52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 17

This week I’ve felt pretty darn happy, despite all the challenges that loom ahead.  I must say, ya’ll were a BIG part of my happy of the past few days.  THANK YOU thank you for the positive power you put this way upon me posting Evelyn’s birth story and about our upcoming deployment.  YOU: the readers, friends, and family in my life make me smile and make us feel supported. Thank you does not cover the time you took to drop me a line or comment, so please know from my heart I appreciate it!

HAPPY this week looked like:

Hikes, walks, and talks with my Mama and Dadsie.  You guys have been a great push to KEEP MOVING and go for my fitness goals. We’ve been an active family always, it’s so nice to have you here sweating along with me!

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

Sleeping baby. So sweet.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

Baby footie pajamas.  Adorable.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

Enjoying this growing girl.  She started grabbing items this week.  Seeing her brain trying to work those hands was very exciting. Coos have turned to real eye-contact chatter attempts, and some little lady now hates sitting on the floor while we eat at the dinner table.  I sense a highchair purchase is in our immediate future.


52 Weeks of Happy 2015


Other happy:

Buying plane tickets for an exciting adventure (details later)

Getting baby girl’s passport sorted

Hitting my April walking goal

Date night with my main man

What will week 18 bring?!

Then There Were 2

We are embarking into foreign territory.

We are sailing away from our safe harbor.

We will make it, even so.

From three to two…

Here we go.

Our Fam

I haven’t discussed our upcoming trial on the blog yet because frankly, I was not ready to face it.  We indeed are entering yet another deployment.  I can’t say to where or when he’ll be going, to keep him and our family safe.  But what I can say is that it is another half a year long.  I can say it hurts.  I can say we found out just 30 days after he returned home from the last one.  It was shocking. My mind and heart reeled.  Evelyn was not even here yet.  I felt like finally all my people were together, and now we are separating all over again.  I wanted to enjoy the arrival of our daughter, but I felt sad that the first year of her life Daddy was not always going to be around.

The reasonable, fact understanding part of my mind knows that we are military and this is part of our life.  We know this can happen.  We can handle it.  I can do this Mama thing for her and me, and him.  She’ll be so little for this she will not remember it.  I have amazing family and friends visiting and that I’m going to see.

But it doesn’t stop being hard.

The other night we were reading Ev Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman.  The story could not be more perfect for our family right now.

So hold your head high and don’t be afraid

to march to the front of your own parade.

If you’re still my small babe or you’re all the way grown,

My promise to you is you’re never alone.

You are my angel, my darling, my star…

and my love will find you, wherever you are.

I’m already missing you my husband, my friend.  But my love for you, our love for our daughter…it will stretch across miles and oceans, space and time.  Wherever we are, our love remains.

Evelyn June: Birth Story

Colleen Cordle Photography: BabyI hesitated sharing my birth story online because it was a precious day that I hold dearly to my heart.  I hesitated because I was not sure I wanted to let everyone in on our sacred, private moment.  What changed my mind? I remembered being pregnant, not having gone through labor yet, and feeling TERRIFIED.  Most television shows, movies, even my closest friends and family would share tales of woe regarding labor.  It was depicted as screaming agony, horrifying pain, and hard to recover from.

I want to share because mine was very different from the above.  I count it as one of my most cherished and beautiful memories.  There was some pain, but it never felt unmanageable.  My husband and I worked diligently before birth to educate ourselves on the process.  To make some choices regarding the healthcare of our family.  Let me state this clearly before I delve in too deep: There are a so many ways to have a baby.  Do what’s right for you.  This is not a competition, it is about getting the baby and the mama through the process SAFELY.

With that being said, we wanted a natural, no-intervention childbirth.  That was the hope.  I worked my mind around the hundreds of possibilities of what could go wrong, and though terrifying, I kept thinking as long as we stayed true to getting me and babes here safely, we could do no wrong.  We could not fail.

