the other day, i received an email from a cute mom-to-be. she expressed her desire to have a healthy, fit pregnancy and her concern that she would never "get her body back". SAME, GIRL!!! i think every mom wants the absolute best for baby and wants to feel hot while doing it. 

health and fitness have always been two things i have been SO passionate about. this didn't change when i found out i was pregnant. i just went to a normal gym after graduating high school, but i started doing crossfit with brandtly about six months into our marriage. then, SURPRISE! a month later i found out i had been pregnant almost the whole time :):):):) i had completely fallen in love with the sport and was not going to give it up when i had a cute little babe growing inside me that depended on me to be healthy! plus, i LOVED (still do) it. that's my first piece of advice for expectant moms or anyone that wants to get more in shape: FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE. i don't care if it's yoga or rock climbing or pure barre or kickboxing. find something you want to do and then physical fitness won't become such a chore.

anyway, i worked out my entire pregnancy. there were definitely some days i did not make it to the gym, but that was because i also did not make it out of bed. if i was feeling well enough to function as a semi-normal human being, i was well enough to go to crossfit! there were some movements i opted out of as i got further along (rope climbs, jump rope, hand-stand push-ups to name a few), but for the most part i was able to do everything until the day i delivered. 

my diet remained pretty consistent to how i ate pre-pregnancy as well. i did not eat for two. you don't have to. in the third trimester, you should maybe add, like, an additional 200-300 calories, but that's like a banana with a little bit of peanut butter. not a third dinner. i tried hard to hit six servings of lean protein (i.e, chicken breast), six servings of vegetables (broccoli), two servings of fruit (apple), two servings of healthy grains (sweet potato), and one serving of healthy fat (olive oil or avocado) every day. that being said, there were some days when NOTHING sounded good. i would have to force myself to eat to give calories to my baby. on those days, i just ate whatever sounded good because then i at least knew i wouldn't throw it up and my body would have something to work with. i would try to pair that with some sort of vegetable. fun fact: when i was super sick, the only thing that i was able to keep down every time were five-layer burritos from taco bell. DON'T KNOCK IT TILL YA TRY IT.

with this clean (ish) diet and consistent physical activity, i gained 25 pounds during my 41 weeks of pregnancy. another tip for moms: DON'T GET CAUGHT UP ON THE WEIGHT. your body will do what it needs to do! some people gain it all in the early weeks of pregnancy, some pack it on at the very end. some gain 20, some gain 60. there's NOTHING you can do about how your body puts on weight. but you CAN help you and your baby be healthy by exercising and eating as healthy as you can. focus on that. the number on the scale doesn't matter if you are doing those two things.

now for the fun part... POSTPARTUM PICTURES!!!

these pics were taken three days after i gave birth to storie! notice how i still look pregnant... this is totally normal! first time moms, don't go into labor thinking that your stomach will be completely flat as soon as your sweet baby comes out. it takes a hot minute! ps-- SO sorry about the ratchet-ness of all these photos. had i known i would eventually use these for a blog post, i would have cleaned the mirror, NOT made faces that make me resemble oscar the grouch (see below), or at least taken off my XL nike sweats. lesson learned. 

this is four days after giving birth! i look very grumpy (hi, oscar!). also, i'm wearing granny panties. another glamorous part of postpartum.

five days after delivery! the bump is less noticeable, but my mid-section is quite a bit thicker than my pre-pregnancy waist. your uterus does take a while to contract back down to it's original size and get used to not having a baby in there. this often results in heavy bleeding/cramping, but i thankfully didn't experience much of that.

six days after delivery! i was feeling pretty good at this point and wanted to go back to the gym (brandtly wouldn't let me). i was up and walking two days after giving birth. my mom and i would go to the mall and pace for hours (we couldn't be outside because it was december in utah and v cold), and i went for a run two weeks after delivering! i didn't go back to crossfit until almost a full month after delivery. 

aaand this was exactly five weeks postpartum! i remember the date because i set a goal before storie was born to have my six pack back by six week postpartum. having it reappear a little earlier was a nice surprise for me!


i felt very fortunate to have a healthy, low risk pregnancy and an even easier delivery. seriously, my delivery was awesome. i pushed three times and i was laughing with excitement the whole time. i contribute ALL of that to the healthy, active lifestyle i tried to maintain the entire nine months. even though you feel sick, even though everything hurts, even though you are exhausted, i so encourage you to get up and MOVE! pushing a baby out of your body is one of the hardest workouts you will ever do haha so prepare for it! you don't sign up for a marathon on a whim; you train, you plan, you push yourself hard for the days leading up to the race. pregnancy and delivery is the same way. moral of the story: you owe it to your baby AND yourself to be the healthiest + happiest you can be. also, always keep your bathroom mirrors cleaned.


body image

the year is 2012, i'm a junior in high school, i'm sporting steve madden's troopa combat boots with the free people trapeze slip, and i'm practically throwing out my back in a vain attempt to make my butt look bigger.

A BUBBLE BUTT WAS ALL I WANTED. it was all anyone ever talked about!! i did all my squats and i did all my deadlifts, but it wasn't enough. i wanted MORE. a group of boys tweeted a "top 10 butts at mountain view" list and i didn't make the cut (seriously! this happened!). i was de-va-sta-ted *claps on each syllable for emphasis*. i tried not to have bitter feelings towards the volleyball girls in their cute little bootie shorts, but it was just too much. my seventeen-year-old heart could only handle so much.

fast forward, the year is 2017. i'm 22, queen bey is pregnant with twins, and alexis ren's 24 inch waist is basically revered as much as the american flag. kayla itsines is everywhere i look. people are downloading body tuning apps (is that what they're called?) to give themselves thigh gaps in photos before posting them. i find myself standing in front of my full-length mirror, shifting my weight and my stance to find the most flattering angle for my body. A THIGH GAP AND A FLAT STOMACH IS ALL I WANT.

