Joella | A Birth Story and A Year in Review

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Reflecting on this past year is so bittersweet for me. At 10:16 am on February 3, 2015 I became a mom for the very first time. This has been the most incredible, and the hardest, year of my life. I had no idea on that cold morning that my world was about to be flipped upside down.



On Friday, January 30th I was officially past my due date and had an appointment. I hadn’t felt the baby move in a little while, and I started to worry. They checked my blood pressure which was a little higher than they’d like and during a sonogram the technician noticed her amniotic fluid was pretty low. I could tell by the look on the technicians face that she was concerned. Once I spoke to my midwife it was clear, “Honey, you need to have this baby. I want you to go home and grab your stuff. You can make a few phone calls and shower, but I really need you guys to head to the hospital.” Nate and I called our parents, grabbed our stuff, and off we went. I never dilated or felt a single contraction, so they planned to induce me. I was sitting in our hospital room, typing work emails, when a whole team of nurses and doctors swarmed into our room. They turned me over on my side and put an oxygen mask on my face. Joella’s heart rate had started to drop. I was scared and I squeezed Nate’s hand while he made sure to put me at ease and ask the doctor a bunch of questions. Thank God for him. “If it happens again, we have to take her back.” I was terrified. Because I hadn’t dilated they had to use a different form of induction. (Pitcoin wouldn’t work) It usually takes 12 hours. So that night I didn’t really sleep at all out of fear of what may happen, and I became so sick. I was still puking! How!?!? The next morning they checked me, and my body hadn’t changed at all. It was then that I became a little bit psychotic. I told Nate that I was leaving. This sweet midwife walked in to talk to me and tell me what our options were. She didn’t mention leaving, but I told her I was going to. She walked out to give Nate and I a minute to talk. “I’M LEAVING. I CANNOT STAY HERE!” “Babe, I don’t think they’re just going to let us leave like that.” “OH THEY WILL. GO OUT THERE AND TELL HER RIGHT NOW.” I was sobbing. I had never been so tired and uncomfortable in my entire life. Nate said he went out there and just said, “Look, my wife has had a horrible pregnancy. She’s been sick the entire time, she hasn’t slept in months, and nothing is working for her to be able to have this baby. She really wants to leave. Is there anyway you can let that happen?” She came back in and said she would let me leave IF my fluid was high enough and if I promised to drink a ton of water. She gave me some sleeping pills and told me to go home, take a bath, eat, and sleep. And you know what? I did just that and it was the most incredible sleep I had in months. I will forever be thankful for that midwife and for Nate. I couldn’t have become a mother that day. I can’t imagine being handed a baby after all of that.

On Monday morning, February 2nd, my midwife’s office called me and asked me to come in immediately. My favorite midwife, Karen, was there and apparently she was shocked to learn that I had checked out of the hospital. She knew everything that I wanted for my birth and she really tried her best to make it happen for me. Though she respected me and gave me the weekend, she was concerned. Joella’s fluid had gotten too low again. We spoke about our options. She stressed how important it was to get the baby out and that she support me, no matter what I decided, but we needed to make a decision and start the process. We went over each procedure. After a very long discussion, weighing the pros and cons, Nate and I decided on a C-section. Together. “I just don’t want people to think that I didn’t try.” I could feel my eyes filling with tears. Nate and Karen interrupted me immediately, “You did try! That isn’t even a question.” Isn’t that so sad? How much I worried about what everyone would think? “Honey, this is about a healthy mom and a healthy baby. That is my number one priority.” On the morning of February 3rd we walked into the hospital. Ridiculously early, but we were too anxious and excited. I was laying there with my gown on, talking to Nate when Karen walked in. Women were having babies, so she just wanted to stop by and give me a hug and wish me good luck. I had really hoped that she could just stay with me, but obviously I understood. The anesthesiologist walked in and proceeded to read me every single risk of surgery and anesthesia. Then I was asked to sign my name on a dotted line that I agreed and understood. I mean, I get it. They have to do that. I’ve had surgery before. However, I’ve never had a husband and a baby before. It’s different once you feel a stronger since of purpose and it’s way scarier. I could feel myself starting to shake. Nate started to rub my back. “You’re going to be fine. We get to meet our baby today.” Almost immediately my surgeon walked in and introduced herself. While speaking to me she started staring at the heart monitor. She called out to a nurse, “Is anyone in the OR right now?” “No, I don’t think so.” “Okay, I’d like to go now then.” She tapped my leg. “I’ll see you in there.” Though she a great job of acting calm, I knew what she was seeing and I knew why she insisted we go immediately.

