Monday, March 12, 2018

isabella rose at two months.

this is my every hour of every day.
these wiggles and squirms, yawns and toothless grins, cries and coos.
and it's what makes life so, so good.

i filmed this in early february, when our sweet isabella was just over two months old, on a quiet afternoon. i want to remember these little details forever and ever.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

meet diego.

how can a creature be equal parts lovable and frustrating? this combination of sweetness and mischief perfectly describes our diego boy. this little fella became part of our family last december, after we suddenly and tragically lost our beloved cuzco. 

we were all completely heartbroken-- an absolute mess. but our poor lola girl was in the worst shape. she was virtually raised by cuzco, so she didn't know what it was like to be on her own. she didn't quite understand where her best friend went, and she was the loneliest pup i had ever seen. she stopped eating, even chicken and treats, she wouldn't play with us or perk up ever, broke out in a stress rash,  and she hid her face under pillows all of the time. the final straw came when we left her alone for the first time and came home to find her hiding behind the washing machine.

we were so devastated, but not quite ready to open our home to another dog. but we knew lola needed it, so we head out to the countryside and found this little fella. 

photos by knw photography

he instantly ran up to us and gave us all of the lovings, and we could tell right away he was a rambunctious fella. we loved his little white chin and belly (we call it his tuxedo), and we just knew he was meant to be a fabian.

fast forward a year, and we now realize just how rambunctious he really is. we blame the jack russell in him, but he is definitely the most mischievous pup i have ever known! he is a professional thief, burrower, and face-licker, and he's ultra-curious and ultra sneaky. i am pretty sure if wiley coyote existed in dog form... he would be it! we have found him on top of the dinner table and dresser, hiding underneath the counter with all of the pens he has stolen, or hoarding all of the dog toys in his bed. pretty impressive for a ten-pound dog!  but he is so full of life and personality, and he's loyal and sweet. diego makes a wonderful companion for lolita and brings us such joy. he's a snuggle monster and has taken it upon himself to be isabella's sole protector; he's always checking on her and even whines when she cries! 

we love this cheeky little guy who i have a feeling will be forever keeping us on our toes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

this motherhood thing.

in the past three months, i've accidentally stolen from target twice. tiny items, like scotch tape + peanut butter, slip so easily under the baby's car seat in a cart, and it's not until after you're in the parking lot that you realize what you've done. the cashier was very perplexed when i went back to purchase the peanut butter the first time around, and when the employee in the lot took the tape back from me, he laughed but was also shocked at my honesty. 

in the past three months, i have sent about a million "is this normal?!" texts to my mom and turned to friends, family, and mommy facebook groups for answers to questions like, "does this look like pink eye to you?," "how do i get blowout stains out of her clothes?!," and "how to do i get her to sleeeep?"

i just laughed at myself the other night after catching myself telling this little twelve pounds of joy, "okay baby, stay right here, and i'll be back in thirty seconds!" when going to pee at three a.m. like she actually understands that notion-- and actually has the capability of moving more than three inches of wiggle away.

but then there are moments-- so, so many moments-- when i see those little brown/green/hazel (clearly still aren't sure what color they'll be!) eyes look up at me, and i feel connected to my core. or when she smiles at us with that face-filling, gummy grin and my heart feels like it might burst. or when we go on a target run and there are zero tears and i'm wearing real clothes. or when she's sleeping peacefully in my arms, and i just can't stop staring.

all this is to say, 
the past three months have been an ever-constant vacillation of "oh yeah, i've got this!" to "oh my gosh, what on earth am i doing?" i think it's pretty standard for every new parent to cycle through these emotions. and as much as i want to be ultra-organized and have this little lady on a perfect schedule while not constantly smelling like old milk and with hair full of spit up, it's just not going to happen.

and it's okay. 
i'm trying. trying really hard. my baby is fed and loved and watched after. she gets hours of snuggles from us every day and is developing beautifully and is really, very adored. 

it may take me a little bit longer to recover from a tumultuous pregnancy and labor and delivery. i may not be a super high-energy mom right now on nights where i don't get sleep. i may not be taking day trips with my baby or out on hikes or skiing. and it's okay.

my aunt sent me this video, and it is the most reassuring, comforting, and uplifting little tidbit for a new mom. so i just want to put it out there to all of you mamas out there: if you're paying attention to your bebe and loving on your bebe, you're doing great. our little ones feel our love.

