The other night I was talking with a sweet mama who is expecting her third baby any day. We chatted about the excitement and anticipation leading up to a new baby joining the family, but also about the difficulties that adding that sweet babe to the family can bring.
"Such a sacred space you're in right now," I told her. "Right on the cusp of all this anticipation coming to fruition. You know exactly what's coming but have no idea what to expect."
"YES. It's bizarre actually. You really nailed it with that one sentence."
I thought about this exchange as the day wore on, and I realized that indeed that one sentence did completely summarize the definition of motherhood. You know what's coming, but you have no idea what to expect.
You knew there would be hard days, but you never expected to find yourself locked in the bathroom while the kiddos cried at the door because you needed just 3 minutes alone.
You knew there'd be happiness, but you never expected to get the giggles (to the point of tears) with your 4 year old over something that wasn't even remotely funny.
You knew there'd be illnesses and injuries, but you never expected to cry along with your child as they had their dislocated elbow reset.
You knew there's be sleepless nights, but you never expected to become physically sick because you'd not slept in 3 days.
You knew there'd be so much love, but you never expected to feel as though your heart would actually burst through your chest as you watched your child sleeping soundly.
You knew you'd be sending them off into the world on their own someday, but you never expected it'd be so hard.
It may seem impossible sometimes, this motherhood thing. There is no handbook to help you fully prepare for all that's to come, yet you press forward. You do your best. You do the hard work. Always remember sweet mama...even though you knew it'd be difficult, you never expected you'd be so beautifully equipped to navigate it.
I've never been the best at making and keeping New Years Resolutions. While I absolutely love the fresh start of a new year, there's something that can seem... daunting about resolutions. Maybe it's the pressure of adding one more thing to my plate that sometimes makes me feel like avoiding the hype around all the goal setting completely. I mean, don't mothers already have enough to juggle and remember?
As I reflected on how I wanted my 2019 to look, my mind filled with ideas on how to make it the best year filled with amazing memories. But, something kept tugging at my heart each time I thought of a something to try and accomplish to make these memories with my family. When I finally quit fighting it and really stepped back and looked at it, I realized that this was the only resolution I had for 2019: just be their mama.
That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. I just want to be their mama, and what that looks like may vary day to day, and that's ok. They don't need the perfect mom, they just need THEIR mom. I want to spend my days giving hugs when they're sad, looking in their eyes and saying I love you, and holding hands as they fall asleep. I need them just as much as they need me, and these small seemingly routine moments are what memories are made of... for all of us.
While I still have goals for myself personally + professionally as we begin a new year, adopting the mantra "just be their mama" has helped keep me focused in the moments of chaos or doubt, guilt or worry.
Just be their mama.
That's all they need. And that's all I need to be.
It's always a treat to hear from customers what exactly it is that they love about their custom Le Papier Studio heirloom piece. The answers are always heartwarming, and today it's an honor to share my own thoughts on why my heirloom silhouette necklace is a true treasure to me.
Vana was simply lovely right from the moment I had first messaged her with some questions about a custom order. I cannot even tell you how patient and gracious she was with my *many* questions. I had first messaged her before the birth of my second child as I was in love with the tiny silhouette charm necklace and knew I’d need one as soon as the little one arrived.
As you can imagine, being the mom of a toddler and a newborn meant that my mom brain was in full swing, but I never felt like I was a bother to Vana with my questions and emails, even though I know I was “that customer” on more than one occasion. She made me feel so comfortable! The ordering process was insanely easy! I literally snapped the photo, emailed it in, approved the proof, and voila. My part was done! Vana took care of the rest and from the moment I first messaged her to the moment I received the exquisitely wrapped package which held the most perfect heirloom necklace, I knew I was in the hands of someone who cared immensely about not only their business and their product but their customer as well.