my perception of the "ideal" body has changed over the years. i now could care less about having a voluptuous backside, just like i didn't even know what a thigh gap was in 2012. the reason for this shift is because of the influences around me. aka, YOU! my aunt recently visited the phillipines, and she was amused to see "intensive whitening lotion" for skin available for purchase at every drugstore. my tanning-lotion tanning-membership paying bank account finds this amusing as well. the filipinos think white skin is beautiful, so that's what they want. americans want dat bronze glow, so we put ourselves at risk of skin cancer to get just a few shades darker. beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholders are the people and the influences you surround yourself with. if all the posts on instagram, twitter, and snapchat (RIP vine) began to prioritize, say, extremely muscular lower legs, we'd probably all be doing calf raises until the cows came home. it's all a very repetitive cycle. we as a group decide what is beautiful, and then we all try to achieve it.

during my pregnancy, i had so many friends and family members beg me to post more "bump pictures". they wanted to see my body progress and watch the amazing miracle of life develop inside of me. i would do my best to deliver, hand my phone to my instagram-husband (LOVE U, B), pose for the camera, look at the images, and sob. my arms looked puffy and my legs were huge ("brandtly!!! why do my legs look big?! i'm not carrying a baby in my thighs!!!!!") and i would never post the pictures. seriously! if you go back and look through my instagram feed, i have very few full body pictures of myself pregnant.

WHICH. IS. STUPID. it was my first pregnancy! my first time bringing another human into the world! i was a living, breathing miracle! child birth is AMAZING. and i have little documentation of it because i didn't like the way my thighs would touch when i would stand to take a picture. that time of my life is gone, and i will never get to live it again. 

so, since we are all so influenced by how other people view our bodies, i propose that we ~*~uNiTE~~*~ and collectively decide to find beauty in our bodies based off of what they DO as opposed to how they LOOK. you should feel beautiful as you carry your child, despite the weight you will inevitably gain. you should feel stunning as you hug a struggling friend, offering words of comfort and advice. and you should feel like freaking gigi hadid when you pay for the person's meal behind you in the drive-thru line. your actions and your smile and the sparkle in your eye make you beautiful. NOT, as cliche as it sounds and i am slapping myself for even typing it, the number on the waistband of your jeans or on the scale.

it would, of course, be ideal to not be influenced at all by what others thought/said, but i think that is a fairly lofty goal. no matter how many times i tell myself that it doesn't matter, or my husband tells me it doesn't matter, or my mom tells me that it doesn't matter, it still gets to me sometimes. i still feel bitter towards alexis ren's flowing body, just as i felt bitter towards the mountain view volleyball team in 2012 (go toros). it's very difficult to NOT be influenced by other people and by the media because it is all around us all the time. 

i say we prioritize kindness over a small waistline. compassion over lean legs. selflessness over a tanned and toned figure. i think it would do a great deal of good for the world to look a little deeper and celebrate, as one direction sang in 2011, what makes you TRULY beautiful.

valentine's day

valentine’s day is one of my FAVORITE days. the whirlwind that the end of the year brings is completely halted after new year’s eve; we’re left to endure a month of january that is cold, dark, and STUPID (is it just me, or does snow lose most of its magic after christmas?). the month feels extra long, and i love that valentine’s day is soon after to give us a quick pick-me-up and enjoy a day with those we love. 

i wanted to do something extra for b this year. having a newborn has definitely been time consuming and we’ve had to adjust as our duo became a trio. he has been such an amazing father and husband and i appreciate him SO much! so, yeah, i needed to go all out for him.

my cute friend hannah (she does my eyelash extensions and she’s the BOMB, hit her up!) told me about a romantic “12 days of christmas” that she heard about— basically, you do something for your spouse every day for the 12 days leading up to the holiday. i thought it was SUCH a good idea, but i couldn’t wait until december. i decided ditch st. nick and recruit the help of st. valentine instead.

12 days before valentine’s day (friday, february 5th), brandtly and i went on our first date without storie (shoutout to my aunt ashlyn for babysitting!!). over a romantic plate(s) of sushi (duh), i gave him an envelope with this poem:

"jingle bells, frosty, & a happy new year,

all these are songs that spread Christmas cheer.

there's one Christmas carol so full of delight,

a count down so merry it lasts for 12 nights!


"the twelve days of Christmas" is a way to show love

through partridges & pear trees & two turtle doves.

it's usually sung at the end of the year,

but I'm singing it now for just YOU to hear.


the twelve days of Valentine's is my way to show you

that I love & appreciate all that you do.

this countdown is one that comes from the heart

so get ready because tonight's when it starts!!”

YOU ALREADY KNOW i was stoked when i wrote that poem. i’ve always enjoyed writing (won multiple contests for it all growing up *bows*), and i get such a thrill when i write something i’m proud of. it was so hard to keep it a secret from brandtly!! he gave me a huge high five after reading it and said i’m the wittiest and the prettiest #brandtlysays. here is what i did for him each day leading up:

a partridge in a pear tree: a “pear” of stance socks

two turtle doves: a surprise chocolate fondue dessert made out of “dove” chocolate

three french hens: french kisses throughout the day hee hee

four calling birds (WHY SO MANY BIRDS???): i called him when he was at school and told him how much i loved him

five golden rings: storie and i surprised him at school and gave him his favorite drink and cookie out of my hand that i have five golden rings on (this one was a stretch just go wit it)

six geese a-laying: breakfast in bed with eggs, bacon, and pancakes

seven swans a-swimming: private hot tub night!! 

eight maids a-milking: chocolate milk protein shake after his morning workout

nine ladies dancing: tickets to see a ballet next month. #DATENIGHT!!!

