Wednesday, January 27, 2016

When it comes to your home....

I'm a big fan of comfort when it comes to my home. Light, bright and airy seems to be what makes my eyes happy. It tends to feel clean to me, and I like that. I like the more neutral kind of colors---give me all the grays, whites, light blues, and textures like baskets and burlap.

See, the thing is that I don't actually care what's trendy or 'right' when it comes to design or setting up a home, but I do care about how it makes me feel. This morning an article a friend shared popped up in my feed about trends that were SO 2015 when it came to home decorating. I read it, knowing full well some of the things that I like would be on there, and they were. At first I felt a little offended--like, dude, how dare you be judgy about people's personal spaces? But then I remembered it's just the internet and the bottom line is this: whatever brings you comfort and happiness is how you should decorate. If you have to dwell there every single day, who gives a crap what anyone else thinks?

Over the last few years I've honed in on our family style, so with each move, I open boxes, and I genuinely am happy to see 95% of the decor that comes out. I don't claim to know what I'm doing at all when it comes to decorating, I have talented friends who rock that out--but I do know how to set up a home the way that makes life comfortable and functional for us.

We tend to settle really fast when we move, mainly because we need things to feel normal and home-like and living in transition bugs us both. Two weeks in and it's feeling like the cozy space that works for us

"It's not the home I love, but the life that is lived there".


Friday, January 22, 2016

New home and a new baby (not yet, not yet...but soon).

I was about to take a nap (I know, the end of pregnancy does that to me), when I remembered I told myself all week I would save some time to write and update on this wild phase of life we're in. Since it's Friday now and I have to leave to pick up my kids from school in less than an hour, I'd say I waited until the last minute. But hey! I chose this over I'm officially crazy.

We moved! I could not be more grateful that this process is over and that truly in the knick of time God provided a place for us, better than what we had before. It was scary. I was picturing my little family living in an extended stay or something, bringing home a newborn into that chaos. Instead, we hawked a place (seriously, the rental market out here is insane), and I basically showed up to look at the house with all paperwork ready and in-hand. It worked, because we got approved in less than a day and two'ish weeks later, here we are. It needed some work. And who likes to do work to rentals? But honestly, a few coats of paint throughout the house made it livable and happy for us, so painting it was.

It's a single family home (our first!), has natural light, it's all one floor, and my kids (and dog) officially have a fenced-in area outside to play in safely. Old, shabby kitchen I can deal with. Besides, it's amazing what you can do once you get all your own stuff inside, to set up 'home' and make it yours, you know?

I am loving it already.

It's mostly finished, as far as decorating and all that goes. I'm waiting on a few odds and ends to finish up the nursery (I KNOW-there is a crib in my house!), and then I think I'll take some photos to try and document this place a little bit.

The girls transition ridiculously easy and well to new situations. Moving to a new house? Not even a big deal at all. They slept on mattresses on the ground for a few days before their bunk beds arrived, and even still, they were great. They seem to love it here and have had zero trouble adjusting. It helps that all other aspects of life stayed the same, in regards to school and such. We're still close to everything which is awesome, and a huge blessing.

37 weeks 1 day
It's crazy that we're bringing home a baby to this house so soon. I am still kind of (ok, a lot) in disbelief that this is even happening. I mean, I know I've been pregnant for, um, ever--but it still is very surreal that there will be a third little person we're in charge of really soon. I'm full term now, so whenever she chooses to make her appearance, we've got to be ready--and that's just insane to me. In a good way. Also, kind of, a scary way. I mean, I'm excited, like, way super excited to see her little face and have a newborn in my life again--but also nervous. I'm not nervous about labor or delivery or any of that, it's more so figuring out how to manage life without completely losing my sanity.

We'll figure it out, right? If not, there are meds for that I'm sure :P

I am so looking forward to seeing my girls as big (and biggest) sisters. They willingly spend time folding or hanging baby clothes, or helping in the nursery because they are just so excited. Emeline has a heart of gold, and that kid gets tears in her eyes, legit tears, every time she talks about meeting her baby sister, touching her tiny fingers and toes, and looking through teeny tiny newborn clothes. Both girls love on my bump like crazy, rubbing it, waiting for kicks and hiccups, telling her they love her and can't wait to meet her. They are old, baby-loving souls--and I hope it remains as exciting and special once she's actually here, too.

