Simply Liv: August 2015


Simply Disconnect // Week 4

Well friends, we did it! Four entire weeks of intentional social media use. I can't decide if it was the quickest or longest month of my life, but one thing is certain- I learned A LOT through this challenge and I hope you all have some stories to send my way.

In case you missed it, here are the week one, two and three recaps in which I talk about some failures and some exciting successes.

As I'm bringing this challenge to a close, I want to share what I'm taking away from the whole experience and I hope you'll share the same with me. I was so encouraged by each and every one of you who joined me and I hope you enjoyed/grew from the experience. I connected with some awesome bloggers these past four weeks, built relationships, lived in the moment and failed a lot- things I think I value more now than ever.

Here are a few things I learned:

1 // It's ok to be bored. I talked about this in the first week recap, but one of the first things I realized after limiting myself in pulling out my phone was that I was bored a lot more often. But that is ok. Our minds are constantly stimulated by our incessant phone use and putting it away for even a few hours left me feeling like I needed to be "doing" something. But by the end of the challenge I learned to embrace those moments of "boredom," realizing that even just sitting doing nothing can be beneficial sometime.

2 // Social media is an amazing tool. We all already knew this, but for me, it was important for me to push myself to use it more intentionally instead of as something I check and scroll through for hours each day. I researched other bloggers in my niche, found some exciting online communities and even found a meet up in my area (which is super rare) next month that I'm SO excited about.

3 // Disconnecting doesn't have to be dramatic. Meaning that it doesn't have to take a "30 day challenge" or media fast for us to be intentional. Sometimes that is the boost we need to get started though- as it was in my case. I think it is more of a lifestyle change, a reworking of old habits slowly morphing into new, healthier ones. I'm trying to make small choices in my normal everyday life that help me move towards this goal.

4 // We shouldn't use it as a replacement. This one may seem totally obvious and lame that I even struggled with this. But I did. By the end of the challenge it was really obvious to me that I often use the online communities I'm part of and the "connectedness" I feel there as an excuse not to get out and meet people "in real life". This phase of life has been difficult for me as I don't have many people with the same interests or who I truly connect with for the first time in my life. Making friends in this phase is hard, but I'm determined to make it happen. This was a lesson that I didn't expect to learn this month, but I definitely needed to.

So, at the end of the month, with all my failures and habits glaring me right in the face, I'm beginning the new journey of implementing this into my day to day. A 30 day lesson doesn't mean anything if we don't take it beyond that period. I hope you all join me in applying whatever lessons you learned, small of big. And please please share them with me in the comments or via our hashtag!

Here are some awesome posts from other bloggers who took the challenge with me- they have some awesome insight:

-Gema from Beloved Gems talks about how it took going to Mexico for her to learn the value of setting aside specific time to use her phone.

-Adriana on how she felt like she failed.

- Emilie on her Facebook Hiatus

(If you posted on this challenge or a similar topic, send me the link and I'll add it!)


What is a Simple Life? // Five things every minimalist should cultivate

This is definitely a post I should have written a long time ago. Since it's the whole theme of my blog and all...but I just write when the words come, I suppose.

Here at Simply Liv, my goal is to inspire you to live a life that you're excited about. A life that is simple and beautiful, even in the mundane. I strive to do that through not only practical tips and challenges, but through peeks into my own life as well, where I hope I am leading by example. I want to create a community around this idea that simplicity is better.

The problem is, the culture we live in instills in us a "more" mindset from a very young age. In order to be happy, we are told (both directly and indirectly) that we need more- more money, more friends, more stuff, more letters behind our name...just more.

But we know, either through cold, hard experience or through a kind voice who taught us, that more never really satisfies us. The pressure to have more is overwhelming and all consuming and if you're immersed in that mindset for a while, it can be very hard to break. But the desire for more (except where healthy ambition and goals are concerned), often leads to a downward spiral. We get consumed by our quest for more, eventually leaving us with less than we started with.

While I haven't considered myself a "true minimalist" yet, I have way more things than I should and often catch myself longing for more- I believe there are ways we all can and should live, if simplicity is our goal. These five points are my "definition" for simplicity- it's not an exhaustive list or a textbook description, just what I have learned is important to live a life that is simple and full.
A Simple Life is: 

1// Intentional: to live a life that is simple, you must be trying to. Duh, Olivia. But really, simplicity doesn't come naturally for most of us. We have to look at our lives, our mindset and our heart to make sure we are cultivating the right attitude, and that requires a lot of intentionality. Be intentional about your relationships, what you bring into your home- everything.