ten lords a-leaping: new crossfit shoes to help him “leap” higher and faster (also a stretch, but he loves them and they have that black and camel color combo that i’m obsessed with)

eleven pipers piping: blink 182 CD’s *sigh* *eyeroll* *accepts husband for who he is*

twelve drummer’s drumming: spent the evening of valentine’s day cooking together a yummy dinner of ribs, drumsticks, and steak #protein #GAINZ

doing this was SO much fun! i loved it because some days were actual gifts, some days were acts of service, and some days were just little things to show my love for him. it was something different than oh-no-what-do-i-get-my-husband-for-valentine’s-day-i-guess-i’ll-give-him-another-tie and it was so fun to surprise him every day. he’s the absolute best and deserved nothing less. i hope you all had a fab valentine’s day and were smothered with loooove!

sleep in heavenly peace

“your baby is so cute! how old is she? are you sleeping at all? HAHA!”

thank you, she’s two months, and yes, i’m actually sleeping fine.

we just celebrated storie’s two month birthday on sunday, and we celebrated her sleeping 8 hours straight through the night two days prior. i am NOT a baby expert by ANY means, but i can’t help but share what has worked for us in regards to storie's schedule and getting her to sleep at night. we follow adaptations of the principles outlined in the book “baby wise”, which i highly recommend reading. brandtly and i don’t follow everything to a tee; we adjust to what works best with our schedules and storie's personality. however, having this book blueprint our schedule (and yes, babies NEED a schedule!) has been a complete lifesaver. i really haven’t gotten less than 6 hours of sleep since she’s been born. she wakes up once a night and then goes right back to sleep. she naps for 2-3 hours at a time during the day, which gives me the opportunity to complete calligraphy orders, run errands, make dinner, etc. maybe i was blessed with an angel baby, but i believe that it has more to do with nurture than nature :) here is what we do with our sweet storie:

1. no co-sleeping. harsh, i know. it may be tempting to snuggle up with your newborn and it may be terrifying to have them more than two inches away from you at all times, but having storie sleep by herself has worked out wonderfully for us. she sleeps in her moses basket. this functions as a portable bassinet and we keep it in our room right next to our bed because she is still so young. we can hear her right when she wakes up, but she is very much separate from us when she sleeps. this has taught her skills of self-soothing and independence. she doesn’t need brandtly or myself to hold her or lay next to her for her to fall asleep and stay asleep. this is huge because newborns sleep SO much— can you imagine if you were completely chained to them for the 18 accumulative hours that they sleep per day? she can fall asleep almost anywhere when it’s time for her to nap: in the car, in her basket, in her swing, etc. there are times where i have napped next to her or fell asleep with her on top of me as we cuddle, but it is not habitual and not necessary for her to get some shut eye.

2. follow a pattern. i shy away from using the word “schedule”, because babies are babies and life is life and you can’t always follow something so strict and rigorous. but there DOES need to be a pattern: feed, wake, sleep. this pattern repeats itself every 2-4 hours for the first two (ish) months of your baby’s life, always in this order, each step right after the other. when your baby wakes up, you immediately feed him or her. this takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes when they are still so young. after they eat, keep them awake. this is beneficial for several reasons. one, it gives their sweet little tummies time to settle. they can spit up, go to the bathroom, and have time to thoroughly digest their meal and get comfy for nap time. it’s not fun for you or for them if they can’t sleep because their stomach hurts. two, it makes them SUPER tired! this makes the next step of the pattern, sleep, so much easier. because you have kept them awake, they will be exhausted and sleep long and hard during their nap. they will then wake up nice and hungry for feeding time! if you decide to breastfeed, they will eat more efficiently and give you proper stimulation to continue to produce enough milk.

i can’t recommend this enough! when storie cries, i pretty much know exactly what is wrong with her because we follow this pattern. if she cries thirty minutes into her wake time, i know that she must be fussing because she’s tired, because that’s the next step. i can then make the decision to swaddle her, give her her binky, and help soothe her so she is able to fall asleep. if she wakes up crying, she’s obviously upset because she’s hungry (I DO THIS, TOO) and i can immediately feed her. parenting really doesn’t have to be a hopeless guessing game; you CAN make things easier on yourself and your baby!

3. i pretty much exclusively breastfeed. it’s free, has antibodies to keep her healthy, doesn’t require any prep or storage, and allows me to connect with my baby. MY body can be OUR body. i love that!! i say “pretty much” because we do choose to give her a bottle of formula after she breastfeeds for her last feed of the day, usually around 9:30 or 10:00 PM. we decide to do this for several reasons: my milk production seems to decrease towards the end of the day, and i want to make sure she has enough to eat. i don’t want her to get hangry. THAT’S THE WORST. also, our pediatrician told us that the best way to help your baby to sleep is to pack them full of calories! this extra boost of milky goodness helps her sleep a little bit longer and helps her grow nice and strong. again, this is totally a personal decision that we have found works best for the three of us. to each their own :)

4. swaddle dem babies!! i sometimes forget this little tip and always feel like i’m shooting myself in the foot when i do. wrapping them up nice and tight in a soft blanket—besides being hecka comfy— keeps their little bodies nice and tight as well. storie is a KICKER and loves to have her arms up so she can suck on her fists (weirdo). however adorable, the downside is that movement of these little limbs can wake them up. when she’s wrapped up, she literally can’t move and she’s forced to just sleep. plus, it’s probably so toasty and warm for them!!! low-key wish someone would swaddle me. brandtly? anyone?

5. make them nap in sleeping conditions that aren’t “ideal”. since the day we brought her home, i made it a point to have the lights on whenever she napped, whether it be in the kitchen, our room, or her room, so that she would learn that when it was dark, it was nighttime and that’s when you STAY asleep. it would be tricky if your baby needed total darkness and/or silence to sleep and the slightest deviance would wake them! storie can sleep pretty much anywhere. i’m able to full on vacuum in the sam room that storie sleeps in and she won’t budge.

