Longing for an adventure and exposure to something different, my mom and I packed our bags, with Zwi in tow, and hit I-10 to spend the weekend together in NOLA.

Originally, I had planned a mini trip so that I could meet my IG girlfriend, Leslie, who was also visiting the city from D.C. for a family photographers' retreat. Then, also by way of Instagram, I became a participant of the Family Narrative retreat as a model for Cheyenne Gil's boudoir photography session. Cheyenne is a Philly-based boudoir photographer who created the Body Love Tribe, a community focused on body positive messages and imagery. Through her beautiful work, she promotes confidence and self love. It was a privilege to not only get to model for her workshop, but also listen to stories of others and their experiences or struggles and strengths as women, mothers, and family photographers.



When I opened my gallery today, my jaw dropped. Blown away. We got to make it a mommy and me maternity boudoir session, and I'm so thankful for that. When I think about how I wanted to capture the beauty of our growing baby and my changing body in my last few months of pregnancy, these photos are everything I imagined. Getting to celebrate new life and enjoy the last few months of moments with my current "only child." If only James would have been able to make it and join the fun, but we both are so happy to have these beautiful, intimate photographs.

Here is a small bunch of my favorites. :)

  





 




 









Thank you, Cheyenne. Thank you to the Family Narrative.

One more thing, we spent the remaining time in New Orleans enjoying good food and exploring the city. My mom had told me about the Audubon Nature Institute a few years, so it was high on our to-do list. It DID NOT disappoint! I'm glad my friend Brejai got to come along and check it out with us. If you're ever in NOLA with your family, I definitely recommend heading to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium and making it a learning trip. Amazing!! Zwi really enjoyed it and so did I.

xo Aspen

Motherhood \\ Mommy & Me Maternity Session with Cheyenne Gil

Yesterday, it dawned on me that we only have about thirteen weeks until our anticipated due date. THIRTEEN WEEKS?!

I'm a list-maker, so there have been lots of handwritten notes for everything little thing to make sure I don't forget anything as we make our way through the remaining few months. With Zwi being four years old now, there really aren't many baby items left. We got rid of mostly everything already except for items we still use, such as her boppy pillow (which I'll re-cover), her stroller (pictured below), a baby einsteins sensory toy, some books and a few bottles. So here we are starting anew and I'm actually having a great time sourcing the perfect little baby goods.

Between trying to get our home ready, my mind prepared, FMLA paperwork, planning family/maternity photographs, and shopping, I wanted to share some of my favorite items that I can't wait to put to use with our littlest one.

To Move: Some items we'll bring along while out and about!



To Feed: From breastmilk and bottles to baby food prep to enjoying a meal at the family table.



To Clothe: Simple essentials for those first few months.



To Sleep: Blankets, bassinet and baby nighttime routine items.




To Nurture: Diaper, health and safety plus books and simple toys. It's important to me that our baby gets a solid foundation for learning from birth. I have pretty much the whole line of the TouchThinkLearn and Sign Language books in my Amazon registry.


Maybe you'll find some of things useful! 

xo Aspen

P.S. What are some of your baby essentials? Please share.


Hello Baby No. Two \\ A Few of My Favorite Things

With the baby growing daily and the bump steadily increasing in size, comfortable clothing is a must! 



Whether that be work wear for the office, clothes for lounging around at home, or even getting dressed up to go out for dinner and a movie, it is so important to me that I'm dressing the bump comfortably. This past weekend, with our little one in my mom's care, my husband and I enjoyed some time together and thanks to the sweet ladies at PinkBlush, I was able to rock flattering and comfy maternity clothes. Here's how I styled my items: 


 



Would you like to win  cute maternity clothes from PinkBlush? I'm giving away a $75 gift card to one reader and all you have to do to enter is tell me what you would purchase if you're the fabulous winner! Just head on over to http://www.shoppinkblush.com and pick your favorite item(s), then in the comments below, let me know how you would style them! 

Be sure to follow me on Instagram and tag a friend on the IG giveaway post to join in on the fun.

**Giveaway participants, please read - Giveaway entry ends promptly at 11:59 PM / CST on Friday, February 10, 2017. If upon choosing a winner, you have already won a PinkBlush giveaway within 6 months, you will not be eligible to win.  PinkBlush will not be able to issue a gift card if you have already won within the last 6 months. Best wishes!

xo Aspen

Wear \\ Dressing the Bump with PinkBlush + Giveaway!

I'm excited to share something I've been so fascinated with lately, peg dolls!


Some time back, Zwi mentioned to me that she would like a dollhouse. Not just any kind of dollhouse, but an oversized unit that she could fit into. Um, yea...we don't have the space for that. So instead, I started thinking of what I could create to deliver a smaller dollhouse that she could still love and play with for years to come.

While thinking of dollhouse ideas (that will be in the works soon), I started researching small furnishings and dolls that would complement the humble home. And then I fell in love with peg dolls, again.

And here we are. I hand-painted these little dolls to represent our family of four. These are going to be a part of baby's small space in our bedroom so I'm sure you'll see these again after our bitty baby arrives! The nesting has begun, haha. Next, I plan on creating more little people for everyday dollhouse play.







