Duke's Birth Story

I was hot. It was hot. Sticky, sweaty, hot. The trade winds had stopped blowing just in time for my last week of pregnancy. Luckily we had AC in our condo that we decided to turn on for the sticky pregnant lady who couldn’t stop talking about how hot she was.

Then we waited.

Actually, we waited a whole year. The miscarriage I had right before getting pregnant with you, tacked on another 3 months of pregnancy before you took your turn. When it was all said and done, I had been pregnant for 12+ months and was really ready not to be anymore. But this was my third time experiencing the last week of a pregnancy and I can’t help but smile thinking back to that torturous last week. Yet again, I was ready for you to be here and yet again I was “trying” with all my might to will you here. I mean, after being pregnant for so long there was no way you would be late, right? In my mind I had told myself you would be at least 4 days early. Your brother was. Plus at your 20 week ultrasound the doctor said he thought you were measuring a few days early. Right then I moved your due date in my mind from July 8th to July 6th. Nothing drastic, just a few days. Since we live on an island in the middle of the sea, we thought it would be a smart idea to fly your Auntie Anna out for a couple weeks to be an extra set of hands. She agreed. She was only going to be here for 2 weeks though. And after what felt like 50 years It was July 10th and Anna had already been here for 10 days. I was at a midwife apointment I thought I would never have. She was stripping my membranes and my mind was swirling. What about the money paid to get Anna there, the timing, the cranky downstairs neighbors, being 45mins from a hospital, not doing really any pre-birth mediation, was there enough food prepped, would I miss a night of sleep? I was ready! I was! But was I? All the thinking in the world couldn’t change the truth. You weren’t ready. It wasn’t time yet. I lunged walking up the hill from stone dam. I squatted while reading books to the big kids. I paced the shoreline at Kalihiwai. I was leaning forward and on hands and knees as much as humanly possible. When I walked I visualized you dropping down in my pelvis. But you knew and deep deep deep in my experienced pregnancy mind I knew it too. Control was pointless. But oh how I wanted to know when it would start and end! How long active labor would be. When and if my waters would break. If the bigs would be awake or asleep. How my emotional support would be after the fact? Would Dad be able to handle all I needed from him? Would I feel baby blues? Postpartum anxiety or depression? But the great design of childbirth doesn’t include these answers. At least not natural childbirth. I was daydreaming about taking back some control. Marching into that hospital, demanding they cut you out of me!! But as much as I needed you with me, I knew I stood to have the ultimate control by giving in to all my anxiety and fear and trusting to a level that feels impossible. Trusting the impossible to be possible. Trusting in the one human act that we all have in common... birth. Trusting that I had a strength greater than the burning sun. Energy that was boundless and a willingness to submit that seems contrary to everything else. The mystery of life giving continues to baffle. Oh, and I still felt really hot. Can somebody put a fan on me? My mind was all over the place. The heaviest weightiest thinking and then, over a turkey meatball dinner the night before you came, me saying I give up. Birth, you win. I am done trying. 12 hours later you were here.

During dinner the contractions changed and everything started seeming more regular. I tried helping to put Nova and Fairbanks to bed. I read a story to them but in the middle had a really strong contraction. I was sitting on the edge of Fairbanks’ mattress on the floor. I had to brace myself on the edge of the bed and I started moaning and swaying a little. I think it made your brother a little nervous because he covered my mouth and said “stop mom!” I finished my contraction and soothed his worries…but I knew that it was something I couldn’t stop...even when in the very near future it would be hard and uncomfortable. I was starting to feel the flood of emotions. We tore a couple more pieces of the paper chain we had made to count down to your arrival that hung over the kids window. I kissed them both to bed and went and laid down on my own bed and stared out the window at the green trees moving in and out of the warm glow of the Hawaiian setting sun. I think this is the part of the story that you would want me to say that in my contemplative mind I found peace and a calmness that would power me through….but I didn’t. I am going to be super honest here because this story has a very happy ending (the happiest that endings can have) but you need to know it all to be able to acknowledge the beauty of this process as a whole. I was kind of a mess. I felt so much fear. Dread even. I felt a choking sort of darkness in my mind. Birth has always been a purging process for me. I have to let a lot be felt in order to be ready to feel what was to come. I need to make space. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and it was hard to know what was hormones and what was circumstance. Natural childbirth is the most vulnerable thing I have ever done. And choosing to bring my babies into the world at home means that space and the energy in it matters a lot to me. We had downstairs neighbors that weren’t very nice to us and it made our whole home feel unstable to me…like at any moment it would topple over or disappear. Not an ideal feeling for the nest you are bringing your baby bird home to. There was an uneasiness that felt crippling. I wasn’t sure how I would be able to do what was coming. Grant laid down next to me and I had a little meltdown releasing all my fears to him and letting the tears soak my pillow. I didn’t want to labor alone in the dark in the middle of the night. I wanted to labor during the day with sunlight and people awake. I didn’t want to feel alone. I think after that initial meltdown stage one was complete. I think that was my emotional “transition.” I took a couple deep breaths and probably texted my midwife friend Lindsay for some encouragement. I think part of our conversation consisted of her telling me, “You are a warrior!” You know what? I was. I am. I could do this. It wasn’t going to be easy, I knew that, I have owned that before. I wasn’t alone. I had all the mamas that the world has ever known lighting a candle for me to add to the fire that was growing in my body. I was Pele the Goddess of Fire. The refiner’s fire inside of me was there to create something more beautiful and sacred than all the volcanoes that created Kauai. This baby inside of me was the most important creation that will ever be and I was his Mother. I WAS HIS MOTHER.

Just like I knew it would, the sun set and my contractions increased. Soon enough the house was quiet. Everyone was asleep, dreaming…I lay with my silent fire in the dark. I was on my side closing my eyes through contractions until I couldn’t lay down any longer. When I would feel the contraction start to build I would get out of bed fast and sit on the yoga ball at the end of the bed, leaned over resting my upper body on the mattress. I would sway and rock through each wave. Coming back down I would tentatively crawl back into bed. Time melted away...8pm, 10pm, midnight..until 1:30am. I woke your dad up with my sounds. I told him I didn’t want to labor alone anymore. He thought it was time to call the midwives. But I wasn’t sure. My contractions were all over the place. Some 3 minutes apart, some 10mins apart. I did not want them to show up just because I wanted to be ready. What if I was only dilated to a 4? Grant sat with me through another contraction and said he was going to call them and just see what they thought. We called and we talked details for a minute. Sharon listened to me work through a contraction and said she was going to start getting ready to come. OK. I think it was about 2am at that point. By 3 am Sharon and the photographer were there. The lights were on in my room. I hadn’t left our bedroom/bathroom area. One thing I was really nervous about was waking the other kids. I joked with the photographer about leaving my hair down for photos and we all laughed. We talked shop and I offered her my video light if she needed it and any lenses she would want to borrow...and then another contraction would come. IT was like that. During my breaks I was chatty and talkative and then once I was riding the wave I went into my monkey brain. Sharon set down her supplies and during a break asked if I wanted to be checked. As she checked to see how dilated I was I just hoped I was at least close to active labor. Just close was all I wanted. Her eyes widened. “You are an 8 1/2!”. Really??!! I started bawling and laughing from relief. I had labored by myself from a 1 to 8.5 from 7pm to 3am. What I initially hadn’t wanted was the very thing I had done, labored at night in silence, by myself. And I was in active labor! I was a warrior. I was strong. I could do this. I was almost done. I want to say I really just let go and went to another world but I felt super present and my mind felt lucid. The next few hours consisted of a lot of moving around. At one point I decided to try working through a contraction on our lanai. We opened our sliding door and the humid air wrapped around my body. That sweet wet smell of our jungle home breathed into me. But after one contraction I wanted back in my cave. It’s funny, cause although I say my mind was lucid my body was in charge and I did as I was told. I got in and out of the shower a couple times. I thought about filling our Jacuzzi tub with water but it never seemed right. I was missing the upper body support that the soft tub with my other two births gave me. We stacked pillows, princess and the pea style, on the floor and I tried laboring on hands and knees but it didn’t feel comfortable. I tried the same stack on the bed but my arms always felt like they were having to do so much work. My shoulders and chest were sore from supporting the rest of my body. I just wanted relief. The waves were getting stronger and stronger. In one of the more defining moments I was throwing up over the toilet, while contracting and peeing at the same time, all over myself and the floor. Oh and I was buck naked. There was thunder inside of me. That implosion feeling of being ripped apart at the peak of my contractions. My body was in control. I was not. I was not. My baby’s heartbeat was fine. I was progressing. I was still alive. I was a machine with one goal: Birth this baby. Maybe this was transition?

