BTS 2022

And by BTS I mean “back to school” .. not the Bangtan boys, though I do love their mashup with Coldplay. My friends, Georgians don’t mess around with a long summer. We were back to school August 8th, no lie. Though we technically get out in May and enjoy as full a summer as the next, it is strange to go back that early. Though, I have to say I was ready. There are only so many ways to occupy young students of the world in an off-routine, wild and crazy summer. Of which we had one of the best! But to respectfully contradict the words of Alice Cooper, school is indeed not out forever. Phew!

As I think over Luke entering 3rd grade, Kate in 1st, Emma in her last year of Pre-K, and Jordan rounding us out in the 3’s class, I am both shooketh and proud as they embrace their new school-year. And we also celebrate James as he continues his amazing work as a teacher. And an incredibly debonair one at that 🔥 Happy school year, folks!

A California summer road trip

This summer, we decided to treat the kids with a cross-country road trip back to where we started from, and by that of course I mean, California. Can you hear it now? Our entire fam belting that song, surrounded by poppy-lined roads as we cross the border into the state and cheers with our In-N-Out milkshakes?

In all reality, we evaded a wildfire by the hair of our chinny-chin-chins as we neared our last destination (Flagstaff, AZ) and hurriedly scurried cross the border, gave a little shout-out as we crossed the border (and a moment of silence for $7/gallon gas prices, wah!), and jammed down to Orange County so we could miss as much of the LA/OC traffic as humanly possible 😆

All things considered, I was so excited to come visit! There were friends, family, and so many things we’ve missed, and especially that refreshing ocean air as you frolic barefoot in the sand, warm sun on your back, watching that lingering fog just hanging a few miles away, giving off coolest summer breeze that I so adore. You know, just as an example.

I have to toot our horn here, because I’d venture to say that we have become top-notch road-trippers. James was the master of the driving domain, and of navigating the quickly-changing weather, which was especially dicey between Arkansas and Oklahoma. Luke trained and recruited the car as “red light/green light noticers”, calling out any remote shift of traffic lights. I came in with the reservation muscle, booking hotels and premium SUV’s at will (we’re welcome!). And then we all mastered eating on the fly and savoring stunning sunsets/sunrises.

We made our way from Atlanta to Memphis, Memphis to Amarillo, Amarillo to Flagstaff (so wished we could have stopped here), and then down to ye ole stomping grounds in Orange County, namely Costa Mesa. Family time was next level. We had so many great memory moments down at the beach, hanging around the house with grandma, aunties, uncles, and cousins, swimming, all the doggies, shopping and treats, pedicures, and movie nights. I mean.. these kids had so much fun. We also thoroughly enjoyed the fancy massage chair with all the bells and whistles, free to use at-will. My calves will never be the same.

Then we took the 101 up to Santa Cruz, our favorite route with all the sweeping ocean views. I feel like we’ve driven it hundreds of times, and if not, we’re probably close. Between jaunting back-and-forth when I was in school, different trips to visit family, vacation, etc. Many of them, James and I ♥️ And also, strangely, almost to the date when we had left just one year ago! As we neared our California hometown, I was curious how they’d take it all in. I was a little shocked at how much the kids still had every corner memorized down to the buildings and streets, even Emma and Jordy. We toured my mom’s newly-remodeled house, aggressively retrieved some of my favorite coffee around, and settled in.

In Santa Cruz, we visited with family, beach days and play dates with friends, long walks and sunsets on the beach just James and I, squeezed in some lengthy walks, park days, more family, and scored with multiple date nights(!).. such a highlight. Besides messing up my knee like a ding dong, this was a special time. I came away having great appreciation for the things I love about my ESSC roots (lol, that is strangely accurate), but also major love for our new phase and new town, and thankful to get to enjoy both. Although the long trip back (moment of silence for our stressful Chattanooga experience), crazy monster thunderstorms in the last hours of our trip, and mosquito bites upon our arrival home reminded us to stay humble.

Jordan turned 3!

Jordan turned three! We rang his birthday in with all the Super Mario trinkets and accessories possible, which filled him with all the three-year-old awe and wonder you could hope for. He really went hard in the paint for Mario last year and hasn’t looked back, which makes us giggle because James made a strong push for “Mario” as a name. You’re welcome, son – I’ve got your back!

