October In (On) Balboa

11:21 AM

October in Balboa is magical! You only use the preposition "on" when you're on the actually island, not the city. This makes total sense, but then shouldn't we say we are ON Manhattan, not IN manhattan? Oh, English language, how peculiar you are. 

We love this little park right in the marina called Marina Park. It's quaint, clean, and not overly crowded.  There are so many great things to do in Balboa including the Fun Zone on the boardwalk, taking the ferry to the island and checking out all the beautiful homes ($$$$).  Also, make sure to check out their cute farmers markets of local artisan goods.  Balboa is known for their world-famous chocolate-dipped frozen banana. YUUMMMMMM.

We really love this place and I highly recommend it for a quick visit if you need a break from the craziness of Los Angeles. Or, if you're like us, it's great for a quick getaway from Anaheim and Disneyland. 

If you're baby-free, I'd suggest renting a paddle board at sunset and being one with nature. So serene and beautiful this world can be! 

Happy Traveling! 

6 mois de Mae

11:11 AM

SIX months of knowing our sweet Mae Valentine. Her middle name is so fitting and reflective of her love for life and family. My great grandfather Valentine would have been proud to have such a beautiful little namesake.

This half year has flown by.  Wanna know the surest way to speed up time? Have a kid. Boy, does life speed up.  I can remember stopping for a Jimmy John's sandwich on the way home from the hospital with Mae. I sat in the back seat with both girls to ensure every one continued breathing as Mike ran in to get the sandwiches. I remember watching people go in and out of the sandwich shop going about their normal day as I sat recounting the last few day of my life. I just gave birth to my second baby. I can't believe it.  My body is a crazy force! This child is perfect and healthy. I am so hungry. My body hurts. I love these girls. I hope the house is clean when I get home.  When will I sleep again?

SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT.  I love Mae's age now. She has settled into our family. We got the breastfeeding thing down pat. I sleep. She sleeps. She enjoys sitting in her high chair sucking on frozen blueberries as I meal prep. What a dream girl.  The most common thing people tell me is what a smiley and happy baby she is.  It's so true. She is just content to be around the people who love her most. I am so lucky to be able to stay home and rear her and love her and kiss all her owies.

Then some mom guilt sets in as I get a flutter in my stomach about how I am ALMOST to the year mark of her life. Which means we are done breastfeeding and I get my body back.   It's not that I don't love nourishing this perfect being.  It's just that I am SO looking forward to her gaining independence and growing up. I am excited to watch her eat her first strawberry that isn't pureed. I am excited to watch her eat an ice cream cone.  I am excited to watch her chase after her big sis. I have all the feels right now. MANNNNNNN. Don't have kids if you don't want to have an extra mushy, ultra-sensitive heart. For heaven's sakes, today we were late bringing Jane to ballet by 8 minutes. I was SO stressed out because her ballet teacher is no joke.  Of course as I shooed Jane into class, and the teacher gave me a mean look and rolled her eyes. And all I wanted to do in that moment was cry. Geez, Court, get a grip.  I spent the next hour being mad at the teacher and then I realized I was being silly. I went up to the teacher at the end of class and apologized for being late.  She thanked me for the apology and then life goes on.  Being late isn't ok.  But being human is. Ugh. Such a hard balance!

I hope that my children see me as a strong mama. But I also want them to see my sensitivities and my humanness.  I don't want to seem perfect but I wouldn't mind being seen as triumphant.  As someone who can overcome a problem and learn from it.  I just wanna be the best mama I can be. I want to be present for every moment. Even the bad ones. I want my children to have the best life possible. I want to watch them grow into wonderful, powerful, Godly people. I am along for the ride. Mama is taking her train of beautiful humans into the the land of health, happiness, and possibility.  First stop! Costco. Cuz we are out of like everything.

Cheers to 6 months, Mae Valentine.  You are mama's special girl.

Jane's third birthday

3:02 PM

We have a three-year-old, people! She's wild and beautiful, smart and fierce. This girl is definitely taking the world by storm. We are smitten over this little gal.  

She was so excited to plan her party.  At first we were thinking a Peppa Pig theme (but then the show got really annoying to me and I just couldn't hang with that idea) then we were thinking unicorn theme, so I ordered a bunch of fun decor on Amazon.  Then somehow the party turned into a Moana/unicorn theme. So, in true three-year-old fashion, we had a very mismatched, yet adorable party.  Even Moana herself paid a visit! 

Jane Alexander Hammonds is the true definition of a girls girl. She loves all things makeup, nail polish, hair clips, dresses and pink! She even has quite an active social life.   If she isn't reading books on her pink princess bed, she's jumping on the trampoline or stirring up something to eat in the kitchen.  She always wants to lend a helping hand.  She has a heart for the Lord and even takes it upon herself to pray for people when they seem down.  She's our little blessing and we are so pleased with the little woman she is becoming. 

