Wednesday, September 17, 2014


i've debated even writing about this...or even continuing to write on this blog. i know it's important to share our experiences. and i love looking back on posts and remembering how i felt and breathing life into our family pictures through text. but it's hard to write about the tough stuff. i think it's so hard because there's a part of you that has to officially deal with what you went through when you write it down. so here's what we've been going through and the tough decisions we've had to make.


i just want to scream. "why is this so hard?!" i just want to feed him. he's my second baby. the one who was supposed to be my fresh start. when it comes to breast feeding, that is.

and that's when i know it's time to stop. when i start screaming. both in my head and out loud. when i'm crying because i can't believe this is happening again. 

and painfully and wearily, i surrender my god given ability to lactate for the second time.

feeding him was a constant struggle. both on his part and mine. we both hated it. a feeding did not equal a happy baby. it meant painful burps and lots of crying. both him and me. it hurt me physically and mentally. we visited everyone under the sun to try and fix our breast feeding. he just never got it right. he still doesn't suck right on a pacifier or a bottle. so i know that's part of the problem.

when we started giving him a formula marketed as "supplementing while breast feeding" i thought, "i can do this. i can be an exclusive pumper. 
and I could have. that's a reality i could have chosen.

i lived that reality for two weeks. and that's why i'm not doing it.

i watched myself be hooked up to a noisy machine that dripped out liquid gold. as all gold goes, it came at a price. two weeks in and i was not myself. i couldn't create enough liquid gold to satisfy my little one. i was spending no time with my children. even less time with my husband. i wasn't sleeping. night shift and pumping don't really mix. i was all around hating life while "trying" to do the best for my baby.

i watched myself place my two year old in front of the tv for hours on end- daily. i watched myself tell her "no" and "hold on" and "wait" more than i ever have in her short two years of life. i watched myself yell and scream and cry in frustration as my doe eyed two year old stroked my hair and held my face saying, "it's ok mama". i watched myself lay my baby on the floor with toys or in a swing more often than i picked him up.

all for the sake of breast milk... 

because "breast is best". 

at least that's what they say.

we fed him formula... two oz... the amount i was able to pump. he screamed until he had two more. he was happier than he had ever been. and then proceeded to sleep very well. i had been starving yet another one of my children.

he's so much happier now. like a different baby. and he's grown quite a bit! he still spits up. my dad was a spitter. i was a spitter. my children are both spitters. like i've said before, they get my best qualities

once, when aaron was feeding him he spit up for the second time that bottle. aaron told him, "dude, you're wasting our money". 

i heard it and instantly said, "i'd rather waste our money than our time."

and that was that. the peace of knowing that this was what we were destined to do. again. use the dreaded formula. 

but you know what? there's a lot of people out there who give there all to create this liquid gold that's become even more precious to me than it's predecessor. it now sustains and sustained both my babies. sure, it's a big business trying to snag all our money. when i see a big business of moms who's sole career is to make milk for the masses...i'll believe the saying, "breast is best" wholeheartedly. until then... we're relying on the dreaded formula and a donation of breast milk from a coworker sent from heaven.

you know what is best? plain and simple feeding your baby. you feed them... and you are doing what is best for them and for you. 

don't break it down more than that. ever. because it only creates fear and disappointment if you tell me what I'm doing is second best. because it's not.


now here i am... not even a week into our decision. not officially dried up yet, but getting there. i am so happy. the happiest i've been since jacob entered out family. i feed my baby. it's calm and wonderful to do it. he burps beautifully. it's a great bonding experience now. no longer a fight. when i'm not feeding him i'm playing with him. and he's the cutest. his smiles melt me. his laughter makes me want to cry it's so wonderful. and rorie and i can play and spend time together again. i can focus on her. i can't believe i made these wonderful souls.

and let me tell you... that last paragraph... that's worth all the formula in the world.

and yes... gilmore girls is on the tv. we made grilled dark chocolate peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and watched my favorite show. rorie was enthralled. so obviously i'm the happiest mama in the world.

