Monday, February 29, 2016

Confessions of a First Time Mom

Motherhood has been the biggest transition of my life. More than the transition into college, the transition into a full time mission, or the transition into marriage. Not because it's more difficult (though some would argue that it is), but because there is just literally no way to prepare fully for motherhood. Other mothers explained their experiences. I read books. I took a class. But seriously, I might as well have just sat around eating bon bons for 9 months of pregnancy for all the good that did me!

Okay, okay. In all reality, I'm glad I did those things. They were helpful in their own ways. But nothing is like the hands on education you receive from just being a mom.

So here are my confessions. Things I have learned, discovered, and seen in these last 11 months of motherhood.

There is no way to explain the utter exhaustion that accompanies life with a newborn. 
Leaving the hospital, I had slept a total of 5 hours over the course of three days. Yeah. So I didn't start things out on a very good foot. 11 months later, and Kymri is still not consistently sleeping through the night. People said I would be tired. Exhausted even. But until you've experienced 11 months of sleep deprivation, you just don't get it. And yet, I'm okay. Granted, I have the most amazing husband in the world who lets me sleep whenever possible. Plus, I'm convinced that mom's are given amazing powers when it comes to functioning on very little sleep. #mombie

Sometimes I don't actually know what's wrong.
When I was pregnant, one of my biggest fears was that I wouldn't understand my baby's needs. People reassured me that I would. As her mother, they said, I would come to intimately understand each cry and what it meant. There would be a hungry cry, dirty diaper cry, tired cry. But here's the truth: sometimes, I don't know what my baby needs. There are times that she has been fed, changed, cuddled, rocked, sung to, burped, has taken a nap, isn't sick, and still cries. Sometimes when that has happened, I've felt like a failure. How could I not know what she needs? I'm her mom. I'm supposed to just know. But I came to a recent realization: sometimes, babies have bad days too. Sometimes they just need to cry. Sometimes I won't know what's wrong. And that's okay. I will keep rocking her and singing to her, and eventually it will pass. I will love her through it and some day she will be able to tell me what's on her mind.

I find joy in the smallest things.
Who knew that I would be so happy over something so simple as hearing the words ma-ma for the first time? Watching my baby learn to clap her hands. Receiving a tender hug. Sleeping 6 hours straight. Or even (I'm gonna go there) the exact right number of wet and messy diapers! It may sound silly to you, but that's happiness. I find joy in a smile, a laugh, and cuddle, a coo. Life has become beautifully simple.

Everyone has an opinion about what you're doing. 
The woman in the grocery store line? The one right behind you that you have never before met in your life? She will tell you that your child should be wearing a hat. After all, it's cold out there and don't you know that your child could catch something in this weather? And the mom of five who seems to just rock life in general, has every hair in place and perfect makeup every day? Yeah. She will laugh at your bulging diaper bag as she somehow carries only a spare diaper in her designer bag (to which I say, rock on). It will happen. At some point, someone will publicly tell you what you are doing wrong. And you just can't let it get to you. The first time this happened to me, I literally cried. I was doing my best. I seriously had no idea what I was doing, but I was trying. And the words stung. Clearly, I had ruined my child's life. But then I told Brad all about the experience and he helped me see that no permanent damage had been done. (Probably, no damage had been done at all). And I was able to move on. Try to smile through the criticism, knowing that people generally aren't trying to offend. They really do mean well. And then move on and laugh about it later.

Sometimes, I am the selfish mom.
As much as I didn't want to be a selfish mom, there are some moments that I just am. I try really hard not to be, but I have my shortcomings. Sometimes, Kymri has been crying all day and I just really need to use the bathroom. So I set her down in a safe place, use the bathroom, wash my face, and take 30 seconds to recharge while she cries for a minute. I feel totally bad about it, but it's necessary at times. It's hard to explain. It's something you just don't understand until you are in that moment. I do what I need to do, still hoping to be better next time.