2// Uncluttered: this is the "stuff" point in the list. There isn't a right or wrong answer here, friends. Like most of these points, it will vary from one person to the next. But acquiring more things shouldn't be the goal of any minimalist. That's not to say don't treat yourself, or buy nice things- but don't hoard or buy more than you need.

3// Authentic: Authenticity is one of my favorite words. I love being around people who are real. We all know them- the one's who don't put on a mask. They're genuine, whether they're having the worst day of their life or are on cloud nine. Have authentic friends and be an authentic friend. It's at the heart of simple living.

4// Content: This is along the lines of being uncluttered, though this aims more at the heart than at physical possessions. Contentment is something I have always struggled with, which is why it is so important to me. I have to be very intentional about cultivating a heart of contentment, with lots of prayer, because I tend to always want more. If I'm not happy in the now, then I'm bound to live a very sad life. I'm striving to be the best I can be where I am planted, knowing that when it is time to move on, God will lead us when and where we are meant to go. It is a hard attitude to have.

5// Creative: I believe a simple life is essentially a creative life. It isn't "by the book". It often leads you into rugged, uncharted territory, perhaps physically but more often mentally and spiritually. Whether you're an artist or don't consider yourself to be a creative type- this will apply to you. You are creating the life you live, the choices you make in this moment affect where your day, week, month will go. Let's create lives that we are proud of. Be original and don't be afraid to break the mold.

Which of these do you focus on in your life? Why is living a simple life important to you?

Have a happy new week friends!




Simply Disconnect // Week 3

Hi friends! How was everyone's week?

There's only one week left of the #simplydisconnect challenge and I (a.) can't believe how fast this month has gone and (b.) am learning so much from just reining in my social media use.

I won't go over the whole challenge here, for the sake of those of you who have been with me the whole time, but if you're just joining me (and you should! It's never too late.) you can read about the challenge here and the week one and two recaps here and here.

Last week I talked about how I had an "off" week. I wasn't on top of the challenge and honestly, not very motivated to put the boundaries on myself that I set up earlier. I gave myself grace, because we all have times when our goals seem like more of a burden, but I kept going.
This week, however, has been much better. We've rounded the halfway point and I think my habits (incessant phone checking, aimless scrolling, using SM as a distraction...) are slowly starting to break. I'm more aware of when I'm doing these things and have the self control to put the device down to focus on what's in front of me. Because that's what the challenge is really about- real life. I don't want to miss out on it. The coming of Fall, the fading of Summer, my daughter's last months as a one year old- I don't want any of it to be clouded by wasted time.

When I have used social media, it has been very intentionally. I'm working on building relationships, connecting with people and finding others who inspire me to create. I'm learning the importance of adding something of value to what others are posting, more than just a "like" - if we are to create true community, it's vital to take the time to comment and start an actual conversation. Even something as simple as "I appreciate what you've created" or "this really meant something to me" goes a (very) long way.

This week's challenge was to get outside and disconnect. And I'm happy to say I did a lot of it. While I couldn't go anywhere remote and exciting like I wish, I was able to take my girls outside several times and went running in the crisp, early morning hours. Both Evie and Mara love being outside, so it wasn't hard to get them outside. We played at the park, found sticks (Evie's favorite), swam, ran through the sprinkler.

How did you get outside this week?

For the fourth and final week- the challenge is up to you! Do something exciting, challenging and maybe a little bit scary. Get creative. And don't forget to share via the hashtag simplydisconnect.

Thank you all for joining me in this challenge! You inspire me.

Here are a few of the photos from the challenge that I'm loving so far. Thanks for sharing ladies!


Five Ways to De-Stress (that actually work)

This morning has been a rough one so far. It's not even 9 am and I already want a nap. It's one of those mornings where I've been spit up on one too many times to be cute and have snapped "no", "stop",  and "don't" at my toddler more times than I'd like to admit. AJ has been working extra long days this weekend (he works Saturday-Monday...) and the days are long at home by myself with the babies. I have a to-do list as long as my kitchen table and I'll be lucky to cross one thing off it today. And we are out of coffee. Anyone else feeling the "monday-ness" of today?

It's a new week which means new to-do lists (or maybe the same list you've been procrastinating/working on for weeks), new goals and more often than not, new stresses.