At 12:00 a.m. on January 24th my eyes flew open to a rush of water.  Was this it?  All week long I’d been anxious.  My due date had come and gone.  I was 40 weeks and 3 days into pregnancy, and beyond excited to meet my little girl.  At my check-up on Tuesday (the projected due date) my blood pressure was high.  I declined a vaginal exam that day because it made me feel more pressure to see if I’d made “progress”.  In my mind if I wasn’t in labor, it did not help to know if I was any more effaced or dilated.  I was told to come back in Friday.

Friday my blood pressure had evened back out.  I did allow for an exam that day, and while I was there the doctor suggested she could strip my membranes.  Ry and I had talked at length about the risk factors of this procedure (it can break the water prematurely) and we opted out.  They gave us till Tuesday to go into labor naturally. That Friday night I cleaned like a madwoman.  I tried to push the thought of the Tuesday deadline from my mind.  We had a great dinner, a long walk and talk after.  We settled in for sleep early.

Then the rush of water at 12:00 a.m.  Like detectives, Ry and I tried to determine if my water had broken, or if ya know…I just peed myself.  Since I felt crampy, I thought this was it.  We followed our doula’s advice though and went back to bed for a bit.  If it was the real deal, there’d be no stopping this labor train.  After laying back down, every 20 minutes I was waking with contractions.  At 2 a.m. I got up by myself and went to lay on the couch as my back was aching too badly to stay in bed.  At 3 a.m. I rallied Ryan.  The contractions were not backing down.  He made me a snack, I ate and bounced on the ball.  I could still talk and only had to concentrate on breathing when a contraction came along.  At 5 a.m. it was starting to feel uncomfortable.  I tried different positions, I demanded blankets, socks on…socks off…water…no water…talk to me…shut up.  Ry was amazing and so incredibly patient.  I called my mom.  She told me to hang in there.  I could do this.  I agreed.  The next two hours were spent in concentration and breathing.  Sitting hurt.  Laying down hurt.  So I paced, swayed, hung on Ry like we were slow dancing, and gripped the banister of our stairwell.  He was timing them and by 7:oo a.m. we were ready to go to the hospital.  My worst fear was having a contraction on the way to the car (it’s a loooong way down there when you’re in labor!) and of course I had a big one in the driveway which caused me to perhaps furiously yell at Ryan to HURRY UP as he was flying around trying to get bags in the car.

We arrived at the hospital and were in a room by 8:00 a.m.  I was 4 c.m. dilated and 90% effaced upon arrival.  From there, it was all about pacing our room, staying calm, and moaning it out.  I hardly opened my eyes the whole time, I just focused.  Our Doula told us it was all about coping.  When I stopped coping and started suffering, that would be the time to consider alternatives.  I never felt like the pain was beyond me, so I kept coping.  The only truly uh-oh moments were during particularly strong contractions I vomited- umm, not fun when you are already hurting.  I couldn’t keep anything down due to my body cleaning itself out in preparation for pushing.  The nurse was worried that I wouldn’t have enough energy later on.  We agreed to be put on a saline drip with some sugar water.  That was a tremendous help in my energy levels.

It was all a lot messier than I imagined.  I was urged to get into the shower midway-the water could feel good.  Well that was a FAIL because the water was cold, apparently lots o’ other ladies were having the same idea.  Then I was just freezing cold, wet, and in labor.  That’s the only time the whole process where I felt mad! At 1:00 p.m. I felt the urge to PUSH.  The doc came in and told me I was good to get going…then things halted a bit.

I couldn’t figure out how to push with the contractions naturally.  They did not hurt as bad as before.  I felt kind of good.  But I could not get her moving down.  So Ryan reverted to my dancer/fitness mentality.  We did pushing reps.  I would push for 10, breathe, then push for another 10, 3x.  That got it moving.  However, again, I hated laying down and sitting.  I tried the squat bar on the bed- no bueno.  The bed felt squishy and I felt too elevated, plus in between contractions I had to sit down…OUCH.  I was back up on my feet and away from that bed as soon as possible.

