Family adventures + simple fashion + other lovely things

31 things I'm grateful for in July

kelsey williams2 Comments

Hey! Yes, I'm blogging at 4:03 am, because that is my life right now...and while I would be super duper grateful for longer sleep stretches at night from Mr. Finch, there's a whole bunch of other things to be thankful for:

  1. My mom. It's hard to put into words, but sometimes she's the only one who can give me what I my case that's usually emotional support.
  2. Our first family vacation in Okoboji
  3. Our 10-year-old nephew, who is so great with Rooney 
  4. The best coworkers in the world
  5. Walgreens (it's close to my house; usually has what I need; and is a not-so-intimidating outing for a tired, unshowered postpartum mom who is still in her pajamas...not wearing a bra)
  6. The kids' pediatrician, who takes such great care of us, listens, understands and gives me hugs
  7. Watermelon, Blue Raspberry and Cherry Laffy Taffy
  8. King size beds
  9. Swaddles
  10. A visit from friends who live 1,200 miles away
  11. Rocking chairs
  12. Nursing rooms at the mall and church
  13. Grandmas who rock babies to sleep
  14. Family members who want to hold my baby so I can have a break
  15. That my grandparents have an iPad so we can text and send them photos...their responses are the best
  16. Sharpie pens
  17. Coconut oil (best nipple cream and face lotion)
  18. Amazon Prime
  19. Maternity leave
  20. Saturday church services
  21. Babywearing...and that my husband isn't afraid to do it
  22. Budget meetings with my husband
  23. Couch time with Eric after work to catch up on our days and plan the rest of the evening
  24. Spudnutz
  25. Extra long iPhone chargers
  26. An Anthropologie coming to our mall! 
  27. Stool softeners (#hemorrhoids) 
  28. The mom community on Instagram
  29. Playdates with friends
  30. Free shipping
  31. Emojis

Finch's birth story

baby, birth storykelsey williams10 Comments
On Friday, June 5, 2015, at 9:43 a.m., our handsome son, Finch, was born. This is the story of his birth.

FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2015 (39 weeks, 1 day)

3:24 am

I woke up feeling menstrual-type cramps in my lower back. This was a little bit unusual because the contractions I'd felt toward the end of my pregnancy usually came on at night as I was falling asleep, not in the middle of the night. I wondered if this could be it! I got up and went to the bathroom and then got back in bed.

3:46 am

After a few strong contractions, I decided to start tracking them using an app. One thing I liked about the app was that after each contraction it asked me to rate the intensity, which helped me mentally process my pain level. I was having two strong ones followed by four milder ones, then repeat.


They were lasting 44-73 seconds each and coming every 5-7 minutes. I was taking deep breaths to get through them but having trouble laying still and I guess I was being loud enough that Eric woke up. I have to say when I read birth stories I always laugh at the woman not waking her husband right away, but I will admit that it's hard to know when to wake them. I didn't want to disturb him if this was nothing! He asked what was going on so I told him, and then I got up to pack up some last-minute hospital items. I wanted to be fully ready to go just in case they picked up or my water broke. But once I was up and moving around, the contractions faded off. This threw me off a bit and I got a little discouraged that it might not be anything.

4:24 am

After an hour of contractions, Eric called the midwives (Justine was on call) to see what we should do. He told her what I was feeling and she confirmed that typically real labor contractions will not go away if you get up and move around, so she suggested I take a bath or lay down to get some rest. I didn't really like this answer (I knew I would feel more comfortable at the hospital), but it was also 4:24 am and I knew that it would be more convenient for my birth team if we could wait a few hours before going to the hospital. I laid back down and sure enough, they picked up again!

5:02 am

We called Justine again to let her know the contractions had picked up and that I would feel more comfortable if we came to the hospital. I was super scared of not getting there in time or having to endure tough contractions in the car. She said that she was at the hospital and to come in.

5:06 am

Eric called Jessica, our babysitter, to come to the house to be with Rooney, who was sound asleep in her bed.

5:15 am

Eric called my sister, who lives 45 minutes away, to let her know what was going on and that I'd like her to be on her way. She was at Rooney's birth and I wanted her there for this one, too. For me it's reassuring to have people in the room who will provide emotional support and advocate for you on your behalf.

Once Jessica arrived and Eric got our car packed, we left for the hospital! I wanted to go in and peek at Rooney before we left, but her door made a noise when I opened it and she moved so I got scared and bailed. I did not want to wake her up!

I don't remember much of the drive to the hospital, except that it was dark and calm outside with little traffic. On the way, I texted our photographer that we were on our way to the hospital and that we would keep her updated. She replied that she was up and would hop in the shower and wait to hear from us.

