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Life as a First Time Mom

Hi everyone! After my last post about Herschel’s birth story I figured it was important to shed some light on a not-so-humorous time! I had reservations about writing that experience out and allowing everyone to read about it, but I am so happy that I did. So many people reached out to tell me that I am strong and how incredible I am for enduring that. And honestly, I truly feel that way! It was a rough (short) moment in our lives, but since those days in the hospital, we have had the most incredible bond. Between not only Herschel and I, but also Jared and us as a family! Adjusting to parenthood is no easy task, especially for someone like Jared who had no experience with kids before Herschel…So let me give you some updates on our lives (as parents); some good, some not so good, and how we’ve coped for the last 10 weeks!

The Days of Postpartum

Okay, I’m not going to lie. The first few weeks after baby is born are truly the HARDEST and there were times I wondered if I would ever feel like myself again. It had nothing to do with Herschel and everything to do with my recovery. My pregnancy was a breeze and honestly my labor experience wasn’t too awful either…but those postpartum hormones and anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks! This is even more so because baby spend time in the NICU. You have the general shock of bringing baby home and learning a whole new life with a little one that depends on you at all times. And then your hormones are going haywire making you feel every emotion at once, on overload. If you’re really lucky you’ll have the anxiety sprinkled on top causing you to hover over your baby at all times checking if they’re breathing (sweat emoji). Also, your body is going through major recovery, but you simply can’t slow down because that sweet little babe needs you. I won’t go into too much detail about this here, but I felt like this is something people really don’t prepare you for! I would be more than willing to write a whole post about postpartum if that would interest anyone! Just know you’re not alone if you have also experienced these emotions and it will only get easier with time.

The New Normal

In all honesty, I feel that adjusting to motherhood came very easy to me! I am 1 of 4 kids and already have two nieces and two nephews that I have been involved with in their lives since they were born. Majority of the jobs I have ever had included children and caring for them. I was a Pre-Kindergarten teacher who was in charge of 17 four year olds all day long and had majority experience dealing with infants. I knew the changing, feeding, playing, soothing, naps, and everything in between. My job was literally to change dirty diapers all day long. So when Herschel came into our lives, it was so natural to me! The only real adjustment was being the one to feed him in the nights and realizing that I am his mother and I call the shots on everything (laugh emoji). No one was going to tell me what to do with him and Jared and me were the only ones who will make decisions for him. It’s both odd and rewarding! When I asked Jared what the hardest part for him was adjusting to parenthood, he said it was, “the times he would be crying and nothing you do can get him to calm down; even if you think it’s the right thing to do , but still nothing helps.” We were so lucky to have each other daily to help with the struggles of a newborn. He helped when my anxiety was so high all I did was cry, and those times he felt helpless I could take over from there. Herschel also made it a smooth transition since he’s the sweetest easiest baby I could have ever dreamt of!

Accepting the Defeats

With the knowledge and experience I had coming into motherhood, it also made it really difficult to accept defeat. Mom guilt is a real thing and it can be overpowering if you allow it. It’s not always easy getting to know your baby and what they want or need. You really just hope that your instincts kick in. I’ve had to acknowledge the fact that I can’t always control the outcome of situations and I just gotta let it go. For example: when Herschel was only a couple weeks old we had to take him on a car ride to my parents one evening. He doesn’t like his carseat very much and in the middle of the drive (in the rain, during rush hour, I should remind you) he started screaming and then holding his breath until he turned blue and sweat was dripping down his face…my anxiety was at a 1,000 at that point. I refused to take him out of the house for awhile after that one! Or another example is around four weeks our breastfeeding journey took a slight detour. Breastfeeding was a dream up until this point, and then all of a sudden he was pulling off, screaming to the top of his lungs, and was having a hard time getting a good feeding in. After this persisted for weeks I almost gave up on breastfeeding entirely, but after many trial and errors, breastfeeding got better again! I’ve learned not to dwell on those little bumps in the road and just ride it out without the mom guilt weighing down on me.

Making Time for Mom and Dad

Leading up to Herschel’s birth, Jared and I made a conscious point to discuss our relationship post baby. A strong foundation for a family starts with our relationship and making it a priority! You can’t teach love and togetherness if you’re not supporting that through your marriage. We’ve had so much joy planning the time we get to spend together at the end of the night once Herschel goes to bed. The first month wasn’t really possible to do this since we were always catching up on sleep, riding through Herschel’s witching hour, and I was working on recovery. Now that we’re getting the hang of things, Hersch is going to bed earlier and we have time to focus on one another! Date nights are SO IMPORTANT! If you just had a baby, try your best to set time aside to just be with your spouse, without baby, to focus on each other. My mom and sister were very supportive of this and watched Herschel while we went for beers and sushi (this was difficult for me to leave him, but I’m so happy we did). We find ourselves getting excited to put him to bed, drink a glass of wine, and just watch a show together without being interrupted. Even talking about getting intimate gives us something to look forward to and shows one another that we still find the other attractive and important even after baby has arrived!

