Year in Review: 2017 Edition

It is easy to look back at 2017 and remember all the ways that this year was weird, hard, and chaotic. But, I started organizing my yearly photo-books (I make a 8×8 Shutterfly photo-book for every three months.  I intended to make a “yearbook” but let’s be real, I take WAY too many pictures of my children), I was reminded that there was far more joy and I am so thankful for it all.

Here is a recap of our year:



Grandma Kimmy visited and went to the Treasure Island Kite festival.  We also had a visit from Laura and Nick. We rooted the Packer into the play-offs…but there is always next year (haha).



We worked like crazy in December and January, so we took an impromptu trip to Orlando.  We stayed in an awesome suite and watched the Superbowl.  We randomly saw Jeff and Kristen since they were also in Orlando! We survived a few days without Daddy while he was at Keller Williams’ Family Reunion in Las Vegas for Valentine’s Day.  Doug got a new car: a black 4Runner.


For the big birthday month, we spent a week at the beach in Venice with Doug’s whole family.  They were all there for Camdon’s first birthday.  Doug celebrated his day at a Ray’s spring training game.  And, Donovan turned three with a Dino party.


We celebrated the wedding of Matt and Debbie in Gainesville. Andrew returned home from Bahrain.  And, we loved everything about the Easter season.



For Mother’s Day, I got an awesome garden, so we spent lots of try out in the yard.  Donovan really loved the whole process of digging and watering.  We are so thankful for that huge backyard.  We have spent so many hours playing out there!



My childhood bestie got married and I was thrilled to stand by her side!  Doug and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. Our AC died on Father’s Day and we booked a trip of a lifetime to Iceland and Sweden.


Obviously, this is the best month of year!  I celebrated my 31st birthday and we spent our annual week on Anna Maria Island.  This year we bought our own timeshare!



Right after our week at the beach, Doug told me he wanted me to come see a house. Little did we both know that we would move three weeks later. This month was sheer chaos.  Packing, prepping the new house (it needed WORK), renting our house, and moving.  I’m tired thinking about it all.  We love our new home! And, we loved seeing our dear friends, the Motleys, who visited during the chaos.  Y’all, only good friends (who see you at your most stressed) can come visit you during such a crazy season. As if there wasn’t enough change in our lives, Donovan switched to a new house, new room, new bed (Toddler bed instead of the crib) and started a new school.  Homeslice did not know what hit him.



This month is defined by one word: IRMA. Mic Drop.

OK, but really, so stressful.  We boarded up and traveled to South Carolina and stayed with my dear and very pregnant friend, Sarah.  We also ended up in the same town as my ride-or-die momma friend, Jen.  The photo above is us with the kids at a Chick-fila. Shortly after returning home, we all had the plague and were home sick for about two weeks. My baby sister, Rachel moved to Chicago.


We took a trip to Kansas to visit the Motley crew and celebrate Evey’s fourth birthday. We loved the Midwest fun at the farm. We literally finished the Whole30 days before the trip.  The 30 days of the Whole30 might have been the quietest part of our year…go figure. For Halloween, we dressed up as the Wizard of Oz. I was very proud that I was able to sew the boy’s costumes.



I took a trip to Chicago for Leah’s rescheduled (Thanks, Irma) Bachelorette. She got married the next weekend.  It was a beautiful day and I was honored to stand by her side and her Matron on Honor. Sidenote…being the MOH is a ton of work. Other sidenote…I OFFICIALLY have a BROTHER!  Grandma Kimmy came back to help and so did Ashley. Thanksgiving was a wonderful season and we started Christmas early as we prepared for our big trip. PSA: check your passports before you book your trip. If you don’t, just know that Miami does same day issuance, which I do not recommend.



Iceland and Sweden was amazing. I wish we could travel the world everyday. We loved sharing this trip with Grandma and Grandpa DeGroot.  We did not see the Norther Lights and we had very little snow (all that we saw was in this picture), but the kids had a blast and we all had so much fun.  Christmas through the eyes of your children is such a blessing and we enjoyed a beautiful and simple holiday. This year, most of our gifts didn’t fit under a tree because we did them (trip to Europe and our annual sister day). Doug also go a new car: a navy blue 4Runner.

For real estate, we helped 42 families buy or sell this year. And, together we reached our highest production ever!  That is called hustle, my friends.  And, we are forever thankful for our amazing customers, family and friends who chose us to help them.

