Travel Journal • Scotland Update

It gets hard to remember to write because we are so caught up in exploring and then just wrapping my mind around everything I've just seen! It's so cool being here and touching the walls of buildings and castles and grounds of things I've only ever dreamt of, read about, or seen in movies. It's so cool.


Today we explored the isle of Skye even though we just arrived. It was late, like 8 pm and we ventured down to Elgol which was like an hour each way just to go 16 miles because the roads are so tight and little and covered with sheep! I love looking at all the sheep!


Today we drove the coasts of so many lakes! I call them Lochs because that's what they are here but Ryan calls me a camellion saying that I adapt to each area we venture to, but really I'm just trying to learn the culture an apply it.

I want others to explore the world as much as their heart desires. I know when I was in college I didn't dream of traveling as much as I did after graduation but if you have a dream, you should just do it, whatever it is!

We also went to the Harry Potter bridge—it’s actually called something else entirely but I forget the name at the moment. It was so neat! I touched it and we climbed a nearby mountain to get a better view and Ryan even found a stag horn in the field. We could envision the battling of horns that may have happened to break such a strong piece off the stag head. He’s so excited and I hope to bring it home with us to mount and display at home.


We are stopped on the side of the road in glencoe and Ryan is chatting with an Englishman. He fits right in here in GB because very one lives to chat and so does he. The guy he met today is Derek, yesterday we talked to Allister on the Harry Potter bridge land and talked to a lady named Wilma while we were in Inverness at a cafe.


These Are a Few of My Favorite Things • May 2016

While traveling through Ireland I had been writing to my sister and she asked what are some things that I particularly liked at this point in my life. This is my response:

I like...

  • my sister
  • travels
  • Ryan
  • my kitten
  • plants
  • tea
  • fruit
  • food in general
  • baby stuff
  • plus signs
  • the color gold
  • the color black
  • the color white
  • rings
  • blankets
  • pillows
  • black leather stuff
  • fish to eat or look at
  • waffles, clouds—love looking at clouds and sunsets and sunrises
  • the feeling after exercising
  • massages and foot rubs
  • good TV shows and movies
  • the feeling of winning a game
  • playing board games
  • hiking
  • mountains
  • the ocean
  • water
  • laughing really hard and goofy
  • being so happy I pace around and jump and dance and wiggle

January Pregnancy Update • The Raw Truth

January 11th, 2017


  • Dizzy
  • Lightheaded
  • Exhaustion
  • Headache (small but constant)
  • Body aches
  • Hot forehead
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pretty much never go number two
  • Heavy chest like someone's sitting on me
  • Feeling low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weird dreams when sleeping


  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Cold feet and fingers
  • Nausea (used to be constant)
  • Weight loss 6-7lbs about in 2week (started at 132-133 now I'm 126.8)
  • Coughing from shortness of breath
  • Drooling in sleep and when awake
  • Vision went dark 10-1 6pm
  • Foamy urine
  • Black/dark feces

Less than fun stuff

  • 10/12/16 Bright red blood when wiped, about 1/4 tsp.
  • Symptoms have relieved quite a bit as of yesterday pretty suddenly
  • Light cramping yesterday
  • 10/22/16 puking until blood

January 9th-11th // symptoms

  • Body aches
  • Mucus
  • Almost Fever 99.1 (took Tylenol)
  • Chest cold

January workout and body update:

  • Working out since exactly 18 weeks pregnant an average of 1hr a day everyday (few days off)
  • Eating 1300-1800 calories (plus exercise, avg. 1200 calorie body processing after workout burning remaining cals)
  • Maintaining about 148lbs (starting weight of 126lbs, over 5’9”)

Birth • Plan of Action

JFK Hospital 


Early labor:

• Home laboring: watch this helpful video

• Get car ready

• Text:

  • Dad and Marlene so they can drive down (from 5 hours away) 

• Rest

• Take probiotics

• Call my doctor at her office 


Active labor to transition:

•Start acupressure point:

• Leave to hospital

  • Contractions 3-1-2

— 3min apart-1min long- 2hours straight

  • Can't talk between contractions
  • Mood change (irritable, dislike talking)


