Tag Archives | Love

My Pregnancy: A Tale of To-Do Lists & Transitions

My Pregnancy: A Story of To-Do Lists & Transitions | kaileenelise.com

“What is done in love is done well.” (Vincent Van Gogh)

My son turned ONE at the beginning of this month and I’ve been thinking a lot about my pregnancy, his birth, and the past twelve months as a family. I know this is just the start of our journey, but it’s hard not to be in awe of the time that’s passed so far.

I’ve never been great at transitions. I get cranky and uncomfortable in the spaces between one thing to another. Being pregnant is a state of constant transition. At first, you don’t even know your baby is there. By the end, all you can think about is what it will be like to have that baby in your arms. In the middle, there are months of growth and discomfort, excitement and expectation. With each passing week, your belly becomes a clear sign that life as you know it is about to change forever.

My first pregnancy ended with a miscarriage at 9 weeks. It was my first lesson in motherhood: even when we try to do everything right, so much is out of our control. Nothing is permanent or guaranteed. There are greater forces beyond us.

I always wanted to be a mama, but that loss deepened my desire in a palpable way. Within a few months, I was pregnant again.

On the Sunday morning of a 3-day music festival, I woke up before my alarm with a wave of intuition. I didn’t want to spend the day drinking if I was pregnant. I took a test just to be sure. It was quiet in our apartment, with only the soft sounds of the city humming below. I snuck out of bed and for an hour or so, I was the only person who knew about this very tiny, very exciting thing. A new transition was upon us. I snapped a picture of the positive test, crawled back in bed, and started to think. There would be doctor’s visits, blood tests, and ultrasounds ahead. I hoped it would all be okay this time.

I wore a flowy dress to the festival. As we swayed to the music, I imagined what I’d look like with a bump under all that fabric. I was exhausted by the time the headliners took the stage that evening, but grateful we got to spend the first day of this pregnancy in such a memorable way.

We didn’t see a heartbeat at the first appointment. The doctor said it was just too early, but I struggled to keep my fears at bay. Even a few weeks later, when we saw a strong reassuring flicker, I had a hard time believing everything was okay. I was stuck in the transition between being someone who had a miscarriage and someone who was excited to be pregnant again. On top of that, the strangeness of early pregnancy weighed on me. As my body worked double time to grow a tiny human, it depleted my resources and left me exhausted. I found myself holding onto my faith in magic and miracles, in bean and cheese burritos, and the hope that coffee might taste good again someday.

We traveled to Australia and Fiji during my first trimester, before we told our families. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Sydney at a fancy steakhouse. While I’d normally indulge in red wine and a nice filet, nothing sounded good to me that night. During that trip, I was texting with my grandmother about how I had a head cold. She replied by asking if I was pregnant!? I was stunned by her question, but I held onto our secret. We wanted to share the news in person.

I searched Etsy for ornaments, mugs, and t-shirts that we personalized for our baby’s soon-to-be grandparents and great-grandparents. When I was thirteen weeks, we traveled to Ohio for Christmas and surprised my husband’s side of the family. The next week we traveled to Arizona for my grandparents’ 60th anniversary party where our news added to the occasion.

When the New Year came, we talked about what it’d be like to live in our one-bedroom apartment with a small baby. We could make it work, but we also liked the idea of having more space. We dreamed of a nursery, a guest room for our families, a home office, a back patio and grill, a place to call home. Our search began on January 2nd and on February 16th we had our keys in hand. It was quick, but we found a new home that exceeded our criteria. We took the leap and made it ours.

Everyone copes with being pregnant in different ways. When I was in school, I perfected the art of procrastination, always waiting for the last minute to study and complete assignments. I knew I wanted to take a different approach with my pregnancy. I had advance notice, a growing belly and constant reminder of the changes ahead.