Since I was getting cozy in the bathroom, they suggested I try working through a couple contractions on the toilet. There is something called a “sphincter reflex”…that the incomparable Ina May discusses in one of her books. You know how it’s easier to go to the bathroom when no one is watching? Or sometimes laughing makes you pee a little? It’s the theory that when you are relaxed it’s easier for things to open up. Sometimes sitting on a toilet during labor can help you instinctively open up and help things progress. I sat on the toilet and worked through a couple contractions as everyone patiently held the space. After a contraction my midwives asked if I wanted her to help break the water bag. They thought that releasing that pressure might help speed up this last bit. I said go for it. They took a long knitting hook looking thing and tried breaking it open. No luck. They tried again. Nothing. Now keep in mind neither of my other babies water bags had broken until I was pushing. I make them super power strong. My kids like to make a dramatic entrance preceding an exploding bag of water. During the second contraction on the toilet, my eyes widened as I felt downward pressure. “I feel like pushing”. Everyone started scrambling. No one really wanted you to be born into a toilet. Should she drop down on all fours? Can we have her turn around? Throw those chux pads on the floor! In case this baby was a comin’ and fast they prepped the bathroom floor. The contraction ended and I stood up. I can’t remember how it happened but I made my way back to the bed. Nothing felt comfortable. I tried being on all fours. Each contraction was burning and rippling through my body. The pain was intense. My natural voice wanted to yell out wild and high pitched and I had to concentrate really hard to keep my voice low, my sounds guttural. My rebel yell focused on down down down. Sending that energy to my baby and that opening that would bring you into my arms. They suggested turning over on my back, knees to my chest and trying to push that way. Seemed so opposite to how I had delivered before. What was I doing on my bed? Where was the water? On my back???? I was up for trying anything. My body was tired. It was close to 6am. The contractions were coming but not back to back like I feel like they should at this point. One big contraction and then breaks. It would fill my mind with doubt. Was I close at all? But there is no supposed to or right way when it comes to birth. I turned over on my back and I held one leg up as grant held the other. The next wave came and the pressure was insane. I pushed and screamed. “He’s coming! We can see the head! You are doing great! Rachel, breath and keep your voice low. You can do this. You are doing this. One more push. One more push.” The adrenaline surge that was rushing through my body after that one contraction was causing me to hyperventilate. Rachel, breathe! Rachel breathe! Rachel, you need to slow down your breathing. As I found my breath and geared up for the next contraction, our bedroom door opened and sweet Fairbanks had woken up right at 6:00am. What a scene he walked into. Both midwives, a photographer, aunt Anna, Dad and Mom lying on the bed on the cusp of something huge. I am not sure if I said anything but someone asked Auntie Anna to scoop him up and he lay on her shoulder. Standing on my right side. The next contraction was there. Knees pushed into my chest. It was like a movie from the night flashed through my mind and I still battled the trust that this was actually happening. The urge to push came from my heart into my entire body and I yelled out in a release that I am sure was heard on the mainland. One continuous push…fire fire fire, OUT CAME HIS HEAD…push still happening, yell still sounding and OUT CAME THE REST OF THE BODY. In one contraction, one push, I delivered my Duke. It was 6:04 am and the sun was just rising. Had it happened? Did it work? I took a deep cleansing breath, opened my eyes and saw my sweet perfect son being handed to me and placed on my chest.

Like all the births before yours, they were hard, challenging and life changing. They took a level of trust and leaping into the unknown like nothing I have ever, or will ever, experience again. But with your birth, there was a fog that surrounded me in the days leading up to you being here. A force weighing down on me telling me to be afraid, that I wasn’t ready, that things weren’t right. Whether it was hormones or circumstance, it was real and heavy. Until that moment. The whole experience of you being born was so intense for me emotionally that I was still mulling it over in my mind months later when I stumbled upon a quote, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”― Albert Camus. Goosebumps up and down my arms. That was it. That was what it was like for me. It felt like winter until you took that first breath with the rising sun and then I realized that you were summer. You were the sunshine. The happy. The positive. The light. The trust. The one. And despite the fears and challenges that surrounded me at times during my pregnancy and your birth, YOU WERE SUMMER inside me all along. And once, in my arms, your perfect love and trust healed me. My summer baby. My Duke.

I cried and smiled and laughed and introduced you to your brother and sister (who woke up about 30mins after you were born). They both met you as though you were all old friends. Like you had always been with us. So much sweetness and gentle touch. Everyone’s eyes on you were adoring. Being the third child, the after moments of your birth weren’t as quiet or serene but it was definitely not lacking in excitement. Kids all over the bed. Everyone asking questions. Dad cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsing. Anna made me scrambled eggs and toast. We wrapped up in beach towels and I stared at my little miracle. There was a bird that had kept watch on the porch from the time you were born for an hour or so. The soft misty light of the island filtered in through the windows to greet you. They did a quick stitch on me, we admired your amazing placenta and talked about your extremely strong water sac. They helped me use the bathroom, and then your sweet midwives tucked us into bed. They asked if I wanted help showering before they left, but I declined. I just don’t like washing it all away moments later. I don’t even like washing my newborns until days after they are born. I just want the smells and vernix and sweat to last a bit longer. I am a birth junkie like that. You were a great eater from the start. You had a little stuffy nose that I had to clear out often but because of that you made the sweetest little grunting and snoring sounds. Your cry from the second you were born was strong and meaningful. You weighed in at 8lbs 14 ounces. You looked different than Nova and Fairbanks did. You had lighter hair and a slimmer face. You were you and no one else. I couldn’t stop looking at you curled in my arms content and warm. Here. A few hours after you were born we kissed the midwives goodbye tucked into our clean bed and me asking every few minutes if that actually just happened.

 It seemed like a dream. Part of me thought I would just going on being pregnant forever...and having you in my arms was surreal for weeks following your birth.

I had a friend ask me months ago over lunch what that moment was like, giving up complete control during birth. Giving in to complete trust. Looking back, how did I view myself in those moments? I only had to think for just a moment before tears streamed down my face, “Those are the times I like myself the most. I am incredible and believe it”.

That is what you gave me. A reason to let go of control. To truly BE PRESENT. Not trying to make anything be but just accepting what was. To face the unknown and choose the uncomfortable. To be afraid and KEEP GOING. To feel my emotions but do the hard thing anyway. To choose trust. To choose faith. And in the end be filled with a strength and belief in my physical and emotional abilities beyond what I could ever imagine for myself. I gave birth to you. I grew Summer inside of me and get to keep him for the rest of forever.

Dad and I loved on you and then when the neighbors started pounding on the bedroom ceiling he took the big kids out to the beach so you and I could rest together. He didn’t want to leave us. No one ever wants to leave you. The door shut and we lay in bed together. Everything was quiet except for the birds outside. I was suppose to be sleeping but I couldn’t close my eyes. I couldn’t take my eyes off you.

Koʻu kau aloha pēpē. Aloha wau iā ʻoe.




(All my love to Hua Moon Midwives and their gentle and expert care. And giant thanks to Nicolette for taking so many of these amazing photos for us. They are treasures.)

Duke Month 1

The big kids are out of the house with dad and I just fed you to sleep. White noise is on while you lay in your crib making sporadic grunt noises and you fall into deeper sleep.

Outside is the island of Kauai, although it hasn’t mattered much to us so far. We have preferred to be nestled together in our home (bed really) for the last four weeks. We could be living on mars for all we care. Sleep, eat, cuddle, care has been our jam and we don’t take lightly the quiet times we have had together.

I feel like it has taken about a month for me to come out of the disbelief that you are here. The initial shock of labor and the end of pregnancy coupled with a bright eyed, aware, wise baby in my arms left me in a state of bewilderment for the first few weeks. Now that my mind and hormones have settled a bit, the beauty of you being here is becoming easier to believe.

I am excited to write your birth story down and relive every life changing moment leading up to you finally being here.

We waited a bit impatiently for you near the end. I just wanted you with us.

Here you are.

Our sweet Duke baby.

I am so happy you are still sleepy and will rest contently on my chest or in my arms. I know it won’t last forever.

You came out the perfect size and, like all my babies, have gained weight like a champ.

I love seeing your double chin increase in size and your belly grow rounder. Every day it seems as if you grow older. I guess that's what happens with days continue to come and go.

The truth is, it’s not as easy to give undivided attention as it was with baby #1….so I go to great effort to concentrate on just YOU whenever I have a chance.

You lay on your back in between my legs and we talk and smile together.

I sing your lullaby to you as we bounce on the yoga ball or swing in my arms.

I tell you I love you every day, multiple times a day...because it’s the truth.

Your sister and brother have been over the moon about your arrival from the first seconds you were here. There was no transition time for them to accept you. They knew you and you seamlessly joined their rhythm as if you had always been.

Nova loves to help with diaper changes by warming up the wipes for you in her hands.

Both kids ask to hold you all day and when they do the happy expressions on their faces are so satisfying for me to see.

Both kids will say, “We support you”. Whenever you cry and they love to try and figure out what you need when you tell us you need something.

Some favorite phrases from Nova to you: “Just chilling out?” “Oh! Feeling a little cranky?” “You are my best friend. I love you so much”.