I've since added a third daughter to my little girl gang, and of course that meant adding a new charm, and as usual it was so easy to get her sweet little silhouette added to my necklace. I ordered the charm and took it to a local trusted jeweler who added the charm within a matter of minutes. I’ve told Vana this before but I’ll say it again… this necklace means the world to me. I’ve only had it off a handful of times… and only because I had to! When I see the tiny perfect silhouettes of my three beautiful daughters, I can’t help but be reminded of the goodness and grace I’ve been shown by Jesus. It’s a daily reminder of the blessings of children - which, let’s be honest, I really need when I’m cleaning up the 20th mess someone’s made before it’s 10 am.
Seeing the sweet outlines of them which have been so perfectly captured and preserved makes me oh so happy. This season of life and motherhood can seem so overwhelming and never-ending, but I do know it’s fleeting, and that these sweet little silhouettes are changing faster than I realize…having them frozen in time like this is so special to me. I also know that because the necklace is so beautifully designed and is made with the best materials (I chose solid gold) it will be a true heirloom that I’ll be able to pass on to my children…some day. Right now it’s all mine!
2018 was one for the books!💫
A few big and memorable things happened for our family and business this year. Aaron and I celebrated 15 years of marriage with a trip to Paris. Our business celebrated its 10 year anniversary! We had two big and wonderful partnerships with Origami Owl (for Mother's Day) and Front Gate (for the Holiday season and beyond). Giving back is something close to our hearts.
We launched the Giving Back Project helping *all* parents keep memories close, even when their stories haven't turned out the way they imagined. We plan to continue offering it in 2019. Our incredible team grew even more! I feel so blessed I get to work with 4 other amazing women!
As I reflect on and think about all the pieces created here at Le Papier Studio this year (but also over the past 10 years), I can't help but feel truly humbled at the honor I've been entrusted with by our amazing customers...💓 The stories I've been told about the pieces we're crafting, the people behind them, the love, the joy, the tragedy, the tears. The human experience is so messy ＋ yet so beautiful... Capturing that in heirloom pieces that will be cherished and loved by so many for years to come...well, the way that makes my heart swell ＋ warm... it'll never go away.
Our mission has always been about helping parents keep memories close, and one of the perks of our job is when we find a mama who feels as strongly about that as we do.
When we partnered with mama to two Brittany Viklund earlier this year, we loved how much she values being present and making memories with her kiddos - even amidst the chaos that can ensue with small children in the house. We recently asked Brittany a little more about memory making during the holiday season and wanted to share some of her sweet sentiments so that perhaps you, too, can make some sweet new memories this holiday season.
What's your favorite way to make holiday memories with your boys?
Gosh they are still so little so honestly right now I love figuring that out, starting new traditions & teaching them all about the magic!! The magic of the holiday season is one of the best parts, isn't it? And there's something about seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child that makes it even more magical for mamas.
What do you hope they most remember about the holidays?
I hope they remember how special it is, to be with family, to slow down, to have fun and to make memories.
Yes, yes, yes. Isn't that what we wish for all of us during the holidays? It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the details that this is such a good reminder for us all. You have your tiny charms necklace, how does this piece help you keep memories close all the time (not just at the holidays!)?
I am always reminded of their baby-face features & this time together as a new family. Both of them actually love to hold the necklace in their hands when they cuddle, I think that is a memory I am bringing into my brain, it’s just another sweet connection they have to it.
We love hearing this - and is one of the reasons we do what we do! One final question (and maybe the most important!) What's one piece of advice you'd give a mama who may have trouble knowing how to embrace creating memories in the midst of what can be a chaotic season with littles?
I need this advice for myself but I try to journal everything, I take notes of their little quirks at each phases, words they say and how they say them, photos, descriptions of how I feel and more. This helps me remember that time is moving fast, but I have ways to revisit these days one day. It also teaches me to take not in the moment of those special sentiments.
Such good reminders for not only the holidays but for everyday. We love watching you make memories with your boys and are forever grateful that Le Papier Studio can help keep those memories close for you!
