How It Feels to Lose Your Grandma

It’s been 4 years. Four. Whole. Years. And yet, it feels like yesterday.

Like just yesterday I was at camp laughing around a fire when suddenly I received the most horrifying call of my life. Like yesterday when I packed my stuff frantically, unable to see anything through the tears. Like yesterday that we drove 24 hours straight until we got to Oklahoma– a place that had once felt like “home” because of grandma’s house, but suddenly felt empty and lonely. Like yesterday when I saw her for the very last time.

I have managed to cope these last four years by pretending she’s still alive in her cute little house surrounded by pets and frying chicken. Just pretending that life has gotten busy and I haven’t had a chance to call. But pretending doesn’t change the fact that I cried almost every single day for the first year. That I was devastated. That I was mad at myself for not being there because maybe if I had been visiting she might have lived. That I was mad at her for dying so young and unexpectedly because somehow it had to be someone’s fault.

And pretending doesn’t change that fact that she never got to meet my husband or admire my engagement ring. She never got to see my babies or know that I named my first one after her. She never got to tell me they were cute or that my daughter looked just like me — bald and everything. She never got to see me graduate college or tell me “good job, honey!” and that she knew I could do it because me and my mama are the smartest people she knows.

Pretending doesn’t change how bad it hurts. And pretending only lasts so long.

Sometimes I remember that this is real life, and the grief suddenly hits me so hard that I can’t breathe. I remember that I will never be able to talk to her again for the rest of my life no matter how badly I wish I could just one more time. I remember that the safest place I’ve ever been, with the one person in the world who has never asked me to be anything but myself is gone. The woman who gave me my mother — the very best friend I’ve ever had — is gone.

Losing her felt like waking up from the best dream ever and realizing that none of it was real. It felt like a whole piece of my heart just disappeared, and yet, everyone else’s world just kept moving as if nothing even happened. It felt like the worst pain all at once — the pain of loss, the pain of regret. But the most painful part is forgetting. I can’t recall her face in my mind quite as vividly as I used to and the sound of her laugh is becoming a memory that I can hardly hear. I clung so tight to her memory and held it so deep in my heart that I thought I would never forget a thing. But time has a way of “healing” everything and dulling even the most vibrant memories, and that’s the part that hurts the worst. It hurts to know that I wake up every day and live a life that she is not a part of. It hurts to think that someday I will have lived more of my life without her here than I did with her.

But I will fight for her memory. I will never let her go completely. I will hold on the moments when I see her in my mama and it feels as if she’s never left. I will hold onto the smell of my “lucky” perfume that smells just like the summer I spent with her when I was 15. I will hold on to the taste of super sweet koolaide and the feeling of a room as cold as she always kept her house. I will look fondly at the scar on my leg that reminds me of Oklahoma,and I will laugh at every crazy plan I have because I know I got all my crazy from her. I will tell my kids all most of the stories she told me and make sure that they know her in the best way they can.

Losing my grandma feels like I woke up in a whole different world, but I will never stop trying to bring her here with me.




Of Sick Babies & Tired Moms

Just a straight-up warning: this post has no pictures. I look far too scroungy tired for pictures these days.

They say if you want to be a successful blogger [I think maybe I do..] that it takes a lot of hard work and you need to post like every day. I thought this was all great because I could literally talk to anyone about anything every. single. day. So I went strong for my first couple days and had so many awesome posts lined up…

Then the baby got sick. And anyone who’s anyone knows that a sick baby is bad news. So I’m flat exhausted. I have barely showered and my hair is even more of a disaster than usual because my entire day is baby cries and snotty noses and more baby cries.

But you know what? Even if I missed a couple days of blogging or showering or being an actual human —  I made up for it in time spent snuggling my baby. I’ve held him a lot this week and I’ve covered his warm little cheeks in kisses and tried my best to love and comfort him and console his crying. Sick days are the best of times and the worst of times.

The worst because nobody likes to see their baby hurting or upset. It literally breaks my mama heart into a million pieces. I’m so sad.

But the best because sick days put life into perspective for me in a way that nothing else ever does. They give me a chance to forget everything I need to do and to focus all of my attention on my baby. They remind me that the purpose of being a mother is to nurture– not to make more money or buy cute clothes or style perfect pig tails. Just to nurture.

And, as exhausting as it is, I love being the one the sick baby looks to for nurturing. It’s the best feeling in the world.

