Meet Riley Ann

Wow it’s been a long time. I guess you could say having two kids in two years has kept me busy. But, it only seemed right that since I shared Adley’s birth story, I sure as heck better share Riley’s in case blogs are around when they’re teenagers and one of them feels slighted…. #secondkidproblems

So, where to begin? In all reality, we’ve been in a newborn fog for the last 3+ months with everything going on. Stuck at home, with a screaming newborn, a busy toddler & a worldwide pandemic….it’s been a lot to take. But the fog is lifting, we’re seeing more & more glimpses of a happy, healthy baby girl and finally enjoying being parents of two little gals. I just keep telling myself sleep is overrated and coffee is a gift to tired moms from the Lord himself.

Oh Riley Ann. She came into the world quickly. I knew she was going to come early, but I stubbornly set my expectations (and my schedule) for her to come around her due date (February 26th). Around the 10th I was feeling like I’d be pregnant forever (if you know, you know) and this stage is hard. I had no idea just one week later we’d be meeting our sweet, dark haired, blue eyed little Riley. A few days into the week and I was having pretty consistent pre-labor contractions so I knew she was coming sooner than later. My hospital bag was packed, my work was mostly wrapped up & backup plans for big sister were in place. But after a few “this is it” moments that turned out to be nothing, we went into the weekend with me feeling defeated and sure that I’d be having a baby in March. (HA!)

By Sunday morning, I just knew. So I quickly finished up some last minute work at church that morning, packed the last few things in my hospital bag & waited. Sunday night we went for a walk, had friends over and played games but around midnight, those pre-labor contractions turned into real contractions and things got very real, very fast.

Josh’s sister came over to stay with Adley and we hopped in the car and headed for the hospital. Every bump in the road on the drive was pure torture. We checked into a quiet & empty hospital around 2:30 or 3am and I measured at 4cm. A little over an hour later I was a 9….holy cow those contractions were not messing around. After some failed pushing, we decided to wait for Riley to get herself in a better position so I would actually feel the urge to push. My midwife, Summer, was the perfect calm in the storm that is natural labor and Josh was the best breathing coach, hand holder, water re-filler and encourager a mama could ever ask for…I’m telling you, having good people by your side during childbirth is SO IMPORTANT.

Around 6 I really started to feel the urge to push but was so tired that I was struggling to actually do it. Summer & my nurse told me that Riley was starting to have a little bit of a harder time being compressed in my pelvis and she needed to come pretty soon…so that turned on the mama bear instincts and I knew I had to do whatever it took to push her out. I don’t remember exactly how many times I pushed but it couldn’t have been more than three or four times after that and Riley Ann was born on a warm & sunny Monday morning at 6:26am. A perfect little dark haired girl, who took a second to start crying but then basically didn’t stop for the next three months.

Riley Ann Cristy

Born: Monday, February 17th, 2020 at 6:26am CST

Where: Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, Fort Worth, TX

Weight: 7 lbs. 8 oz.

Height: 20 inches

Hair Color: Dark Brown

Eye Color: Blue

Like I said the last 3ish month with her have been a blur, a total fog of emotions & exhaustion, but despite all of the hardships of it there has been joy, so much joy. Joy in seeing Adley as a sweet, caring big sister. Joy in seeing my mom hold her second grand baby and my mother in law hold her fifth grand baby. Joy in those moments of peace where everyone’s sleeping (because that did happen a few times). Joy in caring friends checking in on us, bringing meals & loving us through what felt like the hardest season in the midst of it all. Joy in seeing Riley in Adley’s old clothes and being reminded of how fleeting these baby years really are. Joy in seeing Riley smile. Oh friends & family, there’s been so much joy. I can’t wait for you all to meet this sweet girl of mine.

Welcome to the Family, Adley Mae

Well, I blinked and somehow our little Adley Mae is already over a month old. Mama’s don’t joke when they say that it goes by fast. I’ve been taking this last month to soak in every sweet, little moment, figure out our new normal and live life at a much slower, but sweeter, pace.

Now don’t get me wrong — pregnancy is hard, giving birth is REALLY hard, life with a newborn is hard. And while everyone’s journey is different, I feel completely blessed to have had a pretty smooth pregnancy, labor & delivery, recovery and first month with my girl. I am by no means giving myself a pat on the back because y’all, all glory to Jesus because He is really the one who’s got my back through all of this and has answered countless prayers for an easy pregnancy and healthy baby.

Anyway, today I wanted to share a little bit more about Adley Mae’s birth, her first month here with us and life as a new mama.