  • Big ball
  • Peanut ball
  • Placenta cooler and (2) gallon zip locks
  • Yoga mat
  • Snacks (keifer, frozen grapes, apples, banana, dates, coconut water, green drink, protein bar, hard boiled eggs)
  • Car seat
  • Ginger
  • Oils (spray bottle)
  • Crock pot
  • Cameras and cards
  • Chargers
  • Birth plan
  • Hospital bags
  • Headphones/speaker braven
  • Essential oils and diffuser
  • Cookies for nurses


  • Rest of family
  • Joanna (the placenta encapsulator) for placenta pick up 

At hospital & Transition:

Emerson's birth should only be 1-3 hours after arrival 🙌🏻👐🏻🤞🏻

• No phone use, just be present with me

• Set up camera(s) for video/photos

• Remind nurses we will take placenta

(sign papers if needed)

• Switch nurses if we get the nurses my doctor said I wouldn’t like 

one of the perks of really getting on board with my doctor was that she grew to know me well so when I asked her if there were specific nurses at the hospital that may not match up with me as well as others she had some recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask for a different nurse if you two don’t jam well together, it’s a big important event and you want your team to be supportive and awesome.


Post delivery:

• Text & Get placenta to Joanna

• Rest in quiet with Emerson 2hrs+

• Take pictures

(Joseph take pictures of us as new family)

we did not want to hire a birth photographer because we truly wanted to keep the imtimacy of having just us as our little family there. Ryan is a professional photographer (as am I) so he could handle setting up some equipment to capture what we wanted without distracting himself from the events of the day and we chose to have Joseph and Kate (who are actually Emerson’s god-parents) come in after to take some pictures of us as a new little family.

• Tell family

• Get a lot of take home supplies

this was great to get a peri-bottle and pads etc for the less than fun after party that happens in your pants following a baby making way through the birth canal.

Ryan actually set up our toilet diaper sprayer which served as a better alternative to the peri-bottle but the super cute undies (🙅🏻‍♀️) and pads were great to have on hand.


A Solution for Arguments • Walkie-Talkie-Talk

The other day Ryan and I got in a little bit of an argument   about something that I actually can’t remember what the topic was. Regardless, during our conversation I was telling him something about how I feit as though I wasn’t being heard. 

Of our frequented topics as far as our marriage goes is communication. Sometimes I feel like we argue more about the way we argue  more than anything else. We actually don’t argue very often, we do debate concepts and theories and things of that sort, most always keeping it civil. But every once in a while we will get in a tif that we simply decide to agree to disagree.

After the recent discourse about whatever it was, we were discussing what we could do better with in our communication for the next time. My main complaint is being interrupted and not feeling understood. Ryan’s response was that I seem to pause in my speech long enough for him to think I am finished with my thought (a byproduct of thinking before I speak, I suppose) and he believes me to be finished at which point he voices his thoughts. 

In the back and forth about our differing communication Ryan said, sarcastically might I add, that we are not talking using radios so our speaking can overlap in our discussions.  

I thought this was brilliant! In the event of a discussion where one or both of us are not feeling heard, we should pick up our ham radios (pretty much just fancy walkie-talkies) and have the conversation this way.  

Not only does this make you think before you speak because you have to actively push a button to be heard, but you also must listen to the other person entirely during the exchange when they have their radio button pushed as they speak.  

Of course I can see this becoming problematic if we chose to be immature and abuse the use of the talking button, but Ryan and I shouldn’t have any issues with that if we come to terms in agreeing on how to practice communicating this way. 

Not only do I see this as a means to learn better communication in marriage but certainly to set up successful communication habits in children as well.  

I have seen other parenting blogs or posts about parents who have their children slow dance in a shared t-shirt or perform some silly ritual together in an effort to promote togetherness and teamwork desire hard feelings, but I really like the idea of a walkie-talkie-talk to fix the jam of disagreeing communication.  


Letters to Emerson • 29 Weeks

 December 9th, 2017 // Letters to Emerson



I still cry sometimes when I sing of my love to you or gaze upon your precious self resting before me, sprawled out in complete trust and surrender, you live and rest in pure freedom and joy.

When I quiet my thoughts I hear the ringing of your laughter chiming deep within me still. This brings me such sweet delight as I am reassured of the life of joy you live so well.

When I’m alone I still sing songs in my head as if to entertain you and engage with your mind. I have committed to you my full self. My body is for your benefit, nourishment, and comfort, my mind palace is for your stimulation, encouragement, and engagement, my heart swells within me for you and my attention is devoted to your every breath.