To the Man Who Made Me a Mother

Do you remember the moment I told you we were expecting our first baby? It was nothing like the cute, “surprise! You’re going to be a daddy” announcement I had pictured. Instead it was a quick phone call [right before your physics test] where I nervously blurted “I’m pregnant.” I was excited and terrified and surprised all at once and this huge part of me was absolutely sure I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be someone’s mother. I thought I was ready, but suddenly wasn’t. I couldn’t even wait a second to tell you because I had to hear your surprise and excitement and the reassurance in your voice — your confidence that we were ready. We could do this. could do this. In the moment that changed our lives forever you were the calm.

Do you remember going through every bit of that pregnancy together? You came to every doctor appointment, massaged every midnight leg cramp, held my hair as I threw up every day until 13 weeks. You indulged my every craving– I could have sent you to the moon at 2am for a cookie and you would have willingly gone and brought back two. You supported all my crazy ideas– like my need to announce our baby’s gender by cutting a cake at a little party, or that 23rd newborn outfit that I just had to have. In the quiet moments you were the sweet, whispering secrets to your little daughter in my belly. In the scary moments when I worried so much that something might go wrong you were the strength– the quiet voice always so certain that our baby was healthy and everything was perfect. And every day of that whole 38 weeks you were there.

Do you remember the day she was born? When we thought we had weeks left but my water broke unexpectedly and we knew that meant I’d be having the baby that night. I immediately started shaking– more nervous than I’d ever been. But you were there holding my hand as I waddled my way up to Labor & Delivery. You were there hugging me tight through my epidural. When I told the nurse that I couldn’t do it, you were the “yes you can, you’re strong.” reminding me that, with you, I could do anything. And when I looked up from the operating table to see you — all scrubbed up — come walking into the OR you were the peace in my heart. Then only 5 short minutes later hearing her beautiful cry and sharing the best, most surreal moment of my life with you, and when they handed you our daughter and I realized that as much as I thought I loved you holding my hand, there was no better feeling than the moment I saw you holding my baby. I will never ever forget your smile — visible even behind your mask — and knowing that in that moment you were all the joy in my life.

So much joy, in fact, that it wasn’t very long before we decided to do the entire thing again. And the second time was so much different, and yet, we were both almost exactly the same. I was the worry, the mess, the fear and you were the calm, the courage, the strength.

It was then that I realized that perhaps the best part of motherhood is watching you be a father. It was then that I realized that I am only the mother I am because of you. Because every moment since the moment I saw you become a father has been another moment I’ve grown even more thankful for you. Thankful for the unconditional love you give our babies. Thankful for the unwavering faith you have in me. When I think back on every single day of our parenting journey I can say with complete certainty that the best thing I have ever done for our children is choosing you to be their father. You are the constant in their lives. You are everything good in our family.

Thank you for being their daddy. Thank you for making me a mother. Thank you for giving me a lifetime, not only with you, but with two little humans who remind me so much of you and every single thing that makes me love you so much. Thank you for being more than everything our little family will ever need. I will always believe that you are the best father in the entire world.

Father’s day was made for you babe. 

The Most Important Part of Our Bedtime Routine

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not even the least bit structured. Having kids and having to try to provide them with a schedule has been so hard for me. Having a strict routine makes me feel like I’m locked in a cage– doing the same things over and over and over every day. It’s the worst. I just want the freedom to do whatever, whenever. But, as I quickly learned, “parenthood” and “freedom” don’t belong in the same sentence, and pretty soon I found myself planning nap times and timing nursing sessions and trying to fit my relaxed self into the little “perfect mom” box. But I just couldn’t ever seem to fit and the worst was the bedtime routine.

When my first was born and I became a mother the talk about bedtime routines was e v e r y w h e r e. “Make sure to establish a good bedtime routine!” “A good bedtime routine makes all the difference!” “Bedtime routine! Bedtime routine!” Bedtime.Routine. Well, it seemed like all the good moms were doing it so I jumped right onto the bedtime routine train and tried to give my baby the sleep and structure I thought she needed.

I gave that darn routine my all. We tried bath time, a relaxing baby massage, scriptures, songs, prayer, rock to sleep. That was too long. Then just songs, prayer, sleep. Too short. Some nights [read: most nights] I forgot to start the darn bedtime routine before the baby got way too tired and we had to skip straight to the end. And then the mom guilt would set in, why is my bedtime routine a bedtime circus? I don’t understand. 

It was rough, and, after yet another night that ended in with me in a puddle of tears over our failed bedtime routine, I finally gave up on this notion of the perfect bedtime. It took me 2.5 years and 2 kids but something finally clicked. am their mom. am enough. Why am I trying to change who I am when all they really need is me?  I don’t care what other moms do or how they put their kids to bed. All I can do is raise my babies the best way I know how.

“…I will never ever regret the nights my baby falls asleep holding my hand with a heart full of love and cheeks full of kisses.”

