Typical Saturday... except for the baby shower

January 30, 2016
Throughout most of the month of December, I left my camera out, right on top of our entertainment center where I could grab it whenever the opportunity presented itself. I really wanted to capture the spontaneous moments of our family shenanigans. Unfortunately, I wasn't very good at it since I didn't really capture much at all.

Now with baby number three on his way, I've been feeling the need to document what life was like before he came, when it was just two crazy girls running around this house, so I got my camera out and left it on the entertainment center again, this time, determined to use it. Here's what I captured on a typical Saturday morning (minus the baby shower).

^^this is a two minute tantrum. typical^^

^^movie time! sometimes mama just needs a minute.^^
**not pictured: Andrew taking the girl's sledding.

Oh the things I could capture if I were a videographer! I'd show the crazy giggles these girls come up with, the sweet way Alexa says "Thank you, Mama" and "uh-huh" when you ask her a question. I'd show you how Chelsea asks me A MILLION questions a day and try to avoid showing you the point when I just can't answer any more and ask her to stop. You'd probably see how Chelsea literally chases Alexa down to take a toy away that she wants and how I step in and make Chelsea give it back and swap a toy with her instead, and then you'd hear Alexa say "Sorry Chelsea," even though she hasn't done anything wrong.

My family is dramatic, passionate, energetic, messy, loving, forgiving, and absolutely perfect. I can't imagine it getting any better than this, but somehow (as we learned when Alexa joined the fun), it does. Can't wait for the little man to join the party, too.

And speaking of parties, the baby shower that my dear friend Ashley threw me was absolutely perfect... except that she couldn't come! Unfortunately, her kiddos needed her at home so she set everything up, then went home to be with them. She was SORELY missed, but we just made sure that we had extra fun so that she knew how much her hard work was appreciated.


I am so grateful I live someplace where I am surrounded by friends who love and care about me. One game/activity we did was everyone wrote their wishes for this baby boy and my dear friends wrote some of the sweetest and funniest things! Here are some of my favorites:

I hope that you like to sleep.
I hope you have your mom's cheer.
I hope you have your dad's athleticism.
I hope you love your big sisters. (another mom answered "pizza" haha!)
I hope you laugh when things are hard.
I hope you grow hair. (BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!)
I hope you learn to not be afraid to stand up for what's right.
I hope you aren't afraid of standing for the truth.
I hope you can become as amazing as you can.

Thanks to all you ladies who I love and appreciate SO MUCH! You are all wonderful friends and examples to me and I count myself very lucky to know you.

And thank YOU for sticking with me this month! Can't wait for the next one to start! It's gonna be a BIG one! Wish me luck, and good luck to you, too! Any big plans for anybody this month?

Susan is a birth photographer/videographer serving Mesa, Arizona and surrounding cities including Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Considering a photographer for your birth? Contact Susan for EDD availability.

Tips and advice from some of the best moms in the business!

January 22, 2016
Before Chelsea was born, I reached out to the best mothers I know (my sisters) to ask for some advice regarding various items. Now, having been a mom of a newborn for two kiddos, I've accumulated my own opinions and advice and found that they basically coincide with those of my "panel." So! here's some advice that might help you, too, whether it's your first or your third (but especially if it's your first).

Baby Monitor:
General consensus - Not necessary
If you're in a smaller place, like an apartment or just a smaller house, or the baby is in a room that's near where the everyday action takes place, it's not really necessary. Some of my sisters chose to purchase baby monitors because the baby's room was upstairs or downstairs and they were worried they wouldn't be able to hear their baby if they cried. One sister purchased a monitor so she could get to her baby quickly before he woke up the rest of the family, and one sister decided that, for the sake of her paranoid spirit, to invest in one.

Pac n' Plays:
General consensus - Yes
The pac n' plays with the bassinet are really handy so you don't have to bend over, but you can get by with just a regular one. Sisters said that the Graco brand have been good to them, but Chico has been nice, too! If you don't already have a crib, or can't afford one just yet, the pac n' play works great! I haven't had one thus far because we've always had an available crib, but I'll definitely be using one this time around for Alexa once little brother is out of the bassinet next to my bed because I don't think she's quite ready for a big girl bed.

