled as shower decor and a gift, which is always fun!

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Sweet Katherine. This image just gets me. We were all so excited to celebrate her and Baby Stone, and to see the look on her face when she walked into her shower was the best. There’s nothing like putting your heart into a celebration for someone and them receiving all the love you hoped they would through every detail.

surprise gender reveal

Katherine and Scottie had been keeping the gender of their baby a secret for her whole pregnancy. Then came the idea to reveal it at her baby shower. I love gender reveals and baby showers so this was so exciting to me! We gathered everyone outside for a group photo. After the photographer took a couple “test shots” she said, “Alright on the count of three everybody say…” and at that moment Katherine yelled out,

“IT’S A GIRL!!!”

You can see the delight and surprise on everyone’s faces as they heard this exciting news! It was such a special moment and such a special shower for such a special friend.

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A Bunny Themed Baby Shower

mattyewoodcock.com

Our Favorite Books for Babies and Toddlers

We love books in our house! We’ve been reading to Fox since he was a baby, and one of my favorite parts of motherhood has been watching him experience books with such delight. I also look forward to sharing the joy of books with Mae as she grows, and I hope she will love them, too! We typically read 1-3 books at night before bed and often at other times throughout the day. As Fox has gotten older, it’s been fun to see which books he loves most and watch him interact and recite parts of the stories.

There are so many books out there, and our favorites ebb and flow in seasons, but there are a few that stand out to me right now that I think are worth adding to your child’s collection or selecting as a gift. I’m sharing our top picks by category, and I hope you find a new book to love on this list!

Also, I’d love to know—what are your favorite books for babies and toddlers? Which ones do we need to add to our bookshelves?

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favorite kids books
favorite books for babies and toddlers

Affiliate links are used in this post!

15 Minute Family Beach Photo Session

One of my focuses for the year is to embrace my role as our Family Storyteller. I have informally occupied this role for a while now, but making it my official title (given to me by myself!) reminds me of the importance and value this job holds.

One of the ways I love telling the story of our family is through photos. It’s something Woody and I have valued spending time and money on since we were engaged. We’ve done big shoots, small shoots, planned-out shoots, and spur-the-moment shoots. We’ve worked with photographers we’ve hired and photographers who are friends (let’s be real, they all end up being our friends!). No matter how we’ve done it, I’m always glad we did.

Despite what you might think (and what I often think), you don’t have to plan perfectly to get photos you love.

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite family shoots we’ve had. It happened this summer at the beach. We were there with two other couples, including one of my best friends, Rachel, who is a very talented photographer. Obviously already being with a photographer was super helpful, but even so, all the rest came together with little to no planning. So, hire yourself a photographer and don’t overthink the rest!

We decided that day we’d all do photos. I didn’t know what we’d all wear until that day, and I did my own hair and makeup (as I usually do any time we get photos taken). Fox was 18 months old, cute as can be, but not 100% cooperative. I was 30 weeks pregnant with Mae and easily winded walking in the sand. We didn’t plan poses, pin inspiration, or find the perfect location. We simply got cleaned up, walked down to the beach access closest to our rental house, and spent 15 minutes laughing with our toes in the sand.

But what a precious story these photos tell. They remind us of the changing season as we were preparing to add another little life to our crew. They celebrate chubby baby legs, summer heat, and sun-kissed skin. They tell our story as young parents, a couple in love, and Fox’s first beach vacation. This little moment in time is one worth preserving. And I know I’m biased, but the result is pretty near perfect to me.

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He did  not  want to let go of my hand…

He did not want to let go of my hand…

…as you can see.

…as you can see.

Photos by Rachel Coffey Photography

How do you preserve your family’s story? What matters most to you? Do you have any favorite photo shoot experiences? I’d love to hear!

Mae's Nursery

I had so much fun designing a nursery for Mae, and I’m excited to share it with you! Soon after we found out we were having a girl, I started gathering nursery inspiration. This was a fun process, but with so many beautiful options, I had somewhat of a hard time narrowing it down. Knowing that I didn’t have the luxury of spending countless hours on nursery design (I was still working part-time and caring for my toddler!), I aimed at being decisive and going with my intuition.

This approach worked out well because if I could describe any room in my home as perfect, it would be Mae’s. I absolutely love how sweet and feminine it is. I know childhood Mattye would’ve loved this space, and my hope is that Mae will cherish it as she grows.