Going into the OR for this sucks. It’s cold and bright, and you can’t have your partner immediately. So, you’re surrounded by machines beeping and nurses you’ve never even seen before. You have to lean over, hold onto a nurse, and let a doctor put two shots into your back. I was holding onto a nurse I had never even seen before. She was nice, but I found myself making small talk with her. I was scared and I wanted her to just talk to me so I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts. I could tell she was a little taken back by this. I’m assuming most women don’t go in there trying to chat it up. Then, just like a movie, Karen walked in. I started to cry. “Thank you.” I’m actually crying right now as I type this out. She took the place of the other nurse and held me. She explained every single thing to me. They talk so much in there. They throw out numbers and terms I know nothing about. “Right now they’re just verifying that they have each instrument they need…She’s just going through your chart.” Karen held my hand until Nate walked in. “Please just talk to me. I’m scared and I just need you to keep talking to me.” Nate and Karen just kept the conversation going. We didn’t know the gender. “What do you think? Boy or girl? How much will they weigh?” “7 pounds AT LEAST.” The doctor called out to Nate, “Okay, Dad. One more minute and we’re ready for you.” “Alright babe, last chance. Boy or girl?” “I think it’s a girl.” “Me too.” Karen just smiled. “Alright, Dad. We’re ready.” “IT’S A GIRL BABE!” He kissed me and ran over immediately. We were both crying. Then finally I heard a third cry. I hated that I couldn’t see her, but Nate did such an amazing job keeping me informed. “Six pounds, eleven ounces. She has so much hair! Babe, she’s so perfect!” It’s all such a blur, yet I remember every word. He brought her over to me and she instantly stopped crying. We locked eyes and just stared at each other. She was everything and more. I kissed her, we took a few photos, then Nate and Joella had to leave. Karen, stayed with me until the end. As they rolled me out she gave me a hug. “You made the right decision. I promise you. You did it.” And then off she went to deliver a baby!

It wasn’t until after we had gotten back to our room that Nate told me Joella had the cord around her neck and had swallowed a bowel movement. Pretty serious stuff. Low amniotic fluid and meconium aspiration can both be some major signs of maturity. I also had incredibly high blood pressure in the days and weeks to follow which could have also played a part. I think that Joella was ready, and probably had been ready, to come out. Unfortunately, my body wouldn’t let her. I’m so thankful for modern medicine and that I was able to bring a healthy baby girl into this world. We had made the right decision, and I know that.

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I mentioned that the first time I met Joella her eyes were wide open, and they have remained that way ever since! Every time someone would come by the house to meet her they’d talk about how alert she was. While most newborns sleep the first couple of weeks, Joella was wide awake. The second week she started to cry, and it really didn’t stop for almost six months. The only thing that would make her happy is if Nate or I would walk her around and let her see EVERYTHING. I’m serious! And even that didn’t keep her content for very long. At just a few weeks old I had her in a sling, facing to the side because she refused to face in, and she would just look out into the world while I made laps around our house.  It was exhausting. Although now I can laugh, because that was certainly just a glimpse into our future. Jo has strived for independence since the day she was born. She worked really hard to hold her head up early, then to sit up on her own, then to stand on her own, then to crawl, and now she’s walking. Before she hits each milestone she’s a disaster. A week or two before she hits it feels like she has colic again, which technically isn’t possible. It’s completely out of frustration. She prefers to do everything on her own, unless she knows you can get her there faster. ;) Most parents would say, “Uh oh! You don’t want them to start crawling, it’s going to get crazy!” “Oh boy, once they start walking it just gets harder.” But you know what? Joella is much happier with the more that she can do on her own. So we were always just relieved to reach the next milestone.


We had Joella’s one year check up today, and she is doing just beautifully. She’s healthy, and smart, and we’re just trying to keep up with her! She has three teeth, eats and drinks pretty well, sleeps like a champ (most of the time), and loves to dance. If she just hears a slight jingle in the background she starts to bounce. We love that. It happens to be one of our favorite things! That and wrestling. Girlfriend wants to wrestle at least ten times a day!  She becomes overwhelmed with excitement when she sees or hears a dog. “GOG! GOG!” And she can get one… when she’s nine… or ten… or twenty at her own place. ;) She still loves baths, and daily tries to climb in and out by herself. Her biggest love, for sure, are books. Joella will read with  you every minute of every day. It’s actually one of the only times I can get her to sit with me.  She will search for a particular book, and drag it across the room to you. And then scream, a high pitched scream, until you pick her up and start reading it!

Though I admire her strength and determination, these qualities have also been really tough. I read an Instagram post by Kate Baer a few months ago. It was right around when Joella was starting to stop nursing. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, because she just happened to be writing about her own experience. It was then that I had a huge epiphany.

“It is always the hardest part of parenting for me. It’s not the high-pitched whining or marker on the bedspread or bananas thrown on the floor. It isn’t even the metal tractor I stepped on yesterday. It is always, always the letting go. The constant practice of unclenching my grip and allowing my kids to be who they are, even when they are only a few months old.”

Letting go. The letting go has certainly been the hardest thing for me. The letting go of the fact that my baby is just a little different… a little more sensitive, a little more fierce, a little more independent. Letting go of the fact she isn’t a cuddler and she probably never really will be. We keep saying, “Maybe when you’re six!” The fact that she doesn’t want me to hold her hand through everything, even when I would really like to. Letting go of the fact that she doesn’t fit into this box that I created before she was even born. That wasn’t fair of me anyway. And honestly? Her personality is way bigger than that box I created. Way bigger than any box I could have imagined.


