Alice's Birth

Alice was born. I probably read hundreds of birth stories before I was pregnant and probably hundreds more while I was pregnant. And thank you, internet people, for writing down those stories and posting them. I am grateful I was able to read such a wide variety of experiences. There were maybe only a handful that really mentioned how they *felt* whilst having that baby. There were a lot of summary feelings like "crazy experience," "overwhelming," and "unbelievable." And I thought, "okay self, be prepared to feel overwhelmed and crazy and dumbfounded." Check.

I love this photo. The Mother-Baby sign, our baby bag, Tyler's school bag that we used for our stay, and his full hands.💛

Probably the most annoying phrase I heard, but also the most true, in hindsight, was that "you'll just know when labor starts, you'll just know." Every time I heard or read that I just made a gagging noise in my head, and thought in my most sarcastic voice, "mmhhmm thank you so much that's sooo helpful."  Now I understand that you just know.

But I feel like someone also should have said PAIN, REAL PAIN means you're in labor. When the real pain started it felt like I was trying to grasp something that was speeding past me just out of my reach. I was coping, but it kind of felt like I was chasing a train alongside the tracks. You're obviously not going to catch that train unless your Wonder Woman powers suddenly engage. Which I think is what actually happens when you have a baby. Your Wonder Woman powers manifest and you push a baby out.

So after I channeled Wonder Woman, out came Alice. And everything was weird. And then I held her and I just felt confused as to why she wasn't attached to me anymore and how she was going to live without living inside me. I was dumbfounded at how she came to exist. And we just started playing parents. I'll be the mom, you be the dad, and this will be our baby. Oh the baby cries, the baby sleeps, the baby eats. Oh what a cute baby she is. What a nice family we are. And scene.

All of these photos were created by Esther Edith.  We will forever be grateful for this reminder of the day we met our little girl and everything we felt. Esther is not only a talented photographer but a warm and kindhearted friend. 

Traditions and mini traditions.

Last year I was pregnant. And it snowed A LOT. So instead of going to one of the fun farms in Greenbluff to cut down our Christmas tree I insisted we drive ONE BLOCK to the tree lot, stuff the tree in the trunk and drive it back. Like some kind of pregnant Grinch. 

But we had also found out Alice was a girl that day. Before we went to the tree lot we went to Target to get some pink ribbon to tie on the tree for little Alice. 

So we got the tree home and decorated it with the pink ribbon and twinkly lights and I felt less grinch-y and way ready for Christmas!

All this to say I've been waiting three hundred and a thousand days to drive up to Greenbluff and cut down our tree like the real Washingtonians we are.

We decided to go to Dietz to get our tree because it looked like they had the most options from the road. And online it said they had free hot chocolate so maybe that was the real reason. They had hills and hills of trees so we felt good about finding one we would like.

In the choosing of our trees over the years, I've realized my priority was 'cute.' ha. Ya I just want a cute tree.

One of Tyler's priorities is the smell of the tree. It needs to smell like forest, Christmas, pine, spruce, woods, etc. See below. Alice obviously feels that the taste of her gloves is important.


A priority we both have is that it is a full tree, tall enough for our house, and has pretty branches and minimal holes.


This really is one of my favorite things to do when the holidays come around. I love to go to the mountains (or the Rite-Aid parking lot if I'm pregnant) and find the tree that we'll put lights and ornaments on and tuck presents underneath.


While that all sounds magical, this favorite tradition encompasses lots of mini traditions.

Wandering around in the snow(rain now because WA).

Sipping i.e. spilling hot chocolate.

Taking much longer than planned because of our tree priorities(see above).

Quoting Clark Griswold all day long.

Sticky, sap fingers. And consequentially sticky, sap hair, clothes, steering wheel, etc.

Christmas song sing alongs.

And driving home with the sunset.

Those mini traditions happen to be ones we complain about a lot but maybe they'll be some of the funnest ones to remember when we're older and have other things to complain about.


Prayers and Pie. Thanksgiving 2017

Sometimes when it's my turn to say our family prayer I just start saying thank you for "ridiculous" things. It usually starts because I open my eyes while praying (gasp!) and just start expressing gratitude for the things I see. The ottoman, locks on our doors, a mattress, trees, our mailbox, shoes, silverware, socks, pens, paperclips, tiny perfume samples, receipts, this actually just makes our house sound messy.