As moms, bloggers, students...whatever we are, we usually tend to have way too much on our plates. It's easy to get overwhelmed as the list grows and our motivation shrinks. In our efforts to live simply, it's important to set aside time to unwind, even in the smallest ways. So today, I thought I would share a few of the ways I've learned to take a step back and de-stress when the to-do lists overwhelm me. Because I need them today too.

1 // Take a Break. When I'm in the middle of a project that overwhelms me- mountains of dishes, a daunting article for work- stepping back to focus my energy somewhere else helps re-inspire me to get back to work with fresh eyes. Except when the problem is dishes. I've never felt inspired to tackle that project.

2 // Write it Down. Not everyone is a list maker, but man oh man, I definitely am. Making a physical list of things I need to get done not only helps simplify my day in my mind, but it motivates me to work. Is there anything more satisfying than crossing off your to-do list? Maybe, like, two things...but list-crossing-off is definitely top three.

3 // Do Something Active. Take a walk, do a few yoga poses, go run a marathon- whatever you're into and whatever helps clear your mind for a little while. Physical activity literally refreshes your body, giving you an awesome chance to jump back into what was stressing you out before.

4 // Talk it Out. Usually when I'm stressed out it's because I've spent too much time over-thinking one thing, blowing it way out of proportion. Can I get an "amen", fellow over-thinkers? Talking with someone who can help reason with me and bring calm in to the situation inspires me to keep working with fresh eyes.

5 // Get Rested. Our crazy, hectic schedules mean less rest, and less rest means more stress. See the vicious cycle we trap ourselves in? Something as simple as a nap or a bath or just sitting down to have a quiet time...whatever relaxes your soul...will refresh you. I promise.
I'll leave you with this quote from George MacDonald, because rest truly is sacred. If you're stressed about anything on this Monday morning, and most of us probably are, take a few minutes and try one of these tips. Rest. Take a quick break so that you can pour your full self into your work.

What are you stressing about this morning? Do you have a favorite way to relax and refresh? Tell me about it!


Simply Disconnect // Week 2

Happy (almost) Weekend, everyone! Today I'm going to share my week two recap of the #simplydisconnect 30 day social media challenge. If you're just joining me, you can see the first week's recap here.

It's a challenge where we focus on intentionality with our social media use- steering away from aimless scrolling and other ways we waste time and instead try to use it for the purpose it was made for, to enhance and create relationships.

But, in the spirit of authenticity and hoping that this will make me seem more "real", I need to be honest for a second. I failed a lot this week. Sometimes I flat out forgot and caught myself scrolling Facebook in the middle of a conversation or logging on to Insta for the 49853th time. Yikes, talk about setting the example....

In fairness to myself, this week was a crazy one at home. We're finishing up a bathroom remodel, AJ is in the middle of starting his first semester of college and I just started a new job writing from home. It was far too easy to sit down during my down time and browse hashtags instead of connecting with my girls, or even responding to emails or comments on my blog.

There were definitely days where I was on top of it, but this week (for me) was a little bit of a let down after the awesomeness of week one. BUT- there are still two more weeks of the challenge and you can bet that I'll be on top of my business for the next two.

How did you all handle the second week? Were you more successful than I was??

The challenge for the week was to write a letter and send it via snail mail. And guess what? Yep- I forgot to do it.

I'm embarrassed to even say that. It was my idea in the first place!

But I can promise you that after this post goes live, I'll will cozy up in my letter writing spot and make up for it!

This post was a little bit pointless and not really as inspiring as I had hoped my weekly recaps would go, but I want to be open and not pretend like I have it all together all the time, especially online where it's so easy to do just that. Thank you all for joining me! I'm honored to have such an awesome community of people to live intentionally with!

The challenge for week 3 is to GET OUTSIDE (sans device...). Go for a hike, go camping, swimming, sky diving, long boarding, running. Heck, just sit outside in the grass. Anything that gets you out there.

Have fun and be creative with it! I can't wait to see what you all do. Don't forget to hashtag any pictures you upload with #simplydisconnect to contribute to our little community of intentionality :)


Letters to Evie // 20 Months

Sweet Evie,

You doubled in size and maturity this last month, or that's what it's felt like to me. Since becoming a big sister, you've learned what it is to love and protect and I couldn't be more proud of you.
You love baby Mara more than anything. It has been amazing to watch you with her- being a big sister came naturally. You're so gentle with her. You love to "hold" her and give her kisses and steal her pacifier. If anyone else besides mommy or daddy tries to hold her, you get very angry and throw a fit- but I know it's just your way of trying to keep her safe. 

