Monday, June 27, 2016

Already enough

I was sitting in a Strengths Leadership-kinda talk/training thing last week when the speaker asked us to turn to our neighbor and tell them the one thing you are better at than anyone else.

Instantly I shriveled up and died a little inside. Are you kidding me? No chance could I think of something I'm better at than anyone else (I mean let's be real here, there are 7 billion'ish people in the world after all), and I didn't even want to try to come up with something. I couldn't! It felt so...wrong. Maybe even a little vain? I don't know. My partner and I both mustered up something sort of safe-and followed it up with, "but I'm not necessarily better than others..."

When the speaker got back up he talked about how yes, it's a little bit awkward to talk about what you're best at, because it feels weird to talk about yourself like that. But that we need to know our strengths, those things we are really great at, because if we don't know, how will anyone else? If we don't use our strengths, they're useless.

My brain has been reeling on these thoughts for days now.

I have always thought of myself as a confident person, in fact, I used to rock my old ways of teaching interviews. I believed I was the best person for the position. I knew I had it all, and if I didn't know everything, I would figure it out. I always landed the job.

Fast forward eight+ years and I'm not sure what's happened to me but my confidence in myself has dwindled. I've been told I can be self-deprecating and even though I do find myself using it for humor at times, I think there are aspects of it that I do mean--and gross, that's no way to live. I don't fully believe that I'm all those things I used to be back when I was that super confident career-driven girl. Even though motherhood has gained me a ton of experience and wisdom in so many ways, there are aspects of me that still feel so small and inadequate.


I'm trying to figure that out.

What I do know is that I'm learning through this process of pin-pointing who I am, the gifts that live inside me, my talents, etc--that relationships are critical. Having people who know you, who love you, who absolutely do not BS you when it comes to who you are, and the things they see and know in you that you can't always recognize, -well, it's absolutely important.

That night the speaker also said something along the lines of "We need people in our lives who give us permission to be extraordinary."  -whoa.

I need people in my life to call out my gifts, the ones I forget about or haven't seen in a while, and tell me to act on them and not be stagnant.

I want to be that for other people. To give them permission to be fully as they are when they're not completely confident in themselves, to live wild & free, extraordinary lives.


It has been a long, long time since a book has gripped me up and really tapped on so many of my feelings. Dissecting Wild and Free, by Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan with a group of women each week has definitely made it more relevant, more tangible for me. If you get the chance, read it- slowly. Underline those truths in the books that you need to read and re-read over yourself again and again.

Just let this soak into your heart and mind.

@wildandfreebook instagram


Time to do mighty things.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

More about life on-the-go (and a Beachfront Baby Sling Review)

Life with three kids is still going a heck of a ton better than I ever anticipated in a million years. Even despite having a baby who popped some teeth the past few weeks, and has been a tad bit grumpier (but still, hardly even). Things are good! Really good. I'll continue to ride this wave of "we've got this" until the next phase slams us in the face and I'm all, "yea, no--ok, no, we don't got this". Until then, three kids is awesome! Everyone should do it.

We are on-the-go a ton, though. Hattie baby has no choice but to come along for the ride, and so I've become more of a baby-wearer than I ever was in the past. 

If you follow me on the 'ole instagram you know I have a variety of carriers. I've become a massive fan of ring-slings because dude, they are SO EASY.  So when I saw that Beachfront Baby Wraps made a lightweight, breathable, mesh ring-sling that can be used in (or out!) of water I was pumped. In San Diego, I needed this in my life, stat.

I had plans to test my ring sling out in the amazing pacific ocean, you know--but San Diego is late to the summer-game. We get our blazing hot beach-weather slightly later than the East Coast (it seems), and it's been (don't throw rocks at me), more on the chilly & cloudy side. But in wearing it around town, or to the parks, etc, I've come to love it as an everyday option, and not just a pool/beach/shower sling. This sling will be LIFE when July and August come and the weather is blazing hot, as it's so light and cool.