I now take a ridiculous number of pictures. 
Seriously. I am not even sort of embarrassed to admit that I have taken over 2500 pictures of Kymri! You might think that's excessive. If you have multiple children, you might think I'm crazy. But I will totally own up to the first time mom title on this one. Every single thing is new and exciting, and I want to document it all. Do I need to take 10 pictures of the same moment? Maybe not. But I do it anyways. And I'm not even sorry. Cute face? Click. Learned something new? Click. Fun new outfit? Click. Eating? Click. Sleeping? Click. Click. Click. Click... And of course the world needs to see all of these pictures. #overgram

Chocolate solves many of my troubles. 
Brad's very wise Grandmother taught me that on the nights that I would be up long hours rocking a crying baby, nursing, and trying to catch a wink of sleep here and there, I deserved a piece of chocolate cake. Now is that wisdom, or what? So after a couple of hours of coaxing my stubborn little night owl back down, I would grab some chocolate, not even feel guilty about it, and drift into delicious slumber. Just to be awakened an hour later. But really, it helps. And it doesn't just have to be in the middle of the night. Did the baby wake up earlier than you had hoped? Drink hot chocolate for breakfast. Did you just change your fifth dirty diaper for the day? And was it maybe a blowout? Grab for the Hershey's bar in the freezer. Trust me. This is golden. Moms should simply always have a secret stash of chocolate on hand.

Only one child is a challenge, and that's okay. 
"Just wait til you have another one!" Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard that one! Any time I seem to be struggling with something--getting out the door in less than 20 minutes, figuring out when to take a shower amongst all the mommying, or even just how to be a mom--someone is bound to tell me that the load will only become greater when I have more children. I don't deny this is true. I'm amazed at mothers of many children. Truthfully, I don't even understand how they do it. But I do know that being a mother to one can also be difficult. Everything is new and different and there is no way to prepare for it. So if you're a first time mom and having a tough time figuring it all out, that's okay. It's allowed. And don't worry. You'll get it.

Sometimes I need help. 
Before I had Kymri, I was slow to ask for help. I thought I could do it all. Most of the time, I at least stayed afloat. But after Kymri, I soon realized that I needed help. I had a bit of the baby blues and everything seemed so overwhelming. I remember crying over every little thing. I couldn't do it on my own. I needed help. And I had to ask for it. People are often willing to help new mothers, but just don't know how. Sometimes, it's okay to just ask. Do you need a hot meal? A chance to take a warm shower? A moment to yourself? Some adult conversation? Ask. It's okay.

I don't actually know what I'm doing, but God magnifies my every ability.
I have many weaknesses. Though I try my best, I often fall short and miss the mark. I mean, I've never done this before. But I know without a doubt that my work is noble. It is exactly what God would have me do. And so He magnifies my abilities. I give all that I can, all that I have. And He makes up the rest. He has taught me much about motherhood. I have looked to His example as the perfect Parent and He has taken my meager abilities and made them enough. I literally have no idea what I'm doing and feel like I'm in the motherhood crash course. But with the master teacher, all is well.

I have more love in my heart than I ever imagined possible.
Not only do I have an unexplainable love for Kymri, my love for everyone has grown. I truly can't put into words how much I love this little person. For me, it was instant. My heart grew. She filled me up. And that love has only grown more and more every day. It's a love that I couldn't even understand before Kymri came into my life. There is a special love you feel as a mother. When Kymri wraps her arms around my neck in the most perfect hug, I melt. When she gave me a wet, slobbery kiss for the first time, I literally teared up. The way she lights up when she sees me makes me happier than I can say. It's a love unlike any other. And loving her has made my love for others even greater. I've talked about how much more I adore Brad, even though I didn't think that was possible. The same is true for pretty much everyone. Somehow, I love them even more.

So yes, motherhood is everything they say it will be. It's wonderfully amazing, special, difficult, and fun. It's unlike anything I have ever done before. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced. And yet, I had no idea of all this would be. Motherhood is something to be experienced. A journey to understand only by taking it. And oh, is it ever worth the ride.

