Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let's talk about blogging.

Blogging. It's a lifestyle.

As a blogger, I'm always "on." My blog is always in the back of my mind... my next post, new topics, a dozen half finished posts and a notebook full of ideas. I can get inspired at any time, in any place. I'll be engaged in a conversation, smiling and nodding, but in my head I'm already using the topic to create a mental outline for a blog post. Sometimes I'll realize I've essentially missed out on enjoying an entire event or activity because I was too busy taking photographs to make it blog-worthy. And I'm always trying to figure out when and where I'll find the time to finish and publish all the brilliant posts I'm constantly writing in my head. It's borderline obsessive.

I like to look at it as a carefully developed, productive habit.

I love it ... and I hate it. 

life·style (noun) 1. “the way in which a person or group lives.”

If it’s done in all places and at all time, then it truly is the way you live. I've integrated the activity of blogging into my daily existence. I write when I can, where I can. My friends ask, "Is this blogworthy?" whenever we're together, and I've definitely said, "If it's not on the blog, it didn't happen" (and was only partially joking).
My blog is both a reflection and an extension of my life, and I've worked incredibly hard for almost ten years now to create what it is today. Millions of blogs exist worldwide, and I'm not trying to say there's anything particularly special about mine. But I've poured my heart and soul into this little corner of the interwebs, and I'm pretty proud of what I've accomplished. I treasure this space, and value it as a detailed record of the person who I was, am, and will become.
Before Ryder was born at the beginning of May, I really felt like I had hit my stride with blogging. I posted consistently about varied topics. I worked with fellow bloggers to create a moderately successful weekly link up. I sponsored some of my favorite bloggers and even thought about offering sponsorship spots of my own. Companies began to ask me to write about them in exchange for free products. My posts sometimes received dozens of comments, and my stats were through the roof compared to just a year before. I felt like I was on the verge of "making it" as a blogger -- at least according to my own terms.
Then I gave birth to a miraculous tiny human, and everything changed.
  I went from posting five times a week to just five times a month. And even those blogs were a struggle -- they definitely aren't a reflection of my best writing, and are essentially photo dumps of family trips and daily life with an infant.
My blog has become glorified Facebook.
 I've felt a little bit of guilt about this, but I haven't let it consume me. I took the summer off work to spend with my son, so we could get to know each other. And blogging isn't the only thing I neglected. I fell out of touch with friends and co-workers, let my email inbox fill with hundreds of messages, maxed out my DVR, didn't read a single book, ignored social media in general and purposefully pretty much detached myself from the world. Stewart and Ryder were my only priority.
Sorry... but I'm not sorry.
I've missed writing in any sort of creative capacity, but in general I was able to put everything aside for four months and focus all of my attention on my husband and son. It's time that I'll never be able to re-create, and I'm so glad that I was able to maximize every precious moment with my family.
I can't say for certain where this blog will go from here. But I'm definitely not giving up blogging, and hope that my readers will stick with me, although I can't promise that Life As Always will continue to have the same content you're used to. Such is life.
For those of you who've followed along on my journey, thank you for your incredibly heartfelt and thoughtful comments. I'm so glad you're here, and whether you read every post or just stop by once in a while to see if I'm still alive, thanks for sticking around.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dear Ryder... Four Months

Dear Ryder,

It was just a little more than a year ago today when I first found out that you existed. Now it's been four whole months since we welcomed you to Earth, and I can honestly say that I've never been happier. Or more exhausted. But let's focus on the fun stuff, shall we?

We had an incredibly busy month of August!

It started off by taking a family trip to Hawaii to celebrate Uncle AJ's college graduation. You were such a good boy, traveling on an airplane for the first time, and we had an amazing vacation that provided us with memories for a lifetime. Daddy is still talking about how he can't wait to take you back when you are a little bit bigger, so he can play with you in the ocean waves.

