You'd never know from how perfect these pictures turned out, that getting out the door to get to the shoot on time was a bit of a nightmare and Jillian almost puked in the car. 
So I'm gonna go ahead and chalk this up to a modern-day miracle.

It's funny to me how many people (and there have been so many) ask me if we're going to "try for a boy next time." People do know that the odds restart with each kid, right? It's always going to be 50/50 no matter how many of them there are. ;-)

But even though our family is 80% girl, I certainly don't feel jipped. 

Having a sister means you always have a best friend- and they each get two. There will be arguments over clothes, shoes, boys, screeching at decibels levels you never thought humanly possible, drama and emotions, with lots of talking about how we feel. But there will also be lots of giggles and secrets shared- that thicker than water kind of love.

Nah, we just don't feel jipped. We feel incredibly, incredibly blessed.

Thanks for the most adorable pictures, Mar Downs!

the story of charlotte

We're a family of FIVE. That is a pretty good size group.
I mean, we bought a minivan (and it's awesome. all hail power sliding doors). 
Charlotte Lynn joined us on Monday, May 29th at 2:58pm, weighing 7lbs 4oz and 20" long.

Her arrival was pretty routine (fortunately!). This was my first scheduled induction, so it was a little odd to go to bed thinking, "we're having this baby TOMORROW!" I did try to get labor going on my own several days before, but to avail. I mean...an hour of High Fitness did nothing people. Nothing. She was pretty content in there!

I could hardly sleep the night before, in the same way that you can't sleep the night before Christmas. We arrived at the hospital at 6:15am and got all settled in. I started Pitocin around 7:30ish. My contractions were mild and I actually couldn't feel a lot of them. A couple hours later I decided to get my epidural (bless) before my doctor wanted to break my water. 

Progress was slow at first- it took 6 hours to go from 3cm to 6cm dilated! Speaking of which...the hospital wall had a nice little visual display of what 1 to 10cm dilation looks like. Thanks for that visual. 10cm sounds so small, but when you see it on a chart and realize what is going to be 10cm...it doesn't seem so small anymore.
But after that things happened crazy fast! I went from 6cm to holding her in less than an hour. We told my sister she could be in the room with us (since she's expecting her first baby in July!), and she barely made it to the hospital on time.

She came out super quiet. A few squeaks and small cries here and there- so the nurses had to rub and pat her quite a bit to finally get a good cry out of her. 

Even though this is our third baby, I'm so amazed every single time when I see an actual living, breathing, tiny little human come OUT of me. That I made. From scratch.
(all the while wondering how in the world they could possibly fit in there).

Jillian and Olivia absolutely loved meeting her and were excited to get to help wash her hair for the first time.

Everyone is asking who she looks like- I think so far she's a pretty decent mix of both of the girls! Her eyes and face remind me a lot of Jillian, and her nose, mouth and chin look a lot like Olivia. I just hope she keeps her dark hair! 

Recovery this time around has been a lot smoother and I'm so grateful! I think it just gets easier the more babies you have, but I'd also like to think all that exercise throughout my pregnancy has helped just a little bit. That first time you realize you can actually bend over without anything getting in your way is just blissful.

I love having a tiny little person to cuddle and gawk over (not so much wake up with several times a night, but I suppose it's a package deal). Suddenly Jillian and Olivia seem so much older in comparison to Charlotte's wrinkly, squishy little body.

Since we've been home, Jillian loves to hold her and will even "baby talk" to her- it's pretty funny to listen to. Olivia likes to tell everyone every time Charlotte sneezes. "Mom! Charlotte bless you'd again!"

 We all love her to bits and our family is feeling pretty complete!


that time I cried during "goin' on a bear hunt"


Summer is my time. Maybe it was growing up in the land of eternal summer (aka Florida), but I'm totally okay with 10 popsicles a day, the smell of sunscreen and running through sprinklers in the backyard, relaxed schedules and negotiable bedtimes- it's my very favorite.

This summer also feels special, because although as a teacher I've had many summer breaks, this is Jillian's first true summer break since she just finished kindergarten! I plan to teach her all the ways of popsicling and red cheeks from endless hours of playing outside.