I've now used my wrap a bunch of times for park trips, around the house, to do yardwork, and even while helping to shower the girls with a nursing baby (for real). It's super awesome. I snagged one of the convenient carry bags and it all just slips in there and can be thrown in my beach bag or diaper bag for whenever. 

I'm in the Petite Size sling, in Coral Sea. 


You can pick from a ton of colors and two different wrap styles (sling or traditional wrap). BeachFront Baby  has given me the promo code loves2016 to share with you to enjoy 10% off on their website now through 6/27. 

If you follow me on the IG I'm sure you'll see me in the pool and at beach with Hattie in this thing. It's gonna make my summer days so much easier, and that deserves all the praise hands emojis. 

Monday, March 14, 2016


We're just over five weeks in to being officially outnumbered by children, and I'm just feeling some urge to talk about it a bit. So let's just roll with it and see where this lands us.

I have to admit that besides being nauseous, feeling gross, and eating panera's baguettes, I spent a majority of my pregnancy also having thoughts like, "oh crap-what did we do?" I promise I don't mean that to sound like having a third was any type of accident, it was not. It was thought out, we tried for her, we felt incredibly grateful to get pregnant a third time. But I can't lie and act like I wasn't nervous.                   I was.

What if we really weren't cut out to do this? 

What if 3 kids truly sends me over the edge of insanity?

The truth is, you will be FINE. We all will be fine. And each day that things feel fine and somewhat easy'ish, you will celebrate. Because once you've had multiple children you know that the inevitable of really freaking hard days will come. The days that sometimes last into years (hello--the entire age of 3, can I get an amen?). You will count very little, very average-to-normal-people-things as victories. 

You made dinner? You have makeup on? The kid's hair is done? Their outfits somewhat match? You got a shower?  Girl, let me get you a big 'ole trophy.

All that to say, we are doing good-really good, actually. But, I am not naive and I do realize we are in the easy-phase-of-baby. Hattie is a piece of cake compared to my big kids. She doesn't move, or destroy the playroom, or pee herself while standing in the yard in front of all her friends. (I'll get back to that.) She sleeps often still. She goes with the flow of our busy life. There's not much a boob or sound machine can't solve these days. 

Don't get me wrong, though. Oh, there are moments of chaos. The ones where I swear there are hidden cameras somewhere because this simply cannot be real. 

Take last Thursday for example. I was being Super Woman again, and cooking a nice meal for the family so it would be ready when Declan got home from work and we could get out the door to our community group. The big girls were outside on the playset playing with their neighbor friends. Hattie was in her rock-n-play in the kitchen right near me, sleeping away. 

It all was going so smoothly. And then suddenly it wasn't.

One kid of mine came to the back door screaming hysterically, I was certain she had broken a bone or something. Nope. She stepped on a snail shell, in her bare feet. She wasn't hurt, oh no--not at all, she was just absolutely appalled and disgusted, and hopping around on one foot gasping for breath between cries for me to GET IT OFF, ALREADY. 

I run to her, leaving 3 burners going on the hot stove (giving myself about 45 seconds to handle snail situation), and noticing that Hattie is now awake and suddenly equally as pissed off. Hattie must wait.

I pick up the limping-one-footed monster and run her down the hallway to the bathroom to rinse her foot off from snail shell disaster. Her face is almost purple from crying so hard. I pat her tush and tell her to run along and play, she will survive this, I believe in her. (fist bump)

Hattie is still freaking out. Burners still going. I flip some food around so it doesn't burn, while rocking the rock-n-play with my foot, and trying to get the pacifier back in her mouth. She isn't having any of it. She is ticked.

Just as I go to pick her up, Emeline runs to the door and yells, LUCY IS PEEING LIKE A DOG. 

A series of expletives go off in my head. Fabulous.

Again, I'm so sorry Hattie! You must wait! I eye-up all my food on the stove, turning the burners down quick, and run out to the backyard to see my 3 year old standing there, fully clothed, legs spread apart, with pee dripping from her.