It’s pretty wild to me looking at this sweet little baby and remembering “oh yeah, I gave birth to her.” LIKE WHAT?! I’M FREAKING AWESOME. Of all the things I was most fearful of during pregnancy, it was definitely the actual giving birth part. I mean, no one can really prepare you for what it’s like because everyone is so different, but that’s kind of the beauty of it because we really need to have major faith here.

Happy Birthday, Adley Mae!

So rewind….I was absolutely convinced this girl was coming early. I just had a feeling for months that she’d surprise us at least a few days early. Yeah, I was wrong. Girlfriend wanted to come right on time and ended up being born on her actual due date, March 10th. The day before Adley was born I woke up feeling so pregnant, so tired and just so ready to meet her. Barely one cup of coffee into the day and I was starting to feel like maybe I would just be pregnant forever? (Irrational pregnant thoughts, I think most mama’s understand….) But after the cramps I’d been feeling all week turned into mild, but somewhat consistent contractions I started to think maybe all those pineapple smoothies and walks around the mall had worked their magic. But of course, I didn’t dare tell anyone, I mean I didn’t want to get anyone too excited just in case it was a false alarm. Josh was off at school presenting a mid-term review of his thesis (after pulling an all nighter) so I figured I’d wait until he got home to mention it.

By the time Josh got home, I was all sorts of grumpy, crampy and starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. So I took a shower, packed the rest of my hospital bag, put on a little bit of makeup (I mean I wanted to look somewhat presentable, even if I was going to be at the hospital. In hindsight…SOOOO not important.) But, I still hadn’t told anyone. Finally around 9, when I was pretty sure it was happening, I casually mentioned moaned in pain to Josh that I thought I might be in labor and no, I did not want to play a board game…LOL. After a few hours of waiting it out at home, my mom (proof that we always need our mama’s….so shoutout to mine, who came all the way to frigid North Dakota from sunny California to be with us, help us out, cook us meals & clean our stove…because that’s what moms do, right?) drove us to the hospital, we got checked in and I was admitted at 1am.

The rest is such a blur of closed eyes, heavy breathing and trying to convince Josh that I needed to have an epidural (code word: I love North Dakota) yeah I thought it was that bad. I didn’t get the epidural but I ended up just having two low dose pain killers through an IV during labor and by the time I was ready to give up, my nurse told me I was already dilated to a 7.5 and I was almost done. Those nurses, oh my word, they really know what to say to keep a girl goin’….even if their translation of “almost done” means a few more hours.

Around 6am, they told me it was time to start pushing…which y’all, I though the contractions would be the hardest part. Boy was I wrong. Thank God for my sweet husband who stood by my side the entire time, coaching me through my breathing, holding my hand and encouraging me every step of the way. I really wasn’t sure how involved I’d want him to be in the whole birth experience, but I literally could not have done it without him. He was amazing (and mind you this is after about 48 hours of no sleep for him….what a guy.) After reaching a point where I wasn’t sure I could even do it, Josh turned on one of our favorite songs that we’d played a lot for miss Adley before she was born, “So Will I (100 Billion X)” by Hillsong, I cried sobbed and forty excruciating minutes later, our girl was born and in my arms and the last five hours of pain faded away.

Our girl was here, she was healthy and the nine months of waiting to meet her were made so worth it with just one look at her sweet, little face. I’ve never experienced a greater rush of emotions in my entire life; happiness, relief and a completely, overwhelming sense of joy. It’s crazy how this tiny little person has the power to stir up emotions I never even knew I had.

Adley Mae Cristy

Born: Saturday, March 10th, 2018 at 6:40am CST

Where: Sanford Family Birth Center in Fargo, North Dakota

Weight: 7 lbs. 4 oz.

Height: 20 1/2 inches

Hair Color: Blonde

Eye Color: Blue

One Month of Adley Mae & One Month of the Best Job Ever.

Now that Adley’s been in our lives for nearly five weeks, I almost don’t remember a life without her. She has her daddy’s eyes, her mama’s lips and the sweetest smile that just melts our hearts in an instant. This girl eats like a champ, sleeps like her daddy, loves her swing, tummy time & music. She’s finally found the carseat somewhat tolerable and is really starting to actually enjoy bath time. She outgrew her newborn clothes at about three weeks old and I finally put them away last night and couldn’t believe how tiny they seemed!! Our 11 pound chunk has the sweetest little cheeks and I’m amazed by how much she grows and changes every day.

