I am not one of those fall-loving maniacs inevitably filling up your facebook feed, exactly. I certainly appreciate autumn, especially when I have weekends off to enjoy with the family (a rarity in the wedding industry!). But I’m particular and I have to be in the right mood to get into the spirit. This year worked out pretty well because we had a beach trip at the tail end of August — SUCH lovely timing, might I say! It allowed us to stretch the summer just a little bit more (particularly while it’s still hot as blazes!) and end-cap the season with as many bikini-clad days as we could want. I like to really wear out the whole pool scene before I can devote myself to a season that will usher in miserable cold. (BOO.)

That said, there’s something about Labor Day that nails the coffin shut on summer mentality — you can’t deny the fact that school is well underway (our girls started preschool August 13), and pools close and Target’s Dollar Spot is a Halloween frenzy. I’m not totally into it yet (some years I’m like “GIVE ME A PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE STAT!” by the end of August), but we have been burning our pumpkin coconut candle and I’m not side-eyeing all the mercury glass pumpkins at HomeGoods anymore.

I love bucket lists. They give me something to reference on the days or weekends we have nothing planned to do, and it’s a festive way to thoroughly enjoy a season. (Would we have made homemade ice cream and gone crabbing if we hadn’t planned to at the beginning of the summer? Debatable.) So without further ado, here’s my fall y’all bucket list, 2018 edition!

Make paleo pumpkin bread. One of my faaaaavorite baked goods of all time is a gluten-free pumpkin/chocolate oat muffin recipe, but it jacks up my blood sugar and constipates Lilly to a point of misery. (I think oats are just not our friend.) Saw this recipe on a blog I follow and was immediately intrigued!

Go to the pumpkin patch with family friends. I have a love-hate relationship with the pumpkin patch. I love the festivity of it, I love taking pictures of the girls in their smocked pumpkin dresses, I love the actual pumpkins we end up with and decorating our home with them. But I HATE sweating to death in October (usually in jeans and a flannel shirt because I want it to be fall, dang it). Last year I was smart and wore white denim short-shorts and a long sleeve orange top and it was way more bearable. But I mean, sandals and white denim? In late October? Come on, Tennessee. I do think the pumpkin patch will be more bearable and less miserable in the company of good friends. Aren’t all things better with the right company?

Attend an outdoor concert. Meant to do this all summer, never got a chance. It’ll be more fun when the evenings get a little crisp, right? Maybe the full moon pickin’ party in September?

Go trick-or-treating with the girls and their cousins. We did this last year and it was so fun! I’m excited both the girls are old enough now to walk around and “get it” somewhat, but candy and a peanut allergy is a little anxiety-producing. Also not sure what we’re going to do for costumes yet — we love dressing up as a family but Lilly requested a “pink princess” this year so we’ll see how we can make that happen.

Become a barre instructor! This has been a goal of mine since college and was one of my big visions when I attended Making Things Happen in Oct. 2012! My training is this weekend!!!

Watch a UT game on my in-laws’ outdoor entertaining patio. Drew’s parents moved into their new house in June and we all marveled how perfect the setup will be for watching some college football come the fall!

Polish off a fabulous fall wedding season. My team coordinated a PHENOMENAL wedding in July (no hiccups!) so I want to carry that theme on out and knock the next few out of the park. Next up is Sept. 15!

Maintain a solid routine filled with life-giving rituals and experiences. No more floundering, I want to “win” at life this season and feel like we’ve got a good handle on things. Clean house, healthy meals and bodies, good sleep schedule, positive habits to replace old bad ones, peace and fruit of the spirit!

Carve or paint pumpkins. We’ve always wanted to but haven’t done it before because newborns and survival mode.

Do some kind of fall craft. I’m not super crafty, but I’d like to do something! Maybe I can count “display a fall craft the girls made at school” as the same thing…

Go to the zoo. Maybe even do Boo at the Zoo?!

Get a fall-toned hair refresh. I’ve been getting the same haircut since February and going blonder and blonder for summer. I think I want something with more lowlights (but definitely still blonde around my face!) and more length for the cooler months. Haircut scheduled for Sept. 14!

Cool it on the wine. There are seasonal expectations for what boozy beverages coincide with the time of year (champagne at New Year’s, red wine and pumpkin beer in the fall, rose in summer, mimosas in the spring), but I want a season of healthier stress coping mechanisms and better social functioning. I’ve been reading (listening! #audible) to Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis over the last week and her chapter on drinking really resonated with me. “Wine mom” culture = scary, y’all. Scary and COMMON.

What’s on your list?! Anything I missed?!

Disclaimer:  I’m not sugarcoating this, sweethearts.

Oh, the fourth trimester! One of the most unique experience’s in a woman’s life — an undignified time of many bodily fluids, night sweats, hormonal mood swings, a squishy empty baby belly, and so much more. I want to give every newly-postpartum mama a big hug and tell her it’s okay, and that everything will get better. Because it does!