Friday, February 26, 2016

11 Month Update

I can't believe that this is my second to last monthly update! It makes me a little sad to think they are almost over. I have really enjoyed writing them and reflecting on the month that we have enjoyed with Kymri. In some ways, I am not quite ready to have a one year old on my hand, but in other ways I am really excited for the new adventures it will bring.

Dear Kymri,

How are you 11 months old? Only one more month and we will be celebrating your first birthday! That's hard to believe. We are looking forward to celebrating with family and friends!

This month has been one of discovery and joy for you. I can't believe how much you have learned and grown in just the last few short weeks. You are wearing 18 month clothes, and the other day I even put you in some 24 month clothes, and they were none too big. You are looking more and more like a little girl and less and less like a baby every day. I think we have a toddler on our hands.

You pull up on everything you can get your hands on and easily walk along the furniture. You have even braved letting go and can stand on your own for a bit before getting excited, trying to take a step, and tumbling to the ground. But nothing can stop you, you always get right back up and try again. Recently, you are trying to stand on your own without hanging on to anything. It has proved to be more difficult to you, but I know you will get it soon.

You especially love to pull up on the piano and play a song. You get a little confused with the lid is closed.

 In this last month, you had your first Valentine's Day. It was fun because Grandma Shelley was visiting and we got to go up to Idaho with her to meet your knew cousin. We had a great time being with family and watching you explore a new place. Grandma spoiled you with fun new Valentine Jammies.

We have been trying to teach you to blow kisses and you think you have it down. Any time we show you how to blow kisses, you click your tongue in return. It is adorable. You have even started to click your tongue on your own until we blow kisses in return. It is adorable and we can't get enough of it!

You are talking and babbling more than ever now. You can say da-da, ma-ma, and hi. When you say hi, you also wave and it is beyond adorable! Yesterday we went to the grocery store and you literally greeted everyone we passed. You eat up all the attention when people react to you and say hi in return. Basically, everyone thinks you're as cute as we do.

Your hair is so thick! And it basically happened over night. One day you didn't have enough hair to hold a clip, and the next day you did. It looks so cute with a clip in it too!

Sleep has gotten a lot better. You are consistently sleeping from 7:00 to around 5:00, nursing briefly and then going back to sleep until 7:00 or so. It's wonderful. We will soon be weaning the 5 o'clock feeding, and I hope it goes well and that you can still sleep until around 7:00. We will see how it goes.

I'm actually not looking forward to weaning, but I know it is time to do it. You are definitely ready, but I will miss the time to cuddle and be alone, just the two of us. But I suppose I have to let you grow up some time.

You love to play, explore, and learn new things. You are starting to need me less as you want to play on your own and figure things out. As much as I love watching you learn and grow, it is hard for me to step back and let you do things on your own. But I am so proud of all that you can do!

Books are your absolute favorite! I love to watch you play with them and "read" them. You love taking your books off the shelf and exploring them. You can turn the pages when I'm reading to you and get so excited to turn page after page. I am so glad that you love books so much and hope that reading becomes a life long love.

As we enter the final month of your last year, I am amazed at all we have done and been through. It has been one amazing ride, and there is only more to come. I can't wait to see who you become. I love you so very much!

All my love,

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cream Puffs Baking Date

Brad loves to bake. Or at least he did. And then law school happened. I've heard rumors from others that he had made them delicious cream puffs in the past. Apparently, he was known for these cream puffs. And yet, he had never made them for me. I jokingly gave him a hard time about that on a number of occasions. I mean, we've been married for going on three years now, and yet I still had not tried these cream puffs that apparently, Brad was known for.

Well, this year for Valentine's Day, Brad surprised me and whipped up a batch. And let me tell you, they were amazing. Seriously. So. Good. I maybe ate one or two (or five) too many, but worth it. In fact, these are so good that they were even worth the three year wait!

And really, is there anything more romantic that your hubby in the kitchen?

I don't think so.

Get a full tutorial for how to make these amazing cream puffs on the Our Best Bites site, HERE. Kate and Sara are really kind about letting others share their recipes, so I will include it here. But really, go check out their site!

