Monday, January 26, 2015


This past season I have felt totally dragged around by my circumstances. All the big moments of my life were out of my control, and I felt like I was drowning in helplessness. With preeclampsia, tough delivery, Everly's rough start, and my postpartum depression and PTSD, I had to fight to get out of bed every day. I fought to love my husband, and I fought to mother my baby.

I felt like I was caught in a riptide, and I was thrashing around to try and get air.

in the transition room at the hospital; one of my darkest times was waiting for Everly to get to come home.

"Let go and give it to God!" wise voices in my life told me. I cringed. "Letting go" is such a vague term. I wanted detailed step-by-step instructions on how to give my problems and pain to God.

That was the problem. In my desire for clarity, I was maintaining my white-knuckled grip on my life, wanting to keep some semblance of control amongst my chaos. When I read the signs about riptides at the beach, they warn against trying to fight your way out of it. The way to escape drowning in the deadly current is to relax.

Let go.

Close your eyes, release your grip, and rest in grace.

There are no instructions for this and that's the point. It's about learning to trust that God has you in the palm of his hand. He will care for you better than you ever could. My religious roots could not accept the presence of the Holy Spirit as a substitute for hard work. I needed the Lord to assure me that although my efforts were not and would never be enough, I, his beloved, was somehow enough to please him and fulfill my purpose during that season.

Letting go of our finances meant tithing when it made no sense.
Letting go of our marriage meant resting in the security of our love and bond.
Letting go of the household meant reducing the amount of things I had to do by reducing (once again) the amount of things we had.

My thrashing around to improve myself was rooted in pride and a desire for control. I needed to realize that all of me was created by God, and he had a plan for every dream of my heart. By fighting to find my purpose, I was ignoring the quiet whisper of the Lord in my daily life.

He had placed me in a nest of beauty waiting to be uncovered. My daughter blossoms more every day, and I have an opportunity to shape the environment that she grows in. By letting go of a need for perfection, I have the freedom to pursue beauty instead.

photo cred: Ben Roberts

It has been a long, hard season, but I feel like I am finally coming out of it. I am starting to be released from the riptide and I am ready to dive headfirst into the waves of my true calling. I am taking steps to find exactly what that is, as my biggest dream has already come true in Everly. Will I creatively focus on music, art, writing? All of the above? I'll be digging into that in these next few months to find what the Lord truly desires for me in this life, because it's so much better than anything I could ever scrap together.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

setting a foundation

My dream is for Everly to grow up to be a loving and caring girl, one with a servant's heart. I decided early on that service to others was going to be a huge part of my parenting style. I want it to be second nature to her. She has a natural joy around people, and is happy talking to anyone.

Our first official service project was to go to the campus of Appalachian State during exam week and park ourselves in the center of the student union with a little good luck sign.

The reaction from students was better than I ever could have imagined. They walked by multiple times, taking pictures and smiling and laughing at the little chubby baby that loved them. Several students stopped to talk to me, and I got to speak words of affirmation over their lives as Everly brought joy into their day.

photo: @daniel_barlow

When planning a baby service project, ask yourself - "What does my child have to offer the world?" Can she wave hello? Can she smile? Can she speak teeny tiny words of love? Take the skills and qualities that your child has and apply them to a need. Our next service project will be in February, and we will be handing out Valentines to some very deserving recipients.

What can you do with your child(ren) to bless someone's day? Leave a note in the comments!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DIY Bundle

I often get asked what I do for a living, and it's tough to package it all into one neat little explanation. I manage a recording and production company with Everett, run my little Etsy shop (here), play violin in the studio and on stage, and do various side projects including this blog. Since most of my work is creatively based, I really want to focus on honing my artistic skills.

I recently purchased the 2015 Ultimate DIY Bundle here, and I'm going to go through the various courses as I have time. In the Being Boss podcast, they talked about investing in yourself as a kickstart for your business, (ep. 2, "What to do when you're freaking out about money"), and I think that the information in this bundle will be a great ramp up to my creative business work in this year.

It's tough to participate in any sort of professional development like this:

Displaying image.jpeg 

The DIY Bundle is a set of $1200 worth of ebooks, online courses and gift cards to online vendors. It's $34.95, which is what I would have paid for just one of the courses. I am charging up my camera and I'm ready for the Photography 101 class from ShootFlyShoot! The package is only available until Monday, so if you want it get it fast!

*I don't get any sort of referral credit for this, I'm just sharing this because I'm excited!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

beauty tricks for moms

As a new mom (five and a half months isn't that long!), I often find myself feeling rumpled and frumpy. I feel like I will never be clean or dry again (can I get an amen??). I want to look nice but I feel like I don't have the time or the energy to put into it like I used to. I read a lot of blogs, and so many of them tell me that I need to spend a ton of time working out to fit into a certain body mold and wear layers of makeup to hide my exhaustion. "Mommy street style" is a real thing, but I look at the outfits and wonder how I would manage to nurse in them. I take care of myself, but I just wonder how I am supposed to accomplish all these steps to being beautiful.

Then I realize it's the look in my daughter's face when I rescue her from her crib. It's the way my husband smiles when he says, "She has your eyes." It's the sweet conversations I have in baby language. Just as every other woman's beauty lies in their true identity, mine now rests in the heart of a child who loves me more than anything.

1. To mask puffy eyes and revive dull skin, bury face in a chubby baby belly (for at least 5 minutes, consecutively or otherwise).

2. For toned arms and a lifted butt, dance around the kitchen with a baby. For added cardio, sing silly songs at the top of your lungs.

3. For smooth and silky hands, catch spit-up with your bare palms.

4. For smile lines, see how many things you can do to make your baby laugh.

5. To stay on top of the latest trends, place a fashion magazine under the seat pad in your glider as you rock your sweet baby to sleep. 

