Better When We’re Together

There’s a reason this little blog of mine has been neglected lately… Because for the last six-and-a-half months, we experienced (and survived!) Our First Deployment. My better half has been on the other side of the world since the beginning of August and for safety reasons (both on his side and mine) I didn’t want to talk about it in real-time. It was hard not shouting it from the rooftops, because after all, those who read my blog have offered me so much support in the past, and have continued to do so for years now.

BUT now that B is safely home, I can shout it as loud as I want: HE’S HOME!!!!!!

And the girls and I couldn’t be happier! 

Homecoming was a whirlwind, and waiting for him to land felt longer than the last 6+ months. I’d love to share more about how we didn’t just survive, but actually THRIVED during deployment, but for now I’ll leave you with these priceless pics.



loyally,
katie


*All pictures by the amazingly talented Candice Avery Photography

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What My Father Has Taught Me

Throughout the years, my father has taught me many valuable things, whether purposefully or inadvertently. In honor of November being the month to raise awareness of men’s health issues, I’d like to share just a few with you:
Always write a “Thank You” note.
Or even better, call them on the phone. When I was younger, I dreaded calling people on the phone to thank them for a gift they sent—especially to people like my dad’s-great-aunt’s-sister-twice-removed-whom-I’ve-never-met. But now, I see the importance my dad was imbedding in me. I always write a thank you note, and if for some reason you didn’t get one, then it got lost in the mail.
Use a person’s name.
Whether it’s the cashier at Target or a server at a restaurant—if you can see the person’s nametag, use it. Say, “Have a great day, Erica,” when dropping change off at the tollbooth. It takes no effort on your part to add in an extra syllable or two, but it goes a long way to the person working tirelessly on the other side of the counter.
Tip or pay employees bonuses for special occasions.
If you want someone to like working for you, and want to continue working for you, give him or her an incentive.
Be financially sound.
My dad lost his father when he was only nineteen, so my dad has always had a plan. He has it down to a “T,” what he wants and where his money will go, when the time comes. He has even gone so far as to open up a savings account for his granddaughters, which my husband and I cannot be more appreciative for.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
This one is a little backwards because my dad totally sweats the small stuff! I think the phrase “cry over spilled milk” was invented after him. While I’ve never actually seen him cry over spilled milk, I haveheard him throw out a few fancy four-letter words on many occasions. Whenever I see (or hear) my dad begin to get stressed about something I consider small, I try to lighten the situation by facetiously saying something like, “Oh no! It’s the end of the world! There’s no more cereal? Whatever will we do?! How will we ever survive?!” It usually breaks up his “fit” and puts a smile on his face. And lowers his blood pressure.
Do what you like, and like what you do.
My dad’s hobby throughout the majority of his life has been the Ham Radio. It’s a hobby he doesn’t share with my mom, but that’s okay. I didn’t realize it until much later in life, but we don’t always have to share the same hobbies or interests as our spouse. It’s okay do have something only you like to do. In fact, it’s nice to have something just for yourself.
Love, unconditionally.
When my husband (then boyfriend) and I announced to my parents I was pregnant, I swear my dad’s face turned a shade of green only seen in the Amazon. I don’t know what went through his mind at the time, nor do I really need to know. It was a difficult and testing time in our lives, but my dad never once said anything appalling to my husband or me. He loved me unconditionally. My Jewish father walked me down the aisle of a Catholic church to marry the love of my life. That gesture right there, meant the world to me, and showed me that you love your kids unconditionally.

My father is a great man. He is wise, selfless, hard working, goofy, and loyal.
He’s my hero.
I love you, Daddy.
loyally,
katie

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
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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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INTRODUCING…..

SHE’S HERE!!!
INTRODUCING…
Adelaide Quinn
 
I can’t believe we’re finally a family of four!
loyally,
katie
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How to Have a Successful Family/Maternity Shoot

Here are my top eight tips on how to have a successful family/maternity shoot:
8. Have your photographer wear a monkey on her head to capture your three year-old’s attention
7. Clone your photographer or sneak her a magical drink to grow an extra set of arms
6. Hire a retired Olympic runner to chase after your wild free-spirited child
5. Bribe! Bribe! Bribe! said free-spirited child with cookies and/or lollipops
4. Allow child to eat sand just so you can sneak in a pretty picture with your husband
3. Imagine the worst possible scenario, like your child throwing The World’s Greatest Tantrum, then be pleasantly surprised when that actually doesn’t happen
2. Pray
1. Just let it be
Does this look like the face of a child who would run wild and free??
 ^ ^ I’m seriously obsessed ^^
Maternity pictures were so much easier the first time around, but I’ll admit they’re so much sweeter the second time around, being able to include “The Big Sister.” 
Have you gotten maternity/family pictures taken? What tips would you add?
loyally,
katie
Thank you to Danielle Wilkinson Photography… Can’t wait until the newborn shots!
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Be Still My Soul

