Nova 4 yrs

(all images shot on portra 400 with a canon eos3 and contax645)

Today I left on a work trip to Park City. You were wanting to give me a kiss and hug every 5 minutes as I got ready. We chatted as I packed my bags and dried my hair. You showed me your owies and asked if you could put on perfume and lipgloss. I kept asking out loud which book I should bring and you would excitedly say, “Oh Mom! I have the perfect book for you!” as you would run off and bring me back a book on underwater sea life or a book about woodpeckers. This morning you wanted to have a picnic on the ground for breakfast. I made you crepes and we sat around the world you created on the floor at 7 in the morning. Me loving on you and your brother and dad. Me missing you already.

What a year you have had.

Some moments were slow and savored

others happened in the blink of an eye.

3-4yrs has been an explosion of conversation and understanding.

We talk all day long together.

In the mornings you bound into our room talking non-stop in a mid-day voice. You talk about your jammies or how you slept. I ask about your dreams. You make jokes and laugh at yourself. You kiss and tease brother as he breastfeeds. One of you on each side snuggled into me. It is the time of the day where my heart feels the most full. I like being able to touch all the people I love the most at the same time.

You made your first big move (that you will remember) this last year, California to Kauai.

Since moving to this tropical paradise you have attended three different preschools as we have searched for the right fit.

All your teachers comment on how emotionally aware you are. And how well you talk. It feels like most of the kids in your classes sound younger than you. Maybe its the fact that you say things like , “I’m feeling a little sensitive”. Or maybe it’s because you have chosen to be a doctor when you grow up. “I’m Super Nova. I save people.” Whatever it is I feel proud that you are who you are and can express yourself so well. It makes things easier.

You have made so many friends at school and I love hearing you tell stories about them. As hard as it is to have you away from us 3 days a week, I love knowing you are making friends and LOVING your time with them. There have only be a couple days since you started school that you haven’t wanted to go.

There is rarely guessing how you feel. We know.

You are loud and bold and happy and sad and shy and interested and active.

You are creative and imaginative and enjoy your alone time as much as your social time.

You are a mix of almost everything. You are human.

I love being able to stand back and listen to you play. I love the worlds you create with seemingly nothing. I love hearing the conversations your dolls have and the way you soothe your babies to sleep.

There is something about being so close to a person that at times they don’t even realize you are there because of how comfortable you are around each other. I do not take this for granted. I am honored that you trust me enough to completely ignore me at times while you talk to yourself.

I am also grateful for the trust you have in expressing strong emotion around me. I never want any of my children to feel alone with hard and intense feelings because they feel a fear of judgement or lack of acceptance. I consider it the highest compliment when you allow me to support you during your hardest moments. Knowing that I love you (maybe even more) during the storm.

After the clouds clear it is so nice to be able to recap what happened and how we felt. Realizing together that those feelings passed and we survived!! Allowing you to work through all your feelings instead of trying to distract or avoid has given you the chance to see that you are brave and that those feelings aren’t to be feared.

Thank you for all the wonderful lessons we get to learn together.

You really truly are one of my best friends.

You love telling jokes.

One of your favorites this year was “Cows go on their first date to the mooooovies”. You are also learning knock knock jokes which has been fun.

You LOVE helping in the kitchen. You set the table, pour us water. You like to help stir, crack eggs, season. You love being a part of the process and helping to make decisions. You at times can even be quite bossy about where everyone sits while we eat. Thinking you might run your own cafe someday.

If asked you will say your favorite foods are chocolate and ice cream. But just for the record, you eat those two things very sparingly.

You have never been a big bread eater and still just eat the cheese out of the middle of the tortilla. You live off of eggs and cheese and still a fair amount of milk. You also like meat quite a bit, which is adorable for some reason. Most of the time when your dad and I make a meal for you, you thank us. So much sweetness and gratitude in your little self.

Bubbas and you share a room in our home up Kahiliholo. We were not sure how it would all work but you two wow’d us with how easy it has been.

We are renting a home and you like to tell people “There are horses on our property”. And there are are! It has been so fun for us to feed the horses and see them all day from our windows.

You flit around our yard visiting the horses, Ella, the macaw, and staining your bare feet with more red dirt.

Your favorite beach is Kalihwai.

You love digging holes with daddy and trying to catch minnows.

You want to introduce yourself to every young child you see, especially if they are girls.

Dogs make you a little nervous after a couple have chased you at the beach.

You only like to wear one pieces, I think because they are more comfortable to wear.

You like to climb over the lava rocks and pretend that we are mermaids.

I love seeing you so happy and free at these beautiful beaches I love so much. So happy we can live somewhere, where outside play is easy.

You still love princesses and playing chase non-stop. If anyone ever wants to play chase you are up for it. You and dad and bubs will run circles in our house.

You have requested a superhero birthday party. You want it at home and really wanted to watch a movie…but I am trying to persuade you to play some games instead. You also want flounder (little mermaid) cupcakes.

Naps aren’t happening that much anymore. We still do rest time but you spend a fair amount of that time begging for a show. We usually end up snuggling in bed while I try and rest and you roll around on me. Sometimes I think you don’t want to nap because its the time in the day when you can have alone time with dad and me.

When we first moved to Hawaii, we found out we were pregnant on the Big Island while we were there. 10 weeks later we miscarried. We explained it to you in terms of seeds growing and some not growing. You asked lots of questions and we included you in the process. We almost immediately got pregnant again and now I am 19 weeks pregnant (as I write this 2/6/15)!! You have been to an ultrasound with me and couldn’t be more thrilled. Due early July.

You often talk to my belly telling the baby how much you love him. You tell him jokes and blow kisses on my belly. You are also very aware of the fact that sometimes when moms are growing babies they feel sick and tired and you often check in with me to make sure my “belly doesn’t feel sick”.

Seeing you and Fairbanks over Christmas with your cousin Hazel made me so excited for another little baby in our home. You two lived to make her smile.

You are such a loving and fun big sister to Fairbanks. He copies your every move. You two love to wrestle and climb like monkeys on the beds and window frames. Sometimes you hold hands while we drive. Of course you like to test your control over him (like any big sibling would) but you also share and bring him toys when he is sad and really more than anything love playing with him. It has been nice to see him getting old enough to be your occasional playmate. I can see the relationship between you two growing more and more.

He calls you Sissy and you call him Bubbies most of the time. He loves seeing you when you come home from school and you love to be the first to walk into his room when he wakes up from naps.

I watch your every move…like any obsessed mother does.

I see your strong resilient body move with such skill as you skip, run, scooter and climb.

I see your mind working as you listen to a story or see a child in need.

I see your problem solving skills develop as you come up with solutions, “Ummm, I have an idea!”

I see your big smile and sparkling blue eyes look at me with wonder when I catch you off guard with silliness.

I hear you sing happily to yourself with made up words about the things you love.

I watch you with wonder and with my deep deep deep deep deep never-ending well of love.

What a treasure you are in our family. Always the brightest star. Always my sweet side-kick.

Lets run and jump and roll in sand more this year. Lets laugh more and listen closer.

I can’t wait to know you more and love you more.

Happy 4yrs sweet pickle.



3 Years

There is no denying you are three and ready to be.

Longer legs, being able to go all day without a nap, constant conversation. You are not a two year old anymore.


We had such a fun time celebrating your birthday. I want you to always be involved with parties that are for you. I asked what kind of birthday party you wanted and all you wanted was a “cupcake party.” A cupcake party with your friends and maybe a grandparent or two. Simple enough. I asked if you wanted to have a bounce house as well...since you are, well, a jumper and you loved that idea. So cupcakes and a bounce house it was. I ordered some fun cupcake invites that I sent out with a wide mouthed photo of you. I made two varieties of cupcakes, per your request. You wanted strawberry and chocolate. So I made Thomas Keller white cupcakes with a strawberry buttercream that was SOOO good. I also made a sour cream chocolate pudding cupcake with nutella buttercream that was pretty decadent. You were happy, so I was too. The friends that came were Winston, Dane, Fox and your cousins Tani and Tribe. It was the perfect sized crew. We had the bounce house until five and got really good use out of it. I will never forget your face, all lit up, bouncing in your yellow jumpsuit. It felt like the perfect way to celebrate the sunshine that is you.