I quit my job at the end of February and became obsessed with two things: getting our house settled and preparing for birth. Each day I worked towards my goal of feeling ready. We took countless trips to IKEA, Target, West Elm, and Crate & Barrel. My husband built furniture and hung pictures, while I played on Pinterest and shopped online. When he was at work, I read, listened to podcasts, and immersed myself in the project of being pregnant.

I connected with women who helped me find comfort, strength, and joy in my pregnancy. My husband started referring to them as Team Kaileen. I had an acupuncturist / nutritionist who helped me cope with anxiety and headaches. I started seeing a massage therapist with strong, healing hands. We took HypnoBirthing classes from a chiropractor who aligned my spine and taught me how women’s bodies are designed to birth our babies. I deepened my yoga practice with a teacher who guided a room full of non-pregnant students while subtly giving modifications I could continue practicing into my 3rd trimester.

I made friends with other expectant mamas and found a doula cooperative with great prenatal classes. I went on neighborhood walks in the mornings, napped in the afternoon, and took baths at night. I did special stretches and exercises to help coax my baby into the ideal position for birthing. I practiced visualization, breathwork, relaxation techniques, and repeated mantras daily.

It felt indulgent to put so much into the act of being pregnant, but that was exactly what I needed. Through all of my effort and preparation, I manage to find ease in the transition. Each step of the way, I was saying a slow goodbye to my old life and giving motherhood the warmest welcome I knew how to give.

Photo credit: Angela Doran


Love Letter

Love Letter | kaileenelise.com

“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

Years ago when my husband and I first started dating, we liked to watch YouTube videos together. Most of our favorites were funny or inspiring and my husband always found the best ones to share with me.

I will never forget the first time we watched Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot video. We were in his first apartment out of college. A tidy, well-decorated bachelor pad with a cushy tan sofa and glass coffee table. He had a desk in the corner of his bedroom where he played hours of online poker after work.

We sat at the desk with me perched on his lap and listened to Sagan’s perspective-bending words. The world and all its existence feels so very big, but relative to the universe it is all very small. Watching the video together made me realize that we saw the world better looking at it side by side, hand in hand.

The other day I set out to write a love letter to anyone, anything, an idea, a concept, a moment, an item, a noun, a verb, a phrase. There are a million things to love and I’m too tired to pick just one.

I sat on the couch in black leggings and a top knot with my husband snoozing next to me and our baby napping upstairs. Out of the three of us, I am the most sleep deprived. Yet, I found myself awake, watching my two favorites sleep, and thinking about a love letter.

Should I write to coffee? It has always been special to me, but we’ve become even closer since I became a mother. Or should I write to chubby baby thighs? They are squishy and delightful in every way. Should I write a letter to my grandmother? To sunshine? To quiet stillness?

I ought to write a letter to my pillow. Or wine. Or a good book. Or a hot bath with epsom salts and essential oils. Or to the color gray. Or stripes. Or, even better, gray stripes.

Perhaps I should write to those evening dad’s-home-from-work kisses. Or delicious home cooked dinners and Saturday nights in. Or to gratitude, forgiveness, luck, and hard work. Or to being in the right place at the right time.

Or maybe I should write to the terrible things that we survive and learn from… like cancer treatments, surgery, hard decisions, and fateful coincidences.

There are too many things in this life to love and I am too tired to pick just one. Fresh air. Clean water. The Eiffel Tower, Amsterdam canals, or the bustling streets of Hong Kong. Neighborhood restaurants and friendly grocery store cashiers.

I could write a love letter to love letters. Exchanged between two young souls, or an aunt and her niece, or friends who met through their blogs. Or the post-it notes scribbled between a busy husband and wife, always signing off with an ‘xoxo’.

I should write a love letter to the universe, this tiny pale blue dot and everything within it. To having a life that’s full and busy and happy and tiring and to the people that make it all worthwhile.