Fairbanks loves to ask you “how you feeling?” “How did you sleep” “Baby Duke happy!”

Although there has been the normal heightened emotion of a new family member being around, neither of the kids have shown anything but sweetness and tenderness towards you. Always soft with you..gently touching your head, kissing your lips or holding your hand. They always talk to you with kind gentle tones. They save all the rougher stuff for mom and dad :)

You have been my easiest baby to breastfeed so far. Very little discomfort in the beginning and you were a pro at latching from day one.

We still have to do the ole’ lay back and lots of burping from the TKO but your little digestive system is figuring it out.

I love how being with me immediately calms you.

Your cry changes and your body immediately relaxes when you are in my arms...making me feel like super woman.

Being your mom really does make me feel so loved.

My favorite moments are when we are looking at each other and our eyes are locked until you drift off to sleep.

Reminds of me of something I read once about until a baby is 1yr old they don’t really know they are a different person than their mother. That one bit of information has made mothering newborns make so much sense.

We are so linked to each other just as we should be.

Your little nose is super sensitive to the air and can get really swollen making it hard to breath. I feel like I stay awake all night if I can hear your breathing.

Also not super into the car seat so I sit in a contorted position so you can suck on my finger (since you don’t like the pacifier).

even though you were over 8 lbs you still fit in the smallest newborn stuff we had and you wore those itty newborn diapers. You have since graduated to size 1.

Being a Hawaii baby means it is sometimes WAY too hot for clothes, we chill in our diaper.

Sometimes when you are wrapped on me, sweating together is unavoidable.

We took you to the the Hyatt pool to swim with cousins a couple weeks ago and like a rookie mom, you got a tiny bit sunburned. I was mortified. I had had you wrapped in a swaddle, tried to have you under shade, but your sensitive, perfect skin still felt it. I texted your midwife in a panic and she reassured me that it was hard to avoid as an island mom. It was my official initiation as a Kauai mom.

Speaking of being a Kauai mom, is has been so hard not to get in the water for the last month. It has been the hardest part about postpartum. No ocean or pools until my body is ready. Boo.

So many sweet aunties have brought over food the first couple weeks you were born. It always makes me feel so emotional to have that extra help.

Family was in town for the Thurston family reunion the last couple of weeks. Loved having them be able to meet you while you are so little but it was exhausting for you and me to be out and about so much. You were so flexible and we made it work….but it was nice once it was all over and we could recoup at home for a few days. You did attend your first luau, first stay at a hotel, first late night out.

It seems like having done these monthly recaps for three kids now, that I might not have a lot to say. The truth is I could go on and on and have to actually stop myself from writing.

Every time it is new and exciting. You are our third and you being with us is unique and special and just as awe inspiring as when your siblings joined us.

Best news this week: You have started legit smiling.

For some reason that genuine smile while you look up to my eyes feels like such a reward after the work that the first few weeks take. That sweet smile bonds me closer to you and reminds me to look for the small and simple moments to re energize.

Your lusty newborn cry

The way you root around with eyes closed and frantic head back and forths

Your stretch after a long sleep

Your sweaty, lint filled, clenched newborn hands

The way you go into vampire mode when sunlight hits your face

Cry, fuss, squirm...mom holds you...calm.

Really really in to you baby Duke. This month has been one of my happiest.


Our Disneyland

Daydreaming about the amazing time we had living so close to Disneyland in our Anaheim house. These are some photos from one of our last trips there before our Hawaii move. Back when Bank's hair was curly and long and Nova always wanted to wear her shiny black shoes. Also we happened to have a special relationship with Minnie and she gave us lots of attention. Hugging, dancing, excietment. As we walked away Nova said, "I think she's my best friend". Sweet memories with my sweet babes.




Fairbanks 2 yrs


I just laid you down in your crib and before I did you let me sing you your lullaby in my arms..AND for the first time ever sang along! “I love you, I love you. I sing it to the sky. I love you, I love you as you look into my eyes…”. You knew the words. You’ve been listening.

It’s be over a month since you’ve turned two and honestly, word explosion! You chatter all day long.

Any word we say you repeat.

I feel like everything you do at this stage needs to be videotaped. The sound of your voice, your facial expressions, the way such smart, wise actions and words come out of such a small pot bellied body.

With the arrival of your baby brother in less than 2 months, I have been noticing all your little details even more.

Not like I didn’t before but I know it won’t be long until you aren’t the baby in the family. I have seen it happen before and the second that baby is born you turn into a kid.

I notice you looking for me if you ever need comfort (right after you grab your blanket and shark)

I notice the way you lay on my shoulder when I carry you and bury your face into my neck.

I notice when you ask for bear hugs or butterfly kisses when no one else is listening.

I notice how baby your hands and feet still look to me even though they can do so much.

I notice every detail of you and cherish this time of you being my youngest.

It’s amazing that as you have developed your vocabulary, you are able to express yourself emotionally now.

One of your most used phrases over the last couple of weeks have been, “I feel nervous about…..”. It started after an instacare visit on Oahu after you split the skin next to your eye. You were so brave and let me hold you and held SO still for the doctor as he put on your steri bandage..and then once we were home a day or so later while eating dinner you said, “I feel nervous about the doctors office”. I was so happy you knew the words to use to express to me how you were feeling. It was amazing to be able to acknowledge your feelings, validate you and see how much more you needed to process what had happened. We talked about it for days. “I help the doctor put on my bandaid”. “My eye owie”. It felt like an emotional breakthrough, although it wasn’t. I know even little babies can process how they feel but expressing it through words so I can participate is a game changer.

“I feel nervous about the ocean” when big waves are coming.

And the other night out of the blue, “I feel nervous about the new baby coming”. Of course he does! So do I, if I am being honest.

Thank you Bubs for letting me know the tricky emotions you feel.

We also decided to go to the zoo last minute while we were on Oahu and you have talked none stop about, “I saw the monkeys eating bananas at the zoo”. “I saw the monkeys swinging at the zoo”.

You have even been talking about the “Kumoto Dragon” we saw, that I was sure you weren’t even paying attention to.

You said your name for the first time while jumping on the bed in a diaper with a yellow superhero cape on as you yelled, “ Super Fai-ganks!!”. Your dad and I both heard and just turned wide eyed to each other. It was a rad moment.

You still sleep in your travel crib which I feel slightly guilty about except for that you nap everyday and sleep all night long.

You have started wanting to get into bed by yourself. You have been able to climb in and out for 6+ months now but just recently want to go to bed yourself. “Give me space mom”, you say as you start to close the door on me and my heart breaks a little.

I will pretend to give you space, but won’t ever..really. Just so you know upfront. J/K (kind of).

So, being the superheros we are, you breastfed until you were 2yrs old.

It was just in the mornings at the end and I actually put an end to it because it was time for me. Unless we were going to tandem BF once brother is here I wanted to give us both time to get use to not doing it before he takes over.

Oy oy oy. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding straight for the past 5+ years. Hormone cocktail anyone?

Truth is I love BFing and not because I am mother earth but because it is so dang convenient. And lets me be a tiny bit lazy. Always ready, no fuss, no prep.

I loved our snuggle time together. That changes a tiny bit once BFing stops. You still have to sit in the crook of my arm when I am reading you a book, but no more drawn out mornings in bed together. That is the magic of breastfeeding.

But you are growing up and I guess so am I.

You love to put the laundry into the washer for me.

You ride your scooter so amazingly well. It’s terrifying actually.

You love cars and trucks and motorcycles and will sit at the family room window and watch with delight.

You also love putting on one of sister dresses or costumes and twirling around. Who doesn’t!!?

You actually went through a dress stage recently when you demanded to always wear a dress and would change if you caught eye of one that was fancier or you wanted to wear more.

Can’t blame you when you have lived with a sister your whole life who will ONLY wear dresses.

You also love shoes. Trying them on, walking around in them, talking about them, looking for them. Maybe because it’s such a novelty here on the islands. But it’s pretty adorable none the less.

You are a pretty good eater but your mainstays right now seem to be anything with eggs, oatmeal and eating a whole apple. You also cry for chocolate on occasion.

Sometimes you act like you aren’t hungry but once I sit down and start eating you climb into my lap and proceed to eat all of my food. I have to race to get even one bite of granola and yogurt.

You have started to self potty train (just like your sister did). If you ask we take you. “I do it myself”, as you climb on, do bidness, get toilet paper, wipe, climb off, flush and wave bye bye. Big kids stuff if you ask me.

You love playing tickle games, chase and telling us to “go to sleep” and then while we pretend to sleep you yell to wake us up. You could play this forever. and ever and ever.

You are super into me. I can say that without being vain since I gave birth to you.

If I am talking to dad and sister and you want my undivided attention you will tell me, “no more talking to daddy mom. No more talking to sister.” Which you have been saying numerous times a day. Trust me I am a super good listener with my kids and you will say this even when you aren’t talking to me. You just like it better if I save the air time for you.

