16 months.

"These days, they are a river
and we're all floating down
every loved one, every neighbor
in Tennessee, in my hometown
so let us not take this for granted
let us not waste the second hand
let your love rage like a lion
let your heart break like a lamb."
(Andrew Osenga)

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My sweet baby Norah is 16 months, and the days, they are indeed a river.  It seems I was just sitting on our front porch (where she is in the above photo) when I was in the first trimester of pregnancy with her, sick as a dog.  I was holding Luci Belle's hand in mine as we waited for a friend to come pick her up to play for the day so I could return to my miserable schedule of napping and throwing up.  My love for Norah was already raging in my heart, and that's what pushed me through so many horrible days of sickness.  I won't ever forget how much she was wanted, prayed for, anticipated.

At 16 months, this little nugget absolutely adores her sister and upon waking every morning (in the sidecar crib next to our bed), she step-step-steps down the hall to Belle's door and knocks.  "Gock, gock!"  Belle always opens and answers, "Well HEH-lo!" And they hug.  Seriously?  How did I get so lucky with little girls who get along so well? I hope it's always so!  

Norah loves being outside, getting muddy, coloring with crayons and markers, copying everything her sister does, trying to put on her shoes, reading books, watching Sesame Street, washing her hands, climbing on every stool and chair possible, and standing on tippy-toes and brushing her teeth alllllll the live long day.

Favorite words and phrases lately include: sticker, tickle, block, uh-oh, puppy, baby, bath, and "where go?"

Foods she can't get enough of: Mommy's smoothies, cucumbers, eggs, carrots, apples, avocados, and basically anything in my bowl - ha!  She turns up her nose at bananas, berries, and olives. 

As Norah starts to wear so many of the clothes Belle wore as a toddler, I cannot believe these clothes are cycling back around so soon - it seems that Belle was just wearing them, that I had just tucked them away for "if we have another girl one day."  Now she's 16 months into her sweet life, and I am doing my best to slow down time by being present, sitting with her and playing and trying to have one-on-one time with her just like I did with my firstborn.  It's not easy, but it's so worth it.

The other evening, we were outside during a glorious sunset, and she looked up and pointed with her chubby little finger and said, "Woooowwwwww....."  I love having a toddler again.  Happy 16 months, baby girl.

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Norah's Doljanchi 돌잔치 (Korean First Birthday).

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Just one of the many fun things about being married to a (half) Korean is the element of tradition.  The biggest celebration in a Korean's life is the first birthday, or "doljanchi."  We threw a big party for Luci Belle's doljanchi 3.5 years ago and now it was Norah's turn! 

Steven's parents couldn't make it this time because they are currently living in Seoul, South Korea, but we were thankful to be surrounded by family and friends here at our house for the party - it was a blast!

First, a little background...

The doljanchi is so treasured in Korean culture, because in the old days, many children didn't make it to their first birthday due to poverty, war, hunger, and limited medical care. If a child lived until age one, his or her chances of survival increased significantly.  The first birthday party is a chance to celebrate and bless the child's life with a prosperous future.

The decorations

I scoured Pinterest and blogs to find ways to make doljanchi decorations that honored the tradition but didn't cost a lot of dough.  One of the most popular things to DIY are the "dol towers" which we made using black and white beans hot-glued to paper towel rolls.  Let me repeat, beans hot-glued to paper towel rolls.  Like, one at a time.  The fronts of each tower were glued by my saint-like and ever-patient cousins Paula and Colleen who came to visit from NJ a week before the party.  God bless them.

The tower on the left says "first birthday," with a number "1" on top, and the tower on the right says "Norah" with a heart on top.

I got a few sheets of Asian flowery wrapping paper from Paper Source and taped them down the length of our farm table as the runner.  A few more things I made for the event - a banner with 13 flags on it, each one with a photo from Norah's life from newborn to 12 months.  I also created a posterboard explaining more about the doljanchi and included this awesome photo of Steven at his doljanchi in 1980 with his mom holding him.  Hello, baby Norah in boy form!

And because there's no such thing as too many banners in my opinion, I made a fabric scrap banner to hang from the main doorway between the living room and dining room using my old saris from my trip to India.  Love how it turned out.

The food

Of course we had to have Korean food!  So Steven was able to enjoy the party and not be slaving in the kitchen the whole time, we had the food catered from H Mart, a huge Korean marketplace in Dallas.  He was a wee bit excited when he went to order the food and sliiiightly over-ordered.  As in, every single person left with a huge to-go box and we still had Korean pancakes for days.  My favorites were the chicken fried rice, bulgogi (thin strips of heavenly marinated beef with veggies), and chop che (glassy rice noodles).  One of our party guests, sweet little Graham Patterson (age 2) absolutely loved the fried shrimp.  Every time I saw him, he was holding one in his fist and crunching on it like it was a carrot stick. 