5:45 AM

We got to the hospital and checked in. They had my preregistration on file so we got into triage quickly. I was feeling contractions every 2-7 minutes but they were pretty bearable with just closing my eyes and taking deep breaths. The nurse checked me and I was between 4-5 cm. I said "So is this the real deal?" and she said "Yep! You're not leaving without a baby!" I was so relieved. I texted my coworkers to let them know I would not be coming to work!

(With Rooney I got to the hospital between 5-6 cm so I was a tiny bit discouraged to not be as far this time. I could tell my labor was moving more slowly this time so I was kind of nervous it was going to last all day. Later I realized that this was because my water had not broken like it had with Rooney, which makes things go quicker and feel a bit more intense.)

6:12 am

My sister arrived at the hospital, and soon after we were moved to a delivery room. I was a little bummed that we got a small room that is typically given to recovering c-section moms (at our hospital, for vaginal births you deliver and recover in the same room, so those rooms are bigger, but they were full).

6:49 am

Our friend Mandy arrived with her camera, and I was so relieved because it meant that my entire birth team was assembled!

I got my IV for group B strep (I hate this part, they always miss at least once and this time was no different) and got my hospital bracelets on. I heard Eric ask, "Is this supposed to say her name?" ...they had given me someone else's bracelet!

The nurses change shifts at 7:00 am, so I got a new team of people and let's just say I was really pleased with the changes. :-)

7:20 am

My midwife Susan arrived and checked me and I was 6 cm, 90% effaced and -1 station. I had seen Susan for most of my appointments this pregnancy and was pleased that she was the one on call now (they also switch at 7:00 am). She asked me about my plan for pain medication and I told her I didn't know! Ahh! I was torn because I've done it without any before and knew I could do it - but did I want to? I wondered what it would be like to get an epidural. Susan talked me through the pros and cons and then Eric and I had a quick chat/pep talk and decided to not get it. I think I cried :-) I knew it wouldn't be easy but deep down I didn't want it (I don't do well with medication and wanted to know after the birth that what I was feeling - shakes, headaches, whatever - was normal and not a result of medication.

I felt really aware and present in the moment (unlike Rooney's birth, which went so fast!). I remember looking down at my belly and holding it and thinking how it would be the last time I would ever be pregnant. I decided I wanted some music so I grabbed my phone and turned on my current favorite song, "Rising Sun" by All Sons & Daughters.

There were three other births my midwife (and a student with her named Stephanie, who had striped my membranes earlier in the week) was attending, so for most of the laboring it was just me, Eric, Kari and Mandy in the room. We chatted and laughed between contractions. I asked for a birthing ball but I didn't like it as much as I remembered with Rooney. I preferred to hang onto Eric's shoulders as if we were dancing, or do hands and knees on the bed. In between every contraction I went to the bathroom to empty my bladder.

7:38 am

My contractions were coming every 5-8 minutes at this point. I got an urge that I wanted the personalized blanket that my dear friend Emily had sent us (she was one of two people to correctly guess his name before he was born) to help motivate me and to visualize. Our bags were still in the car so Mandy went to get it, as well as some coffee for Eric. That was the first time she and my sister found out the name!

8:30 am

I was checked again and was at a good 7 cm, 100% effaced and 0 station. My contractions had picked up and were coming every 2-5 minutes. I made a joke to Susan that I'd like to have that epidural now :-) That's the thing with epidurals. You have to decide when you're in the early stages of labor but you need it in the last stage :-) At this point I was most comfortable on my knees, hugging the pillows/back of the bed.

Susan asked Stephanie to stay in the room with us at that point since I was the closest of their patients to delivery. For some reason this really motivated me and I said, "Boom!", which got some laughs.

8:43 am

Eric got a text from Jessica that Rooney had made it to school safely and that she was very excited to meet her brother! This is where i lost it! I just instantly burst into tears thinking about Rooney!

9:20 am

I was checked again and was at 8 cm. So, I was progressing about 1 cm per hour. Two more centimeters to go.

I was feeling very uncomfortable and my moaning and groaning definitely showed that. They decided to break my water at this time. I was excited for this because I knew it would speed things up and I wanted it to be over! I felt a warm gush of fluid but it was not painful or uncomfortable.

9:31 am

I went from 8 to 10 cm very quickly because 11 minutes later I was complete and allowed to push! Those 11 minutes were really painful though as he moved down and put pressure on my pelvis. Counter pressure on my back from the midwives definitely helped me get through transition phase. I remember one time getting completely overwhelmed with the pain. It just overtook me and I ugly cried for a split second before knowing I had to squelch the fear and conquer it. Giving birth is hard work!