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A design approach I took that I think made the end result so pleasing was picking the one thing I “couldn’t live without” and building the room around that. I knew I wanted to wallpaper one wall, but the wallpaper I initially loved did not work with the curtain fabric I loved. It was quite a dilemma! So, I simply asked myself what I felt like I couldn’t leave behind, and the curtains won. Seeing the finished room now, I am 100% positive that was the right decision!

I worked with a local boutique, Fireflies & Fairytales (located in The Swanky Stork), to use one of their fabrics to create custom curtains. Their team was a dream to work with. I’ve developed a sweet relationship with their store manager, Shannon, and the customer service from start to finish was personalized and made the process easy. Then, the curtains came in and they were stunning. From the blush buffalo check ruffle to the white blackout lining, every details was just lovely.

Custom is certainly the pricier way to do curtains, but I knew these would be a statement element in Mae’s room, and I could save elsewhere (like by repurposing Fox’s dresser/changing table and glider). I also love any chance I get to support a local business, and investing in this piece just felt good.

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Aren’t these curtains what little girl dreams are made of? // Fireflies and Fairytales
Here is a close up of the fabric:

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To me, the art of designing a room is having a clear picture of what you’re looking for and being creative with design solutions to achieve that look. As I pinned inspiration for Mae’s room, a vision for the space came to life. The curtain fabric I loved was right in line with this vision, and it directed much of my design. From there, I knew the elements I needed (a lamp, mirror, details, etc.) and I began shopping at stores and online to pull it all together. When designing a space, not everything has to be new or expensive, and I hope sharing how Mae’s room came together will help you see how you can create a space that you love by pulling from resources old and new and in different price ranges to make it shine.

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This trio on the wall is made up of a mirror I bought at an antique shop but never found a place for, a painted flower tray my mother-in-law gave me for Mae’s room, and a boxwood wreath I found at a shop in Laurel, MS, on our Babymoon.

We did end up with a wallpapered wall like I originally wanted, and I adore what we chose. It’s a periwinkle blue plaid, and accents the curtains so nicely. My mom used periwinkle wallpaper in my nursery, which made this choice an extra special nod to that.

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nursery watercolors

Y’all. These paintings—I’m obsessed! We love original art in our home and really hoped we could find some special pieces for Mae’s room. I am often drawn to paintings on canvas, but after seeing an Instagram post of a baby girl’s nursery with framed art, I couldn’t get it out of my head. We landed on these original watercolors by Simply Jessica Marie, and they are absolutely perfect for the space. Jessica was so kind and encouraging as we talked about the paintings and framing options. She not only made the process easy but also joyful as she shared in our excitement of expecting our baby girl. I still stare at the paintings in Mae’s room as if it’s the first time I’m seeing them, which is the sign to me that you’ve found a truly special piece of art.

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tailored feminine nursery
tailored feminine nursery
tailored feminine nursery
tailored feminine nursery

Baby Mae in her room melts my Momma heart! // Photos by Mary Margaret Smith

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feminine nursery shelves
tailored feminine nursery
tailored feminine nursery
girl nursery bookshelf

I’m sentimental by nature, and I enjoy incorporating meaningful pieces into my home. On Mae’s shelves (repurposed from Fox’s nursery), I used flower marker art that I did as a little girl (see the top shelf by her crib), a framed baby shower invitation, my sterling silver baby cup (that I did not polish before these photos were taken! eek!), a photo from my maternity session, gifts from friends like her bear, personalized butterfly teether, and Sunshine book, and a faux magnolia flower I bought in Waco at Magnolia this summer while I was pregnant with Mae.

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tailored feminine nursery

These sweet letter hooks are one of the first things I bought for her room. Her name is so beautiful and special to me, and since it’s three letters, it makes it easy to incorporate like this. I wasn’t sure what function they would serve when I first bought them, but they’re truly perfect for displaying her hairbows and it makes them super easy to access!

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tailored feminine nursery
tailored feminine nursery
tailored feminine nursery
tailored feminine nursery

Speaking of sentimental, that pink piggy bank was a gift from Woody’s Mom, Mae and Fox’s “Nonna,” and it was hers as a little girl. She has given several heirlooms to Fox that belonged to Woody as a child, so it was so meaningful for Mae to get a piece from Nonna’s girlhood days.

