this week’s contributor is april from our ship on the sea, a husband & wife writing/photography/videoography/event planning power team (and that’s just what they do for fun!). april approached me, curious if i’d be interested in a post about her experience with the unexpected things that happen after babies are born — the stuff they don’t necessarily tell you about and the stuff new parents often find themselves unprepared for; the stuff we often don’t talk about with everyone who asks us how wonderful, albeit tiring, our life with new baby must be. yes! i said. of course! mamas need to hear about other mamas’ struggles: it helps us feel less alone and can sometimes put our own struggles in perspective. it also can open up relationships to work through issues together and find support. read on!

A Denver Home Companion | our ship on the sea

The Unexpected

Even before she was born, Annie was unpredictable. At 38 weeks my doctor told us that she would be arriving within days (!!!) and to get everything in order. Jeremy and I rushed home, finished the last of the nursery preparation, I went on maternity leave, and my parents arrived flew in. Two long weeks later… the day my parents had to leave to go back to Nashville, I went into labor at the Denver Biscuit Company. (You better believe I stayed and ate the entire cinnamon roll). The doctor predicted a 9 to 10 pound baby. Annie was born at a sweet little 6 lbs 13 oz. 

A Denver Home Companion | our ship on the sea

We prepared well to bring our baby home, but we weren’t prepared for a few things that followed once we got there:

We weren’t prepared for breastfeeding not to work out for me. I mean- I took classes! And watched DVDs! And had THREE books! That preparation and multiple lactation consultants couldn’t help the range of issues I experienced. I just finished nearly 7 exhausting months of pumping. I didn’t even get the chance to make anyone uncomfortable from breastfeeding in public. : )

We weren’t prepared for our baby to have severe colic. When she started crying for hours every night at three weeks old we assumed it was gas or just typical evening fussiness. By the third day we realized we were in for weeks of what we called “Scream Fest 2012”. Annie would start crying at 5 pm and end around 11. We did everything imaginable to make it stop. One exhausting Friday night we put Annie in the car around midnight to get her to stop crying. It worked! But then we were too afraid to stop driving. We drove around our downtown neighborhood until 2 am looking at all the couples out on dates, laughing and holding hands, probably all a little sauced. I wanted to scream “OH YOU JUST WAIT.”

After the colic stopped, we weren’t prepared for the chronic congestion to begin. It’s common for young babies to be congested, but when it didn’t stop, we knew something bigger had to be going on. We took Annie to the pediatrician more times than I can count, Urgent Care twice, and the ER on multiple occasions when her breathing was so labored that she refused to eat or sleep. No one seemed to find anything wrong, but as her parents, we knew there was an issue. It was heartbreaking and we felt defeated. Finally, an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor confirmed what I already assumed- her adenoids we’re blocking her airway so severely that she struggled to breathe and eat, thus making quality sleep a joke… a super NOT funny joke. In six months time Annie had only slept for more than three hours ONCE. Thankfully, the end of the sleeping/eating issues is in sight – Annie is having her adenoids removed next month and we expect her issues to almost fully resolve. YAY!

A Denver Home Companion | our ship on the sea

Either most new parents really do have few issues, or those who do simply don’t talk about it. Well, I really wanted, maybe even needed, to talk about it. I thank Emily for giving me the space to do so, and I hope that someone out there finds this helpful.  I want to share some of our own lessons learned, thoughts, and internet love with those who might be struggling:

Ask for help. Since Annie’s birth, Jeremy and I have had three dates. One given to us by friends for three hours, a quick dinner date, and a movie. I take responsibility for this because I didn’t feel comfortable burdening anyone. Looking back- what a ridiculous thought. So many people who love us were willing to help, and we could have used the time alone together. So- ask for help! If your friends offer, take them up on it – that very week! If your family lives out if town- show weakness! Say- “Um yeah… we’re LOSING IT OVER HERE, please come help. Thanks!” Most likely those new grandparents will be thrilled you asked and will get on that plane if they are able to.

Talk about it. Your honesty allows others to be free in sharing their own hardships. My greatest comfort in low moments has been finding those who will simply say “I know. It sucks. It will get better.”  

Learn to let go and do what you need to do to get through it. Don’t beat yourself up over getting delivery because you’re just too exhausted to even think about turning on the stove. The same with the housework – nothing matters more than your well-being, especially not mopping. I wish we would’ve been more open to letting go of some things that weren’t working. Was giving Annie breastfeeding ideal? Yes. But should I have considered giving it up at the extreme point of exhaustion while Annie was sick and not eating any way? Yes- I should have been open to formula. 

Give yourself the ultimate gift: Stop comparing yourself to others. When those well meaning friends with dream babies who sleep through the night at 3 weeks old (I hear these mystical babies exist?) start to offer advice about your difficult baby-  it’s ok to stop them mid-sentence and say “We’ve actually tried it all.” and get off the phone. I’m not suggesting being rude, but if you have to hear another unhelpful suggestion again you might lose it even more severely. (So hey dream baby parents- it really is awesome that you’re having an ideal experience. Really- no sarcasm! It’s awesome! But your friends aren’t and they are struggling. So consider *not* offering advice. Instead say “What can we do to help?” Better yet- don’t even ask- just do it. Bring a meal over or take their baby for a walk and let your friends have an hour alone.)