Nate and I were watching Parenthood the other night, and it was the episode when Haddie goes off to college. I started to cry. “The year just flew by, and before you know it she’s going to be leaving us.” “Babe, Joella is never going to be leaving us. She’s just going to go off and do her own thing one day.” I thought that summed up my girl perfectly. We have an ongoing joke that Jo is either going to be a high power attorney, or own a coconut stand in Hawaii one day. And you know what? We’ll be right there, cheering her on. This past year, to sum it up in a word, has been beautiful.

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Happy Birthday to my baby!!!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!

Thank you Ali Caudill and Kathleen Ross! We love you!

One year from today…

“I’ll be the protector of your heart, on the front lines of your guardian angels. We will build our love upon a rock. We will not fear but trust in times of danger. 

My soul, my soul, my soul can breathe in your love. I know, I know, I come alive in your touch and I won’t let go. It will take a lifetime to know all of the love I have to give you. 

And you my love will be my great companion. Through the storms our love will never rust. It will shine like the morning, and unveil a story, of something so much bigger than us. 

And when the darkness tries to shake us. There won’t be nothing that can break us, I won’t let go of what I promised you, my steady heart will follow through, find rest.”

Exactly one year from today, I will marry my love. I will walk down an aisle, lined with our friends and family, and I will stare into the eyes of a man who will never falter. A man who thinks I’m funny, who constantly reminds me that he thinks I’m beautiful inside and out, and a man that believes in me when I don’t believe in myself.


Thank you for always fighting for me…for always fighting for us…for this relationship. I feel like you and I can conquer the world together. Thank you for dreaming with me, and for laughing with me. I share with you what’s on my heart each day, and you never judge me. You only love me. 

Thank you for muting sports center so I can read you a paragraph from a book that makes me cry, for bringing me a glass of water to bed every night. And though you don’t put your dirty clothes in the hamper yet, you put them in a pile now. I think we’re heading in the right direction. And I love that you no longer argue with me over the thermostat. You just simply let me keep it where I want until I go to bed. And then, you quietly turn it down before you come up. Yes, I know. And then you turn it down even more when we leave in the morning. You’re really not that tricky, but I appreciate these little things.

Thank you for being my best bud. I love you more than you’ll ever know, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. I could not be more honored to become your wife, and it really will take a lifetime to know all of the love I have to give you.

I love you, “baby face assassin” 


First Day of School!

“I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin’ till you find the window,
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too.”

Every time I start to write about today my eyes fill with tears once again. Today has been EXHAUSTING on so many levels. Today, BOTH kids got on the bus. Just like that, they were gone. I cried with Jenelle for a few minutes, then I got into my car. I cried on the way home, then I relaxed. I called Nate and I cried again. Then, I took a deep breath. Jenelle called once more to tell me how thankful she is for me, which is the most incredible thing to hear. (Cue crying once again.) Then, my special friendy Ali called just to check on me. She sent her little one to pre-school for the first time, and we bonded about the hopes and the fears, and I cried once more. I think around eleven o’clock I was finally done. I finally had some peace about the situation. 

As much as I hated to see John go, we had done this before. When I started watching them John was at pre-school five days a week. And so when school came, it was a different feeling. I cried only a little bit because he was SO happy. My fear for him was more about, will he have the confidence? The amount he changed last summer was huge, so he got right on there and waved from his window, and I remember thinking that he grew up. In that minute it took to walk to the bus stop, walk on the bus, and sit in his seat, he grew. He was fine. More importantly, he was SO excited… he was a totally different kid then the one that I met seven months before! And down to my right side was Jenna, waving at her brother and even continuing to wave as the bus drove away. She followed it to the end of the sidewalk. Then she looked at me and said, “I wish I could go! I want to go to school with bud!” And I said, “Next year, babe.” And I remember thinking that is so far away. Thank goodness!

When I first became Jenna and John’s nanny Jenna was three. She went to pre-school only twice a week, and last year I home-schooled her. So, for a year, it’s been just Jenna and I, ten hours a day. To say that she became my sidekick and best friend is an understatement. Her and I went through multiple growing pains together. Helping to raise a three year old IS NOT easy. It’s really, really hard actually. Four got a little easier, and five has been even better. I’ve had the ability to help raise two (sometimes three) great kids. Jenna, however, is so different from John. She has more confidence than any child I’ve ever met. She’s FUNNY. SO FUNNY. And she’s bright, and sweet, and fearless. She’s that friend that all of her friends love because she does and says all of the things her friends wish they had the confidence to do and say. A lot of times they end up following her lead. This ends up either being absolutely hilarious, or humiliating. Sometimes I have to look at a parent and say, “Sorry about that.” I love her for that, you know? I love how she’s ready to take on anything that comes her way. Sometimes I almost wish she had a fear or two, just so she would hold on to me a little longer.

