I'm not goin' back: My decision to quit my job and stay home

This would have been my first week back to work after a little over two months home with sweet Bobby. Just like everyone says, the time absolutely flew by. But it felt all kinds of different from my first maternity leave with Ruthie 'Cause I'm not goin' back.

As many moms do, I had a rough time going back to work after my first, Ruthie, was born. A few days after bringing her home from the hospital, I started to feel the annoying weight of the 12 week maternity leave clock. After my 6 week postpartum checkup? Full-on anxiety over the weeks, days, minutes we had left together. I felt guilty doing the dishes because I should have spent that time with Ruthie. I wore her endlessly to try to make every second count. I slept with her right next to me so I wouldn't waste the hours overnight. I didn't like to put her in the car because I couldn't hold her while she was in her car seat (geezus, I might be insane). Suddenly time was up and I had to force myself away from her side and into my car...alone. I cried for days, made myself feel horribly guilty, and tried to ignore the nagging feeling that I was making the wrong choice (for me, I totally understand this isn't the experience of every mother or father). In the hours outside of those spent in the office, I was obsessed with time and never left Ruthie's side. 

Heading back to work when Ruthie was about 3 months old (and only 10 lbs!!)

Heading back to work when Ruthie was about 3 months old (and only 10 lbs!!)

When I found out we had another on the way, the thought of heading back to a typical workweek with a two hour daily commute felt flat-out impossible. I was spending more time at work than at home, and I definitely wasn't passionate enough about my job to justify the time away. And with TWO babies?? My stomach tightened every time I thought about it. At the same time, the thought of not working absolutely terrifies me. Not only the financial aspect (although that is a HUGE part), but what if I fall behind the competition? What if I can't find a job when I decide I'm ready to (or finances decide that I need to) go back? What about the example I was setting for Ruthie by working AND momming?

Life: Ruthie is a blur and Bobby is just chillin'.

Life: Ruthie is a blur and Bobby is just chillin'.

Two and a half months into this leave, I feel none of the insane pressure I put on myself before. I am 99% sure that is because I'm not hyper aware of the invisible hourglass reminding me how little time I have left to witness the teeny babe stage in all it's glory. I might find down the road that I don't love staying home as much as I thought I would, or that we can't afford it, or maybe Ruthie will say "dude, go back to work I see you way too much", but I'm so excited and wierdly proud to be giving myself the chance to find out.

Thanks to Austin for agreeing to try and make it work <3.

 

Grateful to see Bobby grow all day, err day.

Grateful to see Bobby grow all day, err day.

Bride-to-Be Diaries: The 4 Sites I Shopped for My Wedding Gown

I started writing this post fresh from a fitting with a worried (but gracious) aunt who courageously agreed to alter my very non-maternity dress into a very maternity one. It turned out better than I could have hoped and I was beyond excited to wear it on October 8th. But before I even had an inkling that I would be super pregnant during my wedding, the thought of finding a dress through the traditional avenues seemed intimidating to me. Spending a day (days?) checking out boutiques with a one year old wasn't really something I saw myself doing (and as many of you know, I am pretty much stuck to Ruthie's side every second that I'm not working). Though I am new to wedding dress shopping (obviously), I fancy myself an expert shopper so I started searching for a gown the same way I shop for most everything else - online. 

Here is a roundup of the best websites for nontraditional (pregnant, time-crunched, budget-conscious...and in my case, perhaps a tad lazy) wedding dress shopping.

SHOPBOP
HUNDREDS of options, simple silhouettes, and designers I'm familiar with. Other perks: free shipping and free returns AND you can use your Amazon Prime account to get even faster free shipping. I actually found "the one" through ShopBop first, but ended up ordering through Neiman Marcus for the benefit of having it shipped to store for a fitting.
This Badgley Mischka Beauty - $695
"The One" - $640 - this Self Portrait gown is the one I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. It obviously looked a bit different on me, here is the gown in it's original state. 
This Long Sleeve Gown - $695
Another Self Portrait Stunner - $1020 (and omg this one - $615)

Rent The Runway
I've been a RTR fan for a while, I have the app on my phone and check it out frequently for new arrivals. I tried it out for the first time for our engagement photons (this dress and this top). I've heard rumor that they are expanding their collection to include bridal options, but for now they have a few evening gowns that work perfectly for a low-key bride:
This One by Nha Khanh Rent for $150
Simple and Elegant Badgley Mischka Rent for $115 (I rented this as a backup!)
Form Fitting Midi by Opening Ceremony PURCHASE for $77 (!)

