My Dearest Alexander Blake, On Your First Birthday

I know I’m suppose to be grateful you’ve been blessed a year older–and I am–but I can’t help but cling on to this fleeting time with you as an infant.

I want to remember… 
How your brown eyes greet mine every morning when there’s not yet light peering through the curtain… 
How you scrunch your little nose because you know it will make me laugh… 
How your sweet little voice sounds, right before you fall asleep…
How your tiny fingers grasp my thumb as you nurse and stare at me with wonder… 
At first I thought you were looking at me for guidance, but now I believe it is me that is finding answers through you. 
You have taught me… 
That, despite my best efforts, time doesn’t slow down so I need to live in the moment… 
That snuggling on the sofa is more important than making sure dinner is on the table on time… 
That listening to birds chirp is more important than waiting for a phone to chime… 
That reading “one more book” is more important than folding “one more basket” of laundry.

Son, I will be there for you with a bandage when you fall off your skateboard, and I will be there with an emotional bandage when you go through your first break-up. I’ll be waiting by the door to pick you up from your first day of school, and I’ll be waiting by the door when you come home late for curfew. I’ll stand by you when you embarrass me with an epic meltdown in the middle of the store, and I’ll stand by you to embarrass you with hugs and kisses in public until the day I die.
Although I wish I could keep you little forever, I look forward to the memories we will make in the years to come. I vow never to take my time with you for granted, and to be grateful for each and every moment I share with you.
Time is fleeting, but my love for you never will be.
I love you, Bubbe! 
Forever, 
Your Mommy 
Photo Cred: Salina B. Photography
Never Grow Up Shirt: Lainey Kay Creations

Today is a New Day

Thanking God this morning for literally a breath of fresh air. 

Yesterday was a shit day. Adelaide couldn’t go to school because she was sick the day before, but I had a hair appointment. My amazing cleaning lady insisted she watch Adelaide so I could get my hair done before we go out of town. I bring Alexander to the salon with me and he is a pretty good sport. Here’s when things go downhill: The new girl cuts my hair two inches TOO SHORT and screws up the color! It was so blotchy, but I didn’t realize this until I got home and played around with it. I cried! This is my worst nightmare! I call the owner and she says she will fix it that evening. So I scramble around to find childcare since Blake was suppose to be taking a night flight. No such luck. She says she can come in early the next day, too, but I realize Adelaide has her school pictures and I don’t want her to miss them because when you’re a military kid those things are important.

Meanwhile, I get the two littles dressed to see the Easter Bunny and in the car to pick up Emmalyn from school. We get to the mall, only to be told we have to wait thirty minutes for The Bunny to come back. The girls are hungry, but there’s no food court in our mall because: small town. I get them Chex Mix from Michael’s Crafts, but we have to wait in the longest line! By this time, the bunny is back. 

As I was taking Alexander out of the car seat, he scratches his face and is bleeding. He’s never done this, but of course it happens seconds before the picture. I also realize he has a poop and is hungry (notice his searching-for-the-boob-face below). Also, Adelaide all the sudden decides she is afraid of The Bunny and refuses to get in the picture. No amount of chocolate bribery will work. I choose not to force the situation because I don’t want to traumatize my daughter. After all, I would punch someone in the face if they forced me to have my picture taken with a bird. So I focus on the other two kids, but Alexander is fixated on finding milk from The Bunny and will not turn his head towards the camera. I am sweating at this point. We get the best picture we can and call it a day. Then The Bunny hands Emmalyn a candy and Adelaide goes to get one, but I tell her no because she did not get her picture taken. The Bunny does a back-and-forth dance with the candy, not sure what to do, and ultimately gives Adelaide the candy. I take it away and she has a full-blown meltdown all the way across the parking lot. 

I vow never to do Easter Bunny pics again. It’s not worth it! Did we even interact with the bunny? NOPE. Did we get a picture with all three kids? NOPE. Did anyone have fun? NOPE. What was the effing point?! 

As I put Alexander’s car seat in the car, the stroller rolls away across the parking lot and I have no clue until a random man shouts out to inform me. Adelaide puts up a mean fight to get in her car seat, but I don’t back down. I have to use every muscle in my body, but I finally get her in. I collapse into the driver’s seat and cry. (And this is hard to do when you’re on antidepressants!) 