Me? Well, I'm good, mostly. I feel suuuuuper pregnant (duh). I am convinced that every pregnancy is definitely harder and harder on your body though, you know, with age. Things HURT. Sleeping hurts my hips and back and all the things. I feel like an achey old woman half the time, and I don't remember feeling it that much in this way last time. I could just be forgetting, or it could just be because I'm older? I don't know. Either way---soon there will be an outside baby to love and snuggle and hold and take photos of, and I'm really stinking excited about it, and ready to savor, savor, savor.


We are coming up on our one year San Diego move anniversary, and it's crazy. That time flew by so fast. It has been such a fun, adventurous year, and so stretching and growing for our little family; a time to just really depend on one another and grow closer. It also comes with emotions of being away from most of our support system when going through such a big life change (having a baby), and feelings of loneliness can creep in. I'm truly trying to keep my focus on how I've felt God's hand lead and guide us every step of the way here. For that, and his provision for my family, I am seriously so humbled and thankful.

Everything will fall into place.


Happy weekend...

Monday, December 28, 2015

A coast to coast Christmas

For my memory's sake...


This year, being our first Christmas away from all our family--we knew without a shadow of doubt we'd travel back to Pennsylvania for the holiday.

I knew I was cutting it a wee-bit close with how pregnant I am, but my OB ok'ed me to go, and hey! My ankles didn't even swell and I only peed 6 times on a 5 hour flight.  It could have been worse.  Bending over to retrieve things from the bags under the seats was probably the worst part-as my bend-over-abilities are limited these days. We arrived back to coldness we've not felt in a while (20's-30 degrees, maybe?), and it set Lucy off into a fit of tears. Girlfriend does NOT remember cold like that--and she doesn't like it one bit.

The crazy news is that somehow we must have brought the warmth with us. Over the next few days the temps rose up to wildly high record setting numbers, and we experienced a 70 degree Christmas Eve & Day in Pennsylvania. These things are basically unheard of.  I did not complain, and Lucy stopped crying. :)

Despite having kids fighting off fevers, sporting gnarly coughs, and feeling generally sick and blah the whole time, we managed to make the most of our short trip. We got to see and connect with our old church community our first night in, Declan and I each got time with siblings separate and together, we saw our favorite friends, we stayed with my parents, so there were lots of grandparent snuggles on that side, and more. We made cookies, gingerbread houses, had brunches, ate the pizza we'd been craving, had hoagies from WaWa (some of you get it), and even ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant (even though they're littered on every street corner in San Diego, haha!).

Overall, despite sharing our sickness with friends and family (seriously--I am so sorry....and I love you all for still hanging with us)--it was great. Most things are the same back 'home', ok, everything is the same for the most part. But it's still really fun to come back and fit right into the mix again.

I made a video montage of some of our San Diego Christmas fun (we celebrated early with the girls), and then our PA Christmas celebrating. I think it's my 4th year of making a Christmas mash-up video, and I never regret it.

We are back to San Diego now, after a flight that caused me to kiss the ground upon arrival. Seriously--I am so over these flights so turbulence-ridden, and for so long, that people are vomiting all around me. I prayed that Jesus would forgive all my sins and begged him to get home to all our other "problems"--ie: needing to find a place to live, and move, and all that--you know, in the next week or so.

So that's where we're at. Still trying to figure out a place to live...but still remaining hopeful. 'Tis the season for that after all.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Crazy town.

I just read a post about calming down, settling our hearts for the holidays, really being able to be present and relaxed, about how important advent is...allow yourself to breathe and rest this Christmas season.

It made me a little sad because I feel completely the opposite, knowing this season will go by in a blip due to circumstances beyond our control.

A day ago our landlord called and basically said they want to finish the terms of the lease on our place, as they want to move back in. Originally, our terms were one year, and then going month to month after that, which was perfect for us with a baby coming early February. We were gonna hang here until after the baby for a few months, then look for a place with a little more space and tiny yard for the kids once life was more settled down. Now, though, that's no longer an option for us, and by January 1st, or as late as January 31st we'll be living in a new home. You know, like 11 days before a baby is due (or here already for all we know?) It's...ok, ok, it's a tiny bit stressful if I'm being honest.