it is still so surreal to think about the fact that i am a mom, and i'm this little girl's mother forever. but at the same time, this role feels so natural and so right.

this onesie was the first baby item that mateo and i purchased after we found out we was expecting. we hung it on our dresser in our room and dreamt about the little one who would fill it, talking about our future baby every single night. it took a couple of months for isabella to grow into it, but now that she's here, it definitely feels right, and we are so grateful that she's our sweet girl forever.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

newborn essentials list.

so, i'm not proclaiming to be a baby guru by any means (heck, we are just barely finally getting some sleep over here!), but elle has grown out of her newborn clothes, and we've been able to keep her alive and thriving for a few months now, so i'd say we have a little bit of knowledge about things that have worked for us!

i know when i was pregnant, i was a little bit lost when it came to registries and baby shopping. i was so dang excited because everything is so darling, but i was also overwhelmed because there's just so much out there, and i didn't know what to splurge on and what was simply impractical or unnecessary. so i turned to the army of amazing moms + wealth of knowledge that is facebook (and admittedly felt a bit foolish in doing so), scoured baby lists, and read endless reviews... and finally used our amazon prime account for all it's worth!

so thanks to the advice of many wonderful moms and articles, this is what we purchased and what we have found works really well for us. we tried to save money where we could but splurged on a few critical items or quality items that we felt like we'd get use out of for multiple babies. i'm attaching links for ease. i think i'll also do a separate post for breastfeeding items i've really liked, since i know not everyone wants to or can breastfeed. so, without further ado...!

so i know i'm not alone in that i am super crazy about swaddles. they really are sorta my all-time favorite baby item. so cozy and gentle and multifunctional (hello, burp cloth in a pinch!) most of ours are from little unicorn, and we love the fun patterns and quality!

little unicorn deluxe swaddle set- so these are the pricier sets from little unicorn, but they are just the softest and so cozy, which makes them worth it in my opinion. we only have a couple of these, but it's nice to mix it up with our other swaddles when she needs a little extra lovin.
little unicorn swaddle set (boy // neutral // neutral // girl) i love these sets because of all of the options, price, + they're still soft and a great quality. our little elle loves both the fruity ones + the floral sets.
aden + anais silky soft swaddle set- we were gifted a swaddle from aden + anais and love it as well! they're have a different look about them, pattern-wise and are great quality.
halo sleepsack- these were recommended to us by several people and are so warm and make a really nice swaddle. isabella haaates being swaddled because she loves to sleep with her arms above her head, but these are nice because they allow for a few options, including arms out. i have some friends who say their babes sleep through the night from the get go with these!

bottles, pacifiers, feeding:
dr. brown's bottles- there are a million and ten different bottle types out there these days, but we opted for these as they're more of a classic in the new age of bottles, and they help reduce air intake. isabella has done really well with them always (though needed a preemie size nipple when she first started with a bottle), and you can't go wrong with the price point. isabella never had issues with nipple confusion (girl just loves her milk!), but if you're worried about that, i'd opt for the avent bottles.
dr. brown's bottle brush- may seem sorta silly, but this thing is the best for cleaning both baby bottles and pumping bottles... and water bottles, too!
boppy pillow- lots of brands of these too, but we went for the classic boppy since there are so many options for different covers and they're easy to clean. it has been great for feeding + snuggling, and we'll also use it for tummy time and sitting up when the time comes!
pacifier + lovey- elle has a love/hate relationships with pacifiers, but she consistently spits them out, even when she's loving them. adding the little lovey toy on there helps keep it in place, and we liked that this brand was cheaper + detachable for cleaning, unlike the wubba nubs.
bottle drying rack- this isn't a necessity, but it helps us stay organized and allows the pump pieces and bottles + their components to dry in a clean environment.
burp cloths (girl // boy)- self-explanatory, but also super necessary! this is one thing i feel like we can never have enough of since we're constantly washing them. stock up!!!
bottle sterilizer- the boiling method definitely works, but after melting a baby item or two, we wish we had just spent the money on this from the get go ;)