While this year might look awesome and positive, do not let my recap lead you to believe that it was easy.  We were manic and stressed and tired and sick and crabby so much this year. Looking back, I am grateful for all that we did and everyone that we saw, but I do not recommend it. Be sensible people!  This year we will be saying ‘no’ more. We will be taking care of our family’s health (mental, spiritual, and physical) as our primary goal. We will be simplifying and staying still more often. And, I’m sure there will be adventure and fun, just maybe a little less.  And, that is A-OK with us!

WHEW!  What a year!  We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings us!

With Love,


Two Children and a Wedding

We have been to a handful of weddings since we became parents.  D’s first flight was to Alaska for Kristin and Adam’s wedding.  He was just under three months!Other than that, I don’t think either boy has attended any weddings.  We have always found a sitter so we could enjoy the event and avoid messing with our sacred sleep schedule.

Recently, we traveled to Gainesville to  celebrate the wedding of a dear family friend. We left early because, well, we have children and they do not sleep in. Ever. Somehow we missed the memo that April 1st was the official departure day of all snowbirds, so traffic was a bit heavier than we would have liked.  We made it safely and early enough for nap time.  The hotel was able to check us in early (Thank you, Jesus) and we got settled in our room.  With all of the commotion and excitement, D had no intentions of taking a snooze.  Cam took a short one.  I knew we would be in for an interested afternoon.

As with all attempts to go anywhere with children, chaos ensued and we were almost late to the wedding.  I have to give my husband a big shout-out because he held everything together and got us there in a cool and calm manner while I was freaking out.

The ceremony was outside at a beautiful farm in Alachua (how do you pronounce Alachua?) My dad was one of the groomsmen and D was very excited to see him walk down the aisle and stand up front.  So excited that he decided to yell, “Hi Grand-dad” during the vows.  He soon realized that this was getting him lots of attention so I had to literally hold my hand over his mouth the rest of the ceremony.  He could not be trusted.

Meanwhile, Cam was beginning to get antsy, so thank goodness we had puffs.  Or, so I thought.  The moment D saw the puffs, he wanted them too.  Which would have been fine if he hadn’t started whining and yelling about needing puffs that very moment.  Again, I am trying to keep my children as quiet as possible so we don’t disrupt the entire ceremony.  Eventually, a battle ensues over said puffs and they have to be put away.

From what I saw of the ceremony, it was beautiful.  Matt and Debbie looked so happy.   The farm was amazing and there was so much space for the boys to run around and there was cool tree right in the middle.  It was nice to be in an area where I knew that we could let them roam while still being able to keep an eye on them.  It was a bit warm so Doug and I traded off trailing the kids.  I probably would not have encouraged the tree climbing while in dress clothes, but I guess that’s what Dads are for.

The reception was held inside and we snagged a table on the edge.  I knew we would be up and down a lot.  D instantly found his way to the dance floor and was totally content to dance by himself.  It was pretty adorable.  I did need to step in to remind him to be gentle with the other children, but overall, he was too busy being a dancing fool.

Dinner was a delicious southern barbecue.  And, naturally, D ate only the mac-and-cheese, only when we could tear him away from the dance floor.

My family was a great help through it all.  They took the boys outside and danced with them.  They helped with dinner and were the extra eyes and hands to help us.

Bedtime is 7pm sharp.  By 7 we had just finished eating dinner and the dancing had just started.  Cam did a few rounds on the dance floor and by 7:30 he was asleep in Doug’s arms.  D, on the other hand, was full of energy and was running and dancing inside and outside.  It didn’t take too long to realize that with one already asleep, that the other would soon crash and we had a bit of a drive ahead of us to get back to the hotel.  We aren’t usually the first to leave, but by 7:45 we were out the door.

I packed pjs and had both boys ready for bed as we got on the road.  You would think they would fall right to sleep in the car.  Not.  You would think they would fall right to sleep when we got back. Nope.  Finally, around 9ish they gave in.

Overall, the boys did really well.  Even without good naps they managed to make it through the wedding without any major meltdowns.  I still think that weddings are more enjoyable when you do not have to chase after your children, especially while being dressed up.   I find that when you expect your children to behave like adults in social settings, you are usually setting unrealistic expectations.  Everything is novel and exciting to them and they have no clue what is socially acceptable.  They just know what their wants and needs are and running in a field, climbing a tree, and calling out to their loved ones are exactly what kids their age should be doing. And, that is ok!  As parents, we teach them how to behave in those settings, but we also have to be realistic about how long and how well they can handle being outside of their norm.   For us, it is always ideal to keep sleep schedules as close to regular as possible.  It just gives you a little extra assurance that they are rested, which means they should be better able to adjust to the new situations.  At least my dress was super easy to nurse in and the next morning the boys slept in!  Until 7:30 am.