I see them laughing (Lucy included), as if it was some sort of show. Am I living in the twilight zone? What is even happening here? I yelled some sort of way that must have scared the crap out of the neighbor kids because I saw them slowly shrink away out of my eyesight as I grabbed Lucy and darted her into the house. I hear the baby still crying. "Sorry, Hattie". I yelled. 

I'm doing some sort of acrobatic pull-all-her-clothes off, put-her-on-the-potty, while also asking her 349038409 questions like, WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING? and YOU NEVER PEE YOUR PANTS--THIS IS NOT FUNNY, WHY DID YOU DO THIS? OMG IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING AND IS THIS MY LIFE? I wipe her up with baby wipes (another bonus of having a baby back in the house!), get her dressed in 10 seconds flat, and manage to get back to the stove without having ruined dinner, and pick up the crying, neglected infant.  I probably sent Declan a text somewhere in there to tell him how crazy his children are. 

Breathe. Everyone is somewhat taken care of now. 

That entire snail/pee/changing debacle happened in a span of 4 minutes. But in those moments it felt like an e t e r n i t y.


Life is not perfect with 3. But it's definitely not boring. 

We take the easy days peppered with random bouts of crazy (evidence above), and we roll with it. I savor the seconds the big kids are in school and I get to cuddle a little baby in peace because I know in a half a second she'll be a toddler and I'll be whining about how fast she grew. We are ooh'ing and ahh'ing over every little smile she gives us, and taking a tally of who's winning in getting the most. Emeline claims she's at 116. I'm calling her bluff on that

It's crazy, but a good kind of crazy. We're happy. It's working...and we'll be just fine. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Welcoming Hattie// her birth story

I've always taken time after each baby to write their birth story. Since our 3rd sweet baby girl made her appearance almost a week ago two full weeks ago, while things are still semi-fresh on my mind, I'm going to write it down. This was a pretty quick ordeal, as I was warned by every OB and passer by'er I saw. "Third labors don't mess around". "I hope you live close to the hospital". "Please get here FAST at the onset of contractions." 

Yea, yea, yea. Well they were right. I could probably sum up my entire l&d experience in the 4 lines of iPhone notes I made my husband write down so the timing didn't get foggy on me. But, it's not quite as fun, and I like details for my memories. So here we have it.

The story of our little California girl.

Saturday, February 6th we attended a marriage conference/seminar at church. I was just over 39 weeks pregnant and wasn't quite sure if we'd make it there or not, but alas, we did. I'm actually glad we did because I love stuff like that. Investing in my marriage is always super worth it to us. 

That afternoon we decided to start building the playset that had been delivered to the house earlier that week. It was a nice, hot, sunny day. There were 65903840938 pieces of wood that needed to be put together--but we figured, no baby, why not? I helped a little bit, did some work around the yard, but mostly sat down and ate snacks with my kids.  I took this belly picture that afternoon--I was feeling large and so very done, but still trucking along.

Our friends came over with their three kids and the dads built the swingset while the moms wrangled the chaos of 5 children. We ordered pizza, stayed up too late past the kid's bedtimes, and joked about the fact that I'd probably go into labor tonight because "haha-my house is so messy, I haven't showered or done my hair, my kids feet are black from playing outside, and we're all exhausted, etc etc".  It just seemed like the perfect storm.

At 9:30 that night Declan and I both sat on the couch exhausted, grabbed a blanket and joked about how good a "nap" would feel. You'd think we would have just gone to bed, right? Wrong. Apparently the couch seemed like the best option. From 9:30-11:30pm we got a blissful 2 hours of sleep, and little did I know how badly that little nap was needed for my night ahead. 

At 12:55am I recorded my first strong contraction. I opened up my little app on my phone and recorded it again, and again--and realized that yea, ok, they actually freaking hurt. But, they didn't seem long enough in duration to be "the real thing". The contractions were coming every 2-5 minutes but lasting maybe 30-45 seconds. I decided to get up and go do laundry. I'm not sure why, but that just made sense at the time. I'd fold a piece or two of laundry, breathe through a hard contraction, do it again. I finally realized that it's likely I'd have this baby soon (you know, a day or two), but that I should probably at least go rest in bed.