General consensus - Yes
I think the general consensus for every mom everywhere is a "yes" but opinions on the type of stroller you should get vary vastly. It all depends on your lifestyle and needs. Jogger strollers are great for active moms (obviously) but be aware that the tires can pop (which gets old after a while). A common theme between the moms was that buying a travel system was really helpful so that you can easily transfer the car seat carrier to the stroller and not wake the baby. I've had a few questions about my stroller, though, so I'll give you some info on it.

It's called the Contours Options Elite. My exact model/design isn't available anymore, but the ones up there now are the same price and look basically the same (with a few improvements!) I bought mine off of Amazon and it has been worth. every. penny. seriously. I also got the car seat adapter to accomodate my B-Safe Britax infant car seat carrier. It was a life saver when Andrew and I only had one car and he took it to the train station (about 1.5 miles away) every day. If I ever needed to run errands, I'd unpack my stroller and we'd take a walk to get the car. Exercise + car = worth every penny! It is a little heavy, but that's because it's tandem stroller. Comes with the territory. And I love that I can turn the seats around to both look at me, look away from each other, look at each other, or both face forward. I can't say enough about this stroller!

Diaper Bag:
General consensus - Yes, but...
I mean, you've gotta bring diapers and wipes, clothes, blankets, etc. with you when you go places, but there are so many options out there. You don't really need a fancy schmancy diaper bag, but in my own personal experience, it's a lot easier to keep things organized in a bag that's made specifically with moms in mind.

It would have been awesome to get one of the super amazing Petunia Pickle Bottom bags (I wanted this one!) but convincing my hunny of the necessity of a $160 + diaper bag, was basically impossible. So I did some research and found my bag instead and I LOVE IT! It's this Skip Hop Bag and I love the look and durability, plus it's super easy to clean and has pockets for EVERYTHING. It's the best. Plus, I got a deal on Amazon for it and ended up spending $60. Worth it.
I will say, that sometimes I think it would be nice to have a diaper bag that is a backpack, just so that I can be more hands free, but it's not a necessity for me. Personal preference.

Nursing Bra:
General consensus - At first, yes
I always wear one for the first little while then transfer back to my old ones when I get better at nursing and am more regulated. Just make sure that you get a decent bra. Don't go cheap on these. I'd suggest getting a bra that clasps at the top and folds down easily. The ones that clasp at the top are easier to re-clasp with one hand. I've been happy with the sleeping bra's I've purchased from Motherhood Maternity, but have never found an everyday nursing bra that I've just loved. I've heard some pretty amazing things about the Nordstrom ones! Maybe I'll go get one of those to try out this time around...

Baby bath:
General consensus - No
Most of my sisters just used the bathtub with a hand towel and filled the tub just one or two inches. A general rule of thumb is to never fill the tub higher than the baby's belly button when they're sitting up. Of course, when they're newborns, you'll probably use the sink more than anything else.
Some of my sisters and I used bath sponges. I really liked mine because it stopped the baby from sliding around dangerously in the tub. I bought mine originally from Target, but I don't think they sell them anymore. Here's one on Amazon.

Any extra bits of advice?
"I wouldn't worry about a changing table. I have always found it easier to change a moving target on the floor. Just remember the baby will grow up with or without the cute diaper bag, carseat, expensive stroller. But, if it allows you peace of mind, makes you feel pretty or like a good mother, it is worth the expense too."
Mom of 6

"A good baby thermometer is a good idea. Honestly, the best thing to do is probably to hold off on most things, wait until the baby comes, then see what you really need. It is so easy to get caught up in thinking you need a ton of stuff before the baby gets here, but you may end up spending money on things you will never use."
Mom of 5

"Here's a non-essential extra that I love: the Bumbo. I also think a bouncy seat is really nice to have, but not essential. Oh, and I really like having a changing table. Ours has 3 big drawers and a side cabinet and it holds everything! I'd say a changing table is an expensive "extra" that would be worth getting when you can afford it later. I prefer a changing table because the baby is at waist level and they can't get away from me so they're less squirmy. Changing a diaper on the floor when you're 9 months pregnant is not fun."
Mom of 7