Lately you are sick of going to the beach (unbelievable) but beg to go on hikes, to the pool or “to town”...which on this island is code for Costco. I love when you ask to go to town. Like you know you live in the small town you do.

You have also started to boss us around when we drive, “Go that way”, always pointing towards Hanalei. Smart boy.

Generally I don’t really want anything to do with this growing up stuff but you are doing it with such grace and sensitivity and smarts that I’ve thrown my hands up. Go for it I guess.

Today at the park and farmers market you said, “How are you” to a little boy who didn’t even know how to answer. You said, “Good morning” to some passerbys. And you said, “Mahalo after leaving each stand we bought food at. How can I not be proud?? Your manners are outstanding.

You thank all of us constantly for getting you stuff, feeding you, helping you.

You have always been super thoughtful and sensitive to others.

I feel like you are especially in tune with me. And I with you.

It’s just this thing between a babe and his mom. We get each other.

When you say yes or yah to anything is sounds like, “wa”. Please please never stop saying it this way.

You are so so happy and your smile is so shiny. Your eyes squint up and light pours out of your face. It makes me kiss you over and over again. I am so in love with you and the presence you are in our home.

Happy two years my Bubby boy. My life is 100% better with you in it.

Love, Mom

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.



Hope Springs Resort + Joshua Tree

If only we could celebrate our anniversary every month.

For our 5yr we spent two nights swimming in our favorite mineral pools at Hope Springs Resort in Desert Hot Springs (near Palm Springs).

Not a care in the world except soaking, sunning and making life plans. Kind of felt like we were dating again. It was nice.

We spent just a few hours at Joshua Tree to watch the sunset on our anniversary and while we sat in a rock-nest we found we recommitted for another 5yrs. Glad that was the decision we came to. So grateful that amidst the ups and downs of life and marriage we both want to work at it, fight for it, improve it and be grateful for it.

Love you Grant.

(all shot with the contax 645 on Kodak ektar film)

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, dollhouse...you 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 rules..like 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 up..no 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 boy..you 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”...so 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.





10 Months

I can’t lie...your 10th month flew by. Before I knew it you were 11 months and then almost one.

I knew before you and your sister were even born that I wanted to really document the best I could the thoughts and feelings and images of your first year. I knew it would be hard to keep up once you got older but that first year is so formative. I wanted these monthly synopses to really focus on the transition we as a family had once you were here in the flesh. I want you to be able to look back, and while reading, know without a doubt what an integral part you are of our family. I want you to know that from the very beginning nothing mattered more to me than the responsibility of caring for you. Listening to you. Knowing you.

Some people think that because you are so young and won’t “remember” that things like your birth or your first year may not affect you all that much. But that is wrong. Incorrect. I believe with all my heart and mind that you were smart and aware before you were even born. Capable of thinking, feeling and internalizing all of it. I know that so much of what has happened in the last 10 months has formed little connections in your mind.

If this journaling does nothing else I hope it tells you this: You Matter.

You are loved beyond any words I have to describe love. You are a thought in my mind constantly. Every part of you makes me swell with pride and happiness. The moments when you stand on your own or take your first couple of steps (which you did this month!) and the moments when we get through something challenging...like a long night of teething or a weekend when we had to be apart while I worked. Growing with you is what I am doing. When you point at a bird for the first time, something in me changes too. When you copy my sounds and we sing together, something happens that can’t be reversed.  Little connections you and I are making. Bonding us closer and closer to one another.

My hope is this bonding will help us through the experiences that are sure to come that will rock us. The moments when there is hurt or fear. We can rely on each other for strength and for comfort. We can KNOW that we are secure. That is why I am doing this. Proof.

This month I want to share a couple of songs I have written for you.

I know my days are limited where you will want to lay in my arms being soothed by me.

Feeding you and holding you before you go down for naps or bedtime are some of my most treasured moments.

The lights are dim, the sounds are calming and I stroke your hair and touch your cheek while my arms hold you tight.

When you were younger and these moments where longer, I did on occasion read on my phone while you feed but this month I stopped doing that. I just look at you and meditate.

This month while I hold you and sing to you, you have started watching me while I do this. Really watching me. I can tell you recognize the words. Your bright little eyes light up and watch me as I sing my feelings.

I wrote your lullaby the day your cousin Charlie was born driving back from the hospital. The lyrics and melody just came in a matter of minutes.

Fairbanks Mitchell Porter the first

We wanted you here, then you came to earth

Hugging, kissing and giggling too

Fairbanks, your Mama loves you.

I love you, I love you I’ll sing it to the sky

I love you, I love you as I look into your eyes

Run with me through this meadow

Baby hold my hand

Fairbanks, your mama’s favorite little man.

(alternate ending: Run with me through this meadow, throw your arms round me tight. Fairbanks, with you here, everything is right).


This other song I wrote while you were only a month or so. We had just finished eating and you were lying on my legs.

I just love you so much

I just wanted you to know

I never will leave you

I’ll go wherever you go

I love you more than one

I love you more than two

You could count forever and it would still be too few

I just love you so much

I just wanted you to know…


Over and over we sing these songs, in varying ways. Your sister has them memorized and sometimes will break out in “I just love you so much!!!!”

And we do!  Happy 10 months to my sweet, climby, on the verge of walking boy.

I am so happy you are mine.




Grandma Henriksen


My grandparents built this house and all of my mother's childhood memories of home are here.

Pine Tree Drive.

My grandparents have 9 children. My grandma gave birth 9 times.

One of those babies never made it home from the hospital, my Aunt April.

The whole family would sit at the big family table for dinner.

My Grandpa used to tell us he liked doing dishes...as he hummed melodies and tried to flick us with dish towels.

The main bathroom upstairs had a laundry shoot. We weren't suppose to go down it, so we all did.

My Grandma kept her lipstick in the cupboard. I would open up the tube and take sniffs because I liked the smell of grown-up stuff.

They also had a toothbrush for every single one of their grandkids. I am pretty sure they have 44 grandkids (but I lose count).

They had, what felt like, hundreds of music boxes. The wood chopping one was my favorite.

There are always orangecicles in the garage freezer.

Poppies always bloom in the spring.

I had sleepovers with my cousins there. My Grandma would put us to bed with warm milk and leave surprises under our pillows.

Bacon and cantaloupe will always remind me of breakfast in their house. Floating pancakes too.

The tin of goldfish never runs dry.

When I was in the basement laundry room staring at that wallpaper I always kind of felt like I had gotten into a time machine.

We reenacted the nativity on Christmas Eves in the downstairs family room.

We watched The Littlest Angel on the TV.

Heartbroken, after getting divorced, I moved into that basement. I would cry myself to sleep feeling comforted by the fact that my mom had slept in that same room as a child and used the same bathroom. One Sunday morning while I was living there I climbed into bed with my Grandma and we watched Music and the Spoken Word and I asked her all about what it was like to give birth to her babies. I asked her how she felt after my Grandpa died. She missed him and so did I. I am grateful I had that morning.

A lot of these images won't make sense to everyone...but that's OK. They make sense to me and probably to my cousins.

Happy 90th birthday to my sweet amazing maternal Grandmother. Thank you for saying that every age is your favorite and that life just keeps getting better and better. Thank you for giving us our daughter's middle name. Thank you for talking nonstop about Fiji and prophets. Thank you for being such a bright happy spot in my life. Thank you loving me and letting me know I matter to you when so many people do. When I am one on one with you I always feel like the favorite. That's what makes you magic.

Grandma Mary Lou

I constantly have a running list of things I want to photograph burning a hole in my mind. It never gets smaller. No matter how many things I finish shooting on the list, another one jumps on, making it the never ending list of ideas.

For months, years really, one of the items on my list has been to photograph both of my grandmothers in the spaces they live in. Details of the homes that hold so many memories and feelings for me and I know other members of the family. The way it feels to see the front door. The shapes and colors and light that holds everything in place.

I know how special it is to have had such an amazing relationship with both of my grandmothers. And to have them both living while I start my own family is a treasure. One that I don't want to waste. So finally this last September I was able to squeeze in a few hours between other shoots to visit them in their homes and finally make these shoots happen. I would have liked days photographing each of them, but with a newborn and toddler at home one precious hour is what I had.

This is my Grandmother Mary Lou. We call her "Gram".

Before she lived here, her parents lived here. I would visit my Grandma and Grandpa Great on Sundays. We would run up to the phone to dial to be buzzed in. Then up the elevator to 7th heaven (and when you leave you go down to _elL). The elevator would open and the door to the apartment would always be opened and smiley wrinkly people would be waiting for you. When my Great Grandparents passed away and after my Grandfather Thurston passed away, my Grandma moved back from La Jolla, California. She had lived there with my grandfather for 15yrs. She moved back into this gorgeous condo overlooking the Salt Lake valley, adding another layer to the memories the space holds.

She grew up on Oahu and I love being able to see "Hawaii" when I am in her space. Most of the floral artwork in her home was done by her niece Jenny Jenkins Christensen. She is barefoot most of the time she is home. I love this, as my number one life goal is to never have to wear shoes.