The hospital I gave birth at, Castle Medical Center, was amazing at working with us for our ideal natural birth.  I ended up standing at a counter top in the room, pushing standing up, or holding the counter top and squatting down.  At 3:20 p.m. I was checked again and the doc informed me if I really worked at, she thought I had about 30 mins to go, little lady was coming down and I needed to hang in there.  I did.  I pushed and felt the “ring of fire” of her crowning.  Which yes, hurt, but was almost a relief because I knew she was almost out! If she was brave enough to enter this world, I could hang in there and be brave enough to get her out.

The doctor moved mats underneath me and squatted down low with me.  Ryan stood behind me, and as my legs gave way in the final pushes, he held me up, his strong arms and hands beneath my armpits supporting me.  As Evelyn came out, the doctor caught her first and handed her to me.  Somehow I held her to me and everyone picked me up/shuffled me back onto the bed.  She unfurled, look at us, let out a shriek.  I sang her anthem of the past 10 months to her, “You are my sunshine” and immediately her eyes snapped up to us as if to say, “hey there, it’s you! I remember you.  I recognize my tune and that voice.”  At 3:53 p.m. January 24, our lives forever changed.

I will hold our birth in my mind and heart my whole life, and I can’t wait to share it with my daughter as she gets older.  I hope to encourage those out there that want a natural child birth that it IS possible.  The pain is manageable, but we could not have done it without preparation.  I’ll be sharing some of steps of how we prepared later on, but until then I’m off to enjoy some more precious baby snuggles!

Colleen Cordle Photography: Baby

5.3 Million Steps to 30: 6 Month Update

As of April 26th, 2015:

345 Days Remain

1, 665, 391 Steps Completed

That’s about 734 MILES in 6 months

3, 634, 609 Steps Left to Go

Lately I’ve been getting through this challenge with a little help from my friends;) Or family, that is.   This is definitely a goal that has to be taken on one day at a time.  Each day is a new chance to go for it, and I have been.  I must admit that hitting my hope of 11, 000 steps a day for 20 days this month was more grueling than imagined.  I know it is worth it in the end for me, as I feel my postpartum body creeping ever closer to the other version of me. There are days where getting back to my pre-baby state feels very far away.

3, 634, 609 steps seems very far away too.

And yet…

The walks/runs/general exercise are good for baby and me, the challenge keeps me accountable to KEEP MOVING.  However I am honest in admitting to myself and ya’ll that this was the first month it felt hard at times to put one foot in front of the other.  I guess I didn’t dub this whole experience as a “challenge” for nothing!

5.3 Million Steps to 30

I have to look at this 5.3 million steps as my marathon.  It will not, can not be completed in a day.  It is making the steps, making the choice each day to persevere.  I do feel change.  I hiked Diamond Head today.  It was hard and hot and tiring.  I fed Evelyn in an old World War II Bunker with my mom nearby.  My mom, at 30 years older than me, hiked that same trail.  Looking at her, and Evelyn, these generations of strong women, I know I have something to uphold for them and myself.

5.3 Million Steps to 30

Onward I march.  Next month I hope to incorporate extra Stroller Strides classes, the gift to myself of new running shoes, and a whole lot more steps closer to my goal.

5.3 Million…I’m coming for you.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 16

This week! Week 16 of 2015 marks the arrival of Nana and Pacha to the island of Oahu.  It is AWESOME to have them back, and here to meet Evelyn for the first time!

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We’ve already been having loads of fun and enjoying relaxation time too.  My favorite moments of the week include long walks on the beach, fixing food (and eating it) together, and little lady LOVES to sit on my lap and listen to books now.  I adore our reading time, and selecting new books for us at the library.  I’ll keep you posted on the many adventures of the Swo’s and Crabtrees back together again!

New to the World: Newborn Photography Part 2

Hey ya’ll, thanks for stopping back by for our newborn photos, part 2.  I’m incredibly grateful for the skills of Colleen Cordle Photography, for these are memories we’ll be treasuring for a long time!  Now it’s time to start putting together this girl’s baby album, and deciding which photos will be adorning our walls canvas-style.

