Thursday, October 23, 2014

the best gift of life

Yesterday, I was interviewed on the Australian-based blog, The Best Gift of Life to talk a little bit about my journey and experience as a mama. The Best Gift of Life focuses on just that - the amazing blessing that our children are in our lives. It was a lot of fun to participate because it allowed me an opportunity to reflect upon this great adventure I started in May 2013 when Raffa was born.

You can read the interview on The Best Gift of Life here, but I have also republished it below.

We are a family of four – me, my hubs, our Raffa, and our chocolate lab girl, Mocha. We currently live in Denver, Colorado by way of Miami (where we lived for 10 months) and Durango, Colorado (where we lived 10 years prior to that). We love spending time as a family exploring Denver or doing anything outside. My husband is currently a student, getting his MBA at the University of Colorado. Once he graduates, we have yet to see where life will take us next. 

Location? Denver, Colorado 

Occupation? I am a freelance graphic designer, I have a product called REMEMBER the day, and I am a SAHM 

5 favourite things/items? Sakura Bloom wrap for wearing Raffa, our comfortable sofa where we sit and read books together, BOB running stroller so I can push Raffa while I run, sound machine that helps Raffa sleep well, and my iPhone that allows me to easily capture photos and videos of Raffa
What are you most passionate about? I am passionate about spending time with my family, which also includes my mom, dad, and my sister and her family. I could really be doing nothing at all with them, and I would never be bored. Their company offers laughter, entertainment, and comfort.
Do you have any hobbies/things you do in your downtime? I love running … I do it to stay healthy and in shape, but like any runner will tell you, it offers a great time to think through things and clear you head. I run each morning before Raffa wakes up, so I get up at 5:15am and am out the door by 5:30am (yikes!). It can be tough some days, but I am always glad I did it once I am finished.

I also love to trail run, although I do less of that now that we live in the city. Same with mountain biking and road cycling. I used to do them all the time but being in the city and having a toddler, I don’t do them anywhere near as often as I would like to.

How would you describe your family? In transition … we were living in Miami when we found out we were unexpectedly expecting. We were shocked. With the a baby on the way, we decided that we didn’t want to stay in Miami; we weren’t crazy about Miami, we missed our Colorado lifestyle, and we didn’t want to be so far from family. We moved back to Colorado when I was 36 weeks pregnant, driving across the country. We arrived back in Colorado, not even long enough to get settled and less than two weeks later Raffa arrived. My husband decided to go back to school, an MBA program which he will graduate from in May 2015. We are somewhat unsure of where we will end up once he graduates, we might stay in Denver, but we would also love to get back to Durango if possible. We also would be open to moving other places for the right opportunity. So, currently, we are in transition – not quite settled and not certain about our future. I like to take the outlook (or try to) that life is in the journey, not necessarily ever arriving at a destination.

How did becoming a mother change you? Becoming a mama has forced me to become a better, more patient person. I was not certain I wanted to be mama, and Raffa was a surprise! Having a little person who I am responsible for and who is so sweet and innocent, really forced me to examine my own selfish behaviors. Although he is just a baby, Raffa put the pressure on me to be a better person – to want less, to be more happy, to be kinder, to be less judgmental, and to be more patient – and he doesn’t even realize he has inspired so much positive change in my life.

What’s the best part about being a mother? I find the best thing about being a mama is watching your baby grow and explore, watching the joy they get from seeing and learning new things. Being on the receiving end of Raffa’s love is probably one of the best things ever … and loving him back is a honor.

Naming your children is always so difficult (or maybe it was just me!) Was it easy to pick your child’s name and why did choose it? Raffa is named after his dad; his full name is actually John Raphael Marty (just like my husband). He is not a junior, though, because I find junior to be diminutive. We all call him Raffa, though, a nickname that comes from his middle name, Raphael. We have so many Johns in my family that we quickly realized it was becoming confusing, we tried out a few nicknames and Raffa was most fitting; it just stuck.

Has your personal style changed since becoming mother? If so how? My style has evolved to be even more focused on comfort and function, but I am still fashion and trend conscious. I never used to wear sneakers (except to run) before becoming a mama, but now I have a growing collection of sneakers … their function and comfort can’t be beat and they still look pretty cute, too.

Is there anything about motherhood that has surprised you? I was surprised at just how hard being a mama is – the doubt, insecurity, and guilt that I feel even when I am doing my best with the utmost love. No one could have prepared me for the many things I thought I had figured out or thought I could control, that I could not. It is very humbling and, of course, gives me a new found respect for my own mom, as well as moms everywhere.

Favourite thing to do as a family? We love going to the park as a family, and specifically going to a park with a playground. Raffa loves exploring parks and playgrounds and it is surprisingly very enjoyable to follow him around and let him explore. If we are lucky, he even might let us sit down while he stays close by to explore.
What are some baby essentials every new mother needs? I actually wrote a whole blog post about this! You can see my baby list here. Although there is a lot on my list, I think for the most part, we tend to over prepare. I would break it down to four things that are essentials for a mama with a newborn – lots of onesies, lots of burp cloths, comfortable clothes (for you), a comfortable chair (to nurse and snuggle in), a good breast pump, and the rest you can figure out as necessary.
What are some of your favourite shops/websites for baby wear? I like to seek out independent small businesses for cute t-shirts and leggings for Raffa, so I shop lots of Etsy shops to find tees. My sister and I also have an Etsy shop with tees we design and screen print, WILD HEARTS and my sister has an Etsy shop with the cutest baby leggings, AIMbaby.