Have you brought your children to a wedding?  What are your tips for traveling with children and keeping them happy at a wedding?

With Love,

From Me To You

A letter to my boys on Inauguration Day

My dear sweet boys,

Today our country has a new president.  Every four or eight years a new one takes over the leadership of our country.  This year, Donald Trump is our new president and this is the first time you have witnessed this peaceful transfer of power.  While you might not be old enough to remember all that has occurred in electing Mr. Trump, I do want you to learn a few life lessons from this historic day.

Some people are celebrating today, while others are in mourning.  Some people are excited and happy, while others are fearful and scared.  People will always have different feelings.  People will always disagree. No event will ever elicit the same response from all people.  And that is ok.  People are different.  And, that is was makes life special.  Your feelings are always ok because they are your own.  Learning to accept and respect people who feel differently than you is a hard and, sometimes, frustrating thing to do.  You must always try.  People deserve respect even when they do not show you the same.

People will always have different opinions. As you form your own opinions, know that disagreement is natural.  When you meet people with an open mind and listening ears, you will learn. When you listen with empathy and speak with respect, you will gain more understanding and you will grow.  When you hear without listening or speak in a combative nature, you will shut down the opportunity to grow and will only become more rigid in your opinion, as right or wrong as it may be. I encourage you to always seek to learn and grow and pay close attention to the credibility of those sources.

It would be simple if life was reduced to a binary.  Right or wrong and good or bad are not that simple.  As you grow, I hope that we can teach you values and morals that will guide you to follow what we believe to be true.  But, never be foolish enough to think that your view of ‘right’ is true for every person.

We hope that you learn you treat others with kindness.  In both your words and your actions.  As a Christian, you will be asked to love your neighbor, which will be a challenging task sometimes.  People will not always be nice or respectful or kind to you.  Even when you meet them with nothing but kindness.  You will be asked to love them anyway. Not only will we encourage you to love them, we will teach you to show them kindness in return.  That is called integrity and class.

Losing will be part of life.  It isn’t fun.  Sometimes it will really hurt. Disappointment is not fun.  Even when you work your hardest, you may still lose. Winning is not everything.  When you lose you are forced to look at what you did and find ways to improve.  It gives you motivation and it reminds you that winning is not always the outcome.  When you do lose, even when it makes you mad, you must be a good sport.  You must show kindness to those who beat you.  You must not blame others and you must learn from the moment and work towards the future you want.

My boys, you are privileged.  You did not chose your race or your sex or the family that you have been born into.  You will receive advantages based on these characteristics. Whether it is the way you will be treated or the opportunities that you may have or the situations that you will never have to question.  And, although you did not ask to be treated any different, you must always remember that you are.  This might make you feel bad or guilty.  Those feelings are ok.  What you must remember is that “to whom much is given, much will be required.” You do not need to feel guilty but you do need to feel compassion and empathy for others.  You should speak up for others and you should be thoughtful in your words and actions.  And, if you feel called to do more, you should work to dismantle the systems and the prejudice that exists in our society and work to create a better tomorrow.  If that work isn’t what you desire, then at the very least, do not reinforce or condone actions that hurt or marginalize others.

Finally, my sweet boys, I pray that you always find hope.  The future is what you make it.  You have control of your life through your choices and your actions.  Never let factors outside of yourself cause you to feel like you are not in control.  You are not a victim of anything.  Being a victim is a choice.  You always have a choice.  Systems and situations seems so much bigger than us.  And, they are big and complicated.  Always remember that what you focus on expands and when you dwell in the darkness it becomes harder to see the light.

Donald Trump is our president, imperfect and flawed, just like each of us.  His choices and actions may not represent the values or expectations that we have for you.  Being a leader is a hard job.  Some people are more natural in these roles than others.  Some people inspire others and encourage them through their actions and words.  Pay attention to how Mr. Trump behaves and speaks.  Make note of how he makes you and others feel.  Learn from his example.  And, remember, as the president he deserves our respect.  As a person he deserves our love.  But, as a model of who I hope you will become, he is not.  Learn from this loss.  Find hope for tomorrow. And, never allow hate to motivate your life.