Monday, September 8, 2014


last week, after i had bought a 5lb. bag of apples at BJs, and the weather was cool and crisp... i decided to make applesauce with my kiddos. in all the stress of keeping jake alive and tending to my sweet&sour rorie, i needed a break to cook. i've noticed that i always feel a little better when i'm able to create in the kitchen. so i did.

the peeling took a while, but we were able to get into a good rhythm. jakey watched and did his little screeches as we worked. rorie and i snacked on the peels as i went and she was my official seed finder. she'd eat through the core and collect the seeds. it was really cute. so of course we talked about apple trees and planting trees from seeds and all that good stuff. and the applesauce made the house smell amazing.

a bunch of apples (i used my whole 5lb bag minus one or two)
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. brown sugar (you can add this or not...and i'm not really sure of the amount i used)

peel, core, and chop the apples. plop them and the water & brown sugar in the slow cooker. mix em up (i did it with my hands). cook on low for 7 hours. then blend together.

wa-la. done. homemade applesauce. and i wish i had a dehydrator or learned how to make apple chips in the oven... because a lot of the peels got wasted. i just couldn't eat anymore!

bring on more fall activities! (you hear that humid weather...stay away!)

Thursday, September 4, 2014


dear jacob,

you are the sweetest thing at three months old. it's to fun to watch your dark blue eyes follow your spirited sister around the room. it's like you've completely forgot that she stared down on you on the floor...just a month ago...with a twinkle in her eye, and proceeded to step on you. yeah, that happened.

oh, sweet boy. the way you get bashful and grin bringing your tiny fists to your face. you spin in a circle, kick yourself across the room, and flip yourself over both ways. how quickly you have strengthened your tiny body. how dedicated you are to mastering your hands. *spoiler alert* you have feet too! two of 'em! no worries...wait another month and you'll find them.

and in all of the goodness that you are there is so much we are trying to deal with. 

number one: not a big fan of the head-butt to my chin. that needs to stop. as well as digging your tiny fingers into my skin and pulling my hair. i know you're strong, kid. but stronger people know how to LET GO. haven't we watched enough frozen to figure that out?

you're just not breastfeeding like a champ. you're just not. some feedings you rock. other times it's like you're trying to off me via breastfeeding. we've seen doctors, lactation consultants, and combed through the internet. i can't figure it out. so we've added pumping to the mix. just for fun. especially when you do a nice "long" 4 hour stretch at night only to follow it up with some 1.5-2 hour sleep sprints. and finding time to pump and sleep while all that happens. for the record- pumping completely wakes a girl up. and then one night i decided to take the paci away to see if that helped. i am alive to tell the tale, but it was an ugly day and night. it was so ugly. snot-nosed crying ugly. crying through your soul ugly. you have your paci back. and we are both not crying anymore.

trying to figure out pumping with putting you to sleep for naps and helping pull-down pants for potty training and making snacks and in general keeping you and your sister not very easy. i know, it sounds like i'm such a wimp. so easy, right? 

i'm also just a tad tired because you don't like caffeine. thank you so much for that, sweet boy. makes life so much easier. i should have expected this though...i do not tolerate caffeine in large amounts. excedrin gets me hyper. why do all my most annoying traits get passed on to my babies?!

and if i could just continue to whine for a little whole body aches. i have done no exercise in a long time. holding you is hard. and you like to be held a lot (i love you for that). my calves ache from bouncing you to sleep. my poor old knees (i'm only 26!) ache from the weird rocking we have to do to get you to doze off. my thighs burn because sometimes you don't like the weird rocking, you like a solid squat to put you to sleep. and my fingers hurt because you gnaw on them and i'm constantly disciplining your sister (insert finger wave here).

i muttered to your dad during the ugly day, "i thought he would be easier"... and i'm laughing at myself now for even thinking that. thank you, jacob kian. thank you for breaking down my preconceived notions of you. i thought we'd been put through the ringer with roro. i'm coming to realize that there is always going to be something hard because you are always so much stronger than you think.

i will continue on trying to be only the best mama for you...and you, my son... i can only dream of what you will do.

Monday, August 25, 2014


a few days ago, aaron took rorie and my brother to rhode island- because that's where my brother will be flying out of to return to college. sophomore year! woop! woop! anyways... i took five minutes to tidy up rorie & jacob's room while jake was a happy camper and snapped some pictures. i love the idea of remembering where you've slept. and there's something precious about creating a space for your little ones.

it's a quirky little room. but not as little as rorie's last room- that's for sure! we're in another old, old apartment. the wall that rorie's crib is at is curved on the right side. the floors are a little crooked. the carpet isn't quite big enough for the room, so there's scrap pieces to make up the difference on one end on the room. it's comical (as are most really annoying things in our life). and there's only one outlet. hence the lovely extension cord modern art we've got going on.

but you know what... the room has really come together and it's pretty functional for two. we don't really keep any toys in their room other than the basket full of library books (bottom left). we've got jakey blankets in the top basket and shoes in the middle... extra rorie blankies are in the random pink box.

