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!

Raising Sister Friends

I have this deep fear of my girls being in 6th or 7th grade and learning to absolutely hate each other. I can almost hear the yelling and the slamming doors. I know this is years away, but it still weighs on me. My sisters are my best friends. I remember moving right before my freshman year of high school and rarely feeling like too much of a loner those first few months because I had my sisters. I want Nora and Ellie to have that kind of relationship to fall back on. 

I think the root of this fear comes from how natural it is to compare twins. I already find myself saying things like, “Well, Ellie has way more teeth than Nora,” and “Have you seen Nora’s hair?? Ellie is still a little baldy!” It’s automatic. Comparing these two beautiful girls is so easy.

So I’m making an effort to stop right now before they are old enough to realize what I’m doing. Ellie and Nora have their own strengths, quirks, talents, and struggles. Comparing myself to anyone has never led to a good relationship. So, I’m not going to compare my girls anymore. They don’t need me to help them form an easy, destructive habit. It’s a baby step, but a baby step in the right direction.

From here on out, if you hear me comparing them please please please stop me. I’ll be working on catching myself too. I’m considering having a jar I have to put money in each time I do. Maybe I’ll start the girls’ college funds that way.

So here’s an update on these two babes SANS comparisons: 

Nora is my snuggler, tried and true. She doesn’t love playing alone for too long. Especially if I’m somewhere nearby. She gives the best slow smiles when she sees someone she knows from across the room and it all too often makes me a little teary. Nora is a scooting champ. She can roam any room with ease and is getting quicker much to my dismay. 

Ellie LOVES to play. She can make a game out of any activity. Bouncing, sucking on a block, kicking the ground (and her sister), eating mashed carrots, you name it. She is happy to do it. She’s got 6 teeth. Her drooling game is as strong as ever and she is getting close to crawling. She’ll get up on her hands and knees and just rock back and forth. We’re SO close!

I love my little ones. Here’s to having confident middle school daughters that love each other and don’t compare too often. That’s the dream. Because really, if we could all be as confident and happy as little Nora right there, wouldn’t the world be a happier place? 

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I feeling this overwhelming need to get a lot done and it’s weighing me down. So, instead of doing the many things I’m supposed to be doing right now during the girls’ nap time, I have a a mug of hot lemon water (my new comfort drink) next to me and I’m wrapped in a blanket facing our lovely, lit-up Christmas tree. Sometimes the best thing I can do when faced with an overwhelming list is pause, rest up, and do what I want to do for a few minutes. 

I’d already started to ponder on what goals I want to set in 2019 when I realized I need to stop and appreciate all that’s happened this year. 

I started 2018 with one goal: become more like Christ. I didn’t make it specific. I didn’t outline out what I was going to do each month to accomplish this goal. I just let myself focus on Christ and survive the year of 101 life-altering changes. It’s been wonderful. 

This year, I’ve spent some quality time with the people I love. When you have a baby or two, lots of people come to visit. I’ve loved my time with my loved ones. I’m so lucky to have my mom, siblings, in-laws, cousins, friends, the list the goes on. 

This year, I survived the last three months of my twin pregnancy, brought those little girls into the world, and kept them alive for more than 8 whole months. It’s been the most rewarding, exhausting, special year of my life. 

This year, I’m on track to finish the Book of Mormon from Russell M. Nelson’s challenge to the women of the Church. I’ve felt the spirit more in the last two months than I have in a very long time. I felt direction and peace. Parenting has become less intimidating. My migraines have become more manageable. I genuinely attribute these blessings to the Book of Mormon. 

This year, I started my own little LLC doing freelance social media marketing. And somehow, I’m meeting my financial goals and enjoying most of what I’m doing. It’s a relief. Worrying over money is never a comfortable place to be. 

This year, I’ve bonded with Chad over taking care of our girls. Last night we each imitated the girl that most looks like us (Chad and Nora. Ellie and me) and nearly fell over laughing in the kitchen. There’s this entirely new part of our relationship now that we’re parents and I love it. It feels right, happy, and a little scary sometimes. 

This year, I’ve felt more love than any year before. I love Ellie and Nora in a way that causes me to stop and wonder every day how I got so lucky to have them together. Those moments happen when I’m playing the piano and they both stop playing and watch me. Those moments happen when I’m reading them cheesy little children’s books and get a little choked up. Those beautiful moments happen when Ellie actually stops wiggling long enough for me to actually feel like we’re snuggling. Those beautiful moments happen when Nora sees me and gives me one of her slow, perfect smiles from across the room. 

This year has had it’s lows. Being pregnant was far from my favorite thing in the world. Have crazy stomach pains, lots of doctor’s appointments, and then finally my gallbladder removed, wasn’t that fun. And sometimes grappling with the fact that I need to take care of my girls all day everyday makes me exhausted. But I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I love my girls. I love my husband. I love our little life in the basement of my grandparents’ home. It’s our little corner of the world and I’m grateful for it.

So here’s to pausing and seeing how far we’ve come before racing on to the next finish line. I’m sure you’ve done some incredible things this year. Find a few minutes to be grateful for 2018 before making plans for 2019. It makes for a peaceful afternoon.