Oh how I love this women. She has always been the best listener and still to this day can remember by name my childhood friends. She always stayed up to date on all the relationships I was in and in her heart of heart has always wanted happiness and love for each of her grandchildren. She is one of the most accepting women I know. She loves everyone and never once in my life have I felt less loved by her, even when I have made dumb mistakes. She loves me the same, even with my flaws. I grew up loving to shop with her at the naval bases. She taught me the art of making an "eggy with a hat on top". The beds in her guest bedroom always had those bumpy mattress pads. She has always had a thing for Elvis and we would watch Blue Hawaii with her as we slept at the foot of her bed.

Her and my Grandpa had 3 kids (my father is the oldest). During the first 15yrs of their marriage he was gone for 7 of those while he served in the Marines. She moved with him and her family all over the world. 7yrs away from her husband....raising kids on her own and having to make new friends every couple of years. So so impressive.

I could go on and on about how wonderful she is and how much she means to me. She loves family and photos and being with us. And I love being with her. I feel so grateful to have had so many one on one moments with her and she has deeply blessed my life. I hope one day I have a granddaughter that feels the way about me that I feel for her.

Gram, thank you for letting me take some photos of you and your home. Thank you for creating a space I have always felt comfortable and welcome in. I love you so much.






9 Months

What an amazing month of loving you it has been.

I keep telling your dad, in an almost panic, that you are almost 1 and he keeps reminding me to ease up and let you just be the age you are. So I did. I tried my best to just let you be 9 months this whole month.

I know how quickly all of this baby stuff passes so I am taking every opportunity to slow down and “see” you.

An extra 10 seconds in the tub letting myself be fully present and only thinking about all of your delicious pudgy parts.

When I feed you before sleep, I am putting away my smart phone and just looking at you in silence as your eyes get heavier and heavier.

When I rock you and your wrap your body around mine, I walk over to the mirror in your room so I can watch us sway and move. I want to see you small in my arms.

I am crushing hard on your light brown curls that gather on the back of your head.

I am loving you doing things for reactions and waiting for them. You throw yourself spread eagle on the couch or sisters bed and then wait, with a twinkle in your eyes, for one of us to tickle you or come in for a wrestle.

We were driving back from Costco late one night and you were hungry and ready for bed and so understandably a little sad. I found this little toy and put it in my mouth and and spit in out over and over and you laughed SO hard. It doesn’t take much for me to get a sweet little grin or even a belly laugh.

Lots of amazing balance with your strong legs and amazing strength.

Your favorite game is climbing on the small rocking chair and standing on it while rocking it back and forth. At first when I saw you doing this I was terrified...but now you can climb up and climb off with ease.

I even saw you back off the couch by yourself this last week.

I also watched you pull yourself up the front of your crib. I need to video that as proof.

It’s so nice for you to feel so confident moving. I am so happy for you that you have that freedom and the choice of where you want to go and when.

We have never used a baby gate with you and try to just keep the house safe so you can explore away.

You love eating but always want me to top you off when you are done.

We have branched out and let you try and eat all sorts of things this month. Blueberries, cottage cheese, asparagus, bread, pasta. You are really good about trying it all but still prefer nursing. Which is fine by me. I am happy to nurse on demand. Works for us.

You do use a straw and sippy as well which kills me when you do because it makes you look so grown up.

You are more interested in books and I love reading the animal one to you where you touch fur. You are so curious.

It’s been a wild month because you had fevers twice. Which was NOT cool and scared your poor old mom.

The first time it was for 3 days and you were miserable. I even contemplated taking you to the ER because I was so freaked out. Taking medicine is hard for you but you were brave and let us help you. All I could do was hold you and feed you and be there for you. It’s in those moments that I really feel like this is what parenting is all about. Helping you. Loving you. And not wanting to do anything but that. I feel so blessed that I get to be the one to soothe you when you feel miserable. My love for you feels so fierce in those moments.

In the end you had roseola and survived. To my delight! You must always survive. Okay dokey?

Starting to feel like I need to dress you more.

I really think I am the type of mom that should be raising my babies in a tropical paradise because clothes and especially restrictive clothes seem utterly unnecessary for babies. But I can’t help but feel the social pressure to have jeans for you..or maybe a pair of shoes. I can’t believe your mom is such a hippie.

You found the slide and the swing and giggle and giggle when you are on them.

I still wear you a lot in the carrier..but not as much. You want to move so much now that to wear you we must be on the go.

Sleeping has changed. You rarely sleep in bed with me anymore. Your stretches are longer and longer and you really are just starting to sleep better with more space from me. Sad face but it’s OK. I can’t lie and say that the 8.5hrs of straight sleep you gave me last night wasn’t incredible.

Calling you Buh Buh’s a lot. Sister calls you that too. So cute.

She talks a lot about keeping you safe. “I’ll protect him mom” as she hovers over you while you climb off her mattress on the floor.

She keeps telling me she wants alone time with you and wants you two to play alone in her room with the door closed. I have to explain to her that you are still a little baby and I need to see what you are up to. I am just so glad you two have each other.

She loves coming in to your room when you wake up. Copying my sing songy voice as we greet you. “ A da zoozies!” “A da my zoozie baby!” I actually say these things to you and she copies. It’s some weird baby greeting language that has developed for you and your sister. Dad thinks I am a crazy baby lady (and I am).

My favorite is watching you with pure glee up on your one knee, bouncing and clapping your hands.

And you crawling around the house looking for me saying “ Mamamamamama…” will never ever get old. You reach for me and I reach for you.

You talk a lot to me. About this and about that.

You have also started laying in my arms while you are tired and just looking at me while I sing to you. Almost like you are singing yourself to sleep. I am you and you are me.

I am obsessed with the fact that we are so close. So connected. So intertwined.

You are yourself but not quite like another person. You kind of feel like one of my body parts. Other moms get this, right?

Such a fun fun fun happy age.

Hands down my favorite development this month was the attachment you formed to your blankie. Without fail, everytime we go to pick you up out of your crib you are holding one of the silky corners. Nova was never this way with a blanket and I am loving watching you form opinions about what you like and don’t like.

You have also started laying on my shoulder when you are tired. Almost like a hug.

I have to remind myself that I like every stage you are at the best. So far this one wins.

This month I wanted your photos to be about your relationships with each member of your family. We are all so attached and connected to each other and I want to remember what that looked like.

Today you gave me a kiss out of the blue. Ahhhhhh!!!

We are all so madly in love with you Fairbanks. So thankful for my sweet boy

xxoo- Mom


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_





8 Months

As we near the end of your 8th month I am amazed at how much you have matured.

We had a doctors appt for you this last week and as you layed there on the table in your little diaper and teething necklace...I had to take a minute and really take in how much you have grown.

The way you even look at me is different.

You are starting to say so much more with your eyes.

And you have gotten so vocal! Yelling, blabbering. Your dad calls it “motor boating” because you make these little spuddering lip noises all the time.


You reach for me with your arms. I scoop you up.

This last week I was in NYC for work and stuff and was away from you guys for 2 nights. While I was away it’s like you turned a new leaf as far as eating and sleeping.

You now gladly eat solids and beg for them. Pears, apples, any steamed veggies. You love doing it yourself and are so good at it.

Today I watched as you figured out how to drink water from a sippy cup.

Today was also the day that you finally made it into the fireplace. I was cleaning in the kitchen and you got awfully quiet in the family room. I checked on you and sure enough you have surpassed our pillow blockade and your little hand was in ash.

At 8 months how do you know not to make a sound if you don’t want to be caught?

Sister is bonkers for you.

She loves feeding you and asks all the time if she can help.

She also claps for you when you eat food saying in her mockery mom voice, “Good job bu buhs!! Good eating!!”.

Sister also likes to be on choking patrol. “Baby brother can’t play with my tiny turtle, he’ll choke on it”. That’s right Novs. It is our job as your family to keep you safe.

She loves making you laugh or smile. She will ask if she can bounce your foot and then jump up and down while holding on to your foot in our arms. It never fails to make you grin.

You like to fall asleep on your own now. I still feed you right before but our time together is shorter. True it has free’d up hours of my day but I watch you on the monitor and wonder if I shouldn’t come in and have you sleep in my arms.

As much time as soothing a baby to sleep takes, I value it so much. It is the one time when it is just you and me. And it only lasts while you are a baby.

You love to stroke my arm or talk to me now as we relax and eat together.

I love you so much, I feel like crying even typing how it feels to have those special quiet moments with you.

You love pushing our little chairs around the house walking behind them.

You like climbing up steps.

You LOVE the bath. Seriously nutsos for bathtime. And so daring. Giving me a heart attack always wanting to crawl into the deep end.

You have the sweetest 4 teeth with more on the way. Your hair is getting longer and lighter with little curls.

If one of us shakes our head at you, you will mimick and shake back.