I’ve always been of the mindset that life is meant to be lived and experienced. I don’t think life was meant to be lived within the confines of a strict routine. So I took these feelings, this large part of who I am and how I view the world, and I applied it to my children’s bedtime routine. I didn’t want bedtime to become a routine, I didn’t want bedtime to be a strict order of events. I want bedtime to be my time to connect with them at the end of the day, to make sure they know I’m here and I love them. I want them to go to sleep every night with big hugs and kisses and knowing they are loved, they belong and their life has purpose. I want to get on their level, to make our little bedtime talks memories they will never forget.

So I have established a little routine of my own, something I do every single night even if I forget prayers or forget a story or even if the day was absolutely terrible. I hold them close and kiss their cheeks and I tell them “Thank you for spending today with me. I hope you know how much I love you and how grateful I am for you. I thank Heavenly Father every day for sending me such a kind, intelligent, amazing little child to raise. I love you and I can’t wait for tomorrow.” And sometimes we talk and sometimes we snuggle. And sometimes they try their hardest to get out of going to sleep, but you know what? The most important part of bedtime is that they know that they are important to me. The most important part of bedtime is taking the time to just be with them and to make sure that they fall asleep every night knowing their mom loves them.

Wanna guess how long this bedtime routine takes me? It takes as long as they need me, and maybe that doesn’t work for some people, but I will never ever regret the nights my baby falls asleep holding my hand with a heart full of love and cheeks full of kisses.

Things We Love: Swankaroo

**This is NOT a sponsored post, just wanted to share something I love that has made moming easier for me!**

I do lots of research before I buy something– I like to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth. So it’s kinda a dream come true to be able to recommend products I love.

 The Swankaroo is one of those products.

A lot of things about becoming a mother have come very naturally to me. It’s just something I know I was meant to do and I was so ready…but there’s this one thing I just can’t seem to get the hang of. Carrying a diaper bag. Do you feel me? I can’t be the only one, right? I can’t tell you how many times I have been in public without diapers, an outfit change, a nursing cover..and had people look at me like “but where’s your diaper bag?” when I’m trying to bum baby wipes. At home. That’s where. I’m forgetful and it just kind of slips my mind. [I’m in a better habit now that I have a bag I adore– maybe I’ll talk about that next! But it’s still not in my nature.]

So when I saw the Swankaroo I knew I had to have it because then I would never have to carry a diaper bag again.

Genius, right? So I bought this cute little backpack and got my toddler all hyped up about it and we filled it with diapers, wipes, snacks, toys and boom! My toddler was carrying her own diaper bag. And this worked fabulously until I had a second baby and suddenly needed like the entire Babies R’ Us every time I left the house. But you better believe that when he’s old enough he’s getting a Swankaroo of his own and this mama will be free once again.

Just look! Guys, this is adorable. AND they’ve come out with the cutest snack pouches and little purses ever that I’ve totally been eyeing. I’m just dying over this cute shop and love every opportunity to shop small and support another mama’s business.

So if you’ve had an eye on this cute little bag and need a little more convincing before you take the plunge, just let me say “DO IT!” you won’t regret it. It’s the perfect little bag for every adventure.

The Day I Got a Dad

I wasn’t born with a Dad, like most kids are. I mean, technically I had someone who genetically contributed to my being alive, and I’m very grateful for that. But that’s as much of a Dad as I got.

And I didn’t even know what I was missing. 

But one day my mom started dating this nice guy from work. And he had a nice house and dinosaur chicken nuggets (which we never ever had) so I was maybe a little impressed. But things were fine. We didn’t need anyone else in our little family. I was very attached to my mom and it seemed like the more this guy came around the more things in our life started to change. [as an adult I look back and see that I was being given more stability and more support, but as a kid it was just a big life change].

And there was a trip to Disneyland. And the time he got the list I made at Preschool of all the things I was asking Santa for and he surprised us by buying me every single thing [even the Barbie jeep] and then telling us it was from my mom. But we all knew the truth.

This guy was golden. But I couldn’t have been harder on him if I tried. Because I came from a life where dads don’t stay. Dads are always missing, always making mom cry, always yelling. When Dad is around the house is in chaos and people get hurt. But not this Dad. This Dad was different.

But it felt so weird to suddenly have two parents who loved me and who worked together to parent me. Every time I got upset about how our life had changed my mom would say “you didn’t lose a mom you gained a Dad”. Doesn’t she know that I didn’t even want a Dad? And I made sure to tell them that many, many times throughout my childhood. But guess who never gave up on me? Guess who adopted me anyways? Who dropped me off at college and came to my wedding and who is the best grandpa to my babies?