Being a new mama sure has it’s growing pains, but this is by far the best job I’ve ever had. This past month I’ve been amazed by how those “motherly instincts” just kick in….our hearts expand, our bodies heal, our love grows, and it’s all pretty darn amazing if you ask me. Never has something so new felt so natural to me. What a blessing and a gift to get to be a mama; sleepless nights, countless diapers, spit up, changing body and all. So excited to have the opportunity to share this journey with y’all!

Sending love from up North,

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Third Trimester Update

I literally started writing a pregnancy update when we were at the 100 day mark and well, we’re now less than 50 days from this little gals due date and I’m finally getting around to posting it. That pregnant life though…

But it’s hittin’ me. This baby is going to be here soon. I’ve had this weird feeling since the beginning that she would come early and well so far, my mama intuition hasn’t failed me about really anything so far during pregnancy…so we’ll see! Personally, I’d be really ok with it if she decided to come (safely) early. And while half of me is in full on panic mode as the to-do lists really only seem to get longer, the other half of me is simply on cloud nine knowing that we’ll be holding our sweet Adley girl in mere weeks.

Whew, third trimester y’all. It’s no joke. I can’t bend over anymore, getting out of bed is a major chore and putting on pants or shoes is way more difficult than I’d care to admit. But, oh what a joy it is to feel this girls constant kicks and dream about what kind of little person she’ll be. Of course pregnancy has its fair share of discomforts, but what a blessing it really is.

Week 33

Due Date: March 8th

Baby C is as big as a: a pineapple, holy cow! 2 weeks ago we had an ultrasound & little lady was already weighing in at almost 4 pounds….with her head firmly pressed on my bladder. (Yeah, I feel that.)

The Bump: Feelin’ large & in charge….but seriously bless the strangers that have told me how small I look. I’ll gladly accept the confidence boost.

Feeling: Overall, pretty good. My skin is definitely feeling stretched and bending over just isn’t happening anymore, but in general — I’m good! Emotionally though — I literally cry all the time. For no reason. Last night I somehow managed to be hysterically laughing while simultaneously sobbing….don’t ask, cuz I really don’t know why or how for that matter.

Craving: Pickles and cheese. Oh and now that it’s finally open in our town, all I really want is Chick-fil-A.

Food Aversions: Broccoli really still isn’t happening at the Cristy household. Third trimester nausea is no joke people & I’m most definitely feelin’ it.

Wearing: Leggings, all day every day because real pants are just not happening at this stage.

Buying: All those little essentials for baby girl that we don’t already have! We’re covered with the basics of eat, sleep, & well….diapers, just in case this little gal decided to make an early appearance. Also, stocking up on postpartum essentials and comfy clothes for those first few weeks/months at home.

Working on: Planning maternity leave, finalizing baby girls nursery & getting the hospital bag packed…just in case!

Missing: High waisted jeans, sleeping on my stomach, sleeping through an entire night.

Looking forward to: Holding our sweet baby girl so, so soon!

Sending love from up North,

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2018: A Year to Simplify

Hopes, dreams, wishes, plans, resolutions; whatever you call them, the start of the new year is always the sweetest time to write these desires of our hearts down. For me? I always seem to have a hard time getting them down on paper before January 1st, but having a January birthday, I always feel like I’ve got a two week grace period to figure out what I want my year to look like.

Typically, the first week of January, I give myself the chance to reflect on the past year and plan for the new year without any real obligations to “kick start” these goals until after my birthday on the 15th. Sure, it might be cheating….but I like to think that since it works for me, it’s okay. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really loved New Years Eve and always just want to sleep in on January 1st….but hey, to each their own.

So here we are, one week away from my last ever birthday in my 20’s and I still can’t believe that Christmas is over, 2017 is over, I’m about to be real old and we’re now in the year where basically everything is going to change. Between meeting our little miss in March and my husband graduating in May, these next few months are going to be full, crazy and absolutely wonderful. So as I started to think about this next stage of life and what I want life this year to look like, the word simplify came to mind.

Now this might seem funny, especially to my mother (this blogs biggest fan, right mom?!) who knows me as the ultimate minimalist (I was sorting drawers and filling up thrift store bags from a young age folks….seriously, just ask her) but for some reason it just feels right. While externally, my life is often very organized and simplified, I think my heart and my mind can become a bit overcrowded with to-do lists, unnecessary worries, and just simply, junk. It is my hope this year to focus less on the simplifying of space and actual items (though that is always a top priority for the type-a personality in me) and focus more on how I fill my heart, my mind and my time. Simply put, I want more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff.