I think the 2nd year is a huge year for communication and you now carry on full conversations. It still kind of blows my mind.

I can reason with you and explain to you and you listen and internalize.

I try really hard to explain decisions to you and why we do what we do and live how we live. I think it helps with the disappointment that is sure to come when I don’t want you to trap your brother in a bear hug he can’t get out of.

It is SO fun having you home with us all day...although I get the feeling you are getting ready for a 2-day a week preschool/joy school situation.

Potty training we have let be an organic thing, self-led by you. And you are completely potty trained!! (Except for nighttime). There was a moment when I wondered if you would ever want to wear panties more than diapers but from one week to the next you did. I even tried a sticker chart situation and you could have cared less. Made me kind of proud that all the reward you needed was actually doing it.

You have gotten a lot more opinionated about your clothing, which is great! You help decide what you wear and lately it is all about dresses. Your favorites right now are your silk pink nightgown and the turquoise and white polka dot dress. You have worn those to the bone.

If you get a little crumb or spot of water on your clothes, you’ll say “Oops it got a little dirty. That’s OK. That happens! We can just wash it. Should I put it in the laundermat?” I agree that it seems like the best idea and then you take it off in 2 seconds flat and run it into the laundry room and threw it right in the washer.

Sometimes when we can’t find an article of clothing of yours we are looking for we can find it in the washer. “I put it in there to dry out mom.”

You love helping to clean up and will willingly grab clean washcloths over and over again to wipe up spills. You are getting really good at helping clean up your toys as well, although sometimes when asked to help you respond with, “I’m just too tired mom. It’s OK. You can do it.”

Ever since you were a tiny baby you have always been gifted at sharing your emotions and being able to explain how you feel. It has gotten better and better as your vocabulary has expanded. “I’m feeling a little sad mom.” “This is a beautiful day!” “I’m a little frustrated because I am just not tired.” “I need alone time.” “I am feeling better!” “Are you happy mom?” These phrases are constant all day long and I couldn’t be happier that you feel safe enough with us and listened to enough to express yourself. I want you always to feel this way.

Sometimes you will ask to have conversations with us, which usually ends up being some variation of a little mermaid story or a recap of an activity we have just done. Lately you want to talk about  PINK. Anything that has to do with pink.

On occasion when your dad and I are talking and you aren’t feeling included you’ll say “I don’t want you to talk to dad, I want you to talk to me.”  I know the feeling.

You LOVE to be outside, going to parks, playing in our yard. The other day you were butt naked making mud. It was one of those perfect sunny childhood afternoons I hope to never forget.

You have a little tricycle you are about to grow out of. I need to get you a little push scooter or bike.

You are taking dance lessons! We started at a community ballet class and it was pretty boring. No music and very little free movement. It was so weird. “We need to find a dance class with music mom”. We found out about an outside class that one of my brides, Marci Tuttle, was teaching and it has been perfect! Fun, happy music….dancing through the grass with ribbon sticks. I love watching you move. You light up around music and dance. And I light up watching you.

You and I have started to really enjoy cooking and baking together. “Can I help you make food mom?” You pour in cups of flour and stir, stir, stir. I find that by including you more with the food prep you are excited to try new things. The other day, after we made applesauce oat bran muffins together, you said, “thank you for teaching me to make food mom.” I pretty much melted.

You are so considerate and thoughtful. Constantly thinking of things you can do for others. Picking flowers for us, covering brother up with a blanket, throwing dirty diapers in the trash. I love my little helper and am really grateful for your willing spirit. You like to be a part of the process...and I can’t imagine not having you next to my side.

Some of your favorite things to eat: butter. Butter you like in all shapes and forms but prefer it plain. We kind of cringe and are trying to help you realize it is just a condiment and not a food group. You also love cheese...any and all kinds, strawberry dip (which is vinaigrette) and will never ever turn down a homemade popsicle.

A while back, we would offer green smoothie popsicles, with the suggestion of eating it in the anytime you want a popsicle you want to eat it in the backyard, even if it’s 8 in the morning.

We go to the library a lot. You love love love books. We probably rent a stack of 10 books every week and read them each multiple times. Nap time and bedtimes consist of lots of book reading and story telling.

We chopped your hair which has been really nice and much easier. I think it suits your fun personality as well. “Mom, can you make my hair?” We will go into our bathroom and get ready together. And then you want to run and show daddy your hair.

CHASE! You love playing chase at least twice a day. We run around with a ball dropping it, picking it up, hiding it...just ball play and running. I love watching you and dad chase together. So many giggles and smiles.

You love your brother so much and affectionately call him Bubbas. “He was a baby and pretty soon he will talk and walk!” I think you are way excited for him to run with you. When he wakes up you want to see him and greet him right away. You love bath time together and you have done an amazing job sharing your space with him.

He’s littler than you so it's fun to pull and hold and pick up. It is hard to not be touching him all the time. You also multiple times a day will give him a kiss on the head and tell him you love him. “We love our baby.”

For your birthday you got a twin sized bed that your dad refinished and painted for you. You took to it immediately and have slept in it every night with no issues. I am constantly amazed at your ability to adjust and be flexible. It’s not easy when you crave consistency and a world you can recognize. Yet, you continue to trust us and have faith in us. You frequently will say “Thank you for taking care of me. It’s your choice to take care of me and protect me.” Yep. I am in charge of keeping you safe and giving you space to learn. Nothing I enjoy more than working hard for you and then hearing your sweet little voice thank me.

I look forward to the stories we will create this year together. Knowing that we have a solid foundation will help with the changes and growth that is sure to come. I am thinking some schooling may start this year, a move, new friends, more learning and figuring out how this whole life thing works.

We were at hardware store picking out paint and I told you I was going to pick out a paint chip color that reminded me most of you. I finally found it. A bright yellow with bits of warmth. Looking at it made me smile. I picked it up to find the name of the color “Bright Star.” It was an amazing moment as I scooped you up in my arms and spun you around.

You are more and more interested in your birth story and like to talk about how you were born in Long Beach at home. I sing you your lullaby and you remind me I sang it to you as a baby. You know that your arrival into our family was a magical, life altering time. I can see how comfortable and happy you are to be ours. I feel like the luckiest mom in the universe

You are such a bright light in our lives. I know the days of having my children home with me won’t last forever. I appreciate all the time we have to get to know each other and experience all these little moments that make up these memories I hold so dear.

Happy third birthday my sweet Nova. You are my everything.



11 Months

Every morning when you wake, we bring you into me and we sleep-eat together.

Sister comes in and joins the fun...which usually includes lots of climbing all over a half asleep mom who just wants 5 more mins to keep her eyes closed.

Those curls! Also, sis really wants you to keep that crown on.

Our sweet pickle checking out the sun.

We had the sweetest conversation after she was a little sad when I tried to fix the blinds.

You love playing in sissy's room. With the kitchen, two also do a lot of hugging, pulling, wrestling...

You walking around with that broom. Once you started walking we immediately started making you do chores.

You adore "helping" load or unload dishes.

You insist on having your own spoon while you eat so you can practice feeding yourself. Brilliant much?

Off to Disneyland with fake sleeping and lots of smiles.

This is when sister yells "WE'RE HERE!" Which happens about three minutes after we leave our house.

Double Bugaboo Donkey. Heaven.

We break a lot of taking our kids down the escalator strapped into their stroller. Shh. Don't tell.

Unimpressed waiting for another tram. Everyone was oohing and ahhing over you two.

We actually don't have shoes for you yet. Barefoot at Disney. Pretty adorable.

That face. 

You and Novs doing what you do. I love her picking you matter what we say it happens 30, 000 times a day.

I love pineapple ice cream mom!

Love your Daddy but are always reaching for the one and only Mama.

Boy kissing trying to eat all my dole float.


You climbed up the bench almost throwing yourself over the fence to the ducks. Love all your hands lined up.

If you are reading this and frequent Disney and have never stopped by the Silhouette Studio, do it! So affordable and the artist cuts by hands, with scissors! I was so impressed. I am in love with these profiles.

Mom and Dad took turns riding the new Big Thunder Mountain and then we hit up the Tiki Room (which you two go nutz over)...a fun couple of hours and then heading home.

Leaving around lunchtime means run run running to the car with no one else around.

Tired bubbas fell asleep for naps in about three seconds.