owlet monitor- okay, so this is one of the most expensive items we purchased, but honestly it is, hands down, the best purchase we made. we decided to go this route instead of a video monitor, because this little sock reads her pulse and pulse ox (oxygenation) while she's wearing it and alarms us if there are any abnormalities so that we can make adjustments/help if need be. since she was a preemie, the sock didn't fit well enough for the first couple of weeks, and i really hardly slept because i was so worried about SIDS, so i was always checking her breathing. i've slept so much better since she's worn it; the peace of mind alone is worth it for us! you can use HSA funds for these, and right now they're on promotion at target with a $20 gift card for purchasing one!
doc a tot- we bought this on black friday and have liked it because it allows elle to sleep soundly and is so mobile, so we can bring it to her bassinet, our bed, her crib, the sofa, while traveling, etc.
rock'n play- this was 100% the most recommended item by other moms on facebook, when i asked what i needed to purchase. we don't let her sleep in it for extended periods of time, but we have it in our kitchen/main living space, and it helps keep her content and nap while we're cooking or eating dinner. she loves the movement and nature sounds!
co-sleeper bassinet- we're going by the pediatric recommendation of having baby in our room for the first six months for overnight sleeping, so this bassinet has been perfect because it attaches under the mattress for safety (baby can't fall between/it can't tip over), and i can just reach over and soothe her if she's fussy. easy access to baby for feedings too! plus, i can just stare at her while she sleeps (you all know you do it!) we researched a lot of options, and this is what worked for us because of the price point and reviews. i'd imagine it would be a life saver for c-section mamas who are too sore to get out of bed a million times a night those first few weeks.

inexpensive changing pad- when researching these bad boys, i saw so many different options. but when it came down to it, i wasn't sure how much we'd use it, and i realized that she probably was going to poop and pee all over it... so why spend a lot? we actually use it all of the time, and she definitely has had a few accidents on it during changes, so i'm glad we didn't spend a lot on it. works great!
changing pad cover (girl // girl // neutral // boy)- cause ya know, cute nursery stuff. these are nice quality and easily washable.
newborn diapers- there are definitely some great diaper debates, and we've tried a few brands (huggies, pampers, luvs), and we've liked the pampers swaddlers the best for sure. we had a really hard time finding preemie diapers for her first month, so maybe we just got used to the pampers, but they seem to be the most comfortable for her and are definitely the most absorbent, so we don't got through quite as many.
munchkin changing pad liners- these are life savers and help us avoid washing our changing pad cover every other day when things get messy.
babyganics wipes- we have tried many different brands of wipes and like these best because they're marketed as wipes for face, body, and bum, and they're more natural-- and not too much more expensive than generic brands! we also like the pampers sensitive skin wipes.
baby-safe hand sanitizer- we bought this amazon pack and placed them throughout the house, and they've been used a ton by us and by guests! and they don't seem to dry out our hands as much as other brands. plus, with dogs who love giving kisses, it's a must.
bum brush- okay, full disclosure: i laughed when this was recommended to me. like come on guys, isn't this what hands are for?! but i was quickly converted because i forgot how annoying it is to clean cream off of hands. this applies it smoothly + fast and is easy to clean. worth it.
ubbi diaper pail- i admittedly spent way too much time researching diaper pails. way too much. though this isn't the cheapest, we ultimately went this route because it's steel so the scent doesn't leach into it, and you don't have to buy expensive name-brand bags, like some of the other popular ones.
bum cream- this one was recommended to us and is the only one we've tried, but it works well for elle (who admittedly doesn't need to use it very often). i've also heard cornstarch works well as a natural barrier?

digital thermometer- we invested in an on-sale (but not cheap) infant temporal/ear thermometer, and now i wish we had just bought an inexpensive digital thermometer from the get go. i ended up with the flu a couple of weeks ago, and elle had an almost-fever, and the doctor was insistent on using rectal temperatures only for accuracy.
gripe water- girlfriend had some serious gas problems her first two months of life. our poor little bug was constantly bearing down, clenching her fists, and turning her face red with might, and it was awful to watch her suffer. we ended up having to use a combination of gripe water and gas drops to help her, but i preferred the gripe water since it's more natural.
infants' tylenol- we fortunately haven't had to use this yet, but it's been really nice to have it on hand for when we do need it, in case that happens to be at 2 a.m.
infant vitamin d drops- our pediatrician had us start giving these to isabella from the get go. we've used a couple of different brands/formulations, and she likes the way these taste the best!
baby nail clippers- cause those little tiny nails are sharp and scratch their perfect faces! we like the magnifying glass feature on these.
nose frida- also haven't had to use this yet, but it was recommended to us a thousand times over by other moms for colds/congestion instead of using a bulb syringe.
windi- we try not to use these too often, but they've been a lifesaver when we have needed to use them. they're basically a little catheter that you stick in the baby's rectum to help release trapped gas/constipation. we had a few nights where elle suffered for 6-7 hours and we'd tried everything else, and this was the only remedy to her gas pains