Jane, when you read this blog post someday, can you please know that mom and dad love you so very much? Maybe we aren't the coolest parents at times, or maybe we are too old-fashioned and strict, but know that what we want for you is the very best. Please forgive us for messing up, because we aren't perfect.  Please come to us when you need help.  Please never feel embarrassed or cornered. Please trust your heart when making a tough decision. And when your heart feels confused, turn your heart to the Lord.  We love you so much. Happy third birthday, daughter. 

Mae's Birth Story

2:59 PM

I've been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but every free moment I get is usually spent catching a few extra ZZZ's or scrubbing the toilets.  With  both girls napping, I decided to do a quick blog post so I don't forget the details of bringing Mae Valentine Hammonds into the world.

After holding on for 42+ weeks, I was STILL scheduled to be induced.  I didn't want to be considering that with Jane, my labor was super painful due to the pitocin.  I didn't want that darn stuff again! But lo and behold, my "pit" drip started at around 2 am on March 5, 2017.  The nurse assured me it would be just a small amount since I was already dilated to a 3.  Mike and I thought for sure we wouldn't deliver Mae until that night, but as the early morning hours crept past, I was dilating quickly. The overnight nurse couldn't believe how quickly I was progressing. I woke Mike up at around 5 and told him "babe, my contractions are super strong and feel myself dilating fast."  When the nurse came in and checked me, I was at a 7! We couldn't believe it.  I was so happy that this labor was promising to be quick and easy.  The next few centimeters did take some time, however.  Mike went and ate some food with his dad in the lobby, Mike's mom came and helped me through those really tough contractions. Meanwhile, my parents were at home with Jane who sadly contracted a fever that day. What timing! 

I have to say that this labor was so different from my first in that I was so mentally more present this time around. I feel like my mental calmness helped me through the contractions a lot more efficiently.  I feel like I wasn't so freaked out about the baby being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around its head or me losing blood after delivering, or any of the other scary, possible outcomes when enduring childbirth.  Also, modesty be-gone.  You really do not care who is coming in and looking at your vagina or touching your vagina or discussing the happenings inside your vagina.   In fact the word "vagina" and "cervix" are used so frequently, they almost echo.

When Mike came back, it was getting pretty close to start pushing. Of course, my doctor was on the other side of town, so they advise you to "hold it in" for a while. I can't believe this is an actual thing.  You're going to tell a woman who has a baby crowning out of her vagina to "hold it in?" 

Luckily, my doctor came quickly and in a few quick pushes, Mae was born.  I then birthed the placenta, which the doctor held up to Mike and I so we could examine it closely. I am not sure if this was really cool, or really crazy.  You can tell my doctor has a true respect for childbirth, which made me feel empowered and respected.  Thanks to an amazing team, this birth was so intimate, calm, and beautiful. Mike got to cut her umbilical cord and the doctor laid her on my chest. We started breastfeeding immediately. Mike and I looked at each other with eyes full of tears.  We were just amazed at her beauty and her sweetness. I have never felt more connected to my husband in my entire life. 

The nurse came into our suite and gave her a quick little bath. She never left my sight. I was so thankful for that.  Of course, as I am holding my new, beautiful, healthy girl, I am worried about my other girl who was at home with a fever. And just like that, you realize your heart just grew twice its size to accommodate that new baby.  I couldn't actually be at rest until I saw my two girls meet for the first time. So, after we settled in our "mama suite," Jane came for a visit. She shyly waited at the door of the room, as she held back a grin. She was nervous to meet her baby sister. All the months of anticipation and mental preparation finally set in for her. You could tell she didn't want to mess up.  After she held sissy for the first time, the nervousness wore off and Jane was already laughing with Mae, tickling her feet and squeezing her cheeks.  

Mike took Jane home for a bath and bedtime, while I stayed in the hospital with Mae.  When Jane said goodbye to Mae for the first time, you can tell it pained her. They were bonded immediately. 

The following hours and days were quite the blur.  I remember my sister-in-law left a tray of brownies and I stayed up the whole night tending to Mae, watching HGTV and eating the entire tray. How's that for Cloud 9?  When you are so overjoyed that you don't know what to do with yourself, the adrenaline keeps you chugging away.  Sleep sounds nice, but you really don't need it.  You're too interested in this new person.  

I could go on and on about the incredible events of March 5th, but for now I will end this post with the truest statement of all time. I am forever grateful to be the mother of Mae Valentine Hammonds, born 7 lbs 10oz, on March 5. 2017.

Ps, how perfect is Mike's Bass Pro Shops hat in these photos? Haha. 

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