A few hours later, groggy you awake and ready for a snack. You rarely wake up smiley. 

Outside time!! And if you haven't noticed yet Mom, Nova and Fairbanks all have 4 (yes thats right) 4 outfit changes throughout the course of the day. Dad only 2. Crazy but normal.

You love being outside. I love watching you be outside. Plus this photo kills me dead.

Checking out the neighbors puppies but got nervous and held on to Dad's neck. Cute.

Love snuggling and feeding you in the hammock. I felt so happy in these moments.

My boys. Heartthrobs.

Big thanks to your Dad for getting shots of me with you two. 

After-meal cleanup needs a hose.

You love water and you always beg for bath time.

For you and your sister from the time you are newborns, after bath time I snuggle you up in a towels and we watch ourselves in the mirror while I sing to you and we just hangout in love. It's probably my favorite time of the day.

Getting out all of our last bits of energy before bedtime. You like to wander around the house.

You and sis love jumping in your crib every night. Wild animals.

Stories, playtime in Nov's room. I rubbed lavender on both your tootsies and then bedtime.

We feed together with white noise and your fan and then once you're ready I snuggle you up in your bed. I feel so blessed to get to spend everyday caring for you and loving you like I do.

You are walking!!

You were taking a few steps at a time last month and standing for long stretches...but then March 16th after I had been gone for the weekend (shooting a wedding for Martha Stewart) you started and didn’t stop.

Your dad called me into Nova’s room and said you had just walked from the kitchen to her bed. We flipped on our phones to record video and you proceeded to walk the whole length of the room to me!! Bravo!!! It was so fun!

If you fall, you can stand up again and start walking without even holding on to anything!

I love it when my kids start walking, because leading up to that time, you want to so bad! It’s frustrating to not be able to move the way you want.

We have never practiced moving with our babies. Any physical progress you make is self-initiated. We just trust you to develop in the timeframe that feels best for you. Baby led growing. We never had “tummy time”...Just always made sense that you would roll onto your belly when you were ready.

I have always felt that clothes and shoes are a little pointless for babies...but now that you are walking I might need to protect your feet on occasion.

This month you have also started trying to put lids on things and fit things together.

We have these big lego blocks that you like to put together and then take apart.

You are eating eating eating. But you do like to feed yourself.

I bought these reusable squeezy pouches that have been heaven sent. We can fill them with all sorts of things, applesauce, yogurt, cream of wheat and you can feed yourself without having to be spoon fed.

You are also a green smoothie champ. Makes me tremendously happy to see you swallow down leafy greens.

You have also started sleeping longer and longer stretches through the night and now are pretty much sleeping through the entire night.

I know this should make me say “YIPPEE” but if I am being honest I always get a little sad when my babies start sleeping through the night. I know it’s twisted. Of course getting longer stretches of sleep makes me feel like a new woman but it is just another reminder of your first year ending and I am sappy and sentimental.

We still breastfeed on demand but I know that is changing because when I have been away from you and pump, the quantity is different. Just proof that you are getting lots of nutrients from other sources now.

Your dad and I went away to Palm Springs for two night to celebrate our 5yr wedding anniversary. It was the first time we had left you without either one of us at home. It was a big deal. Grandma Thurston flew in to love you guys up. I can tell you had a great time….but it was pretty magical when we walked in the front door and your face lit up.

Your smiley eyes are laser beams of joy.

We were at the beach last night as a family and at one point dad wrapped a towel around you while I was holding you and you just looked at both of us with those laser beam eyes and the three of us experienced a super duper in love moment.

You are all about water, playing with the water table, crawling around in the grass and dirt.

If you hear the bathtub filling up you beeline it to the bathroom and make it very clear that you want in.

But as soon as you are done you are done. Its fun watching you be fairly decisive. If you are done taking a bath, you know it. If you want a drink and not a cracker, it’s clear. You want mom and not dad, there is no mistaking that one.

You always prefer me. NEVER gets old. Best self esteem boost. Makes me forget about all the extra weight I have to lose and the bra-less outfit I have been sporting all day. When you reach for me I am a super model.

You and Nova have started to play really well with each other. Give and take, giggles, wrestling. I think stuff will start to get really fun once you are able to run with her.

She still needs to work on not pulling you or forcing you to do things….but she does have good ideas, so I can’t really blame her. Like in the tub she wants you to lean back on her so she can be Mr. Nathan, the swim teacher, and you can be the student. “Kick kick kick” she says. She also likes to tell you “It’s OK, it’s tear-free, bubbas”, when you are getting your hair rinsed.

Today after you woke up she brought her blankie to you and asked if you wanted it. Super sweet.

Yesterday she was playing in mud in the backyard and as soon as she heard you peep on the monitor she was begging for me to get you so you could play in the mud with her. “Will we just wash his jammies after?” “No I will just take them off, so he can get dirty with you”. “ OK!! Go get him!!”

We obviously go to Disneyland all the time since we live so close we met up last week with cousins that were in town. It was the first time you were a little scared on pirates. You didn’t want to face out but wanted me to hold you close and be cheek to cheek. Adorbs.

Bubbas, Bubs, Bubbies….seem to be the nicknames of choice although does on occasion call you “princess baby brother” maybe that counts? When I go to get you after you wake up I always call you “Zu Zus”. You have to be there.

I am in the middle of trying to make some fun birthday plans for your 1st. Although you know every age is my favorite I am always so excited to celebrate milestones with you.

I did the same with Novs, but for your 11 month shoot I wanted to show what your day looks like. These are the types of images I know I will treasure so much. I wanted it to be a somewhat normal day and believe it or not going to Disneyland is a normal occurrence for us. I struggled wanted to shoot this with film but wanting to post while you were still 11mos so digital won. They aren't perfect but I love them so.

I will eat you alive my yummy nummy yummy boy.






Big thanks to Elise Capener for getting these shots of my little family.

I can't lie and say 2013 has been a walk in the park (although we did walk to quite a few parks). It was a miraculous year with Fairbanks joining the team but also a super challenging one for some personal reasons. What?! There are things I don't share online? I know, shocker.

What I do know is I love my family more than I ever knew I  could. I would do anything for them.

My goal for 2014 is to think of them more and myself less. Serve them better, love them more. I have a feeling if I do that it will work out to my benefit as well.

(and maybe I could blog more???)

Happy New Year!

Follow my daily updates on Instagram @rachelthurston_





2.5 Years

To my sassy, spirited, opinionated, loud, sweet, funny, smiley, FULL OF LOVE girl.

You are my everything.

I want to do whatever I can to make the next 6 months of you being 2 as amazing for you as I can.

Your mind is a wonder.

I totally get all the talk about how crucial the first 5yrs are as far as development.

You are learning at a rate I never knew was possible.

You repeat everything we say to you with a question mark on the end...wanting to know what it means and then logging it in your mind.

Sponge sponge sponge. You are a sponge.

I feel SO grateful that I get to spend as much time as I do with you so I can help you learn and recognize your interests and talents so I can help direct you towards them.

You are super into emotions and talking about them and understanding them. You’re my mini me.

You are brilliant at communicating how you feel even if you are still getting the hang of the difference between sad and hungry. Lets face it, I’m 34 and am still trying to understand the distinction.

You also love music and movement. You remember melodies surprisingly well and can’t help but move if music is on.

Just yesterday at your swim lesson you were dancing in the water to the music they were playing. Your teacher was all smiles.

I know you would love a creative dance class or a singing performance group. I am tempted to buy you tap shoes right now.

You are a charmer. It’s hard not to smile when you are around. You are a bright bright light and people are drawn to you.

Secretly your dad and I both hope you will choose us when you need comfort. You are big but not so big that you won’t still ask to be picked up and lay your head on our shoulder as your dramatic 2yr old tears melt into the sleeve of my shirt. Most of the time that sleeve gets a side of snot as well.

Make-believe is a world you live in about half the time. You love role playing. Anything can be a mommy or a baby. I take the toy cow and you take the toy dinosaur and we re enact stories we have had in our real life. Playdates in the park, swim lessons, bedtime, grocery shopping, going to the beach.

You use this tool to have really great independent play as well. I hear you chatting away in your room (when you are suppose to be napping) putting animals to bed, singing songs, creating a world of fun and curiosity.