towels (girl // neutral // boy)- these are soft and cuddly and absolutely adorable. elle loves the little hood to warm her head until we dry her off and put her in a hat.
bath tub- we bought the older version of this tub and have been happy with it. inexpensive, cute, functional, done.
washcloths- we didn't want to spend a ton on baby washcloths, so we bought these on sale and a pack from amazon on sale. by and large, these ones have held up much better and are way softer!
munchkin shampoo rinser- this is somewhat frivolous, but for $5, i'm okay being frivolous. this little guy makes for easy rinsing after baths, and although a plastic cup would work just as well, we like the handle while also trying to maneuver a wiggly baby.

miss fong diaper bag (black // brown // gray // olive // pink)- best bargain buy right here!!! i've always loved the fawn design bags, but i can't get myself to spend the money on them and have had some friends whose have broken quickly, so i gave this a shot, and i've been pleasantly surprised by the quality + how it looks. you can buy three colors for the price of one designer bag sooo it's sorta a no-brainer.
skip hop diaper backpack- i'm a fan of the backpack setup because managing a squirmy baby or awkward carseat on one arm and a diaper bag on the other can be difficult. aaand this one is just crazy cute and functional.
my wildbird sling- we are still getting the hang of the whole babywearing thing over here, but baby girl loves it, and i love the ring slings because they're a lot easier to get set up than the wraps, so they're great for getting going quickly. plus, these ones are made by local moms, so that is cool too.
solly baby wrap // moby wrap- these are great for babywearing for infants too. i've walked all over a mall with isabella in this, and we both loved it!
uppababy vista stroller- this was another one of our splurgiest items. after a looot of research, we went with this one because it's quality, and we intend to make it last for many years. we're hoping to have all of our kiddos in the next six or so years, so we wanted one that could transition to a double stroller, and this one also has a ride board attachment for a third little one! it drives really well, and elle loves the bassinet feature. i also know some mamas who use the bassinet around the house, so it is multifunctional in that sense. 
nuna pipa car seat- also not the cheapest option on the block, but we splurged because of the quality reviews, and we intend to make it last for more than one kiddo! it is light and has some really great safety features.
copper pearl car seat/nursing cover- we have used this a ton in the winter months. i admittedly currently only use it for a car seat cover, but you can also use it as a nursing cover and shopping cart cover when they're older too!
tummy time play mat- keeps the babe entertained while she develops and works on her motor skills.
promptly journal- i am trying to get back into journaling more to help remember all of the little moments, and i love how beautiful and functional this journal is. it has a lot of blanks for facts and memories during various ages and stages of baby's growth.

hopefully i didn't forget anything! this seems like a lot, and obviously you can go without some of it, but these have been our favorite items. i'd be remiss to not mention that we were blessed enough to receive many of these items from our generous friends and families. thank you, thank you, thank you!! we registered with babylist + amazon (though babylist pulls all of your registries together, which is nice), and we were so fortunate to be given so much.

please feel free to e-mail me with any questions, and happy nesting!

anna, mateo, + elle

this post contains some affiliate links, which i earn a small commission off of. there is no increase in pricing, and they're all items that i use and fully support. if you end up purchasing anything, thank you for supporting my little family!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

our isabella rose.

life has been so exhaustingly beautiful since this little one made her entrance into the world. even after nearly three months, i'm still blown away by every little breath she takes and can't believe she knows how to eat and coo and smile and grow. 
she's really such a miracle. 
this song will always hold such a special place in my heart. it was the song my dad and i "danced" to (more like bawled to as we swayed) at mateo + my wedding, and it's the first song i ever sang to elle. after the chaos of a quick delivery and six weeks of preterm labor, it took me several hours to even begin to comprehend the magnitude of what had occurred. mateo had gone to the house for a bit to tend to the dogs, and i was alone with our sweet baby in the hospital room. as i turned this song on and started singing to her, all snuggled in my arms, i was overcome with such emotion and such a depth of gratitude that i hadn't ever felt before. i couldn't believe that god had blessed us with this perfect daughter and that she would be our's forever. i still get teary nearly every time i sing this song to her.