Finally, probably the most special piece in her nursery is that envelope you see on her pin board. Back in 2014, I took calligraphy classes. I often practiced my calligraphy in different ways, and one day I “addressed” this envelope to “Mae Woodcock, 113 Future Lane, Cutie Pie, USA, 12345.” I wasn’t pregnant at that time, but Mae was the little girl we had talked about and dreamed about when we discussed the future and babies.

I love this piece so much because it reminds me of God’s goodness and His gifts to us. One of the verses that has meant a lot to me throughout pregnancy and life with her is Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” I want Mae and Fox both to know that they were desires of my heart, and they are dreams fulfilled for me, and this piece is one very special reminder of that truth.

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I hope you enjoyed Mae’s nursery tour! Let me know if there is anything I can further explain or questions I can answer.

Sources

Crib: Million Dollar Baby | Curtains: Fireflies and Fairytales | Wallpaper: Caitlin Wilson | Glider (from Fox’s nursery): Barnett Furniture | Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster | Artwork: Simply Jessica Marie | Dresser (from Fox’s nursery): Ikea | Dresser hardware: Anthropologie | Mirror, lamp, hamper, and side table: Home Goods | Crib skirt and sheets: Pottery Barn Kids | Accent pillows: Fireflies and Fairytales | Pin Board: Pottery Barn Kids | Changing pad: Keekaroo Peanut Changer | Rug: Pottery Barn Kids | Throw blanket: Caitlin Wilson | Pom Pom Basket: Lulu & Georgia | Hanging shelves: Target and Ikea | Letter Hooks: Anthropologie

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Newborn + Postpartum Faves

The birth of Mae began my second adventure into “newborn life,” and I’m learning so much. I knew it was true, but there is nothing like having two babies of your own to prove to you that every baby is different!

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Mae is her own person, and being a little more relaxed this time around is allowing me to enjoy learning her and figuring out what she needs with more ease and confidence than I had as a brand new mom. Part of this process has included identifying some key items that have become “must-haves” for us, and when I find something I love, I gotta share it. There are SO many items out there for Moms and babies, and sometimes it’s helpful to have a friend help you wade through the masses to pick out a few treasures.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of ALL the things you need in newborn/postpartum life (although here’s a little tip—what you actually need is most likely less than what you think you need); I simply want to highlight the items that are either new favorites or have become trusty go-to’s with both babies for us. I’ll say it again, every baby is different, so you have to figure out what works for you, but my hope is that each Momma will be able to find at least one gem from this list!

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Vava Nightlight

I think I will get this nightlight as a baby shower gift for people from now until forever. This thing is amazing! It’s chargeable (and the charge lasts for days/weeks depending how often you use it), portable, and touch-activated making it incredibly convenient. It has two different light temperatures and is dimmable, too. It’s wonderful for late-night feedings and diaper changes when you might not want to make a lot of noise or have a lot of light. It’s also great to travel with if you’re unsure what kind of lighting situation you’ll have.

baby lounger

We have loved the Boppy Newborn Lounger with both babies. It’s lightweight and has a handle so it’s easy to take from room to room or on a trip. It’s a cozy spot for baby with a slight incline so their head is lifted and they can see what’s going on around them. Mae sits in it happily while I’m getting ready, cooking, pumping, you name it! Because it’s so easy to put anywhere, it allows me to be close to her when I’m not able to hold her, and that’s something we both love. I really can’t imagine newborn life without it.

I also wanted to give an honorable mention to the Dock a Tot. We’ve used it with Mae, and so far it’s been great. It’s a pricier item, so we were thankful when a friend offered to loan us theirs. It’s lightweight and easy to transport just like the Boppy lounger, and it’s nice when you need a portable, convenient sleeping spot or to let the baby lay flat and kick around. I don’t think I would pay full price for one, but since we got to borrow this one, I am glad we have it.

covered goods four-in-one cover

This four-in-one cover is one of my favorite items. Both my babies were born in cold weather months, and this is wonderful to put over their car seat to protect them from the cold air and germs. I imagine I would use it in the summer too because it would block out light and any hands that want to reach in to touch baby. Also, it’s a lightweight nursing cover that I take everywhere. It took me a while to get used to using it with Fox, but with Mae it’s been so helpful. Someone actually referred to it as my “magic striped blanket” because every time I pull it out she gets calm (a.k.a. she gets to eat)!

burt’s bees burp cloths

These burp cloths are so soft and ideal in size. With Fox, I had all different kinds of burp cloths, and I ended up only wanting to use my favorites. This time, I have 12 of the Burt’s Bees and I never have to question if I’m getting a “good one” or not. It removes any decision making and keeps me well stocked with burp cloths (a MUST in those early months!).