“Mommy is having a bad day,” I tell the girls. Apparently this is code for: Let’s Fight All The Way Home. One shining beacon of light is Blake calls and says he will cancel his flight so I can get my hair fixed. I feel terribly guilty about that, but tell myself sometimes I need to put myself first! 

I somehow manage to throw two frozen pizzas in the oven and the girls in the tub. As soon as Blake gets home, I grab the baby and hightail it out of the house, back to the salon. The owner was super apologetic and sweet, and thankfully Alexander slept the whole time. I got home after 9pm, nursed the baby, pumped, ate a snack while watching trashy reality TV (The Twins), and crashed as soon as my head hit my pillow. 

The whole day I kept repeating the first line from The Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

The nice thing about days are: they must come to an end. And tomorrow will always be a new day. I woke up this morning, reciting a Hail Mary and The Lord’s Prayer, and vowed to have a positive outlook on the day. After all, our sweet little boy is getting baptized this weekend, and there’s no sacrament more exciting!

God is good!

loyally,
katie


Here’s the full Serenity Prayer in case you need it today:

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 

Amen.
(Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971)

A Postpartum Update


It’s been three weeks since our little man, Alexander, entered the world. And if you didn’t already know, I had to have an emergency c-section, after twenty-four hours of labor, because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck–three times! Of course we didn’t know this until he was born. 

It was such an out-of-body-experience, and in a lot of ways, just like you see in the movies: After being stuck at 7cm and contractions not increasing in intensity, and hours of the doctor, nurses, and Blake maneuvering me in every possible position to try to get a better read of the baby’s heartbeat, my OB-GYN finally said, “We did all we could. We need to go NOW.”

To say I was frightened to have a c-section would be an understatement. I was taken by total surprise, after having two previous natural deliveries. I also have never had surgery before. I was shaking and crying and praying a hundred Hail Mary’s. 

But it was all worth it for my perfect little boy. Because it was an emergency delivery, nurses were pulled in from all directions and they didn’t know we’d been keeping his gender a surprise. I imagined a huge “IT’S A…..!” announcement, but there was nothing. Honestly, I didn’t even know the doctor had already cut into me until I heard a baby cry. Blake and I, blind on the other side of the curtain, heard whispers of, “Hey buddy” and “his” and “he”. We looked at each other and I said, “Did they say ‘he’?!” But it wasn’t until the nurse brought him around the curtain that we saw the true reveal. It was a BOY! We both broke down in tears. 

The c-section was a surprise, but the fact that our baby was a boy was an even bigger shocker! I couldn’t believe it. Some days, I still don’t even believe it, even though I change his diaper a million times a day.

I think what scared me the most about having a c-section was the thought of recovering, while also taking care of three small humans. I thought, I’m going to be in lots of pain and confined to a bed–how the heck am I going to do this?! Originally, Blake and I planned to have a couple of days at home before family came to visit, but because of the urgency of my care, my angelic mother-in-law flew in just hours after we got home from the hospital. Unfortunately, my mom had to have unexpected surgery on her foot and was unable to come. (But that’s a whole other emotional story. Thankfully she’s recovering well! Praise God!)

The recovery of a c-section was a painful one and it took a toll on me emotionally. On top of that, our oldest daughter came down with a 104 fever, and the baby and I had to basically be quarantined to the bedroom. That did not do well for my psyche. You’d think with this being my third child, I would have remembered how much of an emotional roller coast postpartum can be, but I didn’t. I had many moments of, Is this EVER going to get better? and Am I EVER going to feel like myself again? Needless to say, I wasn’t cutting myself much slack, and was being far too hard on myself, especially after having major abdominal surgery. I’m thankful for a husband and a phone call from my therapist to remind me: One step at a time… 


With my history of Postpartum Depression, I couldn’t help but think, “Is today the day I’m going to get it?” I had the same feelings after Adelaide was born, too. But I had to force myself to stay positive, patient, and faithful in the Lord. I’m happy to say that it doesn’t look like PPD is going to be rearing its ugly head this time around! I have zero anxiety about taking care of the baby, and my girls are driving me the same amount of bananas as they always were. 