A Denver Home Companion | our ship on the sea

With all this said, we didn’t expect that we’d be so happy to spend our weekends laying on the floor with Annie, singing songs and reading books. The delight in her laughs, the feel of her little hands rubbing over my cheeks and my husband’s beard – the best! Tonight we all sat together on the floor with baby sized instruments and had a mini-family band for a few precious minutes. I never expected to pray for time to stand still, even for just small moments like these.

-April Powell

Our Ship on the Sea

P.S. I hesitated writing this post because I didn’t want to sound ungrateful. We recognize how fortunate we are. We have a happy baby girl, and her health issues can be fixed. We are lucky- we know this. However, when you’re in the muck, it all becomes relative. To those who might be struggling – I’m wrapping my arms around you in a huge internet hug. It gets better- I’ll swear on it. 

thank you so so much, april. your honesty is brave and important. and i have no doubt this will have been something someone needed to read. parenthood is not easy. but its trials, as much as its blessings, need to be talked about amongst other parents and community members so that we can learn from and support those going through what all parents have gone through. (and how beautiful is that family?!)

if you are interested in contributing to A Denver Home Companion, please submit original writing (or ideas!) to emily [at] adenverhomecompanion [dot] com. though i may not be able to publish everything, i certainly consider all of them.


shawn reagan, the designer and craftsman behind the beautiful neckware at primary ties, chatted with me about the recent opening of his new company. i’m swooning over these unique and beautiful and thoughtfully made ties (jp received one for christmas last year and it’s his go-to tie). read on!

1. what is primary ties?  Currently Primary is only neckwear, but my vision down the road is to expand to other fashion accessories.

2. how did you get the idea to make ties? what was your inspiration?  I have always had a strong interest in design and I have a background in art, however I’ve found myself in a day job that doesn’t exactly satisfy my creative passions. so for the past few years I have been exploring several personal creative projects.  About a year and a half ago I stumbled upon ties.  I can’t remember exactly when the idea to make a tie came to me, but I have fallen in love with the process, because it touches on so many of my passions.

A lot of my fashion inspiration comes from childhood memories.  My family spent summers in Connecticut and although the New England culture played a part the biggest influences were my two uncles Joey, and Clay.  Joey worked in a ship yard, so his attire consisted of solid heavy workwear.  He was always in a knit cap with a bulky button down shirt, jeans and boots.  It was great. This never changed unless we were going out to Italian, and he would wear a tie.  A solid navy blue, or forest green is usually what he went for.  Clay on the other hand worked in Manhattan, and had some dough.  His style was completely prep, and completely different from Joey, but even as a child I appreciated and aimed to emulate both.

Another one of my biggest influences is Japanese designer Hiroshi Awai.  I think the reason I identify with his design is because he melds workwear and classic american dress wear really beautifully, and every now again you see a funky Japanese twist.

3. where are they made and what are they made out of?  All ties are made in Denver, CO.  Currently I’m using some linen fabrics as well as a few chambrays.  I was also lucky enough to stumble upon some unique Japanese double gauze on a recent trip to LA which has been a challenge to work with, but the final result is amazing.

A Denver Home Companion | primary ties

4. what has the process of developing this company looked like — from idea to conception?  When I first began making ties I would walk into a fabric supplier, and my eyes would light up.  I would end up buying any and every fabric that caught my eye, but this left me with a collection that didn’t seem harmonious.  Since then I have developed a more clear vision of what I want the aesthetic of Primary to be, and my restraint has improved.

5. has creating, developing, launching this brand been what you expected? easier or harder? what have the challenges been?  Overall it has been easier than expected.  This is because I am fortunate to be surrounded by the most supportive friends and family a man could have.  It seems that whatever problem, or question I come upon there is always a person in my life to give me a really intelligent helpful solution.  It’s really a great blessing.  My biggest challenge has been finding the time to develop the entire brand aesthetic from top to bottom.

6. are you doing this alone, or do you have partners/collaborators/helpers in the brand?  I am designing and constructing the ties alone, but I am inspired daily by my creative friends, which is priceless help.

7. who is helping you w branding/website development?  I have a degree in graphic design, so I decided to tackle most of the branding myself, but I’ve received a lot of web development help from my good friend and roommate, Dan Garza.  He is a gifted web/graphic designer and his guidance and expertise has been a huge aid.  I have also been lucky enough to lock down photographer Luca Venter to work on some look books with me which has been a treat.  Both very very talented guys.

A Denver Home Companion | primary ties

8. where can you buy these handsome ties?  Online.  I’ve also been in talks with several Denver boutiques — but that’s still in the works.

9. what new businesses (besides ties!) would you like to see happen in denver?  Honestly just more of the same good stuff. Denver had been blossoming before our eyes in my opinion.  The restaurant and bar scene is better by the day, and it seems that I’m hearing about more and more well curated men’s and women’s apparel stores that are ready to pop up soon.  Tikwid, and Steadbrook to name a few.  There is a a great creative energy in Denver right now, and as long as it keeps up I’ll be a happy camper.