My dad. Because you know what? A dad always stays. A dad doesn’t give up. A Dad is there, 100% no matter what. And the day I got a Dad was nothing short of a miracle. To find someone like that who will take a difficult, and abandoned little girl and completely change her life is truly a testament to me that there is a God and that He is a God of miracles.

I look back at my life and all the blessings I have and I thank my dad for every single one. Without him my mom wouldn’t have been able to stay home and raise us. Without him I wouldn’t have had the push to succeed academically and attend a great college. Without him I wouldn’t have someone to call when I broke something I didn’t know how to fix. Without him I would have never known what to look for in a Dad for my own children.

I’m starting to realize, that the day I got a Dad was the best day of my life. And, this Father’s Day I couldn’t be more thankful to have someone so special to celebrate [even if he’s impossible to buy gifts for!]

What is this blog even about?

I ask myself that question every day.

Just kidding.

But for real, when I decided to start a hopefully-someday-successful blog I read lots of other successful blogs dedicated to helping newbies [me] navigate the blogosphere.

They all said one thing: find your niche. And then make sure to write quality content that will really resonate with your audience. And then I was officially lost. What is my niche? I feel like, as a person, I’m kinda all over the place, so finding one place I feel like I belong has never been easy.

I needed to find something I was so passionate about that I could literally write about it every day for the rest of forever.

And then it hit me. MY FAMILY. Like, obviously my blog is about my family. I’m so darn passionate about them that my entire life revolves around them. I mean, I rarely even go to the bathroom or eat a snack or sneeze without a child right. there. soooo I think I could probably manage to talk about them every day. “Easy peasy” as my toddler would say.

But there’s something else I’m passionate about too– your family. When I entered college all ready to change the world I didn’t expect that the take-home message would be “if you want to change the world, change your home”. [full disclosure: I studied family studies + human development, so it kinda makes sense. My husband’s take-home message is probably something like “retina…cornea…science-word-I-can’t-pronounce” you know.]

And I loved that. I love that the way to change the world is by changing ourselves and focusing on our families. I truly believe, with my whole heart, that family is the most important part of our society. I want my family to be strong. I want your family to be so so happy. So I’m taking this chance to use my hard-earned degree and really try to change the world by focusing on family.

So this whole blog is going to be about my journey + how I’m strengthening my family but it will also be directed at strengthening families in general. Guys, it’s seriously so easy. I want every post to make someone [even if it’s just me] feel good, and feel like they can totally do this. I want to help myself refocus and keep perspective and hopefully share things that will help you to appreciate your spouse, spend time with your children, believe in yourself…because this is literally what will change the world. 

So if you want another mom friend, you’d like to hear my stories + and the most important thing in your life is family please stick around. I know I’ll learn so much more from you than you could ever learn from me.

ps. I hope you enjoyed the cute pic of me in a graduation gown. That is literally how I feel right now knowing that I will get to share everything that I learned and am so passionate about!

Taking the Leap

You won’t believe how many times I’ve written and rewritten this post. How do you describe the feeling of finally doing something you’ve wanted to do for so long but something that is seriously so terrifying.

This blog is me taking a leap. This blog is me being honest and being real. This blog is my life, my story.

I started talking to my husband about starting a blog a year ago. It literally took me an entire y e a r to get the courage to do this. And this one thought kept coming to my mind over and over again — why would you want to start a blog? You literally have nothing to write about.

And it was this thought that stopped me every.single.time. Because, for the longest time, I believed it. I don’t have a ton of money (apparently Optometry students don’t get paid. Who knew.), I don’t go on any noteworthy adventures, my momiform is old news, my makeup is basic on the best day. There’s this feeling that if my life isn’t perfect and perfectly exciting then it’s just blah. If I don’t have a cute $200 dress (and an adorable little figure) and a recent trip to Europe to blog about, then what do I really have?

Actually, I have e v e r y t h i n g. This is the poorest + busiest + downright most insane part of my life, but I am so darn blessed. I have a sweet husband who has worked so hard for our family. Having the opportunity to watch him work for his dreams feels like all of mine coming true. I have two healthy and, dare I say, absolutely adorable and perfect children. I stay home every day and raise humans and that is an adventure.

So maybe it’s not the most unique story you’ll ever hear — but is there anything wrong with just having a great life and being happy? I truly don’t want anything more than this right here. And I think it’s a story worth sharing because I’m betting your life is exactly the same (just hopefully minus a couple hundred k in student loans). I think there are a lot of us raising babies and making budgets and being completely imperfect, so if this sounds like you please stick around. Let’s be friends. Let’s find the good and the happy in all the days.