6.26.2017

extend lashes

A few months ago I shared the plans for the eyelash extension salon one of my good friends and total boss babe, Kristen, just opened!

Out of the three inspiration boards I shared on the first post about it, she liked the Kate Spade look the most:

 And here's how it all came together! It also makes me want to start getting lash extensions again...




They gave the whole interior and exterior of the building a facelift. Isn't it so fun!? Everything turned out beautiful and I'm so happy for her new (and so far thriving!) business!
If you know people near Alma, Michigan- make sure to spread the word!

6.25.2017

showering baby bates

My sister is due in less than a month! We're all counting down the days until Baby Bates (whose first and middle names have yet to be decided) shows up- my sister the most, I'm sure. We had a little baby shower for them today at mi casa!
 Since my other nieces and nephews live back in Florida, I'm especially excited to have a nephew living in the same state! 





I'm not gonna lie, I think it was one of my favorite spreads I've ever done. All hail cheese. 






I know a lot of people don't like cheesy baby shower games, so we skipped those (though I totally don't mind them. Sure, pass the diaper filled with a mushy candy bar and lemme smell it while we pretend it's poop...can I eat it?) But we did find a game that was pretty funny- a spoof off of Cards Against Humanity- called Babies Against Parenthood.
 



Thanks to everyone who came! You are already so loved, Baby Bates! I know Michaela is ready for the next few weeks to fly by, but I for one am NOT! That means it's too close to the end of summer, and I'm not prepared to even go there yet!

6.09.2017

sisters

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!

5.28.2017

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

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER!

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!
SHE WAS GOING ON A FREAKING BEAR HUNT!



 
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. 

5.10.2017

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-

4.30.2017

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
Yogurt
Balloons
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
Chicken




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!