the birth

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For the majority of this pregnancy, I planned on a home water birth. Unfortunately, at 36 weeks along, my home birth midwife had her license suspended (read her story here). At that point, I had to decide whether to quickly find and get to know a new home birth midwife or go back to the midwife group I was with for my first pregnancy. After some soul searching, I decided on the latter, and with that, chose to return to the same hospital at which I had a natural water birth with Fiona.

I had hoped for a natural water birth this time around too... and I did have a natural birth again (can I get a hell yeah?!), but it wasn't in the water. It was in the TRIAGE ROOM because every labor and delivery room was taken! And my midwife? She was with another mom who was pushing! So, for several hours, I was without a midwife, but I did have the greatest husband ever by my side. I couldn't have asked for a more calm, loving and steady presence throughout what was the most physically challenging experience of my life. It was much more intense than Fiona's birth. I didn't realize that was possible. My midwife, who had already delivered two babies that day, arrived just in time to start pushing. Phew!

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After 6 1/2 hours of hard labor and an hour of pushing, screaming, crying hysterically, pushing more and generally losing my mind, my baby was placed on my chest. She lifted her head (really!) and looked straight into my eyes. In that moment, it didn't matter where we were or how hard I had to push to get this 10 lb baby out. She was here. Another little girl to love.

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Welcome to the world, my sweet girl. I am going to do everything I can to make your life happy, cozy and full of love. I can't wait to get to know you.

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My second daughter, Elsa Larkin.

berry muffins make me happy

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A little over a week ago I got my very own copy of The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule (Thanks, Mom!). I just love her blog, Soulemama. I love reading about her crafting, cooking, natural parenting, and homeschooling adventures, but there's more to it...

It's easy to take a sarcastic tone about parenting or marriage (it can be so frustrating!), and it's easy to complain about cleaning and cooking (it is, after all, so hard and time consuming!), but I've found that I'd rather not take that tone about family life. Because really, I've never been so happy and I've never found anything else in life so rewarding. In becoming a wife and a mother, not only did I gain a bunch of really awesome people in my life, but I found a better, happier, version of myself. I guess Amanda Blake Soule's blog and books capture that spirit for me. She (and many others) have given us permission to focus on the good and revel in the simple.

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Sometimes it's hard to admit to being happy, especially for this art kid who made it through a lot of years on sarcasm and a bad attitude. But, you know what, world? I'm happy. Really fucking happy. And my kids? They're perfect. And my husband? Hot. There. I said it. ;)

Anyway, onto the Berry Muffins made from a recipe in The Rhythm of Family!

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They were so good! They made me happy. They made Fiona happy, too.

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now

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My husband calls me the ruminator. He's right. I like to tell myself that my over thinking habit has it's benefits, but it's probably part of the reason I'm not always so good at just being in the moment.

This has been one (of the many) great unexpected gifts of motherhood, the ability to be truly present. Every time I look at Fiona, I'm reminded that my time with this two year old doesn't last forever. This spirited, sweet, loving, curious and cute (really, really cute) two year old.

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I'm mindful that Elijah won't always be a little boy. He is on the cusp. Six is such a transitional age. I remember being six. Before we know it, Elijah will have cooler things to do than frolic on the beach with his little sister. He'll always be sweet, I'm sure. But this sweet?

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And I know she'll always be sweet. But this sweet?

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So I pay attention to now. And appreciate now. Cause, god, now is so good.

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Grammie Days

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One of the reasons I started this blog was to keep a record for my children in the hopes that one day, they would enjoy clicking through the pages and exploring moments of their young lives that they may not remember. I hope that one day, years from now, I find them reading these words and fully feeling the love with which they're written.

With that in mind, it occured to me that something big was missing... Grammie Days! Fiona spends two days a week with my mom while I work from home. During her last Grammie Day, I asked my mom, Dona, if she would take along my camera and document some of their time together. One of their favorite stops is the local library (The same one I frequented as a child. Yep, I grew up in the Hereford Zone!). And this might be one of my favorite pictures of all time...