"I consider myself a "redneck" Mom--so, take these thoughts at your own risk. When Heidi was born, we'd only purchased a bed for ourselves a week before (I'd been sleeping on the floor before that--yes, at 8 1/2 months pregnant.). I only had cardboard boxes for ours and Heidi's dressers. Thanks to Mom for helping me sew cute things for the crib we borrowed from Scott's Grandma. After that, I pretty much decided most everything else was ephemera. Swings come in handy for some kids. If you have a cryer, I might go get one or borrow one (not before). My children never would take a pacifier because I was too yummy, apparently. Beyond that, a few good cloth diapers will come in handy for spit up messes. The rest is all a bunch of marketing hype. Decide for yourself if you'll get drawn into it."
Mom of 4

"Most things you can wait on.  When you think about it, you really only need a car seat so you can take her home from the hospital. (You'll probably want a few other things, however, to be a little bit more comfortable.) Make sure you have something to rub on you after the baby eats, if you are nursing. I think they might give you something at the hospital, but I can't remember. Anyway! It will really help. Otherwise you will get really sore." (Lansinoh Lanolin; can be found just about anywhere they sell baby items)
Mom of 3

"I thought I would need everything ( plus I kinda had that " I want to OWN everything" syndrome) but really, borrow as much as you can and try it out (I'm talking bouncers and swings, maybe even the tub if you like that idea) and then buy it when you like it!  :)."
Mom of 5

"I can't say enough good things about swaddle blankets! Super lightweight, soft, muslin cotton. At first I didn't want to buy them because they're pricey, but they very quickly became my favorite blankets! Especially if you plan on swaddling. love, love love!!!!"
Mom of 3

I hope this helped answer some of your questions! You are going to be an awesome mom, the best your kiddos will ever have, in fact. ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by today and if you're a couple weeks shy of your due date like me, I salute you and say "you are not alone!" Good luck!

^^for more photos from this beautiful mama's maternity shoot, click here^^


Susan is a birth photographer/videographer serving Chandler, Arizona and surrounding cities. Considering a photographer for your birth? Contact Susan for EDD availability.

Tutorial: Pom Pom Swaddle Blanket

January 18, 2016
Hello nesting! Why can't the rest of pregnancy be like this? I love how productive I feel, and what better time to feel productive than at the beginning of a new year? Seriously. It's the best.

I am so excited about this blanket I made for little boy arriving sometime in February! When my mother-in-law gave me a swaddle blanket for Christmas then told me that she had made it, that's when I learned that swaddle blanket fabric (cotton gauze) can be purchased from most quilt shops. I loved the one that she made for us, but you know babies... they're messy. So I needed a backup!

If you're new around here, or around any of my social media interfaces, let me just tell you, I am a sucker for Pom Poms. I don't know why, I just love them. so. much.

I bought the fabric from a local quilt shop, but you can also purchase cotton gauze from Joann's, Hancocks, or even Hobby Lobby (although the fabric at Hobby Lobby wasn't quite the same quality as at the quilt shop, not sure about the quality at Joann or Hancock).

I bought two spools of the mini pom pom trim from Hobby Lobby (can also be purchased at Joann or Hancock), and that was all I needed! It ended up costing me around $15.00.

So! The method is super easy. Ready for a tutorial?

You will need:
48" cotton gauze fabric
2 spools mini pom pom trim
white thread
corresponding blanket color thread

Step 1: Pre-wash
It is SO important that you do not skip this step! Depending on the quality of your fabric, it may shrink. a lot.

Step 2: Cut
Fold your fabric so that all four corners match up and use a plate as a guide to round the corners of your fabric.

*Note!* The more gradual your curve, the easier it will be to hem! Consider doing an even more gradual curve than pictured.

Step 4: Hem - Pin
Cotton gauze frays. You can serge around the entire blanket (if you are one of those blessed people that owns a serger), or you can fold under the edges of the blanket twice and pin down. Make the hem as teeny tiny as possible. Even smaller than 1/4" if you can manage! This is where the gradual curve of the corners will really be helpful!

Step 5: Hem - Sew
Sew the hem down right along the fold.

Step 6: Trim - To pin or not to pin?
I started out pinning the trim to the hem line in the beginning, but eventually skipped the pinning and went straight to the machine instead. It's your choice.