I also love Nordstrom’s kids department for brands like Peek, Tucker & Tate, North Face, and Patagonia.

What is the one thing you want to teach your children? I want to teach Raffa to be a kind and strong man.

Note about the photos: Last Sunday we had family photos taken by Kristin Mae Photography; these some of the photos from that shoot. They are treasures, for sure.

You can find the details about my outfit in the photos here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

my favorite black + distressed jeans for fall

It has been apparent that I have a distinct denim preference these days. I am no longer interested in dark blue washes of denim, distressed is great but I can leave 'em if they are blue. What does it for me these days is black denim, black denim with ample distressing. Holes in the knee are a definitely plus.

I figure, do I really need blue jeans? Probably not. Especially not if I have several distressed black pairs to take their place.

Here are some of my very favorites; I have put the pairs I actually have in bold.

top row
AG Jean The Absolute Skinny in Tempest
Siwy Hannah Skinny in Jet Obsidian
Frame Le Skinny De Jeanne Jeans in Rexford
rag & bone/JEAN The Skinny in Soft Rock w/ Holes

bottom row
Paige Denim Verdugo in Ramone Destructed
rag & bone/JEAN The Skinny in Coal w/ Holes
Siwy Hannah Skinny in Up All Night
Anine Bing Charcoal Cropped Jeans with Slit

Sunday, October 19, 2014


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2014

photo taken october 16, 2014 // Denver, Colorado

Raffa has been taking one nap a day since he was about 10 months old. Until recently, that nap was in the morning. In the past month, we have transitioned it to midday instead, with good result (easier, longer naps). It also allowed us to start going to music class again. We had not been able to go for a while because nap time interfered with the toddler class that Raffa was ready for. It is a great morning time activity, but surprisingly, Raffa has been having a little bit of a tough time transitioning in to the morning music toddler class. He has been cranky at class, which is a total contrast to how much he enjoyed it before. We are sticking it out and I hope he will settle in and enjoy it fully again soon.

On Thursday morning before music class, John, Raffa, and I went and had coffee and breakfast at a local coffee shop before class. It was so nice, and Raffa was giving some {silly} serious faces while sharing a breakfast burrito with John.

Read about The 52 Project and why I am participating here.

See all photos in this series here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

recipes on my mind

With the arrival of the cooler weather of fall (finally), I have been craving warm, comforting goods - but still healthy. These recipes all fit the bill. I haven't made the Sunday Sauce or Tian yet, but the kale salad was amazingly delicious.

// Crockpot Sunday Sauce //
// Butternut Squash and Smokey Black Bean Kale Salad //
// Sweet Potato Tian //

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shopbop Friends + Family Sale

It is too good to pass up - Shopbop's annual 3-day Friends + Family sale. 25% off with code FAMILY25. So many of my current favorites are from Shopbop and this is literally one of the best sales out there. Sale starts today!

my new boots + easy jeans and tees

I found them. "THE" pair of boots for me. Freebird Lasso booties in tan. They are the perfect flat bootie for me. I got them last week and I am head over heals.

I am wearing my booties with some other easy-to-wear pieces, as in easy-to-wear to the park to chase Raffa around. I love the Madewell Linen Telegraph Tee in stripe and LNA Rinaldi tee - both a little slouchy, but not frumpy or dumpy. And, then of course my favorite skinny jeans of the moment - my rag & bone/JEAN The Skinny in Soft Rock with Holes (I literally love these jeans) and my 7 For All Mankind The Skinny with Contour & Destroy in Absolute Heritage.

We have family photos coming up next weekend, and I typically opt for my "regular" clothes, whatever happens to be my favorite outfit at that time. It always makes more sense to wear what is comfortable for photos, and clothes I actually wear. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if when I share our family photo eventually, you might see me turn up in some variation of the above.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2014

photo taken october 6, 2014 // Denver, Colorado

This past weekend my Jonna, Erik, and Asher (sister, brother-in-law, and nephew) were in town, which always makes for lots of good times. The boys are so sweet together; they get along so well and have so much fun together. It is not an exaggeration to say that one of my greatest joys is watching them interact.

I have been writing down Raffa's words; as I thought it is about time to document his developing language skills. It seems like he says a new word every day; and as of now at 17 months old these are his words:

Pop (papa)
Ash or Azer (Asher)
Mowma (Mocha)
App (apple)
Shthoes (shoes)
Something for frog, fish, monkey (yet to be deciphered)
Phewwwww (elephant)
Ruff ruff ruff (dog)
Mewww for cat
Peeg (pig)
Fwwaa (Flower)
Waer (water)
Bur (bird)
Cock-a-doo (cock a doodle do)
Teeda (turtle)

That doesn't include words I have not deciphered yet; for example he says something distinct for "frog" and although it does not sound like "frog" he says it as his word for frog. 
Read about The 52 Project and why I am participating here.

See all photos in this series here.