Naps are slowly decreasing but we still have a “rest time”...after which you always want a frozen snack. You run to the freezer and pull it open with a couple tugs and dig around for a homemade popsicle, frozen strawberry, frozen pineapple...the other day you yelled what sounded like “tauget!!!” and ran to the freezer. I thought you got super excited about Target but as you pulled the chocolate coconut ice cream out of the freezer I realized you were yelling out “chocolate!!”. That’s my girl.

After you have your frozen treat you want to eat it outside, stripped down nude. You very politely take off your diaper and then ask me if its ok to go inside and throw it in the trash. “dirty die-pee in trash, mama?” Then your naked little tush runs it inside to the bathroom trash can. Your chosen place for all dirty diapers.

In the last six months something huge became a big sister!!!!!

I have talked about it in what I have written for your brother or what I post on instagram...but you have been a fantastic sister.

You love him and play with him and notice him and share with him. It seriously feels like you were just waiting for him and once he was here it was super normal for you.

I’m so grateful you have each other.

You love showing him what you can do and he watches you with his eyes lit up. You are a superhero to him.

You have started swim lessons and are doing so well and really enjoying them. You talk about Mr. Nathan and Miss Christina non-stop and sometimes make me pretend that I am “mama Christina” your swim teacher and then we do make believe swimming on our bellies on the ground.

You jump in the water, can roll to your back and can float for a few seconds. You are kicking your legs and getting the hang of moving through the water. You are so happy being in the water. You don’t like staying still on your back but just because you want to swim and move and play. Yesterday you were floating on your back with your pink goggles on, smiling. I was smiling too.

It’s fun to see you try something new, like these lessons, with a little bit of uncertainty of the unknown and then blossom with confidence that you faced your fears and can do it. This is big kid life lesson stuff and you are handling it with so much courage. You have no idea how proud I am of you for trying so hard.

You want to do, or least try to do, everything on your own. Testing your own capabilities and exerting your independence. It is so nice to know you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Experimenting with boundaries and emotions and skills. It must be such an overwhelming time in your life and I am so honored to be at your side supporting you through it.

You talk now. You can say anything you want to say. I need to record some videos so you can hear yourself.

Here are some favorite phrases of yours:

“I don’t know about that...” (talking about anything she might feel unsure about or not want to do, swim lessons, meeting up with friends…)

“Puew yewe!” (Stinky or strong smells!)

“Thanks for putting my hair in a bun mom”.

“Are you sad or happy?” (If there are ever tears)

“Feel better now?” (Usually after she kisses us if she sees a physical or emotional owie)

“Lets watch a show...just a short show mom.”

“What’s that mean?” (Here we are at Seal Beach Boulevard…”Boulevard? What’s that mean?”

“Time for breakfast!”

“I don’t wanna take nap. I not tired.”

“I don’t feel so well. My tummy hurts.” (Love make-believing sick time, due to a Yo Gabba Gabba episode)

“I love you forever mom.”

“You’re my best friend.”

“You were at a photoshoot?”

“No working mom. Stay here.”

“You’re baby mama. Time to grow up!!” (While you laugh and I fake cry because I am a baby and don’t want to grow up)

“Baby brother only drinks breastmilk. Not cow milk like big kids.”

“I want mom..I want dad..I want mom...DAD!!!!!!” (basically wanting whatever the other choice is)

“Oh, thank you mom!”

“You’re welcome mom”

“Know that, mom?”

“Yeah mom.” (Said about 50 times a day, in response to whenever either of us says “Oh, really?”)

“Cheerios and milk.” (whenever you are sad or tired)

“No more snuggling mom”

“It disappeared” (sometimes you bust out big words I didn’t even know you knew)

“I’m trying to tell you something.”

“actually…” (filler while you think of what you want to say)

“Baby brother, I’m your big sister!”

"That's so funny."

“Just girls.” (when you want to be alone with me)

“I want some alone time” (Something we taught you to say instead of “go away”. Love to hear you express you need some time to yourself. Don’t we all?)

“Your name is Rachel and daddy’s name is Grant”’s name is Fairbanks!!”

“Story about peter pan and wendy and john and michael and captain hook and tinkerbell.”

Songs you hum or sing….

“Think of all the joy you’ll find when you leave the world behind…”

“I love you so much, just wanted you to know…”

“I love you, I love you I’ll sing it to the skies. I love you I love you as I look into your eyes…”

“Families can be together forever…”

“Close your eyes it’s time to sleep..”

I sing a lot of what I say to you throughout the day and like to make up a lot of songs while we do stuff, like brush our teeth, make dinner, soothe to it’s no wonder you are starting to do the same. You always have a little tune coming out of your mouth as you play. Just pleasantly humming or singing to yourself. My happy girl.

Also if I am wrestling with you and you want to be released I trained you to say “ I love you mom. You’re so pretty”, before I will let you go. It’s fun.

You love reading. You want to read books all day long. Your favorites ones lately are Berenstain Bear books. You love the practical life stories. I did too when I was little. No more TV, The Bears Go To Camp and Sick days are some of your favorites.

You also love reading Knuffle Bunny, Go Dogs Go and so many more.

There’s a book called Fish Out of Water where the fish is fed too much and it grows bigger and bigger. At mealtime you like to say “just eat so much and not much more”. Adorable.

Never enough books to read.

I have so much I want to remember!! I want to write every single detail down! So hard to recap when every day and every minute something life changing is happening.

That’s the best kept secret of raising little babies and changing things are happening all the time even if the days seems to be spent changing diapers and fixing meals. You just have to learn to recognize them.

What I want more than anything is for your to have a fun, joyous childhood. I feel like I can help you do that by giving you a schedule...making sure your belly gets full and your eyes get rest. I feel like I can also help you do that by helping you giggle at least once a day, smiling whenever you enter the room, talking about and planning fun activities for us to do as a family. Helping you be happy also means helping you understand it’s normal to feel sad and to be able to express that to me. Taking life’s rough moments and working through them until we are smiling and laughing again. It is such a joy to do all of that with you and for you.

I refuse to curate your life. My job is to help you be you. Not my version of you. Not the world’s version of you...but you. Your best self.

I refuse to “style” our life to look like something that is popular or trendy. I do like pretty things and hope to gather them into our home and life but not all pretty things are tangible. Sometimes the prettiest days look like a tornado blew through our house but our eyes are twinkling. Eyes that twinkle are pretty much my end goal for our family. I want to help fill our family with happiness and contentment. Appreciation for the little things and meaningful, connected moments.

The days I really connect with you or dad or Fairbanks are my best days. And even though it’s a fight at times, I promise you to always try my hardest to be present.

I can’t stop this growing up thing. I find that if I can take a few second everyday to look at you and stop what I am doing to focus on the way my heart feels when I watch you, it helps me be brave. I have to let each moment pass and wait with bated breath for the next.

Watching you grow up is like watching a miracle.

If I think too much about my job to keep you safe or the fragility that your life has..I tailspin to a not so good place. I don’t know how I would ever go on without you next to me.

I’m not sure I deserve everything that you give me but I feel so much gratitude for the gift of being your mother.

My pickle, noodle, nunus, sweet pea…”Mom, my name is Nova”..............My Nova.

If you can’t tell by reading this, you being two years old has been magic.


Three squeezes,




Shooting film means sometimes having to wait to view and share images. I guess I could get the gear and do it myself at home but I am thinking I have zero time to do that at the moment. I can barely find time to shower.

Here are a few fun moments we had in February. Celebrated Win's birthday with a train ride at El Dorado Park, then celebrated Nova's and Grant's Birthdays with a bonfire at Corona Del Mar beach. I cried wolf about dutch oven peach cobbler. When I tripled the recipe, it didn't cook fast enough and then burned. At least I am keeping expectations low and no one will ever expect perfection out of me (expect for when it comes to creating perfect children, which I do).

Love my little sprite. She is so full of life. She choose her outfit the day we went to the park. Style genius.



2 Years


You and me and dad..alone...for a few more days.

You turned two only a month ago, and yet thinking of you as a big sister makes you seem a hundred years old.

Everything about you is fun and happy and full of light.

I would say the most noticeable change you have had these last few months is your language skills. You talk talk talk!

"Was dat mommy?" as you point to an old orange rind, a ladybug, a panty liner. I give you the answer and you repeat back word for word whatever I say to you.