We love you, sweet boys.  We pray for you to grow up to be men of character, living lives filled with purpose and love.  We pray for our leader because all leaders need guidance and support.

With Love,

From Me To You




Reflections on the First Year of Parenthood

After one year of parenthood, it is pretty hard to imagine life any other way.  In my mind, life is divided into life before Donovan and life after.  For me, motherhood has completely altered my life.  In so many wonderful ways.  It kind of blindsided me and it still hasn’t quite sunken in how much I am grown and changed.  What I do know is that the first year of being a mom has been one of the most challenging, thought-provoking, earth-shattering, emotional, and wonderful years of my life.  As I reflect on what this year has meant to me, I thought I would share my big take-aways.


Parenting is not one-size-fits-all

I read a lot of books before Donovan was born.  I wanted to know what the best practices were for parenting.  I quickly learned that there are a million ways to raise your child and plenty of philosophies to align with.  Just ask any parent what their favorite baby item is and you will get fifty different answers.  Parents have opinions about everything because some things work for some babies and some don’t.  Some brands are better to some people and what some parents see as a must-have, just isn’t important to others.

So where do you begin when you are faced with tons of well meaning, yet conflicting advice?  Well, for starters, you should listen, because you never know when you might hear something helpful.  And, of course be gracious because other parents only want to make your experience better by learning from their errors or tried and true methods.  But, don’t take it all as gospel.  You have to find what works for you.  Pure and simple.

Most importantly, remember that there isn’t really a right and wrong.  Parenting isn’t a competition to see who is the best parent and who does everything right.  We are all lucky to survive, so don’t poke fun at what works for others. This job is hard enough.  And, take all advice graciously, yet with a grain of salt.


Oh the things I said I would never do…

Just never say never.  It is the kiss of death.  Co-sleeping. Cloth diapers. Breastfeeding past one year.  I never saw any of that coming.

Our first family photo :)

Our first family photo 🙂

Your schedule does not always work for baby

This one came as possibly the largest shock.  I read a book that talked about getting your baby on a perfect sleep, feeding, and waking schedule.  I loved the idea of structure and a formal plan.  Oh, how I was wrong.  I guess all of the best laid plans go out the window when you are sleep deprived and you have  a screaming baby in your arms.

I learned that sometimes what you think will work, just doesn’t.  You have to listen to your baby and be ready to adjust.  Or else, you will be adding extra stress and unnecessary pressure to your already chaotic life.

Donovan's first Easter!

Donovan’s first Easter!

Trust your gut

Sometimes things will not feel right.  You won’t be able to put your finger on it.  It’s that feeling that just won’t quit.  Always remember that you know your baby best.  You know what normal looks like for your child and you are the best person to observe changes.  The first year is filled with subtle changes and little fevers and runny noses.  When you feel that something is wrong, always trust your gut.  And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


Being less selfish was easier than I thought

Before children, I always thought that I wasn’t ready to be a parent because I wasn’t ready to give up my freedom. Sleeping in, going out, lounging on the couch, drinking coffee and wine, daily workouts.  But, the moment we decided to get pregnant and I slowly began to cut out caffeine and alcohol, I realized that the things that I thought I would miss really didn’t compare to the new person in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I miss the sleep and I miss the ability to do whatever I want whenever I want.  But, I wouldn’t trade that freedom for the world. Nothing compares to the happiness that Donovan brings to our lives.  Slowly, some of that freedom returns as your baby gets older. And someday, I know we will look back and miss those baby days and forget all about the things that we had to give up.

First day back to work!

First day back to work!

How do they grow so fast?

Seriously.  It is absolutely amazing. And, horrifying because you realize how quickly these moments that you desperately want to cherish are simply slipping through your fingers.  And all those Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents who said that “they would grow up so quickly right before your eyes” were completely and totally right.


Why does everything freak me out?

I would not consider myself an anxious person.  But once Donovan arrived, I suddenly began in to worry about the most unlikely and improbable scenarios occurring.  I knew that these worries were unwarranted and slightly over-protective, but I just could not imagine anything happening to my little guy.  And, suddenly the world seemed like such a dangerous place.  The car ride home from the hospital sent me over the edge because I realized that everyone was texting and driving or speeding or being reckless.

I have never been a huge fan of the news, but I had to stop watching.  Everyday there are children who are abducted, killed, lost, injured, neglected and I just did not need any new ideas added to my worrying mind.  I also developed a new appreciation for my own parents.  I now understood the worry and anxiety I put them through when I didn’t call like I said I would or when I was late coming home at night.  I guess there are a lot of ways that you find a new appreciation for you parents after becoming one.