Mostly I Choose Magic

Mostly I Choose Magic | kaileenelise.com - Image via Taylor Lord Photography

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you
because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
(Roald Dahl)

Hello, lovelies. I hope you are well and having a happy day! Things are busy around here. In 25 days, my Mister and I are getting married!! When we set the date more than one year ago, it felt distant and far off. But now our wedding day is around the corner.

In the past week, I have felt a roller coaster of emotions. This is a big, significant, life-event… with lots of tiny details. Now that we’re in the 30-day window, the wedding planning has become a lot more real. Decisions are no longer hypothetical and “this might be nice,” they are “we’re doing X and not doing Y.” My inner perfectionist has reared her shiny, sparkly head and begun to point out all the millions of things that I should have under control.

And yet, my Mister and I have been together for 6.5 years. We have been through so much. We have traveled the world and cozied up on the couch for so many nights. We know each other, love each other, and have chosen each other. This big party is just one way of sharing that love with our closest friends and family. And at some point, life return to our normal everyday, but as husband & wife.

So, I have been a little distracted, even though I have plans for this blog. I have a full list of posts to share, including an Autumn Playlist (which I’ve had on repeat) and my final recap of our Europe trip (highlights from Edinburgh).

One thing I have been thinking a lot about: the way you do anything is the way you do everything. I am trying to handle this big life event  —  the wedding to-do list, the writing of our vows, the proclamation of our love, and the party that follows — with kindness, respect, and gratitude. I can let my inner perfectionist whip me up into a frenzy (oh boy, has she ever!) or I can let this be magical. In reality, I can have a little of both, but mostly I choose magic.

Image via Taylor Lord Photograpy


Wedding Countdown – 5 Months!

Engagements by Taylor Lord| taylorlord.com

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.
(C.S. Lewis)

The wedding countdown is in full force! My Mister and I are getting married in 5 months + 3 days and time is flying by! We got engaged over a year ago, but the word fiancé still feels weird. We’re both ready to drop that title for Mr. & Mrs.

Let’s talk wedding planning…

There are several things I was not expecting, mostly from within my own brain.

I was never the kind of girl who dreamed about her wedding. I never thought about what kind of ring I wanted or who I’d ask to be in my bridal party. Instead, I dreamed about love and marriage and family, but not the ceremony, party or planning leading up to them. Fast forward to today and it’s all I think about!

So, the unexpected thoughts have been plenty. I never knew how much I would care about tiny details or how much consideration I would put into selecting each vendor. I did not expect my Mister to have certain opinions (although I love it when he shares them!) and I was not anticipating some of the preferences I would have myself.

[Tweet “This process has taught me that while anything can feel like a big deal, most things are not.”]

Fortunately, most of the major decisions are behind us. We have amazing, talented wedding planners/designers leading the way. Our venue, officiant, caterer, DJ, photographer, and videographer are booked. My dress is on order, and my hair & makeup are situated. Our bachelorette & bachelor parties are behind us. Our wedding website is live. And our save the dates are on our friends’ and families’ refrigerators across the country!

In the past few months my inner control freak has lost her cool.

There are so many things that she’s worried could go wrong! I’ve had to battle her tirades with logic and love. It helps to remember why we’re planning this party — to celebrate the love and life we are building together.

After 3 moves and 6 years, we’re on our way to becoming husband and wife!

There’s still plenty of planning to do, but we’re getting to all the fun stuff. Design, decor, rentals, and sparkly lights. Songs to select, vows to write. Rings to buy and tuxes to pick out. Favors to decide on and a cake to design. A honeymoon to plan and thank-you cards to buy.

I’m looking forward to our big day when I realize we are actually married

Until then, I will be trying to calm my inner control freak with lots of yoga. Oh, and making up for all those years when I didn’t dream about my wedding by staying busy on Pinterest!

Image via Taylor Lord


Happy Valentine’s Day

image :: love letter

Your world is a living expression of how you are using and have used your mind.
(Earl Nightingale)

image :: Day 92

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us or we find it not.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

love notes ♥

As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.
(Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Happy Valentine’s Day, my dear friends! I hope you find time today to express your love — through your words, thoughts and actions.