Other favorite phrases include, " I dow want to mommy," "Scawee, scawee (scary), OK, mommy daddy got you," "happy or sad?" ....and the best one by a landslide is "I wuv you mommy" you wrap your arms tight around my neck and proceed to kiss me so hard you are shaking.

As we get closer and closer to baby brother being here your awareness of what's going on really surprises me. I actually think you understand that I am growing a baby in my belly. One day, all on your own, you kissed and hugged my stomach and said., " I wuv you baby bruda". And since they you have been asking for my bare belly and kissing, hugging and expressing your love for him daily. You even include him in snack time sometimes by sharing your drink with him or your piece of cheese. "Yummy baby bruda".

I wonder if you are old enough to understand what love really means..but then again I wonder if any of us really are. All I know is when you say it, I feel it..and I know your brother does too.

You have a special kind of life because most of your days are spent with both your mom and dad. We both wake up with you in the morning, we eat our meals together, we put you down for a nap together, bathe you together, put you to bed at night together. We know this is rare and treasure these seemingly mundane moments together.

You are a creature of habit and love the consistency we have tried to give you with your schedule.

You don't fight naptime or bedtime (at the moment) and, I daresay, you're excited about both.

Bedtime consists of finishing dinner and then you immediately running to the bath. You first have to grab your bath baby. Usually you only want mom to help you out of the bath, but only with one hand becuase you are a big girl and can do it yourself. "Me do it". I then wrap you up in a towel and help you brush your teeth with your Dora toothbrushes. You prefer 2 toothbrushes and we roll our eyes and oblige. Then I brush your hair, scoop you up in my arms and we look at ourselves in the mirror as we tell the bathroom goodnight. Then I smother you in kisses before you turn off the bathroom lights. Lotion, diaper (you always ask for cream or baby powder), jammies and then reading time. You prefer to have mom sit in the rocking chair and dad lay on the floor...and you split your time sitting in your rocking chair next to me or crawling over dad like he is a jungle gym. We read try to read only 3ish books but you want more and more and more. You prefer mom to do the reading which means I get to read and re-read Puppy Boo everyday at least 4 times. Then lights out, you slam the door so it is pitch dark and then we all fumble around while you try and tuck Aspen in to her bed, throw as many animals as you can into your crib (favorites include, dino, muno, 2 babies, bear, dog and sometimes the hard plastic cow). You want me to pick you up but it is getting harder and harder in my state so I pretend I am the one lifting you while dad does all the work. We then discuss our day briefly, talk about what to look forward to tomorrow and then whether you are happy or sad about bedtime, you give both of us giant hugs and kisses while you tell us you love us. We count to 5 and into bed you go. 2 cookies and a half a vitamin c later, and we are outta there. After we leave you call out loudly " I love you mommy, I love you daddy." And you wait for our answer back... "We love you Nova." Then we look at each other and shake our heads because it is ridiculous how much we really do.

You had a brief moment a few months ago when we thought we were going to have to transition to a toddler bed, but since moving into our home and putting you back in a real crib you are fine sleeping in one again. Even though you prefer to climb out on your own you will call for us in the morning and kind of refuse to climb out until we are in there watching. We are NOT complaining. I also love when I come into you in the morning and you say, "I'm awake mommy"...with a little grin on your face. Then you proceed to talk non stop telling me all about your babies and animals and bed and dreams (no doubt). We had missed 12hrs together so we have a lot to catch up on.

Lets talk about Aspen. She is a doll Grandpa Lloyd bought you for Christmas and she is your best friend. She eats with us in the booster seat for every meal. She comes with us on most errands. She is usually wherever you are and she is starting to smell. Every other doll is named Aspen as well...but we all know there is only one REAL Aspen. Affectionally named after your baby cousin Aspen. Your first imaginary friend.

I am so impressed at how well you play make believe already.

I am so impressed with pretty much everything you say and do.

You are gaining a lot of interest in emotions and what they mean. We have numerous conversations each day about whether someone is happy or sad and what that means. I hope you are learning it is OK to feel everything.

If I am ever leaning my head down against the table or maybe I really am sad and you see tears, you will pat my back and say "it's ok mommy, I've got you". How can that not make me feel better?

You are a great eater but still prefer anything over meat or breads. Milk products you go nuts over though. "Yogie" (yogurt), cottage cheese and milk being your favorites. You accidentally learned what whipped cream was when I squirted it in your mouth and have recently gotten confused when asking for it. "Cream of wheat mommy, pease?" We like to eat cream of wheat together for breakfast sometimes but I couldn't get why you were asking for it at lunch time. Oh! You mean whipped CREAM.

Honey is also something you ask for everyday. Man, you are adorable.

You are a lover and want to kiss and hug everyone we say goodbye to. But not just any kiss, has to be a lip kiss. Lately you have been telling everyone you love them as you say goodbye as well.

You also like to point out when you think something is funny. How you pick up on humor is beyond me.

We still have lots of nicknames for you...pickle and noodle being our main ones at the moment.

With all the words you say, you still aren't very interested in saying your own name. You have...but when we ask you to you give us kind of a blank stare. Like you are thinking why in the world do I have to say my own name all the time. We think we are in part to blame for calling you pickle all the time.

Potty training we don't push but you do come to us and let us know when you want to use the toliet. It's awesome. Today alone you told us four different times you had to go "poo poo" (which means both) and we rushed to the toilet and every time you went! Proud parents. So far you have made the start of toilet training very easy for us.

You love playing in water, in your new toyhouse with daddy, playing basketball, nunning (running), swinging and jumping! When you go to your my gym classes you spend most of the time jumping to your heart's content on their 6ft trampoline. When you land on your bum you yell out "BUM!".

You recognize your street and other landmarks as we drive around and always announce you are home once we pull in the driveway.

Not our proudest moment but you now ask to watch shows or play games on the computer.

You have always been musically minded and remember melodies so well. We often catch you singing the wonder pets theme song, or the Dora theme song. We watched sound of music the other day and you recognized a couple songs we already sing to you and the last few days we have caught you singing edelweiss to yourself.

I can't forget to tell you we went and saw your first movie on your birthday. We watched Wreck it Ralph and you sat through the entire thing with sippy cup and cracker cup in hand. It was a proud moment for us.

We also taught you that while on chairs you need to be on either your knees or bum and you repeat "knees or bum" over and over again while testing your limits on chairs.

Your independence is growing and growing and I can see so much pride and sense of accomplishment everytime you figure something out on your own.

I could write and write and write about every little thing you are. I want to. I don't ever want to forget anything...and yet I know I will. It is reality that I will keep feelings and small, meaningful moments in my mind and the rest will float about only resurfacing if needed. The problem is, I feel like all my moments and memories with you are needed.

Changes are coming for you my sweet baby girl. In a few short days you will become a sister. I know your dad and I are giving you one of life's greatest gifts, a sibling. I know this and yet I find my eyes welling with tears when you let me rock you in my arms. I have loved having you as my only child. You won't really remember any of what has happened up to this point but I KNOW it has shaped your mind and heart. Recently a friend and fellow mother that I photographed wrote something to the effect, "...more than what it's done for me is what I hope it has done for you. I found time to carve out space for you in my life daily and I hope you know I will continue to do that forever..."

I will Nova. I will always have space for much as you need. That is a gift that all mothers have...infinite space. I am just starting to realize that as I open my heart more and more for your brother. The space is endless. He is not taking yours, he is getting his own. This makes me sigh with relief.

Happy two years to my baby girl the color of lemons. And as the lullaby I wrote you sings, "You're part girl and part the sun." My shining star.

Love, Mom


23 Months

I keep feeling like I only have 1 more month with you as my baby.

I know I am probably being ridiculous. Ridiculous because everything has it's transition time. You won't change overnight (that much) or even in a month....but I am here to tell you it feels like it.

You are part baby and part little lady.

You love to play pretend baby...crawling on the floor, fake crying or saying goo goo ga ga (which we taught you to save our ears from your amazingly high pitched fake cry).

You ask to be picked up and rocked in my arms as I sooth you with coos and kisses.

You never cared for binky's as newborn but now they are your favorite pretend babyland play toy. Numerous times in the day you will insist that you, dad and I all have them in our mouths.