Step 7: Trim - stitch type
I wanted a stitch that kind of looked like a blind hem stitch (a couple of straight stitches, then a zig zag), but you could easily go for a zig zag stitch instead. Just personal preference.
Sew the trim right along the edge of the fabric on the right side of the blanket.

And you're done!

It is VERY likely that I will be making another one of these blankets. You just never know how messy babies will be. Plus, this would be SUPER cute in navy blue and white trim, don't you think? And don't get me started on how many cute, fun girl combinations you could use! I really hope some of my friends get pregnant soon so I can make more for their baby showers. 


Susan is a birth photographer and videographer serving Mesa, Arizona and surrounding cities in the East Valley including Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Considering a photographer for your birth? Contact Susan for EDD availability.


36 weeks down, 4 to go!

January 14, 2016
I've been busily preparing myself and my family for when the big day arrives! Yesterday, I made 7 freezer meals (but not a thing for my family to eat that night, haha!), pre-registered at the hospital, researched some labor positions, and sorta made out a birth plan. I've been having quite a few painless contractions recently which led to my Doc checking me out down there this morning and announcing that I am 90% effaced, which means he could still come a week after his due date. Still, it's a little exciting.

^^I don't feel huge at this point. I wonder how much more I will grow...^^

Between Braxton Hicks (what I like to call "practice contractions"), this little guy is still a mover! I feel like he is stronger than his sisters were. His kicks will sometimes keep me awake at night and he has even woken me up with one of "ultimate punches!" One night before falling asleep, he kicked out with so much force and longevity that I could actually trace out the arch in his little foot! Think we might have a soccer player in there (yes!)

Now, for some TMI. For journaling purposes, of course. At the beginning of this year, I talked to my doc about some itching down south. We discovered that I had a bacterial infection. She gave me some meds for the infection, which I took for a week. When I went back, the itching was gone, but my bacterial infection had turned into a yeast infection, so I got more meds for that. Thankfully, after this checkup today, I am clean! What. a. re. lief.

I can't believe that we only have 4 or 5 (please not 6) more weeks of just two girls! I know we all will love having baby brother here. I just have a feeling that the transition from two-three kids will be easier than one-two. At least in some ways.

For one thing, Chelsea should be used to sharing attention now, and Alexa has always had to share attention. Plus, Alexa absolutely LOVES babies! She is always asking to hold babies. I just love the way she reaches her hands up and asks "hold it? hold it?" Andrew and I have been loving the way she says "Thank you, Mommy/Daddy," and "Sorry Chelsea" recently, too. Couldn't be prouder of our sweet, polite little girl!

I don't think Alexa grasps the idea that I really do have a baby in my tummy and that I'll be bringing him home one day, but I'm pretty sure Chelsea gets it, and she's excited when we talk about it, but doesn't dwell on it all the time (like I do), mostly because she's too busy running around and around our house or drawing pictures. The other day I asked her why she was running and she said "I just like to run really really fast!" She cracks me up!

Andrew asked me the other day if I was going to be induced with this baby, like we were for Alexa. I told him no and he said "why not? It was so nice! Just go in, they put you on pitocin, and a little while later, you have a baby." I nodded my head and said "yeah. but I'm not going to be induced." Haha! He also asked me last night before we went to bed who we would ask to watch our kids when we go to the hospital. I thought for a minute and told him a couple of people that I was sure would be willing. Of course, being the prepare-er (read "tease") that he is, he asked about what we would do if they weren't available. I then listed off at least 10 additional people that I knew would be willing (thinking to myself the whole time how blessed I am to know so many marvelous people!) and that if for some reason none of them could help, I would give up and just have this baby at home because clearly the Lord doesn't want me at the hospital!

So, 36 weeks down, and 4 more to go! We're getting pretty excited for this little guy to come, but still have a lot to do in order to feel really ready. Put the car seat in the car, pack my bag, re-decorate my nursery... :)

Thanks for stopping by today and keeping up with me and my family. Hope you have a fantastic three-day weekend and I'll see you next time!

Click these links to see past weekly updates!

2016 free calendar!

January 12, 2016
If you haven't already printed off your calendars for this year or haven't found one that you just love yet, never fear! I have created one for you!

I love this calendar because it's kind of like Instagram and, although the calendars with boxes are helpful so I can write things down that need to happen during the week, it's nice to have one that I can glance at, just to see the dates.