The adjustment from two to three was easier than I anticipated. But then again, I usually have the mentality of “expect the worst…” that way I’m pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of “stop-touching-hims” and a lot more “wait-a-minutes” these days, but I’m hoping that will soon dissipate, as the girls are forced to be learn to be more patient. (A mom can dream, right?!)

Overall, I’m doing really well! I’m so grateful to all the people who have called, prayed, taken care of the girls, and brought us meals to feed our bellies and save us from cooking or giving our kids frozen pizza and mac-n-cheese every night. We’ll save those meals for when things get back to normal 😉

loyally,
katie

I Have a Favorite Child

I have a favorite child. There! I said it!

If you don’t have any kids, or you have an only, you may be saying to yourself right now: How on earth could she say such a thing? She’s a terrible mom…

But, if you have multiple little ones running around 24/7/365, then you may be singing: Yes! Yes, me too! I’m not the only one! Finally, someone said it out loud. I’m not crazy…

Do you want to know who my favorite child is?

My eight month-old.

Why?

Because she doesn’t sass me. She doesn’t leave a mess all over the floor for me to trip over. She doesn’t scream in my face when I tell her she cannot have eleventy more crackers. She doesn’t throw herself on the floor when I tell her she cannot watch four more hours of Sheriff Callie. She doesn’t say things like, It’s all your fault! or I don’t want to brush my teeth–stop touching me! or my favorite, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Nope. My eight month-old doesn’t do any of that.

Instead, she’s sweet and smiley and cuddly and laughs at all my jokes and animal noises. And she doesn’t run away when I sit her down on the floor.

But. Then comes nighttime, when my eight month-old is tired and fussy and plays The Don’tYouDareTakeMeOffTheBoobOrIWillScreamEvenLouder Game. Oh you know it? It’s a Classic.

That’s when I pass her off to Daddy and climb in bed with my SassyPants (a.k.a. my four year-old) and read books to her. That’s when she gives me butterfly and Eskimo kisses and says things like, Today was the best day ever! or Daddy and I are getting married ‘cuz we’re in love! or my favorite, I love you the biggest much of all, Momma!

And that’s when my four year-old is my favorite child.

loyally,
katie

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Mommy, I want to look pretty

This morning, my four year-old daughter said something that completely stopped me in my tracks. I saw her excessively fiddling with her hair, which made me cringe because she was really just creating a bird’s nest, and I dreaded having to comb through all those knots. I asked her what she was doing, to which she responded: “I’m doing my hair because I want to look pretty.”
 
I cringed again, but for a much deeper reason. I hate the idea that my little girl thinks she has to have her hair a certain way in order to look pretty. I immediately said, “But you’re already pretty.” My mind immediately flashed back to all the times I’ve unintentionally put emphasis on her looks.
 
Ninety-five percent of the time people will open up a conversation with me by saying, “She’s so cute,” or “look how pretty she is.” No one ever says, “Look how smart she is.” Eventually, once they get to know her they will comment on her strength, imagination, athletic ability, and/or manners. But their initial comments are always superficial.
 
I’m just as guilty of doing the same to other children. As a society we place beauty above brains. But we’ve got it all wrong. The emphasis should be on brains and inner beauty.
 
Looking back, there have been many situations in which I’ve made “good looks” a priority for my daughter. Oh, just yesterday, I bribed her with “a treat” (two yogurt covered pretzels) just so she would put on tights and a bow in her hair to have her picture taken with Santa. I loathe bribing kids with food–especially sweets, and it went against my intuition, but I was desperate for her to look a certain way. Why? Truthfully, I have no idea. I cannot come up with a un-vain reason for why she had to be dressed the way I wanted her to.
 
I provide my daughter with a multitude of compliments unrelated to her outer beauty, everyday. But her comment this morning got me thinking about the number of times I tell her things like, “That’s such a cute dress,” or “I like your hair like that,” or “I wish you would wear this instead.”
 
Now I’m not saying to stop these comments altogether; I mean, I like being told I look lovely just as much as the next gal, but I truly believe we shouldn’t be so quick to make comments only on good looks to impressionable young girls who absorb our every words like sponges.
 