The days are long, but the years are short.
When I met my husband in college, I knew his dream was to be a doctor. My dream has always been to be a stay-at-home-mom. As our relationship deepened, we would sometimes reminisce about what our life would be like together. But no one can ever truly predict that. Throughout the years, people have volunteered their opinions and shared their experiences with us, whether they were welcomed or not. Those who had gone down the path before us, both medical and military, told us these would be some of the toughest times of our lives. They told us I would be home alone with the kids, while my husband works 13+ hours a day, six days a week. That sometimes he will leave before we’re awake, and come home after we’ve gone to bed.
They were right.
For several weeks now, this has been our life.
But my husband is my hero. He amazes me. Every. Single. Day. I couldn’t do what he does. He works so hard for our little family. He is out of the house before the sun is even thinking about rising, and if we’re lucky he comes home right after Emmalyn’s bath. My heart nearly bursts out of my chest from the ecstatic look on her face when she hears his car rolling into the driveway. She rushes to the door shouting, “Daddy! Daddy!” And proceeds to tell him something completely random, usually about her day.  He scoops her up into his arms and my heart is full. 
My whole world is standing right in front of me.
The days are long, but the years are short.
I may have just been put through the ringer with the temper tantrum of the season, but in that moment, seeing my two favorite people, my soul is still.
I am blessed.
Just as the waves of the sea roll in, so do the tough days. But the waves have a funny way of always washing away, as do the bad days. They leave behind colorful shells and stones–reminders that it’s the little things in life that make it so beautiful. 
loyally,
katie
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The Time We Became “The 3 Little Pigs”


This second day of January started off as a rough one. I woke up to Indy peeing on the bed. Yep. Then Emmalyn threw a tantrum because she didn’t want to hold a toy that she was …ehem… already holding. Seriously??

But the turbulent start got me reflecting on all The Little Things that means so much in life.

Like, how whenever Emmalyn comes to the doctor’s office with me for a well-prenatal checkup, she whispers, “Introduce me, Mommy.” And I have to announce to the doctor, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, introducing… Emmalyn Grace Van Brunt!”


Or, laughing about how Emmalyn tells her teachers at school that “Mommy does yoga and boring things” after I drop her off. Hey, if it gets her to go to school, go for it girlfriend!

Those are The Things that get me through the tough days.

And that’s just the beginning.

I love how Emmalyn always has to FaceTime with Joey, my parents’ dog–or else! She even goes so far as to ask BopBop if she can see the growing tomatoes in the backyard.

Karaoke dance parties for an adorable one year-old’s birthday party makes me smile. And the fact that his momma makes cupcakes with apples-and-bananas-slash-all-natural-no-added-sugar-ingredients just like me, makes me grin even wider.

& can we talk about the fact that living in Central Time Zone rocks my socks off because we got to watch the ball drop at 11pm instead of 12am? Therefore, this tired momma could go to bed an hour earlier? Yep. Smiling.

My love tank was filled to the brim when I witnessed my reluctant little nephew step outside the pew at church to follow Emmalyn into Liturgy of the Word. All by himself… for the first time. His braveness was inspiring, and the look on his proud little face when he came back melted my heart.

The two cousins, in general, melt my heart. Their opposite personalities attract one another, creating an inseparable bond. One I know they’ll have for life.


The guilt I feel for not sending out Christmas cards this year?? Gone. Gone because The Little Things filled me up to the fullest. And so what? There’s always Valentine’s Day… or Easter… or, well, let’s be real… I probably won’t send out family cards until it’s time for a Birth Announcement.

And that’s all right.

The biggest Little Thing took place when Emmalyn and I went to watch Daddy play basketball at the Y. The three of us were passing the ball back and forth before he played and Emmalyn said, “Look at us! We’re like The Three Little Pigs!” 

The Three Muskateers ain’t got nothin’ on us!

Happy 2014 to you, my friends!

May it be a year of lots of loving and learning.

loyally,
katie

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& I’m back!