Life will never be the same

My favorite quote about parenthood is from author Elizabeth Stone.  She said, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Once Donovan arrived, life changed in a million ways for the better.  Possibly the best was the new love that Doug and I found in being his parents.  And just like all parents, we want what is best for him.  We want him to have a perfect and wonderful life and we want him to be happy.  But, we all know that life is never that simple and that we all face struggles and challenges.  We don’t want Donovan’s life to be free from hardship, because it is in those moments that he will grow and become the man we hope he will be.  But, it won’t make watching him struggle any easier. In those moments our hearts will hurt and we will want to protect him, but we know that it is just part of life.

In the meantime, we look forward to the many ways that watching Donovan grow up will bring us joy.  And, at the same time, we will be thankful for each day that we have with our little guy.  We certainly can wait to see what is to come, because we know that he will be all grown up way faster than we care to admit.


With Love,

From Me to You

Donovan: Month Four

This month was all about chaos.  Moving, starting a new job, living in a temporary rental, commuting to work, pumping, house hunting, and being away from Donovan for a full work day truly tested me in so many ways.

The Move

I had been attempting (I say “attempting” because it is hard work packing and caring for a baby!)  to pack before we left for Alaska.  I was trying to stay mindful of the fact that we would need certain things while we were looking for a house.  So there was still a lot of packing to do when we got back from Alaska and before we moved.  My parents were amazing and came up to help us with the drive.  They were my saving grace as they basically kept me from freaking out about all of the work I had left to do.  They helped me do that last bit of packing (which was really quite a lot). Their timing could not have been better since Doug ended up getting a horrible stomach bug the day before our move.  He was out of commission.  He even went to the doctor to see if there was any medicine he could take, but no such luck.  He had to wait for it to work out of his system.  Thankfully, my mom was able to watch Donovan as my Dad and I loaded the U-Haul.  Doug was able to help with some of the big stuff, but we needed him to rest up so he could drive the next day.

Getting ready to leave.

Getting ready to leave.

I worked my last day on Wednesday and we drove on Thursday.  It was a bittersweet good-bye.  I remember crying on the drive to North Carolina because it was hard leaving my family and my home.  This time, I was ready and excited for the road ahead.  There were still a few tears, but I was thankful for our adventure in North Carolina. The drive was long and we made many stops.  Between Donovan, a sick husband (who was SUCH a trooper), bathroom breaks, and meals, we made it home around 1am.  Oh and did I mention that there was a hurricane heading for the east coast?  So, yeah, we drove through a ton of rain.

Ready to hit the road!

Ready to hit the road!

Pumping on the road...I wasn't driving :)

Pumping on the road…I wasn’t driving 🙂

Back in Florida!

Back in Florida!


We were able to rent a town-home condo from a friend of a friend.  It was in this cute water-front community named Little Harbor.  In the dark of night, we unloaded EVERYTHING from the trunk into the garage. I think it was 3 am before everything was finished.  We slept so well that night. The town-home had a flight of stairs to get to the main entrance and a second flight of stairs to get to the bedrooms.  Moving in was chaos.  And figuring out where everything got packed was a nightmare.

We tried to get as settled as possible in this space, but nothing every looked organized.  This drove me nuts, since I yearn for order.  Just like everything else, I had to learn to let it go and spend my energy on what mattered most. We got super lucky living in such a nice space.  It was awesome taking walks along the water and in the nice community.  I am  not sure how people live with multiple floors with a baby.  We were constantly going up and down until we just gave up and kept half of what we needed downstairs.

Donovan and Evey met for the first time.

Donovan and Evey met for the first time.

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

The New Job

I started my new job on July 7th.  I got to enjoy the 4th and my birthday before jumping into work again.  The first few weeks were filled with training.  It was overwhelming at times, but I liked learning about all of the new aspects of my job and the academic policies.  I continued with training for a while by shadowing appointments, observing and asking questions.

I quickly learned that commuting was HORRIBLE.  Why do people do this?  The drive from Ruskin was at least 45 minutes to an hour and I didn’t leave work until 5, which meant rush hour traffic.  I HATED the two (sometimes more) hours that I wasted in car.  Time that I could have spend with my family.  Time that I could have spent doing anything else.  I longed for my 5 minute walk to work and suddenly realized that  I had it so good back then and had no idea.