So here's what you do: Click here to view and print all the 2016 months, choose your favorite photos, and resize them to be 1350 x 1350 pixels. Then, paste them at the top above the month and days (if you don't have your own photo editing program, pic monkey is a great, and also FREE photo editing site)! Pretty easy. Here's an example:

When you print them off at home (or at the store), print them off 5x7 and then decide how you want them displayed. I hopped on over to Walmart and purchased a small clipboard to keep them all together and display them, but they would be cute as a banner, or even just tacked on a cork board! The whole point is that you have a custom (free!) calendar with sweet photos/reminders from the past year.

Thanks for stopping by!

Family Baby Shower + T Minus one month

January 6, 2016
So I just found this post in my drafts and feel like SUCH a slacker for never sharing! It was such a fun experience that I just have to share, even if it is nearly four months late!

Back in September, I hosted a baby shower for two of my sisters (in a family with 12 kids, there's ALWAYS somebody pregnant!) I was excited to be planning a little party and had fun deciding on the theme and everything, which was harder than usual since one sister was having a boy and the other was having a girl. Anyway, amidst my planning, my mom called and said, "Why don't we just add your name on the invitation, too? It can be a baby shower for you, Brooke, and Carrie." Haha! I'm hosting and planning this shin-dig, but why not?! Kill a few birds with one stone, right?

I decided to go with flowers with pink and blue accents throughout as the theme since their gender neutral (enough), plus, I found this cute ready-made announcement online. I tried to incorporate the color blue throughout, but let's face it, I have a lot more pink at my house than blue

We had some delicious chicken salad sandwiches, cookies, Swedish fish (mmmmm!), Berry surprise chocolates (mmmmm!), assorted vegetables and fruits, and pink lemonade. It was all so yummy! My mom helped me decorate and bought the flowers from Costco on her way over to my house.

It was so good to see all of my sisters (in the Utah area) and celebrate the new babies on their way! Of course, Brooke decided to throw a wrench into the plans by having her baby early! We decided to excuse her from the festivities.

We played some really fun games, too! We had a name race (which we played twice, once for boy names and once for girl names), advice cards, and my favorite game was the Candy Bar Matching Game. I played this at another friends baby shower and thought it was so clever and fun! It's matching, but you have to match the name of a candy bar with its corresponding pregnancy/delivery/baby term. I'll give you the list of all the candy bars we used (and then some we didn't) with their corresponding terms.

Whoppers - Contractions
Whatchamacallit - Choosing baby's name
M&Ms - Twins
Symphony - Lullabies
Big Hunk - Daddy
Rocky Road - Labor
Butterfingers - Delivery Doctor
100 Grand - Hospital Bill
Mounds - Dirty Laundry
Skor - Night of conception
Milky Way - Breastfeeding
Lifesaver - Epidural
Twizzlers - Umbilical Cord
Fast Break - First date after baby
Snickers - Coos and Giggles
Ring Pop - Pacifier
Mr. Goodbar - Anesthesiologist
Good n Plenty - Precious moments
Almond Joy - Newborn snuggles
Rolos - Baby fat
Runts - Preemies
Cry Babies - Colic

If you got a match, you won the corresponding candy bar IN KING SIZE! Have to admit, I was glad when Debbie won the Symphony bar and Peanut M&Ms because she doesn't indulge in candy like I do. Thanks for sharing, Deb!

Of course we all were having a such a lovely time chatting it up that none of us thought to get a picture. Doesn't that always seem to be the way?

When everybody left, my house was so quiet (since Andrew took the girls over to his Grandma's for the afternoon) and I said, outloud to myself, "This stinks!" I shouldn't complain, really, because my family is so much closer to me than most peoples, but I sure wouldn't mind living 45 minutes closer!

I'm so glad that my sisters (and nieces!) were willing to come all the way up to my house to celebrate!

And here I am, four months later, getting ready for my little one to arrive! That nesting instinct that seemed totally nonexistent a couple of weeks ago appears to be in full swing! I'm really hopeful that since it's cropping up now, 5 or 6 weeks away from when the baby arrives, it will help the time pass, but... let's be honest. Probably not. I read something a few days ago that said the last month before a baby arrives is just karma coming back around to us for asking our parents in the car, over and over again, "are we there yet? are we there yet?" Whether you believe in karma or not, it is true that the last month of pregnancy is the hardest.