This has been a hard month for you, and I'm sorry for all the changes you've had to adapt to so quickly. You're not the only baby anymore and you've definitely felt the change. Sleeping has been a rough adjustment, as well as hearing "no" so much more often. Your dad and I have tried to make some things all about you and tell you "yes" as much as possible, but be patient with us- we're new at this too. 
You're such a burst of sunshine and I'm lucky to be your mama. 

Here are a few new things you've been up to this month: 

Words // You've been adding lots of new ones lately!
- Clock
-Juice ("jewww")
-Cup (Coop)
-Truck/car ("Cuhk")
-Tigers say "drrrrrr"
-Lions, dinosaurs and bears say "raaaaawr"

-You love going outside for walks or to swim in your pool/throw dirt in it.
-You figured out how to take your diaper off.
-You know pink, blue and yellow (I think).
-And you can count to two ;)
-You won't let me touch your hair.
-You've watched WAY too much Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood this month.
-While I was painting my nails the other day, you kept watching and saying "woooow", so I painted one of your big toes for you (because you couldn't hold still for them all) and you sat and looked at it for a solid twenty minutes.
You loved spending time with Uncle Sammy after Mara was born!
 Watching you handle all the transitions this past month has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding experiences I've had parenting you. I'm so proud of the sweet, adventurous girl you are.




Simply Disconnect // Week 1

Happy Friday friends! We did it. One week down, three to go.

If you're just joining me, today I'm sharing about my 30 Day Social Media Challenge that we started last week. Read more about it here- and please join us! It's never too late :)

I've been so encouraged and excited by how many of you have joined me in this journey to take back our social media. There have been some wonderful posts shared under our hashtag #simplydisconnect- one friend even challenged her husband to do 40 days of reading the Bible together before bed instead of watching tv. What a worthwhile challenge!

I've had a lot of people respond to this as a "social media fast"- where you completely cut out social media for a month. And while that is definitely an awesome challenge, it's not really what I'm aiming for here. My goal is to use social media during the 30 days- but with limits and intentionality. I want to cut out the aimless scrolling and random creeping (you know we all do it...). It's confusing, but I really think that we can/should retrain ourselves to use SM as it was intended to be used- as a tool to connect with others, not compare/stalk/waste time.

And so far so good.

Here are a few things that happened during one week of intentional social media use:

1// I was bored. This one shocked me after the first few days. I realized that when I didn't have anything better to do, I automatically reach for my phone to fill the time. I'm learning that it's ok to be bored- some of my best writing has come out of times when I'm "bored". I'm challenging myself to fill those spaces with things that matter- a game with E, writing in my journal, reading a book...something other than hopping on Facebook or Insta.

2// I was super productive. You guys, I somehow managed to keep two children alive, cook multiple meals, clean the house, get ahead on blog posts and other articles and do other normal life things all without the help of my phone. With all this new found downtime, I may take up a new hobby. Any suggestions? I'm thinking maybe wine tasting? ;)

3// I had "withdrawals". As with any addiction, there is a withdrawal period. Like most of us, I have this weird need to keep up with everyone on my Instagram feed and everyone I'm friends with on Facebook. I don't want to miss anything. Breaking that was hard. I've had to tell myself that I'll miss somethings and that's ok- people are living their lives and I'm busy living mine.

4// I made connections. During the times I posted on social media- which happened quite often actually, I was really intentional about connecting with the people who liked/commented on my posts and adding something of value to their feed or comment. I know that social media has the potential to form amazing relationships and connections, especially in the blogging world, and being intentional is the easiest way to form those relationships.

This week's challenge was to connect with someone over coffee- not a hypothetical/online coffee date, because I'm pretty sure that's a thing, but in a "real life", face-to-face, sit down and talk kind of way. Because I'm really original and because we haven't had a date since Mara was born, I decided to take my man out for Qdoba (because we're classy) and coffee. It was a great (baby free!) time of connection. We talked about plans for our future, goals, jobs, school and encouraged each other to be content with where we're at now. It was definitely a needed moment- it's easy to let the opportunities to connect with your spouse slip by in the bustle of everyday.

