EMALINE.

Photo: Jaymi Britten

Photo: Jaymi Britten

Dear world, her name is  Emaline.
[pronounced: em-uh-lyne]

On March 7th, 9’oclock in the morning at Mary Birch Hospital, our family of three grew into a family of four! We joyfully welcomed into this world a beautiful baby girl weighing in at 7 lbs 15 oz. and stretching 20 inches in height– her name is Emaline, which was chosen by her older sister. Interestingly, it was a name I once told my sister in our high school days, “If I have a daughter, I want to name her Emmeline,” after hearing the name Emmeline Lestrange [Brooke Shields] in the 1980’s re-make of “The Blue Lagoon.” Fast-forward to a few years ago, my husband introduced me to his friends Scott and Megan Cunningham.  They are a wonderful couple with 5 talented and beautiful daughters, one of whom is named Emaline! I believe this is where Evie may have heard this name for the first time, and possibly kept it on a mental list of pretty names to name a sister. My husband, Spencer, also preferred the spelling of Emaline this way. As for nicknames, I’ve tried “Emz” but she just doesn’t feel like an Emz. Spencer calls her Bom Bom… Evie calls her Emmy… my dad calls her Ema… while I simply call her Emaline. But Bom Bom is pretty cute.

Every day we are mesmerized with Emaline- born with a full head of dark brown hair, tan skin, almond eyes, long eyelashes, button nose, broad shoulders, long legs and toes,  and her daddy’s rounded face and hairline. To me, it is obvious that she pulled more to her daddy’s genetic makeup. I’ve taken pictures of Emaline and Spencer side by side doing the same expressions, and the resemblance is striking. Same furrowed brow. Same indentions in their cheeks. Same pouty lower lip. Emaline’s cry is full of passion and is piercing to the ears; I’m pretty sure it’s the loudest sound we’ve heard from a baby. She really gets whatever she wants, especially after an hour of tears streaming down her face- I have no choice but to give in. Everyone says, “don’t give in!”, but we’ve got a neighbor on the other side of our bedroom wall.  Emaline stops the crying the moment I pick her up.  I have a feeling we are raising two strong-willed daughters (leaders, I hope!) who are similar, and yet very different.  Evie has always had a sweet sensibility to her soul. Her eyes were full of curiosity and compassion even before she could speak. Emaline has the gentlest gaze, then once her eyes are fixed on you, she begins to observe (which reminds me so much of Spencer).  Her smile will melt your heart, but that grin hints at the slightest bit of mischief.  At times, you can’t be sure whether she is going to cry or giggle– and sometimes she does both!  Evie on the other hand- her emotions are predictable, maybe because we are a lot alike.

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This Too Shall Pass.
4 months ago

Have you ever felt like you ran a marathon without any preparation,while your organs were bruised and rearranged? Neither have I.  But that is how I felt after the epidural wore off. Hopefully my brain will forget about this again because we really do want a big family. Doctors recommend taking it easy for 6-8 weeks after delivery. It took me approximately 8 weeks for my body to fully heal from the labor of birth. I rejoice in the 8 weeks, because when I had Evie, it took nearly 3 months!

To be present during the first month with a newborn is a fight!  It can be easy to wish that you could just fast forward to the next stage.  It was  a challenge to find the beauty in the breakdowns, rejoicing in the hard times, and the joy in sorrow. What sorrow?  The feeling of deep distress and disappointment that I couldn’t provide enough milk for my screaming/hungry baby… and on top of that, hearing the words, “I think she’s hungry” from those around me.  How could I even crack a smile when I was tortured by the thought of the next feeding?  The feedings were painful, emotionally draining, and extremely frustrating! My arms felt as though limp from carrying the baby all day and night... It was truly a restless time that felt like months, but we did all we could to embrace it. Despite the many tears, I was reminded of  II Corinthians 4:17-18: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”  In other words: This too shall pass. 

After two months of interrupted sleep, our nights slowly got better with an added hour or two. Spencer and I took shifts, which was a life-saver. By the third month, Emaline was sleeping through most of the night and easily soothed by slipping the pacifier back into her mouth. She had learned how to smile and giggle during this time. Presently at the fourth month she is a koala on my hip! I use an Ergo baby carrier in the house to carry her when she is fussy, something I don’t remember doing with Evie. I’ve become one of those mamas who can cook and clean with a joey in my front pouch! It makes chores and errands a relief, but takes three times as long and causes backache.

As for the dynamic between Evie and Emaline… she is in heaven– making it twice as hard for her to follow instructions because of the distraction of the baby in the house! She says, “Emaline is too cute for my eyes! I don’t know what to do with myself.” 

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Back in jeans… and where was this carseat stroller frame 6 years ago!? I love it.

All that to say, life in our household revolves around precious Emaline, house chores, and the need for Evie to get outdoors. We live in an apartment complex with a small courtyard, which is not a conducive area for a child to spend hours exploring wild and free. So when Evie is on the sofa staring at the ceiling, I take the cue to make a plan of escape even if it is for a walk around North Park. It’s for the better… for all of us. Stepping out of the house with a newborn  is challenging at first [even with my firstborn], but got profoundly easier each time we do it. Handling all the new baby gear and learning how to do life with a baby in tow again was familiar territory. Getting out of the house required a lot of encouragement from my husband and older daughter, as well as the weekly doctor checkups, and not to mention that outside pressure! Everyone wants to meet the newborn baby! Driving anywhere can be stressful because of the preparation time it takes to gather our things, then pack the car, buckle the kids, and finally drive. I’ve tried to master getting out of the house in peace, even by getting things ready the day before… but I still haven’t gotten it down after 6 years. I just have to admit to myself, I’ll never be perfect…and…prompt. Life with kids is unpredictable! Seems like everything happens at the perfectly inconvenient time: tantrum while getting out the door, hungry in the car, tired and fussy the moment you are peacefully sitting down for a meal, needing to use the bathroom the moment you get into the store, etc. etc… Yes, all the memes of parenthood are true. I think parents are marionettes, and children are marionettists, no?