We also took you on your first camping trip to Mayfield Lake. Daddy and I have been camping together since we first met, and it was so fun to go on our first trip as a family. We're not really into hardcore camping in the mountains or anything... just state campgrounds near water so we can spend time at the beach and on the boat. This time Nana and Grandpa came along with their motor home, so we were nice and comfy. You loved being outside, going for walks, sitting on shore, and didn't seem to mind your very first boat ride (thanks Brett & Haley!) one bit! Daddy probably would have taken you out on the surf board had I let him, but Mommy's a little too paranoid for that just yet.

At the end of the month we drove over to Idaho to spend a week at the Alway Family Lakehouse. Spending time there is one of our very favorite things... it is such a relaxing, peaceful place. And I was so happy that you finally got to spend some quality time with your Alway relatives!

So now you are four months old and you can already check four different states off your bucket list! Well done, my little traveler. Besides refusing to nap on any of the trips, you have been an absolute angel, and we've really become comfortable traveling as a family and can't wait to do more of it!

I wanted to spend the last days of summer really soaking up our time together, because our new big adjustment is the fact that I have gone back to work full time. This was always our plan, but that didn't make it any easier when the time finally came. We were so lucky to get to spend the entire summer playing together, but now it's time to return to reality and the daily grind. Luckily, you will spend most days at home with Daddy, except for when he's on shift, and on those days you will go next door to our neighbor, Julia. She has three young children of her own to play with and they are such a great family -- I know you will be happy and safe there, even though we will miss you like crazy!

Here is a little photo dump of what else we've been up to this month...

You and I spent quite a bit of time in the backyard in the evenings, watering the grass for Daddy while he was at work and just relaxing and enjoying the warm summer evenings.

Sometimes we'd go out in the middle of the day and lay in the grass but we had to be careful to stay in the shade.

We went down to visit Cailin and Charlie, who just loves to hold you and cuddle you.

We did some fashion photo shoots of outfits you received before you were born. This froggy one came from Cousin Brooke...

And this adorable number came from Jamie at You Gotta Have Hart. Mommy has the best blog friends!

We spent a fair amount of time just lounging around the house.

And of course Nana came to visit as often as she could. She just loves to make you giggle and smile!

You love it when Daddy lifts you up in the air.

And Daddy Day Care seems to be going really well. He sent me this shot on my first day back at work, and at first I thought he had taken you for a walk with a beer in the stroller's cup holder.

Daddy's little football player.

A selfie together after my first full day back at work. I missed you so much, we just cuddled for the entire evening when I got home.

As for your developments this month, there have been a lot of them!

You have started to roll over (although infrequently) from both front to back and back to front. And you discovered your feet, which is absolutely adorable. You lay on your back like a stranded turtle just grabbing for them and laughing; it's one of the cuter things I've ever seen. 

You have also started to reach for and grab at toys. Your favorites include an infant Very Hungry Caterpillar book, Sophie the Giraffe, and colorful burp cloths that Aunt Nichole made. Of course everything goes directly into your mouth.

You're quite a needy child, requiring constant entertainment. You don't like to be left alone for long, although you'll tolerate your swing and Jumperoo for brief periods of time. You sit in your balance chair quite a bit, because we can move it around and essentially take you with us while we do errands around the house. We always put it on the dining room table when we sit down to eat so you can join us and you really seem to like sitting at the table with Mommy and Daddy. You seem to like that chair a lot more than your Bumbo seat, although you'll sit in that one for short periods of time, too. If you're not in one of those contraptions, you enjoy lying on the floor as long as someone is playing with you or you're underneath your activity gym. You've gotten used to Tummy Time and we swear you are really wanting to crawl, but can't quite figure it out yet... we think the time is coming soon when you'll be on the move!

We've caught you sucking your thumb a few times, and are starting to wonder if it's going to become a habit.

You drool constantly, which means several outfit changes each day no matter how many bibs we try to keep in place.

