That time Madewell accidentally changed my life

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About a year ago I received the sweetest surprise package from our friends at Madewell. It was a beautiful wooden box containing a lovely red floral scarf, a timeless white tee and THE PERFECT denim jacket.I was so excited and grateful and honored to be gifted this, as I was a new appreciator of the Madewell goodies! I have slowly been building a capsule wardrobe with Madewell pieces being my staples. Everything I own from Madewell is so comfortable, so flattering, and well, made very well ☺️

The only problem with this surprise gift was that the shirt and jacket were a size small and I was wearing large, or more commonly, an XL. When I went to try the jacket on, I couldn’t even fit my full arm through the arm holes😂

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I was still very thankful that Madewell gifted me such a sweet gift, but thought I should probably go ahead and gift the shirt and jacket to a friend since I couldn’t fit into either. I asked a few of my small sized pals if they wanted the goods and they all said the same thing, “save it and maybe you’ll fit back into them one day!” I listened, but wasn’t quite convinced I would ever really get to wear them.

My first pair of Madewell shoes and they do not disappoint ! These Frances Loafers are SO comfortable!!!

I was pregnant and breastfeeding without a break for the last 8 years! I have absolutely loved it! Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, growing, nourishing, teaching, and raising our daughters… This is my greatest joy!  However, I suffered a serious back injury that caused great pain and rendered me unable to be very active while I was pregnant. I picked up some poor habits and developed a bit of apathy in regards to myself over the past few years and I hadn’t even realized I had gained so much weight or become so out of shape. I didn’t have much energy. I didn’t like how I felt or how my clothing no longer fit. I decided I was ready to make some changes; not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of my daughters and husband. I wanted them to have a healthier version of me.

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I told my husband and a few friends that I was going to fit into that Madewell jacket and, although I really meant it, I eventually just put the box of goods up on my closet shelf and honestly forgot about it.  Fast forward to late June and something started stirring in my heart. Our babies were no longer babies. I was beginning to think about weaning Frankie, Chris and I had agreed that our family was most likely complete, and most of my wardrobe had become too tight to wear. I knew I needed to make some changes. So I did. 

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Wait, what is this? Is this Jurassic Park? Is that Laura Dern? What is happening?!

I’m going to tell you guys something only a few people know about…The year was 1997. My favorite movie Jurassic park. I was obsessed with this film and when I envisioned myself as a grown woman, wife, and mother, I envisioned myself as a bruenette Laura Dern in my high waisted denim!

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I mean… 1.) Jurassic Park is my all-time favorite movie! 2.) I just wanted to wear mom jeans and look for dinosaurs:D

When I entered adulthood, the high waisted jeans I had dreamed about wearing had gone out of style. When they finally came back I met them with a strong-willed mom pouch that had no time for pants with real pockets or buttons😂 I know this sounds so silly, but it was like a real thing to me. While I was loving growing and nourishing our babies, I had stopped nourishing myself along the way.  It occurred to me that only I could make the changes I wanted to make. And dangit! I wanted to feel comfortable in those mom jeans!

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I pulled out that Madewell denim jacket and decided that was my goal. I was going to wear that jacket and was going to Laura Dern the heck out of the highest waisted mom jeans Madewell had to offer (which are these 11” high waisteds if you’re curious😂🤘).

I started July 1st. I was around 190 lbs,  wearing a Madewell size 31 jean and they were TIGHT! I want to add here that there is nothing wrong with the size you are wearing if you are comfortable and healthy.  I just wasn’t happy or healthy where I was and I needed change. Some of my friends were also beginning some self-care journeys.  Seeing their results, along with their encouragement and motivation, helped me so much in getting started and sticking with the changes I have made. Community is so helpful!

When I got these pants, I couldn’t even button the bottom button! It felt amazing that I could button them to the top!!!

I decided to start with a low carb/clean eating diet, incorporating meals from whole 30, and cutting out processed foods, bad sugar, carbs that weren’t properly fueling my body, and the booze. I started drinking kombucha daily and adding more fermented foods to my diet. When I would crave sweets, I would eat a spoonful or two of RX vanilla almond butter and found that adding a little bit of heavy whipping cream to my afternoon collagen + bone broth protein filled coffee helped me from eating junk. I still do this and crave it and look forward to it! Also, I add citrus essential oils to water in the mornings and evenings and that really helps satisfy my cravings. There were very few days I would “cheat”,  but I allowed myself lots of treats that tasted good and wouldn’t hurt my progress. Honestly, I would google “whole 30 approved version of whatever I was craving” and learned how to make many of my favorite things in a way that benefited my family and I so much more!

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Norah always checking to assure my crinkles were still there.

Week 1: I lost 7 pounds and my clothing felt looser. I didn’t take before photos or measure any of my inches, but I could already feel a difference in how I felt and how my clothing fit. I ate a variation of eggs, veggies, and proteins for breakfast and lunch. I continued making most of our favorite meals, but substituted zucchini noodles and squash for regular noodles. I replaced breads I would normally eat with more veggies and lettuce wraps. It almost felt too easy. Giving up the foods I once ate daily didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice at all. I reduced my portion sizes but never counted calories, carbs, or macros because I’m too lazy for this stuff. I mostly just paid attention to what foods made me feel the best and added more of those. While I added these, I also removed the foods that made me feel not so good.

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The first person who said anything about me losing weight was our oldest daughter. She walked into the bathroom one morning and said, “You look smaller, Mom!” I explained that was something that sometimes happens when you give your body what it needs. Then my husband started commenting on the changes and my friends and acquaintances began motivating me more and more. Others were seeing the changes I was feeling and that was super encouraging!

Norah often comments about different ways my body is changing and asks regularly that I please don’t lose my crinkles. She has been one of my biggest supporters and reminds people when they comments about my weight loss, that I might be skinnier, but I’m also healthier. She maybe also said something along the lines of, “Wow! those used to be so round and big. Now they just kinda hang there, huh?”:D So… #balance #yep #thanksgirls #truth

At the end of month 1, I was down a surprising 28 pounds and my jeans were so loose I got to thrift some belts!!! 😳😳😳😳

I was in it! I felt energized and pumped up and ready to keep going!

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Matchy sets from our friends at Shop ARQ

I started working out almost daily in August and just felt SO good!!! My sister in law introduced me to the beach body workouts and I started doing the Real Time 21 Day Fix Lives and loved them! I’m doing the extreme version right now and look forward to them! I’ve tried lots of different workouts and have learned to do what I like and not try to do something that I hate because someone else is doing it. Actually, that’s one thing I have really learned in the last few months. You need to do what fuels YOUR body, what makes YOU feel well, and gives YOU positive results. Once September rolled around, I decided it was time to try on THE jacket. I honestly didn’t even think it would fit, I just wanted to see if I could tell a difference in the way it fit.

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GUYS!!!!!!

And with legit tears in my eyes right now, I am here to tell you, IT FIT LIKE A GEM! 😭 It was loose even! The jacket that I couldn’t fit more than a forearm into, FIT! AND the white tee that legit looked like a child’s small on me when I first tried it on, is now a loose  tee and it just feels so good!

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Thanks for capturing this hair flip, Morgo.

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I was feeing SO good but, October was a weird month. I passed out, my face caught my fall, and suffered a concussion so I couldn’t work out like I had been. I couldn’t look at screens or do much and felt pretty lethargic most of the month. I continued to eat clean and decided to have some blood work done, as I was concerned about what might have caused the passing out and wanted to make sure my lifestyle changes hadn’t caused it.  All my blood work came back as ideal as possible and I got the go ahead to get back to normal! Also, probably my favorite jeans ever!