I saved some of my most favorite shots for today, and there are even a few more coming in Evelyn’s birth story post!  Our little family of three continues to grow together, and these are moments clicked from after she was just seven days old.

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Our daughter and the experience as parents is the gift that keeps on giving.  Thanks for reading;)

New to the World: Newborn Photography Part 1

Our little lady is almost 3 months old! It is hard to believe these photos captured her after a mere 7 days of life.  We debated doing a newborn shoot; and I can look back and snicker at myself…because I would do this again, and again, and again.  It’s no longer up for debate.  Taking time to invest in family photos will always be a thing for me.  It’s priceless.  The opportunity to catch her so young, so fresh and new to the world was pure bliss then, and now.

We were captured by the brilliant Colleen Cordle Photography yet again for our family photos.  It was a joy working with her for the maternity shoot and then after baby came out!  All credit for these gorgeous images go to her, and if you are on Oahu we can’t recommend her highly enough.  She was fantastic.

I hope you enjoy part 1 of our Newborn photos with Evelyn, I could look at them every day;)

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More baby cuteness to come!

10 Random Fun Facts About Me Right NOW: April 2015

The last time I wrote a Random Fun Fact post I was pregnant, in October 2014.  Much has changed (and some facts have remained the same) in 6 months!  I thought it would be fun to share the random moments crossing my mind as of late on this sunny Saturday in Hawaii.  I’d actually love to keep updating these posts throughout the year, and bring back the Photo a Day Challenge too.  These little check-in posts are such fun to look back on for me as our lives continue to grow and change.  On with the randomness already!!…

Me and My Girl

1. Once an avid reader, I’m down to only one full book read since Ev’s birth in JANUARY.  I hope to get back to more than just Dr. Seuss someday, but for now I choose to spend my baby-free time in different ways than reading big-people books.

2.  I never thought I would be the kind of mama that loved adorning my baby girl with bows and headbands. I AM. I’m here to admit it. I love it. I can’t stop that cuteness.

3. The silent alarm on my Fitbit (it vibrates on my wrist to wake me) has been a game-changer.  I now can sneak breakfast and a coffee in the morning before she wakes up.  It does not happen every day, but a few mornings a week it is really nice.

4. I clean the house more than ever before.  With a small apartment and all the baby fun that now fills it, I’m adamant about picking up.  The clutter builds up fast, and it can feel overwhelming.  Just 5 minutes before bed, I’ll run around and straighten.  It starts the next day off right.

5. The same goes for DISHES.  I’m not a big fan, but now I do them EVERY NIGHT before bed.  Waking up to a clean kitchen is the way to go for me.

6. The Stroller Strides classes and group I’ve become apart of are helping in every way.  I’ve entered a community of other mothers that are empowered, positive, and making it happen.  I feel myself getting stronger each week.

7. I weirdly love to cloth diaper.  More about this in another post;)

8. Shower time RULES.  I’ve started investing in that time with nice products that make each trip to bathe feel like my own mini-spa moment.

9. We love walking.  Fresh air and sunshine does everyone a world of good.

10. I still enjoy cooking.  I thought this might go out the window with a child, but I like it more than ever.  There’s something about pulling a meal together that can make even the toughest day feel better, feel indulgent.

There you have it.  We have an almost 3 month old and most of my random facts are now about being a mom, and the new chapter I’m in as one.  We’ll see where I’m at a month or two from now. She’s changing and so am I.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 15


*sorry in advance for the CRAZY CAPS usage in this post.  I’m just super pumped tonight!!*

Fridays have taken on a whole new happy now that we have baby girl.  Before, during the week Ry and I still had a lot of time together. Now from the moment he gets home, it feels like GO time.  Get dinner going, go for a family walk, wash dishes as Ry plays with girly, get her a bath, read her a book, jammies and bottle, maybe sit down for personal time, get our own showers…hit the hay.  It’s fast and furious and fun.  But it also means the weekends are built to move more slowly.  There’s just more TIME. Time together = awesomeness.