It’s been a minute since I’ve gotten to muse about this wild, precious, lovable boy. What to say! Well, Jordan does not fit the mold, and I adore him for it. He decided to stir things up being the fourth child that he is, because any parenting methods that “worked” with our other kids, he typically won’t accept (lol). He has given us the chance to figure things out in a different way, and I mean that, and we are better for it. Life after Jordan has flipped the script in a lot of ways. Isn’t it funny to get to your fourth child, and think for a half a second that you’ve got your mom game figured out? Har-dee-har-har, as they say.

Jordan, or Jordy, is a grand recipe of sweet and tender, goofy, tenacious, willful and persistent, and the master of snuggles, many of which I am on the receiving end of ♥️ He loves MUSIC and is specific about his genres and artists (Jack Johnson is still a fave, and they’re almost birthday twins), football (saying “Let’s go man!”), going to preschool, snacks, riding his bike, reading, washing the dishes while I cook, LOVES the beach, and stealthily sneaking any electronic device he can get his hands on.

Jordan is so endlessly curious, and helps all of us slow down and be curious, too. He has this great ability to see people clearly and read their emotions, he’s been so near and dear to anyone in their tough time, even in his three short years. I can’t wait to see how much you’ll grow over this next year, bud – we all adore you and love you. Happy Birthday!

Labor Day at Lake Oconee

Hooray for a change of scenery. We had so much fun visiting Lake Oconee last weekend and celebrating Emma’s 4th birthday. We haven’t been ready for too much driving and exploration since the cross country drive in June, but we couldn’t pass up a chance to see a new part of Georgia, in this case middle Georgia. We wined, we dined, watched sparkly sunrises, read, took multiple baths in the huge spa tub, and watched some college football! I realized how strange it felt to take a little trip, since we haven’t done much of any traveling since the pandemic, and this first half of the year, all our focus was on hammering out our move.

We found a sweet chocolate cake for Emma’s birthday dinner and a local butter pecan ice cream, since pecans are a homegrown thing here. She is one of the best people to give things to and celebrate, she just makes it might be the BEST thing that’s ever happened. She is so grateful and bubbly about it all. We trekked up with various gifts from faraway fam and also did some unicorn decorations when we arrived, she was in pure awe. Aren’t four year olds fun?

It is a labor of love to take trips anywhere with kids, but I’m determined to get better at it. This was surprisingly smooth at times! Luke, Kate, and Emma could all sleep in the loft in the three twin beds which is still a shocker for me. Then again Jordan deciding to be able to climb out of pack-n-plays and cribs probably made up for all of it 😂 we tried that crib in every room until he was too tuckered out to try anymore. Whew!

Here are a few cozy pics from the trip, we basically were expert loungers for a good portion of it. There was some tooth-losing, football lakeside, shore exploring, and always coffee! We did some balcony and sunset watching too. And driving round the lake, seeing some incredibly beautiful homes and scenery. And nap time, because what else do you expect with a two year old in tow heh!?

Happy Birthday Emma 🧁

To our little love, Emma, happy birthday! We adore you baby girl! Emma always surprises us with her sweetness and flexibility in life. She brings joy almost everywhere she goes. A little animal or a small scene she’s set up is like the beginning of a magical world to her. She has such a specific love for people and things, and remembers so many minute details about them.

I see all the things she’s learning week by week come to life, and she sees them everywhere (like the letter “h” in a shadow on the ground just today). And we spend much of our time together in learning songs, she will always sing along. I also realized we do role play all the time, “unicorn needs her medicine!” Or “doctors always wear their masks” to get her to keep hers on 😆

Emma is just so attuned to our little world and her family, she cares for us all so carefully and so deeply. She is by far the best smoocher of our bunch, says hi to every person we pass on walks and could possibly make anybody in the world feel joy. I totally believe it. Emma, you love your world so sweetly, we adore you dear girl. You make our lives better ❤️

(Emma at 3, 2, 1, and earlier)

New Chapter (we moved!)

Well, it’s been a minute but I thought it was a good time to start keeping my dear wordy and wildly emotional online journal. And the big news, especially as far as a journal would be concerned, is that we’ve moved! Out of state! Yes, we have ended up in the land of peaches, sweet tea, Outkast, and summer rainstorms, otherwise known as Atlanta, Georgia (or the metropolitan area therein). A move has been in the works for us for a while, but nailing down where and when has been the big question. Through the process of 2020 and the months that followed, we ran over and over through different job opportunities, schools, locations, and in Spring, we sent James off to a few interviews here in Atlanta.