When you rest I rest in the peace of your safety, health, and comfort. When you play I become more fun and joyful than I ever have known myself before. And when you explore, experiment and adventure I, too, engage more meaningfully and purely with the world surrounding us. Things big and small become wonders to us both as we talk about and touch and tinker with the extraordinary and ordinary of our days.

I still rest my eyes upon you as you sleep and thank God over and over for you as my son. I am still utterly astonished that you are finally here, here in my life, here, more than a thought, more than a movement within me, more than a hope.

You are here and you are my son.

Belonging to God, I respect you as my equal in Christ Jesus. Holding sacred this trust bestowed within me to be fully your mother, I love you through and through my baby boy.

I love you and I choose you, xox



Emerson’s First Christmas • Gift List

Wooden train set // 

wood is great for his little chewing gums and tiny tooth piping through and this train set will help him learn about shapes, movement, control, etc. as he builds tracks, sets trains in motion, and explores the possibilities and limitations of this set. I chose the best priced set I could find that met my criteria and bought some train figures from ikea during our last visit. I love that this train set has risers so he can make bridges up to three risers tall as well as turns and straightaways. I also liked that the set I picked out came only with tracks and not the countless pieces of little trees and figures that stand next to the track. After years of babysitting I have seen so many of those less functional pieces serve only as clutter left in the box or something to get stepped on.

Hot wheels set //

this will be so cool for him and Ryan to play with for hours and hours as he grows. I know he is too young to build the course himself but with Ryan’s help I’m sure he will enjoy watching the cars zoom across he tracks before him. This is also a sentimental gift because Ryan still has his collection of hot wheels cars that he has been keeping for Emerson since we got married.

Wooden block set // for the engineering mind he has been building, simple blocks are one of the best tools for imaginative play and development of executive function. I chose natural wood blocks with various shapes so he can chew and build with them without concern as well as explore the different possibilities and dynamics of varying shapes

Named a star after him //


this is one of my two favorite gifts we got Emerson for his first Christmas. We registered a star in his name with the OSR so that he can have an even greater sense of connection with the vastness of the universe. I understand that the naming of stars is not scientifically recognized but that doesn’t diminish the delight we get from knowing that very star is registered to Emerson where we named it. I chose to register with OSR because it is internationally recognized and also has an app to view the universe wherever we are and find Emerson’s star. This was the coolest part for me because we can enjoy stargazing in many different ways—simply looking up at the sky with our naked eye, looking through our giant telescope, or viewing the sky through an app that helps us to identify exactly what it is we are looking at. With the OSR app we can see all the constellations and planets labeled as well as the exact star we have reserved for him. We bought him a star in the Pegasus constellation because on the night he was born if you were to look straight up into the sky over the hospital you would be looking up at the Pegasus constellation. I also love that Pegasus was the cute little horse creature gifted to Hercules in the Disney movie and Emerson and I will sing and dance along to Hercules and other Disney movie songs from time to time throughout the house.

I had the following inscription included in his registration card and materials:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 19:1


We love you tremendously, our son. May you always see clearly the glory of God and know the hands that crafted the great skies have intimately created you among us.

Infinitly yours,

Momma and Daddy

Star map of the night sky when he was born  //


this is my other favorite gift for Emerson on his first Christmas. This is a star map of the night sky on the date of his birth from the view of the hospital where he was born. This will last us forever and never get old to look at. I ordered from a designer on Etsy because she lets me customize the print far more than other online shops and she also provides the digital file so I can have it reprinted anytime I’d like at whatever size I please. I tried ordering through some other websites but they could not fit the verse I wanted or customize the information listed pertaining to the location name, coordinates, and star coordinates of the star named for Emerson. One of my favorite things is that I was able to list the location of the star we named for Emerson as well as list his birth place as California especially given that we are planning on moving out of California one day and having just the city doesn’t seem as ideal to me.

This was the night sky above us as Emerson was born, the night sky with us when our lives changed forever. I cherish this gift tremendously and can not wait to display it in our living room so I can ponder on it as often as I’d like.