So, the next time you feel the urge to make a vain-ish comment to your daughter, try to replace it with one of these alternatives:
 
– I like the way you play nicely with your friends.
 
– You’re using such good manners at the dinner table.
 
– You’re such a kind friend for sharing your toys.
 
– I like how you’re using your imagination.
 
-Wow! You’re so strong when you climb those monkey bars.
 
– It was very responsible of you to put your shoes away.
 
– You’re such a thoughtful young lady.
 
– I like how you got dressed all by yourself. (Even if she’s wearing plaid with stripes!)
 
Will I stop telling her she’s adorable and pretty and stop brushing her hair? No. But I don’t want to reward her for her good looks. Life shouldn’t be a beauty pageant. So what if she goes to school in mismatched clothes? Really, what’s the big deal?
 
Don’t worry, I will continue to teach my daughter good hygiene (I don’t want her to be the smelly kid in school!), but I vow to place much less emphasis on her looks. The important thing is that she’s developing into a confident young lady with healthy self-esteem, and is a kind human being.
 
What do you think?
 
 
loyally,
katie
 
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Ballet & The Boobie Barre

If you would have told me five months ago I would be nursing my baby in the middle of ballet class, I would have thought you were a crazy person!

Five months ago I was struggling so much with breastfeeding. Every other day I wanted to quit. Practically every other day I was visiting my lactation nurse. I was constantly text messaging friends for support. I was telling my husband, “Don’t let me give up!”

And look at me now:

It brings a whole new meaning to “The Boobie Barre”!

I also didn’t think I would be getting back into dance at three months postpartum. But I did it! I was determined to stick to my mantra of “just get moving!” I’m so thankful that my ballet class allows me to wear Adelaide, and bring Emmalyn. This class is something I look forward to each and every week. Sometimes I am super stressed leading up to it (…Emmalyn doesn’t want to get her shoes on, I accidentally take a wrong turn and end up on the interstate, Adelaide’s crying, etc., etc.) BUT I leave it all on the dance floor!

I couldn’t do the class without the amazing women and teacher who help and support me each week. They help me schlep my entire house baby stuff into the studio, and hold Adelaide while I do pirouettes across the floor.

Oh! I could easily make excuses for not going. I could easily say: “It’s just too much work… It’s too far of a drive… I’m too tired…” because let’s face it–all the latter are completely true.

But it’s so worth it. 

The hour-and-a-half my feet glide across the dance floor is therapy to me. It’s hot and sweaty therapy! For that hour-and-a-half I get to be me.

I never foresaw nursing my baby at the ballet barre in my future. But looking down at her sweet cherub face, catching her smiling at me mid-plies, is quite magical. Sharing my passion with my littlest one is special and unique, and well–just magical.

Five months ago I would have thought you were crazy for saying this was in my future.

And now? I’m the crazy person.

And I love it!

loyally,

katie 

P.S. Do you think So You Think You Can Dance will add another genre of dance next season called Boobie Ballet? 😉

*TELL ME: What do you like to do for exercise post-babies? What *excuses* are holding you back? I encourage you do go after what you want–and make it happen! You are way more capable than you think!

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The ‘Almosts’

There were a lot of names we threw around before deciding on “Adelaide”. As a little girl I was constantly writing down baby names in a journal. It hasn’t stopped since I’ve become an adult. It’s funny how “Emmalyn” was never on my “baby name list” growing up. I actually thought I would name my first girl, Halle, and calling her “Hal”. (I was slightly obsessed with Lindsay Lohan’s version of The Parent Trap.) Emmalyn was ‘almost’ Olivia, a name I completely adored, but was too popular for us at the time. Also, I find it interesting that none of Emmalyn’s ‘almosts’ showed up on Adelaide’s potential name list. It’s funny how things change.

 Here are a few of the top contenders that, while I love, didn’t quite make the cut. Maybe next time…? 😉
– Charlotte/”Charlie” {this was acutually her name for a couple of weeks until we decided it was becoming too popular}
– Fallon
– Maclaine
– Mackenzie
– Harper
– Teagan
– Tallulah {okay, so only I liked this name, but it was still on my list}
– Avery
– Stella
– Quinn {it became a middle name!}
– Addison
– Taylor
– Cordelia
– Scout
– Hayden
– Amelia
– Claire
 
I’m still very fond of all of the above names, but I can’t imagine Adelaide being anything other than “Adelaide”.
 