10. what’s your favorite shop in denver? favorite place to eat?  My favorite shop is Ironwood.  It is beautiful, and interesting space, and I would buy every plant, stone, and antique if I could!  With the rapidly growing Denver food scene it’s tough to pin down a favorite, but a few months ago I tried Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, and enjoyed every bite.  It was my favorite meal of the year for sure, and the good news is that they are opening a sister restaurant at The Source in Denver called Acorn which I cannot wait for.

thanks, shawn! shawn is generously offering readers of A Denver Home Companion 10% off purchases made in his shop now through july 30th! just pop on over to shop primary and enter promocode GOLDENLIGHT. 

A Denver Home Companion | primary ties

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this week’s guest post is from jenny stockton. she reads, she bakes, she travels, she does lots of good for this world. she certainly seems quite wonderful! (we’ve never met but denver just keeps getting smaller and smaller: we do have some mutual friends.) go check her out. i especially love her discuss posts — thoughtful links to stuff worth knowing about.

if you ask me where i want go out to eat, chances are pretty good i’ll be suggesting any place that serves a big ass margarita and endless bowls of chips and salsas. that will be my request for my last meal. so when jenny came to me w an idea for a guest post that involved letting us all in on the secret of her favorite mexican restaurant, well, i couldn’t wait to see just how big those margaritas are.

A Denver Home Companion | la loma

I first ate at La Loma almost ten years ago, when some West Denver natives took me for dinner. I was volunteering with a youth organization, tutoring and mentoring teens, and the folks I was working with were intent on teaching me about all the best food the Westside had to offer.

One of my favorite things about La Loma is that it’s been around for so long, serving excellent authentic Mexican food. I’d even go so far as to say it’s the best Mexican food in Denver. 

When my husband and I went for dinner recently, we had the honor of sharing the experience with my baby brother for the first time. By the end of the meal, the two were cracking each other (and themselves) up with jokes about how La Loma “is no Casa Bonita but…”

There are three main reasons to eat at La Loma: green chile, tortillas, and tequila.

If you are a tequila connoisseur (I am not), La Loma has something to offer you. If you are a margarita enjoyer (I am), you should probably get a medium and make your underage baby brother drive you home (I did). I like margaritas on the rocks with salt, and La Loma uses only “tequila reposado 100% de agave”, which means it’s aged no less than two months but no more than a year and is made with no glucose or fructose sugars. The margarita de la casa is the perfect balance of flavors – tart and citrusy without being too sweet or sugary.

A Denver Home Companion | la loma

The flour tortillas are made from scratch, which is really probably all you need to know.

Luckily, the green chile comes as a side option with a number of the dishes. I have been known to order a bowl of it with tortillas for my dinner. Either way, you really shouldn’t ever leave without having at least a spoonful (or dipping one of your tortillas in the bowl your brother got as a side with his chimichangas).

If you have room for dessert, the sopapillas are some of the best. They’re light and crispy, but soft and fluffy enough to fill with pockets of honey.

So the next time you find yourself in Denver craving good, authentic Mexican food, go to La Loma. You won’t be disappointed.

A Denver Home Companion | la loma


thanks, jenny! i’ll be trying to talk jp into margaritas and burritos for lunch today!

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A Denver Home Companion | doughnuts at salt

dear ramona,

you’ve got the sweet tooth of your father.

i love you. love, mama.

(doughnuts enjoyed at salt in boulder. a recap of this fine establishment to follow.)
a portrait of ramona, once a week, every week, in 2013. inspired by jodi’s project.
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A Denver Home Companion | bridge at 43rd and incaA Denver Home Companion | bridge at 43rd and incaA Denver Home Companion | bridge at 43rd and incaA Denver Home Companion | bridge at 43rd and incaA Denver Home Companion | bridge at 43rd and inca

on sunday, the three of us went exploring by bike. traipsing over to the other side of 38th, we wound through the business district and found ourselves along the railroad in the sunnyside neighborhood. though there are residential homes just one block over and a great panoramic of denver behind us, this area made us feel like we were in the middle nowhere. at 43rd and inca is an old foot bridge that has it’s original wood stairs (most likely from well before when scarecrow was filmed over here!). it looks like it’s fenced off –probably bc rickety-looking structures like this usually are– but it’s open to the public and is a great shortcut for getting to and fro sunnyside and globeville.

we’d heard about this place when researching the development plans that are happening along inca for the  38th and inca lightrail station slated for 2016. it’ll most likely be torn down and rebuilt w something a lot less, well, awesome looking. the whole bridge spans over a dozen rail tracks and, as mentioned, gives a pretty great view of downtown denver. we were in the stairwell when a train came zooming by, the conductor giving us a friendly hello w his whistle after he passed. it was exhilarating being not ten feet from it (as well as terrifying; i held on to miss mo so tight!).

if you bike denver or are into exploring interesting pockets of this fine city, i’d highly recommend heading that way. especially before that whole area is redeveloped. (scroll down through this blog post for a photo of the wooden stairwell and ideas of where to explore once in globeville).

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