Treat yourself to something special. Delight a friend, kiss your sweetie, surprise a stranger. Take time to reflect on all the love in your life. Nosh on chocolates, eat nothing but veggies. Go for a run, practice yoga, sleep in or take a long bubble bath.

Play on Pinterest, read your favorite blogs, listen to podcasts, pick up a new magazine. Wear lip gloss, paint a sparkly top coat on your nails, wear your coziest sweater. Write in your journal, watch a favorite movie, or do nothing at all.

Take this day to show yourself and the ones you love just how much you care.

Image Credits:
love letter / calligraphy poster / in my shop via bubbo.etsy.com
love notes ♥ via jessgrrrr
Day 92 | July 2 2008 | The things I love via Shereen M


Good Eats & Gratitude

image :: utensils

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.
(St. Francis de Sales)

Today is the introduction of a new project called Good Eats & Gratitude. An exercise steeped in mindfulness, a series of posts recognizing what feeds us. Musings on two elements that are vital to a happy existence — food nourishes the body, gratitude nourishes the soul.

Good Eats. Recipes to try, restaurant highlights, insights on eating well.
Gratitude. Kind people, inspired ideas, breathtaking moments.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving this year, just me and my Mister. I signed up to run an 8K Turkey Trot. The weather was gorgeous and there was a big crowd. I listened to an awesome playlist and ran faster than expected. It was a great way to start the day.

We went all out. Cooking a full meal and planning to eat leftovers for a few days. There were family traditions like deviled eggs, spicy green beans, and his grandma’s mashed potatoes. There were also a few recipes I wanted to try.

image :: Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing

One of the most delicious components of the meal was the Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing from What’s Gaby Cooking. Her blog post sold me—she said it was so good that she made it 3 times last year before Thanksgiving day! It was everything I could ever want in a stuffing: fresh herbs, delicious mushrooms, and perfect as leftovers.

image :: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

As another side, I made Caramelized Brussels Sprouts from Eat, Live, Run. Jenna posted about these in October and I wanted to make them ever since. These are such a delicious treat, a perfect mix of healthy crunch and colorful sweetness. Even if you’re not a huge brussels sprouts fan, I recommend giving these a try. I’ve already made them again since!

image :: cardamom & cream cheese squares

I also made Oh Joy!’s Cardamom & Cream Cheese Squares for dessert because as Joy puts it, “These squares are a combination of sorts—half no-bake cheesecake and half pumpkin pie—with a touch of cardamom. They’re great for dessert or even as a mid-afternoon snack.” She was right, we enjoyed them for dessert and a few afternoon snacks.

image :: I'll Give You All I Can...

This was our fourth Thanksgiving together.

Somehow it seems to get better each year. The night before we planned our timeline—when to start prepping things, etc. It was a game plan for ultimate oven management. We sat down for dinner 10 minutes earlier than scheduled… a Thanksgiving victory!

I have so much gratitude for my Mister. For his family and friends. For the choices he’s made and the man he is today. For the paths our lives took to get us here, and what we have accomplished together.

Image Credit: utensils via limonada // Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing via What’s Gaby Cooking // Caramelized Brussels Sprouts via me // Cardamom & Cream Cheese Squares via Oh Joy! // I’ll Give You What I Can via Brandon Christopher Warren


Happy Birthday, Mister!


If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to,
no one with which to share the beauty of the stars,
to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life?
It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning.
This is harmony.
We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.
(Mitsugi Saotome)


Happy 27th birthday, Mister!

This past year was an eventful journey. You encountered happiness and sorrow. You experienced joy and anger. You kept your sense of humor and displayed remarkable courage. I watched as you pursued your goals, slayed evil dragons, and unpacked boxes.

