Happy 16 Months

I was really great at recording the girls’ new skills for that first year. Every month felt like a HUGE milestone. Now here we are 4 months into their second year already! With the move and the craziness of summer, it’s been a bit of a blur. So I thought I’d slow down during the girls’ afternoon nap and write a little.

Pregnancy is beginning to feel like a distant memory and the girls are looking like BIG kids. They are 100% toddlers now. Goodbye baby stage, hello toddling little girls. It’s been so fun watching them grow. I know that we all learn to talk and walk and eat on our own, but it’s stunning to watch every single stage rollout. I have been there for their first steps, their first experiences with chocolate, raspberries, and J-Dawgs. I was there the first time Ellie babbled “Giggle giggle giggle,” over and over again. I was there when Nora first attempted to climb the stairs and stunned us all at how good she was at it. I get to be there for it all.

Being a mom is a lot of things, but I never knew one of them is simply an ever-present set of eyes. I am more of a walking history of their childhood than they will ever be. It’s a privilege to watch them grow. I love to just sit back and watch them discover new things around the room. They are learning and moving and laughing and crying at an ALARMING rate. There’s so much to take in from their new eyes.

Ellie is currently trying to play peek-a-boo by covering her mouth with her hands. Nora is slowing learning to turn her cute, little walk into a run. We started having a time-outs for touching the stove dials, biting, and pulling hair. Who knows if it’s even working. Let’s hope. Blankets, books, and toys that make sounds are all their favorites. Nora is a little pickier in the food department and LOVES her milk. Ellie is ALL about ALL the food. There’s not much she doesn’t stuff into her mouth with excited anticipation.

I love these girls. I love when they bring me books and sit on my lap for me to read to them. I love when they see an open baby gate and hurry to freedom, giggling all along the way. I love that they giggle back and forth with each other like little besties. I’m the luckiest to be their mom.

NessNyChaCha

We spent the last 5 days in Tahoe. It was blissful. Our couple besties, Chad and Brittny, came with us. If you include driving, we had 5 full days of vacationing together. We spent hours at the beach, ate delicious food, played a million games, and laughed about who-knows-what and dinosaurs all day, every day. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

1. Walking the Tahoe Shore Trail

This trail was only finished last month and is expected to eventually wrap around the entire lake someday. The views were stunning. Chatting and walking along the lake together was the highlight of the trip. I love how unfiltered we all can be around each other.

2. Burnt Cedar Beach

We spent hours in this gorgeous place. From hysterical races in the pool to reading in the sun (but mostly the shade), it was SO relaxing. I haven’t felt this relaxed in months. I am so grateful Mark and Kathleen wanted to watch the girls for us. I wasn’t aware of how much I needed a true and complete break.

3. Games, Games, and More Games

Chad and Brittny our are dream game friends. Almost every single time we are together we are gathered around a table playing games. Over the span of 5 days, we played Yahtzee 5 times, Minigolf 1 time, Monopoly Deal 8 times, 5 Minute Marvel 2 times, Ya Blew It 7 times, Cover Your Assets 6 times, Life 1 time, and Spades 2 times. I think what we learned from all of this is that I am great at Life, Chad Taylor is an extremely lucky roller, Chad Hart covers his A$$ets, and Brittny is a true real estate mogul.

4. Deep Chats

Scattered throughout our trip, we had some really good conversations together. We discussed our beliefs, our families, and defining moments. On our way home yesterday, we picked one word to describe everyone.

Chad Hart: Bold

Brittny: Sparkly

Chad Taylor: Friend

Me: Thoughtful

I feel really lucky to have had the last 5 days with my husband and our friends in one of my favorite places on earth. The trip was rejuvenating and peaceful. It was nice to step outside of reality for a bit and feel grounded again. And now as it’s time to step back into reality, I feel significantly more capable. So here’s to adventures and resets.

NESSNYCHACHA NESSNYCHACHA NESSNYCHACHA

Family Forts

Today started out as a pretty crappy day. I woke up with a pounding migraine, the ones that leave me in bed all day. We didn’t make it to church like we hoped. We ended up having to cancel plans with family too. Even though Chad was a gem and brought me medicine and food and anything else I could possibly need, I was bummed.

Around 4:30 in the afternoon, I stumbled downstairs to grab a drink and found Chad and the girls inside a fort, which was really just our biggest blanket thrown over the kitchen table and tied just so, so it wouldn’t fall down. The girls were happily crawling in and out of the fort, giggling and laughing. Chad asked me to join them and threw me a pillow so I could lay down next to him. Once inside the little family fort, Ellie would leave, grab a little bit of snack she threw on the floor earlier, and then stop and tilt her head just so. At that angle she could just make out my face under the blanket. She would giggle so hard then rush inside to come closer. Nora was pretty content inside the fort, crawling closer, poking my face, then crawling away.