Kindergarten was a growing experience- it really stretched her (mentally, emotionally and physically- the kid grew like 5 inches). I know the adjustment can be hard for a lot of kids, and it proved to be so for her as well. She needed me to walk her to her classroom every morning for about 3 months! But looking back, it felt good to be needed. It always does. By the end of the year she'd hop out of the car and meet up with other friends getting dropped off and they'd run in the front doors together, rarely looking back. I always give her a kiss before she went in and for a while she would say, "no time for kisses!" as she would rush to catch up with one of her buddies. I'd always make her stop anyway- because there is always time for kisses.

^with her teacher, Mrs. Mitchell

Throughout the school year her class put on several performances- Mother's Day, Christmas, grandparent's day, Daddy donut day...all of which involved some kind of singing or poem reciting. Jillian hates that kind of thing. I think it's a combination of her personality- she is shy by nature, combined with her struggles with sensory processing- but a room full of eyes on her doing something is too much for her to handle. She will either run off the stage crying, or refuse to go up at all. We figured this out pretty early on in her life, and I usually just go into those things with zero expectations. We've tried a lot of different things to help her get over her fears, but nothing has worked so far. So we've kind of backed off. If she isn't the kid that does the cute dance recitals, or the kid singing the loudest (or at all)- it's fine. We've learned to let her shine in other ways where she can still gain more confidence in herself.

During the last week of school the school had a dance festival where each grade level performed a dance for the parents and the rest of the student body- one of the biggest performances of the year. I debated even taking her- knowing she wouldn't want to do anything and thinking of trying to keep Olivia entertained for an hour outside in the heat while each grade level performed. But the night before, I told James that I always want the opportunity for her to try to be there, just in case.

Ever so ironically, when I woke up in the morning and was casually scrolling through my facebook feed before the girls woke up, my Time Hop showed me a blog post I'd written from the day where she completely melted down during her end of year preschool event- and I handled it horribly. It was a definite learning experience for me as a parent. I thought, "This is definitely a sign! She's not going to do anything, but we're going to go anyway and support her class and she can just watch."

All of the grades filed outside on the lawn behind the school. All the kindergartners had on safari hats and binoculars crafted out of toilet paper tubes- their dance was "Going on a Bear Hunt". I snapped a picture of her sitting with her class waiting to perform because I was sure that was the only chance I'd have to do so. As each grade level performed, the parents' of students in that grade would go closer to the front, crouching down with their phone in hand to get a close up recording of the performance. When kindergarten walked up, I decided I would just stay in my seat since I knew there wouldn't be anything to record anyway (but maybe her running towards me in terror). But when Jillian actually walked out with them, I thought...well this is new. And inched my way towards the front, curious about how this was going to play out.

Jillian moved from the back of the group to the front row. As the music started, she started. She was DOING IT!

And then, behind my sunglasses, tears started to roll down my cheeks. I mean, I AM enormously pregnant so there ARE lots of extra hormones going on over here, but I think I would have regardless. She performed the entire song- on the front row, in front of the entire school.
I was as flabbergasted as I was proud, and I couldn't wait to tell her just how proud of her I was.

Do I think this will happen every time from now on? No. Definitely not. But do I think it was a heck of a confidence builder for both of us? Definitely. We'll take the wins where we can. It validated my approach to all of this with her fears about performing- not forcing her to do it or shaming her for not doing it, but at least always giving her the opportunity to try.

And now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, we'll be jumping into all-day first grade next year. I know it will come with new challenges for her and I'll keep messing up this parenting thing as we go, but I also can't wait to see more of those growing moments- in her and in me. 


be free to move event with lululemon

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Alex and I attended an event with Lululemon to launch a new sports bra they developed. It was such a blast! Originally we just thought we'd be getting hooked up with a free bra (which would have been great on it's own- good sports bras ain't cheap!), but when we went to the store for the fitting they surprised us by letting us also pick out an entire outfit! I've officially been converted to the ways of Lululemon. (And suggest everyone buy a pair of their Align pants- because you literally feel naked...but you're not...which is a good thing). 

