I’ll admit, this was not the post I had in mind when I said I was going to put more time into Papa & Co. I am doing this intentionally though. I promise. Music motivates me and I love sharing good tracks with people. There is something therapeutic about curating a playlist and this is one of my favorites.
It started mostly as a Mexican surf rock playlist. I came across a bunch of it while I was diving deep into small Mexican surf towns to potentially go to for a vacation. As things do, that led me into finding some other fun summery sounding songs. Who knew that jangle and tiki were music genres? I sure didn’t.
Birdseye view of our pool at our beach house this year.
Anyway, I always love to make a good playlist before our annual family beach trip. One we can play over the outdoor speaks by the pool that everyone can enjoy. It’s fun introducing new stuff to the family. This year, we practically just kept this one on rotation for the week and it set a really nice mood. So, go ahead and follow this summertime Jockey’s Ridge, close your eyes and daydream of all the sand you should be finding in those super short surf shorts your wife said she’d never be caught alive near you on the beach if you wore them.
Forrest and I taking an after dinner walk on the beach. Sporting the Jockey’s Ridge
A favorite from our vacation. Forrest sliding down a dune at Jockey’s Ridge. He loved it and yes, there was a ton of sand in his shorts, diaper and everywhere else.
The holidays are by far my favorite time of year, especially since we have a little one. All the excitement and joy is just so much fun. Another part of the holidays I love is spoiling those I love. And to be fair, I don’t mind receiving some great gifts either.
To help make your shopping easier this year, I’ve put together 4 curated guides to help give you ideas. Hopefully you’ll find them handy and be able to get everyone on your list checked off quickly so you can go enjoy their company.
Also, this year, I’ve been using this amazing little browser extension called Honey. If you aren’t familiar with it yet, then let me know tell you about it real quick. Basically, you just install this in your browser and it automatically finds coupons, promo codes and other deals you may not have found already and let’s you know if you are getting the best price for whatever it is you are looking at. Go give it a try!
(front of Forrest’s birthday invite, designed by myself)
As Forrest’s second birthday quickly approaches, I thought it might be nice to finally share some images and words about his first birthday. Clearly, having an almost two year old makes it far harder to keep up with this blog. Between running a successful photography business with my wife and trying to maintain a work/life balance, the blog has been put on the back burner a bit. Good news is that I am about to move into a new co-working space where I am hoping I will be more efficient with my work, thus giving mysef more time to put effort into this blog, because I really have grown attached to it and love what it is/was becoming.
I’ll admit, I was one of those people who thought it was ridiculous to throw a one year old a big party and go all out when they won’t even remember it. But I get it now. It’s not just for the child, but also, if not even more so, for the parents. It’s a celebration of making it through a year with this little human. And sure, he won’t remember exactly remember his first birthday party, but he’ll have photographs of it to look at later in life. He’ll be able to see just how much he was and still is loved by all of those friends and family.
Along with tons of help from our family and friends, I would say we pulled off a pretty great first birthday party, especially since it was right toward the end of our busiest part of the year. Oh, and when I say “we”, I really mean my wife, Jessica. She put in the brunt of the work. We held the party at one of the shelters that you can rent out at William B. Umstead State Park. Since Forrest’s birthday is late October and a lot of our life with him involves the mountains and the outdoors, we went for a fall/outdoor/mountain theme.
(Wooden mountain peaks made by friend, outdoor adventure hunt game designed by myself)
As tempting as it can be to put together a super cool party that has no childish vibes at all, we knew it was important to still remember that this party was in fact a one year olds party, so we really tried to make it enjoyable for both kids and adults. We had a good bit of food that would appeal to the adults and then some for the kids as well as the overall design and decorations. I think we succeeded there. Our style for gatherings has always been less pretentious and more laid back, which is how we hope to raise our son, so reflecting that in this party was also important.
Looking back, I am glad we did all we did for Forrest’s first birthday. It may have seemed like a lot to us in the moment, but the first year is a big year. And heck, we didn’t do nearly as much as a lot of parents do. We knew our limits and kept to them and still had an amazing, memorable time. This year, his birthday might not be as involved, but I guarantee it will be extremely special too.
Family friend and fellow photographer Rebekah with her newborn daughter, Penelope. Photo: Brett & Jessica
Since this time last year, I have witnessed my wife, Jessica, evolve as a mother and it’s a beautiful thing. As our son, Forrest, has grown, developed new skills and has really begun to show his more toddler personalities, the challenges have become different for Jessica, but I do know that she is feeling the reward of it as well. It’s truly non-stop around our home now and while I try my best to put in a good effort in helping out with Forrest, it’s Jessica who is truly doing the brunt of the work. Her natural motherly instinct kicks in and she just knows how to handle every situation, or at least it seems that way to me. Once we (usually Jessica) have put Forrest down for bed, she then begins to take care of the other tasks she has and by time we hit the pillows, I can sense her exhaustion, yet I hear no complaints from her while I may be laying in bed next to her complaining about some mundane, easily fixable issue I had with my day. She’s a trooper. A hard worker. A dedicated mother. An absolute blessing to both Forrest and myself. That’s why Mother’s Day means so much to us around here. She deserves, as all mothers out there do, a day to feel pampered and rewarded for her role as mom.
Beyond the spa day gift cards, flowers and nice dinner, I’ve put together a Mother’s Day gift guide that I think the mother in your life will certainly enjoy. Whether it’s the woman who birthed your child/children, your own mother or a friend who is a mom, these gifts should certainly make her feel special. Of course, don’t forget to grab a nice card too. I’ve recently been obsessed with everything Moglea has been putting out and they’ve got some amazing cards for mama’s.
If you already have a child, then you know well that whether you were once a reader or not before becoming a parent, that you certainly are now. We all know that reading to your child, even before they are born, is an incredible way to connect, educate and stimulate their rapidly growing minds.
Back when we found out we were having a child, one of the first things we did was buy books to read out loud so that our little guy could learn our voices right away. When he made his way into the world, we kept up with that. It’s paid off in so many ways already. Some of our fondest memories with Forrest so far are during story time. He’s been a book lover since forever and still is.
The thing with children and books is just like children and anything else; they get really attached to one thing or doing a certain thing. They like and need to hear things over and over. I am pretty sure that between my wife and I, we’ve read Little Owl Lost at least 1 million times. So, if you are going to be reading the same thing over and over, you mind as well get some enjoyment out of it too. There are ridiculous amount of books out there for little ones, so naturally, it’s hard to sift through all of them to find the good ones. The ones written well with interesting topics or amazing illustrations and that might even inspire us parents.
So, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite books that Forrest loves and that Jessica and I don’t mind reading over and over. Feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments for others to check out as well!