Endless Amount of Love and Laughter

This wouldn’t be “life of a new mom” if I didn’t share the joys of having a baby, especially if it’s your first! From the moment they are born, you wake up feeling so whole and needed that you just can’t wait to hold and kiss all over them! With every new day Herschel is growing and showing off his developmental stages. I’ll never forget the feeling I have when he looks at me and smiles because I’m literally everything he ever wanted. There is no greater feeling than knowing that when he’s fussy all he needs is his mama to cuddle him. Or in the mornings when we all just woke up and laugh at every little thing he does because its so pure and innocent. Seeing my husband become a father has become one of the proudest moments to date. It’s unlike anything you can explain and it’s the very reason I’ll do it 100 times over!

Each and everyday we have to learn to adjust our schedules and accept that life will never be as it once was. And we love that! Becoming parents is something we talked about for years, and now that we’re living it, all thanks goes to God for blessing us with our precious little boy and the life we get to make with each other!

Leave a comment with other topics you would be interested in reading 🙂

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Herschel’s Birth Story

Herschel Floyd O’Hara, born December 4th, 2019 at 1:44 am. He weighed a beautiful 8 pounds 3 ounces and was 21.3 inches long. He was everything we could have ever wanted and then some! I had every intentions of sharing my pregnancy journey with you (definitely slacked on the end of my pregnancy, but it was a rough ride!), which included his birth story. After it was all said and done and he was finally in my arms, I had second thoughts about sharing the experience… We didn’t get the typical delivery where baby is pushed out vaginally, has his first cry, and placed on my chest for our first skin to skin bonding. It was honestly a very traumatic experience that took me awhile to come to terms with and to be okay with what happened. But now that the postpartum anxiety has subsided and I’ve had time to talk it through with family and friends, I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I couldn’t have controlled what happened and God was with us that morning in the delivery room looking over our sweet baby. We are so incredibly blessed it wasn’t anything worse than it was! Some people aren’t as lucky… but what is important is that our little boy is THRIVING, recovered quickly, and we’re all together as a family!

Jared and I arrived at the hospital around 9 pm that Monday so I could start my induction. I had already gone past my due date and was almost 41 weeks! Herschel had NO intentions of coming out on his own and I was so miserable and ready to get the show on the road. I was having mild contractions all day, but had no idea that that was what they were until they had me hooked up to the monitor. They inserted a cervidill to promote dilation a little bit more naturally at first. I was 2.5 centimeters dilated when I went in to be induced. The next morning, my mom and mother-in-law came to be present for the birth. All was fine and dandy, easy going, just waiting for baby to come. When my doctor FINALLY came in to check me (around 1pm the next day) I was dilated to a 3. In the middle of her checking me, that is when my water broke! And let me tell you this…when your water breaks, it’s on! Contractions come on full force and you’re in intense labor. This is when they started me on pitocin to keep the contractions regular. At this point, everything is still normal and moving along perfectly. I had a monitor facing me at all times where I could see when contractions were coming and with Herschel’s heart rate visible.

I knew I wanted to hold out as long as I could without the epidural in hopes that it wouldn’t slow my progress down, but I had all intentions of getting an epidural because I knew if you couldn’t relax a bit from contractions that it could actually prolong your labor. Your body does best if you find a way to calm yourself and give your body rest! I only lasted like 15 minutes before asking for the epidural (lol), but it felt like a LIFETIME! Once the epidural was given to me, the pain subsided, and I attempted to get some rest. I honestly couldn’t get any sleep because I was so eager to meet my baby! I think I might have gotten 30 minutes total of shut eye. An important side note is that my hospital allowed you to distribute more of the epidural every 10 minutes as needed. So if I felt like it was wearing off, I just pushed a button to numb me up again. Remember that for a later note… 😅

When my nurse came in around 11 pm, I asked her if she would check me to see if I was close enough to push. I was 9 cm dilated, but almost 10, so that’s when we started some practice pushes. Shortly after that, she said she would go get the midwife (a midwife delivered Herschel because my doctor was not on call) and it was time to push that baby out! We were all taking bets on what time he would be born, and everyone fully expected him to be born before the day was up. We were obviously wrong (lol). Jared and my mom had to hold my legs while I pushed, and I got the hang of it pretty quickly! The epidural wore off a bit (because I hadn’t pushed the button in awhile) and at the end of my pushing, I could feel everything… I pushed for 2 and a half hours and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t out yet. I’m basically screaming and crying like crazy because I could feel all the pressure and pain from pushing. This is when everything took a turn for the worse. In the middle of frantically pushing, I heard the midwife tell the nurse to call the NICU, the baby’s heart rate is increasing.