6. find a nighttime system that works for you and your partner! i’ve heard of couples trading nights, splitting the nights into shifts, etc. just find something that you both agree on and is equally beneficial! for me and brandt, he’s naturally more of a night owl and i’m more of an early bird. after i feed storie for the last time for the day, i go right to sleep. he stays up with her until she falls asleep (usually an hour or so) since he doesn’t have to get up and feed her. then when she wakes up for the day (usually around 6:00 or 7:00 AM), i feed her and take care of her so that he can sleep! this works for us; it might be a horrendous idea for you and your partner. just find what works so that you two can be on the same page and expectations are clear.


AGAIN, i am in no way a baby expert. but i am not a sleep-deprived zombie mom that so many people expect as the norm, either! i wrote this post only with the hopes that it can help another cute mom with the overwhelming task of taking care of a tiny human. i’m interested to know how/if these same steps work for you and your family. if not, let me know what does! it takes a village to raise a child, and there is no reason it can’t be a virtual village. let me know what helps you and your babe sleep in heavenly peace.

storie's nursery tour

if i'm being totally honest, storie's room is the cutest in the whole house. the family room is decent, our kitchen is okay, our bedroom is a COMPLETE travesty, but her room is cute. before she was born and people would come over to our house, brandtly and i would be like, "hi welcome, want to see our baby's nursery?" we were just so excited to create this space for our little peanut and it was such a fun project to work on together (my personal favorite moment was when brandtly and his dad spent 2+ hours putting up her wallpaper. they were so cute and so determined to make it perfect!). i pulled inspiration for this space from photographer paige jones and designer sarah sherman samuel. their babe's have nurseries fit for royalty and i loved what they created. here's a little tour of storie's stomping grounds...

SO that wreath was made out of a hoola hoop from toys r us (just being real w you) and fake greenery garlands from hobby lobby. i should probably make a trip up to get more garlands, because you can definitely see the bright colors of the hoop poking through. oh well.

the elephant hanging is from hobby lobby. this was a random find, but i immediately fell in love with the sweet mama and babe pachyderm duo. have you guys seen dumbo? haha there is this VERY HEARTWARMING scene where dumbo goes to visit his imprisoned mom and she sings him the sweetest lullaby called "baby mine". i always sang that to storie when i was pregnant with her (voice recognition and all that), so having a little elephant hanging next to her rocking chair where many more lullabies would be sung seemed appropriate.

the pouf is from target. it's nice to have this double as a foot rest and as a little side table, depending on where it is positioned in relationship to the rocking chair.

this mobile was a DIY project! i got everything from hobby lobby (i kinda love that place). the crib is from ikea and super easy to assemble. the natural wood and the price tag make it kind of hard to beat.

one of my favorite parts of her nursery!! this beautiful custom-made macrame hanging was done by my gorgeous friend, shelby. she has magic fingers and can make pretty much anything (this hanging chair?! i die).

another one of my favorite parts! this is a poster of my sweet little storie, along with all of her birth statistics listed at the bottom of the poster. the swedish artist evelina westman offers six timeless illustrations to choose from that are all drawn to scale. you can see all of them and order your own on their website!

THIS FREAKING MOSES BASKET is our fav!! it's the perfect little portable bed. we can easily carry her from room to room, depending on what we're doing (her personal favorite is being on the kitchen counter with the blinds open so she can look out the window). i highly recommend a moses basket! ours is from design dua. we got the bilia basket in natural plain, but they have a ton of beautiful patterns and colors to choose from. we love it!

here's a closeup of the wallpaper! i'm a fan because the neutral colors combined with the busy, smaller-scaled pattern almost adds a texture to the wall, as opposed to an obvious or bold pattern. it's such a nice touch to add to any room! the wallpaper company, chasing paper, has been awesome because it's removable wallpaper that you can adhere yourself. this was huge for us because we live in an apartment! it comes off super easily and will be a piece of cake to remove when we eventually move. 

lots of story books for my storie girl! the darling wooden knick-knacks are from little sapling toys and little cottonwood.

her dresser was also a DIY! we got a six drawer dresser for super cheap off of KSL and repainted it and gave it new hardware.

BABY ANIMALS!! these prints might be brandtly's favorite part of the nursery.

her rocker was one of the harder purchases! i knew it was something that i would be spending a lot of time in, so i obviously wanted it to be comfortable (hellllooo, 3 AM feedings!), but i wanted it to be cute as well. it was hard finding a chair that was trendy, comfortable, and NOT $2000. i bought this chair online because i liked the mid century look, it matched everything in her room, and the price was reasonable. then it came, i sat on it, and it's COMFY! i was so stoked. it's hard to tell from the photos, but the seat of the chair is very deep and the back of the chair is very tall. the bigger dimensions make it easy for me to be comfortable in multiple decisions (slouched in the chair with my head supported against the back of the seat, sitting upright with my legs crossed on the chair, etc). i really like this chair and i'm glad that we found it! 

and, of course, the rug! poor brandtly is always confused as to why i buy rugs ("babe, there is ALREADY a rug in the room. it goes from wall to wall. it's called carpet."), but rooms just feel unfinished to me without one. we got ours from overstock and i love what it does to the space!


so there's her nursery tour! i love this room and the memories we will make in it. hopefully my room can be next.

bumpdate | week 36

WAHOO!! we're officially in the last month of pregnancy. here's a little update of what we've been thinking and feeling...

bump: all the cute, seasoned utah moms that i come across still tell me that i'm "carrying high" and "measuring small". as a first-timer pregnant lady, i don't have anything to compare it to and i haven't been around a lot other pregnant women recently, so i'm not exactly sure what is "normal", as far as looks go! i certainly don't feel small. i woke up last night simply because the skin surrounding my abdomen HURT! i could feel it stretching so tight and it was super uncomfortable. i guess we'll see if i continue to pop these last four (ish) weeks!