-- Caroline

Got a tip of your own? Leave it in the comments!

Friday, January 16, 2015

follow friday

In terms of social media, Instagram has got to be my favorite. I love how it can create community among people with similar interests, and how it allows me to use photography to share the details of our life. I follow a decent amount of people I don't know personally, but have discovered through blogs or reposted images. I'm going to try to make this a regular post, but for now if you are looking for some great accounts to follow as a new mom, pregnant mom, or just as a lover of all things baby, here's a few I'd recommend.


photo credit: @mommasgonecity

This is the account that started #theoandbeau, the famous napping duo of baby boy and puppy. Although they have both grown since the beginning of their adventure, their family has recently expanded by one little baby girl and the trio napping together is one of the highlights of my feed.


photo credit: @raisingmissmatilda

I only recently discovered this blogger through a pin on Pinterest where I was struck by how much her daughter looked like mine! Although her daughter is a little older than Everly, she just had another baby and I can't wait to see what she writes about with this one!


photo credit: @cassandrahawkinsphoto

I found this blog on Facebook and have been following since I was pregnant with Everly. Warning: lots of freshly born babies may give you a severe case of baby fever. I love how supportive they are of every birth story.

Hope these three accounts give you something new to squeal over in your Insta feed! And if you are interested in keeping up with our little family, my handle is @hardincaroline and I'd love to have you!


Any accounts you'd like to see featured? Leave a note in the comments!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

minimalist mom - budget essentials list

I grew up loving things. I am a happy shopper and my primary love language is gifts. I enjoy little things and nice things. I am a thrift shopper so I have never been a heavy spender, but since we moved to our tiny house I have learned how to reduce the things I bring into our home. The advertising giants want you to believe that you need a ton of gadgets and supplies to raise a baby.

For example, Babies R Us has written in their search bar: "Search for something to keep baby happy!" What they won't tell you is that the thing that will keep your baby happiest is you! You don't need all the fancy gear and noisy toys. 

If Laura Ingalls didn't need it, you don't need it. 

Now there are definitely things that you may want and that will make life easier. When I was pregnant I got so frustrated about how most of the "minimalist mom" posts were filled with things that were way out of my itsy-bitsy budget! My list, on the other hand, represents a minimalist budget and will help you feel a little less overwhelmed and hopefully not make fear-based purchases. 

1. Crib

 You can start with a bassinet, but if you would like to save money you can start with a crib and skip the transition altogether. We got a secondhand bassinet and secondhand crib, so this was a non-expense for us. We did not have the two in the house at the same time, since she sleeps beside our bed. 

2. Swaddling blankets

These are your all-star players when it comes to baby gear. I use mine for:
  • swaddling
  • nursing covers
  • burp cloths
  • makeshift towels
  • carseat covers
  • lovey blanket (one for her to play with)
You can buy one here from Saranoni, or you can find them at just about any baby store. See my previous post for a swaddling tutorial! (PS: follow @saranoni on instagram for cute pictures of babies with blankets)

3. Clothing

I took a quick mental inventory, and through each stage of clothing I have used just about the same lineup of clothing needs:
  • 4 sleepers (one to wear, one to wash, one in the drawer and one in the diaper bag)
  • 4 cute outfits
  • 1 heavy coat (depending on your climate)
  • 1 light coat
  • 4 pairs of socks
You can tweak this list however you like, and this will make up the majority of what people will bring to your baby showers. Any clothes you don't need should be returned for diapers!

4. Diapers

This is a personal decision, but I chose to do disposable diapers due to the size of my house and laundry machine and the absence of a cloth diaper service in my area. For diapering, you will need diapers, wipes, diaper cream/ointment (depending on your baby's personal needs) and somewhere to change them. I have a little wipe-off changing pad that I keep at home and a changing pad in my diaper bag. Everly has never had real trouble with diaper rash, so for the occasional flare-up we use the Honest brand diaper cream. Aquaphor is another great choice.

5. Bathtime supplies

I bathe Everly in the sink and in our bathtub with a washcloth. I have a baby bathtub but don't use it yet since she can still fit in the sink. You will need:
  • baby soap
  • baby lotion
  • washcloth
  • brush (Tip: wash the baby's hair with a soft brush to get down to the roots!)
  • towel (baby towels are cute and small, but I only have one that I think is thick enough. Otherwise I use adult sized towels because I like to wrap her up and let her dry and be warm.)

6. Transport

For some people, this may be a stroller. I however, am obsessed with babywearing. I love having Everly right there on my tummy, and it keeps strangers from getting too close to her. I have both the Baby K'tan and the Ergobaby, and primarily use the K'tan at this stage/size. You buy the K'tan in your shirt size, and it is so unbelievably easy to wear and wash. I also love that it comes in colors that will go with your grown-up outfits rather than the baby's outfits!

Things I did not include and why

Diaper bag

Why? Because any bag that has diapers in it is a diaper bag. I have one from Skiphop that I love, but until I got that, I used a backpack from Target! Don't get oversold on diaper bags, but get something you want to use.


I didn't include these because I don't use them all that often and could really get by without them if I didn't work away from Everly. I have a pump that was provided by WIC, and use a MAM bottle because it's the only one Everly liked. If you choose to pump or formula feed, these will be an essential!


Babies don't walk. Socks will do just fine.


If you have some extra room in your baby budget once you get the basics, you can really get whatever looks fun! We have limited toys to good quality toys without batteries, but do not restrict the amount of books we collect. Books are a great thing to ask for from family and friends, and you will get a big variety with every person's preference (a great way to start a library for your baby!).

I hope this list gives you peace as you get closer to having a baby in your life!

-- Caroline

Something to add to the list? Leave a note in the comments!

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