(all photos courtesy of @brittanyviklund)
While I absolutely love everything about the Christmas season, there's something about the week between Christmas and the New Year that feels extra magical to me... like there's a completely new and fresh start just on the horizon, where the possibilities feel truly endless. I love to spend the time planning and dreaming of what lies ahead in the year to come. But there can also be a lot of pressure with the start of a new year.
The pressure to start over and do things perfectly, or "right." To really nail it. To finally make this "your year." It can be a time where pressure abounds (even more than the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas if you ask me) and grace tends to be pushed aside in favor of plans, agendas, and promises to ourselves.
While I love setting goals and dreaming dreams, I also know that the season of raising littles, the season I'm in right now and perhaps maybe you are too, can be trying. There are lots of sleepless nights. Sick days. Closed daycares. Forgotten tasks. Overlooked commitments. Things come up, and I just want to remind you - that's ok. It's ok if you stumble a little as you welcome and embrace a new year. It's ok if you don't have a new planner with crisp pages ready to be filled. It's ok if you can't even wrap your head around goal-setting because frankly getting up every day can be challenging. It's ok. Give yourself grace, and give grace to those around you, too. (And if you DO have a planner with crisp new pages ready to be filled with plans and notes, if you have goals and steps to achieve them already all outlined, GOOD FOR YOU! Reach out and help a mama who maybe isn't quite in the space place but could use a hand, or a hug, or even just a sweet smile. We got this mamas.
Cheers to 2019!
When it comes to moms, we don't always have the answers to everything but we do often have good advice based on experience. We asked moms from all walks of life and all stages of motherhood how they make the holidays less stressful and more beautiful + meaningful. Here are our favorite 10 answers:
1. Bake with the kiddos ... but only if you like baking. If you don't like baking with your kids, that's ok. Buy some cookies from the store... it's alright!
2. Christmas is not my favorite season but this year I am following the heart of my child. She loves Christmas so much - I am trying to look at Christmas through her eyes.
3. More experiences, less presents.
4. Lazy family days + fun friends or date nights! It's fun to enjoy the season without kiddos sometimes too!
5. Helping others and trying what I can to make the season special for someone else always gives me beautiful perspective on the true meaning of Christmas.
6. I aim for our first gifts purchased to be for the less fortunate. Some years that means the kids choose a child from the angel tree to buy a gift for, other years it means collecting items for the local shelter.
7. Vintage Christmas music - it always makes my heart feel a little bit lighter!
8. Turn off the phones for the night, make some popcorn, and watch Christmas movie together with loved ones.
9. More saying NO to the things that stress me out.
10. More grace. For yourself...and for everyone. There's a lot of focus on having the "perfect" holiday and it's just not realistic, so just keeping that in mind helps me have the happiest holidays I can!
Head to Pinterest and you’ll undoubtedly find hundreds if not thousands of ways to “create magic” and make this “the best holiday ever.” While the intention with these posts and articles is undoubtedly well meaning, it can feel overwhelming.
How can I add one more thing to my already crazy schedule? Creating magic? I’ll be happy if I remember to get something for everyone on my list.
Mama, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t require special reindeer shaped holiday treats, glittery faux snow dusted mantels or a month of special countdown-to-Christmas activities to make memories this holiday season.
Make memories this holiday season by just stepping back, taking a deep breath, and soaking in the moment. Do you see the way your little ones eyes sparkle when they see the first snow of the year? That’s a memory. The way your kids snuggle in as you read their favorite holiday book before bed - savor that feeling. That’s a memory. The way those sweet little squeaky voices are constantly singing parts of Jingle Bells (all. day. long.) That’s a memory.
Sometimes, it’s ok to not focus so much on trying to create the perfect memories for our children, but rather, to take in the moments of our everyday. So this holiday season, take it in mama. That’s a memory.