At 3am I tried to go back to sleep but I heard Declan toss/turn, so I decided that maybe it was a good time to let him know that I've been having contractions the last few hours. He jumped up and said "I'm getting in the shower now!" and I was like "NO NO NO you aren't. This is not real labor yet. Go back to sleep."  The last thing I wanted to do was ruin a whole night of sleep for him, too. 

My contractions were getting worse, fast, though.  I was annoyed with timing them so I stopped. I was just trying to get through them, and Declan could tell at this point I was definitely in pain, so he was rubbing my back and doing all the good husband things. I had texted my friend Danielle that I may need her soon to come sit with the girls, and just to be on alert.

At 3:30am I sat straight out of bed and heard/felt a POP in my insides. It was followed by some intense pain/contractions and a series of bad words that flew from my mouth (whoops?). I did not have a water-gushing experience, but I was *pretty* certain my water had just broke and ish was getting REAL. Fast and furiously and a whole 'nother level of contraction-pain, and everything just started changing. I remember staring in the mirror at this point, my hair a mess, no makeup on, in pjs with no bra, and thinking "" I stumbled around the room and grabbed a bra, different pj pants and a top and managed to get them on.

I called Danielle at 3:45am and she groggily answered the phone by saying "oh shit". It was hilarious and something I'll always remember, because we were literally just together with them hours before and had joked about this exact scenario. I was completely emotional at this point (not because of the pain, but just --emotional? I don't know...), and I was crying to her on the phone blubbering something like, "I think this is real--I am pretty sure....(cry)....(contraction)...(cry)..." She said, "Give me 15 minutes and I'll be there." 

She came in the door and I, again, started crying. She knew it was real and hurried us out the door. For some reason I was still questioning myself. I had so many weird false alarms with Lucy that I was so burned from that experience, but at the same time, I knew it was the real deal. The hospital is one exit from our house (4-5 min drive) and I remember telling Declan to drive faster. 


We got there at 4am'ish and they always make you go to triage first. They could tell immediately I was in real labor and being a 3rd time mom put them on high alert. My nurse tested and indeed my water did break (by this point I was totally aware of that--gross). I was 4cm and 90% effaced and I told the nurse, "Trust me--I dilate very, VERY fast---I need to get into a real room.

They were mostly full but managed to get a room ready for me by 5am. I got a heavenly epidural at 5:30am. When it kicked in I remember feeling so happy and sleepy and thought "YES! I WILL REST NOW!" (HAHA ON ME), and then just minutes later I said to Declan, "I can literally feel the baby's head pushing down." 

The nurse turned around and said, "Ummmm based on what you just told your husband I'm going to check you again." 

At 5:45am, I was 8cm, 100% effaced.

At this point they basically started prepping the room, called the doctor to come in, and started talking about how we'd probably have a baby by breakfast. 

Declan even started going around at this point and taking some photos with his phone so I'd have some to put in her birth book. He snapped a picture at 6:02am, when things were still very much calm (but ready) in the room. Just 2-3 minutes later they told me I was fully ready and could start pushing.

At 6:10am, with just a few pushes, I pulled this sweet little body onto my chest and Hattie Noel, our 3rd baby girl was here. 

She was my biggest baby, weighing 8lbs 2oz, 20".  I told the doctors at every appointment I expected her to be my biggest and around 8lbs, and turns out I was pretty dead on. 

We spent only 36 hours in the hospital, as I chose to be discharged a day early. Meeting her big sisters was everything I had hoped it to be. There were times I had my three girls sitting on that bed with me and my eyes filled with tears because my heart felt so full, so overwhelmed with gratitude and these blessings upon blessings. Being their momma is the ultimate gift.

Meeting Hattie from Katie Balla on Vimeo.

life is so, so sweet.

welcome to the world, littlest love.

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.