Last week I said to John, “Buddy! I can come have lunch again with you this year! Do you think that’s a good idea?” “YES!” he said. Then he wrapped his arms around me and squeezed me as tight as he could. “Jenna, I can come have lunch with you too!” “Yeah” she says (not exactly the reaction I was looking for) “But, Lauren? Sometimes I’m going to want to eat with my friends. So, sometimes I’ll just want to eat with them okay?” My heart sank. Believe me when I say that it took everything in me to not start crying right then and there. “What do you mean?” I say, as a concerned look takes over my entire face. “Just sometimes, Lauren.” She didn’t mean it meanly. I knew that, but it stung. John would NEVER say something like that to me. But that’s Jenna, she’s just honest. And to her, she wants to experience the independence first. 

Today, she hugged me a million times and told me she’d miss me. She told me she loved me over and over. She was excited, and I didn’t want my tears to ruin that for her. When we got to the bus stop she hugged her momma and gave her a kiss, then ran to me and gave me a kiss. I didn’t want to let go of her. I gave John a kiss and reminded him to have a wonderful day, but he had a “I’ve done all of this before” attitude that was too cute to ignore. When Jenna got on and sat in her seat she looked out the window. She waved to her mommy, and she waved to me, and then she just smiled. And a million things went through my head. 

I hope I prepared her
I hope she has a good day
I hope she makes lots of friends
Oh please let everyone be nice to her
Please let her be nice to others
Was I good enough for them?
Did I teach them enough?
Did I cherish all of my moments?
I hope they both know how much I love them
I really hope that this prepares me for my own children
this is painful
Maybe I should have taken them to Splashdown one last time
Maybe we should have read a little more
I hope John Parker guides her through the school
What if she doesn’t let him guide her? (that’s true Jenna fashion)
I wish I could squeeze them both once more
I love John’s haircut and his shoes
I love that he’s in the same class as his best friend
Is it bad that Jenna doesn’t know anyone yet?
She’ll have five friends by the time she gets home
She’ll thrive
I’m so excited for them both
I wonder if she’ll just forget about me…

That was the hard one. The one I dreaded for weeks. I know that it sounds ridiculous. Even when I’ve said it out loud to people I follow the comment by saying, “I know that sounds stupid but…” With Jenna being as confident as she is, my fear has more so been that she just won’t need me anymore, or won’t care about me as much. I am, after all, the nanny. I’m not her mom, or her dad, or her brother. I mouth to her, “I love you” as the bus drives away.

What is exciting is that I’m now, officially, a full-time photographer. I get to live the best of both worlds. I’ll get them ready for school, get them off the bus, I’ll spend their half-days with them, and they’ll have plenty of breaks and teacher work days that I get to spend with them as well. During the day I can edit, and have shoots. This is good, this transition. I know that because of this I’ll be able to give myself fully to them and cherish the hours that I do have. I won’t ever have to think about other work when I’m with them, and that makes me so happy and excited for what’s to come. So, today, I came home and I edited. and I made a schedule of blog posts because let’s be honest, I’ve been slacking in the blogging department. 

Jenna and John’s grandmother is in town, and though she gave me the afternoon off, I just couldn’t imagine waiting until tomorrow morning to hug them, kiss them, and ask them about their day. So, I went to the bus stop. As soon as the bus pulled in the driver said, “Kindergartener’s first!” Second in line was Jenna. She stood at the top step and looked around at all of the adults waiting for their kid. Then finally, she locked eyes with me. “Lauren!!!!” She ran down and gave me the biggest hug. The best hug. I kissed her face, and I realized. “I still got it. She still loves me and needs me, and all is right in the world.”

Both kids had a wonderful day. I got lots of hugs and kisses and smiles. These two are going to change the world. They’ve already changed mine…. I hope you’re ready for them.

Remembering to slow down

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

Dalai Lama

Today Jenna came to my bedroom door. I had just put her down for nap in the guest bedroom and of course her cute little self says, “Lauren, I just had a nightmare.” I laugh, “Oh yeah?” I laugh because I literally had just shut the door. This is a Jenna lie. This means please let me come in and hang out with you instead of napping. Believe me, I would nap with Jenna every day if I could, but it’s a slippery slope because in the beginning she got so use to me laying down with her that the moment I said, “I can’t today sweetie,” started an instant battle. So, now I make it more of a special thing. Everyday I lay with her long enough to read a book, or rub her back, but then I kiss her and walk out. Today I just looked at her and said, “Well, do you want to lay with me in my bed?” She starts to climb up and I have to help her. My bed is huge and she is still the smallest four, almost five year old, I’ve ever seen. My bed pretty much swallows her whole.  She gets comfortable and then just stares at me. We smile at each other and say, “I love you.”