Brad and I turned this into a fun date night. He taught me how to make the cream puffs, and we had a load of fun baking together. Cooking together is such a great date because you have plenty of time to talk, you're learning a new skill, and you get to eat something delicious at the end. Triple win!

We threw in dinner (Texas Roadhouse) and a movie (How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days because Valentine's Day) and made a night of it. It was the perfect Valentine's Day. Low key and romantic.

I was thinking this would be a tricky recipe, but really it was quite simple and turned out great! You should definitely give it a try!

Mini Chocolate Cream Puffs

For the Pastry you'll need:
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. flour
2 eggs

For the chocolate mousse filling, you’ll need:
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. boiling water
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa
1 c. cold whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 400. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add flour all at once. Stir quickly with a spoon until dough forms a ball.

Add one egg at a time, combining completely after each addition. The mixture will be very smooth and velvety.

Either drop the dough by scant teaspoons or spoon dough into a pastry bag and pipe them directly onto an un-greased baking sheet. Yes, teaspoons; they’ll puff up, but you also want them to be bite-sized. If you want larger cream puffs, you could use a cookie scoop to get a tablespoon of dough.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until golden-brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 Look how gorgeous these get in the oven!

Meanwhile, make the mousse: sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl. Let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly. Stir together ½ c. sugar and ¼ c. cocoa in a medium bowl. Add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat at medium speed, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture and beat until well blended.

Refrigerate ½ hour and then spoon into icing bag. 
(Brad had actually made the mousse earlier in the day and left it in the refrigerator until we were ready to use it and it was great. Time savers are our favorite). 

Gently insert piping tip into the bottom of each pastry puff and squeeze filling into puff, being careful not to over-fill.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar (or dip top in chocolate) and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Makes about 40 bite sized cream puffs

These are actually even better the next day, so make a day in advance to save yourself some time!

In all, it was yet again an amazing Valentine's Day. I'm so grateful for my forever Valentine!

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Magic of Ordinary Days

I could watch Kymri for hours on end and never bore. In fact, that is pretty much what I do every day. And it's pretty magical. She is currently cruising along the couches (and really almost anything she can get her hands on), and starting to brave a few tries without holding on. Basically, she is just getting way too big. But we sure are having a lot of fun. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

St Patrick's Day Printable

As much as I love my Valentine's Day display, it's time to switch things up for the new holiday. Enjoy this free printable to swap it out with the old. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

When Life Isn't Pinterest Perfect

For Valentine's Day, I wanted to make Brad a Valentine that looked something like this:

And then Kymri absolutely refused to cooperate, and we ended up with this:

It's slightly creepy, totally messy, and definitely not "pin-worthy." But I still love it, because it represents a great memory. 

You see, I had a choice the day we made Brad's Valentine. I could have forced Kymri to sit still until I had made the perfect Valentine. We would have both become frustrated, tired, and I still wouldn't have been guaranteed a good end product. I would have had a mess to clean up, and been upset that the mess wasn't even worth the fuss. If my end goal was to only have a pinnable image, I would have lost a great moment that followed. 

Rather than getting upset that all Kymri wanted to do was explore the paint and "ruin" my vision of the perfect Valentine, I just decided to go with it. We got out the edible paints, and I just let her play. She wasn't in to what I had planned, but I could tell that she would really enjoy feeling the paints and just exploring them. Would it make a total mess? Absolutely. Would we get anything amazing at the end of the day? Well, that depends on what your definition of amazing is. It wouldn't be something that I would proudly pin for the world to see, with detailed directions on how to replicate my 10 month old's perfect masterpiece. But it would be amazing because Kymri and I did it together. 

I didn't force Kymri to do what I wanted her to. I didn't try to capture the perfect shot. Instead, I snapped a couple of quick pictures to remember the moment, and then I put the camera away, got on the floor with my baby, and painted. And it was a beautiful thing. 