Trying to find a decent rental in San Diego (in the area we want to be in) is not the easiest thing. The pickings are slim, and the crowds are furious. Not to mention, we have a trip to Pennsylvania planned for the holidays, and, oh, have to pack an entire house, again, while super duper pregnant at that.

The thing is, I'm actually pretty shocked at how little I'm worried about all this. Lately I've been one of those crying-at-everything pregnant women (no, really, it's....humiliating),  and oddly enough this house situation hasn't been at the top of my crying-list.  School bullying happening with my sweet kiddo, feeling a little bit lonely, Ellen videos on facebook? Those are all taking top priority in the tears-department. Being homeless in a few weeks isn't. Weird. 

The truth is, in the end I just know in my heart that something will work out for us. I've been asked if I'm upset with my landlord (since they know I'm pregnant and all), and I'm not. This is their home, and it's their right. Honestly, this is one of those true tests of my trust in God, and his provision for our growing family. I need that from time to time to remind me of his faithfulness. I feel confident that he's got this and will somehow give me the strength to pack house, still have a restful visit with our family over the holidays, and get settled before our 3rd lady joins the family.

I keep saying that the silver lining in all this is that I was once worried that January would feel like an ETERNITY waiting for the arrival of our girl. Well, HA-HA on me, that will definitely not be the case if I'll be packing/moving/setting up house.

So many changes happening in the next few weeks/months for us. Instead of focusing on the stress of it all, I'm just grateful that we had this place to start our life here. It's been good to us.

Onto the next adventure....

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Bump Part 3 (Blanqi Goodness)

I've not spent a whole lot of time talking about this bump or pregnancy, maybe it's a third kid thing, who knows. But one thing I do know is that comfort + support are pretty much the two biggest things I've sought out when its come to maternity clothes this time around.

My body responds to pregnancy like a grandma. My back aches because when my entire core is not strong, I'm a hot mess in that department. My knees hurt. My thighs grow big and I just generally don't feel like myself. It's all OK, because I know what my body is doing is good and wonderful. But it certainly helps to have articles of clothing that are A) Easy and Functional B) Ease the ache and pains.

When I discovered the maternity supportwear at Blanqi I am pretty sure I did a little happy dance. Their stuff looked amazing, people raved about it, and I was dying to get my hands on some Belly Support Leggings. I was lucky enough to also try out the UnderBust Belly Support Tank and holy-game-changer.

Don't freak out--but you're gonna see my sports bra. I know, I know. I thought the under bust thing would be super weird and uncomfortable, but it is totally the opposite, in fact it lifts and perks the girls up in a way that's actually quite flattering (when I'm wearing a normal bra). Obviously, you wear this little gem underneath your clothing.

This sucker has a built in support band that helps my back issues significantly. I used this while we traveled the coast and walked all those miles, and I truly think it's one of the reasons I survived.  You can even use the tank to hide un-buttoned pants (if, you know, you can fit in pre-pregnancy clothes not me). The tank top grows with you, for sure, but keeps your belly looking cute and round. The moisture-wicking fabric makes it a great addition to your workout gear, along with that support to keep your back in check, it's a winning gym combo. On the backside there's even x-shaped back anchors that lift and support the extra pregnancy pounds, lessening the stress on your back.

For reference, I'm in a medium. I'll definitely be able to wear this for another 9'ish weeks and I'm not even sure how I lived without it in my other two pregnancies. It's awesome.

You can see all the details of the tank on Blanqi's website .


Aren't leggings the best thing to ever come into fashion? Seriously. They're easy and there are so many ways to wear them. Jeans both hurt and annoy me when I'm pregnant--but the Maternity Belly Support Leggings at Blanqi are like butter. The best part is, I don't feel like I'm suffocating in my tum/ribcage area. The full belly panel is soft and not at all restrictive, but yet, stays in place. The material DOES NOT ATTRACT LINT, and honestly, that's a huge pet peeve of mine, especially with black pants of any kind.

Pictures to get the idea:

Please, oh god, please know I would NEVER EVER wear them like this in public. I'm obviously trying to show you the full picture. I am totally on team cover-your-tush. The leggings are made from a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric, they have no seams, and truly feel so great on. They are not completely opaque, and there is tiny bit of sheen to them--personally, for me, I'd only wear them with a longer tunic top or under a cute dress. However, that's my normal rule for leggings anyway.