Jenna and JP spent the night on Sunday. I’m starting to cling to them more than ever lately. I realize that everything is going to change in September, and it’s really starting to take a toll on me. So, when Jenna climbed into my bed at 5 am on Monday morning, I just didn’t care. I find myself making sure that JP holds my hand to and from the bus stop everyday. I also make sure he kisses me too, even though he thinks he’s cooler than me sometimes.

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. I’m trying to play so many roles that I feel like I can’t succeed at any of them. This always seems to happen once my other life (photography) starts to really get crazy. Luckily, I have a few great friends that are playing some of the EXACT same roles as me, and we give each other support. Most importantly, we remind each other of what is important.  Family and friends are the most important. Jenna and John are my family. So for now, that hat, the nanny hat, is the most important. If that means waiting to make strides in the photography world, that’s okay. I have faith that it’ll be their waiting for me. I have to remember to take time to be still, and to slow down. I don’t ever want to look back and wish that I had.

“While we try to teach children about life, children teach us what life is all about.”

Growing Pains | Personal Blog

If this is what it takes.

"You’re going to miss this" and Remembering to be grateful.

On October 2nd I was awakened by a mass text. “Hey guys! Just wanted to see if you all could make it out for Dad’s birthday either one night this week or this weekend.”My stomach drops. My dad’s birthday was the day before, October 1st. And I, his daughter, forgot. I panicked and called my mom immediately. “Mom! I can’t believe that I didn’t call dad, was he upset?” 
“Lo, he’s fine. He knew you were shooting a wedding all day don’t worry about it. He’s fine. Do you want to speak to him?”
“Yes. Please.”

Immediately my father answers the phone like he always does. This jolly, “Hello!” I start speaking a million miles per second, “Daddy, I’m so sorry. I had a wedding and I just didn’t even…”
“Lauren, don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal.” I start to cry.

How could I forget my dad’s birthday? I use to pride myself on always remember birthdays of family and friends. You’ll almost always receive a call or a text…if you’re lucky a meal or a drink. In that very moment I could not have felt like a more horrible daughter. 
“Honey, why are you crying?” 
“I just feel like I forget because I’m overwhelmed. I’m just tired…I feel awful.”
“Listen, I know you’re tired, I know you work a lot. It will work itself out. I know it may seem hard to believe, but one day when you’re my age you’re going to miss this. You’re going to miss always being busy and having so much to do…all of the new things you’re doing. You’re still figuring out so much, and it’s a lot of exciting stuff. Just hang in there. We’ll celebrate one day this week or this weekend, whichever works best for you. I love you.”
Seriously? My dad is incredible.

The past two weeks have been a roller coaster. Well, truthfully, the wedding season is always a roller coaster. Not to mention, this nanny business is HARD. However, it feels harder when I’m stressed out and when I’m tired. Lately, Jenna has needed a nap every day. I’ve felt my patience being tested constantly. Today I got annoyed because Jenna insisted on walking Bobo. (Like she does everyday) I said, “Not right now. I want to make sure he goes potty.”
She insisted over and over again.
“Jenna, you always ask to walk him, and then you don’t let him go to the bathroom. You’re not very good at it.”
Did I seriously just say that? Did I just tell her she isn’t good at something? Her face…you could tell that I had really hurt her feelings. Where are my words? I thought. I can’t remember anything? Not even MY kind words? Not even MY patience? Heck, I can’t even remember my own fathers birthday, apparently!

After a few seconds I looked at her and said, “Jenna, I’m sorry. I was just frustrated. You can walk Bobo. You do a really great job actually. I just want to make sure that he goes to the bathroom, then he’s all yours.” She smiles.

In the car, Jenna says, “Lauren? I need to tell you something.”
I turn down the music.
“What’s up?” 
“Well, I just wanted to tell ya that I love ya!”
“I love you too, Jenny.” 
She instantly falls asleep. We get home and I carry her in and lay her on the couch. I instantly think of what I can do while she’s asleep. Work wise, that is. Then, I remembered what my dad said. One day, maybe I will miss this crazy life. I know I’ll certainly miss Jenna and John, even the things that they do that drive me crazy. But, more importantly, I’ll miss our special times together. So, I let my work go, and I laid down right next to her. I watched her little body rise and fall, grabbed her little hand covered in marker, closed my eyes and napped with her for 30 minutes.

How blessed am I? I’m busy, life is crazy, but I have the most loving and understanding family and friends on the planet. (Especially during this time of year) I’m healthy, business is good, and I watch these two AMAZING kids that love me. No matter what. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else during this time in my life (Except for maybe sleeping, which I did accomplish!) Today, I decided that I needed to count my blessings and remember to be grateful…for everything. Because I will surely miss this.

Happy Birthday John Parker!