Shortly after that, multiple nurses were in my room, Jared and my mom were pushed out of the way and now random nurses were holding my legs up. They got the little box out with all the utensils used to revive a baby and the lights were turned up to bright. This all was happening so fast and I wasn’t fully myself in my own body from extreme exhaustion and the adrenaline pumping through me. But I heard the midwife say his heart rate was racing and he was in distress and I did what a mommy does; I did whatever It took to save my baby. I didn’t take breaths and I pushed until I thought I was breaking all my bones, and out he came. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice and he had shoulder dystocia which basically means he was too big for the birth canal and got stuck. So while he was stuck and I was pushing extra hard to get him out, the umbilical cord was working even harder sucking him back in.

After he was pulled out and the cord was cut immediately, they placed him on my stomach for only a second before removing him and taking him to the little baby box. He was blue and there was no crying. I was in utter despair, crying and praying harder than I ever have. The nurse who was present my whole labor held my hand tight while I cried into Jared’s chest. The only thing going through my head was “I don’t know what I would do if he doesn’t make it.” I see a nurse lift his little hand up and it fall right back down as if he were lifeless. And that’s when I heard it; the most beautiful cry you could ever hear come from the most precious baby. My heart just sank and I yelped with relief that my baby was okay. Everything had happened in a span of 5 minutes; that’s how quickly things can take a turn. They handed him over for me to hold for a minute before taking him to the NICU for further observations. He was so perfect and everything I had just endured was nothing compared to the amount of love and joy I was feeling holding him.

I never wanted to share the first few photos I had of my sweet baby because honestly they were too hard to see. But now I look back at them and smile at how strong he was those first few days of life in the NICU. I am so thankful for that sweet babe, and again, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing I could have done differently to prevent it from happening and he is still the same Herschel no matter how he got here. I apologize for the lengthy post, but no matter how difficult the experience was, I want to remember it because that was the day my son was born. 💙

Happy and healthy like nothing ever happened! We love you Hershey!!

Always,

learnandbewithme

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First Trimester Update

I can’t believe that I am already well into my second trimester and this baby will be here in less than four months! Where did the time go?! When I first discovered I was pregnant (and even before because, hello, baby fever) I read up on all the mamas out there on social media about their pregnancies and what to expect when I’m expecting. Some of it was intimidating and scary, and others were general knowledge. But no matter how much you prepare or think you know before experiencing your first trimester, something will for sure throw you for a loop! I want to be honest and real about my journey to motherhood, so you’ve been warned about the truths I’m about to spill. But in all honestly this process so far has been beautiful and amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The First Trimester is Always the Hardest

I discovered I was pregnant very early on in the process, so for the first few weeks I had no symptoms that I was creating another human. It honestly put me in denial for awhile. But once it hits, there’s no denying it! I think my first sign was constipation (gross, I know) but once your body starts prepping for baby, it slows everything else down! Including your digestive system. So not only did I feel sluggish, but not using the bathroom contributed to a lot of discomfort.

The biggest and by far the HARDEST part for me in the first trimester was fatigue. At the time I was working 9 1/2 hour days with a short break, on my feet all day, with the exhaustion of caring for twelve four year olds. Add in the extreme fatigue you get from pregnancy and I almost couldn’t function. I would come home on my lunch break, immediately pass out on the couch, go back to work, come home that evening and sometimes sleep shortly after that. There was one day I was so tired I slept 12 hours straight through the night! Your body is going into overdrive at this point and your hormones are going crazy, all your body wants to do is rest. So let’s just say I took many naps those first three months until my energy came back in the second trimester.

For most women, their first sign of pregnancy is the sore breast. Although my breast were tender, I wouldn’t say they were overly sensitive. I was waiting for this symptom to kick in, but it has honestly been on and off since conceiving. One week they’ll be so sore I can’t wear a bra, and the next I hardly notice a thing. Fullness started early on though. Even though my bra size didn’t go up in those first three months, they felt heavier and fuller.