It is a process of the highest effort, brain space, emotion, prayer, organization, and nearly miraculous parenting to pull off. Historically, we do not shy away from a challenge, and apparently this was an exercise in making sure that’s true 😂 This has been the hugest challenge, with so many moving pieces and aspects. I wish I could say I’d be writing some follow-up posts (‘Five tips for moving cross-country with 4 kids under 7’) but I’ll spare you. It has been a will to survive at times. For example, driving cross-country with 4 children. Or arriving to find our house has no washer or dryer (pictures lied!) and waking up to vomiting children the very next day. Or being sick and getting lost at 3AM on the way back from the Urgent Care. For a second there, I thought Georgia was going to chew us up and spit us back out 😂 But we weathered a few of those storms and have a little Georgia grit now (well, maybe..) and we’re getting our footing now.

Regardless of those regular life hiccups, we are so thankful to be here, and honestly, it was totally worth the efforts. There is so much we do already miss in California, but we already have a beautiful friend group that is here, James gets to again be at school with the big kids, there is so much to explore and see, and there’s so much vibrancy here. The South is truly charming and the hospitality is real, people are so friendly. I had no idea Atlanta was the city in a forest, we live in the trees! I take so much comfort in that (feels so familiar) and I even woke this morning to fog (textbook coastal California).

We are unsure of the amount of time we’ll be here or the long-haul plan, but we’re really happy and thankful. I see so much opportunity here for us, in our goals, enjoyment, faith, family time. I have always had an itch to live somewhere else and so in some ways, this feels like a long time coming. We can’t wait to explore more and more of the gems around us. Sitting here in my new home office and looking around, I can’t believe we actually went through with it, and it’s been a pretty amazing adventure so far. More to come!

Summertime, 2020 style


Well! Summer of 2020, and here we all are, living through strange, unbelievable days. This year did not have me holding my breath right from the get go, and though I didn’t declare any particularly aspirational goals this year, rest assured I’ve accomplished nothing. I am mostly pleased to get a proper shower, ‘specially one of the long, purely and wholly uninterrupted, steamy ones where I emerge as Cinderella herself. It’s heavenly. Overall really, our summer is so out of step, as is our long list for sunny day outings.. we’re fairly entertained at home and at certain parks or outdoor areas but maintaining this over so many months is not easy. But we’re healthy, somewhat mentally stable, which I’m sure the kids would argue, and we still manage to have some fun 🙂 Continue reading “Summertime, 2020 style”

A first birthday for Jordan

Last month we celebrated Jordan turning ONE! This first year with everybody’s baby brother has been such a special one. It is a real wonder to watch Jordan through the eyes of our family. He is happy to be everyone’s baby. But in all actuality, he seems like he might outgrow us all before we know it! He is one hundred percent a cuddly, wrestly and mostly happy (except when grouchy!) bear cub! He has no fear.

Continue reading “A first birthday for Jordan”

Birth story—Jordan Levi

Our sweet Jordan, our May baby. Although this is technically our fourth birth rodeo (man, that’s a comparison that breaks down real fast), I could not believe how much every birth has felt like its own entity. The butterflies, the excitement, the nerves, the preparation. While I had peace knowing what my body has or hasn’t done, I was still very in touch with my fears of giving birth again. I was nervous about precipitous labor; Emma had been born in under three hours and while that sounds nice and fast, it’s also hard to stay on top of the pain. I was also anxious when I went late; Luke had been the only other babe to be late and there were complications, which I was hoping I wouldn’t have to face. And although I knew these were only hypotheticals, I think my body had a hard time relaxing and allowing labor to come.

I had no consistent contractions leading up to the birth but my anticipation was so high and I was overthinking every twitch. I was dilated 2-3cm for weeks and had my membranes stripped twice actually (you’re reading a birth story so I imagine you are expecting to read things like stripped membranes but if not, you should probably stop here..). It worked both times but my cervix literally closed back up after a week; he was not ready! But on the eve of being one week late (May 9), I started having more contractions, not evenly spaced apart but at least they hurt and I knew something was happening. I’d been texting with my doula to keep her updated but around 11:30pm, I was at a standstill. It wasn’t really progressing. Around midnight she sent a text suggesting I try and sleep for a little bit and I reluctantly agreed.