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Every time I wear this jacket I feel like I have superpowers. That sounds dramatic, but it reminds me that I can do hard things! And also THESE JEANS!!!

Now, I want to emphasize again that I don’t think there is anything wrong with being in a size large or extra large or any size where you feel good and healthy… But I wasn’t healthy. I felt miserable, was growing more insecure, felt tired, and lacked the energy I wanted. Today, I look different, but I FEEL so different! I have energy, I feel strong, I can do legit push-ups, I feel healthy, have no back pain, and am officially down FIFTY POUNDS AND SIX JEAN SIZES!!!

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I thrifted this Madewell Cardigan but here is something similar!

Guys! LIKE, our 7 year old is 50 pounds just to put how much weight that really is into perspective!! 😳  While this journey isn’t as much about weight or sizes as it is about health, I went from a size 31 to a size 26 and a L/XL to a XS/S simply by making some healthy lifestyle changes. I feel so grateful! I can play with the girls so much more! I can jump on the trampoline more, wrestle around more, and run through the house more! And Bonus! I‘m even better at hide and seek as I can comfortably fit into smaller spaces now:D It’s really the little things that feel like huge victories to me! And also, maybe I can share a few tops with our 7 year old now. In all seriousness though, I get a little emotional thinking about all of the girls and I sharing our clothing with one another a few years down the road and want to remain in a state of health that allows me to do that… Some days I still can’t believe I get to mother these 4 beautiful daughters ❤️

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I  want to add that while I made some big changes, I’m not a crazy person. If we want pizza and beer, we have pizza and beer. But I still find ways to make it healthier and realized I don’t need 4 pieces of deep dish and 4 wings and four breadsticks and half a growler of IPA at one meal to feel satisfied. 😂. I’ve actually stopped drinking almost entirely, and for me, that’s another big success. Another story for another day, but a really cool thing.

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I truly feel capable and confident in ways I have not for years.

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I have more energy to do every day things and just that alone feels so incredible! Also, a thrifted bodysuit from Madewell that I could live in!

That was a really long way to say, THANK YOU MADEWELL for accidentally triggering something incredible for me. Thank you for new self control, new goals, new perspectives, the ability to wear more of what I enjoy, and the gift of feeling well (AND ALSO that high waisted denim)!!! It feels SO good! I am just so grateful to everyone who has helped me!

 

 

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Grainy photo but a funny story and the most artsy self portrait I have of myself. I’ve been laughing with friends, joking a lot about how I feel like you can see more of my French heritage now and then also I got a turtle neck after telling friends a week prior I would never wear a turtleneck… So one of my besties documented this moment for me… The moment I felt very fashion and turtlenecky. This friend also had her friend from France tell me I looked very French over FaceTime and it was so funny and I’m just really grateful for my friends who have laughed with me and helped take care of me and truly helped me reach my goals!

Thank you for real to Madewell for helping make my wardrobe dreams come true and to all of our friends and loved ones for all of your kind words and encouragement! I am grateful to be feeling so well!

Disclaimer: Many of the clothing pieces featured were gifted from our friends at Madewell or thrifted, and I have tried to link all of the pieces in the post for you! All of the opinions stated here are my honest opinions and I wrote this blog as a way to share some of the changes I have been making and to thank Madewell for partnering with me!

This is a first

DSC_7482We have found ourselves in a new place and I don’t really know how to feel about it. Chris and I found out we were expecting our first child in December of 2011. Norah was born and our lives were forever changed in the most wonderful ways! Six months after she was born we found out our sweet Charlie was on the way. Then fast forward to her being a bit older and we discovered Ada was on the way, and then since we had this system nailed down, we found out we were expecting while Ada was mastering walking. I think. Is it terrible to say I can’t actually remember if Ada was walking or not when we found out. I should know this:D #mombrain. Anyways, I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding without a break for more than 7 years now!!! And I have LOVED it!!!  And I don’t know that I’m ready to be done. But there is a reality that we might be.

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My thoughts exactly, Frank:D

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I really wish I would have documented breastfeeding more, but just never really thought or remembered to do so as much as I wish I would have. I don’t have many photos nursing Norah or Charlie and I hate that! Breastfeeding, for me, has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was so fortunate in that I got to exclusively breastfeed the girls for their first 6 months of life and then continued nursing until the next baby was due. I was extremely blessed in that I didn’t have the difficult time breastfeeding that many of my friends have had. It came to me like a second nature, I loved it from the very first time, and I never experienced any kind of clogged ducts or mastitis or really even sore nipples. They all basically self-weaned and was just awesome! Aside from Ada thinking a pierced nipple might be a cool idea while she was teething, it’s been a really enjoyable, more so magical, kind of thing for me.

DSC_7485I have actually mostly always looked forward to the girls waking up at night. Night time nursing was this quiet time where nothing else in the world seemed to matter. It was just me and our baby and I loved it so much. I have been able to nurse Frankie the longest, and while I have loved it, I know our time is coming to an end because no baby is due.. and she’s almost 2… Plus, maybe she’s been the most demanding and is still wanting to stay up all night partying and binge drinking…And momma is tired. And we miss our bed being our bed. So, send all the weaning tips my way!

DSC_7591This is the first time we’ve made it to the weaning stage not being due with our next or already nursing a newborn. The first time in almost 8 years where my body is about to be completely mine. And it kind of hurts way more than I thought it would. I’m not growing a baby and I’m not sustaining one’s life with my body and it’s seriously SO weird. I think I’ve kind of been thinking maybe we aren’t actually done having babies, but then maybe we really are…or maybe we aren’t… or maybe we are… or maybe we aren’t… This is kind of what I go back and forth thinking all the time now.  Either way,  there is a reality that I am almost done breastfeeding… for now… or maybe forever. Even if it doesn’t feel possible that we’re really at a place where we could be done, we might be.

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Anyway, knowing that this season is coming to an end, I needed to document a few things. One of my all-time favorite photographers, Bethany Meysenburg, came and spent some time with us and documented me in my favorite element. At home, with our family, nursing from room to room, hanging out with the little ladies, just my absolute favorite! The girls are more so little ladies than the little girls it feels like they were yesterday. They are growing and changing so fast. It’s amazing watching their personalities develop, but I would be lying if I said I’m not emotional about how fast it seems to have all happened and is happening.

DSC_7596I don’t really know what else to say except, thank you so much Chris for choosing me and giving me the most incredible gifts I have ever known. Thank you to our midwife who became family to us and gave us some of the most incredible experiences of our lives.  Thank you to our friends who joined our family, and thank you for sharing your gifts with us, Bethany… Also a quick shout out to stretchy pants and push up bras:D

(Warning: These are breastfeeding photos so some of these photos contain slight nudity. I tried to make sure I didn’t post any that would make anyone too uncomfortable, but I also wanted to share the special bond that I don’t want to censor.)

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Thank you so much for capturing these very precious moments for us, Bethany!

A few shops we love that are featured in these photos.