At one point, both the girls had journeyed out of the fort to eat more of their left over snack on the ground under their high chairs, and it was just Chad and me. We were laying there holding hands under the kitchen table listening to the girls babble. It was one of those extra sweet moments – the ones you never want to end. The kind that cause you stop and appreciate exactly what you have.

I told Chad right then we need more fort equipment like clothespins and rope and he began designing our next bigger and better fort. I think we have a new Sunday tradition starting up and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Home

I love our new home. It’s everything we wanted. It fits our little family and feels so homey. I thought it would be great. It’s 10 times more than that. I haven’t felt more at home maybe ever.

Everything is light, filled with my favorite people, my favorite books, and my favorite pictures. It’s exactly where I belong—where we belong.

Two years ago I was driving near our new town and I had the distinct thought that we would live here someday. It was an overwhelming feeling. I looked out my car window and was a little stunned and bewildered. Herriman of all places? Really?

I couldn’t see the future then, I wasn’t even pregnant yet, and after a few months, I forgot all about it. Just this week I was driving with my girls on that same road looking out over Herriman. The song, “I See the Light” from Tangled was on and that distinct memory came back as I listened to these words:

“Now I’m here suddenly I see
Standing here it’s all so clear
I’m where I’m meant to be.”

Now I know this moment sounds oh so cheesy, especially because a Disney song is featured, but it was POWERFUL for me. I sometimes doubt big decisions after I make them. A bit of fear takes root in the back of mind, but thankfully, those roots are already gone. I’m grateful for the guidance of the Spirit and the comfort He brings. This is where we’re meant to be right now. I can feel it.

So here’s to being settled, to LOVING our home, and building a little life for ourselves way out here in the boonies.

The Taylor European Adventure

I really should be working right now, but the girls are asleep and I just want look through pictures and reminisce about our trip. We went to Europe with the whole Taylor clan (except babies). We did Paris and London with everyone and then Chad and I went to Switzerland alone in the middle of the trip. It was 8 lovely days filled with delicious food, insane amounts of walking, bundling up in coats, beanies, and gloves, lots of quality bonding time, and way too many pictures. And 2 long travel days of course.

I LOVED it. Some of the best moments were amazing and grand, but more often though, they are the perfectly ordinary moments all along the way. Here are a few of my favorite moments of the trip:

Day 1: Paris

  • Laughing with everyone in the freezing wind and rain as we climbed 700 stairs up to the second story of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Holding hands with Chad as we walked across a bridge and saw the most magical sunset.

Day 2: Paris

  • Taking an hour to walk a half a mile to enjoy the sun and the beautiful things people were selling along the Seine. We found the yummiest Eiffel Tower gummies in the most out-of-place pirate candy store.
  • Finding the best crepes near Notre Dame and Chad “accidently” eating more than his fair share of Kate’s crepe.

Day 3: Versailles

  • Biking through the gorgeous gardens of Versailles and picnicking with the most delicious farmers’ market lunch.

Day 4: Mt. Pilatus

  • Riding a gondola to the top of Mt. Pilatus. When the gondola dipped a bit, a big tour group on the gondola with us screamed and then cheered in unison when we didn’t die.
  • Chad throwing a snowball at me. I don’t know why it was so much more fun in the Alps. Minutes later I slipped on the ice and an Italian man helped Chad pick me back up while we all doubled over laughing.

Day 5: Lucerne

  • Finding a giant chocolate store with a million truffles and a chocolate fountain wall inside!
  • Eating lunch overlooking Lake Lucerne on a cute red bench and just enjoying the beauty of this darling town.

Day 6: Zurich

  • Scootering around the waterfront with Chad by my side, avoiding cobblestone like the devil.

Day 7: London

  • Making another wish in the Buckingham Palace fountain. I’m a big fan of fountain wishes.
  • Walking through SoHo and admiring all the darling shops.
  • Standing in the security line outside of the British Museum in the pouring rain with four of us huddled under one umbrella. Kate kept saying, “There is SO much happening right now!” as we all stepped on each others toes laughing.

Day 8: London

  • Eating some amazing fish and chips in the Borough Market. I could go back every single day.
  • Riding a double decker bus listening to our guides hilarious commentary and looking out at my favorite city. It was perfect.