Here are a few cheesy photos, in case you needed proof:
See how happy and connected we look? ;)

How did your coffee dates go?! Whether you did my challenge for the week or tweaked it- I want to hear about it! Tell me about it in the comments below, write a post about it or use our hashtag (#simplydisconnect) to share. Seriously- I want to see.

Good luck with week number two, friends. Our challenge for the week is to write and actual letter to someone and send it the old fashioned way. I'm really excited about this one, because hand written letters are some of my very favorite things.

Happy weekend, loves.




Staying Active and Healthy Post-Baby

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RewardHealthyChoices #CollectiveBias 
If there's one thing I've learned since having babies, it's that having time to myself do anything is hard to come by. But every once in a while, when the stars align and both babies are sleeping, or some other miracle happens, I will have a few moments of free time. I'm a month postpartum now and am feeling fully recovered from my delivery. I'm ready to get back into my healthy, active lifestyle that I (mostly) kept up with before I was pregnant. Getting in workouts can be tricky when you don't have 2 hours to spend alone at the gym, so I've been thinking of ways I can be intentional about being healthy with my babies at home.

A few months ago I came across Walgreen's new Balance Rewards for healthy choices app and was pretty intrigued as to how helpful it could assist me in simplifying my health goals. Our family shops at Walgreens quite often (in an effort to avoid the craziness that is Walmart) and once I discovered that I could earn actual points towards my shopping for making and recording everyday healthy choices, I was hooked. Honestly, I've already earned points just by going on a walk with my girls, doing simple floor exercises at home once they're in bed (remember that part about seizing the moment?) and going for runs. The app even has an option for larger goals like weight management and quitting smoking.
I earned enough points that I decided to take a trip with E to Walgreens and splurge a little bit.  You know you're a mom when "splurging" includes Walgreens and Lotion...but don't judge me.

My little helper picked out three awesome Aveeno products that I typically wouldn't have purchased (because I'm cheap) but could now thanks to the points I earned AND a coupon from the same Balance Rewards for healthy choices app. I'll most likely be going back for more because from now until August 29 you can earn 2,000 Walgreens rewards points for purchasing any two J&J Healthy Essentials products- which includes Aveeno. Just saying.

Here's a little peak at how we put our points to good use at home that night:
Though it is tricky to bounce right back into an active lifestyle after a pregnancy, with the help of this app and two sleeping babies (with super soft skin ;) I'm excited to get back to the "pre-pregnancy" me!

Be sure to check out more ways to live a healthy lifestyle here. What are some simple ways that you stay active at home?


Mara's Birth Story: A Natural Hospital Birth

Prepare yourselves for a lengthy post today, friends. Today Mara is one month old (what?!) so I thought it would be good to finally share her birth story. I think it will be something I come back to read for years to come and maybe even something I read to her when she's old enough. I also think other moms have a weird fascination with reading about other people's labors- so I thought I'd share. ;)

Before I start I want to make a quick note, in case you're here for natural labor inspiration. I'm a huge advocate for natural births and delivered both my girls without any medical assistance. I think it is best for both mom and baby. BUT I had relatively easy (as "easy" as a labor can be...) labors and never ruled out the option of an epidural if I felt I couldn't take it. I will be sharing some of my tips for doing it naturally, just in case it helps another mama out there, but I would never imply that an epidural makes you less strong or capable. You are all strong, powerful, beautiful mothers and delivering a human being, no matter how it's done, is a miracle in and of itself and you should be proud.

Ok. Now on to the story.

I call this one "Awkward belly shot while Evie shushes a llama that is actually a dog."
This photo from my Instagram was taken the day before Mara was born- July 2nd. I had just come home from a doctor appointment where we decided that I would be induced the next morning. I was feeling very, very nervous and somewhat disappointed at the thought of an induction and decided to take E for a walk to help distract me.

An induction was not my plan (and not completely necessary in my opinion) but both my babies measured small during the last weeks and doctors don't like that sort of thing. Honestly, I was just really tired of being pregnant, so I agreed that we could schedule it as long as they only broke my water and didn't give me pitocin. I was already 4 cm dilated for the last month of my pregnancy so I felt like once my water broke things would get started on their own pretty easily.

The drive to the hospital that morning with AJ was long, even though we only live about 2 miles away. I tried to make small talk but I was just really nervous. Besides the convenience of knowing when your baby will be born, I think inductions are much more nerve wracking.