Okay, I know you’re wondering if nausea made an appearance those first few months. Don’t worry, it did (lol). There were some days in the beginning where nausea came and went very quickly, but around week 6 the throwing up started. It lasted weeks 6-9 and were most common in the morning when I first woke up. This is when I had to start calling out of work because I couldn’t even remove myself from the toilet to make it into work at 7am. After a few days of claiming I was sick with a “stomach bug” I finally had to come clean to my manager at work. They made things a little easier for me by placing another employee in my classroom so I could run to the restroom any time I needed to. Luckily, the sickness lasted a few short weeks and then I was back to my normal eating self!

Another interesting (but common) symptom women get is the heightened sense of smell. In the first few weeks of pregnancy I noticed that smells were stronger than normal. My sister brought in this sandwich she had bought at the store, and although it looked delicious, it smelt terrible and turned my stomach. I’m not even kidding, I could smell it from two rooms away! Before pregnancy I hadn’t notice a lot of smells like that.

This next symptoms is by far the most annoying. And I’m comparing that to the vomiting…it’s acne. Just a heads up ladies, if you struggled with acne as a teenager it missed you so much it comes back when your pregnant… That’s the last thing you need happening! I hadn’t changed my routine in any way and had a very good skin care routine, but there was no escaping it. Not only did I break out terribly on my face, but I broke out in places I never had trouble with before like my chest and back! I started using witch hazel which helped a little, I still ate healthy and drank plenty of water, but there was no controlling it. You just have to ride it out! It calmed down by my second trimester once the hormones settled down. So if you’re pregnant and are having this issue, just know its not forever!

These were the most unforgettable symptoms I experienced in my first trimester and so far, truly the hardest! I have been so blessed this pregnancy with an easy go of things. I also knew it was going to be tough and tried my best to look on the bright side of things which always spreads the load out a bit. So many women have way worse pregnancies and a rough nine months rather than a rough couple of weeks. So my praise goes out to you! No matter the symptoms, it still isn’t easy creating another life. It’s tiring and a toll on your body that you can’t really prepare for. But there are so many other parts that make it all worth it! Like feeling him kick for the very first time (but that will be in my later blog posts 🙂 )! Thank you so much for taking the time to read up on my journey into motherhood. If you’re a soon to be mom, or a wise mom with some advice, I would love to hear your experience in the comment section!

Always,

learnandbewithme

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Baby O’Hara, Coming November 2019!

Okay…this post is W A Y overdo! I’ve known that I’m pregnant since the beginning of March and I am just now getting around to writing about it (at the end of July). Honestly, I’ve been a little MIA for the simple reason that I’ve had so much going on with my life that I was truly overwhelmed! Since my last post I have started a new job (yay for Pre-k teachers!), Jared and I moved into our first house (hello home improvements!), and we found out I’m pregnant with our first little babe (give me all the baby kisses!). So actually, overwhelmed is an understatement! But with all the new changes going on in my life, I find that happiness radiates through me and changes bring so much more fulfillment in my life! This little baby boy is about to make me the person I’ve always wanted to be, a mom!

Back in February we had the biggest achievement of finding our first home! We had looked for months, toured probably close to 20 houses, and even had a contract on another home that evidently fell through. We had no idea at the time, but it was all leading up to finding our perfect starter home where we will eventually begin our family. It was built in 1948 and placed in the middle of the cutest town! When I say this house is old, I mean O L D. It has all its original wooden doors, glass door knobs, hardwood floors, and plenty of rooms so we can grow in this house.

About a month before closing on the house, Jared and I were sitting on the couch kinda just doing our own thing. I was on my phone while he watched TV when I started playing a video on YouTube. It was this girl I follow on social media announcing that she was pregnant. She had mentioned that she went off birth control and it took about five months to conceive. I had no idea Jared was even listening, but that’s when he stopped me and asked if that was common for most women. After responding with the, “everyone is different” comment, that’s when he threw me for a loop and said “we should start trying for a baby now”. UM, WHAT?! I jumped up and assured him that this was a very important decision and we had to talk about it and decide together. We have been discussing kids for a very long time, and we knew as soon as we had a house that we would start trying, but I was honestly just surprised that he actually wanted to start! After talking it over for awhile we both came to the decision that we should start trying to conceive.