We spent our first Christmas together. Welcomed 2011 with a kiss. You cheered me on during my 1/2 marathon. You were accepted to business school. We moved into our first home. We spent days snuggled on the couch.

Your intelligence continues to impress me.
Your wit keeps me entertained.
Your quirks make me smile.
Your love pushes me to become a better person.

For some people, 27 is a blip on the radar. An insignificant stop between 25 and 30. I have a feeling this is going to be a banner year…

Here’s to your 27th.
Remarkable. Memorable.
Filled with health, happiness, success and love.

Image Credit: via We Heart It


Making Empty Happen


We do not grow absolutely, chronologically.
We grow sometimes in one dimension,
and not in another; unevenly.
We grow partially. We are relative.
We are mature in one realm, childish in another.
The past, present, and future mingle
and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present.
We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.
(Anais Nin)

Hello sweethearts, I hope you are enjoying a lovely start to your week. Things are busy here as the Mister and I pack up in preparation of Friday’s big move! I never thought the day would arrive, but it’s nearly here. I am feeling overwhelmed, excited and nervous to embark on this new chapter.

Certain there will be challenges, I am grateful we found a two story dwelling with plenty of space. Confident there will be love, I am looking forward to seeing how we evolve.

I have a few guest posts and other treats scheduled for the next few weeks to help us (you, me and the blog!) get through this transition. Let me me know if you’re interested in contributing a little magic — I would be delighted to hear your ideas on guesting.

See you around, my lovely muses!

Image Credit: Untitled by Hillary Boles


Happy Father’s Day

Love You Dad

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children:
one is roots, the other is wings.
(Hodding Carter)

My dad is one of the most important people in my life. He’s been there for me through thick and thin—and as I’ve grown up, our relationship has evolved.

When I was younger, we didn’t always get along. My dad showed his love by enforcing rules and holding very high expectations. My swimming career provided plenty of opportunity for disagreements and bonding. A former collegiate (and nearly professional) football player, my dad knew the dedication required of great athletes. He taught me that incredible things would come if I believed in myself and worked really, really hard.

My dad’s quirky sense of humor, strong opinions, amazing business sense and loving nature are just a few things that I love about him. The picture above is from my first visit to NYC. Dad was there on business and I flew up from Raleigh to explore the city for a day.

Even though we’re currently living 2,000 miles apart, we are closer now than we’ve ever been. I know I can call him when I need advice or a shoulder to cry on. He sends me text messages of love and support that always make me smile. I feel incredibly lucky to call this man my dad.

Happy Father’s Day!!

Happy Father's Day


Big Book, Bigger Inspiration

Image - Big Book Small Spaces

Be grateful for the home you have,
knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.
(Sarah Ban Breathnach)

Apartment Therapy’s site provides the opportunity to peek in on the creative genius of stylish places that don’t exist in the pages of magazines or on the sets of motion pictures. Rather, the homes highlighted belong to folks who have crafted beautifully functional and incredibly livable spaces.

When I discovered Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s newest endeavor, Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces, I immediate added the book to my wish list. I have been an apartment dweller and small space lover for the past 8 years. Thus is a life of most twentysomethings. When my Mister and I decided to shack up, the stakes were raised.

Image - Cozy Kitchens

I sometimes dream of having an unlimited budget, exceptional taste and an eye for the unseen beauty of flea-market finds. My reality lies in the middle of a busy summer, with a modest budget and plenty of other things on my mind.

When I bought Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces a few weeks ago, I was surprised at how it read like a good book—with lots of eye candy. I cozied up with a cup of tea, wrapped myself in a blanket, and sat out on the porch. Flipping through the pages, soaking up the clever space-making of Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s muses.

Image - Miniature Bedrooms

I have a secret hope that our individual belongings will combine into a magical orchestra of perfect harmony, but I know that can’t be. Even the most beautifully put-together spaces are temporary, fleeting works in progress.

Image Credit: Apartment Therapy


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