Hooray for family trips and some lovely time with just Chad. I’m so grateful we got to go thanks to my wonderful mom watching our girls for us. Until next time beautiful Europe!

To My Girls

This year, we’ve had a lot of firsts and more lasts than I expected. You fell in love with swaddles, than it was time for you to be unswaddled. You were breast-fed, bottle-fed, and smashed-banana-all-over-the-floor fed. You grew out of more pieces of clothing than I personally own three times over. You went from cooing to blabbing to screaming “Dada” at the top of your lungs. You transitioned from kicking your legs, to rolling, crawling, and someday very soon walking.

Your dad and I sit up at night talking about you two and all the little things you’re accomplishing. To anyone else it’s a mundane conversation, but to us it’s everything. We double over laughing at the faces you make, Ellie, and we melt at the cuddles you so constantly give, Nora. Talking about you two is our favorite topic.

Last week, your dad and I had a rough day. Once dinner was over, we had started counting down til bedtime because we both desperately needed a break, but that quickly changed. We laid on the floor with you and played and played and played. Your giggles and squeals turned our day around. We stayed on the floor for over an hour watching you, Ellie, crawl away as fast as you could only to wait until Dad grabbed your little foot and dragged you back as you laughed and laughed. Nora, we threw you up into the air, over and over again as your head bobbed and your grin spread wider and wider.

Occasionally I look back on my life without you. The life I had in college, married to your dad, or working. It was fun and much more spontaneous, but I was waiting for something. I was waiting for you two. Waiting to feel your little hands climbing up my legs. Waiting to feel your tiny, quick heartbeat through your sleeper. Waiting to sing you primary songs as you fall asleep. You are exactly what I wanted in my life and I didn’t even know it yet.

I love you, sweet girls. I love you and I always will. Happy first birthday. Please don’t grow up too fast. These are those good old days we’re going to reminisce about way too soon. These are the days I always want to remember.

To My Loves

I started writing this love letter to you both months ago, but never published it because it never felt done. I’ve decided it’s good enough for now. So here is it my loves:

I got in a car accident last week. It wasn’t bad and I wasn’t hurt. It just scared me. It scared me because I want to be here being your mom for a very, very long time. But in case life doesn’t turn out that way, I want you to know some things.

Your best is good enough. I promise you it is. You’re doing beautifully. Whenever you doubt yourself, remember you are who you were meant to be.

It’s better to try and fail than to never try at all. I can clearly remember the first time I tried and failed and my failure was pointed out by someone in front of all my friends. I wanted to run and hide for a very long time. Now I am proud of that younger version of me. I stepped out of my comfort zone. And sure, it didn’t work out that day. I’m not meant to be in school musical productions, but when you face your fear of failure, you find things you were born to do.

Heavenly Father loves you. He is aware of all the things that matter most to you. Sometimes He may take a while to answer your prayers, but He ALWAYS answers them. I know He loves us because He gave us all a Savior so we can all be together forever. He is the best gift giver there is. 

Just keep going. I was born to play the piano and sing you to sleep and run the occasional half marathon and love your dad and read ALL the books and be your mom and celebrate Christmas and bake chocolate chip cookies and share my faith and travel and so many other things. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you never try. So try, try, and try some more. And when you feel like quitting, don’t. Keep going. I’m always rooting you on.

You’re dad is the ideal confidant. He patiently listens, gives well-timed advice, and asks the perfect questions to lead you to your own conclusion. He sees through all the complicated messes to the simple things that matter most. You’re the luckiest to have him. He loves you SO much little ones.

You can just be sisters, or you can be each other’s person, number one fan, partner in crime, best friend. Trust each other, don’t compare, and love. Lots and lots of love. What a gift it is to have a built-in buddy for life.

Loving you is what I do. No matter what. I love you ALWAYS.

Xoxoxo,

Mama

Just Us Four

Last weekend, we threw together a quick trip down to southern Utah just us four. While the drive down there was a struggle as the girls cried way more than we expected, everything after it went beautifully.

Ellie and Nora were the epitome of troopers. They slept great in pack-n-plays, partied in our baby carriers on hikes to see Delicate Arch and Dead Horse Point, ate yummy Mexican food side by side, and even ventured into the hotel hot tub.

There’s something incredibly precious to me about doing things just us four. It feels almost sacred. It’s those little moments—trekking across red sandstone, each carrying a baby on our backs and stopping every thirty seconds to hand them Cheerios and laughing as the new piece or two instantly calms them both—that mean everything to me. Those are the moments I never want to forget. Those are the moments I’ve been dreaming of.