When I first had Lilly, I tried to temper my expectations so I wouldn’t be too disappointed or unhappy. I expected to have some degree of postpartum depression, to be sleep deprived, to be pretty jarred by a lot of crying/screaming, and to never see my pre-baby body again.

what to expect when you have a daughter

The reality of my situation was different. I was sleep deprived, but Lilly slept a glorious 5 hours the afternoon we returned home from the hospital once we got her in her Rock & Play sleeper (and I finally got a little bit of REM). I was acutely aware of my own baby’s voice and crying (it’s amazing how different their voices are! and how you inherently know your own baby’s — the way we are evolutionarily wired blows my mind daily!!!), and as much as the little grunts and snorts did keep me awake the first couple of nights, I found myself comfortable soothing her and wasn’t so frazzled. (Granted, a week or so in, I was definitely at home rocking her in her glider while she screamed nonstop, crying to myself and wanting to just go back over to my parents’ house. But we’ll get to that later.) As for my postpartum body, I was shocked at how quickly my uterus seemed to shrink back down and weight start to fall off in the first two weeks (and admittedly got over-confident and assumed I’d be back to normal in just a couple more weeks’ time)… but then I was irritated and annoyed that it didn’t continue at that rapid speed in the weeks that followed.

What I didn’t expect AT ALL was how different (than me) Drew would process the whole having-a-baby thing, and how much conflict that would ensue. I mean, I’ve loved this man since I was 18! For eight years of my life, he had been my best friend, my partner, my complement, my other half. How he could not comprehend everything that was going on my in head and heart and body was just unfathomable to me! But I didn’t even know what I was going through… every new stage was uncharted waters for me. It was like God gave me a brand new brain the minute they handed my baby to me, and I had to suddenly figure out what that meant as far as who the heck I was now and what to do.

In those first weeks, Drew’s coping mechanism for a huge life change was to maniacally re-organize our bedroom. This drove me absolutely up a wall. I have never been one with a huge knack for home organization, and when life gets super stressful, it’s the first thing to go for me. So as we’re dealing with a new baby who cries and eats for an hour at a time and won’t go to sleep when it’s bedtime, you can imagine I couldn’t give a sh*t if I tried about moving the towels from the linen closet to the armoire. He left me to rock the baby and literally closed the door to our bedroom, turned on the TV, and watched it while he moved towels around and folded his clothes over and over again. (Hence the glider crying and wishing I lived at home with my parents because they ACTUALLY HELPED WITH THE BABY.)

what to expect when you become a father
(Let me give due credit and say, Drew was helpful in those first days. He was quick to change diapers for me, grab pillows and burp cloths when I needed to feed her, always took over burping duty, and much much more. He took off two weeks from work for paternity leave — one week he was actually able to focus on the baby and adjusting to our new life, and the second he spent locked up studying to pass his final CPA exam to provide a wonderful life for our family. I acknowledge and TREMENDOUSLY appreciate all of his efforts, especially now that we’ve found our groove as parents. He is a wonderful father and husband. This is just written from my crazy-person perspective as a new mom. So take it with a grain of salt.)

Part of my coping with crazy mood swings and lack of sleep resulted in a tendency to critique literally every single thing Drew attempted to do around the baby. Lovely, right? On Mother’s Day (as I irritatedly reamed Drew in my mind for not saying “Happy Mother’s Day” until my parents did or getting me even a card that morning), Drew was buckling Lilly into her carseat on our way to my grandmother’s house, and didn’t put the overhead handle back or something silly/minor, and I curtly snapped at him: “What the hell are you doing?! Here, let me do it.” Unsurprisingly, he did not take it well. He muttered something along the lines of “I’m never going to do anything for the baby if you keep criticizing the way I do EVERYTHING,” and I ignored him and made him pose for photos.

Things came to a head later that day when we got into a huge fight on the way to his parents’ house, and he made a comment along the lines of “I don’t even know why I’m working so hard to support a family that doesn’t even want me around” — which also did not go over so well. I cried and yelled at him that I needed some “f_____ grace” and was just trying to navigate through a difficult time. I told him I didn’t know what I was doing, I was trying to figure out what life looked like with all this change, I was nervous about him going back to work the next day (and us not staying with my parents for their added support), and I didn’t even know how to spend my days with a newborn while trying to heal from the traumatizing physical experience of childbirth. He suggested I clean our house.

I’m assuming you know where this is going? 

I killed him, right then and there. 

changing newborn baby clothes
Just kidding! I definitely wanted to, but I let him live so Lilly wouldn’t have to grow up fatherless. But I understood why God’s design involves a marital bond before you have children, because if both of us could’ve hit the highway and gone our separate ways at that point of time… umm, it would be very tempting.

We fought and cried some more but finally at least COMMUNICATED what was going on and why we were hurt (in so many ways). It paved the roadway for us to heal with a little more time and yes, grace. Ever so important grace.