I finally feel like a normal person again! & I finally have a computer back. After some technical glitches… umm, like losing e v e r y t h i n g on my laptop, I have a fresh start. Yep. Losing everything on your hard drive is a major bummer, let me tell ‘ya. I lost three chapters of my novel, our budget, tons of medical references, numerous journal entries, and who knows what else! It would have cost at least $600 to have the data recovered, and that’s just money we weren’t willing to spend. The only thing I can take away from this whole situation is back!it!up!

In other news, I am 16 weeks preggers and no longer nauseous! Yippity skippity! I woke up on Thanksgiving feeling like a completely different person. People kept telling me *16* was the magic number. I guess they were right.

We are finally back in our home as a family. After nearly six weeks of staying with family, Emmalyn and I have been reunited with our favorite man! On the seven hour drive back, Emmalyn cried that she didn’t want to go to her “blue house”–that she wanted to go back to GG and BopBop’s house (my parents). It was so pitiful… However, once we drove down our street she was excited, and even more thrilled to be back with all her toys. It was like Chirstmas Day!

Even though I hated being away from my husband for so long (I saw him for 72 hours within six weeks), we really did have a memorable *vacation*. Emmalyn and I got to hang out with our best friends and go on multiple fun play dates. We went to Sea World once, and Disney four times.

The best part of our trip was when Daddy flew in and joined us for a Disney Princess Breakfast for Emmalyn’s 3rd birthday. Both sets of grandparents were there, and it was such a memorable and magical day! I could write a whole other post on just this day…

{took emmy to our engagement spot at epcot}

We were fotunate to be able to celebrate Emmy’s birthday with all her favorite friends from “back home”. Originally, when making the decision to take a change of scenery, I was bummed she wouldn’t have a birthday party with her friends for school, but spending her day with the little friends she’s grown to love was much more meaningful. She greeted almost all of her guests at the door and we didn’t even tell her to! I know that in the three year-old heart of hers, she was super appreciative.

I was extremely nervous about Emmalyn going back to school today. After all, it has been about six weeks. Last night she told me, “Mommy, don’t ever leave me. Ever. {holds my chin} Understand?” Yipes!! It was quite dramatic. But this morning we were talking about all her friends and the fun things she would do at school. When I dropped her off, she walked right in with a big smile on her face. & when I picked her up? Even bigger smile! She told me she had a really fun day. Phew!

So there ya have it, friends! Just a little update. More to come on “prego bumpdates”, Emmalyn’s birthday, and getting back into the swing of things!

It’s good to be back!

loyally,

katie

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A Chicka Chicka Birthday Party

A cool, overcast morning welcomed the start of my baby girl’s second birthday–a day I had been anticipating for a long time. Months of visualizing, planning, and creating was finally here. My favorite book as a child was about to come to life for my own daughter. 
Life is so much sweeter as a mother. 
I enjoy life immensely more, seeing things through my daughter’s eyes.

As if on cue, the clouds opened like a curtain, debuting the Florida sunshine. My vision of Emmalyn’s second birthday party was exceeded, above and beyond. Emmalyn was surrounded by a plethora of friends and family. The best part was that we actually had littles at her party this year! Seeing Emmalyn race to her friends in excitement, and introduce them to those around her, was a favorite moment of mine. (That–and the adult relay race we had!)
: : :
Just like last year, we hosted her party in our backyard. We’re sure going to miss this oasis when we move for B’s residency this spring.
 Chicka Chicka Bounce Bounce
Mama’s & Papa’s Mimosas
{spiked pink lemonade & sparkling peach moscato}
The guests signed a brand new copy of the book. Someone did not tell this mama that books cost $17.99 nowadays!? WTF?! I think I’m going to have people sign in a *themed* book every year for Emmy’s birthday.
Chicka Chicka Chicken (from Chick-fil-a) & Flip Flop Fruit
 Pileup Pasta
Full Moon Favors … a.k.a. Chocolate-covered Oreos with sprinkles!
Dare Double Dare Dip
Happy 2nd Birthday!
A B Cookies & Boom Boom Brownies
{a.k.a. diabetes brownies & death by cookies}
The moment Emmalyn had been waiting for all day!
 ! C A K E !
Yes, my child WOULD put all the candles back on the cake instead of actually eating the cake.
just a few of Emmy’s friends…
: : :
It was a perfect day, for a perfect party, for a perfect little girl.

Thank you to everyone who made her party possible!!

& a special shout-out to my husband, who helped make Emmy possible 😉
loyally,
katie