If I laugh you will laugh back.

If I smile you smile.

You love watching and learning about the world around you.

The other day in the car Nova was yelling at you, “brother don’t look out the window, look at me!!”

You want nothing to do with the blender but can’t get enough of the recycling bin.

Right now your favorite toys are the wooden stick that we use to lock the sliding door, paper and anything that sister doesn’t want you to touch.

Oh!!! and you LOVE doors. Prying open, slamming...you especially love the little kitchen because there are loads of doors just your size for you to slam and open, slam and open.

I try to read you books but all you want to do is eat them.

You still love the nuzzle game. “uhhhhhhhhhh...get you get you get you!!” as I nuzzle and kiss your neck. I love pulling back during this game to get a look at your face. Your eyes shine and you have the look of pure contentment and happiness as you wait for your attention.

Oh to be a baby.

It’s impossible for these words or photos to really explain how I feel for you...but I am going to keep trying.

Loving you feels so incredible.

xxoo- Mom

7 Months

My little buddy

I am writing this so much later in the month than I usually do. Typically I write these near the first part of the month..and this is at the end. Which I kind of don’t mind. I get to look back through your 7th month and write a little bit about what has already happened. A true update on what your 7th month was like.

I’ll just start by saying it was pretty great.

I have this strange feeling you will be walking before 12mos. BUT I could be totally wrong. That is your decision. You are just already pushing stuff around the house, like the laundry basket or play cars, walking behind them.

You crawl FAST. Pull yourself up to standing. Walk around furniture and started this fun thing this month where you stand only lightly holding on with one hand. It’s pretty fun to watch.

You fall. A lot. But we are there to catch you or almost catch you every time you do.

I wonder if there is any correlation with head bumps and intelligence (I kid).. Because you probably bump your head 10 times a day. You have so much you want to do and CAN do there is really no way to stop it. You are a force and we are mere spectators.

You are such a sweet sweet boy.

Constantly smiling at me and looking for me.

You crawl towards me saying “ma ma ma ma”.

The other morning you woke up on me with, I kid you not, bedhead.

Your hair is getting longer and your sweaty morning bedhead kills me.

You sleep so hot and often I find a little wet spot on the sheets from where your head was. New nickname “heater head”.

You have 4 teeth in already and it hasn’t been the easiest road.

Lots of teeth and teething mean lots of needing to chew.

We are trying to eat but you have preferences. You don’t want to be spoon fed. You like to hold whole foods like a half a banana, cooked broccoli, a green bean. You are a big boy and can do things on your own.

Except when it comes to sleeping.

You’ve been loving napping or trying to nap on me all day long.

Kind of hard to have happen when sister needs me too. The having two kids thing is sometimes tricky.

You are a great BFeeder but like to do it in a dark quiet room alone with me. You will watch the door until dad and sister are completely out and the door is closed. Then on occasion you will only take a couple sips and then want to get down, look around or, your favorite thing is playing with the curtains while you are still on my lap. You will turn towards them with a giant grin on your face waiting for me to give you attention for wanting to play with them. “You sneaky baby!! Babies aren’t supposed to play with curtains! Excuse me, we are supposed to be eating!!”.

It’s the little things.

We busted out Dad’s old baby clothes and I died and went to cute heaven when you put on his light blue sweatsuit from the 70s. So fun.

Your poor nails get so long and sharp and then you scratch your face up.

You rub your eyes and your ears when you are sleepy and your little nails get you. Makes it look like you are getting in fights.

You smile ear to ear when sister gives you so much attention first thing in the mornings. She coos at you imitating the way I do.

You like to play with anything she touches. She has her moments when she loves sharing with you and times when she doesn’t want you to touch anything she is playing with.

She has started picking you up and carrying you to us. The look on your face as she does this is priceless. It says, “Mom, is this really happening?”.

She likes to “help” you move..but pushing, pulling. We are teaching Nova to let you move on your own. She’s ready for her playmate to be a bit bigger. That doesn’t mean you get permission to grow up any faster mister.

I keep reminding myself lately that this is all temporary. All the hard day in and day out work and more importantly all of the amazing day in and day out.

I wont be tired forever. You won’t be teething forever. I won’t have all this extra baby weight forever. You won’t let me hold you while you sleep forever.

I’m trying to be in the moment. Dirty dishes, in our jammies and my two babies crawling all over me.

I feel grateful. Thankful. My life is composed of eating schedules, naps, soothing, tickling and lots of kissing and hugging and being close...so close to you and your sister.

Your dad and I are crazy about you two. We are out of this world tired and out of this world in love.

I know I will look back with fondness on the time in my life when our worlds revolved around this simple home life.

Love you so much buh buhs, buddy, sweet boy, baby brother, Fairbanks.

Thank you for making my days so filled with love and purpose.


6 Months

Half a year has already passed with you. 6 months.

For some reason 6 months seems like the time when I have to let your newborness go.

You aren’t making that hard to do with all the moving you’re doing.

Yep, you crawl.

Yes, I am proud of you...but there is a part of me that wishes you would just be helpless a little while longer.

Also, baby proofing is stressful.

Now that you can move everything could be a choking hazard and a potential surface for bonks.

With this new found freedom, sister has taken it as her cue to get physical. It’s like she knows you can handle it and wrestle hugs you any chance she gets.

Warms my heart she loves having a buddy.

Today at storytime at the library we swear she was a little proud showing you off. She keep hugging and kissing you and trying to move you back closer to us when you would crawl away. She is your keeper. She loves you so.

So you crawl. Kind of can’t get over it.

You sit too but are still tipsy.

It’s fun to see things you want and to watch you go for them. Over pillows, other toys..you know what you want and can get there fast.

You also have pulled yourself to standing! 6 months old and you stand holding onto stuff.

You have super human baby strength.

Favorite toys seem to be anything Nova may want to play with (shocker), empty cardboard film boxes, plastic (you’re not allowed), our feet, shoes and little plastic babies. I love watching you suck on their heads like you are a giant.

You also want to eat. I am trying not to let you, but it’s hard since you try to grab everything.

BFing is just so much easier..and less messy. Sigh.

So far you have tried banana (your first food!), avocado, mango, applesauce, carrots and the other day you were pounding the peach and mango soft serves from our favorite vegan place in Laguna Beach. “More! More!”, your eyes said.

Even in your most tired or most cranky moments, if I look at you you’ll smile.

You are not much of a cuddler unless you are drinking or sleeping. Constantly giving us the arm-bar wanting to face out and see what all the fuss is about.

You will walk around cheek to cheek with me. Love.

Lots of talking...or I should say grunting. You are such a little bear cub.

After our Utah trip we headed up to Big Sur for a wedding I was shooting. You adjusted so well to all the different sleeping arrangements.

The funniest part is us still dragging your swing everywhere for you to sleep in.

Any day you are going to grow out of that thing. The seat belt is getting tighter and tighter.

You still sleep most of the night on me, in my arms or next to me. Love having you close to me all night long.

You search around for my hand when you are eating and grasp onto my finger. TIGHT. Everytime you eat you do this now. Wanting to hold my hand. I die.

You are proudly wearing 6 month sized clothes and looking mighty handsome in whatever you have on.

Sister calls you baby brother and buddy most of the time. I probably call you sweet boy the majority of the time and I think dad calls you buddy a lot...but I can’t be sure.

You don’t like wind, especially cold wind--freaked us out at Pfeiffer Beach a couple weeks ago hyperventilating in the cool beach wind.

You are such a light. Smiling your squinty smile at anyone who cares to look.

I can’t look at you enough or kiss you enough or tell you I love you enough.

My favorite is waking up next to you. After a long night of teething and eating and getting comfortable...you start waking up before you even open your eyes. You stretch, rub your eyes (like crazy), grunt and then slowly, so slowly open your sleepy eyes. When our eyes meet, you smile. You aren’t surprised to see me inches from your face. I can tell you expect it. Like if I wasn’t there you would wonder, but having me there is what makes sense. Then we wake up together, smiling some more, talking and me kissing your neck while giving you my mama bear grunt.

For the last few months we have this thing were I help you throw your arms around my neck while I say, “hug hug hug hug hug!”, with one of your cheeks against mine, and then we switch and do the other side. You smile your big open mouth slobbery smile. Your eyes shining.

Loving you and caring for you is such a blessing.

I just love you so much,



5 Months

Oh my. I love you so much.

If someone just looks at you, you smile.

Your smile is pure joy.

Your needs are so simple and your intentions are so pure.

Holding you is free therapy.

Just holding you makes everything so much better than whatever it was like before I was holding you.

I know that all of this time I get to hold and love on you will change. I know you won’t fall to sleep on me forever...so I am really trying to savor it. Every once in a while after you fall asleep eating with me, I will lift up the blanket to look at your sleeping feet, crossed at the ankles, your chubby hand, spread across my chest. Your full belly, moving in and out with you breathing against skin.

I know my memory will fade but I can read this and remember that for those few seconds that I adored you while you slept, loving you was all that mattered.