ASOS
ASOS has pretty much become my go-to shopping site (especially since I'm usually pregnant). They have a million options and carry petite, tall, curve, and maternity sizes. ASOS actually has a bridal line for both the bride and the party and you cannot beat the prices, most are under $200 with free shipping and returns.
This Maxi - $181
This Pretty Midi - $143
We all know I'm a fan of the high neckline - this one would be so pretty for a winter wedding. 
This dress's casual summer vibes - $429

Shoes by Jeffrey Campbell via Nordstrom

Shoes by Jeffrey Campbell via Nordstrom

Free People
As you probably expect from Free People, a lot of these dresses are on the boho side. This was advantageous for me and my belly. Some of my faves include...
This Backless Halter Style - $450
This High Neck Flowy Gown - $750
This Classic Silhouette with Scalloped Detail - $815

Part of me has a bit of FOMO from skipping the whole boutique try-on process, but maybe it was a fated decision based on the expanding waistline that I am so proud to sport. It could very well be true that many brides are choosing to search for a dress online and I'm not as clever as I think. Either way, I now have both a sister and a SIL searching for wedding gowns, so I could always try tagging along with them... 

{Ruthie's dress found at Old Navy}

All images by the lovely Charis Rowland Photography

72 Thoughts I had on my Wedding Day

The big day has come and gone. How that is possible...I do not know. Many thoughts were had on October 8th, some of them were even remembered. I've compiled them into this list. 

1. omg.
2. Ruthie, it's 5:30 AM...let's hang out for a little longer.
3. How is Austin still sleeping? 

4. Oh! Amanda's here! I'm going to go grind coffee beans until she wakes up.
5. Yessss she brought good coffee beans!!
6. Why is there so much dew all over everything? Should I blow-dry the tables?
7. Oh god, the tablecloths are sticking.
8. Maybe I should wait until the sun comes up to start setting tables. 
9. DAN quit jumping on the bar. 
10. THANK GOD Amanda's awake. 
11. Should I be doing something super important right now?
12. QUICHE!
13. I'm positive the florist forgot to put together my arrangements.
14. Ruthie looks so cute in tiny sweatpants.
15. I feel fairly normal today.
16. OMG HAIR AND MAKEUP ARE HERE, THIS IS HAPPENING.  
17. I wish I had more time to just hang out with my bmaids today.
18. There are 15 crates of freshly baked rolls in the living room. 
19. Monkey bread AND cinnamon rolls, this truly is the best day. 
20. Is everyone noticing how long my (fake) eyelashes are?

IMG_9188.jpg

21. I can't believe how many people came to help us set up!
22. Have I felt the baby move today?
23. WHERE IS RUTHIE?
24. So grateful for grandmas <3
25. WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THE CHEESE PLATE?
26. Having a photographer here is awkward (should I be doing something super inspiring to photograph rn?)
27. I wish I could have a photographer here to document every day.
28. Damn Andrea is good at doing hair.
29. It's time to put the dress on already.
30. I should probably wait until 5 minutes before the ceremony to put Ruthie's dress on.


31. People are here already!? What time is it?!
32. Can't really bend my arms, holding Ruthie like a robot for the rest of the day is fine.
33. First look is going to feel so awkward (I just saw Austin like 30 minutes ago). 
34. First look is a magical thing and I want to do it again at least monthly.

35. There are so many people here.   
36. I don't think we're going to start at 4:30.
37. I'm OK with starting late. 
38. Is everyone going to notice we are starting late?
39. Hope Lou doesn't mind strumming a few extra Sister Marilyn chords. 
40. What if there isn't enough food? What if there isn't any food because the caterer forgot? 
41. Can I go outside and say hi to everyone?
42. Reading books in the kitchen with Ruthie like everything is normal and there aren't 20 shuttles worth of family and friends outside.