Bowl of seaweed, anyone?

Yeah, me either.

The birthday girl

Our sweet birthday girl decided to take an extra long nap on the day of her birthday party - of course!  She awoke about 30 minutes after the party started, so I got her dressed quietly in her room so I didn't overwhelm her from the start.  The light was, as our photographer friend Michelle said, "delicious," so we took a few fun photos during this time.

The watery post-nap eyes and puffy flushed cheeks...I can't even handle it...

I love how little Luci Belle looks in this photo too.  Time, thank you for slowing down just a little.

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Twinsies...

The Bailey four...

The partay

When our little photo shoot was over, it was time to take the birthday girl out to see her guests.  Norah seriously had no idea what was going on all day.  How am I supposed to walk in this dress?  Why is a butterfly plastered to my forehead?  Oooh - balloon!  She latched on to an orange balloon and would not let it go.  She barely cracked a smile and was just taking it all in...so different from Luci Belle's doljanchi where she was hamming it up the whole time!  My sweet babies have such different personalities, and I love that.

Then came the ceremony called the "doljabee" when you lay out certain symbolic items in front of the child, and whatever item the child picks up first supposedly predicts his or her future career.  We included a camera (photographer), money (the child will be rich), a whisk (cooking, of course!), yarn (symbolizes a long life), a pencil (supposedly means the child will be a genius!  Or as I like to think, a writer...), a Doc McStuffins stethoscope (doctor), and a cell phone (my mom's ancient flip phone so she wouldn't immediately grab the iPhone, as all todders do). 

Bonus points for anyone who knows who's wearing the fabulous red tights with black peep-toe heels. Hmm...

She looked at the items on the floor, then scanned the room looking at all the faces staring at her.  She looked at us like, "What?  What am I supposed to do with this?"

We waited.  And stared.

Then, I had an idea!  She was so into apples and always grabbed mine when I had one and wanted to take a bite.  Although definitely not on the traditional list of items for the doljabee, I thought we could throw our unique Bailey spin on the game and add an apple (farmer/foodie!) and see if she if it made her take action.

As soon as we put the apple in front of her, she picked up the pencil (just like her sister!)...

...and reached over and tapped it on the apple.

Food writer??

Genius farmer??

We all cheered.  She just kept looking at us like we were crazy and held onto the apple for dear life.

And so, for the rest of the party, we let her play with her buddies and annihilate an entire Hail Merry chocolate tart.

And the owner of the red tights is...yup...MIMI!  Love her.

What a fun day celebrating our sweet Norah Jewell!

10 Tips For Gardening With Kids.

I recently wrote a guest post on 10 Tips for Gardening With Kids for the What's In The Bible blog.  If you have little ones, I hope you'll check out and get some fun ideas.  There are some vintage photos of Luci Belle as a toddler too :).

"Are your kids bouncing off the walls? Are you struggling with tiredness and a sour attitude? Here’s an idea: get your hands in the soil, and let your kids join you. Surround yourself with green. I promise, it will make everything better. God made us to be nourished by these things..."  {continue reading}

Mom's Necklaces for nursing and babywearing.

I'm a big fan of babywearing!  I've carried my two daughters as much as possible, and even though she practically runs everywhere now, Norah is still a fan of being toted around in the Boba.  Any mom of little ones knows how much they love to grab whatever we're wearing around our necks and immediately insert it into their mouths.  Enter babywearing necklaces, which are functional and also beautiful and colorful.  These handcrafted babywearing and nursing necklaces are popping up everywhere now, and I love the crochet and wood ones in particular!  I recently was sent a Mom's Necklace to review all the way from Israel by Tamara, the owner and woman who personally makes all the necklaces.  This is the one she sent me...

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Lovely and springy, huh?  It's made from crocheted organic cotton, beechwood beads, and unlike the other nursing necklaces I have, it includes a unique coconut pendant at the bottom.  The coconut pendant was definitely Norah's favorite part!  As you can see in the photo above, she loved holding it while nursing and chewing on it, and I'm sure the hole-y texture felt great on her new teeth coming in.

I treasure all the babywearing necklaces I have, because they've been with me and my babies during so many special moments - countless hours of nursing, holding them close in a carrier, or just playing.

Check out the Mom's Necklace website - she has lots of crochet jewelry and baby toys - beautiful necklaces, earrings, teething rings, baby headbands and hats.  You can also follow her on Instagram.  Enjoy!

A simple photo.