rorie helped me with the art work on the wall above the bookshelf (which was actually part of my nursery set growing up...same with the dresser). the rorie balloon painting was done by my very good friend, alissa, when rorie was first born. i love it! rorie helped me paint a blank canvas (the blank one from her old room) gold and i sewed on a few paper hearts. and the final painting is a rorie water color original. rorie also picked out the owl lamp from walmart. she loved it. oh... there's also no light in this room...because why would there be?

so far, jakey only takes naps in his crib. there's no way i'd stick him in there at night. that's just crazy at this point. that rocking chair i found in the alley outside our apartment when we lived in chicago. it's super nice and sturdy. a great find. i found the "be a nice human" print on etsy and fell in love. the "r" and "j" are made out of cardboard from our move. and rorie's taken a chair from her playroom to it's new home next to the changing table, so she can talk to jakey when he's gettting a diaper change.

ah, there's the one outlet in all it's glory. same lamp from rorie's old closet room. which i guess belonged to my good friend, christine. love to keep stuff "in the family". the changing table is my family's old tv stand. it's actually full of vhs tapes on the right long side. which i find really funny. i should really crack it open someday.

and a close up of mr. jake's crib. my mom sewed his sheets (one of three). my grandma olson made the blankie shown. my grandma redding made the one on the other end of the crib. and we have a third made by a camper of mine. and he's got his "andy" who is named beau (or beau-beau as rorie calls him) and his newest "sophie the giraffe" extended family deer-who-has-yet-to-be-named (not to be confused with he-who-must-not-be-named). he loves that deer. he'd love it even more if his hands would cooperate. in time...

and that's their room. simple, quirky, and peach. we've made it work.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


i lay on my side, eyes closed, in a twin bed. my husband was in the twin bed next to me and our two month old in a bassinet on the floor in between us. no room in between our three beds. there we were: one, two, three in a row. the walls swallowed us on either side. we were as close as we could be in our separate beds.

i had my eyes closed and was trying hard not to cry. my mom, dad, and youngest sister had just left that afternoon. i probably won't see two thirds of them for 12 months. i was in this tiny room, so close to two others, but I felt so alone. my people, my family... they had left me. 

this happened last year. and the year before that. and almost every year since i left for college eight years ago. it never gets easier.

i whispered into the darkness, "can you hold me?"

because i just didn't want to be alone in the cold twin bed. just me and the sadness. i was trying not to be sad. but that's like trying not to breathe. 

i'm used to them leaving and i'm used to leaving them... but you never get used to the sadness. it's always overwhelming. sometimes it's just a good cry. sometimes it's days of feeling "off". but no matter how long it takes...that weird emptiness is always there. the void where people, conversation, good food, jokes, and friction collide. i get them for a minute...and then they're gone.

it's sort of like when i hear god. it's there...and then it's gone. and I long for the time when we connect again.

as i lay there with my husbands strong arms holding me my tears leaked out. silently. out of the corner of my eye, traveling over my nose, joining the other tear filled eye making bigger tears that dripped down the side of my face.

i wasn't sure if he could feel my wet face as he held me. but then i couldn't keep it in. and i cried and cried over the emptiness.

i missed them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014



baby boy smiles all the time. and everyday i'm so thankful that he's not sick like rorie was. he only fusses if he has a bubble or needs to eat or sleep. other than that he's smiling at everything. which includes smiling at absolutely nothing (so weird...why do babies do that?) and now he's full blown talking and having conversations. he's also super active and very strong, just like his sister. moving like crazy. almost figured out rolling over onto his back...eating his hands constantly. he gets super smiley and then bashful, which is the cutest thing ever! i'm already proud of the little man we created.

as a family, the summer has been great. lots of family and friends. LOTS. lots of traveling for us. a bit of relaxation at camp and touisset. it was just great. we are slowly getting into the swing of things at home and making new routines and grooves. hoping to make some friends and maybe get out more?

baby girl had a fantastic summer. and it ended with her paci's being taken away from her cold turkey. day one there was screaming and crying at nap and bed. day two and beyond... nada. really glad that it wasn't a big to-do. she will proudly tell you that there are "no pacis in MY bed".

aaron and i are not as tired as we were two months ago. (but we are still tired. see the "ugly" section).

rorie says "arts and craftses".

baby girl has almost 100% potty trained herself. she decided to do this the week we went to camp (so fun! nope not at all)...and we haven't really looked back. she also often sleeps dry at nap and overnight. not sure how that happened, but i'll take it.