If you were to ask John why he loves me he would reply, “Because she gives me two snacks.” No, literally, because my friend asked him. If you were to ask me why I love John I would NEVER be able to sum it up to one thing. I would have to tell you a million different things. The funny thing is when I first started watching JP I felt like he really didn’t care for me. I mistook his shyness for pure disinterest. Before I was technically hired I was asked to come babysit the kids for an evening, just to see if we connected. John Parker had taken a piece of paper and made circles of about a dozen colors. Some were your primary and secondary colors, but there were more than that. While eating dinner I said, “Which color is the color of my eyes?” Blue. I thought in my head. “Well, yours are more of this color, this aquamarine. You have a little bit of blue, but you also have a little bit of green.” I laughed. “Oh! Okay!” I immediately thought that he was smart, but it wasn’t until my first day of work that I showed up and the kids had to go to pre-school. When I got there John had drawn me a map of how to get to school from his house. Impressed is an understatement. In that moment, I knew he was special.

He got to choose whatever he wanted for breakfast! Red, well, Pink pancakes it is! After arguing with me for 10 minutes about whether or not he should be allowed to have six pancakes I gave him a choice, six baby pancakes or one big one!

I’ve said it over and over again that I believe God put me with Jenna and John for a reason. Jenna has many qualities that are parallel to mine. She’s strong-willed and fearless in so many ways. She thrives off of socializing and loves being busy. (She get’s this from her mommy. Jenelle and I discover almost everyday another reason why we’re so alike.) I feel that when she becomes the most stubborn person on the planet, or complains that she can’t possibly pick up because she’s just, “too tired,” that God is laughing at me. I think in a lot of ways Jenna is teaching me about how I handle myself. For a little while I wondered what lesson it was that John was teaching me. He’s a logical thinker, he loves alone time, and he thinks that how something works is a lot more interesting then what it looks like. Oh, and he’s a boy, so what could we possibly have in common? The truth is, besides those traits, John is sensitive, intuitive, and extremely empathetic. And when he laughs REALLY hard, he cries. John Parker teaches me A LOT about myself as well. :)

No birthday is complete without “Happy Birthday” by The Beatles. 

John is now six. And lately he’s seemed more independent as ever. As soon as he could swim he was off and didn’t need me in the shallow end anymore. He had a “Jump Start Kindergarten” program for a week, and it didn’t even phase him when he got on the bus. He smiled and waved from his window. I started to get teary eyed only because I was SO proud of him, and just genuinely happy for him. THEN, he told me that I didn’t have to walk him to the bus stop, I could just watch him from the deck. Like, What? What is this? When did I go from the cool nanny to the lame adult? Well, he’s crazy because he’s not going to the bus stop alone. And the way I look at it, he was pretty appreciative with this rain that I was there to pick him up. So there! But honestly, it made me just a little bit sad that he didn’t need me as much. On the day of the earthquake Jenna fell asleep on the couch and John looked at me and said, “Do you want to go lay in my bed and read books?” This never happens. I dropped everything I was doing and went right upstairs. We read for over an hour and fell asleep for a short time. I’ll never forget that. I’ll also never forget the day that we were driving home from Zoe’s house and Jenna fell asleep in her car seat. JP and I laughed the entire way home. Non-stop. All over silly faces he was making. We both had tears streaming down our faces. I’m pretty sure that everyone in traffic thought we were crazy, but we didn’t mind at all.

When he got home from school he got to open one gift. The second he’ll have to wait until Saturday to open at his birthday party. He’s been asking for a remote control car for weeks!

One day over the summer Jenna and Kaylee were both in time-out. (If you’re a friend of mine insert “Shocker” comment here. ;)) They were both in separate rooms crying and continued to yell at each other through the doors. The rule is that your 5 minutes in time-out doesn’t start until you’ve calmed down. So, needless to say, it was just me and John for a while. John was playing with his cars on the couch. I looked at him and said, “Buddy, what would I do without you?”
“I don’t know!”
“Bud, I have to have 3 boys just like you okay? No girls.”
“Yeah, you need to just have boys like me.”
“The problem is that whether I have boys or girls isn’t really up to me. What am I going to do if I have girls?”
(shakes head) “Miss Lauren, those girls will overtake you.”
Oh John Parker, the voice of reason.

This was his face the rest of the day…along with yelling non-stop!

John Parker,

You blow me away every single day. Your knowledge fascinates me. I love that you love to be loud. I love that you think everything I do is funny. I love your kind heart and how much you care about all of us. I love that you’re intuitive. If I’m having a bad day, you just know. I can feel it in your hugs. As much as your picky eating irritates me, I love that we’ve come to this place where you trust me enough to just TRY THINGS! I love how confident you’ve become and how at any given moment you’ll talk to me about your muscles. I love how much you love music and how you sing in the bathroom every. single. day. I sometimes just walk up the steps halfway just to hear you. You crack me up! I love you for snuggling with me in the mornings and even though you’re coming to this stage of independence, thank you for at least humoring me every time I ask you if you’re okay. I love that when I go on crazy tangents about staying in the yard, being grateful, and how crazy girls are, that you just say, “Okay.” A lot of times after my tangents are over I can only imagine how crazy you think I am. I’m so thankful for you. I’m thankful for your lessons every day, but most importantly for your unconditional love. 