I had a week left of birth control, and every day leading up to it I asked Jared if he was 100% sure of our decision (lol). With each day it only became more and more clear that that was our next step in life. Once we started trying, I soon realized that waiting for that positive test is agonizing! With each day I wondered if I was pregnant or if we’ll have to try again the next month. When it came close to my period time I went out and bought a pregnancy test. Most you can test up to four days early, but I was a little eager so I tested it at five days :P. It came back negative. That was a little disappointing, but I just went on with my weekend like normal. I was convinced I wasn’t pregnant and Jared encouraged me to wait until I missed a period to take another one. But something was telling me I should take one more test (two days later) just to be sure. I didn’t have any symptoms, but it’s almost felt like God was saying to do it. So I took another test and it had a faint positive sign…

Jared was in disbelief, but being a woman I knew that even if it’s faint it’s still most likely positive. I was freaking out at this point! We then ran to the store to grab a digital test for a more clear response. And what do you know, “pregnant” pops up across the screen. Just thinking back on it makes me giddy. I am so incredibly thankful that God blessed us with the ease of conceiving on our first try. I know so many women have the heartache and frustration of trying to conceiving and failing time and again. Or maybe they’re able to conceive, but aren’t fortunate to carry out the pregnancy. We have dreamt for so many years of raising a family together, and God blessed us in so many ways to allow us this journey of a home, a family, and a future!

Now we are settled into our home, working on a nursery for a little baby, and throwing out possible names for him (which we are 98% sure we have decided on a name 🙂 ). I would love to continue sharing my journey of pregnancy and experiences of first time parents. This blog truly is my creative space, and now that I feel less overwhelmed (and myself again) I want to create some helpful and truthful content for my readers!

Always,

learnandbewithme

Preserving My Wedding Bouquet

Hey everyone! I had a fun idea for a little DIY that I thought some of you might enjoy. Especially for my girls out there who are getting married or have just gotten married and can’t seem to part from the little details that were so beautiful; like the flowers. That was me when it came to my wedding bouquet. The flowers were the most important part to my wedding decor and after seeing my wedding bouquet I knew that would be a piece of my wedding I never wanted to forget. After roaming through a little boutique a couple of months before the wedding, I visioned the perfect way to preserve my bouquet after it was all said and done. There were these two sided gold frames that I imagined would work perfect for pressing flowers. So after my wedding, I carefully gathered petals of all the different colors, that varied in size, and placed them between pages of some heavy books. Don’t forget to collect some of the leaves as well! It adds character to the placement later on! After a few weeks they should be completely dried out and ready to hang!

I found a frame on sale at Michael’s that was a lot bigger and cheaper than the ones I found in the boutique originally. And the good thing about Michael’s is that they always have coupons online! I can’t find the exact one I used , but I’ll link below some frames that are similar!

As always, thanks for reading and I would love to see some of your own creations of wedding decor DIY’s in the comments below!

Always,

learnandbewithme

2018: A Year of Change and Growth

I told myself so many times before that I didn’t want to do a New Year’s recap on the blog, because honestly, they are a little played out….I’ve always been the kind of person to say, “forget the New Year, start right now!” and I am still a firm believer in that! But I can’t deny that this year of my life has been an extremely significant one that will set me up for the rest of my life. LITERALLY! So I wanted to take the time to reflect on the challenges and changes that 2018 has brought into my life and how grateful I am that it did just that.

If you have stuck around long enough to reach the end of this little recap, then I very much appreciate you! I know everyone faces change and growth in their day-to-day lives, and I hope my story encourages you to let go of those opinions that hold you back from doing what makes you happy. I had to do that to truly allow my dreams to become reality! If I didn’t do that, then I probably would have never started this blog and put so much effort into a hobby that brings me joy with every word I write. So happy New Years to all my readers, and I wish you the best of luck in 2019! 🙂

Always,

learnandbewithme

Trends I’m Loving Right Now

Hey guys! The other morning while I was getting ready to do some Christmas shopping, I found that I was pairing some serious trends together in my outfit that I’ve been obsessing with lately. I’ve gotten more comfortable in the last year with my style and being confident in what I am wearing. I would always buy clothes that I thought were cute and a little different, but usually reframed from wearing them to avoid being judged…..how stupid does that sound? No one became successful through following the shadows of others around them. Same goes with fashion. Whether you’re a cosmetic queen or a fashionista, people appreciate diversity and uniqueness through all things. Which is exactly why I have chosen to live my unique-self. That could mean I’m totally obsessing over basic trends, or I’m feeling a little edgy in my look; but either way, I will do what makes me happy! And some of these trends have done just that! 