When Kymri just wanted to eat the paint, I didn't try to force her to do it my way. I knew that I had made the paint for exactly this reason, and water and flour wouldn't hurt her. So I let her explore. When she was more interested in the plastic than the painting, I let her crinkle it to her heart's content, even if it meant leaving the paint behind. 

We sure did have a mess when we were done. I literally took Kymri straight from the plastic to the bathtub. But I didn't mind cleaning it up. We hadn't left a perfect project behind, but we had spent a morning together that I will remember for a long time to come. Perhaps we hadn't made a masterpiece, but we had made a memory. And that is worth so much more.

Now don't get me wrong, there have been days when I have striven for the pinterest worthy projects. I've wanted everything to be just so and I got upset when it wasn't. But then, there have been times when everything was Pinterest perfect, and I felt even less fulfilled. Because I had missed it. I had captured it in the photo, but hadn't captured it in my memory. I hadn't been present. There is nothing wrong with beautiful, picture perfect moments. So long as we aren't missing the real moment. Am I behind the camera instead of elbow deep in the project? In my efforts to capture a memory on film, do I neglect to make the memory in the first place? In my efforts to make everything  just so, am I forgetting to see the beauty in the process? The joy in the learning? The perfection in the mess? 

Life might not be Pinterest worthy, but boy is it good! And I don't want to miss all those good things because I'm caught up in the not so perfect moments. So ladies, if you have Pinterest perfect projects, cheers to you! Keep it up and please continue to post so that I can be inspired. But if you're like me, and things just don't quite turn out that way, enjoy the moment for what it is rather than mourning over what it isn't. Chances are, it was pretty darn good. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

My Forever Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day weekend, all! I so love Valentine's Day.

I am so grateful for my forever Valentine.

Brad is truly the most amazing man I have ever met. He is kind, generous, happy, fun, sensitive, true, good, tender, and incredibly loving. This year has been especially amazing as I have watched him become a father. He is my best friend, my love, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my support after late night feedings, and my forever Valentine. Can't imagine life without him!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 Last Minute Valentine's Day Date Ideas

We love Valentine's Day around here. It's fun to have an extra special day to show even more love. But I think that for some people, Valentine's Day can be stressful. What is the perfect gift? What is the perfect outfit? What's the perfect date? I don't think it needs to be all that complicated. Actually, I think simple is great. Finding small special ways to celebrate your love is what really matters.

So if you are still at a loss for what to do this weekend, I thought I would share 5 simple ideas for romantic Valentine's Day dates that won't stress you out. There are simple, yet special. I hope you all have a lovely weekend with the ones you love!

1. Have a Progressive Dinner
Can't decide where to go for dinner? Try mixing it up a little. Have appetizers at one restaurant, entrees at a second, and dessert at a third. This is so fun and only takes a little extra planning. It doesn't have to be anywhere fancy either. The progression is what makes it extra special. And a little extra time with the one you love? Bonus. Here's a tip: beat the crowds and enjoy your Valentine's meal between lunch time and dinner time. Brad and I have done this for the last two years, going out around 3:00, and it was perfect. We were some of only a handful in the restaurants.

2. Make a Romantic Dinner at Home
Want to avoid the crowds completely? Stay home and cook up something delicious. Fondue, smothered chicken, or pasta with cream sauce are all romantic options. And don't forget dessert! Find our recipe for a romantic Red Velvet Cake HERE. Make sure to cook together. That's the most romantic part of the evening!

3. Go on a Gondola Ride
Many places offer gondola rides, and this is a date that doesn't take much planning but is uber special. When did this for our first anniversary and it was one of the most romantic dates we have ever been on. If you are on Arizona, check out the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale. And of course, there is always the Venetian in Las Vegas if you are in the area. Other areas offer gondola rides as well, so check out your options. Boat rides in general are romantic, so if you don't have a gondola option, just being out on the water is magical.

4. Go Dancing
I feel like there aren't many married couples who go dancing. But it is such a great, easy, romantic date night! If you are in Utah, there are Valentine's Day dances at the Provo City Library, and at Thankgiving Point. If you are in Arizona, check out Fatcats for a fun Ballroom dance lesson followed by a dance. If you don't want to go out on the town, have a fun and romantic dance in your own living room!