You are moving so so much.

You can get wherever you want by pushing up to your hands and knees and then propelling yourself forward. Your dad and I like to joke that we are breeding a race of super humans.

You like to lounge on your side and be propped in sitting position between my legs.

You are a major jumper like your sister. Constant jumping from sun up til sun down.

Unless you are eating or sleeping what’s the point of being held like a baby?

You are a big boy now and prefer to be treated like one.

You are so great at grasping everything and exploring with your mouth.

Your favorite position is hands clasped together in prayer position, in your mouth. While your eyes twinkle with the excitement at being able to gnaw on your fingers.

Carrying you around in the carrier is starting to wear me out a little. So funny! Your sister was so much lighter than you I never noticed...but you are a bit heftier. I love it.

I love your weight and how it feels to hold you.

You are way interested in food, so we have let you try banana and pineapple. You are kind of obsessed. I feel bad, but I don’t want to really start feeding you solids yet. Want you to stay a baby.

You grew out of your Puj tub in the sink so we have started bathing you with Nova. It is kind of chaotic with all the soap and slippery skin but you are all smiles.

I think since you are starting to move more, sister is getting a little more physical with you and likes to roll you to where she wants you to be.

Sometimes she loves hard with big squeezes that never end and gritted teeth through which she is baby talking to you.

We stay close by to make sure her wrestling stays “fun”...and I have admit it is kind of awesome to see you two “playing” with eachother. So glad you have each other.

The cutest thing EVER: If she is jumping on the bed and one of us holds you and jumps you facing her, you laugh everytime. Then you both do bums and she wants us to drop you on top of her chest like you are getting her. We do this over and over until my arms are burning from keeping you in mid air for so long.

I am willing to bet there is NO sound better than a baby laugh. Anyone care to challenge that?

I want to shoot more videos of you, more still photos, more shots of your sister and you together. More shots of us together, more images of the whole family. Truth be told I wish there was a way to have a still frame of every second of everyday. It is so hard to edit what moments I want to photograph and what moments I just need to remember. Feels like torture.

I love being your mom so much I don’t want to forget what your face looks like when you wake up..or when you fall asleep, or when sister gets really loud or when I tickle you and your face turns into sunshine.

Both, you and your sister, have the best faces.

We are still holding on to the swing. You sleep most naps in it and start your night in it.

Sometimes you sleep short diddys during the day in our bed but swing is king. Kind of scared of what happens when you outgrow it..which is in our near future.

Love sleeping with you, I do. But the last month I have been more tired because you are up more. Every night from about 2:30-3:30am you usually have to poop (Sorry TMI) and it keeps you up. Usually you are happy enough, not crying but just can’t get comfortable. Poor dude. Poor Mom. But I know  it will change again by the time I blink.

We went on your first road trip this last week to Utah. You were a champ.

Traveling with little ones is a lot of work but so worth it to have you all with me. I always prefer you close enough that I can kiss.

You are wearing 6-9mos clothes and we just moved you up to size 3 diapers. After 4 nights in a row of you blowing out of diapers we were like “duh”!

If you wake up crying, which you do on occasion, you cough a lot while we are picking you up. Not sure that you really have to cough seems like a bit of dramatics and I eat it up.

You also LOVE touching and grabbing faces.

The other night I was feeding you to sleep and after your belly was full but you were still awake, I just laid you next to me and I sang to you while you cooed at me while looking in my eyes and touching my cheek. I was so in love.

You also like to talk while you eat sometimes too. You will stay latched on but babble about something and then go on eating. Just so you know I am always listening.

Sister has started asking “What does Ba-ga-ga mean?” When you make a sound that sounds similar. “What does that mean?”. I guess we are all listening.

We pretty much live on pins and needles for you and everything you give to us. We are like starving island survivors and you are our coconut water.

I could stare at you and Nova all day long watching your every moves and be content for a very long time. Saying I am intrigued is an understatement.

Can hardly believe you are almost halfway through your first year.

What can I do better? What can I give you more of? I am sure my shortcomings are more about me and less about you. I have a feeling you are pretty happy with me. You don’t have the expectations that I do of myself. You want to be loved. Check. Done. 100 and a million percent. You want to be fed and need some help sleeping. Done. I live for my kids to be full and well rested. I am grateful you start little with such simple needs so I can have time to develop into what you need me to be.

I am learning and you are happy letting me. And for that I am grateful.

You are so forgiving, so perfect in your forgiveness and your ability to move on. I would say perfect, actually. Can a baby be flawed? It’s amazing. You can’t make mistakes. It is so inspiring to watch and be surrounded by such innocence, love and pure acceptance.

Wow. I am so blessed to have you as mine. I promise to never take that for granted.

My buddy, banksy bear, noodle, sweet boy. 5 months is my favorite so far.


Forever yours,



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 happened...you 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”..brother’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 sleep...so 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 kids...life 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,



4 Months

As I type this you are blissfully sleeping in your swing.

I fed you to sleep and once you were really out..watched you sleep on me. Not wanting to move you, not wanting to wake you...not wanting to ever move from that spot with you.

We shopped at Costco tonight and I wore you in the beco. You gazed at me the entire time with eyes that wonder at the magnificent creature I am. When you are 16yrs old and reading this, it’s true. You once had eyes for only me.

You giggle and coo constantly. Even amidst tears if I look at you the right way or speak to you sing songy you will give me a husky little giggle and a big slobbery, gummy grin.

I love that your eyes turn into slits when you smile.

When you smile every part of you reaches outward. Your eyes, mouth, arms..like you are trying to share your happiness with everyone. It works.

I watch you with so much admiration.

You are learning so much!

You are getting so good at grasping onto things with your hands. Toys and my hair are your number one favorite things to grab.

You also like to clutch my shirt while you feed. Kind of like you are saying, “ You’re not going anywhere lady”.

I’m not.


I made up a little song for you one evening while we were spending time together before your bedtime. I can’t remember the tune but the words were, “I love you so much. I just wanted you to know. I never will leave you. I’ll go wherever you go. I love you more than one. I love you more than two. You can count forever and it would still be too few.”

Cheesy. But I am. All ooey gooey over you.

You roll all over the place and I swear you are almost sitting up.

Today you were draped over me on your stomach and pulled yourself up to your knees.

Super baby.

You are freakishly strong for a 4 month old.

You balance on Dads hands like it ain’t no thing and when we walk with you while holding your arms you move your little feet like you are trying to walk. It’s crazy.

You are a really amazing sleeper.

You are creating your own schedule and I am starting to get the hang of it.

Usually you take a nap about an hour after you wake up and then a long afternoon nap the same time your sister naps (love you for that). Then a little dinner time snooze and bedtime happens around 7:30.

At nights you sleep your first stretch for about 5hrs strait and then we sleep/eat for the rest of the night.

I can’t begin to describe how much I love snuggling with you at nights.

I am finding that you don’t need to eat as much at nights but in my sleeping stupor if you wake up I try to latch you on but if you aren’t hungry you aren’t hungry. You want to just fall asleep without eating? Whose child are you?

You also sometimes prefer to lull yourself to sleep ON YOUR OWN. Nova needed a lot of loving care to fall asleep but I think with your heftier size you sleep a little more soundly. But the truth is I am sometimes sad when you don’t need to be rocked to sleep. I love helping my babies be comfortable. It’s my job.

I still wear you in the moby on occasion but you are loving the beco carrier right now.

We haven’t had a double stroller yet but on occasion we have taken rides with you strapped into the BOB and your sister rides on the front step. You are excited so you kick your little legs into sister’s back. She calls back to you “Be nice. Don’t kick me baby brother”. We have to explain to her that you are just excited to be riding with her. Love kicks we like to call them.

When you are a little fragile and sad..maybe you just woke up Nova likes to growl in your face. I try to lovingly explain that you might not be in the mood for growling but before I can put an end to it, your sad little face looks at me llike “mom is this really happening”? Yes, buddy it is.

Nova will sometimes point out, “look mom, I’m holding his hand because I love him. He’s my best friend”.

Today at lunch she said, “He has two names, Fairbanks and baby brother”.

You love watching your wild older sister run circles around all of us.

We busted out the jumper/play seat that you seem to like for 10mins at a time.


Poor baby. I don’t remember Nova teething this early.

You have good teething days and bad ones...but the one thing we can always count on is DROOL.

You are a drool monster. I bought little cotton bibs from Ikea when Nova was born but she never used them. You go through at least 2 a day.

Your hair is going light. Your dark newborn hair is at the bottom and blond little hairs are growing in.

I find myself calling you bubba a lot. Baby brother, noodle, doo doo and “my sweet baby”.

You still have lots of rolls and I hope they stay around for as long as possible.

This last month I have found myself thinking a lot about “good” babies. People always ask, “Is he a good baby”? I think what they mean is, “Is he an easy baby”....but it bothers me a little. ALL babies are good. They are good by nature. Even if a kid makes a mistake or a bad decision I believe they are still “good”. If one of my babies cries strait for a year, that wouldn’t make them bad. Just sad, or sick or uncomfortable.