Frankies tunic & bloomers- BloomHandmadeCo

Frankie’s Button Up Vest- LittleCottonWood

Norah’s Dress- Fin & Vince from BarbaAndRoo

Charlie’s Dress- JuneIsleClothier

Ada’s dress- Roaming Threads

Frankie’s & Charlie’s Bows: KDBird

Ada’s Bows: CraftedAndCo

Momma’s Clogs- LottaFromStockholm 

Black & White Striped Pillows: ChapelAndCo

Table Runner- NotPerfectLinen

Momma’s Bedding- Parachute, MaeWoven, TheCompany Store

Diaper Bag- Josefina bags

Linen Nursing Cover- VeniceAndJune

Norah and Charlie’s Bedding- SchoolHouse

 

Sunday Suppers: Truly a night to remember

Sobremesa | the time after a meal when food is gone, but the conversation around the table continues. 228101AA-EB7A-421C-81AF-997E43338BB6

A few weeks ago, Chris and I got to attend a Sombremesa Sunday Suppers event hotsted by our dear friend Amanda Watters, and for lack of better words, it was truly magical. A few months ago I was on the gram and saw a post from my sweet friend Amanda (mamawatters) sharing about the event she would   hosting.  I had been meaning to get to Kansas city to visit with her since it had been some time since we hung out, Chris and I hadn’t been on a date without a baby in literal years, and after months of binge watching Top Chef as a family, this event seemed like the perfect night to enjoy with one another. Perfect almost feels like an understatement now.B0C33603-958A-4839-AED4-8ADE76B686BD

I immediately texted Chris a screen shot about the event and he was like, Yes!!!! So, I knew we had to get tickets… But then I got to thinking… Who would watch all FOUR girls for several hours and into the night? I thought of a few people who might be interested and whom I knew Frankie and the girls would feel comfortable with and I felt like I knew the perfect people. We were actually hanging out with them that evening, so I knew I had to ask, knowing that this would probably make or break our ability to attend the Sunday Supper’s event.

I asked our dear friends who I might add have 4 of their own, including twins, and without any hesitation, my friend said yes! And an excited yes! She actually told me she felt honored that I asked them and, insert Chris and I both crying literal tears of joy, we just felt so incredibly loved and blessed to have friends who would take in our children and with joyful hearts.  I have a really difficult time leaving the girls, especially Frankie, but I had such a peace about letting them go with these friends and knew they would have the best time! So…we got tickets and were so excited for November 3rd to roll around! Fast forward, the girls had THE BEST time and we are so excited to hopefully get the chance to pay them back by watching their babes!

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There were so many reasons I was so excited about this event.. I was excited for the time with Chris, to see my friends, to maybe make new friends, to enjoy good food, and just excited about being excited:D One of the highlights was meeting my friend Caley!!! We met on the gram, I think our first conversation was about paint trim colors, and then we discovered we had lots in common, including home birth and so many things motherhood related, and our friend Amanda. I’m trying to find the words to describe just how life giving and refreshing this night was for Chris and I. First, the little road trip to Kansas City itself. I love road trips and some of the very best conversations Chris and I have happen on these little trips and having that time alone together was just awesome. Now I’ll skip to our arrival.

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We pulled up to the house and I was like Christmas morning excited to see Amanda and see the love I knew she was pouring into the event. Amanda and I met on Instagram as well and after small talk here and there, developed a friendship which has been so special to me. We laughed about how the last time we came to visit I was SO pregnant with Frankie and was actually dilated to an 8 and had to go on bed rest like the day after we hung out. 😀 #worthit. Anyway, we walked in and were met with the warmest welcome and if you’ve been to Amanda’s house, you walk in and just feel home. I have gleaned so much inspiration from her as a mother and from the care she pours into everything she does.

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I started to recognize people from Instagram and it was so fun getting to visit in real life! I recognized this gem, Whitney, but had no idea that within minutes she would become one of my new favorite people on this planet! Then another person, Karen, whom we literally met just a few weeks prior while we were visiting our sweet friend Stephanie in Colorado Springs.

15C9FE81-8730-4A6A-B010-661A1D86252ELife is so strange sometimes and it was so cool how so many of us shared connections we didn’t know we had. I got to meet friends I have followed on Instagram for years, meet shop owners whom we’ve collaborated with, meet incredible artists and mothers and shop owners and just truly beautiful, beautiful people! I felt like I walked away with new friendships to cherish and such precious memories!

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We ate fancy cheeses and exotic grapes and felt pretty cool:D

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Then we ate fancy bread, exotic butters and felt even more cool:D

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There wasn’t a moment that felt awkward or uncomfortable, it was just so fun! I will share Amanda’s blog on this evening at the end of this, so you can read about more details of the night!   The food was incredible! Amanda worked so hard and it was transparent in every bite! She taught us how to make delicious ricotta, introduced us to foods we had never experienced, and gave us a very fun culinary experience. But what made the evening really magical was the booze:D Totally joking!

E28B1FC8-F906-456E-9724-3F6113EB7628 It was the awesome fellowship and connection we shared with each other around the table.16F15AF4-79C0-4746-82FB-85BFE0A3047B

Sunday Suppers is intended to be a celebration of good food and great community and it was that and so much more! Amanda and Andrew worked so hard and poured themselves into each nook and cranny of the evening, and it was just so special! Have I said special and magical enough.

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Chris and I work in ministry and it is very rare for us to attend anything where we are not in charge or serving in some role of leadership and even more rare to do anything without our children. While we love our children and serving others very much, this evening felt so freeing! We got to go and just be Chris and Amanda. We had no agenda, no obligations, no responsibilities or expectations to fulfill. We held hands, laughed, told stories, heard amazing stories,  had teary moments and left feeling beyond refreshed. We couldn’t stop talking about it the whole way home. I know Amanda had intentions to make this a special night, but I don’t think she knew how truly life giving it would be for some of us. I walked away feeling so renewed!

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It’s honestly hard to find the right words to describe how wonderful the evening was. Amanda writes this, “The smiles and warmth in these photos say it all. Making food for others is one of the ways I show love to those I care about, and when done where we live, it’s even more meaningful for me. It’s home. Andrew and I did our best to make our guests feel at home, and in return, they gave us meaningful conversation, memories, and laugher, along with a newfound perspective of what gathering and sharing a meal can truly do for our souls. Like a steadfast buoy in a turbulent sea, this evening lifted the spirits of all who came and gathered and shared. The vulnerability in not knowing who would show up, both for us hosting and the guests, made for a delicate experience that blanketed our home in grace. The world needs more of this. Our supper was one I know we will talk about for the rest of our lives, and one that will live on in the new friendships we made around the table breaking bread.”

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The world needs more of this indeed! We will cherish this evening for as long as we can remember it! If you get the opportunity to attend a Sunday Suppers event, we highly recommend it! I feel like I’m leaving out a million things, but basically we walked away with the reminder that we were made for community. We were made to enjoy the good things our Creator created and with one another! Eat Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

(The photos shared here are a collection of photos taken personally, some from Amanda herself, some taken by people whom attended and from MacyAnn, who took photos of the evening.)

You can read about this evening from Amanda’s perspective here. http://www.homesongblog.com/autumn/sunday-suppers-autumn-sobremesa-tips-for-hosting-large-gatherings/

ONE MORE MAKES SIX

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I recently got to partner with the lovely Bethany Meysenburg and Artifact Uprising to bring to life some creative visions Bethany and I had, and I am overwhelmed with gratefulness with the end result!

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Several months ago, I was looking at the ol ‘gram and stumbled upon a crazy beautiful feed! I soon realized that this was a photographer named Bethany Meysenberg and then realized she lived close by!  Bethany’s photos are so moody and romantic and once I realized she lived close by,  I knew I wanted to work with her!  After visiting, we decided to work together as a creative collaboration, and I am so thankful we did!  Some of the belongings that I value the most are the photographs we have been so blessed with by our sweet friends who happen to be incredible photographers and have chosen to bless us with their passions and talents!