Talking TALKING!

"Good norning!" "tank you mommy" "pease" and the list goes on and on. You can repeat whole sentences we say. I know this should make me happy but I it actually makes me a little sad. Too old. Too old.

It is nice to have you be able to give your opinion on any matter AND to be able to recount stories to us.

Your favorite time of the day might be right before bed when we talk about everything we did that day. Your eyes wide and interested...filling in the blanks we miss.

Today we went to Disneyland and bought you a mint chip ice cream cone. You met both Mickey and Minnie and all on your own decided that you wanted to kiss both of them on the nose.

You are too much.

I will save some of the words I want to share for the ginormous post I am sure to make when you turn 2...until then my sweet baby...stay that way just a little bit longer.

(Photos taken on the end of a roll of film I needed to send to the lab. Unscripted, off the cuff. Dirty room, light meter, piggies and sweetest lil pickle.)

Waiting & Missing

We went to Kauai in June and I am missing it.

Most of you have figured out by now that we are super close to closing on a home in Anaheim, CA. Because of this we have been in kind of a spending lock. So naturally all I want to do is plan vacations, buy clothes and get eyelash extensions.

The last 4 months have been some of the roughest. I feel selfish and bad even admitting that. I mean, we are buying a home and I am pregnant with another perfect babe. I have Nova...I have Grant....but has not been easy. I have not felt good for months. I am tired and emotional and stressed and overwhelmed by lots and lots. I am sick of being guests in others homes. All this just makes me want to lay on the beach near Hanalei and eat as many papayas as my troubled heart desires.

I know I haven't been blogging as much personal stuff as I have in the past. I want to again. I need the release. I am thinking of doing regular posts on being a business owning Mom/parent. I think talking about stuff outloud is really cathartic and good. I have been far too quiet. I am ready to say a bit more.

Buying a home is exciting and terrifying. I think the hardest part is all the compromises we feel like we need to make to get into a first home. Didn't think we would live in this exact area....and to be honest if it was just Grant and I, it wouldn't matter. Kidlins change everything. Will I find my "village"? What about play-dates? Other families we can trust? Will Nova be happy? Can I be a good Mom in Anaheim? Are we making all the right decisions?

So many questions and underneath it all, I am grateful. First homes aren't suppose to be perfect, right? Mom's aren't suppose to be perfect either....I am learning.

We will be super close to D Land! Because of that I keep joking that our new home will be nicknamed "the happiest place on earth". Maybe it won't be a joke. I hope. All I can do is hope.

Tuesday rant over. Life goes on.

18 Months


There is no denying are a full blown toddler.

But you are still giving kisses on demand which eases the pain of you aging.

You are your parents pride and joy (understatement).

Talk talk talking. You may still say things only we can understand but you are AMAZING at communicating with us. You explain, use words, show us and try and try again. I am so proud.

The day doesn't start or end without you talking about babies. It is usually the first word you say when you wake up.

You love holding, wrapping, kissing and caring for all your baby dolls.

You went through a phase were you wanted us to swaddle your babies over and over again.

Your eyes light up when I lovingly take a turn cuddling one of your dolls. I burp them on my shoulder and soothe them to sleep. Your eyes twinkle watching my every move.

These last few months we have been on the move between UT and CA staying with grandparents. You have been resilient and patient with all the changes. You know you can depend on us to be there during most moments of the day.

You have been in the ocean, the mountains, the desert and everywhere in-between. Your 18mos photoshoot was taken up Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah, at the White/Red Pine trailhead. You wore a red romper I wore when I was your age!!

You have been sleeping in your travel crib and really love it.

You ask for "nigh-nights" and will start singing the goodnight song. Bedtime is a positive thing. Hallilueh!!! (refer to months 1-11 if you aren't sure why this excites me).

You are still BFing but we have dwindled to mornings and bedtime. I can't imagine letting either of those feedings go. They are both so special and important to me. I know they are to you as well. Glad it is still working out for both of us.

You are amazing at playing make believe. Sometimes your creativity surprises us. Not because our SuperNova is creative but because you are so young. We think you're brillant.

Make believe phone calls, make believe feedings, make believe owies. Even make believe acting like you are a baby (which in my mind you still are!) You will cry like a little baby and you want me to cradle you and tell you it will all be OK.

You are also an amazing imitator. I guess I must say "wow" a lot because now so do you.

You like to hold my hand an walk with me. You like to hold my hand when you watch gabba gabba and eat too. Gosh, I love it.

You. are. a. monkey!

You climb on everything and swing from everything and are not scared of heights.

You don't walk, you run.

You weigh all of 21lbs and are so strong and agile.

Papa takes you for lots of runs in the jogger and you'll stop and play in parks and then you both come back smelling like wind and sweat :)

The big news this month for you is you are getting a brother or sister this coming April!!!!

My feelings are a tiny bit torn about this for reasons that must be explained in another post. BUT we are SO excited and I am so happy to give you a sibling.

How amazing that this new baby will be born with three faces staring instead of just two? We feel blessed.

Bumps and bruises are what we expect. Your poor knees.

Your hair is fine and blonde and a little wild. it curls up at the bottom and we can't touch it enough.

You don't watch TV all that much but do ask for "gabba gabba" now.

Eating is going well. You love trying new things and still like your ole standbys...cheese, avocado, milk. "Crackies"is also a favorite of yours.

We call you "pickle" most of the time with the occasional nuh nuhs and Novs. When we were in Hawaii in June a little girl on the beach asked if we named you "pickle". Kind of wish we had.

You are so friendly and out going. You want to play with everyone and be friends with everyone. You give hugs and loves freely even when denied. I am so proud at the loving kind soul you are. So nurturing.

I would say your current obsessions are babies, dogs, pointing at and talking about eyes. You love giving other people and things drinks from your sippy (you shared some water with my iphone today). And bouncing on anything is something that never gets boring.

Your feet are looking so long to me. I can see the baby feet fading and the little girl feet taking their place.

I still have moments of guilt. I spend a lot of time with you but the last month or so have felt lots of nausea with baby #2 and I am way boring. I just don't have the energy to chase you like I have before. Thank goodness for your Dad....but I don't want this to be the beginning of some premature separation. You know? I love you being independent and you are great at independent play but I am not ready to let you far from me. Guessing I never will be.

Work has been good and busy in spurts. I just wish that all my energy could be saved for you...but I guess that's not realistic. Just know that I want that.

If a momma and baby bubble exsisted I would buy one so we could escape there whenever we needed (BFing time?).

I am constantly amazed that someone as imperfect and flawed as me could help to create and produce the perfection that you are. Your sweet kind effervescent spirit engulfs me. I am overwhelmed by you and who you are becoming. I want to give you everything you need to fly and fly and fly some more. I hope my weakness and follies don't hold you back at all.

I hope you always let me wonder at you..even if at times I need to do it from afar. Just know I will always want to be closer.

Being your Mom is the thing I'm most proud of. I love you my sweet Novs.


(ps. ignore the color in this post. Argh. I have been having a wreck of a time with labs getting my scans right. I do apologize if they are wonky).



One Month Ago

It's been a whole month since we moved out of our beloved home in Long Beach.

Looking at these photos of our neighborhood, park (frisbee golf course!) and our yard, makes it seem like it is so much further away than just 30 days.

We had a great month. Lots of work, a trip to Hawaii, play time with friends and family.

Taking a road trip to Utah today to spend some time there. Still booking work in California (and everywhere)...but will be in the Salt Lake City area more than usual for the next couple of months. Excited for those warm summer nights and bonfires in the canyons.

We miss Nova's home...but have kind of realized being together is 'home".  It's summer and I am with my two favorites. No complaints.

Nova's Home

Today we say goodbye to Nova's home.

We really moved here for her. Any important event worth remembering has to do with her for the most part.

We wanted to find a space that felt right for her to be born in. We wanted to move into a home that we could see ourselves becoming parents in. The home we affectionately called "The Oasis" was just that.

Do I have regrets? Sure. Change makes you think about all the things you wish you could change....but I can tell you with 100% surety I don't have regrets about not photographing our life here enough. I shot a lot. A lot more than I even shared. I do regret not sharing more (if any) videos of her, but I have them so I guess we can do a blast from the past down the road.