I love you buddy! Happy 6th birthday!

And for the record, you are the reason I want boys. However, your crazy sister makes me believe that I wouldn’t mind having a crazy girl as well. ;)

Miss Lauren

Getting John in front of my camera is not an easy task. He hates it! He just squints, acts like he’s asleep, or yells and jumps around. But this, this is John Parker. This face describes him perfectly.

Happy Birthday, Jenna!

“Happy Birthday, Jenna!”
“Thanks Lauren….Happy Birthday Lauren!”
She exhales and crawls into my lap.
“Did you get me a present?”
She crawls down to the floor and I hand her a bag full of sandals that match mine, (because she insisted that it was a “great idea” for her birthday gift), a purple tutu, a polk-a-dot swimsuit, and a kit full of nail polish, lip gloss, and chap stick.
“WOW! Thanks, Lauren!”
I can tell that she’s overwhelmed with excitement and she surrounds herself with each gift as she sits on her knees and goes around and around picking up each object over and over again. I sit on the couch and cover myself with a blanket.
“Lauren, I want to sit with you.” “Lauren? I love you, Lauren.”

As the age of four approached I would swear to you that Jenna and I became closer and closer. It was like I could see the age of three fading, and honestly, I’d be fine never seeing it again. Time-outs aren’t as often, and definitely not as dramatic. She’s now empathetic to the things she says to me, her family, and her friends. And now, more than ever, she makes a point to tell me throughout the day that she loves me, usually followed by a hug or a kiss each time. I told Jenna’s mom today that I love her and her brother so much now that I can’t even imagine what it will feel like to have kids of my own one day. I know that my heart will expand beyond measure, but I can’t even fathom that…it’s already expanded beyond words. They have me wrapped around their fingers. Without a doubt.

The day I started watching you I was hooked. Your dancing…your singing..your outfits! Your big brown eyes melt my heart every single time I look at you, which honestly makes it hard to discipline you sometimes. I love you for being so strong-willed, even though it’s our biggest struggle. I look at you and I see a reflection of myself. In fact, almost every time I call my own mother to tell her a story about you, she laughs and says, “That sounds familiar!” A girl that loves wearing dresses, but loves playing with boys. A girl who can cry at the drop of a dime, but isn’t afraid to speak her mind…AT ALL. I know you’re in my life to teach me a big lesson, Jenna. I will figure it out one day, but I’m extremely thankful for the small lessons you teach me each day. Nobody makes me laugh more than you do.
As I end this post I think of a song that makes me think of you every single time I hear it, and it also happens to be your favorite song these days, which is incredibly fitting…
“Oh darlin’ don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little. Oh darlin’ don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow up, just stay this simple..”
You’re my girl! I love you. Happy 4th Birthday, sweet, sweet girl!

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

When I think of my dad, the first thing I do is laugh! Seriously. My dad is hilarious. If you’ve met him, you know exactly what I’m talking about. As a kid I actually told my dad that he should be a comedian. Today, we have a debate about who’s the “best-looking” and the “funniest” in the family. Of course, I think it’s me, and he thinks it’s him. The irony is that it’s just the two of us having this conversation. So, we may or may not be a little biased. ;) When we ask my mom to pick she says, “How did Elaina and I get excluded from this competition?” Look, when you have a father that walks down the stairs and says things like, “Man, I’m good looking.” Or, “All of the girls always wanted me, I just turned them all down.” You learn to give him a taste of his own medicine.

My dad and I have a very honest and open relationship. There was a time that I would have told you that this would never happen. There was a time that I would have told you that I hated my dad. Yes, I feel awful even typing those words, but it’s true, and he knows it. I would have sworn to you that all my dad ever wanted to do was ruin my fun…or my life! When people first started getting their license I wasn’t allowed to ride with them. Wearing make-up was not allowed, for what seemed like forever. And dating? Forget it. I remember slamming my door on multiple occasions and telling my dad that I would never speak to him again. We wouldn’t speak for a few days. I snuck out, I rode in cars anyway, I borrowed my friends make-up at school and put it on in the bathroom, and I dated anyway. Well, as much “dating” as you can do until the age of sixteen.

My dad and I had a really hard time from ages twelve to seventeen. This was quite the contrast from when I was a kid. My dad and I were best buds. He took me hiking, camping, and fishing before I could even walk. He taught me about The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Though I insisted on wearing dresses or a skirt EVERY DAY, I was still never afraid to get dirty. My mom referred to me as a “prissy tomboy.”