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Madeline’s Box gold leather pacifier clip goes with everything.

Normalcy has somewhat returned and I also have returned to write. This means that I am flying solo for a few hours while my wonderful husband holds down the fort at home! This is exciting for me because I get a chance to do something creative without contemplating if Emaline’s cloth diapers should be thrown into the washer, or incessantly reminding Evie to put her things away, whilst juggling what’s on the menu for my family or planning for summer homeschool. Sipping a hot cup of coffee anywhere…alone…and creating something on a canvas (rather than a stove)…is a rare luxury these days! Don’t get me wrong- I am beyond grateful to be a stay-at-home mother to these two precious girls. I thank God for their existence. No matter how tough some days may be, I cherish the ever-changing stages [highs and lows] of infancy and childhood, and know it is completely worth the blood, sweat and tears. However, let’s be honest here… solo time? We all need it to be happier people in order to survive a tantrum with grace and sanity. I would be lying if I said that our life is 100% charming and that there aren’t many days where I don’t send text messages to my husband with emoji faces narrating a stressful situation in the homestead. As long as the day starts and ends with an empathetic hug from my husband, I know I’m blessed and I’ve got it good…too good.

xx
Jena

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Motherhood & The Berrious.

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MOTHERHOOD.

June 27th will mark a year since the launch of this blog, and I am okay with the amount of posts that I’ve published, the things I’ve created, and the amount of work that has come my way since then (which was more than I envisioned doing).  I must remind myself daily that I have one major calling on my life, even before I sit down to write a blog.  It’s called Motherhood— thus, the lack of content.  When I think of my my daughter, I think of a rose garden, and how diligently I would tend to it if we ever had one.  Taking care of it through all seasons until the very day every petal blossoms and she is ready to be let go and let out fearlessly into the world on her own.  Her sweet-natured, gentle and wild disposition causes me to marvel.  Each passing year [she just made five], she grows in wisdom and beauty.  I feel that she understands more about life and the world around her more than my little mind could ever grasp when I was five years old.

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& THE BERRIOUS.
(pronounced “bear-ee-us”)

When I share about my life with people I meet, I want to say–“I’m a stay outdoor mother“; rather than uttering the words, “stay at home.”  My life is genuinely sweet; except on Mondays… those laborious Mondays. It’s the only day that I’ve dedicated to chores and everything to do with “staying at home“, to empathize with my working husband and kindred to the rest of the world for a day.  I try to accomplish everything that needs to be done at home until I am completely exhausted.  Besides Mondays, my life looks [majority of the time] like these pictures that I took with Jaymi’s camera that I hope to someday soon inherit.

And this sight is just fine for me.  I think our lifestyles as mothers and fathers should be tailored to our own personal lives, and not compared to another family or what the world thinks it “should” look like.  I am an introvert, but my daughter is not.  She is my social butterfly that I take to nurture in peaceful places like the Berrious.  It is where I feel the most inspired, motivated and free to teach without distractions.  I get to hone her creativity, focus on her talents, help her to seek out her gifts, and let her imagination run wild among these trees.  I believe she finds herself and sees God more clearly during these moments in the wilderness.  It’s also here during these simple times that I see the hand of God at work in our lives and find my purpose in motherhood.

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We named her homeschool, The Secret Garden.  A part of this was inspired by the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  The idea of it came from the origin of the word “Kindergarten” — [mid 19th century] literally means ‘children’s garden’ in German.  When my sister-in-law, Emiel, shared the meaning with me years ago– I just knew that I would take Evie’s homeschool to a garden.  We have several places that we go to read, write, color, draw, explore, and create together- just the two of us.  I am unaware of time when we’re outdoors.  At home, I am hounded by the minute and hour hand that seeks progress in every little detail.  It’s draining!  When we’re outdoors, the only hand of time is the sunset.  The Berrious is one of those secret places, one of our Secret Gardens.

Jaymi was with us on this day.  And when she is around, her camera is always within reach.  I don’t know what kind of camera she has, nor the lens- but I could not see myself going back to the iPhone camera if I had a camera like hers.  Something about peering through an eye hole is more exciting than holding up a screen.  Anaïs Nin said, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”  I feel the same way about pictures I take of my family… because it seemed like yesterday that she was just a toddler.

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Left: Evie & Myself | right: Evie & Aunty Jaymi

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Momee’s hat + Shaelyn’s Dress + Hunter Wellies

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APRIL FIRST | Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt in Vogue April 2014 by JSK

Emily Blunt + Christy Rilling Studio in Vogue April 2014 by JSK

I received my April Vogue issue in my mailbox yesterday.  I flipped to this photo of Emily Blunt and read her lovely article on pregnancy and taking on motherhood. I wish it had been this photo of her glowing pregnant belly to have graced the cover of our birthday month.  I get to celebrate the 13th with my twin sister, Jaymi Britten; and our adopted triplet, April W. (friend for over 12 years + Tini-Manini boutique owner)!

xx
Jena