The House Hunt

We knew that we needed to buy a house and move as soon as possible.  We focused in the Brandon area because we wanted be south of Tampa.  This would allow me to get to work easily while also keeping us a little but closer to family in Sarasota. House hunting is not at all like the show House Hunters.  You see lots of duds.  And you have so much to consider.  Luckily, I had the best real estate agent in town and he spent so much time looking for properties.  I feel like we looked at close to 50 homes.  To see the houses, we spent weekends and evenings visiting different properties.  It got old pretty quick.  The longer we took to find a house meant the longer we would be living in Ruskin.

We found one home that we really liked, but it needed some work.  We put in an offer and someone else did too.  We didn’t get that house and we learned what a roller coaster ride it can be to want a home and not get it.  Doug and I were both pretty realistic about the process and we tried to set our sentimental feelings aside.  We keep looking suddenly and we found a bunch of homes all at once.  Its almost like that one that didn’t work out was just the first step in finding something better.  We eventually found a house that was everything that we were looking for.  AND, it was newly renovated so we would not have to do any work.  We were so excited when we found out that our offer had been accepted!  We were so ready to move!

Chipotle is good for house hunting.

Chipotle is good for house hunting.

Panera too!

Panera too!

Offer accepted = time for Champagne!

Offer accepted = time for Champagne!

The Tears

This month was filled with so much transition and change.  It was an exciting and happy time but it was also overwhelming.  I knew that we were slightly over-zealous in choosing to cram so much in, but I also knew it had to happen.  It was like pulling off a band-aid; yes, it might hurt at first, but it would be better than dragging it out.

I cried a lot this month.  Sometimes it was just the stress of it all.  But, the biggest reason was because I felt that I was missing so much time with Donovan.  My focus had finally shifted back to work.  I had to focus on learning my job, which left me mentally drained.  I had to get up super early to drive to work and I was still waking up to do night time feedings, which left me physically exhausted too.  I rushed home every day just in time to feed him.  We would have a little bit of awake time and he would be in bed by 7:30 or 8, which left me with only two hours with my little guy.  It was heartbreaking.  I felt like I was being forced to choose between my job and my role as a mom, which surprisingly had become my most favorite role.

I was able to pump at work, which was great.  But it was also a lot of work. Three times a day and balancing a job was no simple task.  But, I was thankful that I could continue to exclusively feed Donovan with my breastmilk.  Every night when I prepared his bottles for the next day, I was always so sad that I would not be the one to feed him.

The silver lining was that my mom was able to watch Donovan most of the summer.  It was great to get text messages and pictures so I could keep up with how he was doing.  I knew that he was in great hands with his GiGi!








So much happened this month and we had so much to be thankful for.  I kept hoping that everything would settle in and get a little bit easier.

Donovan’s first swim





The Timeshare

Sloan and Donovan meet!

Sloan and Donovan meet!





















Four month photos






With Love,

From Me to You

Donovan: Month Three (part two)

We tried to prepare as best we could for our trip to Alaska.  But in the end, there is just no way to be truly prepared to travel across the country with a baby who is under three months.  I read blogs, asked friends, and made lists.  Ultimately, we just had to be flexible and keep a good sense of humor. We flew out of Charlotte to make a connecting flight in Chicago.  To our very happy surprise, Donovan was not at all phased by the plane ride.  He didn’t get fussy at all.  I had heard that nursing at take off and at the landing would help and I guess it did.  Using the cover was a hassle, so luckily, I used Doug as a human shield in case Donovan kicked it off.  I mean, come on, it gets a little toasty under there, so I could understand why he was so against the nursing cover.


I thought this onesie was appropriate since he was going to meet three of his Aunties!


On our leg from Chicago to Anchorage, we hit the jackpot.  No one was assigned to sit next to us so we had a whole row to ourselves.  Thus, Donovan got his own seat, or should I say bed?img_4441 img_4442img_4435Donovan did great on this flight, too.  Even though we prepared for take-off four times before we got in the air.  This was annoying because I would try to nurse him and then find out that we would not be taking-off.  Then I would try again to nurse him and then,  no take-off.  By the time that we did take-off, Donovan was asleep, so no nursing was necessary. The flight was long.  Luckily we had the extra space and free movies to watch.  But changing a diaper on a plane was no simple task. The view flying in was so beautiful.  I cannot even begin to explain how majestic and huge the mountains are.  And the sky and the air just seemed so crisp and clean.