We started off with a good sweat- some yoga and some HIIT- had to put those new bras to work ;-). I probably overdid it a little bit, but it was hard not to being in a room full of such strong women with the music pumping! As we were going through the yoga bits, the fabulous Sadie Jane talked us through a meditation that was centered around feeling strong and confident in your body. Letting go of what we see as imperfections in ourselves. Throwing away the word "try"- you don't just try something- you DO it. To change the way we think from "I don't know" to "I don't know yet."

These were all things I needed to hear and I left feeling strong and uplifted. It's interesting- there have been times throughout this pregnancy where I have been so self-conscious. Though it's been my healthiest pregnancy, I've gained the most weight so far (45 lbs so far!). But it's still a hard pill to swallow when the year prior to getting pregnant I'd just lost 30 pounds and was in the best shape of my life. And then there are other times when I feel the most confident I ever have- that I am this far pregnant and look what I can still do. (And then some other times when I don't care about any of it and I just want to sit on the couch with a carton of ice cream). Pregnancy hormones folks...what a rush. 

But I needed to be reminded of those things- that I am not my body. That I take care of my body because of what my body allows me to do- and that is who I am- what I decide to do

 Deliciousness by Clean Eats and Treats

^Mend Juicery - I need this in my life every day.

It was such a great day! And I'm really looking forward to working out with OUT a giant belly to move around! 

-Photography by Roslyn Smithers-


olivia turns 3!

My baby is THREE! This is especially weird, because Jillian was 3 when Olivia was born, and now Charlotte is almost here and Olivia is 3! Where is the time going?

 Also, can you believe that little toe-head started out with a head full of black hair!?

 We started out the day with traditional birthday sprinkle pancakes. Olivia insisted we light the candle and sing to her 4 times, which we did of course.

 That night we had our family over for a birthday dinner. She was so excited about it all day! She especially loved the play makeup from Tia Cynthia. (Her eyebrows are still purple).

 I love doing big, all-out birthday parties, but this year there was just too much going on to take on the extra planning! It actually was kind of nice not worrying about anything except making a cake..hah! And Olivia had just as much fun. Maybe I should take note...

Some of Olivia's favorite things:
Elsa (and princesses in general)
Doing anything Jillian is doing
Jumping/running- she's never still
The Bounce House (a warehouse with a ton of large bounce houses)
The soundtrack from Trolls
The show The Lion Guard
Peanut butter sandwiches 
Playing in the dirt

Some of Olivia's least favorite things:
Getting buckled in her car seat 
Waking up (she's not a morning person)
Putting on clothes
Keeping her shoes on

The term "threenager" couldn't fit her better- she is both sweet and (at times) sassy! She is a big time cuddler and always makes sure you give her hugs and kisses before walking out the door. She loves playing and pretending with Jillian, especially with dolls, games where one of them is the mom and one is the baby, or both of them pretend to be kitties. Her laugh is infectious (and she snorts a lot!). Sometimes she talks just to hear herself talk- she will go off telling me the most random, unrelated things, which usually end up being pretty funny. She is so full of life and love and I couldn't imagine our little family without her! 

When we put her to bed after her party, she excitedly asked, "Can we do this again when I'm four?!" 
We love you so much Livvy-loo! 


Some of my favorite things about Easter this year:

Jillian got a little confused with the whole Easter basket thing and stockings on Christmas. We had to have a talk to seriously lower her expectations (we do Christmas a lot bigger than Easter, which I think most people do...haha!). She still wanted to leave a note for the Easter bunny (we usually leave a note for Santa at Christmas), which she decided to hide last minute because she thought that might be a dumb idea after all. She's growing up too fast!

We leave our kids' basket's in their rooms so they can see them when they wake up, and when Jillian woke up she bolted out of bed and ran downstairs to ask us first if she was allowed to look at it. Oddly considerate of her! 

When Olivia woke up and came down to see us she exclaimed, "Happy Easter Egg!" 

Both of them went through most of their candy stash before lunch time. Meh. I figure it goes with the territory. (I mean...we DID leave a basket of candy in their bedroom that morning...so I couldn't really expect anything too different).

I wasn't planning on it, but because we made "bunny bum pancakes" last year (you know, with the whip cream tail and sliced strawberries for feet?), Jillian insisted we had to do the same thing this year. I suppose that will be an Easter morning tradition now!