I'm so in love!

xo Aspen

Make \\ Our First Portrait as a Family of Four

Now that I'm a little over halfway through my pregnancy and two months closer to meeting our littlest one since I last updated, I wanted to jot some things down to remember about the second trimester.



Feeling much better now, I've been eating and keeping down more food. Loaded baked potatoes saved me, one of the few things that went down and stayed when I was dealing with persistent nausea. At some point, I craved mangoes nonstop and had to have one every chance I got. Now I'm just snacking frequently on various nuts, cheese, and fruits, apples especially. On the other hand, the cravings for pizza haven't subsided, nor for buttery-cheesy baked potatoes. Yes.

As soon as I entered the second trimester, I started shopping. For clothes, mostly. Sweet little baby items for those first few days up until next fall. Also, took advantage of end of season sales and Black Friday sales to purchase baby gear items like a stroller adapter for the infant car seat and a Solly Baby Wrap so I can wear our baby. I started planning out how I will decorate baby's space in our bedroom and made a private registry to list the perfect items  to complete our home as we welcome the littlest member of our family.

Next on my to-do list is making room to store things, because mini diaper stockpile! With my sister's help and various facebook couponing groups, I've been getting great deals on disposable diapers so we've got a great collection so far. At the end of the year, I made it a goal of mine to spend differently so that we can continue to live comfortably as our family grows.

At around 18 weeks, the little bump made it's appearance as a pudge and now at 22 weeks and three days I'm clearly carrying a baby! I joke that every Friday I leave the office and return on Monday much bigger, but it's true. Baby is growing just fine and showing its strength with movements and kicks. The gentle fluttering began exactly four weeks ago, and has picked up to stronger nudge like feelings mostly after eating eating and at bedtime. Speaking of bedtime, comfort is hard to find as I struggle to roll over if I want to change my positioning. My belly just feels so heavy already although it isn't massive. I've gotten a couple of maternity pieces from PinkBlush that I'm looking forward to styling as the bump gets bigger.



At 20 weeks, I started documenting with photographs and filling the pages of my Promptly journal. Their books have prompts for you to answer and spaces for notes and thoughts and photographs. I love that parents can journal from pregnancy through the child's lifetime until they are eighteen years old. Because of this, I even purchased a childhood history journal for Zwi, so that I could go back and re-live those little moments that I'm actually have a difficult time recalling. I mean, it's been almost four years. But photographs serve as helpful reminders. Eventually, I hope her pages will be just as full as our baby's.

A couple of weeks ago, we learned our baby's gender but as of now, it's not my intent to share outside of close family and friends. (Name your guess in comments below if you'd like!) We are still deciding on an official name, although we have been using the same one each time we refer to the baby. I'm really excited to share it eventually, most likely after the birth. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, having an intimate birthing experience with just my husband and daughter present, if possible. Zwi is still so thrilled about her little sibling, as we all are.

Certainly looking forward to these next four months until baby's arrival. :)

xo Aspen

Hello Baby No. Two \\ Second Trimester

With the winter holiday season coming to an end soon in addition to the overall busyness of our lives, I've found that sometimes it can be hard to keep up with with some of the most important things. That's why it's so important to me to create time for making memorable, fun moments with my family.

I am so grateful that this season Kiwi Crate gifted us with the opportunity to begin new family traditions by using their Koala Crate boxes, which is specifically designed for children ages 3-4, to add some creative, educational fun to our evening and weekend routine. I shared a few ways I made time to create family traditions over on the blog if you are interested in reading.

I discovered Kiwi Crate back in August and even shared a couple of times on my Facebook page after deciding that it would be a great addition to my little list of activities to do with Zwi. What I enjoy the most about their project boxes is that not only are they designed with education and exploring creativity in mind, they are each filled with not one activity but a few! That way we are able to break up the projects and work with the same box in a series of days or complete the whole box in one sitting! We've done both depending on what worked for us on a given day.

Another thing I find interesting in each box is the imagine! play and learn magazine that contains written stories related to the topic, paper activities such as mazes and word searches, and even suggestions to other books that will help you to further learn about the subject. The learning never ends!

Zwi's been really eager to "do projects" with me since I introduced them. This morning while daddy is at work, she and I decided to bring campfire vibes indoors with the camping box. This particular crate came with three things we could create to contribute to a cute, interactive learning camping scene. I think this is the most fun we've had with our projects so far!






How cute is this functioning bear backpack with front felt pocket and ears?! I love how Zwi is allowed to be as creative as she wants to be with minimal help from me.


Now time to build and set up the campfire! It even has a little battery operated flickering tea light!








Mmmm... marshmallows for s'mores!





If you're looking for arts and craft, STEM-related, creative and eductional activities for your toddler, preschooler, preteen or teenager, there is plenty to discover at Kiwi Crate. Their subscription boxes make the perfect gift for your little learner!

xo Aspen

Staying Hands-On and Creative with Kiwi Crate

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