What names did you ‘almost’ name your child or children? What was the reason you didn’t?
 
 
loyally,
katie

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Happy 2 Months, Adelaide Quinn!

It’s only been two months, but it seems like Adelaide has always been in our family. People have asked me how I could love someone as much as Emmalyn. My answer to that is this: when you have another child, your heart just instinctively knows how to expand to make room for more love. It’s like lighting candles… the flame doesn’t burn out when you light one candle to the next, but rather ignites more flames. My heart ignites more love.

It may sound cheesy, but I am seriously obsessed with Adelaide! I just want to hug, hold, and kiss her All!Day!Long! The first three weeks were difficult because I felt like a never-ending milking-cow, but after she grew out of her cluster-feedings, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I also felt an even bigger weight lifted off when I stopped nursing from the left side (because it was so painful!!) and just continued on the right only. Holy goodness, that was the best decision I made. I cannot tell you how great it made breast-feeding for me. I am so so s-o-o-o glad I didn’t give up! And really, THANK YOU to everyone who supported and encouraged me–whether by person, phone, or text! I couldn’t have pushed through it without all of y’all! Thank you a hundred times over!

Adelaide is such a wonderful baby. She basically only cries when she’s tired, hungry, or needs to be changed. She’s also a major cuddle-bug! Her favorite spot to be is laying on mama’s chest. (It’s my favorite place for her to be, too!) Just this past week she’s really started to smile when you talk to her. And she even had a conversation with her big sister 😉 At bed time the other night, we were reading books in Emmalyn’s bed when she started cooing. Emmalyn would imitate her back, then Adelaide would coo again. It went back and forth several times, and both Emmalyn and I got a huge kick out of it. Adorable!

Speaking of Big Sister, Emmalyn is adjusting quite well to her new role, although I must admit, she can drive me a little insane sometimes. Like me, she’s also obsessed with her little sister and won’t stop touching her. The problem is she wants to touch her while she’s sleeping. And it’s not just a little peck on the feet or a soft touch, it’s a full-on Hugging & Kissing Frenzy! I’ve tried so hard to give her softer alternatives to showing Adelaide affection, but alas, she won’t listen. (Big surprise there… she’s three!)

The experience of having a second child is so much different than the first. I’m not nervous about anything (except what Emmalyn is up to if I have to run to the bathroom real quick!). With the first, I remember being nervous about going to Target, changing blow-out diapers, feeding at the right time, giving baths, and even just putting her head through a onesie. But the second time around, I feel like a pro. Also, Adelaide has no choice but to just go! go! go! With Emmalyn I was so nervous about public germs. However, once you’ve witnessed your child licking the metal poles in line at Sea World (can I get a barf bag?!), you learn to let loose a little. Hand sanitizer is still my best friend, and I try to keep Adelaide covered in her car seat when we’re out, but I’d go stir crazy (and Emmalyn would, too!) if we didn’t venture out practically every day. Adelaide has been to museums, the library, shopping, parks, church, and friend’s houses multiple times.

She is still sleeping in her “Rock-n-play” sleeper next to our bed, and I don’t plan on moving her any time soon. I love having her sleep next to me. I love hearing her breaths, snores, and baby pterodactyl-like noises. I love that in the middle of the night I can just reach over to nurse her. Adelaide is still wearing newborn clothes and diapers. She doesn’t mind “tummy-time” and holds her head up remarkably well. At night, she even scoots herself almost all the way over onto her side. She loves listening to Emmalyn sing, dance, and play the guitar. We’ve nicknamed her “Bright Eyes” for the way she watches everyone around her. Next to her older sister’s, you can definitely see that her eyes are blue. I just wonder if they’re going to stay that way?