 ^Dying Easter eggs! They were surprisingly (and thankfully) not very messy this year. 

 ^Jillian helped me make the dessert for our family dinner. She loves baking! It was a fresh strawberry cake with lemonade marshmallow frosting- sooooo delicious! The recipe for the cake is here and the frosting here

 ^Hunting for eggs! Where did that tradition start? Does the Easter bunny technically leave the eggs? In which case...why isn't there an Easter chicken? These are legitimate questions...

^The day after. Busted.


ramblings from a ticking time bomb

(Me...I'm the ticking time bomb.)

I've started like 3 blog posts in the last month, eventually abandoning all of them. But sometimes senseless word vomit and rambling is good for the soul. Okay, my soul. (I mean I DID read the Chicken Soup for the Soul books when I was a teenager. And when they came out with a Chicken Soup for the Teenager journal!? Game over.) 

(Also complete with some unrelated pictures).

Here we are in my 8th month of pregnancy. We've lived in our new house for approximately 6 weeks. Nearly every box is unpacked and just about everything has a place (*cough..James's office..*cough..). We have a list of things we (okay..I..) want to get done before the little miss makes her grand appearance and I go into mombie mode for a solid month or two. The biggest project is trying to get our front landscaping under control. When we came to see the house there was snow on the ground and we didn't realize just how much love it would need! I think I nearly started having contractions the other day when I decided it would be a good idea to start ripping out plants and bushes solo. The other things on the to-do list are smaller- organize and decorate the girls' rooms, install some cabinet hardware- very doable (that is, if I could muster the energy to do something at night besides binge watch Netflix). Hypothetically it's doable.

Oh wait. Did I say the biggest project was landscaping? Ha. Let me rewind. So we're in the middle of this thang. Our home inspection came back fairly normal, with just some normal maintenance things to address. Fast forward to a week or two ago when we got a LOT of rain and a LOT of wind- like, I thought our house might actually blow over all Three Little Pigs style. Water started coming in not one, or two, but THREE of our windows all on the same side of the house. It was so wet near the top of the window I was literally just wiping away caulk and bits of dry wall. We had a contractor come evaluate the lovely little situation and found out basically because the wall wasn't initially built to drain properly and is on the side of the house that is in shade all day long preventing it from ever really drying out, the entire thing needs to be replaced to properly drain. 
Like, the entire wall. 
Needs to be replaced.
So essentially the inspection company missed a big FAT problem that in the opinion of the contractor is one they "definitely shouldn't have missed." 
Anyway, we're in the middle of that process going back and forth with the inspection company (working to get them to fork out the funds for the repair). 
Meanwhile, it's been a really wet spring in Utah. Fun combo.

But things show absolutely zero signs of slowing down.  

^Playing "princess camp out"

We decided to keep Jillian in her same school (about 20 minutes away) until the end of the year for stability's sake. I know that doesn't sound far, but when kindergarten is only three hours long it's a lot of back and forth! It was the right decision for her, but there are many days when I feel like we're living out of our car. Proof: I found a slice of pizza in the back seat today. Not really sure from when...
Olivia found a half-eaten gummy worm in the bottom of her car seat (which I admit is a pretty normal occurrence...except the actual food item is exchangeable by any number of snacks). She was so excited by it, I didn't have the heart to tell her not to eat it. We were both okay with it.

^While I was getting out of the shower she perched herself there and said, "Mom. I'm going to sit here...and think."

There is an upside to all of the crazy, however. All of the life-y-ness of life has made my third trimester of baby growing F-L-Y by. There isn't much time to focus on the aches and pains that start showing up in months 8 and 9 of pregnancy. And thinking of everything we need to do before she comes on out makes me think maybe I wouldn't mind if time actually slowed down a little? I know...said no pregnant woman ever. But I'm SAYIN' IT. (see entire wall needs to be replaced). 

As far as being ready for her, I think we're just about there. There are a couple of things left to buy, clothes to be washed, and a bassinet to be assembled, but other than that by this point I figure having a newborn is like riding a bike- it just comes back to ya. Right? (If not, just let me live in my denial for the time being. My sanity may require it.)