43. What if Ruthie gets bored during the ceremony? 
44. Oh man, God bless Amy. She is literally sprinting around outside right now. 
45. Can anyone see me through this window
46. *Someone waves to me through window and I immediately drop to floor*
47. That was a strange reaction.
48. Time to go!
49. Was I supposed to wear a veil?
50. When did I put gum in my mouth?
51. *Frantically throws gum with excessive force, it goes 2 feet and sticks to a chair*
52. I have the greatest friends.
53. Should I remind Dad right now of the time he wore a furry suit to Andrea's wedding that one of the cats had slept on the night before?
54. I bet Ruthie is overwhelmed by the amount of people at our house.
55. Really time to go.

56. It is absolutely amazing to have most everyone I love in one place right now. 
57. I wonder if I look as excited as I actually am right now.
58. Oh, Austin. 
59. And Brian! Hi Brian!
60. Ruthie is crying! Poor buddy, she is probably so overwhelmed. (Thank you Renee for saving the day!)
61. Aw Austin...you're crying already!

62. Do we hold hands? One hand or both hands?
63. *Austin whispers to me "Do we have to read our vows? I already can't stop crying"*
64. UGH this is one of the absolute best and sweetest moments of my life. 
65. Ah which hand does it go on?! 
66. Just now noticing that I am standing in front of a whole buncha folks. 
67. Feeling some intense relief. 


68. I hope this olden time vehicle starts.
69. Ruthie would love this, we should have brought her for a ride with us!
70. I think I'm sitting on the actual gas tank, I'm glad Ruthie isn't on here with us. 
71. I'm starving. 
72. This is the.best.day.

Many more thoughts were had and lost as the evening became pretty much a blur. Some highlights included listening to the speeches (especially Mary's *crying-so-hard face*), eating some really good food, finally getting to eat the cake (that my mom made for anyone who did not know that!!), and best of all, hanging out with pretty much everyone I know and love. Thank you isn't enough to express my gratitude to all of those who were a part of the day. Let's do it again real soon.

Bride-to-Be Diaries: Coming up with a Playlist

Welcome to the first installment of the Bride-to-Be Diaries! A series of posts that I hope will provide informational bits for those planning a wedding - from me and other brides/brides-to-be. 

We are getting dangerously close to our wedding day and have a million things to do. There is one thing, however, that has been completed for months now: the playlist. Austin and I share a Spotify account and have quite a few playlists between the two of us. Sometimes, I put together a super cool playlist full of Pharell and Childish Gambino and call it Booty-Do, and sometimes Austin puts together a not-quite-as-cool playlist full of Kid Rock and Seether and titles it Booty-Don't. Another fun Spotify tidbit about Austin, when he finds a great new song, he can listen to it on repeat for days (currently: Beck "Wow"). Anyone remember when Kid Cudi came out with "Pursuit of Happiness"? Never thought I'd hear another song again.

I did a lot of the wedding planning myself. Austin didn't have a ton of strong feelings about florals, linens, flatware, or even food. He was pretty busy literally building our venue from the ground up, but one thing we made sure to collaborate on was the music for the ceremony, dinner, and reception. Music has been an important part of our relationship since college. Austin had a friend who was really proficient at finding new music, Austin was then excited to share the new music with me, and me with my friends (MEGAN - remember our obsession with MGMT "Electric Feel"?). Chances are music shapes most relationships to some degree, and it's a great opportunity to add personalization to the day. 

Gettin' down at Meg's wedding. Photo by Esenam Photography

Gettin' down at Meg's wedding. Photo by Esenam Photography

A good number of songs from our playlist remind us of those college days, an even greater number of songs remind me of him and make me all squishy and nostalgic. It may be the pregnancy hormones, but I cannot listen to "The Gambler" by Fun. without tearing up. To me, that's the number one rule when coming up with your wedding music - make it feel like you. Don't worry as much about packing the dance floor or making sure every attendee knows every song, make a list that represents you and your partner and your lives together so far. Listen to your playlist (on repeat, sobbing in the car on the way to work if you're like me) and if you find yourself skipping songs, get rid of 'em! 

My brother, Lou, will be playing the guitar during our ceremony (thanks, Lou!!). For the reception, we found a great band called The Woo Daddies who are kind enough to allow our playlist to share the stage throughout the night. We won't hog the speakers all night, check out our playlist and leave your song requests in the comments!

Styled Shoot

We are getting closer and closer to being able to book dates for all of those interested for the 2017 season. Also getting super close to our big day. Keep following along for lots of major updates in the coming months. Check out some photos from a styled shoot in May at Morton's Grove.