my brest friend nursing pillow

As cheesy as the name may be, this has truly been a good friend for me with both my babies! I like this nursing pillow because the firmness of the pillow gives me and my baby quality support, the buckle helps it stay in place, and its soft. The pad around the back is so comfortable, and especially as my babies have gone from newborn to bigger babies, the My Brest Friend gives me much needed relief for my back, shoulders, and neck during nursing.

solly baby wrap

There are many baby wraps out there, and I’ve heard positive reviews of many of them, but the Solly Baby Wrap has been the winner in our home. I wasn’t very confident using it with Fox so I only used it a handful of times, but I’ve already used it dozens of times with Mae. It calms her down when she is fussy, and she takes a nap in it almost every day. It’s also really helpful as a mom of two because it gives me free hands to love on and care for my toddler while also keeping Mae content and getting little newborn snuggles. I love getting to be near my girl while having the option to have my hands free.

Sleepers with hand covers

Newborns tend to have fast-growing, sharp fingernails that are hard to cut, and these sleepers make protecting them and you so easy! I especially love using these at night when she might scratch her face the most, and they’re also nice when nursing so she doesn’t poke me with those sharp little nails.

zutano baby shoes

After two months of tiny little socks falling off Mae’s feet constantly, I finally bought these Zutano booties with an Amazon gift card we were given, and they’re fabulous! They stay on her feet so well and keep them warm. I got the fuzzy style for her first pair since it’s winter, and I plan to get the cotton ones for spring/summer.

Spectra Pump

A friend recommended this pump, and I was very intrigued because she said it helped her express more milk and was quieter than other pumps. I still had my pump from Fox, and figured if I wanted this new one, I’d have to buy it or receive it as a gift. Then, a friend who saw it on my baby registry told me she got the same one and it was covered by insurance. After looking into it, I was so delighted to see that my insurance covered it, too. With her recommendation, I ordered it through Aeroflow, and it was a pleasant, streamlined experience. I love this pump for many reasons: it has a massage mode and expression mode to help simulate how your baby eats, a handle for easy transport, a timer to see how long you’ve been pumping, a nightlight, and two options for adjusting the frequency and intensity with which it expresses the milk. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it comes in pretty colors.

postpartum

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GapFit Leggings

gilligan & o’malley nursing bras

In my second season of nursing, I have been much more savvy with my nursing bra situation. I have lightweight bras to wear at nighttime and more structured bras with better coverage for daytime. But, my favorite one by far is this one by Gilligan & O’Malley of Target. It is comfortable enough to sleep in, but also has enough coverage and structure to wear with clothes (and I think the color is pretty!). It appears they have limited quantities remaining, but I’d recommend this brand overall for comfort and price point.

Witch hazel

A friend and fellow Momma who happens to be a nurse gave this Witch Hazel to me at my baby shower for Fox, and it’s been a staple for me both pregnancies and postpartum. Its very helpful for postpartum healing (specifically for a vaginal birth), and it’s an overall great way to clean and soothe sensitive areas. I have used both the bottle and these pads (which are the same ones they gave me in the hospital).

rainbow light prenatal vitamins

These are an obvious item on a pregnant and postpartum woman’s list, but I just love this brand so much I wanted to share. I have used them in both my pregnancies and postpartum, and they’ve worked well for me.

no bake lactation bites

I think I ate my weight in these lactation bites after I had Fox, and I’ve loved them with Mae, too. They taste delicious, have ingredients to help with milk production, and are great snacks when you’re starving but don’t have time to eat much or its the middle of the night and you need something small and quick.

gap-fit maternity leggings

Postpartum clothing could be a post in and of itself, and honestly, its so subjective. It depends on how your body changes, if you go back to work or stay home, what climate you live in, what time of year your baby is born, and plenty of other factors! But for me after having Mae, these Gap leggings have been my uniform. I like them because the fabric is comfortable and breathable and nice enough to wear out and about. The maternity panel isn’t too big so it provides good coverage and support postpartum without falling down. I ended up getting two pair, and I’m so glad I did because I haven’t managed to get back in my regular laundry routine just yet. ;)

So, there’s my list! I imagine it will be ever evolving, but I hope it’s helpful. I’d also love to hear any favorites you have that I should try!

Affiliate links are used in this post!