When I woke up, Kate was snuggled next to me (which I didn’t remember happening) and it was 1am on the dot. I stood up and instantly was bummed, I had slept off my contractions. I went downstairs to turn off lights and boom! One of the heavy hitting contractions came. I got in position in the bathroom to start my early labor and before I could take a beat, the next contraction came and with power. That was all it took, I knew the pain level was high enough that we needed to get to the birth center right away. I woke up James, grabbed our bags and we filed out into the quiet street to load up. We called, gave the heads up and were there within a few minutes.

My contractions were quick and painful and I was breathing through them and focusing as best I could. I walked up the stairs to the birthing wing and the attendant at the desk directed us straight into our room. I didn’t hold back with my grunting and such and I think the nurse got the idea that I was ready for business. They called in a nurse for my IV (always required to get this because of my former c-section, always reluctant!) and I got into a gown, all the while working through contractions with James applying pressure on my back. The nurse got me on the table to check me and I was at an 8! Thank goodness..

At this point, it was about 1:40am and the nurses proceeded to try and get my IV in. After 20 minutes of IV poking and pausing for incredibly strong contractions, they finally decided to go through a huge vein in my arm which is a super inconvenient spot, but I just wanted that part to end. At 2am-ish, as soon as the pricking nurses left, I felt a downward urge to push. The contractions were at their strongest and I knew it was time. They brought the doctor in and she checked me out and said, push when you’re ready. Praise the Lord! I couldn’t remember a time when the doc gave me the green light so quick. She encouraged me like I was a seasoned pro! At this point, my water hadn’t actually broken. She mentioned it as I was pushing and I realized.. I’m pushing this baby out in the water bag?? Jordan’s bag of waters was still intact, and while that sounds like a cushy soft type of push, it was so much pressure and so uncomfortable, not like those soft slick little baby heads.

Finally one of my pushes felt like it was getting somewhere and pop!—I kid you not the bag popped and sprayed like the splash zone at Sea World. I was mortified, But they kindly rejected my apology. Yes, I apologized because you know what, I find that it’s a decent thing to do when you’re embryonic fluid splashes across your OB’s face 🙂 But with the splash, came Jordan’s head! Which provided some pressure relief. But then she said, “let’s give another push to get his shoulders out”—what!? So with another grand push came the rest of little Jordan who immediately was scooped up and before being put in my arms, let out a mid-aerial poop and got that first meconium out of the way.

BM aside, moments of pure joy, elation and relief (nothing like that instant relief) ensued and we embraced that first beautiful moment with our little boy! I was so thankful to see him, see his face, hear his sweet cry and have him out of my belly! He instantly rooted and we began nursing as everyone fluttered about. He also proceeded to pee all over me as we sat there, which just seemed endearing in the moment. I honestly could care less, I was so happy to be holding this little bundle. He weighed in at 8lbs 4oz, which explained the second shoulder push and was our biggest babe! The minutes and hours to follow were spent sleeping, recalling the evening and soaking up the entire beautiful experience.

I was so struck how much this birth had required of me, especially emotionally. It is a wonder how much these created bodies can do! And even though you’ve done something before, it isn’t a given that things feel easy breezy. I was nervous, I was aware of the gravity of it all, more than I’d ever been. I was both amazed with my body and sobered by what it would be doing. Things went fairly smooth—and I’m so grateful for it, but I knew more than ever that continuing to reach out to each other as we embrace these moments is so vital. Incredibly thankful for this healthy, wonderful delivery and blessed beyond measure to have our sweet Jordan Levi here with us!

Jordan, months 4 and 5

Jordan is five months tomorrow! So as one does, I shall post his four and five month update. Nights have been late recently so Jordan is kicking my booty sleep wise but lucky for him, I am so smitten with his stage right now. He is so smiley and coos so much, and loves chattering to himself. He is also starting to play with toys and his toes too and it’s so sweet to see him roll around grabbing on his little feet.


Continue reading “Jordan, months 4 and 5”

40 weeks + 1 day!

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Well! Yesterday was my due date. And just writing that out probably needs to be more okay with me, so here I am—40 weeks, 1 day, with my now historically late boy pregnancies! 😉 Going past my due date feels like some sort of mental barrier for me to conquer. When I remember that I had ten days of this with Luke, I am speechless.. how we survived, I have no idea! Well anyhow, I am experiencing a lot of contracting Continue reading “40 weeks + 1 day!”