Best moment in this home: cradling my baby girl up through the water and into my arms the moment she was born. In our bedroom. In this house. I think we lived here for that moment and that moment alone.

Worth it.

For what this house means to me this post seems trite and impossible to do justice. For that I am sorry. Some things are too big to write or even photograph. Becoming a mom is just one of those things.

On to other homes..and hopefully more babies. xxoo.


(polaroid image taken by our mailbox and house #'s when she was just a few days old)


Bonus Family

Grant's family doesn't have any "step" parents or "in laws"...they have bonus dads and bonus siblings. I really love that.

These are a few shots from the contax and expired film I shot on Easter.

Just felt like giving a HUGE public thanks to Nancy and Hugh for all their help moving this week. Such lifesavers. We love you guys so much.

PS. how rad are Grandma Betty and Grandpa George? Hugh's mom and Nancy's dad...who we get to see at almost all family gatherings. How cool is that? Grandma Betty sang "this lil piggy went to market..." to Novs and she just sat and stared at Grandma with delight.

PSS. I am also loving the "tired dad" shot of Grant. Rubbing his eyes with pickle upside down. It's exhausting being a dad sometimes.

15 Months

We are moving out of your house this week.

We are sad.

You were born here and have spent the majority of your days pressed up against the glass windows and running around on the concrete floors.

Every day you seem more and more like a little girl and not a baby...maybe you are trying to tell us you are ready for new things? Ready for the next adventure?

I love these photos of you. You with your beloved iphones, with just a tee on..being comfortable in your space. The house is a mess, the exposure on these shots aren't perfect but they are so US.

You are my everything.

You give kisses and hugs on demand..and sometimes not on demand. You pretty much always want to be hugging or kissing something or someone.

You bring your arm up to your shoulder and make a rocking motion and comfort sounds to indicate a hug. Just how I have always hugged you!!

Your kisses are sometimes like head butts and are either open mouth or little pop blows on our cheeks or legs.

So SO affectionate..and I couldn't be happier that this is part of you.

You like to eat with a fork or spoon and try really hard.

You also like to feed us your food either before it goes in your mouth or after you have chewed it for a bit.

You are always sharing.

You are actually super surprised to be around kids who don't seem to like sharing. You constantly hand toys and books and food to everyone around you.

I love watching you and Winston play with each other. I know there will come a time when you both become more possessive...but for now I enjoy how happy you both are to share each other's toys and sippy cups.

I just caught you two giggling together in your bedroom.

Running and climbing. You can get on top of anything now and testing us by standing on chairs is your favorite.

Still BFing and since you had a cold the last couple weeks it seems like you want to eat with mom non-stop. So I've started walking around with you while you are eating..editing on my computer..packing a box. I even slipped the other day while you were eating and landed right on my butt. You never even unlatched. Amazing persistence.

You sense change..and want to stay close to comfort and familiarity.

You have started running your tongue back and forth across your lips when you are happy, excited or being busy.

Lately you have been trying things my bras around your neck and then checking yourself out in the full length mirror.

You talk a lot and jabber like you are making sentences...but the only words you say for sure are: ball, baby, mama, dada, papa, bye bye, hi, eye.

You also sign: more, all done and milk.

You have an elaborate "sound" vocabulary that tells us pretty much anything you want or need. A refreshing sound when you are thirsty. Clicking noises when you want to listen to music. Bark, meow, moo, quack, monkey noises, birdies sounds (caa)...

I like how you play so well with others and on your own. You will wander around singing to yourself and play pretend.

You feed your babies bottles and food..and try to feed us as well.

I like how you will find little corners and spots and take a sit down and rest. We could be at a cafe outside, walking around our neighborhood. Sometimes a girl needs to rest.

You like to hold things. Always holding something.

Most anytime we need to put a shirt on you or a jacket on you have to trade hands with whatever your holding to put your arm through the sleeve.

You especially like to hold things while you nurse with me. A favorite, besides you pink blanket, has been a huge stuffed bear. It's ridiculous. I can't even see you while you are eating when bear is with us.

When we take you for walks on our block you stop to hug and kiss the gnomes in the yards, sit on all the chairs and benches and blow on the pinwheel.

Since you turned one you have pretty much slept 11-12hrs a night straight. Thank you.

Changing diaper time is not your favorite. We have started singing Old Mcdonald in order to distract you. Works sometimes..but only if we are super animated.

Sometimes life is very dramatic and a girl just needs to throw herself on the floor and roll back and forth crying. A few minutes of that and you always feel better. We just watch wide eyed.

I am sad to take you away from your home. I am sad you won't even remember this home...and it was such a transformative place for all of us.

I will miss you being in all your favorite spots.

I will miss chasing you around the kitchen and through the hallway.

I will miss sitting and staring out our windows as we nursed. I spent hours and HOURS doing this.

I will miss you slamming all the doors shut as you tell us "bye bye!".

I will miss seeing you wave and smile at me from the front door window when I was out in the office.

I will miss the calm and peace this space fills me with.

I know it was the right place to move and birth you and spend your first year.

You are our little pickle and no matter where we live you will always be our little pickle.

I am SO happy I took so many photos in our home and tried to record your first months of life.

I just feel so blessed I get to have you and dad with me. Where I live, you live. That makes me immeasurably happy.




12 Months of Nova

My sweet bestie Heather gifted me these photo props when our Nutty was born.

It was no easy task to take these photos ON TOP of the non-photo prop card shoots I was doing with her monthly. Why do I take on so many *extra* projects?

I am glad I did it. This is fun to look at. I missed the yellow blanket on month 4...and they were taken in different spots w different lighting...BUT most of them were taken on the actual day she turn that age. I'm tired just thinking about it.

These photos mean so much to me..especially this week as we pack up and say goodbye to the home Nova was born in and the home we became parents in. I will tell you more of our plans later..but for now just know that there will be more reminiscing and remembering this week as we say our goodbyes.

Moving on will be OK because Grant and Nova are moving on with me. What else really matters? Walls can be replaced, right?

Being A Mom is my Favorite

Mothers Day 2012 and here is a look at me and my Nova from the last year as shot on my iphone.

Nothing in my life has made me more happy. Nothing.

Happy Mothers Day to all women who are nurturing caring and loving others. And a special shout out to my Mom, my Mother in law and my Grandmothers. I am in awe of all of you.

(A lot of these were posted on my instagram feed. Follow me at @_rachelthurston)


We are super busy around these parts.

Lots of shooting. Lots of planning. Lots of things I am excited to share with you..once the time is right.

When my life starts to feel like it is spinning faster and faster there is really nothing that centers me more than downtime with Grant and Nova. We will stop everything last minute, pile into the car and head to the beach for the last few minutes of light.

Nova stretches out full body on the sand. Grant insists on carrying every last item..leaving me looking lazy and spoiled. And I squint over their heads into the sun...and for those few minutes everything looks golden.

Try giving your favorite people just 15mins of being together time and tell me if it gives you the same thing it gives me.

Tomorrow I head off for a day trip to Sacramento to photograph a sweet newborn and her family. It will be a long, exhausting, satisfying day. I will be glad I went. And I will be grateful I spend as much time as I can in between work filling up on family time. I can't be a good photographer if I am not first and foremost a good wife and a good mother. If I sacrifice my relationships every other part of my life suffers.

I know blogging has been quiet. But like I said on twitter awhile back...If I am being quiet online you know I am being loud somewhere else.

Balance Balance Balance. What do you do to keep centered and balanced?

1 Year


You are actually 13months old now.

Truth is I had a hard time making myself believe it could actually be time to talk about you being One.

The above combo shows you one week old and one year old. I have had this photo vision ever since I took that first photo of you 12months ago.

There is one word to describe what is is like to be the mother of a one year old..."incredible."

The fact that your dad and I helped you survive a whole year arms me with ammunition for the years ahead of us. I KNOW we can do it.

We had a super fun birthday party for you with homemade ice cream and all of your favorite people. Everyone wants a little piece of the Super Nova.


Yes you are. You took your first few steps a few weeks before your birthday and then just this last Thursday you went from majority crawling to majority walking.

You are so brilliant! How did you figure it out? How do you figure anything out? You observe, remember and act. It's so inspiring. You don't sit around thinking, "I could never do that, looks way too hard..." You just try and try again and keep trying until you've mastered it. Never feeling like you aren't good enough. Never feeling like a failure. And why would you? Everyday you conquer something new. Lesson learned for your Mama.