diet/cravings: trying hard to be healthy and not eat an entire box of cinnamon toast crunch every night. moving on.

nursery: we finally started! we have the crib, rug, dresser/changing table (need to repaint and put on our own hardware), and a few decorations. we still need to get a rocker, put up the wallpaper, make the baby mobile to hang over the crib, and add more cute decorations! oh, and fill the dresser drawers and closet shelves. with, you know, diapers and stuff.

movement: ALL. DAY. EVERY. DAY. for real! i feel like she's so big that i just feel any movement, no matter how small. she still seems to favor my right side and around my navel. she also seems to have discovered that she can venture upwards into my ribcage. ouch.

pregnancy pains: i haven't experienced too much of the classic "last month" side effects! sleeping is getting more uncomfortable, yes, but i haven't had swollen feet or ankles or stretch marks or anything yet. we'll see what november brings!

i am feeling a lot of pain and pressure in my pelvis area. it pretty much throbs all day and occasionally, WHEN I'M REALLY LUCKY!!!!!, i'll get a super intense *zing*. i'm told that this is called "lightening crotch". awesome.

activity: so staying active for the first five months (so long, so sad) of my pregnancy was actually really hard. i enjoy working out, but i was just so sick that i couldn't do ANYTHING! i got certified as a yoga teacher in that time period and i tried really hard to make it to the gym at least four times a week, so i was doing that, but the latter part of my pregnancy has been a lot better as far as exercise goes. i've gone to crossfit pretty much every day since week 24! this has gotten a little harder in just the past few days, not necessarily because i feel sick or overly exhausted, but just because it is so uncomfortable! i can definitely feel my body preparing for this bebe's grande entrance into the world. running has been out of the picture for a month or so, my burpees are pathetic, and my right leg goes numb every other minute, but it really does feel good to get to the gym and sweat every day. i'm hoping i can continue to do so until the day i deliver!

doctor appointments: tomorrow is officially the beginning of our weekly appointments! that's pretty exciting. they're going to check to see how dilated i am for the first time!! i think that will make it all seem much more real. b and i are both looking forward to it!

baby shower: THIS WEEKEND! i'm super excited. it's in arizona so it will be awesome to see my family one last time before she comes. once the shower is over, we'll only have three weeks left until the due date, and then i think it will really start hitting us on how close we really are!!

what #brandtlysays: he's just super excited for me to not be pregnant anymore, which makes me feel a little guilty. i'm sure there are rockstar women out there who fly through the whole nine months without complaining; i am not one of them :) it is a LONG TIME to be so uncomfortable and feel so unlike yourself. i try every day to be positive, but it can get a little tricky when you feel so awful. we were talking the other night, and we each realized that we're in the hardest phase of any pregnancy (hopefully) we'll ever have. everyone i talk to is always so kind and encouraging and reassures me that "it will all be worth it when baby comes!!", which obviously i know, but i don't KNOW. i haven't held her yet. i haven't seen her. we haven't experienced the incomprehensible joy and love that will inevitably come in just one short month! right now, it's just a lot of anticipation, uncertainty, nerves, and body aches. i'm so grateful for a husband that is so sweet and still makes me feel so beautiful and strong every day. i can really feel the admiration and pride he has in me, which is just the best feeling in the world. i lucked out with him!

25 things for 25 years

1. last year, for the first birthday of yours that we spent together, i made you breakfast in bed. looking back at that now, i cringe. you HATE breakfast in bed!! you hate eating in bed! you are such a neat freak and cannot stand getting crumbs in your "sleeping zip code". sincerest apologies for 2015.

2. you have an obsession with bowls. when i think of bowls, i think that they are made for cereal and ice cream and soup. you want to eat everything out of a bowl!! even, like, pizza.

3. you're so curious!! it's one of the things that i admire most about you. your curiosity stems from your observance, which i also admire. i learned this about you when we went on our first road trip and you kept a constant stream of questions regarding everything we passed.

4. you cannot walk past me without kissing my cheek or squeezing my butt. nevah stop.

5. you would rather go to the grocery store and buy a carton of ice cream than go to an ice cream place (like cold stone) to get ice cream. 

6. you wear the ugliest shoes :( i internally-- and externally-- cringe every time you put them on. but then i look at your cute face, and i realize that these hideous shoes are a part of you! and i actually admire your confidence in wearing them, and how you are so unapologetically yourself. i love you for that.

7. your left pinky is disturbingly crooked because you've broken it so many times playing football.

8. you never tie your shoes!! i can not figure this one out for the life of me. i'll even bend down to tie them for you, and you'll like shake your foot away so i can't finish?! it's the most endearing thing.

9. you prefer podcasts or audio books to music.

10. you need to have a light on if we're eating something (i.e, popcorn) while watching a movie. you're kind of sloppy and you'll spill on yourself and won't even notice without a light on.

11. when we go to a restaurant, you always order regular/diet dr. pepper or a flavored lemonade for your drink. bonus points if the lemonade comes with sugar dusted on the rim of the glass.

12. your favorite episode of the office is stress relief: part one.

13. on our first date, we went to a football game. both of our phones died, we got separated, so i walked five miles home alone in the dark. you ran around the entire stadium 124080234710 times in a desperate attempt to find me. 

14. the first time i knew you were extra special was when i asked your roommate, ethan, how his mom was doing, because she had had surgery earlier that day. you said, "how did you know about that?" and i said, "ethan told me about it last week". you said, "and you remembered?" and i said, "i guess so!" and you just looked at me for a long time. later, you said, "you're more than just an amazing head of hair".

15. you have an obsession with fires. not in a pyromaniac type of way, but with the ambiance they create. you love the sound, the smell, and the warmth. i'm so excited for winter, but only because of this.

16. you think that oblivion should be a crime.

17. you broke your collarbone in high school because you drove your motorcycle across the wet football field and flipped over the handlebars.