His first pet //


we bought Emerson his very first pet that belongs fully to him for his first Christmas and I love that this holds some weight of novelty as we celebrate his first Christmas. I have not forgotten about Leroux, our Bengal kitty who very much so is Emerson’s first pet experience but as far as a pet that is all his we got him a beautiful colbolt blue beta fish. One day I do hope to get Emerson a puppy that he can raise and play with, but I think a twinkling fish bowl by the Christmas tree is a wonderful start. We named the little guy “Colby” since he is a bold colbolt blue color and he already knows us well as he swims over to our fingers and faces as we near the edge of the glass and he will even eat out of Ryan’s fingers during feeding time.

Clothes galore //

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we asked to exclude Carters brand from any gifted clothing to Emerson after having received a lot during our baby shower that either didn’t fit his body type correctly or didn’t fit our style choices for him. Emerson is tall and slender and Carters clothing seems to be tailored more for normal, chunky babies as the clothes are shorter and more square shaped. We also don’t love their return policy, you have to bring the clothes into a store and they will give you store credit at the current pricing but you must spend it all in that particular shopping trip. It simply became a hassle and increasingly difficult to find items we did like there. We ended up getting a bunch of clothes from H&M ourselves for Emerson as well as being gifted clothes from stores like Old Navy or Target. We prefer clothes that are black, wife, grey, or darker in tone. Jewel tone colors are always awesome and we aim to avoid the bright colored kiddish clothing that seem to fill many of the stores geared for children’s wear. We needed up with many awesome items and zero we want to return. Yesss.

Cool new shoes and beanies //


the shoes and beanies I bought were from H&M on Black Friday sale. I had bought a pair of genuine black leather Chelsea boots for emerson last year on Black Friday (yes, before he was even conceived) and I’m still waiting for him to grow into them. This year I bought a pair of black high top boots with a white bear face strap across the top, they look similar to a pair I found at Zara but they were easy to order with all the other items I already had in my shopping cart online at H&M so I went with this cute pair. The beanie and accessories as well as some pants I found for emerson are a sage green color, which I think is perfect for my baby boy this winter.

Public Hero costume set //


this set comes with four uniforms and accessories including that of a swat team member, a fireman, an army soldier, and an air force person. We actually loved the black and white American flag hat so much we removed it from the box before wrapping it so we could use it as a normal sun cap for him. It was so cool that Ryan said he wished he had a hat like that to match.

Toys, educationally minded //

Ryan’s dad and step mom got Emerson an activity cube with the batteries already installed (otherwise Ryan may be tempted to rob his batteries for a gadget he has that needs recharging). Emerson already loved playing with this when we were at their house for an early Christmas gift exchange and I can tell he will get entertainment from this to come.


Children’s books //

his aunts, Angela, Juliette, and Jackie, each got him a new book and wrote a sweet note on the inside cover. I thought this was so sweet and something their aunts used to do for them when they were little. I love that gifts for emerson are also gifts for me and that so many others receive joy in showering our baby boy with love, thoughtfulness, and care.



Educational books //

my mom knows we want to homeschool Emerson and when we had been going through Costco I stopped to show her the books Ryan and I had picked out for Emerson’s educational book collection. She insisted to purchase them as gifts for Emerson and I am so delighted that we get to enjoy them as a family. The books outline major fields of study including engineering, biology, molecules, elements, and reactions (chemical, physical and the like) in such an easy to understand way. Each page spread is dedicated to a specific element or invention or whatever is relevant to the book and the most pertinent information is illustrated and laid out for gaining understanding of each featured concept or thing. Ryan naturally already started reading through a few of the books before we have even wrapped a thing because he loves to put new stuff to use as soon as it’s in his hands.

Wooden workbench //

this was gifted from my dad and it means so much to me that it was. I picked out the Hearth & Hand brand by Chip and Joanna Gains (the fixer upper duo) at Target and love the soft wood finish with the  faded black accents. One of my favorite touches is the little note of encouragement from Chip pressed into the top shelf of the work bench. I love that Emerson now has a work space for wooden and manly projects he can complete with his daddy. His tools included are wooden and won’t do much for building things but one day we will buy him real tools for his builds. He is tall enough to reach the tabletop and loves to teethe on all his tools and accessories as of now but I’m certain this gift will last a very long time and bring much joy to our days spent building and playing.

My dad has gifted Ryan many tools as well, new and hand me downs. Toolboxes, wrenches, drills, etc. I don’t even know what everything is but our car is certainly heavier coming down from my dads than it is going up. It’s so special then, too, that my dad gave Emerson his first tool workbench, the place he gets to explore the world of creating, fixing, and imagining things. Thanks dad!