We checked in, I got naked and put on the ever flattering hospital gown, they came and stuck a needle in my hand just in case I needed an iv and then we waited. Lots and lots of waiting. We were told to arrive at the hospital at 6:30 so I was expecting things to happen relatively quick, but no one came to break my water until 9:30. I just wanted to get it all over with.
When the OB was breaking my water she remarked that my baby was REALLY low and I was dilated to a 6.

My contractions started almost right away- though they were very mild for the first few hours. The only photos of me during labor were taken during this period, because I most definitely would have punched AJ in the face if he tried to take a photo of me once it got serious.
My biggest goal was to stay mobile and relaxed. Everything I read said staying mobile and changing positions frequently was the key to having a natural labor. I spent a lot of time sitting on the toilet (glamorous, I know)- it really opens up the hips and sitting in that position provided a lot of relief.

After a while I started to feel a lot of pressure, like I had to push, and it clearly wasn't time to do so, so I changed my position. The birthing ball was my best friend during both of my labors. I bounced and rocked on it a lot to continue to open up my pelvis. When I was having a contraction I leaned over onto the bed while AJ applied counter-pressure on my lower back. He put his hands on either side of my pelvis (basically on my butt, because that's where my contractions were the worst) and pushed up and in. That lower back pressure works wonders, you guys. I asked AJ if it hurt his hands after a while and he said he was pushing as hard as he could- I NEEDED that pressure to counteract what was happening during contractions.

The nurse would come in periodically and have me sit in the bed to monitor baby. This was the part I hated because sitting upright in a bed is one of the worst positions to labor in. My contractions were getting much worse and whenever I sat in the bed I almost couldn't handle the pain.

By about 1 I was only dilated to 8 and was definitely in transition. My contractions were AWFUL and having AJ put pressure on my back wasn't helping like it did before. I just tried to stay mobile in between contractions and when I felt a contraction coming I sat on the birthing ball and leaned over the bed.

The hugest thing, besides staying mobile, was staying relaxed. While I was in labor with Evie I was so shocked by the pain that I was unable to relax. Being tense makes contractions even more painful. We played calming music on AJ's phone (I think it was some zen yoga station on Pandora) which helped me stay focused on relaxing my muscles and breathing through the pain.

I started to feel the urge to push- which is a very polite, mild way to put what it actually feels like. My contractions were unbearable, so I knew that she was coming soon. The only way I could make it through them was by squeezing AJ's hand as hard as I could and moaning (probably really loudly, but I couldn't care less what I sounded like). I pictured Evie in my mind during every contraction- channeling that positive emotion reminded me of the amazing thing my body was doing. I knew that it would all be worth it and shortly I would hold the baby I had been carrying for so long. I kept telling myself that I was going to do this, that I could do this.

I had about a centimeter left to go and the Dr. had gone home for a break (of course). I told the nurse that I wasn't going to wait much longer and she needed to call the doctor right now.

Luckily, she lived close by and was there in a few minutes. I was expecting to feel much more relief from pushing- but I was just so exhausted by this point and ready to give up. AJ and the doctor were very encouraging- I looked up at AJ while I was pushing, while he was holding my legs back. Pushing took SO much more energy than I remembered. I kept telling myself that it was almost over and all I had to do was push.

I reached down and felt her head as it came out and it was such a strange feeling. That was the moment it felt real to me- I was pushing a living human out of my body and soon I would be holding her. I think feeling her head gave me an extra boost and within a few minutes gooey, slimey, screaming, perfect Mara Paige entered the world.
I told AJ not to look. He looked.

He had to leave the room for a few minutes- I can't imagine how intense it is watching your wife go through labor. Not as intense as actual labor....but I'm trying to give him some credit ;).

I remember feeling relief after Mara was placed on my chest. Pure relief that it was over and surprised that it felt so much more normal than with Evie. I actually knew what I was doing.

Mara latched right away and she nursed for almost the first hour. It was such a sweet moment together with just the three of us.

She weighed 6 lbs 11 oz and measured 19.5 inches long. Over a pound heavier than her big sister! She was so alert when she was born and stayed awake for the first few hours.
Evie came in about an hour later. She was a little bit uncertain and very serious about the whole thing (as you can see). I think seeing me hold another baby was a shock to her system. We let her sit up on the bed with Mara and I and I tried to make her feel very included. It felt surreal to see her- she looked so big and grown up now and I couldn't help feeling a little bit sorry for her. But she handled it very well and loved the baby right from the start.
The rest of the day was so happy. My parents came to see us and AJ's mom and little brother were able to be with us too.

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