18. your hair care routine is more in depth than mine. you're very particular about your haircut and can't live without the little $15 blow dryer you bought from CVS.

19. if you could sit down with anyone for lunch, it would be joseph smith, winston churchill, or woodrow wilson. 

20. brunch is your favorite meal.

21. you think financing a car (or anything, with the exception of school tuition or a mortgage) is stupid.

22. speaking of cars, your absolute dream is a tesla model S P90D. 

23. on our honeymoon, we lived off of dried mangoes from costco, club crackers, and chicken salad.

24. you got lost on a church super activity when you were 15 and spent three days alone in the mountains.

25. you are so incredibly adored. no one loves, admires, and cherishes anyone more than i do you. 


happy birthday, b. i'm glad you were born so i can really live.

bumpdate | week 27



bump: IT'S HERE! IT'S HERE! for real this time. like, strangers are noticing and commenting on it. i love it! i really didn't pop until this week. but now it's here to stay, and i can't tie my shoes.

weight gain: 17 pounds

maternity clothes: yes. need more. i should start a gofundme.

cravings: no. still think that pregnancy cravings are a myth and it's an excuse to eat whatever you want.

hardest part about being pregnant: i am actually feeling super comfortable! i think that my morning sickness is finally (FINALLY!) gone for good, body aches/pains are minimal, and my appetite has come back. i'm able to work out every day and feel like my normal, pre-pregnancy self if i get enough sleep and remember to eat often. i'm enjoying and relishing in this sweet spot before i start to experience the side effects of the third trimester (swollen ankles, difficulty sleeping, etc). 

that being said, the hardest part about being pregnant this week is 100% emotional. it's pretty stressful knowing that you created a person with the person you love the most in the whole entire world, and that little person is completely dependent on you. it's easy to feel overwhelmed when you think about all the things that could go wrong. earlier in my pregnancy, when i felt my cute little babe move and flutter inside me, it was exciting. i would smile to myself and grab brandtly's hand so he could feel her, too. but now when she moves, i feel myself breathing a sigh of relief. offering a quick prayer of gratitude. and another follow-up prayer that she will continue to move, because that is my best way of knowing that she is safe and healthy and growing. let me tell you this: your parents LOVE YOU and they have not stopped worrying about your safety and happiness since before you were born.

movement: yes! all the time. i can actually see my stomach moving and responding to her movements, which is absolutely insane and so fun to watch.

weird pregnancy movement: i'm finding that it becomes increasingly difficult to run. i've never been a good runner, which makes me sad, but pregnancy has demoted me to a whole other level! my lower back gets extremely tight and tingles shoot down my legs all the way to my ankles. i've had to stop running and recommit to try to improve on it once i'm no longer pregnant (maybe).

what #brandtlysays: this week, we were sitting in church and this guy gets up to bear his testimony. he starts off, "good morning, brothers and sisters. these past four months have been pretty difficult for my wife and i. we had some serious complications with her labor and delivery and our baby's health..." my eyes IMMEDIATELY filled with tears, and brandtly, without even looking at me, mumbles "oh no", and hands me a tissue. it was pretty funny with how in synch he is with me.

bumpdate | week 19

before i was pregnant, i HATED bumpdates. with a capital H!!! i felt like every pregnant lady posted a bumpdate every day and i was OVER IT. but now that i'm expecting, they are actually so fun to look at! i love reading about what other moms and moms-to-be are experiencing. it is absolutely insane that women of all shapes and sizes are able to GROW A HUMAN inside of them. it's the coolest thing ever and i am loving *every minute of it! (*except the parts where i'm throwing up)

due date: NOVEMBER 27TH! this is actually pretty cool because my birthday is november 28th! best birthday present ever! it's also cool because i am my mom's oldest child, so it's pretty neat to think that i am on the exact same track as she was when she was pregnant with her first kid, too.

bump: pretty nonexistent, as shown above! my midsection is just thick. it has definitely increased in inches, but no cute baby bump as of yet. hopefully i'll pop in the next few weeks!

gender: we don't know yet! we'll be finding out within a couple weeks. i'm leaning towards wanting a girl (bonnets!! lavender colored linens!! floral wallpaper!!) and brandtly wants a boy so he can "squat with him and stuff" (never mind that I MYSELF squat with him nearly every day). he also wants to name him troy. TROY!!!! when he told me that i said "oh!!! :) troy as in TRAITOR?"

weight gain: 5 pounds

maternity clothes: not yet! my clothes all still fit fairly normal, with the exception of the waistband of my jeans occasionally hurting my stomach when it's feeling tender or bloated. maternity jeans are definitely going to be purchased in the upcoming weeks!

cravings: OKAY. i think pregnancy cravings are a myth!!! yes, i want to eat chocolate chip cookies and milkshakes, but i'm pretty sure that's because they're chocolate chip cookies and milkshakes, and not because i'm pregnant :) i WAY MORE struggle with food aversions. food rarely sounds appealing and it's hard for me to eat.

hardest part about being pregnant: basically what i said above-- eating enough! i have found that if i don't eat every two hours or so, my body starts to HURT really badly! and then i feel awful for the rest of the day. so i try to eat very consistently, but it's hard to do when nothing sounds good and i know i might not even be able to keep it down. 

movement: i think so!! lil bebe isn't quite big enough to kick yet, but i am pretty sure i feel flutters, especially when i'm on my back!

weird pregnancy moment: the other day, i had some time to kill so i went to the little gym at our apartment complex to get in some extra cardio. i was just going to go on the bike for an hour or so while catching up on some reading, but my stomach hurt so bad that i couldn't even use those abdominal muscles to engage the circular pedaling motion of my legs! it was a strange experience. so i went back home and took buzzfeed quizzes.