Hair Bandanas 

In the late months of summer I have really jumped on the hair bandana wagon and have collected my fair share of these accessories. They are so cute to pair with any kind of style and add a little somethin’, somethin’ to your outfit. I fell in love with the ones from Madewell and my mother-in-law even added to my collection with some of her favorite from when she was young. I love pairing them with a flowy top, long skirt, and my hair half-up half-down. Or you could tie them around your neck for a more “day in Paris” look. They honestly could dress up or down an outfit depending on what you’re looking for. The bandana queens are Livvyland.com and Kristin Johns . I always look to their social medias for inspiration when I feel lost with an outfit. 

 Turtle Necks 

Okay, I’m not sure if this is anything hot and new at the moment, but I’ve been really loving them lately and that’s turtle necks. I remember hating them growing up as a child, but mostly because I hated my round face and I thought they accentuated it. Now that I am older and I have embraced what the good Lord has given me, I will proudly rock all the turtle necks! A nice tight fit, black turtle neck with the scalloped sleeve looks amazing with a cute pair of patterned slacks. And don’t get me started on chunky cow neck sweaters! Life changing. You can find my two recent favorites at Target and Anthropologie (but sadly, this one is no longer listed on their website 😦 ).

Patterned Slacks 

The outfit choice listed above leads me to my next obsession at the moment, and that’s patterned slacks! I’ve found myself recently reaching for these kinds of pants in my closet rather than a pair of jeans. It really can dress up an outfit, but also allowing you to remain comfortable throughout day. Putting together an outfit becomes easy when the pants do all the talking! You just simply pair with a neutral colored shirt/sweater and some booties and you’re good to go. The only hard part is telling yourself not to wear them everyday! The pair I’ve been wearing non-stop were actually only $8 from a second hand store downtown called Ashby! They’re especially perfect for the fall season since they’re a burnt orange color. Another pair were from the clearance section at Target! only $12 and so worth it. Don’t feel like you have to break the bank when buying trendier items, you just have to keep your eyes out for those unbelievable sales 😉 .

Clogs, clogs, and more clogs

This specific item of clothing has taken over my style in the last four months. They honestly are the most unique piece to add to your wardrobe and by far the cutest. I love pairing my clogs with everything from a cute dress and neutral cardigan, to a pair of boyfriend jeans and a cozy sweater. And don’t get me started on how adorable a pair of clogs are with frilly socks! Now that the colder season is among us, I will be investing in some different styles of clogs and I can’t wait to add more to my collection. I can feel a serious obsession coming on.. (lol). I got my pair from a tiny store down the street of my old apartment, but Lotta from Stockholm has all kind of styles and colors to choose from!

(If you look closely, you can see where Honey chewed them…welp)

Let me know if you enjoy reading posts like this and I hope I gave you some ideas of new items to add to your closet! 🙂 

Always,

learnandbewithme

 

Everyday Brings A New Season

The holiday season is just around the corner and shoppers are getting in the full swing of things. From Christmas gift shopping, to deciding upon what side dish to bring to Thanksgiving dinner; the holiday spirit is undoubtedly in the air. Jared and I have finally settled into his mother’s house where we will nestle ourselves for the winter while we save money for our first home. It’s so exciting I find myself becoming too eager and wanting it to happen now! I know these things take time, patience, and persistence and we are truly blessed that we have family in our lives that willingly open their doors to us and encourage our goals. But with these drastic changes to our lives, first with a passing of a loved one, then with unfortunate evens with our living situation, I was finding it hard to get excited about the holidays. In a way, I just wanted them to be over so I could move on with my life. Especially because the part I looked forward to the most was putting up a tree with my husband for our first ever Christmas as husband and wife is now severed. We are packed to the brim with all of our household items in boxes and furniture piled on top of more furniture. I was, for lack of a better word, in a funk. This morning while out with my mom shopping I expressed my sorrow on the subject about how all the ornaments and garland will never be hung this year, that’s when she stopped down the aisle in front a cute, tiny Christmas tree. One so small it could fit on a night side table. Next the to tree hung all the ornaments, toppers, and even adorable tree skirts to tie it all together. My mom said, “Tori, you can make the best of what you have. Just remember why you’re there and imagine what you’ll be doing this time next year. You’ll be decorating your very own house.” With all the business of the move and the holidays approaching faster each year with age, I lost myself and became bitter. Bitter that it wasn’t all working out according to my plan. But the truth is, no matter how many plans we make God truly knows the way for us. This season in my life is going to be one for the books where I looked back years from now and laugh about how silly I was acting. Jared and I are blessed each and everyday that we are alive and have supporting friends and family around us. That we have a job to attend to and make money. Food on the table and a little extra to spend. A roof over our heads to still gather and give thanks. And today I am extremely blessed to have a mother to remind me of the bigger picture and to be a better person. Just a little food for thought to remind all of us, including myself, that we are all going through different seasons of our lives. Some are longer and harder than others, but they are just seasons and they too shall pass. Like the summer and spring season bring sunshine and flowers, those seasons in your life you will blossom more than ever. And the winter and fall seasons of your life you will find cold and long days. So today this little tree with all its tiny decor will represent us proud and remind me every time I look at it that this season is for thanks and gratitude. 