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Photos are one of those things that I have learned to treasure so much.  I don’t think I ever thought too much about photography until my father and sister passed away.  The photos I have help me to keep the memories I have of them and even sometimes remind me of a memory I had forgotten or tell a story I still didn’t yet know about them.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetI am able to share photos with our daughters photos of the Grandpa and Aunt they don’t get to meet in this world.  I get to share my childhood and my memories with our daughters so well because of photos! When I say I treasure these moments captured, I truly mean it.  We’ve only done a few family photo sessions and usually only when we welcome a baby, so about every year:D, but I’m going to try and be more intentional about taking and printing more of the daily moments we capture.

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Sometimes I have been teased for taking so many photos, especially of our daughters feet or photos where they’re not facing the camera, but I know all too well that these moments and tiny details that I love so much, might one day be forgotten if not for the sweet photos that I will have to look back on and remind me.

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The way Norah looks at her little sisters, how she takes being a big sister so seriously; Charlie’s pigtails and the way she almost always has a collection of toys, make up brushes or art tools in her hands; The concentrated stare and little tongue Ada sticks out and presses onto her upper lip while reading and building blocks or how she’s climbing on everything lately; Frankie’s itty bitty toes, her dark little locks and pouty lips; The way our girls jump on the bed and dance together.

DSC_9934The way they look at their daddy with this look that lets me know they understand how treasured and valued they are; And the way he looks at them that reminds me just how blessed I am to be married to such an incredible man! Oh, and Chris’ sexy beard and luscious hair that may be receding a bit more each day:D These are things I don’t ever want to forget…

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Maybe one day the girls will look back and think, “I remember you reading us that book mom!”, or “look at dad and that guitar he still plays!”  I want them to have their childhood captured in photos so that they one day can share their childhood and memories of us with their children and grandchildren.

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Because photos are so special to me, I knew I needed to start printing them. I’ve been terrible at this and have felt a lot of conviction to print more photos as there is just something so special about having a tangible photo to hold. There seems to be so much more life in printed photos.  I recently had some lovely prints made from Artifact Uprising and the quality was amazing!  When I saw these new Flatlay Photo Albums , I knew I wanted to get some of our favorite photos captured by Bethany  printed in one of these. And I am so glad we did!!! This book is definitely a treasure! I already am working on another one!

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The girls and I went through it several times and I maybe just wept because I am so thankful for the blessing that these photos and this book are…

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This book is super special. My Grammy gifted this to the little ladies and it is one of the books they always choose when I ask them to pick out a book to read. In it, Grammy wrote a scripture, one she has written in all of my books that she gifted to me when I was the girls’ age.  Proverbs 3:5-6. My mom saved all of these books from our childhood and recently gifted them to me. Another thing I truly treasure!

So, with that, I’ll leave you with a few more photos! If you live in Kansas and are looking for a photographer, please check out Bethany Meysenburg and if you’re looking to get some photos printed, books made or some unique and meaningful gifts to gift, check out our friends at Artifact Uprising!

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Side note: We get asked often about this rug, so I thought I would share about it here.  It’s the Hand Woven Rigo Jute Rug from Plush Rugs. We have enjoyed this rug so much! It’s lovely and sheds much less than jute rugs we have owned in the past. You can click here to see it and here to see more jute rugs similar.

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DSC_9697DSC_9640DSC_0158Here’s a little slideshow that I discovered after inserting the photos above:D!

 

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Also, without printed photos, I wouldn’t be able to share these gems with you:D Think of this as a thank you for reading!

(Disclosure: This blog was made possible thanks to a partnership with Bethany Meysenburg and Artifact Uprising, but every word is my honest opinion.)

How we Holiday: Traveling with 4 babes & a little help from Philips Avent

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I love this special time of year! I love the weather and the decor and the music and the smells and the food and the fashion and, especially, the Holidays that gather us together with friends and family! My family is in Colorado and my husband’s family in Nebraska so the Holidays usually mean traveling for us! I remember feeling so overwhelmed traveling with our babe as a first time mom.  I almost always forgot to put diapers and wipes in my diaper bag and I thought I needed to pack the entire baby section from Target as well… Turns out you don’t need all of Target, but diapers and wipes are a MUST! I don’t want to call ourselves experts by any means, but we have learned a few tricks along the way to make traveling with babies, toddlers and little ladies a little bit easier!

So with the Holiday season upon us, we have partnered with PhilipsAvent to share with you a few of our favorite products to take on the road with us to make traveling and Holidaying a bit easier!

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We have a 5 year old, a 3 year old, an almost 2 yr old and a 2 month old. This might sound stressful, but it is amazing! In fact, traveling as a family is one of my absolute favorite things to do!

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The girls love it because they get to watch some of their favorite movies along the way, and I love it because it means sipping coffee, long talks with my husband and listening to our favorite podcasts together while the littles sleep. Car rides are actually one of the most refreshing things to me, so I greatly look forward to road trips whenever we get the chance!

As much as I love traveling as a family, there are a few things that I have found make our trips a lot more comfortable for everybody. I will share with you some of the things we bring in the ol’ swagger wagon and what I pack in my mom bag to make for a smoother ride.

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It seems like wherever we go anywhere, the girls start yelling to the front of the van, “We’re thirsty!” After waaayy too many spilled drinks, we have found these PhilipsAvent Straw Cups work wonderfully! They’re leak-proof, easy to hold, BPA free and the straw doesn’t fall off and get lost in the liquid abyss! The big girls seem to really enjoy them and since they’re leak proof, I’m not afraid to stash them in my diaper bag! Philips has several different leak-proof sippy cup options but the little ladies picked out these sweet ‘matchy matchy’ pink ones.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe big girls are pretty much all set to travel with a drink, some snacks and a little throw blanket, but newborns can be a bit more particular.  One thing we have learned 4 babies in is, ALWAYS pack extra pacifiers! Always! Somehow those bad boys have a way of disappearing. Chris and I used to joke that we should buy stock in pacifiers because we were buying so many! Now we know, put a clip on it if you can, and always bring extras! Frankie really seems to like these Soothies and they are BPA free and have a little hole to slip a pacifier clip through! And let’s be honest… they’re super cute:D

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Don’t worry… I take her bonnets off when she sleeps…

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Sometimes, our babies will sleep for the entire trip! While this can be great for the whole family, this breastfeeding mom needs a little relief on the long trips! I have traveled with my double electric pump, but have found that it is much easier for me to just travel with a small manual pump that I can use while we drive. It’s small, doesn’t need a power source, there aren’t a bunch of tubes, it’s discrete, easy to use, and allows me to pump and store a few ounces that I can use to feed Frankie at another time, or use to mix in her probiotics. Oh! And it’s silent, so it doesn’t interrupt our podcasts or the girls watching Elf on a continuous loop:D

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe manual pump comes with the perfect sized travel bottle for collecting a couple ounces of milk along the way.  I try to use glass over plastic whenever I can and so I’m thankful PhilipsAvent also carries these natural glass baby bottles ! I can store any milk I pump in one of these bad boys and feed Frankie with one if I need to!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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I hope some of you traveling mommas will find this little piece helpful for all of your road tripping adventures in your future! I feel like I’m forgetting something… Maybe that’s just mom brain or because I almost always forget something:D

FED80974-657A-44A3-A02C-3E96A15A7A2C.jpegAlso, I shared a detailed rundown of what I bring with me in my diaper bag about a year ago and not much has changed. I added a few new things, but if you’re wanting a few more details about what I have found helpful to have in my diaper bag when we travel, you can check it out at https://amandapahls.com/2017/01/13/whats-in-my-bag-today/

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Thank you PhilipsAvent and, from our family to yours, we wish you a Happy Holiday and Merry Everything!