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What a grump! Despite the melancholy look, Fiona actually loves the library. She loves being read to, she loves leafing through the pages pointing out images she recognizes (like caterpillars!) and she loves pretending to read aloud to whoever will listen.

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She and my mom have certain favorite toys that they play with at each visit.

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When I saw this picture below, I laughed because this is the kind of thing I allow Fiona to do that sometimes I get funny looks from other parents for. I love that both my mom and I have the same attitude. "What?! She can read her book wherever she pleases!"

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I feel so lucky that my mom and my little girl have this time together. Looking at these pictures made me tear up a bit at the beauty of it... The two most important girls in my life being so very, very important to eachother.

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Ugh, and now I'm crying again. Love you, Mom.

together

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Before I had Fiona, or even the idea of Fiona, I noticed that some moms held their babies in slings. It struck me as so beautiful and powerful. These mothers seemed confident and capable, going about their lives with their babies held close. I knew that one day, I wanted to hold my baby like that.

For the first months of Fiona's life, she cried and cried, for hours and hours, day after day. I wore her in a sling for more hours than not. For reasons I don't expect to ever understand, some babies have a very hard time adjusting to this world. Fiona was one of those babies. She would bury her face in my chest and we would walk for miles. Aside from nursing, this was the only way to keep her from crying.

Slowly, she started lifting her head from my chest to look around. From the safety of her sling, she started noticing things around her. Over time, she got to know our routine. When she saw me take out the sling she would wiggle excitedly. Every morning we would walk to the coffee shop, walk along the water, stop by some local shops, and in the early days, she would fall asleep on our way back home. Now, She doesn't wait for me to initiate our morning walk. She just marches right over to me, with the baby carrier in hand, and says, "back!"

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Everyday, Fiona and I explore the world together. I point things out to her, "Look, Fiona, boats!" and she points things out to me, "Bird!" We run into friends. She gives people high fives and waves goodbye. She insists we buy strawberries and once we've bought them, she reaches into my bag and tries to get them out.

I am aware that one day, instead of wearing Fiona on my back, she'll be walking next to me. And then one day, she'll want to explore the world on her own. I cherish every moment that right next to Mama is where she wants to be.

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Me and my girl.

the fathers in my life

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To my Husband, their Daddy:

I always knew I wanted a family. When I was in college, people would talk about their big plans for their future careers. When it was my turn to chime in, my answer was, "I want to get married and have a bunch of babies." It was kind of a joke. Kind of.

Two weeks after you and I met, I said we had to talk. You already had a son, and I needed to make sure you wanted more children. Most guys would have run for the hills at that moment. This girl is crazy! We've only been dating two weeks! But you didn't run. We talked about our dreams for the future. And they matched.

Almost five years later, here we are. We are living that dream we talked about then, drunk and giddy to have found eachother. I am so proud of the life we've built together. Everyone in your life is so lucky to have you. You are the most devoted husband and father. Thank you for your unrelenting love.

To my own Father:

Thank you, Dad, for showing me what unconditional love feels like. Thank you for always believing in me. Thank you for always understanding me. Thank you for always being there. Thank you for talking to me at two in the morning and showing me that I am never alone. A thousand times, thank you.

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I am so lucky. Words don't do it any justice.

home

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When I was young, home was by my Mother's side. I was her girl and she always took care of me. When I moved a half an hour away to go to college, I cried all the way there. How could a place be home if my Mother wasn't there? Those years on my own were fun, but something was missing. Nowhere felt quite like home. I searched and searched and shortly after graduating, I found my husband Sheldon and my stepson Elijah. This feels more like it! I'm close! And then a little over a year ago I gave birth to my daughter Fiona.

I found home again.

Thank you, Mom, for showing me what home feels like. Without you, I wouldn't have known what I was looking for. It is by your example that I've been able to find the profound happiness I feel in being a wife and mother.