5. Go On A Sunset Hike and Picnic
If you are in to more active dates, enjoy a sunset hike or nature walk and bring along a romantic picnic. I absolutely love the sunset and watching from a mountaintop seems extra romantic. You definitely won't have to worry about crowds and will get some alone time with your love. Cuddle on a blanket while eating chocolate dipped strawberries and watching the sunset. Perfection.

Have a Chocolate Tasting! Get some fancy Chocolate Tasting Squares  and have your own chocolate tasting party. Make sure to get different percentages of cocoa in the chocolates!

If you need more ideas, check out our stay-at-home date night ideas, or our 52 dates for newlyweds. Still want more, go through the date night archives HERE

I hope you all have a wonderful, simple, romantic Valentine's Day! Let us know how you are enjoying your weekend. We'll be sharing our Valentine's recap next week. Don't you just love love?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Perfect Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

I love to bake. It's almost therapeutic for me. But, I do not like to make sugar cookies. It's a mess and time consuming and sticky. So for me to bake a sugar cookie, the recipe has to be reeeeally good. I mean really good. So good that I might not actually bake the cookies because I'm eating the dough too quickly. So good that I want to take them around to neighbors to share the deliciousness. So good that I don't mind that my kitchen will be a mess of flower and stickiness.

These cookies are that good. This is my Aunt's recipe and she has graciously agreed to let me share it here. The world needs this sugar cookie recipe. Seriously. They are thick, moist, soft, and perfectly sweet without crossing over into the too-sweet-to-handle realm.
We're talking the perfect Valentine's Day treat.

And my guess is, you already have every ingredient on hand to make these heavenly cookies. So what are you waiting for? Go get baking!

Perfect Sugar Cookies
1 C Butter
2 C Sugar
4 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 C Sour Cream
5-6 C Flour
1 tsp Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Cream together butter, sugar, and eggs.
Add vanilla, sour cream, flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until blended.
Chill dough for 1 hour.
Roll out thick and cut into desired shapes.
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Let cool completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting (see below).

Yields approx. 3 dozen large cookies (this obviously varies based on the size of your cookie cutter). (And on how much of the dough you eat... )

Cream Cheese Frosting
I so wish I could give you an exact recipe for this frosting... but I always just put stuff in until it tastes right. This is really close to how I do it. Quick tip: use Mexican Vanilla. It's the best. Literally, I go to Mexico to buy my vanilla. Worth it.

8 oz Cream Cheese
2 T Butter, softened
2 C Powdered Sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add enough milk until you reach desired consistency. (This will come faster than you think. Add 1 tsp at a time).

So go and mix up a batch for your kids, your Valentine, your neighbors... seriously, everyone needs one of these cookies!

Friday, February 5, 2016


Apparently, I am really into going through old pictures recently. With Kymri's first birthday fast approaching, I am nostalgic about pretty much everything. And a little weepy. Basically, anything can get my tear ducts moving these days. My baby is quickly moving into toddler-hood and I'm just not ready!

Today I realized that I never shared pictures from Kymri's blessing day. I want the blog to include all these important moments because I'll likely one day have it printed into book form.

In our church, children are not baptized until 8 years old (or older) when they are able to make the decision for themselves. They do, however, receive a special blessing as infants from a priesthood holder (often their father) which includes special individualized blessings.

Kymri had a perfect day on the day of her blessing. She was happy and calm. Until the moment of her blessing arrived. She literally screamed through the entire thing. But she received a beautiful blessing. It gave me a greater glimpse into just how special she is! 

Since she was so angry through the blessing, we didn't take many pictures that day, but I made her get back in her dress the next day for a little photo shoot. She was able to wear the same dress that I wore when I received my blessing 26 years before. It was so special!

I am so grateful for the beautiful blessing that Kymri received that for the priesthood power that Brad holds that blesses our family so greatly.

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