We landed in Anchorage and we were exhausted.  Or at least I was because I can never sleep on planes.  It would have been night time, but Alaska is four hours behind our time-zone and it was summer, so it only got dark late at night.  We got to see some of Doug’s family and we went to buy diapers and other necessities, since we wanted to pack light for our flight.

This is what we bought for Donovan to sleep in. It was certainly an upgrade from his hotel drawer!

This is what we bought for Donovan to sleep in. It was certainly an upgrade from his hotel drawer!

On a morning walk through Anchorage.

On a morning walk through Anchorage.


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The next day we drove to Talkeetna, which is a super cute little town near Mount McKinley.  The drive was long and babies do not like long car trips.  Donovan needed breaks to eat and just get out. We arrived in Talkeetna and got to see more family once we got settled in to our cabins.



Just a random moose on the side of the road by our cabin.

Our view. You can see Mount McKinley in the distance.

Our view. You can see Mount McKinley in the distance.

The next day we enjoyed some local food in Talkeetna.  The day was beautiful and clear so we went to the river and caught a beautiful view of Mount McKinley! That night we enjoyed the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner.







The soon-to-be newlyweds and Finnley! Love the boots that Cathy made!

img_4491img_4494On the day of the wedding it rained and rained.  It was cold too.  Luckily there were tents to keep us dry.  Even though the day was soggy, the wedding was still beautiful.  Donovan slept through the whole thing.  The food was delicious and it was fun enjoying the soggy-ness together.  Kristin looked beautiful and didn’t mind that her dress got muddy.  It was such a fun wedding and we were so happy for Kristin and Adam!



Donovan’s cute outfit…which he pooped all over only moments after this picture was taken 🙂

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The next day we watched some soccer and explored more of Talkeetna.


Then we drove to Seward. The views of the water and the land were incredible!  Our cottage was across from the water and it was beautiful to wake up to each day.

img_4600img_4606img_4604img_4603One of my favorite parts of the trip was the tour through the bays in Seward. It was a five hour tour and we saw orca whales, dolphins, tons of birds, a bald eagle, and humpback whales breaching.  We also saw the most amazing icebergs.  It is hard to believe how old there are.

img_4617img_4656IMG_4706IMG_4659IMG_4660IMG_4665IMG_4672 IMG_4668img_4620img_4623IMG_4674 While we were on the ship, Maggie and Sarah were getting engaged!!  We can’t wait for their wedding 🙂 The next day we went for a hike at Exit Glacier.  It was so beautiful!

IMG_4703   IMG_4700  IMG_4698 IMG_4697 IMG_4696 And Doug and I walked about Seward. IMG_4695 IMG_4694 IMG_4693 IMG_4692 IMG_4691 IMG_4690  IMG_4688  IMG_4686 And we got to spend quality time with Doug’s family 🙂 IMG_4685 IMG_4684IMG_4682IMG_4679IMG_4678IMG_4677 Donovan turned three months in Alaska!

IMG_4723IMG_4720IMG_4728IMG_4724IMG_4714IMG_4725IMG_4730IMG_4733 After we left Seward, we stayed outside of Anchorage in a small town named Turnagain Arm.  We enjoyed one last family dinner together before departing for the lower 48.


In the end, I actually loved Alaska way more that I thought I would.  It pushed me outside of my comfort zone since I am not the outdoorsy type.  But, Alaska was so beautiful.  I was in awe of the nature around me.  It reminded me how great and beautifully made the world truly is.  I don’t often get away from the hustle of city/suburban life so, it was welcomed change of pace.  Spending such a special time with Doug’s family was wonderful and together we created so many memories.  We don’t get to all come together often and it is exciting seeing new places together.  It is was also nice just sitting together outside with a glass of wine and talking about life and all of the things that we don’t get to share on a regular basis.  And, sharing our little guy with his family was so sweet to watch and enjoy.

I also have to recognize all of the hard work and planning it took to make this trip so special.  Cathy did so much to make sure that we all were comfortable and that we had everything that we needed on the trip.  All of our lodging was beautiful and the food was delicious.  I know that she spent a lot of time making sure that everything was just right.  And she was always so thoughtful when it came to accommodating a baby.  I am so thankful for my mother-in-law 🙂

With Love,

From me to you

Donovan: Month One

Doug and I learned a lot in the first month with our little guy.

I learned how quickly three hours can pass by.