I love that I’ve got my own little team. It’s us four against the world. We’re our own travel buddies, playmates, book club, and dinner dates. I’m incredibly grateful for my family of four.

Little Moments

I get caught up in countdowns to all the big events in my life: fun trips, birthdays, graduations, births, etc. I love the fun and hooplah, but today I want to stop for a little bit. With the girls’ first birthday fast approaching, I want to focus on all the precious little moments I’ve had with my cute family lately.

This week, I placed a few too many puffs on Nora’s high chair tray. Chad and I were trying to eat our own dinner and I was hoping to pacify the girls just a few more minutes. 30 seconds later, I looked over and Nora had 5 puffs about to burst from her mouth and another 5 puffs in each of her pudgy little hands. She was very happy for herself and when Chad and I cracked up she just kept looking at us with a confused expression. We laughed the rest of the evening about that.

Every time I put the girls down for a nap, my darling Ellie refuses to go down without a little extra play time. I’ll walk past what I assume is two sleeping babies fifteen minutes later and there is Ellie doing her downward dog yoga pose and laughing to herself. Ellie is amazing at entertaining herself. That girl is always throwing her own party.

We were watching a movie and had set the girls up to play in the room with us. When a big song came on, Nora started belting her little heart out. It sounded a lot more like yelling her heart out, but it was adorable. That girl can get really into it.

I started reading a journal edition of the Book of Mormon and I LOVE it. I love having so much space to write notes and ponder. I love that my highlighter ink doesn’t leak through the pages. I love focusing on how I can be a better mom this time through the book. It’s already been an amazing experience and I’m only 12 chapters in.

Chad and I randomly watched “Miss Congeniality” this week. Chad had been dizzy for 48 hours and we were both a little bummed. So we picked a funny movie we hadn’t seen in forever and cuddled up trying to forget the world. It was perfect. We caught lines we had never heard before when we used to watch this movie years and years ago. We laughed for ages at things that maybe weren’t that funny, but that night it was the perfect escape. Thanks Sandra Bullock.

Lately, I’ve been laying down in the middle of the girls’ play area and just letting them crawl all over me. It inevitably leads to Nora climbing all over me and Ellie finding something like my lips to play with. I always find myself laughing and the girls giggle along with me. It’s my favorite little play time right now.

Last weekend, I ran two miles. I haven’t done that since before I had the girls. Since before I was pregnant! It was an amazing feeling to remember what it’s like to move and not be exhausted. I’m training to run a 10k in April. No crazy half marathons are in my future just yet. Baby steps all the way.

Also, THE GIRLS CAN HOLD THEIR OWN BOTTLES NOW. Everybody clap your hands!!!

Just Say No

You know when everyone older than you keeps including those age-old sayings in conversations and you just think, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this before,” and nod along? I’m talking about sayings like, “Wow, time flies by so fast.” Then you’re graduating college already and you suddenly realize for yourself, “WOW, time really does fly by so fast.” Another one of those sayings took on a whole new meaning for me recently.

Saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to another.

Months before I started doing social media freelance work, I had applied to teach an online social media class in a rush to find some kind of side hustle income. Months and months later, I was accepted for this winter semester and thought, “Hey, how cool. Why not teach?”

This week, I found out why not. I was sitting at the counter with my laptop open to all these online teaching trainings and my planner next to me with a list of all the other important things I needed to be doing. I suddenly felt buried under everything. After a moment of sitting completely frozen staring at the screen, I quickly shut my laptop and found Chad in our room.

I told him everything and he simply asked, “Why not back out now before the semester starts?”

I froze again. I am Jenessa. I do not back out of commitments. This is a great resume builder. I can handle this, can’t I?

Then the second train of thought came streaming in. I’ve been dreading the start of this semester. I’ve left all my teaching prep work till the very end of my list everyday. When I’m playing with my girls, I’ve started to feel this weight to get to work, when all I really want to do is enjoy my time with them. The happiest version of me would choose to be less stressed. She would prioritize what really matters and this class doesn’t. I don’t care enough about teaching.

After praying about it, I reached out to HR. Within 48 hours they had already found a replacement. I felt such relief and peace.

Saying “no” to teaching was empowering because it meant I was saying “yes” to time with my husband, my girls, my freelance work, my faith, my siblings, my friends, books, health, travel. A lot of things are important to me and a lot of things are important to you too. Isn’t it wonderful we get to choose what those are for ourselves?

So, here’s to taking control, prioritizing what really matters, and saying, “No, I don’t want to,” A LOT this year.

Happy 2019 everyone!