Always,

learnandbewithme

September 8th, 2018

I can’t believe its been over a month since Jared and I have said our “I do’s!” When I look back it feels as if it were all a dream. I read all the articles on what to expect on your wedding day, looked at all the Pinterest boards, but I never understood how magical, and to be frank, how quickly it would all be over. I spent months and months planning and imagining what it would be like, and I’m happy to say that it out-did all of my expectations! It truly was the greatest day of my life, no matter how cliché it sounds.

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The day of the wedding, my sister, niece, and I woke up early to get to the venue so we could get our hair and makeup done. When planning out a timeline, I thought it was silly to get there before noon because, how long could it really take to do hair and makeup? That was the first thing I was wrong about (lol). If your venue allows you to arrive early and spend the day there, take advantage of it because it made my day as stress free as possible. Once I was there I didn’t have to worry about planning out my day around when and where I needed to be places. Throughout the day my bridesmaids started showing up and a few of my family members. The venue we chose was part restaurant so they offered us lunch and mimosas in which we all appreciated so much!

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We all just relaxed and had a good time listening to music and talking. We had the entire upstairs to ourselves with two full bathrooms and a beautiful room filled with antique furniture and couches. Thinking back now, most of the day was a blur. I tried to stop and take in every moment, but when you’re focused on the ending it’s hard to do so. I was getting so nervous! The day of the wedding I decided to write Jared a letter and have my sister deliver it to him when he arrived. I was already crying while writing it, so you can only imagine what a wreck I was during the ceremony!

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I can’t get over how cute my little flower girls were. I’m so blessed to have two precious nieces who could walk down the aisle in front of me; and they had a blast hanging with the girls all day. And can we talk about how stinkin’ cute their baby robes were?!

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One of my favorite parts about this day was having my dad and I do a first look. After my mom, sister, and now mother-in-law helped me dress, I stood in the corner and waited for my dad to come in. As soon as he stepped in the room, both of us started bawling. You can get a sense of how much everyone was crying on this beautiful day (lol)! Nothing means more to me than the family I have in my life. I am so incredibly grateful for both my parents and Jared’s mom. They’re the reason our day was as amazing as it was. Especially to my mother who was the wedding planner of the century! She kept my head on straight and all of my needs organized. She was my hero these last ten months.

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It really is no joke when they say a wedding is all about the bride. I felt like an actual princess waiting to meet my prince. Everyone was full of joy and excitement, and all eyes are on you the whole night. With a wedding of 100+ people, it would be an understatement to say I was anxious! But it was simply perfect and if I could relive it again and again, I would in a heartbeat.

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The ceremony was short and sweet, just how we liked it and the reception was truly a party. The floral chandelier was absolutely stunning and could take your breath away. Our florist did an incredible job and no one (including me) could stop admiring it the whole night. The flowers used most throughout the decorations were no other than O’Hara roses to represent my new last name. I think it’s safe to say they’re my new favorite flower. ❤ I used gold geometric terrariums for the hightop tables which were the cutest little centerpieces. And we can’t forget how gorgeous my bouquet was! I really can’t express my feelings for this night other than it was perfection.

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My photographer surprised Jared and I with these adorable previews of our pictures during dinner. They in themselves were beautiful I was already getting antsy to see the rest! I loved that she gave her brides an idea of what their special day was going to look like in pictures, and it gave me something to show off to people the next day! It was one of my favorite parts of the whole night receiving these polaroids.

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The groomsmen were truly the life of the party (per usual). Our wedding is the third wedding with basically the same groomsmen all in attendance. These guys are amazing friends to Jared and we can always count on them for a good laugh or a good time. While all the women were upstairs getting ready for the day, my bridesmaids looked out the window and started laughing at what was going on on the lawn. It was Jared and his groomsmen taking pictures and the poses they chose were no surprise to me. The brides of the weddings they attend usually have to remind them to behave and not to ruin the pictures (lol).