queasy or sick: unfortunately, yes! not quite as bad as i was in the first trimester. i'm only throwing up about once a week (this week's incident happened to be in the bathroom of an airplane, 0/10 would recommend!!!!!!). i'm hoping it will continue to wear off as i progress through my pregnancy :)

things that make me PUMPED to be a mom: zara's baby line!!!

what #brandtlysays: so picture this!! b & i are asleep. and in my sleep, i hear a little girl voice say "sydney" EXTREMELY CLEAR! and my eyes just pop open. of course, i interpret this to mean that we're having a girl!!! so i shake brandtly awake and i say "brandtly!!! i think it's a girl!!" and i explain what just happened. unimpressed, he rolls over and mumbles, "cool but i just had a dream that it was a boy and he was the best basketball player there ever was" and goes back to sleep. stay tuned for which one of us is right ;)

me to we, part three


my stomach completely dropped. i was sure i wasn't seeing correctly. this couldn't be right. he hadn't spoken to me in MONTHS. why would he be contacting me now? when i was hundreds of miles away? i slowly clicked on the message, not allowing myself to get my hopes up, and waited for it to load.

"hey, how are you? how is spain? i'm not sure if you'll get this or if you'll even see this, but i hope you're having fun. i feel like a jerk for talking to you and you don't have to reply if you don't want to. i just thought that, by now, i wouldn't be thinking about you anymore. we've been broken up for a while. but you make your way into my head almost on an hourly basis and you have ever since we broke up. i always thought that that was the right decision, but the truth is is that i've never been so sure... anyway, reply if you want but you don't have to. by the way your hair is getting really long, i like it"

"your hair is getting really long, i like it"?!?!?!?!?!?! the worst possible thing to say to a girl who is trying to get over you?!?!

i wrote back: "hey! i'm not on another planet hahah i can text or FaceTime just like normal when i'm connected to wifi. i'd definitely prefer to FaceTime, so just let me know when you're available/awake with the time difference and your work schedule. hope you have a great day!!"

I WAS A WRECK!!! i knew it was early in the morning for him in texas, and he might not have time to call me until after work, which was about 3:00 in the morning for me. i was going CRAZY, so i purposely left the house so i wouldn't have wifi and wouldn't get any texts or calls anyway. my roommate and i rented segways and zipped through the cobblestoned streets of sevilla and drowned my emotions in gelato. that night was conveniently our friend's birthday, so we took her out to dinner and went on a horsedrawn carriage ride through the city at sunset.

i got back to my house around 10:00 PM, which was 3:00 PM his time. i waited for my phone to reconnect to wifi, heart pounding... i had a text from him!! "cool! i'll FaceTime you as soon as you can. i know you're busy, so just let me know!" i texted back: "i just got home for the night, so i'm available now!"

two seconds later: brandtly thornton wants to FaceTime.

i screamed with my roommate and then ran into the bathroom for some privacy. i accepted the call and saw his handsome face for the first time in over three months. "hi!", he said, "how are you?"

we talked for three hours.

he started the conversation apologizing. apologizing for the hurt he had caused, asked how my mom was, told me that he was going to do his best to earn my trust back. and then we just laughed and caught up. i remember feeling like it was all too good to be true. we were talking like we had never been apart. i felt happy. i felt whole. i felt like me again.

after we hung up, he texted me "goodnight pretty girl, talk to you tomorrow" just like he always used to. and i replied, "if you don't want to marry me, then i don't even care anymore because i don't want to marry someone stupid. we would be stupid not to marry each other. love you :)" which was pretty bold for me to say! but when we had broken up, we were talking about getting engaged and starting a life together. since things felt exactly the same when we spoke on the phone, it just felt natural to pick up right where we left off three months ago. he texted back "hahahaha i know. you're right. i love you too."

and then we started planning our wedding!!!

i was going absolutely CRAZY in spain. i just wanted to be with brandtly. it felt wrong to be in such an amazing place without him. i wanted to experience everything with him, and if he wasn't here, i didn't want to be, either. i made a very impulsive decision to come home to the united states and not stay in europe for the rest of the summer as i had originally planned.

madrid to oslo. oslo to LA. LA to phoenix. broken on the way to europe, and completely healed on the way back. i landed in phoenix at 2:00 AM, launched myself straight into my mom's arms, and jumped up and down and cried and laughed and talked all night long about how in love i was and how crazy the situation was and how good God is. the date was june 29th.

july 1st, my family and i packed up and drove to durango, colorado. we do this every year for a family reunion with my mom's side of the family. we absolutely LOVE it up there. we have been coming up for the 4th of july for as long as i could remember and always made such good memories there. i spent time with my cousins and caught up with family members in the beautiful mountains. i didn't tell anyone about my life-changing event because it was so recent and such a complete 180 degree change. i left for spain just six weeks prior without a boyfriend, and came home with a quasi-fiance. so i kept the secret, texting brandtly as sneakily as i could and enjoying every minute with my family.

on the 4th, we always drive up into the mountains and down the canyon to celebrate the holiday in a tiny little mining town called silverton. the 629 person town has parades, water fights, live music, and delicious food. it's the perfect place to spend the 4th! we spent the day taking pictures, eating fudge, visiting old shops, and buying trinkets. the sun went down and we watched the fireworks light up the black sky and boom off of the mountains surrounding us. it was such a happy day.

after the firework show, we all headed back to our hotel. everyone was winding down to settle for the night,  AND THEN BRANDTLY BURST THROUGH THE DOORS!!!!

i was shocked!! he was beaming, my mom was crying, everyone was cheering, and i wasn't letting go of him. ever.

the next day (sunday), brandtly went for a walk after church. since he had gotten in late the night before, this really was the first time we had been together since... hmmm... march :):):) similar to our first phone conversation when i was still in spain, it felt like we had never even been apart. being with him was effortless. we ended up in a beautifully green clearing, which, i quickly noticed, had a very picturesque picnic all set up for us.