Also equaling awesome? COFFEE.  Coffee is back in my life.  Not in a big way. But in a cup o’ day I LOVE it way.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

Evelyn took a nap on me this week.  It was amazing. I’ve missed it.  At the big girl status of 11 weeks, she no longer loves to be cradled.  So when she settled into my arms for a long nap, I couldn’t even nap myself.  I just looked at her perfect little self sleeping, drinking the moment in.  I forever love you so much little lady.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

Daddy watched Ev all by himself this week so that I could attend Mom’s Night Out with my Stroller Strides group.  It was truly hard to leave them both, but I appreciated the time to get dressed up and have dinner with some fiercely strong women.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

These two.

My family.

They are so much of my happy now.  Another great moment this week was dropping by Ry guy’s work.  He immediately snatched her from her car seat and busied himself showing her off.  I love seeing the two of them grow together.

On a boring but happy note: Taxes are done (in the nick of time).  Adult crappola like getting the entire (yikes) cooling system in the car replaced happened.  I felt like super mommy quite a few days this week by just GETTING it ALL ACCOMPLISHED.  I’m getting better at the mighty multi-task and figuring out what can wait for the next day and what I feel like must get completed before bedtime.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

To those of you that took a moment to make a kind comment on our maternity photo post that I placed here and announced on Facebook, THANK YOU.  It meant more than you can even imagine that I was able to put myself out there in what felt like a very big way to me, and you answered with positive power.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

I also want to say thank you to the powers that be for this little girl.  We have had a friend this week lose her child, and my heart aches at even the thought of it…it makes no sense to me why anything so painful has to happen.  It made me stop and think about this gift that is my own baby.  There is not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful to be your mama Evelyn.

Week 16 is up ahead…and a certain set of grandparents are headed this way soon!

Feeling Beautiful: Our Maternity Shoot

A Woman is the full circle.  Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.

~Diane Mariechild

I don’t know what I expected to feel while I was expecting.  I had heard the horrors.  The not sleeping.  The stretch marks.  The morning sickness.  The overall feeling of “bleh”.  I experienced my fair share of discomfort, but overall I was incredibly fortunate to have loved being pregnant.

 I expected that least of all.  To love it.  To love the experience, the change, the excitement.  I did not expect to feel so completely beautiful.  To observe the changes in my body and feel impressed with it’s ability to carry and nurture a life.  I will admit before being pregnant, I was never truly at home in my body.  For years I struggled to accept it.  I fought to tone, to hone, to make it in an image of “perfection,” whatever that meant.  I would be disappointed in the scale.  I would feel as TLC could aptly quote, “so damn unpretty”.

As I found out I was pregnant, and with a daughter, I thought to myself ENOUGH.  I would never want her mind to repeat the horrible thoughts I could sometimes say about myself.  Never.  As I felt the power of mamahood setting in, I wanted to look forward and not back.  I wanted to embrace each month and the swelling of my belly with grace.  Looking back at these photos, I feel deeply moved, satisfied, and a great love for myself.  It took the pregnancy of my daughter to finally shake the mindless atrocity of my pursuit of perfection, and step back to see a more beautiful me than ever before.  Thank you to my daughter and husband for always loving me unconditionally, even when I do not.  Thank you to Colleen Cordle Photography as well for handling this special time in our life with the up most care, respect, and professionalism.  You helped capture a time where I truly felt beautiful.


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Colleen Cordle Photography: Maternity


Colleen Cordle Photography: Maternity Colleen Cordle Photography: Maternity Colleen Cordle Photography: Maternity Colleen Cordle Photography: Maternity



I’m thrilled we decided to do a maternity shoot and hold this memory, this moment.  Ry had just returned from deployment, the wait was over and preparing for our little lady could begin.  I celebrated my body and found beauty unexpectedly whilst expecting.  It was an incredible journey.

For those of you expecting currently or dreaming of someday (and even if you aren’t and are rocking your life another way) we are so amazingly beautiful as women.

We are amazing.  You are amazing.