Donovan was on the newborn three hour cycle.  Eat. Poop. Sleep. Repeat.  I seriously could not believe how frequently he did these things.  The clock started when he demanded to be fed.  Nursing could talk up to an hour and that hour counted.  We would usually need to change his diaper and then we had around 30 minutes of alert time before he would be ready for a nap.  Thankfully, at night, he was always ready to go right back to sleep.

I became a baby paparazzi...Donovan made so many cute faces after eating!!

I became a baby paparazzi…Donovan made so many cute faces after eating!!

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Sleep deprivation is no joke.

I had been tired before.  I had stayed up late and had gotten up early the next day.  But I was never one to pull all-nighters.  My sleep is precious.  Having a newborn will quickly remind you that it doesn’t matter how tired you are because when your baby needs you, you must wake up.  The nights were the worst.  I saw hours of the day that I had not seen many times.  I’d say that 3 am is one of the rudest.  It is really late, but almost really early.  Doug always got up with me when Donovan needed to be fed.  We utilized the inputs and outputs rule.  I provided the food and Doug took care of the waste 🙂 He would always change Donvan’s diapers and re-swaddle him so the little guy could go back to sleep.  Doug was a master swaddler.  Donovan would wiggle out of my attempts at swaddling, but Doug was a master!

Baby burrito!

Baby burrito!

You don’t realize that you are sleep deprived until you try to formulate sentences and the words won’t come to your mind.  Words such as ‘remote control’ or ‘boppy’ would escape you and instead you just ask, “Can you pass the..thing. that. ya know. THAT!?”

Napping was great in theory.  Doug could always take a nap on a moments notice.  I, on the other hand, am not a huge napper.  But when you are so tired, you find a way.  That is if you can stop worrying about whether your child is breathing.  And inevitably, the moment that I was about to drift off, Donovan would wake up and need something.


Looking a little rough...and realizing that I wore this shirt backwards and inside out for an entire morning!

Looking a little rough…and realizing that I wore this shirt backwards and inside out for an entire morning!


You use so many diapers.

Holy shit. So much poop from such a small human. Enough said.

Being a parent is the hardest and most demanding job there is.

Hands down.  I will never scoff at a stay-at-home-parent ever again.  I thought being on-call, doing end of the year damage checks, and conduct meetings were challenging.  Nothing compares to the round the clock demands of a new baby.  I might not have been going to work each day, but I was doing work all day and night long. Doug was able to work from home and was able to run out when he needed to do things for work.  It was great having him with me to share the load and to keep me sane.

Doug and Donovan working together :)

Doug and Donovan working together 🙂

Leaving the house requires at least 30 additional minutes of preparation.

I am a stickler about being on time.  When we start to run late, I get crabby.  With a child, I had to re-evaluate what ‘on-time’ meant.  I soon learned that to be on-time, we needed at least 30 minutes of additional preparation and planning to ensure that every item necessary was located and packed prior to our departure.  Do we have enough diapers and wipes?  Where is the pacifier?  Where did his other sock go?  Did you grab the boppy?  Will you re-fill my water?  Have you seen my wallet?  Oh it is still in the diaper bag.  It is sunny out, does he need that hat?  The mental check list goes on…

Out to lunch with Mom while she was visiting for the second time!

Out to lunch with Mom while she was visiting for the second time!


Parents have secret super-powers.

You suddenly realize that you can do things in ways that you never could:

You can do anything one handed…babywearing is the best!!

Doug's favorite way to hold a football!

Doug’s favorite way to hold Donovan…like a football!




You can get things done at warp-speed in the time short time while your child is napping.img_3580

Breastfeeding…I’m pretty sure this is the ultimate super-power.

milk drunk :)

milk drunk 🙂

You can somehow discern the different types of cries that your child makes and you know exactly what they need.

Learning to wink ;)

Learning to wink 😉

And eventually, you become the only thing that will soothe your child.  Holding them is the way to silence the crying instantly.

Even Stella learned some new things with the arrival of her brother! She is such a good protector!

Even Stella learned some new things with the arrival of her brother! She is such a good protector!

Here are a few special moments from Donovan’s first month:




Future Packers fan!

Future Packers fan!

Donovan's first Easter!

Donovan’s first Easter!

GiGi leaving again :(

GiGi leaving again 😦




Even though the first month left us feeling sleep-deprived and frazzled, Doug and I cherished every moment.  By the end of the month we could not believe how much we had grown and how much our little guy had changed.  We officially understood what people meant when they said that having children makes time fly.

One month

One month

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With Love,

From me to you