After I did a practice push, my midwife told me that he'd be born after just three more pushes! Eric and my sister say I pushed for a total of 2 or 3 contractions, but since I was the only one feeling them, I say it was more like 5 or 6. Still so much shorter than I pushed with Rooney!

The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, so once his head was out they had me stop pushing so they could unwrap it. It was so awesome to feel him coming down and out so much quicker than Rooney did! I labored with my eyes closed most of the time, but Susan encouraged me to look down and it was so amazing and rewarding to see my baby's head for the first time!

9:43 am

After six hours of labor and 12 minutes of pushing, Finch Christianson Williams was born into the world and took his first breath! He was immediately placed on my chest where they suctioned out his mouth and he let out a big cry. "Great are You Lord" was playing in the background.

This is the best part. The reward. A brand new chubby baby on your chest! I was so so so happy and relieved. I heard Susan and Stephanie discussing the umbilical cord clamping and pulsating, and I felt like I was in great hands as that was one of my wishes.

I pushed a few more times to deliver the placenta and then got stitched up - which is NOT fun in case you are wondering. I only had a first-degree tear this time but it was just as bad as getting stitched up with the second-degree tear I had with Roo.

We hung out like this for quite a while. My sister and Eric made phone calls/texts to tell family he was here. Eventually we let the nurse take him to check his weight and length. I was really eager to hear what he weighed. He was in the womb one day longer than Rooney and weighed exactly one ounce more: 8 pounds, 9.2 ounces. Both my kids were born on Friday mornings - Rooney at 9:48 am and Finch at 9:43 am. It was kind of like deja vu!

I'm so incredibly thankful to have had another quick, safe and natural delivery. Both my births couldn't have gone any better and I feel really blessed to be able to say that.


Huge thanks to my birth team: Iowa Methodist Hospital and the UnityPoint Methodist Midwives (Susan and Stephanie), Eric (never left my side!), sister Kari (she kept track of this timeline and held my right leg while I pushed) and photographer Mandy Miller. These photos are such an amazing gift. I cry every time I look at them!

Thank you, Lord, for this sweet little miracle.

Related posts:

staying stylish on a budget

shoppingkelsey williams12 Comments

I got an email recently about how we manage such a low clothing budget for our family. My clothing budget is $20/month. Eric's is the same as mine, and the kids each get $10/month. So, it's $60 between the four of us. I have to say, it feels a little tight (when we set up our first budget, Eric and I each got $80/month and it's gradually decreased over the years), but we make it work to keep our other financial goals in line. We like to buy clothes, but we'd also like to pay off our house early, so we make sacrifices.

Not sure I have anything groundbreaking to share, but in case you're curious...

For Rooney, we get a lot of hand-me-downs. My sister has three girls so we are always getting bags of stuff they've outgrown. And Roo loves hand-me-downs (she seems to prefer them, actually). She is always asking, "Did Mylie give this to me?" So those usually cover the basics, and I use her $10/month to buy trendy pieces I want for her. Rooney has plenty of clothes on this budget, even though sometimes I can't always afford something I want for her. It's easy to get carried away with all the cute stuff available! For example, right now I've got my eye on this. It's $16.99, so it will take me two months to save up for it (but it will hopefully be on sale by then!). I almost always buy things on sale.

Rooney picks out her outfits every day but is still at an age where I choose what is bought and goes in her dresser. I try to be very practical and make sure everything washes well. If I wouldn't want her to wear it to daycare, I typically don't buy it because that is where she is four days a week.

Also worth noting:

  • I've blogged about my favorite stores for kids here.
  • I usually ask for specific clothes for her birthday/Christmas if there's a more expensive item I really want for her.
  • Schoola and ThredUp are online consignment stores I've started to buy from - there are some really great deals!
  • When I get coupons in the mail from Kohl's or JCPenney for $10 off a purchase of $10 or more, I go to the store and get something cute for about $10. Check the Kohl's clearance shoes! I recently got Rooney a super cute pair of Candies boots that were originally $60 and I paid $1.79!
  • I buy diapers at Target when they have the "Buy 2 boxes, get a Target gift card" promotion, and then I use those gift cards to buy kids clothes. Sometimes it's a $5 or $10 gift card, but occasionally it will be $15 or $20 (which helps with purchasing the sweatshirt I linked to above).
  • I buy bigger sizes when they're on super sale at the end of the season.
  • After we found out Finch was a boy, I sold some of Rooney's old clothes at a local consignment shop and used the money to buy new items. I'm also hoping to get my act together soon and resell some of Rooney's stuff on Instagram.
  • I love sale sites such as Zulily, Hautelook and Gilt. It is free to join and then you have access to daily flash sales.
  • I also don't want to discount the fact that we do occasionally receive free items from brands who generously send us clothes to feature on the blog or Instagram (which is always disclosed).