(Disclaimer:  This post was sponsored by PhilipsAvent, but all opinions expressed here are my own, personal and honest opinions.)

 

 

Welcoming Our Frances Grey

I almost can’t believe I am snuggling with a little newborn and already writing another birth story.  I feel like it was just last year that I was writing Ada’s:D Probably mostly because it was:) We are truly so grateful for another beautiful daughter!  I almost cry every time I stop and think about how awesome it is that we get to parent these FOUR little ladies!

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Frankie is 4 weeks old today!!! That doesn’t even seem possible!  We have heard her cry only a handful of times, and that even includes mild fussing!  She is just super content and has the sweetest temperament!  The big sisters are absolutely smitten with her and she loves snuggling with her daddy! Her favorite things include boobs, naps, blankets late night snacking and snuggles galore, so I guess you could say she takes after her dad:) #momjoke. Aside from me being freaked out that she doesn’t poop as much as her big sisters, she might be our easiest baby yet! So, with that, I am so grateful and so excited to share another beautiful birth story with you!

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Ok… So let me start with 2 weeks before we met her.  I started to feel “ready”, even though my original due date wasn’t until the first week of October. I went to see my midwife on the 7th and told her I totally felt like I had dilated quite a bit already.  Before I share more, I should give you a little back story.  My body might be jacked up:D  Well, it kind of is for sure, we’re just not totally sure why.  When I went into labor with Charlie, I was dilated to a 9 before I ever felt my contractions. My water broke and a few minutes  later, 2 pushes and she was here!  With Ada, I was dilated at a 10…for 2 days before I felt my contractions!  SO WEIRD!  I couldn’t really feel my contractions with Ada until my water broke and once my water broke, it was time to push; 4 or 5 pushes later, she was here!  Norah’s labor was the only one that was kind of normal except kind of not either.  You can go read those stories under my birth stories if you guys want to!

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetAnyway, I share this because for some odd reason, my body works a little differently and labor is probably a little different for me than most…  I’m not bragging, but I’m also definitely not complaining! So, back to the 7th.  When I told Rebecca that I felt dilated she kind of giggled at me like she does often. Side note: We love Rebecca like a lot! We’ve gotten to know each other on so many different intimate levels and can joke about anything and everything and it’s just awesome to know your care taker and have your care taker know you so intimately. It makes for such an incredible experience! So she kind of teased me and then I asked her to check me and, yep! I had dilated to a 5, was 80% effaced and all of babies suture lines were feeling just right! I told her I knew I wouldn’t carry Frankie to October.  It was like this weird momma instinct, the same one that told me I was having girls each pregnancy:D

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Ok, so… Jump to two days later and I started having this really weird and specific kind of cramping, which I’ve learned is me dilating.  I don’t really know how to describe it except for I felt it with Charlie and Ada and feel like I was tuned in and aware of my body more than ever this round and as soon as I felt it, I knew what was happening. I started losing my plug and, remember that this is a birth story, but I mean, I was losing A LOT!  I lost more and more all day and continued to the next few days.  This made me a little nervous because I knew I was dilating more and in my previous pregnancies, I lost my plug only days before meeting our daughters.

Rebecca and I decided it was best if I took it really easy, like bed rest style, just to make sure we kept Frankie nice and cozy!  Chris and the girls were incredible during this time!  Actually, Chris was beyond incredible this whole pregnancy.   For those of you who know me, you know about my back… but for those of you who don’t, we have learned that my tailbone is broken 3 different times and in 3 different directions! When I’m pregnant, my tailbone and sciatic nerve basically try to become one with one another…NO BUENO! It is extremely painful and any kind of intervention we have tried has only provided temporary relief.  By the time I was 6 months along, I couldn’t walk some days.  Chris did all of our grocery shopping, prepared most dinners, did laundry when I couldn’t carry any or walk down stairs, and basically carried the many loads that I physically couldn’t.  If you see that guy, tell him what a stud he is!  I’ve always known I was so blessed to be his wife, but Chris serves us girls and I so selflessly and sacrifices so much for us in a way that I can’t even comprehend sometimes. Thank you so very much husband!

When I had to take it easy, he had the girls join him on a mission to help me out and they called themselves ‘team home birth’. 😀 He taught the girls different ways they could help out, and it was just incredible. They started folding laundry, emptying and filling the dishwasher, working harder at keeping their toys picked up AND nobody complained, well, at least in front of me:D They just loved me in such a way that I definitely don’t deserve but am so grateful for! Chris literally got them pumped up to clean:D He is the best, like for real!

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Ok… So, fast forward to the 18th.  Everything was looking great and I was now measuring right about 39 weeks.  I had been measuring ahead for quite some time and I really felt like I was further along than we had initially thought. I was still having that cramping and losing plug and so I ended up asking Rebecca to come visit me and check me.  She came over and YEP! I was dilated to an 8! Everything was looking great, but I was dilated to an 8! She wasn’t at all worried but it is a little strange to dilate this far without having contractions and without having an incompetent cervix.  My body just doesn’t mess around I guess. Rebecca headed home and the game plan was to just wait and see what my body did over the next few days.

The next day I felt so weird. Like, almost scared.  I started to think about what might happen if my water broke because if this labor were to be like Charlie or Ada’s, I would probably have ended up delivering a baby on my kitchen floor by myself.  I don’t feel my contractions until my water breaks, but by that time I’m at a 9 or 10 and ready to push, and my longest pushing record is 6 pushes.  With Chris working more than 5 minutes away and my midwife being over an hour away, I knew if my water broke, this would be an unassisted delivery…Chris and I talked and we both were in favor of us delivering Frankie WITH our midwife over me alone:D

So… I asked Rebecca if she felt comfortable coming over and helping me get labor started.  We weighed the pros and cons and decided that in this situation, this was a good idea. So on the 20th, Rebecca came over at 10 am and here is where the fun begins!!!

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The first thing she did when she arrived was check me… and I was stretching to a 9!  It was the weirdest thing because I woke up feeling so amazing and had 0 back pain! It was the first morning in like 9 months that I hadn’t woken up in pain! It was like my body was just as ready as my mind was! She measured me once more and I was right at 39 weeks. Rebecca gave me a little contraction encouraging herb that we thought would take about an hour or two to get contractions started, but within 10 minutes, I was having them! They kept getting stronger and stronger and stronger until the point where they almost started to hurt! And then at noon, they just completely stopped. I wanted to cry because this is what happened with Ada and it was so emotionally exhausting! I was complete, as in dilated to a 10, and as soon as my contractions would get going, they would stop.  I did not want this to happen again… Rebecca had me go walk around the yard for 15 minutes, and while I felt a heavy type of cramping, I wasn’t having regular contractions anymore.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetWe made some sandwiches, ate lunch together and then I took a little more of the contraction inducing goodness. Rebecca told me she felt like I just needed peace, quiet and rest. We had Ada go with a friend at this point, put a movie on for the big girls and Chris and I came upstairs to our bedroom to rest.

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Rebecca’s daughter came to help assist us and is just amazing! She plays with the little ladies and the girls have grown to love her and Rebecca’s other children so much! Did I mention she has 11 children! All whom she home educates! AND, from what we can tell, they’re totally normal:D Talk about #momgoals!

