Cultivating joy and connection is the key to this family’s daily rhythm. Kelsie O’Connor shares her story, along with her partner Max Cutrone, of how family chose them and how they practice gratitude and connection moment by moment. Read about their practice of the Five A’s, attachment parenting, a joy-filled life, and how it all begins at home.
Tell us about your family.
Hi there! I’m Kelsie Mae (30) and my love Max Robert (38) and I have a 12 month old son, Levi Blume. Our story is unique, as all of ours are, and I’m not going to sugar coat it or water it down but I will keep it brief. It’s been messy and it’s been magical and it has made me the mother I am today. Our sweet son was a surprise baby. I love surprises, but this particular surprise really took me off guard. Big time. I must say I struggled. Throughout my entire pregnancy. It was unplanned, untimely, unlikely, unwelcomed and, of course, undeniably life-altering. I had heard of postpartum depression before and truly wondered if pregnancy depression was a thing because I was almost certain I had it. Yet… Levi had chosen us. Right here. Right now. Almost like hide-and-go-seek saying, “ready or not, here I come!” Although I fought the idea at first, I couldn’t resist but choose him back. And oh, am I so happy we did. He has been the best part of us. There’s so much more to the story obviously but for the sake of this blog, I’ll just leave it there. I wish we could all swap stories over one of Max’s amazing cups of coffee at our place! Maybe someday. Max is a videographer and I’m secretly hoping he turns our story into a movie/documentary. Stayed tuned! He is an incredibly gifted storyteller through film and I set dinner tables for women to gather around and share theirs. Together, our desire and heart is to bring love + light into this world through creativity and connection. And I have quickly realized that our boy, Levi Blume, is by far the brightest light and sweetest love we could ever bring into this world.
Describe your parenting style?
I’m not exactly sure how to answer this question but I did read a book about Attachment Parenting by Dr. Bob Sears and it really resonated with me and the style of parenting I would like to exemplify. The book highlighted seven attachment tools called the Baby B’s: Birth Bonding, Breastfeeding, Baby Wearing, Bedsharing, Belief in Baby’s Cries, Balance + Boundaries and Beware of Baby Trainers. Since becoming a mother I really have tried to live this out and have seen the fruit. I will say this way of parenting isn’t the norm, at least not where I come from, but it’s a new normal for me that I’ve grown to love. Schedules + regiments are very helpful of course but I mostly listen to and go off of what Levi is communicating to me through sleepy cues, his hungry sounds, and the various ways he lets me know his needs + wants. We’ve become quite fluent in our new life together 🙂
What does a typical day in your family look like?
A typical day in my family begins with a cooing and babbling wake up call through the monitor around 6am (after 12 months of co-sleeping Levi is finally sleeping in his own crib!). We walk into his room singing a song my mom actually made up and sang for me as a baby and bring him into our bed for morning cuddles + kisses. Once Levi has had enough of us smothering him, we get outside for our morning walk + coffee ritual. I am so grateful that we are walking distance to beautiful parks, cafes, and ocean views. Seeing the sunrise and breathing in that crisp coastal air is a family routine I could do for decades to come. Beginning the day this way prepares us for a centered, grounded and grateful day ahead. Then of course we have nap schedules and work and chores and errands but we always make time for play dates, ocean dips, and hosting dinners with close friends and family.
How has that changed since the Covid-19 crisis?
Thankfully we haven’t had too much of a routine shift once Covid hit. We moved back to California from Utah one month before Levi was born and just a few months before the pandemic. So I was mostly home with a newborn before the shift and then once things shut down not much changed for me, it just meant more cozy fireplace cuddles and nesting. Max works from home and his work was definitely impacted as a videographer but thankfully that gave us more time together as a new family. Max was able to be a part of Levi’s first year of life in ways he wouldn’t have been otherwise if he were traveling the world. The biggest impact was missing community. For us, that is everything. It takes a village and thankfully we are blessed with the best one 🙂
How does your family stay connected?
Staying connected is top priority for us. It can be pretty easy to get into a habitual weekly rhythm before realizing it just isn’t working for us, and hasn’t for a while. Like two ships passing in the night. It’s hard work but it’s the heart work that creates a life of depth + joy. We’ve decided to create space for intention and connection on a daily basis. Like I mentioned, we start our days together as a family and Max + I have a date night once a week. A time where we get out of the house just us two and enjoy a sunset picnic, or a bottle of wine in the back of our truck overlooking the pacific, or we stay in and fold laundry together while watching The Bachelor. But one of the things we do that has been the most transformative are going through the 5 A’s. After our morning walk, while Levi takes his morning nap and before Max works, we take 10 minutes and go over the 5 A’s.
Affirmation (Say something affirming to the other person)
Ask (Is there anything I can do for you today?)
Apologize (Is there anything I have done to hurt you in the last 24 hours?)
Affection (Hug, kiss, hold hands, or if you have more time…. 🙂 )
Amen (Pray together)
Give this a try on the daily! It’s the best 10 minutes you’ll spend.
Tell us what brings you joy?
Great question! Oh, it’s the little things, isn’t it? Life is made up of only a few BIG moments, and thousands of little ones. And it’s those little moments that make up a joy-filled life. It first begins with me… my perspective, my mindset, my outlook, my attitude. Joy invites us in, offers us a choice to step in or away. To notice the abundance all around us and within us. Joy is the promise of forgiveness, the redemption of love, it’s the grace we offer ourselves and others. Joy is the hummingbird that greets me on my walk, the double rainbow over my house, coffee with a close friend, hearing my son laugh, an elongated hug from my partner. Joy is rain. Joy is sunshine. Joy is the root of the tree, unmoved and unwavering as the weather shifts and changes above ground. Joy used to come naturally for me. Now, I do have to fight for it. And it is worth the battle. I will not let it slip away. For without it, colors are dulled and life’s magic fades. Comparison is the thief of joy. Cultivating contentment is the remedy.
What does home mean for your family?
As much as I love our home, and I truly do, I have learned that it isn’t the walls that surround us that are of importance but the relationships inside of them. That sounds cheesy and cliche, I know, I know. But recently we discussed the potential need to move for financial reasons and to my surprise that conversation wasn’t as heartbreaking as I thought it would be. Yes, I would miss our backyard which I’m pretty sure is the biggest in town, with the oldest and tallest climbing tree. Yes, I would miss the wood burning fireplace and the memories of our home birth in front of it. Yes, I would miss the location, the lure, the lovely nextdoor neighbors. But home is something we take with us wherever we go. Max and I sat together one morning and discussed what our values were, separately and together. Out of a very long list, the final three we both agreed upon were community, vulnerability, and wisdom. That is the kind of home we want to cultivate and create. A sacred space of safety, comfort, openness and growth.
How does babywearing help you at home?
Babywearing has been a GODSEND. Not only do we get to keep the snuggles strong but I can do it hands free! Which means momma can make herself some lunch, put on a little mascara, talk to a friend on the phone, respond to emails, sweep the kitchen floor, grab some toilet paper (sorry just saying it as it is), you name it. It makes me feel pretty invincible, and especially during those first couple months, more human. My sweet Lee would only sleep on me his first several weeks so babywearing not only allowed him to rest but I was no longer confined to the couch.