You have so much energy.  You want to be moving all the time now.

You have also found your voice. By that I guess I mean your sound. Girl, you can be loud REAL loud when you want to. Laughing, crying, asking, complaining...and the other day you sat facing the window letting out rebel yells for no apparent reason. Not upset...just testing out the vocal chords.

I love love love seeing your strong will come out. You know what you want and when you want it. And you have figured out a way to ask for it.

These monthly updates used to be filled with so much simple talk...and now I feel like I need to explain scientific equations in order to express all of the intricite details of your mind.

You are full of wonder and questions and feelings. You are full. You could never be empty.

I think the reason you are so happy is because you are so full.

Even while your teeth come in and you fall and experience frustrations for the first time, you are still full of joy. Your eyes tell me this.

How does a 1yr old know exactlly what she wants?

When you wake up from a nap and we go and pick you up out of your crib you immediately start pointing and telling us about all the things you have been looking at in your room. Favorites include, the framed picture of Dad as a baby, your teething gel tubes, photos of you and mom and of course your mobile. You love your mobile.

I also love how you have to pick up your pink blanket and bunny from the crib before you will leave it. Leave no one behind act.

Speaking of sleeping, a couple weeks before your birthday you started sleeping through the night. On your own. No sleep training. No crying for hours alone in your crib. You were just ready. You didn't want to be held to sleep anymore. I feed you before bedtimes and then we lay you down in your crib. You fuss for a few minutes but then settle into dreamland for a good 11-12hrs. Our backs and sore necks are starting to feel better from 12months of holding and rocking and loving you to sleep. I know I should be super crazy excited about sleeping so long every night now...but the truth is, I miss you. I wanted you to sleep with us for so much longer.

Because of this new sleeping arrangement I experience a lot less anxiety about bedtime. I can actually relax at nights now.

Your cute hair hangs down in your eyes and I am constantly sweeping your bangs off your forehead.

You are definitely a social laugher. If anyone laughs it's your cue to join in.

You are so silly! You love to tell us jokes with your food and your faces and your silly tricks. And then laugh at yourself and egg us on with playful head tilts and big belly smiles.

I am starting to see so much more of me in you. The will and the big wide smile. The opinions and the jokes.

I am also starting to see so much more of your independence from me and your Dad. At the park you will walk super far away from us without turning around, asking if it's OK to venture further.

You are confident and strong. This is all I want I for you.

Still our little bean weighing in at a whopping 19lbs for your 1yr checkup.

I think you burn off all your calories by trying to climb everything in site. The blue chair in the corner, the couch, the beds...we have even found you standing on top of your tables and toys! Not safe! (But impressive nonetheless).

Your arm strength is amazing.

The arm strength coupled with the fiesty spirit has landed a couple whacks on my face..but the second we say "soft" you start gently stroking me.

Time to eat with Mom means pulling down or up my shirt or generally attacking me anywhere on my body. GIVE ME MY MILK. Then you transform into my little calm, simple baby. The only thoughts while you are nursing are, "milk is my favorite, this is comfortable...and why is Mom staring at me?" Sometimes you will pull your blanket over your head for privacy. Sorry for interrupting Novs! Let me know when I can have my body back! (never I hope).

You mimic the sound of birds and dogs and will randomly wander around the house yelling for "Graa" or "Daa"! I wonder where you learned that?

Nothing makes you giggle more than being chased.

Kisses!! You give kisses on demand now. Especially while we are all cuddling in bed together in the morning. Sometimes I get 10 slobbery open mouth kisses in a row! I can't tell you how much I adore those kisses.

Novs, noodle, nuh nuh, pickle, nutty's, zuzus..and of course nutz.

Dance parties anytime music is playing. We got to get you a fake ID so you can go clubbing.

Sometimes when we’re eating you like to wag your head back and forth like you’re rocking out and having the time of your life.  But, actually, not just when you’re eating, you like to do this with a huge grin whenever you’re high on life.

You are still kind of a picky eater with solids but you eat just about everything. We don't eat a lot of animal flesh so you have had any of that yet. Strawberries are a new favorite and pasta of any kind is still in first place. Oh, and you love curry!

You like to always be holding something in at least one of your hands. Or your mouth. Lately you have taken to walking around with the teething gel tube between your teeth like you are a wild animal.

In your first year you have travelled to Arizona, Utah, Las Vegas, Maui, Boston, New Orleans, Australia, New Zealand and New York City. Sorry you won't remember any of that. Just know it was really awesome and really exhausting.

You are not afraid of change.  Sure, you like your routines for bedtime and feeding but you love new adventures.

You barely even shrug if a big mean scary dog barks at you. You just assume everyone and everything is friendly and means well.

Your dad and I left you overnight for the first time with Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Hugh. We stayed a night in Laguna Beach celebrating our 3rd anniversary. I typed out a 2 page document detailing how you like life. We were gone a total of 19hrs. The first few were rough but after I knew you had slept all the way through the night (and the fact that you were only 20mins away) I was able enjoy some alone time with Dad. Thanks for letting us do that.

So I guess it is time to start another year with you. Time for you to become a toddler. Time for you to learn more words and express your thoughts more clearly than you already do. Time to box away some of your baby clothes and buy you more shoes. Time to celebrate our first year with you...but more important than that look forward to all the years we have ahead of us together. All the growing and changing and loving deeper and better. We get the chance for all of that.

My promise to you is to try my hardest to make the most of everyday with you. Even the boring days when laundry has to be washed and computer time has to be had. I promise to try my hardest to never take you for granted. To never forget your dependence on me and my dependence on you. I promise to keep my end of the bargain when you choose me for your Mom. I promise I will make a lot of mistakes. I promise to forgive you if you'll forgive me. I promise to tell you everyday I can how much I love and adore you. To squeeze you and kiss you and tell you why I am so happy to have you.

I promise to keep taking photos of you, post more videos of you and take time away from cameras to just be in the moment with you.

I promise to let you be whatever you are.. not wishing you were anything else...just wanting you to be you. 100% you. With the fullness and the joy and the loud opinions and the big toothy grin.

I promise to even laugh at your jokes once you have enough words to tell them.

Happy first year baby girl. I am so proud of you.

xxoo- Mom


Milk Party for Nova's 1st Birthday!!

Can you guys believe I have a 1yr old?! Her party was so much fun. I was milk of course it was fun.

I knew being a mom was going to be my first priority so I had to put my "photographer" on the back burner...knowing this I thought it would be a fun idea to set up a 'Milk Moustache Photobooth" and let Nova's friends and family don their own milky faces. We let the guests do all the work.

Here are a few other shots of the party we snagged:

She looks 20.

I made these stickers and had them printed at zazzle. Everyone showed their respect to the Leader of The Milk Eaters by wearing them proudly.

We churned up some homemade ice cream. Vanilla, strawberry, kumquat sorbet and avocado (not shown...still being made). Made most of it the day before with a $30 ice cream machine we bought off amazon. We did think about sneaking some of her favorite "milk" into one of the batches..but didn't want to waste it on the undeserving.

Lots of balloons

Lots of babies

Mom coming in for a mid party smooch...and Nova giving some love to her midwife Molly. We LOVE Molly!

I made BW cookies...that ended up being a little mis-shapen but still delicious. Chocolate chip cookies not shown.

Sugar free cake..but all she wanted to eat was the sprinkles that DID have sugar in them.

This was the cute little face she made when everyone was singing her happy birthday. Gosh, I love her.

She was gifted loads of cute clothes and toys. So loved.

My sweet birthday girl. It was a big day but a great one. In defense of the bags under her eyes...she turned 1 with a cold she had already been dealing with for a week. My poor nu nus. Even when she doesn't feel well, she smiles...and drinks milk.

1 year post coming up. I have been dragging my feet to do it.

I think I am in denial.



Milk Eater

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We decided to throw our favorite little milk eater a milk party for her 1st birthday. When she was really little I made up this silly song for her and it just stuck. She is officially The Leader of The Milk Eaters.

This is the front of the invite we sent out to friends and family along with this video helping to explain just what a "milk eater" is.

Feel free to watch and let me know if you would like to be a honorary member of the club.

Birthday party photos coming up.