Rebecca helped get me into bed and into a position that would allow me to relax but would also help baby get settled a bit better.  She asked me to stay put for an hour and almost exactly an hour later, I was having strong, regular contractions and felt ready to get into the birthing pool!!!

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By now, my friend Olivia had arrived and I was feeling ready to go. Norah was SO ready! She had been asking me every day when Frankie would be here and reminded me every day that she wanted to be there with me and cut the venible, aka, umbilical cord:D Once I was in the tub, I started having what I will call “normal people” contractions! They were so strong and powerful and I just knew Frankie would be coming so soon!  Norah and Charlie got measuring cups and would rub my shoulders and pour warm water on my back through each contraction!  Charlie would lay her head by my head, touch her forehead to my forehead and hold my hand. I won’t ever forget it…. It was absolutely precious!

F10Norah would say things like, “take it easy, listen to your feelings, you’re doing so good, relax yourself”. It made us all giggle each time which made labor feel so easy. There wasn’t any stress or tension or fear. Just peace and joy and sweet giggles. At one point Norah asked me if I was having any “uh oh” feelings and proceeded to tell everyone the things in life that give me “uh oh” feelings:D It was the perfect comic relief!  The girls would bring me my water and tell me to take a sip and were just so encouraging! I just felt completely loved and safe.

After being in the pool for about 10 contractions or so, I felt Frankie coming!  I remember feeling more in control of my body than I ever have in labor before.  I felt complete peace and it was so amazing.  I remember holding Olivia’s hand with my left hand, Chris’s hand with my right and knowing we were all about to meet Frankie! I didn’t fight contractions like I’ve maybe wanted to in the past, I didn’t tense up and I just felt more relaxed than I have in previous labors. I began pushing and then looked over at Rebecca and told her I was pushing.

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The last photo Chris captured before welcoming Frankie!

 

I asked Rebecca to support me, which basically just meant make sure Frankie was not coming out with a hand on her forehead like her sister Ada, and I’m glad I asked her to, because she was! One of the things Rebecca does an excellent job at is supporting my lady bits so there is no tearing.  I tore a little bit upwards with Norah in the hospital but have never again had any damage to my lady biz!  I actually haven’t even been a little bit sore after delivering Charlie, Ada and Frankie!  I think some of that has to do with the water, preventative care, but also just how well Rebecca does at assisting, but not unnecessarily intervening with what’s happening during the birth process.

F7After the first push, Frankie’s head was born! I reached down and felt her head and just felt so grateful.  Norah yelled, “I can see Frankie! She’s coming out!” She yelled for Charlie to come back over to the pool, as she had left the room for a moment. I heard her little pitter patter run towards the pool and got so excited! I was on my knees with my arms and head draped on the side of the pool and felt very comfortable.  Everyone was silent, a Bon Iver record playing in the background, which I maybe had Chris play too many times, and I remember just knowing that I would be holding our baby the next time I pushed… A minute passed, and with the start of my last contraction, we welcomed Frankie!

F15As soon as I pulled Frankie out of the water, Norah started crying and exclaimed, “I can’t stop happy crying! She’s here!” Norah was really sad that she missed Ada’s birth. I was dilated to a 10 for 2 days with her and after a long day of nothing happening and so they went to stay with grandma and grandpa and then she came. Norah’s first words when she met Ada were, “I really wanted to be here, but you did it!” She put her hand on my face and told me how proud of me she was. 😭 I say this to tell you that for my whole pregnancy, Norah and Charlie made it very clear that they would not be missing Frankie’s birth… and I am so glad they didn’t! They were truly incredible and made the experience even more wonderful!

I pulled Frankie to my chest, and the first thing I noticed was her super dark head of hair.  A few days before, Charlie crawled into our bed and shared about having a dream about Frankie and that she had pretty, dark hair. Man, she was so right! Talk about happy tears! My heart was SO full! I remember looking at Chris and Olivia and just thinking, “YEAH!!!” I thought I might be emotional this birth with Chris and I feeling like Frankie might be our last baby, but I was the opposite… I just felt so incredibly happy! And I still do! I just feel really content and beyond thankful! That moment felt like a lifetime but also like it went by way too fast!

A few contractions later, I birthed my Placenta.  This time, a little more blood than usual filled the tub and my midwife gave me a look that made me think, “uh oh” in a scooby doo type voice. She acted fast and with a little uterine massage, which I will compare to some kind of ancient form of torture, she had the bleeding stopped! Thank you Rebecca:D

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After that, we all headed upstairs to get cozy in bed and spend some time getting to know one another!  She was, she is, just perfect!  7lbs, 4oz, and 20 inches of absolute sweetness! She started nursing right away and I nursed for about an hour and then it was time for Frankie’s newborn assessment! Everything checked out at Frankie being a full 39 weeks!  Chris went and picked up Ada and I was a little curious how she would act when she saw Frankie had joined us.  She ran into the room and yelled, “Hi Mommy!” Then saw Frankie and squealed, “OOOHHH! Hi Baby!” in the sweetest little baby voice I have ever heard!  She was and is smitten with her little sister!

F59Aside from seeing the extra time mom spends nursing as the perfect opportunity to empty out any essential oils or coffee she can find, she has adjusted wonderfully! Norah and Charlie have done amazing and are two of the best helpers I can imagine! They’re right by me helping me with anything they can. Filling up my water jug, throwing away diapers, bringing me this or that… Norah actually started changing Ada’s diapers for me, but only pee diapers per her request:D

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Getting a little baby holding practice done:D

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I promise she was looking at me! Or maybe staring down those goods:D Either way, she was looking at me!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped with our girls, brought us meals, coffee and extra hoppy beverages, for the prayers, encouraging words and congratulations, for the sweet intagram messages and late night conversations and for everyone who has loved on our family during this whole process!F48

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Chris, thank you for using your sexy man skills to capture this special day, for making all the babies with me and for taking such good care of us! You’re truly the most incredible man I know! Olivia, thank you for doing all of this mom biz with me! I am so grateful for your friendship! Rebecca, thank you for this last 4 years that you have loved me and supported me in a way that I can never say thank you enough for!  You have been so much more than a midwife to us and we are truly blessed to have you in our lives and to be apart of yours! A special thanks to In His Hands Birthing Supply Co. for partnering with us and blessing us with our home birth kit.  Oh! And did I mention we had a GoPro in the tub! The footage is incredible and I’m so thankful to have been able to watch one of my deliveries this way! If you have a water birth, put a GoPro in the tub! Thanks again, Rebecca! So cool!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetOn that note, I’m going to go nurse! Thanks for reading friends!

If you are interested in why we choose home birth or would like more information on this topic, please feel free to reach out!

3 little monkeys jumping on the bed

You know how sometimes you just have those days where you’re emotional and grateful and looking at your family and wondering how you got to where you are in life?  My Grammy texted me this morning just to share that she was proud of Chris and I and I just wanted to cry because this is the life that I prayed I could have one day but genuinely didn’t think I could have… I don’t deserve it, but I grow more and more thankful for it. Even when I’m tired or stressed or as I listen to our 3 & 4 year arguing over the ideal spot to have their picnic right now… I am just so grateful. The word Redeemed rings in my ears often and when I look at Chris and our daughters, the ring feels more like a shout!