You don’t cry, hardly ever. But just so people know I will always say my kids are good, because they are.

Fairbanks, you are my little love. I couldn’t be happier to call you mine.




3 Months

Newborn to baby and I am not sure how I feel about it.

Being a mom to small kids and babies feels like time never ends and speeds by all at once.

Seems like you can see much farther distances and make eye contact from across the room.

I thought you looked like your sister when you were born but you really look so different to me now. She had big round alert eyes and you have these irresistible bear cub eyes that still look kind of sleepy.

Tired, hungry or not feeling well, you still smile ALL THE TIME. I just look at you and smile and you smile back.

Excited to take you to the doctor’s tomorrow to see how much you weigh.

You are the perfect cuddly size.

Already wearing 3-6mos size clothes. Makes me so sad when you grow out of your little little stuff.

You are the champion of all champions when it comes to sleeping! You fall asleep and I can just lay you down and you stay asleep. Or if you are tired and about to fall asleep I can put you in your swing and you peacefully slumber away. Such a dream.

You start the night sleeping about 5hrs strait and then only need a couple super short sips through the rest of the night while we snuggle next to each other.

Lately it seems like you purposely kick me awake when you want to eat. No cries, just swift kicks to my back.

It’s been a crazy work month for me (June always is). I had to spend 2 nights away from you in a matter of just 8 days. It was super hard for me to spend that much time away from you and your sister. Your dad is a rockstar and everything was fine but I always feel sad when you have to drink from a bottle, especially when you fight it at first.

I’m still trying to figure out how to balance it all. I want to give 100% to everyone and everything. Impossible... but I still wish I could. Those work days away are hard.

We took our first family trip to NYC. I walked around the city with you wrapped on me. I love that city and I love you. You met a lot of friends and your Aunt Jenelle and Uncle Conny for the first time. I love showing you off.

You roll over!!

So fun to see how your brain and body develop together and with each other.

I sat on the carpet and watched you roll back and forth for a couple minutes this last week and marveled at how every part of you just wants to flip from your front to your back. You are so focused and don’t give up. I know you are only 12+ weeks old but I love seeing parts of your personality already forming.

Getting to the 3 month mark with a newborn is pretty great. By this time feeding you is second nature, the timing of our day is kind of figured out and everyone is getting into the general swing of things.

Your dad has started working more so we get to spend more days alone with your sister. It’s pretty fun. I get a chance to prove I can mother both of you at the same time and we all get a chance to miss each other.

One day I took both of you to your sister’s my gym class and then we shopped at trader joe’s and then we made lunch and I put you both down for naps. Sounds like pretty normal stuff but with a 2yr old and a newborn nothing is normal. Everything is an adventure.

Starting to realize if I ever want to date your dad again you need to come with. I just don’t like leaving my babies under the age of 6mos. So you went on a date with us. We returned clothes and bought new bedroom furniture AND ate at Umami Burger. I loved being out with my two boys.

Seems like you are becoming more and more intrigued with your big sister. You watch her with wonder, like she is a super hero (she is).

Sometimes I direct a question towards both of you like, “should we all go outside and play?” and Nova will answer and say “Baby brother says yes!”. You two have this telepathy thing going on. She knows what you want.

Lately when you are upset, she will tell me you are crying and then proceed to try and comfort you by tucking you in with a blanket or singing right in your face at a 110% volume.

While we are on the topic of “volume” you talk so much now. We have little conversations where you tell me about your dreams or something funny you saw sister do. Your sounds are amazing.

You love to stand and sit and want to hold your head up all by yourself. I have very independent children.

You also have much more control of your hands now and can purposely bat at toys.

You purposely find my hand now while you eat and want to hold on tight to my fingers. I hold on back.

You went to Disneyland a bunch this month and we think your favorite ride is It’s a Small World. You grinned the entire time.

You are still taking naps in your Moby but I am starting to feel like you might be nearing the end of wanting to hang out in there. Tear. Sniff sniff.

Thank you for another great month.

Holding you makes me so happy.

Kissing and nuzzling your neck never gets old.

Watching you watch me and knowing you are mine is so comforting.

It is getting really hard to remember a time before you were here.

This Mama Bear loves you more and more and more everyday. You grow and change and learn...and so do I. So glad I am not doing this life thing alone.





2 Months

You started in month one but by 6 weeks we can’t keep the smile off your face.

Is it normal for an infant to smile this much? Be this happy? It is infectious.

Holding and kissing you and seeing those little lips turn upward makes me feel so satisfied.

The day before you turned 6 weeks old you took your first plane ride with me to Salt Lake City.

You slept the entire time. In your wrap.

Your dad and sis dropped us off, I wrapped you on me on the curb at LAX and then didn’t take you out of the wrap until we had touched down in SLC. Easiest airport, plane ride with a newborn ever.

I was kind of hoping to show you off to the other passengers (I am proud)..but nope. You slept.

Your sweet Grandma, Grandpa and aunts helped watch you while I had to shoot a wedding Saturday. You slept wrapped on Aunt Anna and Aunt Kate helped you take a bottle that night while I shot the reception. You survived!

Leaving you is not my favorite. Feels kind of wrong. Strike that, not “kind of” TOTALLY wrong. Babies are meant to be with their mamas. Fact.

Leaving you to shoot the ceremony was the first time I had left you with anyone but your dad. You were wrapped on Aunt Anna and I turned to walk away from them while fighting back tears. That’s how hard it was to leave you for the first time. That’s how much I worry for your comfort and well being. There is nothing I care more about that you and and your sister being well cared for.

You have grown out of most of your newborn stuff and are wearing 0-3months proudly.

I finally took you to see Dr. Lin before we left for Utah and you weighed in at 12lbs and totlaly healthy. Can’t believe I waited almost 6 weeks for you to see a doctor. Dr. Lin wasn’t concerned at all..he said since I am a 2nd time mom and I pro and I will know when you need to see a doctor. Not sure about that “pro” label but I defintly feel more in the know than I did the first time around. Just as much intuition the first time I have just have more expeiernce now as well.

You are such a great sleeper.

But (there is always a but) you prefer to sleep with me and on me. If this happens you sleep and you sleep soundly BUT if I try to pass you to Dad or set you down you definitly don’t sleep as long or as sound.

Makes doing anything else near to impossible (hence the reason these monthly posts are so belated).

Truthfully I love the way you immediately calm in my arms.

You look at me and feel better.

If that isn’t a self esteem boost I don’t know what is!

I have been shooting more but finding time to sit at my computer to blog or email is proving to be impossible unless you are asleep wrapped on me (like you are at this very moment while I type).

I have a feeling everyone will forgive me for being a bad blogger when I have you to love up. On my death bed I will not regret holding and being with you as much as I could. Pretty sure I will not wish that I blogged more.

That being said I am so proud of myself for journaling in this way. I feel proud that I am documenting your first year this way. I want to document small glimpses of what it was like to be newly with us and how much we loved you. I want you to know your life started this way.

Still have your ear fur. This is my way of keeping track of whether you are still a newborn.

You have so many different expressions. Your smiling face looks so different than your serious one or your hungry one.

You looked a lot like your sister when you were first born but now I really think you look so different.

Your eyes are different. I like looking at you and knowing I made a baby that no one else will ever look like.

Gosh, I love you so much.

I have a bad habit of driving short distances with you in my lap. We are in the back seat while your dad drives..but still. I know it’s naughty but the whole “I’m happiest in mom’s arms” kind of gets me. Sorry laws.

Your new thing is to wait until we change your diaper to poop. You like a clean diaper before you will do the dirty work.

You have started babbling. You like to look right at us and coo and gurgle. Music to my ears.

When you need to cry you go from 0-60. No crying and then huge heartfelt cries. Tears too. So dramatic and so hard to prepare for! It's kind of like you keep it all in and then let it out in an explosion. Wonder who that sounds like.....(ps. not mom)

Your sister has been calling you her “friend” lately. Warms my heart.

This month she is experimenting with her boundaries when it comes to you.

She hugs you and kisses you and tells you she loves you non stop but then every once in a while she will back up and look at your dad and I and ask the question, “ kick baby bruda?”. I try to ignore her and say things like, “ we only hug and kiss and love him. Maybe you can rub his belly or tickle his feet...” This seems to work.

The thing is, she never wants to leave you alone. None of us do.

You are the first person she wants to say good morning to and the first person she cares about seeing if she has been gone.

I am so happy you have eachother.

I am so happy you have someone to talk about your crazy old parents with when you get older.

These past two months have had their ups and downs but my constant is my dedication and focus on my kids and husband.

Somedays I have to remind myself more than others that my #1 job is just being a wife and mother. All the other roles pale in comparison.

Banksy Bear!! You are my little love. I love you this age and know how much I am going to love all of you to come.


Lets cuddle,