For Finch, I asked on Facebook for hand-me-downs and was surprised at the number of people who were willing to just give us their old stuff! Kids outgrow things so quickly so I am definitely not above hand-me-downs! Because of this, Finch has enough pajamas for two years! Which is great because I don't want to spend his budget on pajamas! I am hoping his $10/month will be able to fill the gaps, but it's too soon to tell. We typically like to keep things even, but he may need a bigger budget than Rooney since he gets less hand-me-downs. However, when Rooney was younger, I occasionally bought boy-friendly items for her just in case we had a boy next, so now we can pass them down to him.


As for me, my job is very casual dress, so I can wear the same things during the week as I do on the weekends and don't have to have two wardrobes. If you're having trouble sticking to a clothing budget, I think first you have to figure out how to "want less." I go through spurts where this is easy and spurts when it feels hard. Again, nothing groundbreaking. I simply can't spend as much on clothes as I used to, but I think it's been a good thing for me to have limits. In addition to the $240/year I get from our personal budget, I usually ask for clothing gifts for my birthday and Christmas.

One thing that helped me was to stop shopping for 30 days. I've done that three different times, and last year I did 89 days. During those 30 days of not shopping, I chose 30 pieces of clothing I already owned and mixed and matched only those 30 items. It is very eye-opening and really helped me nail down what my wardrobe was missing. I am a much smarter shopper now and can usually look at a piece of clothing and immediately know if it is the right fit/style for me or not. I no longer feel lost or buy things that don't work for my body, style or lifestyle. When I shop for myself, it's usually at Madewell, buying pieces that I love that will last me a long time, and I fill in the gaps with cheaper basics from Old Navy. It's amazing how a $15 H&M scarf can give me a boost and make all my clothes feel new again.

Also, have you heard of capsule wardrobes? It's where you have a set number (say, 37) of items and just mix and match within those pieces for the season. That's pretty much what I do and want to do with Rooney. I wear a "uniform" most days (for example, skinny jeans, a T-shirt and a cardigan in the spring and fall), but it works so I just rinse and repeat. This means I do not buy a lot of tops that are not T-shirts. Silk tops are not a good use of my budget - I simply won't wear them. I've purged a lot of the items I didn't absolutely love or that don't fit my uniform, and it makes getting dressed so much easier. Unfancy is a great site that talks about capsule wardrobes a lot (she no longer posts, but there's still a great archive of information there).


Eric's new job has a business casual dress code, so he does have to buy different stuff for work vs. weekends and he is definitely in a building phase right now as he builds up his dress clothes. This has been hard for him to do on a budget and we have padded his funds a bit here and there, but I have to spend at least $80/year on bras that he doesn't so I don't feel too sorry for him ;-)

Every single thing you buy should increase the value of your closet. For example, if you would rate your closet at an 8, you should only buy things that are 9s or 10s. But maybe your closet is at a 5 so you can be more lenient and buy 7s and slowly turn over your wardrobe over time. It's not scientific but it has helped us avoid bad purchases in the past. Once you have a good handle on your style, I think it's great to buy higher quality items that might cost a bit more, and also to have willpower to wait for sales. I would say if you are hesitating on a purchase there is probably a reason and you don't love it enough. Leave it behind and walk away! It takes time to build a great wardrobe, but it is so worth it in the end.

P.S. A catalog of Rooney's outfits, and my outfits.

conversations with Rooney // 11

Rooneykelsey williams1 Comment

These "conversations" are more like "one liners" or "Rooney-isms," but they're fun just the same!

In the car: "Mommy, if you need anything, I'm right behind you."

"Maybe next week I'll grow really bigger!"

Eating bites off a waffle: "It looks like an elephant! There's the tail, and legs, and two eyes, and the trumpet!"

"I wanna see the firefighters!" (fireworks) 

"Mom, this is my supper from last year." 

"I'm not ever talking to you because I'm watching the movie." 

"I'm sad because there's a baby at our house." (And then a few minutes later: "You're my best friend, baby Finchy!")

"You're beautiful too because you have a brown shirt on." 

"When I was a little baby I was a girl baby." 

"When I eat a lot of food then I'll be 4!"

"Mom, are these your underwear? You have really big ones." 

"Mom, I didn't step on your toes so your fingernail polish can't come off." 

"What's going on, Mom?"

"My feet are perfect for my legs."

First thing in the morning after she woke up: "What are we going to eat today?"

After putting one ball into her reward jar (which holds about 20 balls): "Getting closer!"

Patting my tummy, the day Finch was born: "You have another one in there! I can see it! You have a lotta babies!"