You went through a major sleep regression toward the end of the month, and instead of waking up just once during the night to eat you began waking every two hours demanding to be fed. This was a little bit of a shock to Mommy, because I was used to getting a much better night's sleep. It was also not convenient for you to start this right before I went back to work. However, we think it may have just been a growth spurt, because now you seem to (hopefully) be returning to your regular sleep patterns. That being said, you are still generally refusing to nap. You will sometimes sleep during the day for 20 or 30 minutes, and about once a week you'll take a three or four hour nap, but other than that you seem to absolutely hate sleeping. Even at bedtime, which tends to be around 7pm because you're so exhausted from the day, you fight sleep and we usually end up rocking and crying for quite a while until you finally succumb and close your eyes. Just sleep, my angel!!

Luckily, you're still willing to sleep in your crib at night in between feedings, so we've moved your bassinet out of our room permanently. It's the end of an era!

Every once in a while you'll nap in your Pack and Play downstairs, but it's a pretty rare occurrence.

You love to express yourself through smiles, laughs, gurgles, and coos -- we absolutely love to tickle you and make you squeal! You are so much more alert and fun to play with. Your eyes still haven't started to changed and remain beautiful, bright blue. We're starting to wonder if they may stay that way.

At your four month checkup you clocked in at 26 inches and a whopping 15 pounds, 11 ounces -- almost twice your birth weight! You're definitely getting heavy and Mommy is going to have killer arms as a natural side effect.

One of the most exciting things that happened this month was the start of football season! You attended every single Seattle Seahawks game with us while I was still pregnant, and we're so excited for you to experience your first real season this year. We are HUGE football fans in this family, and we can't wait to teach you all about the game... 

It's going to be an exciting fall!

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ryder's First Lakehouse Vacation

As you may recall, we have spent the past few years celebrating the Fourth of July at Priest Lake, but this time we needed to stay in town for my dear friend Jillian's wedding, so we only made one trek over to Idaho and our personal little slice of paradise this summer. But it was so fun to take Ryder to the family lake house for the first time!

I was pretty anxious about taking him on a six hour car ride, but my little angel traveled like a champ, and can now boast that he has been to four different states during his first four months of life. Well done, my boy.

I realize all these posts about our summer vacations may be getting old, but we had a very busy August, and I promise this will be the last one. Sadly, our first magical summer with baby Ryder is coming to a close and it's back to life in the real world.

But we sure did go out with a bang!

I loved my peaceful mornings on the dock with Ryder.

Lounging on the dock looks a little different with an infant who is too young for sunscreen... blanket fort!

Patrick and Addie LOVED playing with Ryder, and he got to know them so well!

Of course our trips to the lake are never complete without some Tailgate Toss on the dock!

Ryder's second boat ride!

The weather is always perfect at Priest Lake.

Baby Ryder's dockside view.

Ryder wasn't as trilled with the cool lake water as he was with the warm ocean in Hawaii, but we made sure he experienced the water nonetheless.

Unfortunately the little bugger was going through a growth spurt and absolutely refused to nap the entire week, except for this one afternoon with Daddy. He also woke up every two hours every single night to eat, which made for a tiring trip for me...

Out to dinner at Cavanaugh's, chillin' with Uncle Mark.

I had to get a pic of all the guys... three generations of Always!

And Ryder with his buddies for the week -- Patrick and Addie.

"No Grandpa Russ, please don't make me go home!"

Our own little slice of paradise.

And that draws another summer at the lake to a close. I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend filled with food, family and fun. I can hardly believe that it's almost fall... our amazing first summer with Ryder was filled with so many adventures and memories. 

Even though I'm feeling a little melancholy about autumn's approach, I'm so glad that we were able to take Ryder on so many rad trips this summer, and that he was such an adaptable little guy on each and every one. I feel so confident going forward, helping him to experience all of the adventures we still have in store for him. And of course there is the silver lining of the end of summer... It's football season! Our little Seahawk is going to love it.

See you soon, my friends! 

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