A couple of weeks ago, we introduced a new project we're working on here at Le Papier Studio, and we've been truly humbled by the response, kind words, and messages of encouragement we've received as we embark on honoring the memories of parents who have suffered the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child.
We're beyond honored to share the story of Avelyn as our first in this new series of blog features. Her mother, Somer, was gracious enough to share how her sweet daughter's life continues to inspire and encourage her, and we're forever grateful to be able to share it here with you.
We found out before Avelyn was born that she had severe congenital heart defects (CHD). Shortly thereafter, we picked up our lives & relocated nearly 6 hours from home to a city with a renowned children’s hospital to provide her a shot at life. We had every hope that with multiple open heart surgeries, we would see her grow into adulthood.
On December 17, 2015 she was pulled from my womb limp & gray, but still fought to announce her presence. Her soft wail was actually her battle cry. It was her asserting our fight for her survival, was now also her fight—& fight she would until her last breath 18 months later.
Our daughter endured horrors alongside miracles. She experienced nearly every complication in the book & some still not classified. Yet to know her & her spirit—you’d never imagine it. Even after 4.5 months of intubation & 4 open heart surgeries, she was the sweetest most affectionate soul. She inspired everyone around her to be better & do better.
She gave us strength to accomplish what we all believed impossible. We fought by her side day & night, not only to keep her alive, but to provide every bit of normalcy possible in her 450 consecutive days of hospitalization (much of which was spent within the ICU). When she woke, she knew her mama or daddy would be there to scoop her up.
I still dream of those street chubby hands reaching for me in expectation. She loved, trusted, & interacted with those around her just like any other infant. She made sure her daddy & I knew she loved us (something we cling to since we’ve lost her). She was the absolute light of our lives. Close to the end of her life she was doing better than she ever had, & better than most providers ever expected. I cannot describe the feeling of finally bringing our daughter home after 17 months of living the unimaginable (5+ hours from home). Feelings of joy & fear mingled indistinguishable from another. And yet we clung to our baby, rejoicing in her & all she had accomplished. Sadly just weeks later more complications arose & back to the hospital we traveled via emergency transport. She never saw the outside of hospital walls again after that admission.
Coming home without the light that was our daughter wrecked us. We couldn’t function without her & often didn’t want to. She was the absolute best of us; the world lost its vibrancy the day she died. We began to seek the quietness of nature early on, & soon learned that we feel her presence most in beautiful natural spaces.
(photo by Forever June Weddings)
Somehow, the wilder the place, the more solace we find. I can’t say that every parent would find exploring wilds until utterly exhausted as an adequate coping mechanism for child loss. But for us, it’s when we feel our beautiful girl’s spirit closest. Even so, for months I felt a nagging desire to have a tangible declaration of motherhood for all to see. A fellow CHD mom suggested LPS & I immediately emailed begging for a silhouette of my precious Avie. Unfortunately, I had no proper profile photos, but Vana worked miracles in building a composite from over a dozen images. She captured my beautiful girl & her precious curls. I haven’t taken the necklace off since the day it arrived at my door. Now, more than a year later, I’m in the final weeks of pregnancy with Avie’s little sister. My only birthing request is to wear the silhouette necklace. Having Avie’s likeness physically close to my heart reminds me that she was here, she loved, & our love for her shall never fade.
All images of Avie are @w.o.b.h
Gift giving is one of my love languages. It’s an expression of love for me to find the perfect gift, thoughtfully chosen and given to the recipient. These don’t have to be large, expensive or extravagant gifts, but rather something meaningful that I think will bring joy to the person on the receiving end.
As we enter the holiday season, I encourage you to take just a moment to calm your mind from all the buzz, from all the ads and marketing telling you what the MUST HAVE gift is this year. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and really think about the person you are shopping for. What do they love? What brings them joy? What are their unique passions or interests, traits and personality quirks?
It may be tempting to just grab something to have a gift to give them, but being mindful can elevate your gifting this holiday season to an experience more joy filled and heart warming than ever before.