trying to remain calm, i said something stupid like "ooh! grapes!" and plopped down on the white picnic blanket. "syd", brandtly said from behind me, "you might want to stand up". i turned my head and he was behind me down on one knee.

i stood up breathlessly. he said some words that i will never remember, but looked at me with a look that i will never forget. i think he asked me if i would marry him and i think i said yes, because then he was slipping a ring on my left hand and standing up and kissing me.


that's our story. it's my favorite one. it didn't go exactly as planned, but life never does. after the most perfect vacation in colorado, i went back to arizona and he went back to texas to finish working for the rest of the summer. we reunited in washington and were married on august 22nd, 2015. and that's how me, sydney ann soelberg, became a we, with brandtly jake thornton.

and it's my favorite thing to be.



me to we, part two

weeks passed, and they were filled with brandtly. overflowing with him!! i could not get enough. sometimes we would watch netflix, sometimes we would get all-you-can-eat sushi, and sometimes we would just talk and laugh for hours. it didn't matter to us, as long as we were together. the holidays came and went. winter semester started. i checked off my new year resolution to get out of the country in 2015 early by booking a plane ticket to spain for that summer. 

one of my favorite memories of us (even now!) was when i was auditioning for a big piano scholarship at school. i had to prepare four classical pieces and perform them for the head of the piano department. i spent HOURS preparing and was pretty nervous when the big day finally rolled around. i put on my fancy black piano-playing dress and completed my audition. as i walked out of the concert hall, i saw brandtly waiting for me, dressed in a suit, and holding a bouquet of flowers. my heart exploded!! we drove up to salt lake and ate at a fancy sushi restaurant (i realize this is my second time bringing up sushi and i'm only two paragraphs in. this frequency is not indicative over how big a role sushi plays in our relationship. .... actually, yes. yes it is). after, we went to costco and got chocolate cake. life was so good! we were PERFECT together, and i could feel that our relationship was ready to progress to the next level and i could not wait!

and then my mom was diagnosed with cancer.

and then brandtly and i broke up.

by then, it was march and i was miserable. my mom and brandtly were the two most supportive, most loving, and most solid people in my life, and i felt like they were both taken away from me at the same time. (more about that fun part of my life here!)

i stayed in utah for the rest of the semester. this was very hard, all things considered, but i was determined to not quit when life got hard. half of my time was split between trying to avoid brandtly and trying to run into brandtly. the other half was spent facetiming my mom, when she had the time and the energy. i prayed for time to speed up so i could go home to be with her. i prayed that brandtly and i would be able to get back together. i prayed for my mom's life. i prayed that i would be able to get out of bed in the morning. i prayed for a lot of things that semester.

when the semester did end, i eagerly escaped utah and returned to arizona. home. i hugged my mom, ate some awesome tacos, and hugged my mom some more. the doctors were optimistic about my her conditions. she encouraged me to board my flight to spain as i had planned in january. since she had already had her major treatments and surgeries, i agreed. i was grateful for the ~wanderlust~ i had in january, because traveling to a beautiful, foreign place seemed to be the perfect cure for my broken heart.

i still ached for brandtly every day. since the day we broke up in march, i didn't see him again. the only times we talked were when i reached out to him via text message. i was always the one to start the conversation, and always the one to finish it. the night before i left for spain, i completely broke down. in my mind, while illogical, i felt as though me leaving the country was admitting that a future with him was impossible. i was certain that he would forget about me, especially since he was working in texas for the entire summer. i fell asleep that night with tears on my face and my passport in my hands.

phoenix to LA, LA to london. spent a day in london. then london to madrid. spent a week in madrid, then took a train down south to sevilla, where i would be living for the following months. europe is every bit as lovely as you would think. i was surrounded by culture, architecture, music, art, and churros con chocolate every day. but brandtly was everywhere. his blue eyes were in monet's "water lilies" in the museo nacional de prado. his scent lingered on my clothes, despite the time and the miles that were not between us. i was in the most beautiful place. but the only place i wanted to be was with him. and he hadn't even made an effort to speak to me in over three months.

one day, i came home from lunch and opened my laptop to upload some pictures from my phone. my internet tab notified me that someone had messaged me on Facebook. i continued uploading the photos, checked instagram, checked twitter, probably checked instagram again, and then opened up my Facebook tab to see who had messaged me.

it was him. 


the day i found out i had two heartbeats

"wait. i haven't eaten peanut butter since friday. i haven't even THOUGHT about peanut butter since friday." (thought i had on monday, april 4th)

it was in that moment that i knew something was different.

i felt sick with no indicative symptoms, my body was achy and tired, AND I WASN'T EATING PEANUT BUTTER! on thursday, april 7th, i said to brandtly, "hey! i might be pregnant!! hee hee?!?!" he said, "lol".

the next morning, i put my foot down. i had felt sick for almost a week straight, and if i wasn't pregnant, i at least needed to go to the doctor. on our way to the gym, i insisted that we stop by the grocery store right next door and pick up a pregnancy test to take later that day. as soon as we purchased that ominous little stick, we looked at each other, and could pretty much hear each others' hearts pounding. we ran into the gym and bolted to the bathroom. i took the test while brandtly watched his life flash before his eyes. 

we obviously weren't trying to get pregnant. we hadn't even been married for a full year yet! we were the stuff that mormon-mocking memes are made of!! but in the five seconds it took for my test's results to come back, i knew that whatever that result was, it would be totally okay! even though i didn't feel "ready" to be a mom, things would be fine. because really, when are we ever "ready" for anything? i don't know if anyone is ever 100% ready to get married or to come out to friends/family or to go on a mission or move out of the house. you just have to make the leap and jump! 

so when we saw that happy little + sign, we knew it was for real and we knew that we would be PARENTS! whenever i think about brandtly holding a little baby that's half me and half him, my heart just BURSTS! we are so so excited for this little blessing we have coming november 27th, 2016!