i made this film a couple of weeks postpartum and somehow had it in my head that it would be "no big deal" to shoot her newborns + newborn film after giving birth... but what i didn't account for was the whole actually giving birth (and recovering!) part, as well as a newborn who needed to eat every couple of hours and didn't like to sleep at night much.

soooo we filmed this a bit later than intended (and after she had gained almost a pound!!), one afternoon as the sun was setting. in fact, i completely forwent a stabilization device and completely freehanded this one in between photographs just to save time. she still didn't really fill out any of her preemie clothes, so i cozied her up in one of our favorite swaddles and popped on a sweet little bow and called it a day.

but despite all of the imperfections, i love it so, so  much. and looking back on it now, i can't believe how much she's already changed! i love those skinny little arms and legs that are now covered in chunk, and look at that preemie diaper! we couldn't adore this girl any more.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

welcome back.

you guys know in that episode of the office (okay, admittedly my favorite episode), where jim + pam get married? they take little "mental pictures" throughout the day to sear the happy memories into their brains forever and ever. with some pretty incredible recent life changes, i have found myself frequently snapping little mental photos and wishing that i had some sort of permanent camera attached to my face that could capture all of the tiny + beautiful moments that pass (because sometimes i just don't have enough hands to whip out the iphone, you know?)

which lead me to thinking...
i have spent a lot of time in bed over the past nine or so months (for reasons i'll certainly get around to explaining), and as the days crept by, i started to feel a strange little feeling that i hadn't really experienced for some time... the urge to write. i nearly always have the desire to photograph, since it's become my chosen medium of embracing little pieces of beauty and creating art on a regular basis. but i hadn't felt overly inclined to revisit my first love and write anything for some time.

i think that this sudden urge has to do with a lot of things: a mechanism of coping, a desire to seek out the goodness amidst trials and pain, and a way to remember all of the little mental pictures along the way. 

so, here we are! back at it! i am really excited to dust off the ol' blog and document life in a way i used to love. because i have really, really exciting thing to document these days, namely...

our daughter (!!!), isabella.
becoming a mother has been the single-most incredible experience of my life. this sweet child has given my life a whole new sense of purpose and a greater love than i ever knew possible. i sometimes still can't believe she's actually real and actually really ours forever.

in college, i took a film class, and a few things from the course have really stuck with me and impacted the way i view my job as a photographer and videographer. when we discussed documentary filmmaking, my professor stated how its purpose is to "exalt the ordinary." and this is something that really resonates with me. i try to find joy in the little things, but i often get so wound up in small tasks and stressors that i forget how beautiful the little moments can be... like baby girl's FIRST GIGGLE in her sleep just now (ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh mental picture x2083!!!). 

i am actually really excited to be opening up this little space again and sharing lots of updates, memories, eats, travel, + lots and lots of photos. in the meantime, we're over here just singing this and cuddling baby girl.

Monday, November 23, 2015

our lola girl.

a few months after we got our cuzco bear, we realized that something wasn't quite right. whenever he would realize we were getting dressed to leave for the day, he'd stick his head underneath the desk or hide in the corner...  he wouldn't even accept any treats from us! 
obviously this separation anxiety was not okay with us, and with a pending trip to peru and mateo starting school, we just couldn't keep leaving him. it hurt my momma heart too much. 

so one day, mateo goes, "what if we get another dog?" 
at first, i thought the idea was preposterous. but then somehow mateo's suddenly searching the internet for puppies and i'm falling in love with all of them, and we're driving up to northern maryland to get another one. 

enter: lola. 
we obviously really wanted a dog that got along with cuzco, so we brought him along with us. it was a little bit difficult to initially pick cuzco out from all of the other pups in his little, so i was worried we'd have a hard time choosing the second one, especially because lola's litter was much more diverse (pups with spots and all sorts of fun little markings!), but it was actually the easiest selection process in the whole wide world.

before we could even shut the gate of the play pen, our lola raaaaced out and started playing with cuzc. i don't think he knew what hit him! she pounced right on him and just wouldn't stay away. and that was that; we were sold on cuzco's little twin sister (wife).

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lola is also half yorkie, but she's also half maltese. the designer dog people of the world would call her a "morkie," but i call her my honey bunny. she was initially super obsessed with cuzco and shy with all humans, but once she realized who gives her the treats (she's the treat queen!), she's pretty attached to us too. so attached, in fact, that her new favorite place to sleep is on my pillow, curled right around my head! 

good thing we all love her so much.

welcome to the family, little one! XO.