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I’m just feeling extra grateful for that shout today…

My friend Robyn was so kind to do a little extra shoot and capture something we love just as much as baking around this house! Bed Jumping!!! I just had to share these sweet images! Thank you so much Robyn! These are truly the moments I know I will think back on, smile and cry about when they are grown. I hope they will be mothers who will love their children fiercely, that kindness will flow from their hearts and homes and that they will be filled with the joy that comes from watching their babes jump on the bed…and maybe jumping with them when they’re a little less pregnant:D

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Products Featured:

Pajamas: G. Nancy from Baby Donkie 

Momma’s Top: LoveWinnieJames

Photography by RobynBunch

Baking with my babes!

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Hey friends! So, if you have been following me for awhile, you know one of our absolute favorite things to do as a family, is bake together!  When we homeschooled last year, every week we baked/cooked something that coordinated with the letter we were learning that week. It was so fun and it’s so amazing getting to teach them baking skills and introducing them to new foods and such a fun way to incorporate learning into our week!  Some things we made were healthy, some not so much, but all so fun to make together! Cooking as a family is my favorite!  When Dad gets involved I love it that much more!  Chris is an insane cook and these girls don’t know yet just how lucky they are to have a Dad with such amazing culinary skills! #happywife!

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Having a house full of daughters is kind of like a dream come true!  I don’t know that I necessarily ever imagined this, but it is truly incredible!  We joke that we’re going to need to remodel our kitchen soon because our house is full of people who love to cook, including my husband who is the best of the best!  But, we probably really will have to… So, if you want to come help remodel our space, let me know:D

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It is so wonderful watching each of our daughters’ personalities develop, and you can see it so much when we bake.  Norah takes baking pretty seriously and wants to get the recipe right.  Charlie pretty much spends the whole time taste testing anything that falls onto the table and Ada just likes to bang spoons and make messes!

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It’s so fun watching them pick out their aprons, their whisk of choice, choosing which ingredients who gets to put in first and probably most of our recipes get extra eggs because egg cracking is their favorite part, next to dough tasting of course!

When my sweet friend Robyn told me she was flying into town from Phoenix and asked if we would want to do some photos, I knew right away that I wanted her to capture us doing one of our favorite things and do a little baking session! Guys, if you live in the Phoenix area, hit her up for photos!  She does it all and her work is so good! But seriously, she does such a great job at simply capturing what’s happening and makes you feel totally comfortable. So, please check her out if you’re in her neck of the woods! I maybe ugly face cried when looking at these because she did such an amazing job capturing the girls’ personalities and the little moments that make up our time spent baking with one another!

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We usually only get family photos done when we have a baby, so like once a year:D But, seriously, this was such a blessing!  Robyn did a little home session for us after we welcomed Ada and I cherish those moments so much! I knew I wanted to do something to remember this special season with these 3 little ladies before their 4th sister arrives, and this was absolutely perfect!  I am so excited to have those moments as our family of 6 beginning, but this was so very special!

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I imagine what life will be like when they’re in their teens and I get so excited! People make lots of negative comments about how terrible it will be, and I just smile because I know it doesn’t have to be!  I am so thankful to get to mother these ladies and when I imagine those years I imagine more coffee dates, more movie nights, more conversations in our kitchen… I know there will be rough moments, but I know none of those will compare to how wonderful the good ones will be!

A little alliteration for you!  Cooking Chocolate Chip Cookies wearing Comfy Clogs with the Cutest Crew!  See, education, education, education! IMG_6269

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Robyn, Thank you so much for the gift of these photos!  We are truly so grateful!  Check Robyn out at RobynRena.comInstagram and Facebook!

Featured Items

Norah’s Dress: RemieGirl

Charlie’s Dress, which she basically lives in: RyleeandCru

Charlie’s Hair Bows: TheLittleDesignCo

Ada’s Romper: ShopTheRabbitandFern

Momma’s top: LoveWinnieJames

Momma’s Clogs: SandgrenClogs

Some thoughts about Father’s Day & an Interview with my Love On Fatherhood

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Recently, BabyMori reached out to my super hunk of a husband, Chris, and asked him the question, What does Fatherhood mean to you?”  I was excited to read what he wrote because I am constantly amazed at what an incredible Father he is.  We talked in our dating days about wanting two daughters, and now that we’re about to have four daughters, I would have 100 more babies with this man!  On that note, want to have at least 5 more, husband? Just saying… think about it:D

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Father’s Day is one of those days that is bittersweet to me.  This will be the 8th Father’s Day that I mourn the loss of my Father and sister.  While I miss my dad tremendously, I can only imagine how much joy it would bring him to see the way my husband loves me and the way he fathers our daughters.  I know this is what he prayed for me when he first held me.  I imagine him rocking me to sleep and praying for me to have a husband who would love me and our children the way he loved my mother and me. I know that when he dreamt of having grandchildren, he dreamt of them being fathered by a man like Chris.  While I mourn the fact that my dad didn’t get to walk me down the aisle and give me away to Chris and mourn that he did not live to meet his grandchildren (he is about to have 9 now!) or embrace us as we welcomed our daughters and became parents, I know that the things he prayed over me were answered, and in more ways than I think he ever imagined.

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I miss my dad so much, especially on this day… But the joy that I feel when I see the smiles on the girls’ faces when they model a new dress for their father, or the way the girls soak up the way Chris teaches them how to play a new game or the way they hide and jump out to surprise him when Chris gets home for work… That joy and thankfulness trumps the pain that comes with not seeing my father today.  Chris preached at Church today, so he got there before we did.  When we walked into the sanctuary, the first thing they did was look around for their dad and then took off running for him as soon as they found him in the crowd.  That love they have for one another, that excitement they have as they run to their father and then watching the way he picks them up and embraces them, feeling that same excitement… It’s just so rich!

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So, with that, here is an interview with Chris on what Fatherhood means to him.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you Father’s out there, and for all of you may be mourning any kind of loss of a Father, a spouse or a child, I pray you feel more joy than pain today and that you are overwhelmed with love and peace each and every day you mourn those losses.

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An Interview with BabyMori- What does Fatherhood mean to you?

“Fatherhood is, to me, a gift, a responsibility and a blessing all rolled into one. I get to experience what it is like to have my hands involved in molding and shaping a life, but am also being molded and shaped by my daughters. My eyes are constantly opened to new things around me, in my daughters and in myself.  Fatherhood has shown and is showing me just how compassionate I can be, but at the same time, has shown me and shows me just how truly selfish I am and can be all at the same time. Fatherhood is one of the most fun things I have ever done while also exhausting and frustrating. I think Fatherhood is amazing, but also a weighty responsibility that I want to continue to grow in and handle correctly.  My understanding of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of my Creator has been broadened beyond what I ever thought it would be.

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On a related note, as a father to daughters, I will say that fatherhood has made me keenly aware of the way we, often unintentionally, belittle our female population. As we enter into the last stretch of pregnancy with our 4thdaughter, I am met with many comments about my lack of sons that are increasingly frustrating to me.  Many times the conversation goes this way:

Person – “Wow, your 4th child.  Do you know if it’s a boy or girl yet?”

Me – “It’s my 4th girl”

Person – “Wow, I’m sorry” or “You must have more patience than me” or “Still don’t have that boy yet?” or “Will try until you get a boy?”