I had to have grace with Drew for not going through the same brain-rewiring life-altering transformation I experienced becoming a mom. I had to have grace with Drew for feeling lost and like he loved this little tiny human, but also like she stole his beloved, fun wife away who might never return again. I had to have grace with Drew for working his butt off, working full time while studying to pass the final part of the most difficult exam he’s ever taken, in the midst of interrupted sleep and a huge life transition.

Drew had to have grace with me for going through a personality change where I had no idea who I had become or what to do with it. He had to have grace with me for not being able to physically do what he’d like me to do or even what I would have liked to do, because I would be in intense pain from just going up and down stairs a few too many times. He had to have grace with me for not knowing what I was doing with my business, and dealing with huge projects that were crashing in on me when my plans had fallen through. He had to extend grace to me for going through a zillion crazy physical changes — a new lumpy body that perplexed and annoyed me, boobs that suddenly became boulder-sized and painfully hard as rocks that had to be iced down and pumped and smushed in a “hamburger hold” into a tiny baby’s mouth, a bizarrely potent sense of smell and the accusatory remarks that accompanied it, and more.

So honestly, the most important thing to arm yourself with postpartum is beaucoups of grace. The peri bottles, granola bars, nursing bras, baby gear, and all of that are really great, but the thing you really need is grace. Grace for yourself, grace for the baby, grace for your partner, grace for this humbling, beautiful, life-rocking transition.

surviving postpartum life

And the good news is, around 6 – 8 weeks, Drew and I started liking each other again. It wasn’t so hard anymore. I wasn’t so mean anymore. Drew finished his exam and became a CPA! Lilly started sleeping 5 – 7 and 6 – 8-hour chunks of time. We got in a groove of taking care of baby. My May clients were happily married, one way or another. My body started to look more familiar (still different, but not so alien-foreign). We went on a few date nights and had a vacation planned! Of course, right around that point of time we had to face the news that I had type 1 diabetes and not just temporary gestational (and Lord, that was a whole ‘nother battle for Drew and adjustment for all of us…), but at least the baby thing got better! 

So keep this near your heart, new mamas- and daddies-to-be:

Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

marriage after baby postpartum life

And this too shall pass. Much love!

charleston nautical nursery

All images by Amy Cherry

One of the very first discussions my husband and I had upon finding out we were expecting our first daughter was how to outfit the baby’s nursery (#priorities). We tend to have very complementary interior design tastes — we’re typically drawn to a more neutral palette, natural-finished wood, lighter colors, and anything subtly evocative of the ocean. (Although sometimes we do go overboard — there are actual seashells lining the surface of our garden tub at the present moment, but I’ll forgive that.) As much as we both love the whitewashed ultra-neutral nurseries of Restoration Hardware, we knew we could take some liberties to go bright and whimsical for our little one’s room. (It is a child’s space, after all!)

Initial ideas of the “theme” were Adventure (too “Pinteresty”, IMO), Maps (overdone), Sea Creatures (love them but don’t love the premade cutest “sets” they sell at baby gear outfitters), Lilly Pulitzer (this was obviously before the days of LP x PBK — thankfully for my wallet), and Flamingos (also love but there is such a thing as too much pink).

Drew was really pulling for the Maps/Adventure thing (esp when we were both convinced Baby Dellinger would be a boy) and I could get into it a little — I’ve seen gorgeous antique watercolor maps in Savannah bookstores of the SC/GA coastline that are to die for. However, a $400 framed vintage map wasn’t really in the budget and I didn’t want to get too too themey. (Too many maps and you look like a Subway station, amirite?)

Then we moved into our new house and found out we were having a Lilly. Drew was even more insistent upon painting the nursery a girly hue (which was a bit of a sallow pale green upon move-in) than I was. We found the perfect color, Beach Trail by Behr, and decided to subtly decorate the room with things influenced by our favorite city, Charleston. The color palette is reminiscent of Rainbow Row (and one of these days I’ll commission someone to make me a legitimate Rainbow Row-shaped bookshelf!) — bright pastels and beachy shades. We framed a couple of watercolor maps of the city and Isle of Palms, my maternity shoot was taken downtown so there are images of baby & me in her nursery city, and the room is replete with all the fixings of a sweet little Southern belle — monogrammed wares, seersucker, Lilly Pulitzer baby shifts, bonnets and bows for days.

pottery barn kids crib sheet

southern baby hair bows and flamingo

southern christening gown

monogram baby bubble and lilly pulitzer for baby

dolce baby naples and pottery barn kids

monogrammed baby blanket

Crib, Nightstand, & Dresser | Dolce Babi
Glider & Ottoman | Best Home Furnishings
Paint | Beach Trail by Behr
Flamingo Wall Organizer | Three Sprouts
Crib Sheet | Pottery Barn Kids
Whale Organizer | PBK
Narwhal Canvas | Dani Boudreau
Sailboat | World Market
Swiss Dot Balloon Shade | Target
Hairbows | Julia’s Bowtique
Monogrammed Receiving Blanket | Vera Bradley

coastal themed charleston nursery