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The hardest and best part was the anticipation of seeing Jared. We wanted to keep things semi traditional so we said our goodbyes the night before the wedding and didn’t see each other until I walked down the aisle. It was so hard for us since we really do spend all of our time together. I got a few texts here and there from him asking if he could see me before the ceremony because he was going stir-crazy. The moment we laid eyes on each other we knew nothing else mattered about the day except for us exchanging vows and “I do’s.” I now understand why you’re considered in the honeymoon phase after your wedding. I fell in love with him all over again that night.

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While planning my wedding, my main goal was to create an event that was not only unforgettable for my husband and I, but to see all my friends and family together in one space having all the fun they could handle. I wanted laughing, dancing, and smiles all around. I had an awesome DJ who interacted with the crowd and got everyone up and moving. There was even a moment when my photographer came and asked if she could barrow me for a certain picture and I asked if I could finish a song first (lol).  We kept all the traditional wedding stuff simple and quick because we know that can kinda be a bore, and we wanted to focus on the celebration with friends and family rather than a prolonged ceremony, cutting of the cake, and first dances. Our ceremony only lasted 20 minutes total! Which meant more time for dancing and visiting!

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I want to thank every person who could be a part of our day and make it what it was with love, support, and hopeful wishes. Our photographer Veronica Martinez was truly outstanding and captured our wedding so beautifully. We highly recommend her and her boyfriend for your engagement or wedding photos! We also would like to thank Hanover Tavern for hosting our wedding and being extremely accommodating and helpful through the whole process! We are smitten and happy to finally be Mr. and Mrs. O’Hara. ❤

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Always,

learnandbewithme

 

FabFitFun Fall Box 2018

It’s that time again! My fabfitfun fall box has arrived and I’m ecstatic to try out the new products and share with you some of the treasures that lie within! This box really put me in the spirit of the season with its distinctive autumn colors and cute images such as scarves, coffee cups, leaves, and umbrellas. Pretty much all the essentials of a great fall season!

One of the reasons I joined the fabfitfun community was to open myself to new products that I would have never known about. It usually always includes items that I’ve never heard of with opportunity to learn about them through the fabfitfun magazine they include.

The goodies I am most excited for this season would be the Vine Camuto faux leather bag, the Simply Whimsical kitchen towels (I love a good kitchen accessory!), Dew It All total eye cream, Catherine Malandrino floral print umbrella, and lastly, the Alfred French Press Coffee Brewer!

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Vine Camuto’s faux leather tote is the perfect fall accessory! It’s a classic shade of brown with the trendy black stripe down the middle, making it easy to coordinate with any outfit. With it’s soft interior and handy pocket, I will be using this bag a lot this season!

I’ve been in the market for a good total eye cream so I was so excited when I opened my box to find just that. I’ve always had issues with dark under eyes and crows feet (I guess I just smile too much, right?) Even in my early 20’s I feel like I can already see the aging occur. Since your eyes, hands, and neck are the first to show your age, be sure to show them some love and moisturize daily! So I will for sure be taking advantage of this beauty.

You can never have enough kitchen towels. Especially if you’re like me and live with very messy boys. Yes Jared, I’m talking about you and Mozza 😛 The cute grey and white stripe pattern goes great with my neutral color pallet.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m cheap when it comes to some things. One of those being buying necessities like an umbrella. You only have to buy a few umbrellas in your lifetime, and maybe even less than that if you splurge on a good one. But when I’m in the store and see one, my thought is, “hmm, maybe next time.” Immediately I regret it once I get caught in the rain. The Catherine Malandrino umbrella I received in my box will for sure save me the hassle of getting caught in the rain next time. And with the adorable, colorful pattern, it will brighten up any rainy day!

Fabfitfun, I want to thank you for supporting my coffee pot/maker addiction. I love a good cup of joe on a Saturday morning with my hubby, and I love using them as decorative pieces as well. It has almost formed into a little collection, with all the thrifted coffee pots, mini french press, and now a big french press. I love french pressed coffee the best during the mornings of our camping trips at Lake Moomaw. I can’t wait to pack it for our trip in October!

Fabfitfun fails to disappoint me and with each new box I look forward to the next one. Now that I have received my fall edition, I feel like I’m ready for the season to come! With the holidays right around the corner, this would be the perfect gift for friends or family members! Which is exactly what I think I will do 🙂

Always,

learnandbewithme