baby boy is growing like crazy pants! having our first baby not put on any weight was rough, so every morning when i pick him up i am amazed at how heavy he is! and long! he's not a chunker, but he's very tall and has filled in quite nicely. i think he's around 13 pounds? rorie hit that mark around 7 month... and that's just crazy to me.

my last visitor is here: my bro bro, sam. and i love every minute of his existence in my life.

photo by Kelsey Stevens Photography.


we've had three bats in our apartment. not cool. i captured one. aaron the next. and the third... i called 911. seriously. i'm home alone at 2:30am with two kids. my two year old wakes up right after i feed and get the two month old back to sleep. i walk to her room and the third bat is swooping in the living room right outside her room. i race through the door and i'm pretty sure i yelled "crap". but i can't really be sure because my adrenaline was pumping at that point. rorie was crying about wanting milk? she never gets milk in her bed... but she has a water bottle, so i gave that to her and left- hoping it would do. i ran to my room to put my figurative big-girl pants on and a hoodie to protect my head. ran back to the living room and balled up a blanket and began swinging. by the third bad i no longer wanted to let it free outside. i wanted to kill it. long story short. i became unbearably exhausted and i didn't know what to do. i just knew the bat needed to go. i called the only people i knew would come to my rescue no matter how silly it was- the police. and the nice policeman saved the day just in time for jacob to wake up again to eat and then not go back to sleep. i was very tired the next day.

jacob is sensitive to caffeine. enough said.


i absolutely hated saying goodbye to my mom, dad, and gracie this summer. for some reason i've been ugly crying like my first semester in college. i miss them so much. trying to pull myself together, but also letting myself be sad... because it means i love them so much (:

my children are on opposite schedules. the days and nights i'm alone with both of them are very hard, but it can only get better right? i mean, "going to bed" at 9pm, getting up almost every hour some nights, and always starting the day at 4am doesn't really make for an easy start to the next "day"... lets be real. there are no days. it's one continuous day that hasn't stopped yet. my two have a nice nap together in the afternoon that seems like it's pretty consistent, but after that they are on total opposites and i feel like i'm a chicken with it's head cut off (plus i'm watching game of thrones and now i'm picturing lots of severed heads. people's. not chickens. yuck). so my day usually begins at 4am. that's when #2 wants to eat and become unburpable. literally has unending burps. which means he won't go back to sleep until 5:30am. which is when i can finally change my probably soaked from spit-up pjs, pee, wash my hands, lay down, pull the covers up, and listen to rorie yell to me that she's awake from the monitor. see how it doesn't end? i think they're testing me.

thrush. if you don't know what it is you can read about it here. i'm putting this in the "ugly" section of this post because it was ugly and long lasting and really tested my limits as not only a mother, but a human being. it absolutely sucked. jacob and i battled it together for a whole entire month...and it can and might come back. which sucks again. right now i don't think we have it, so it could go in the "good" section. but i'm still mad about it, so it's staying here.

and there you have it... the good, the bad, & the ugly with two kids during the summer of 2014.

and i just noticed photos of our cats are in the right side bar...yeah... they are still alive.

Monday, August 4, 2014


right after jake was born, kelsey stevens asked if she could take some newborn shots to add to her portfolio. of course, i was game. i was completely exhausted by the last full day of camp, but we managed to get the kids slightly together, in clean outfits, and to the edge of the lake for kelsey to discover the joys of photographing a two year old and a seven week old.

kelsey has done it again folks. last summer she was able to capture twenty of us beautifully. dare i say that this summer might have been even harder? i mean... there is only four of us in my family... but a two year old and a seven week old- they're no joke. and they're not going to be like, "oh i heard you wanted to take my picture...let me just follow your lead". nope. it's mostly the complete opposite of that.

rorie was sporting a sweet runny nose and was ready to call it a night at 4pm. she was exhausted and really wasn't into sitting for pictures or listening. the slide was calling her name and there were two older kids, who desperately wanted to play with her, hanging around us as we tried to take photos. but you'd never know that... because kelsey worked her magic.

jake was a doll. he fell asleep right before we were supposed to shoot, so i thought we'd be toast. turns out he's the model of the family (after his dad of course). we moved him around, changed positions, took his paci out, and then he woke up and struck more poses and was all around a complete gentleman. rorie...take notes (nah, it's ok... you're two).

a million thanks to kelsey.

p.s. if you are in chicago and need a photographer... grab her up.