My dad introduced me to sports and was literally the typical dad when it came to injuries. “Walk it off,” and, “Lauren, if it were broken you would know it,” were common statements made. One day, after a soccer tournament I was in the backseat of our car and told my dad I wanted to be a cheerleader. I still remember his look in the rearview mirror. Shock? Disappointment? Pure Confusion? Eventually he warmed up to the idea. He thought the fact that I was a flyer was pretty “cool.” And some nights after gymnastics practice I’d ask him to come in and watch me tumble for a while. That actually impressed him. I gave him a little bit of a break for a few years and started playing softball during my off-season. And for quite some time that was our  “thing.” We spent countless evenings playing catch, having batting practice, and working on strategy. When I was asked to start playing catcher, I’m pretty sure that he may have been the proudest daddy at those softball games. By my junior year of high school I had to make a decision. At one point I was on three cheerleading squads, which was ridiculous, and I had gymnastics a few nights a week. I gave up softball, but I think that all along he knew that I would.

High School for me was amazing. For mine and my dad’s relationship it was horrible. At one point I needed advice about a boyfriend. My mom was out of town on business and my dad said, “Well, why don’t you just tell me? I’m sure I can handle it.” His advice? “Go to school tomorrow and ignore him. He’ll realize that he’s wrong.” Well, I followed my dad’s advice, and I got dumped. When I asked the boyfriend why he dumped me he replied, “Well, because you ignored me at school all day today.” I came home angry and in tears. All my dad had to say was, “Good. He wasn’t for you anyway. He seemed like a jerk. You’ll know when you find someone for you.” Seriously? That was the LAST thing that I wanted to hear. Of course as a high school girl, you literally feel like that’s the end of the world. Needless to say, I didn’t take his advice on boyfriends for a another few years.

Now that I’m older my dad and I just have this understanding. We don’t agree on everything, in fact a lot of times we agree to disagree, after a good debate. (He’s who I get my stubbornness from.) Since I’ve moved out I feel like it’s almost brought us even closer. Now he calls me because he sincerely misses me, not to ask me where I am or if I cleaned my room. I feel like I can ask him advice, or even just vent to him, and he actually listens to me. Not only does he listen to me, but now I feel like he’s completely open and honest with me. There’s been multiple occasions that he’s said, “Alright, well since you’re an adult now and not a little girl…”

Thank you for giving me your eyes. I’m thankful for your hair as well, even though you tell me that I “don’t appreciate it” due to the fact that I dyed it. 
Thank you for making me “tough,” but for also noticing when I just need to be a girl and cry sometimes. 
Thank you for teaching me all about the outdoors, The Beatles, and photography. I know that you and mom are my biggest fans when it comes to this passion of mine. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher.
Thank you for teaching me good morals and values, and for never backing down. I wake up everyday praying that I do the right thing and that I continue to be a good person. I know that I wouldn’t feel that way had I not had your guidance. 
Dad, thank you for enforcing over and over again that I need to have high standards in a man. Though I thought you were crazy and annoying for so long, I now know how important that is to you, and I hear you. I promise.
And Daddy, thank you for never taking anything I said seriously during those years. I didn’t mean it, obviously. :)
I love you!
P.s. Today I will allow you to think you’re the funniest and best looking, but we both know the truth! ;)

Happy Mother’s Day!

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.” 
 Mitch Albom (For One More Day)
At my house there is a drawer. A drawer that contains hundreds of photos. We actually attempted to organize it a few years ago, but we were only somewhat successful. There are photos of the week my parents brought me home, mine and my sisters pre-school graduations, the day I got my first car, proms, and vacations. What I started to notice is that most of the photos are of me and my sister, or of us with our dad. It seems that my mom was always the one taking the photos, and  unfortunately, I’m notorious for “ruining” family photos. I’m always sticking out my tongue or sticking out my butt. Even in our family home videos there’s a constant sound of “Lauren, please stop…Lauren, don’t stick out your tongue that isn’t nice…Lauren, we just want one nice clip of you not shaking your butt.” What can I say? Not much has changed. ;)
I haven’t been an easy kid. I’m the first to admit to that. After you have a shy, sweet, calm daughter like my sister, I think I shook my parents up pretty good. I never did anything awful…but let’s just say that I found my voice at a young age and I never stopped using it. I made dinner conversations interesting, I came home past curfews, got way too many speeding tickets, and injured myself on numerous occasions doing something stupid. My dad definitely did the disciplining, which pretty much consisted of  me being grounded.. A LOT. My mom, however, always let me off after a few days. I love her for that. For always giving me another chance, even when she probably shouldn’t have. 
(This photo stays on our refrigerator. Basically because everyone loves making fun of my look. So, maybe I was a little confused!)

Since I’ve become a nanny I find myself connecting with my mom on a different level. I need advice. I need reassurance. I need to know that every emotion that I feel is normal. Her encouragement means everything to me. At the end of every conversation I have with  my mom she never fails to say, “And Lo, I’m very proud of you, and I love you.” In that moment, that means everything to me.

I wish that I could put into words how much you mean to me. Thank  you for always letting me know that you love me no matter what, because I know that I’m not always easy to love. Thank you for your acceptance, because I know that I’ve always kept you on your toes.  Most of all, thank you for being my mom, and for being proud to say that you are. I hope that I’m half the woman as you one day. I love you more than you’ll ever know. xoxo.
meand mom