Event Styling by Nichole at Keen Events: https://www.theknot.com/marketplace/keen-events-llc-collinsville-il-848723
Decor and Props: http://philomenaandruth.com/ (this is the cutest shop in the world and it just so happens to be in Waterloo, IL!)
Hair by Andrea at Sanctuary Salon and Spa:  https://www.vagaro.com/sanctuary
Dresses by Ruby Francis: http://www.ruby-francis.com/ (her handmade clothing boutique is open on Cherokee)
Evans Tie by Lonesome Traveler: http://www.ltoutpost.com/ (they do super unique tie packages for groomsmen!!)

Ruthie is 1

Ruthie's first birthday was last Friday, April 22nd and I still cannot believe she's one! When I was pregnant, I hated hearing how fast pregnancy would go. When Ruthie was born, like the day she was born, so many people told me to cherish it because it would go by SO fast and I hated hearing that too. Now that she is one, I hate that everyone was SO right because it DID go by that fast. CRYING FACE EMOJO.

Ruthie was born on Earth Day which is an amazing reflection of her tree-loving daddy. We had an Earth Day themed party on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. It was perfect, thanks so much to everyone who wished her a happy day. And I think I've calmed down a little bit in case anyone is in the mood to tell me how Ruthie will be 21 before I know it.

Engagement Sesh

Looking for a unique location for your engagement photos? Send us a message and get out here! No charge, just a really beautiful option for couples seeking an authentic, rustic & nature inspired backdrop.

Photos taken by my sister, Mary Morton, in October.

Pergola Build

If you had asked me what a pergola was a few years ago, there is a slight chance I would have had no idea what you were talking about. The same goes for names of various plant life. "That tree? That's an oak, right?" Wrong. There are like a million types of trees other than oak. What?!

I'm learning all kinds of new things about landscaping including what it takes to build a massive pergola made to stand the test of time. Austin and his dad put up the rafters and beams in one day. Each bracket was handmade by Austin (all 120 of them) in order to achieve the rustic, industrial look he was going for. The poplar rafters and sugar maple beams were cut especially for us by Lohrberg Lumber in Hecker, Illinois for that rough-hewn look. The support posts are reclaimed, sturdy-as-hell utility poles. The posts will be rooted in concrete and enveloped in brick pavers. Each post has a different type of vine planted at the base, and I'm proud to say I know the name of each one.

The Beginning

So, what's all this about?
I am Laura Morton, the idea-haver for this venture. I'm a registered dietitian and whole food nutrition is my jam. I've got grand ideas on tying my nutrition expertise into this project in the future, stay tuned. My future-husband (the word fiancé is to me as the word moist is to you), Austin, is a recent grad from Wash-U's MFA program and is not only a super creative sculptor, but is also capable of conceptualizing and building just about anything. He is the doer for this venture. Our greatest accomplishment is our daughter, Ruthie - the most precious part of our lives and driving force behind this project.

We're gettin' hitched
Austin and I have been together for a while...like close to 10 years. We've been through it all and we love each other a lot. We share an interest in lots of stuff but most of all in parenting the funniest and cutest little darling. Austin proposed in August on a family trip to Anna Maria Island and it went a little something like this: a shaky hand shot out of nowhere and stuck a gorgeous antiqued band on the middle finger of my right hand. My left hand was holding a sleeping baby girl and also attempting to button my dress after nursing. It was perfect. Our wedding will take place at our home, AKA Morton's Grove, October 8th, 2016. This will be the first event at Morton's Grove and we are pumped to be the guinea pigs. 

But...Why?
We love where we live and love the idea of raising a little peanut to be a wild child running around the woods. We love it so much that we started to think maybe other people would love it too. If anyone out there is planning their wedding or maintaining an active Pinterest profile, you know that unique celebration spaces are topping planners' lists these days. We have one other thing going for us: Austin can literally make anything. From concept to construction, he can create something amazing and unique using ingredients that are meaningful and relevant to the time period and style of our home. Almost everything on the property has been created by Austin or our Dads, two other amazingly resourceful and essential parts of this project.

If you are interested in learning more about renting our space, we would love to hear from you. I hope you'll continue to follow along with the progress, I can almost guarantee it will be an entertaining journey!