I'm in a medium with plenty of room and stretch to spare. Selfie angles are always more flattering, let's be honest. ;) 

Pairing all the things together like the pro at comfort that I am....

If you've not found the comfort of Blanqi yet, do yourself a favor and go cruise their site for a bit--or stalk their cute instagram account.

Thanks BlanqiGirls for the love. My baby belly thanks you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

An unconventional Thanksgiving

I hate regrets. One of the things Declan and I swore to each other when we moved to the other side of the country was to make sure we explored it. Kids in tow, all the madness that comes along with that, the details, the chaos, the fun---we were going to adventure the heck out of this new home.

This year we really had no Thanksgiving plans so it seemed like the perfect time to do more of that. We are headed back to Pennsylvania for Christmas, so Thanksgiving was definitely not on the table, too. We did do an early dinner on Saturday where I prepped an entire meal myself (and it didn't totally suck!) to celebrate with my sweet brother and his wife. But we had the time, the kids had off school, and so we figured we'd do a coastal drive up to San Francisco making some fun stops along the way.

When it came to planning, all it really took was one long morning of coffee & cinnamon buns at the kitchen table with Declan, a little bit of bickering, and some hotel plotting. The rest was all pretty go-with-the-flow from there. 

Our stops were: Malibu, Santa Barbara, Solvang, San Simeon (southern point of Big Sur), Big Sur, and two days in San Francisco. We had planned to go to Monterey, too--but we were just running out of time and energy. 

Instead of boring details, I'll just say this. I decided to do some choppy video footage along the way because when I mash up these videos it seems like my kids cling to them, love them, feel super connected to our trips even more. I know they're not professional, I know they're wonky, and it's ok. I like having the memories in more than just photos, because video just feels more real, even little tiny clips all hodge-podged together. 

Was our trip perfect? HA HA, no. The kids fought here and there, they were too loud in the hotels, some restaurant stops had my eyes bulging out of my head due to their behavior--but overall? It was truly an adventure, and one I'm so glad we experienced together.

Coastal California from Katie Balla on Vimeo.


Hope you had a happy, happy Thanksgiving weekend. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A privilege to love you.

Parenting young kids is a selfless thing. Nothing will remind you more of that than when you have to untangle your very pregnant self from the most comfortable of pillow situations set up justttt right about 12x in one night because, kids, man. The grunting and groaning that goes into getting in and out of that pillow shelter is something from a scene of a movie I'd never want to see.

The back pain that happens if said pillows aren't set up just right isn't worth it. So grunting and groaning it is.

Needless to say it was one of those kinds of nights last night. The kind all parents have, some of us more often than others. Not anything crazy unusual-- but bad dreams comforted by a little arm-rub and a prayer, a little bribe to get back into bed, coughs that are annoying and nagging, and a fevered kiddo crawling into your bedroom because they're just too exhausted to walk on their feet. Setting up the 'sick-bed' next to your own, checking on sick big sister multiple times, and little sister coming in for a morning cuddle sesh (which is really more like a 'kicking mom with her freezing cold feet repeatedly' sesh).

A day that wasn't meant to be spent at home solely has now turned into that, and honestly--it's ok. Plans change and that's life with children, and life with school germs.

Even in these moments just now that I snuck away to the kitchen table to drink some water and munch on some honey nut cheerios while two little dress-up Elsa's watch Frozen, I am comforted. I'm comforted in the fact that we are all doing it. We are knee-deep in kid-needs and wants, and getting up from our bed 10x a night to comfort and love our little ones if need be.

In the time it took me to write this barely-a-post blog, I have filled up two cups of water, poured cereal, poured second helpings of cereal, changed two pairs of panties (Lucy is very indecisive on her character choices these days), dressed up a tiny Elsa character, blown noses that aren't mine, paused the movie to settle an argument, and re-attached the back of the dress-up gown, again.

Life is a constant up/down, and sometimes literally--as the second you sit, you are riiiight back up again doing something else for your kid (I just cut a bowl of never ends). I may sometimes do it with a grunt or a groan, but I'm constantly reminded that the privilege of children is just that. Always, but especially in this month dedicated to gratitude, I'm going to try to keep remembering that little fact. Raising and loving these little people is a privilege. Less moaning and whining and more gratitude. More love.

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