I'm not too nervous about the labor and delivery. I mean, sure, there's the regular jitters from not really knowing what's going to happen, if it will be like your other ones or whatever, but other than that, I'm good. The one thing I am a little nervous about is throwing up. Andrew was surprised when I told him this in the car (by-the-way, he said he wasn't nervous about the labor and delivery at all; you're not the one pushing a baby out of you, buddy). It's just that this time around, I want to have a pain-med-free delivery again, plus I want to go into labor naturally. With Chelsea, I went into labor naturally, but got the epidural. Alexa, I was induced and on pitocin, but didn't use any pain meds. I'm just wondering if the pitocin made a huge difference in the level of pain because a machine was controlling my contractions (basically). So, if I'm not on pitocin, will I throw up at the beginning like I did with Chelsea, or was the throwing up due to the shock of child-birth? I don't know.

I also wondered today what I'm going to tell my kids when I start going into labor and am panting and stuff (I want to stay at home as long as possible before going to the hospital). I don't want to freak my kiddos out, after all. I guess that will be a judgement call when the time comes. I'll probably just tell them that the baby is coming and I'm working really hard to help him and that makes me tired.

Still haven't decided on a name yet. We did discover a new one the other day that I like pretty well, but I'm not sure about it. It's pretty different. I dunno. We'll see. Andrew still likes Barrett, but he also likes Bronson and Ian. I'm on the fence with all three. We'll just have to wait until we see him. That's kind of what we decided works for us. How many of you decide the baby's name before they come?

Anyway, we're getting a little anxious over here, but having fun starting to really gather things together in preparation! This little guy is one lucky fella to have two big sisters so excited for him to come! Chelsea is always talking to him and giving him kisses, and Alexa just loves babies (a little too much). Having three is going to be crazy, and I'm not entirely sure we'll ever leave the house again, but I know that we'll be able to handle whatever comes.

See you next time!

2016 word of the year: smile

January 4, 2016
A couple of years ago was the first time I ever really set some year-long goals for myself, but they were kind of half-hearted. This year, I decided to really set some specific goals for myself. Most of them are spiritually geared (attend the temple with Andrew at least once a month, do my Visiting Teaching every month, read my scriptures every day, etc.) and then there are a couple pertaining to this blog along with a couple others. I'm pretty excited about the goals I have and feel like I've made a workable plan that will enable me to accomplish them.

But last year, I came up with a word for the year, which was Toddlerance. I liked having a word for the year because I felt like it was the base that I could create new goals on throughout the year. So, this year, I've chosen the word:
I'm anticipating some frazzled-ness and impatience in the near future. If adding another child this year is anything like adding Alexa in 2014... well, I'm going to need this reminder.

To me, this word means, more than anything, to not take things too seriously. For instance...

If my family appears to be the only one with kiddos misbehaving in church, I want to smile and remind myself that 1) it's probably not true and 2) if it is true, I'll just assume that everybody else out there gets it, and we'll do better next week.

Or, if we're at home and one of my kiddos is throwing a tantrum because of this or that, or has wet themselves or made some kind of mess, smile to myself, maybe sigh, and say in my brain "oh children." Maybe I'll even laugh a little bit if I get really good at it.

I'm really looking forward to this new year. I feel like I've made some totally reasonable and reachable goals for myself, which makes me feel like I can take on the world. It's good feeling.

As for the more "short-sighted" goals, I'm getting pretty excited about this baby boy to arrive! My mom-in-law gave us one of those gauze swaddle blankets for Christmas and told me that she made it. So, naturally, I asked her where I could buy some of the right fabric (quilt shops!) so I could make a backup. I worked on it today and I am LOVING IT! It's really simple, but I'm kind of a minimalist with these things anyway. Here's a little sneak peek.

^^you know I'm a sucker for pom poms!^^

... Oh alright! I simply can't resist posting another, more sneaky peek!

I'm pretty sure I'm going to make another one. You know, so I can have a couple of backups? You just never know how messy these kiddos will be!

Anyway, have any of you come up with some resolutions and/or a word for this year? What's your word?

Thanks for stopping by! See you again soon, and don't forget to smile. :)
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