IMG_7078Now, I understand where the line of questioning comes from, but this is often in front of or within earshot of my daughters.  I would love to take this opportunity to say that I absolutely love raising these little girls and in no way feel as though I was left out of something simply because I do not have a son, or that in some crazy way, these girls are of less value to me than having a son. I thank God for these 4 precious girls that I have been entrusted with and cherish the fact that I’m able to be part of their lives, and they a part of mine.  Sure, the novelty of raising a little boy is alluring and I enjoy entertaining the thought of having a little mini-me running around.  That novelty, however, pales in comparison to the blessing of this house that is filled with estrogen.  I want to see the gifts set before me and be diligent to raise strong, productive, useful, and joy filled women. I am planning a small bunker for myself for the future, though, and will be practicing my most intimidating facial expressions and death threats for the boys that will be knocking on my door.” -Chris Pahls.

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To read more inspiring stories about Fatherhood, head over BabyMori and read more in their Journal Series.

Photos By Robyn Bunch, Courtney Unruh & Stephanie Pollock

 

International Family Day: An Interview With BabyMori – Inspiring Lives 14: The Importance of Family, Kindness and Accepting Loss


  • How did you and your husband, Chris, first meet? 

Chris and I will never stop laughing about how we met!  I’ll try and set up the scene. It’s 2004, we’re college freshman, I’m maybe hung over (because #college and I was into poor choices at this stage in my life:D) and I was dressed in what we will call ‘not my best look’. We were in our University Cafeteria, and I’m standing in front of a TV & and literally shoveling ranch dressing smothered cottage cheese into my mouth using a chicken strip as my utensil of choice when my friend came over and introduced Chris and I 😀 I knew him after that as Hot Art Student Chris and he knew me as That Weird Chicken Strip Girl 😀 We didn’t begin dating until two years later, and have been inseparable since, but to this day Chris will joke, “I can’t believe I married the chicken strip girl”. So, maybe not a love at first sight story but it makes for a good story and we will never stop laughing about it. Oh, and I’ve been working on my table manners and Hot Art Chris has only continued to get hotter and hotter:D

  • Life isn’t always kind to everyone. How do you both approach life with such positivity and love?

Chris and I both understand that you can’t take life too seriously.  We have learned to really value the good moments, as we understand it is these moments that will help get us through the more difficult times.  We both value kindness and try to remember that the person honking their horn at us maybe just found out they have cancer, or the mean lady in line at the coffee shop is maybe grieving the loss of her best friend.  We understand that people are hurting all around us and believe we are called to be kind and loving to all people at all times. We both share the belief that everybody has a story to tell, everyone’s story is very valuable and sometimes these stories really just need to be shared and listened to. 2016-04-20 09.17.39.jpg

  • You’ve both lost family in the past, something that can be so difficult to cope with. How has family helped you to find the light at the end of the tunnel?

Chris and I were dating when my father and 17-year-old sister were killed in a tragic car accident.  I kind of lost myself for a while.  I hurt in a way I didn’t know was possible and I was hurting even more deeply for my family, watching them grieve.  I know watching my family and I hurt the way we did was difficult for Chris. I remember Chris not really giving me advice when I was really hurting, but just trying to be there and listen to me when I needed it. He still tries to do this. Please do this for your friends experiencing loss. Just be there for them. Just listen to them. Just cry with them…

Chris lost both his grandparents in the same week and my water actually broke with our first daughter the morning of their funeral so we were unable to attend.  As strange as this sounds, we gained such interesting perspective through this.  Although we will all experience extreme sorrow on this earth, there is still immeasurable joy that happens alongside this sorrow as well. However, sometimes you have to choose which thing you’re going to give more attention to, the sorrow or the joy.

All of us will experience loss and difficulty but we also all get to choose how we respond and react to these difficult times and painful emotions.  After the loss of my dad and sister, I reacted in many ways. Some reactions were good, some were damaging, but in the end, with Chris’ love and support, I went back to school and became a therapist so I could walk alongside people who were going through their most difficult times and be a part of their healing process.  We have learned, though, that you don’t need any kind of special degree to walk alongside people and help; we can all do this every day.

We can take the time to visit with the person checking us out at our your local grocers, we can be kind and buy someone’s coffee behind us in line at the local coffee shop or simply compliment and encourage that sleep deprived mother trying to convince her toddlers why they don’t need that candy that they’re letting the world know they need… You’ll be amazed at the connections and relationships that will form around you if you take the time to do these simple things daily.  Listening to people’s stories and sharing ours can have so much power and impact on the world around us. Chris and I believe we were made for connection and community and these are ways we have learned to join together as a family and connect with others around us no matter what season of life we may be in.

  • Moments are so rare because they come and go so quickly. For you, what family moments will you always hold close?

When it pertains to loss, I will never forget the moment I held my father’s hands or touched my sister’s beautiful face and said goodbye to them for the last time as they laid in their caskets. I can’t help but cry and breathing sometimes becomes difficult when I think of this moment, knowing I wouldn’t see them or touch them in this life again.

However, when I think of this moment, I also begin to think of the many unforgettable memories that made saying goodbye to them so difficult.  I remember the first time I held Bethany in the hospital when she was born and being so excited to have another little sister.  She was such a spunky, compassionate and genuinely unforgettable person. I remember my dad sharing with me, shortly before he passed, the regrets he had as a father and asking me for his forgiveness while expressing his deep love for me as his first-born daughter. My mind is flooded with memories of family game nights, road trips across the country and so many of my dad’s corny jokes that I will forever be grateful for!

I have learned so much from my family and so much more in having to say goodbye to them. Their loss made me realize I will say goodbye to other loved ones before I’m ready to, so I am trying to be more aware of this and hold tightly to the happy moments, especially as a wife and mother.

When it pertains to my family, there are so many memories that will stay with me.  The moment Chris asked me to be his wife, the moment we promised to love one another even through the hardest of times, the moment we became parents and every moment we met each one of our daughters for the first time. Every time we welcome a baby, I look at him and feel the deepest emotion that I don’t even know how to describe.  It’s like, WE did this! You did this! I did this! This is our baby, this is our family.  I think about this feeling and treasure it deeply.

IMG_6767.jpgThere are so many moments, which might be considered mundane, that have become so precious and almost sacred to me because I have learned that forever is a lot shorter than it sounds. Making pancakes in the morning, singing songs in the bathtub, the girls crawling into our bed after they’ve peed in theirs:D  I know these moments are fleeting and I want to hold onto them as long as I can!

  • What does family mean to you and how do you enjoy the little moments?

To me, family is a gift.  I don’t necessarily deserve my family or this life of ours, and yet they have been given to me and I to them… And for that, I am so thankful. There are some days I almost can’t believe how blessed I am! Before we had children, I was such an extrovert.  Now, I’m happiest at home hanging out with our family! I love and look forward to the days where our calendars are empty and all we have to do is to hang out with one another! Movie nights, dance parties, baking and making meals together, playing outside, watching the girls play together… Even cleaning the house is so much more fun as a family! I know my family is a gift and I am so thankful and continue to grow more and more thankful!  I think the best way to embrace family is to understand that it truly is a gift and to try my best to act in a manner that reflects this gratitude.

  • Finally, what does motherhood mean to you?

Motherhood.  So much can be found wrapped up into the word Motherhood. Motherhood is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.  Motherhood is a huge responsibility, a new identity, a constant dance of evolving and adjusting. Motherhood brought with it new insecurities, new challenges, new opinions, new fears, new convictions, new emotions, new abilities, new passions, new hopes and aspirations, new relationships, new priorities… To me, there was almost my life before motherhood and my life after motherhood.  Motherhood is not the only thing that defines me, but it is a confounding element that has completely redefined me.

 

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Read more inspiring stories @ https://babymori.com/blogs/journal . Thank you for letting me share my heart @BabyMori!
 Photos by StephPollock & RobynBunch