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This photo stirs something deep in me...Maybe it's the simple food - Urban Acres produce in the Polish pottery bowl given to me by Gran on our recent North Carolina road trip, or my husband's rustic homemade pesto pasta that cost cents to make, or that it was all eaten outside on our deck with friends and wine in spring atop the tablecloth I scored at an outdoor market in India a decade ago.  So many favorite things, all in one little square.  

What is stirring your heart today? 

Join The Sisterhood!

I've written before about how much I've enjoyed Pilates instructor Robin Long with The Balanced Life.  Her blog, free Pilates workouts, and Instagram feed have really inspired and challenged me to be healthier and stronger right where I am, with a healthy perspective of where my body is today.  It's a "grace over guilt" perspective on healthy eating and exercise full of positive encouragement and motivation. 

Until recently, I just did her free videos that she posts all the time on her website and YouTube channel.  But then, Robin launched an awesome new program called The Balanced Life Sisterhood - for only $9/month you get a daily Pilates workout plan, healthy recipes to try throughout the month, a private Facebook group to meet and talk with others ladies in the Sisterhood, and if you want, you can even be matched up with a "sister" to email privately.  I joined, and it's totally worth it to me to have a daily schedule to follow and a specific plan that helps me stay on track.  Most of the workouts are short (like only 7-10 minutes long, totally doable!) but super effective.  My "sister" Jennie in Minnesota is awesome, and we're in the same stages of life as young moms just trying to juggle life and stay healthy and strong.  It's been great to check in with her regularly and cheer each other on.  The recipe ideas are super easy and tasty too - I made an avocado yogurt dip for the Superbowl, and my super-food-snob-chef husband practically licked the bowl! 

I can't say enough great things about Robin and The Balanced Life - even though I've never met Robin, I feel like I'm working out with a friend every time I put on one of her videos.  And my body craves Pilates now.   In the past, exercise has tended to feel burdensome and stressful to me, and I've definitely felt guilty when I haven't stayed on track or achieved a certain size or level.  Instead, this feels like a freeing way to live my life while becoming more disciplined at the same time.  Love it!

Check out The Sisterhood!

And let me know if you sign up - I get a free month!  Hee hee!

New Jersey spring...

My dad sent these photos of the first day of spring in my New Jersey hometown.  Wow!  Not very springy.  They've gotten pummeled with snow this winter, and mom says they were just seeing the grass for the first time before this storm hit.   Look at the snow on those gorgeous evergreen trees.  Still, I'd choose our Texas spring over this, for sure!

Inspiring things lately.

I was so inspired after watching video after video of Farm To Table Family tonight that I had to write this and share with you.  Here's a smattering of things that have been inspiring me lately to be more free, more healthy, more who I am.  Maybe they will inspire you too...

First, Farm To Table Family on PBS.  The light...the fun...the beautiful food...the simplicity and joy of cooking simple, healthy food for your family.  I'm in love with this little Asian family, and you don't even hear them talk.  Watching these videos has inspired me so much.  I tend to keep my kids busy while I'm cooking so I can just be a busybody and have that time to myself.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but something resonated with me deeply to see how much her children are involved in growing, foraging, and cooking and baking in the kitchen.  Not only licking spoons but scooping avocados, icing the cakes, kneading the dough.  We do let our oldest cook a bit, but I tend to get stressed when she's helping me.  A great pointer in this video - prep ingredients ahead of time in little bowls, then invite your child in to help.  So.  Much.  Smoother.  And Norah is old enough now to sit on the counter with me and be more involved, but until these videos, I still had her on the floor playing with Tupperware. 

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There are just too many good magazines out there, and I want to read all of them!

First, Organic Gardening is now Organic Life Magazine, and the first issue comes out soon.  We already subscribe to Organic Gardening, which has been so beautiful and always included so much more than gardening.  I'm excited to see the direction they take it now that it's changed.  Organic Life, get in my mailbox!

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Next, Taproot.  Gorgeous, just gorgeous.  I could frame the covers.  "Taproot celebrates farm, food, family and craft through writing, photography and the arts, both fine and domestic."  Um, yes, please.

Deeply Rooted is another beautiful, artistic magazine I've become acquainted with that I simply must read.   You purchase each issue separately, and it's more like a book.  "Deeply Rooted Magazine serves to be a light in the midst of the things that work overtime to steal our attention and affection away from God. Through our publication, we deliver incredibly rich content, written and created by published authors, pastors, real women, and talented artists."

And finally, Bella Grace.  I saw this magazine on someone's Instagram and went to the magazine's website to investigate.  I bought the current issue for a friend for her birthday and I'll admit, I wanted to keep it when I was flipping through the pages!  The magazine was a work of art.  "Bella Grace is a special publication devoted to discovering magic in the ordinary.  Our aim is to touch the souls of our readers through beautifully penned stories and striking photographs that capture life's beautiful journey."  Swoon.

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Be inspired today!