In the process of the ridiculous thanking, I find myself actually feeling gratitude for all of those little things. Those that make our life so comfortable. The ones that make our life easier. Those are the things that make it so I can focus on the bigger things. 

I get to focus on Alice, to play with her and comfort her and show and teach her new things. I get to focus on Tyler, do laundry or dishes so that when he gets home we get to veg on the couch together.

I get to work comfortably from our home so that we can eat and keep living here. I get to cook meals, because we have food to cook. 

I am so grateful for everything I have in my life. 

We spent our Thanksgiving at the J&A Ranch this year. It was over 60º 
Wednesday we played with family, started making our pies for the great Larsen Pie Contest of 2017, and enjoyed not working or going to school. 


Thursday we played outside, did some clay bird shooting AKA clay bird shooting and missing and instead shooting the cans 40ft away.

Alice loved riding with Papa until she didn't.

Getting the squint just right.
We had an incredible meal made by Tyler's mom and sisters and to which I contributed nothing, which is probably best.

We went to the movies to see Coco and Alice made it to about the part where supposedly there was a huge twist in the movie and something crazy was revealed. We'll go back another time. Or more likely watch it on Netflix in a few months. 

Then we had our Great Pie Contest 2K17! 
Banana Cream, Raspberry Cream Surprise, Pumpkin, Pecan Pumpkin, Caramel Apple, Key Lime, Cherry Brownie
The Raspberry Cream Surprise was a definite favorite, so light, creamy and perfectly tart.
Our Caramel Apple pie--tasted delicious...the structure however, did not impress.

One of each!
Serious pie judge deliberation!
We definitely chose winners but in the end doesn't everyone win at a pie contest? I think so. 

It is tradition in Tyler's family to drive up the mountain in trucks, then snowmobiles or four wheelers and cut down Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving. We've done it, twice, maybe three times since we've been married. It's always so fun to go up together and sip hot chocolate and hike to find the perfect tree and bring them all back down the mountain to have for the season. Inevitably there are sad babies and it's cold and usually takes longer than planned, but we're still all together and that can make any detour fun, usually. We had one of the sad/tired babies this year so we didn't hike all the way in, or hike at all for that matter. And we didn't bring home our own tree because airplanes don't allow trees, as far as I know. But I think everyone else had a good time.

Alice and her Aunt Rachel. 
We forgot Alice's coat (almost her hat) and had gloves that were too big and no shoes, but two pairs of socks. #winningatparenting
Saturday we slept in a little, ate some yummy leftovers, played outside some more and took family photos. I'll post those another time, but here's a lovely test shot.
Location scouting and test shots for the family photos. Is that a model or my husband? Or both? ;)
Again, I am extremely grateful for everything in my life. 

What I Learned From My Mother

What are some things your mother taught you?

Someone asked this question to a group of women the other day and I spent the next several hours thinking about it.

At first, I couldn't think of anything. That sounds harsh, but what I mean is, I couldn't think of a "lesson" that my mom had taught me. I was trying to think of things my mother had sat me down and said "now let me teach you about..." and taught me something. And I felt like that had never happened to me, at least that I could recall.

During those next hours I played my 29 year life movie in my head thinking of things my mother has taught me. I realized that almost everything I learned, was learned by watching her. But there is one thing she taught me, that I'm not even sure she realized she was teaching me.

I learned from my mother that my body, my face, and my basic physical appearance have no correlation to my worth, and do not warrant the love I receive.

She never made comments like "maybe if you did your hair different" or "maybe if you wore a little more makeup." As a matter of fact, I do remember her not wanting me to wear makeup. I always wondered why, and now that I have Alice, I think I understand. She is beautiful just as she is and like the good new parent I am I will never let anything that is icky or gross touch her lovely untouched skin. And that lasted about a week, maybe two. But I tried, I really did. And I'll probably keep trying as long as she lets me.

Mom never made me feel like I needed to change anything in order to be liked or loved, not only by her but by anyone else. I obviously had those thoughts of my own accord once I heard others talk about me at school or saw what others did to change their appearance. But I have always known that she would love me no matter what I looked like. And I think that's why I never felt I needed to change in order to be loved.

I knew that I was lovable because I was me, and that is enough.
So to my mom, thank you for making sure I knew I was enough.