My two girls have taught me the importance of living in the moment and slowing down. With Emmalyn, I tried so hard to do things “by the books”. I moved her into her own room at three months, and I didn’t want her to get used to being rocked to sleep, among other things. But they’re only this little once in their lives. I can’t believe Emmalyn will be four in a few months, and I cringe when I think about Adelaide growing as fast as she already is. I wanted to rush the infant stage with Emmalyn, and now I never want Adelaide to grow out of her newborn clothes! It’s amazing how your perspective changes.

I’m absolutely loving being a mommy to my two beautiful girls. It truly is the great thing I’ve ever done! It’s cliche, I know, but I can’t remember life before Adelaide. By the Grace of God, she was meant to be in our family.

And as Emmalyn would say, “Can we keep her?”

Yes. We can keep her. She’s ours forever…

loyally,

katie

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Life Lately, in Bullet Points

– I joined a Book Club. So far I’ve read The Fault in Our Stars and The Glass Castle. It’s nice to be involved in something that requires intellectual thought instead of nursery rhymes, for once!

– I think I’ve got this whole breastfeeding thing down. I now feel completely comfortable nursing in public. I really didn’t think I would last as long as I have. And while I don’t have a set goal, I have no intentions of stopping soon. I’m just going to continue until it doesn’t work for our family anymore.

– Adelaide had a blow-out at a restaurant the other night. I prayed to the diaper bag gods that I had a change of clothes for her. Hallelujah! I did!

– Emmalyn fell off the side of the steps in the pool and went straight into her float, called for help, and grabbed the wall. We were both so proud.

– Three year-old tantrums S-U-C-K! Big time.

– I’m doing July’s #independenceARMy & #SunsOutTeekiBumsOut Yoga Challenge on Instagram. It’s been so great getting back into yoga… even if my time is limited and I sometimes have a three year-old crawling all over me. {see: Instagram video} I guess it helps me practice patience, eh? You can follow my journey on my Instagram: @katievanbrunt & at #loyallykatieyoga It’s fun and challenging!!

– Adelaide is an incredible baby! She only cries when she’s wet, tired, or hungry. She sleeps anywhere from 6-8 hours a night. {don’t hate.} She’s a true joy and I love having her in our family.

– Emmalyn is obsessed with Adelaide. It’s almost a little too suffocating. She has a tendency to wake her up with extra hard hugs and kisses. Like, multiple times a day. UGH. Honestly, I’ve tried everything I can think of to get her to stop and nothing is working. Help?!

– I can’t believe school is starting back again. So soon! I just bought Emmalyn’s school supplies. This year, she will be going to school three days a week. I’m excited for her.

– Adjusting to two kids was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Sure, it’s difficult when both are crying, one is in the bath tub, and the other needs to be fed, but we make it work. The chaos is totally worth having two daughters.

– I said I didn’t ever want to be pregnant again or have more kids than I have hands, but now I’m not so sure…

– I am thoroughly blessed I did not get postpartum depression the second time around. Praise God!

– Having a baby in the summertime is difficult. It limits our daily activities significantly, but we’re making it work.

– I never want Adelaide to grow up! I’m absolutely loving having a baby in the house!

So how has your summer been so far?!

loyally,

katie

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Our Newborn Photo Shoot

Adelaide at 6 days old 
+
Adelaide crying for over an hour
+
New nursing mommy who doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing
+
Emmalyn with a fever
+
Adelaide peeing on Hubby’s formal uniform
+
One really patient photographer
=
Our Newborn Photo Shoot

It was a stressful one, folks!
I was very adamant about capturing newborn photographs because I never did them with Emmalyn and have truly regretted it, still to this day. Therefore, it was super important to me the second time around. Our sweet family photographer was patient with us for three hours, while I nursed Adelaide three different times, Blake changed in and out of his uniform twice, and Emmalyn tantrumed (yes, that should be a word) and basically refused to participate until we bribed her with chocolate (which I never do)! But desperate times called for desperate measures.
I’m sad we didn’t get pictures of the sisters snuggled together in bed with big matching hair bows, like I envisioned, but Hey! That’s life! Right? I was way too exhausted–‘yanno, with having given birth six days prior–to try and make everything “perfect.”
I am, however, super grateful for the pictures we were able to capture, and even more importantly, that the people in them are healthy and mine and perfect.
Forever.
{hey–at least Indy cooperated! hehe}
loyally,
katie
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