I know in a few short months, life with a newborn will be a total game-changer, but it is my hope that I can spend these next few months filling my heart and mind with things that are more life-giving so hopefully when baby girl is here, I can be the best version of myself for this little one and teach her what really matters. I want quality over quantity in all things, more books & less screen time, more joy & less negativity, more time spent savoring each moment and less time worrying about the next thing, more grace and less perfection, more of Jesus & less of me and a full & grateful heart in it all.

So there ya have it. It’s no glamorous list of action steps and big hopes, dreams & goals…and that’s okay. It’s what I need right now. And as I embark on this journey of simplifying, I hope you’ll join me in savoring each moment just a little bit longer, choosing joy even when your heart wants to complain, and simplifying (the physical stuff & the mental stuff.) Cheers to 2018, I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

Sending love from up North,

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Fall Recipes to Keep You Cozy

With snow on the ground & the leaves all long gone, it seems like we’ve made the abrupt transition to winter here in the upper Midwest. Of course, I’m mourning the fact that my favorite season is always so short lived, but I’m trying to make the most of it and take this time to get a head start on the holidays ahead. One of my favorite things to do as soon as the weather cools off is bust out the crockpot and baking sheets as I pull out some of my favorite recipes that are the perfect warm up this time of year.

Cookies, bread, chili, pie….anything and everything pumpkin is always my first choice, but I’ve had to adapt a few things for my non-pumpkin loving husband. Though he will happily admit to loving my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies ;)

So with the change of seasons out in full force, I wanted to take some time to share some of the best tried & true recipes that I love….and a few new ones I’ve ventured to try this fall. With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away (say what?!) these are the perfect treats to bring to share with the whole fam.

First up, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies….I’d be really doing you all a disservice if I didn’t mention these. I’ve been making these for the past three years and they are always a hit.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, combine first four ingredients; set aside. In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter. Add egg, vanilla and pumpkin; beat well. Gradually mix in flour mixture on low speed of mixer. Stir in LOTS of chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on wire racks & try to not eat them ALL in one day.

Next, for you chili lovers, Five Ingredient Sweet Potato Turkey Chili. This was basically all I ate when I lived in Seattle. It’s the perfect thick chili to dish up on a drizzly day.

Five Ingredient Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

1.5 lbs. ground turkey
3-4 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
1 cup of quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups water
Spices to taste! (I like cayenne, paprika, cumin, salt & pepper!)

Brown your turkey in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in your seasoning of choice to add some extra flavor. One browned. remove from pan & set aside.

In the same pan, add sweet potatoes and spices, browning slightly. Add water and broth. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes (until your sweet potatoes are soft!) *Optional: Using either an immersion blender or transferring your liquid to a blender, puree the sweet potatoes until they reach your desired consistency. This makes a nice, thick & creamy base, but I’ve made it just leaving the sweet potatoes in chunks because, #lazy and it’s been just as good.

Add sweet potato mixture back to your soup pot, mix in turkey, black beans, corn & cooked quinoa. Add additional spices to taste, simmer & enjoy!

Two words, Homemade Bread. Oh my word, why have I not made this sooner?! Yes, it can seem intimidating, but it’s really pretty simple. Four ingredients, no kneading and very much husband approved. Shoutout to my mama for sending me this recipe!

No Knead Bread

3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour, more for dusting (I love King Arthur flour!)
1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
1 5/8 cups of water

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast & salt. Add 1 5/8 cups of water, stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy & sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 12-18 hours at room temperature.

Dough is ready when surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour your surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or your hands, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, place dough on towel and dust with more flour. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with finger.

About a half an hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, pyrex, enamel or ceramic) in oven as it heats. (To be totally honest, I definitely used a ceramic pie pan….with no lid because it was all I had! It worked, but I think cast iron would be a whole lot better.) When dough is ready, carefully remove your heated pot from the oven. Turn your dough into the pan and shake a few times until the dough is evenly distributed. It may look like a hot mess, but it’s ok! It will even out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15-30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on rack & enjoy! I promise this loaf won’t last long!

Hopefully these recipes will get you through the long, chilly days of winter just like they do for me! If there’s one thing I’ve learned after my first winter in North Dakota (which most locals called “mild” UM WHAT….excuse me? I don’t think -30 qualifies as mild) it’s that you’ve got to have some kind of hobby to help get you through the many months of winter up North. And while I love the outdoors and would much rather be outside, the weather out here doesn’t really provide the best environment for outdoor activities….so to the kitchen I go!

Sending love from up North,

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