December 30, 2017

The Best Year

January brought us a beautiful retreat in the woods with our good friends. 

February blessed us with those two little pink lines on the 3 at-home pregnancy tests!

March took me to Indiana to visit my best friends and family. 

April reminded me of the greatest sacrifice made by my loving Savior. 

May told me I was going to be a mother to a precious girl!

June whisked us away on a romantic get-away to celebrate one year of marriage. 

July flew me on an adventure to Texas to visit my closest friend!

August surprised us with a new job opportunity for Ryan. 

September gave us a new home in a rural California town. 

October blessed us with the safe arrival of our daughter, Nova ♡

November showed us how to be good parents and love unconditionally.

December filled our hearts with gratitude for good friends, loving family and the best year. 

It’s no surprise that 2017 treated us well. With the arrival of Nova and amazing opportunities, we are so grateful. There were endless blessings that came to us this year. The things that were good completely outweigh our financial troubles, pregnancy difficulties and other day-to-day trials. 2017 taught me SO much. 

I learned how to be grateful for the tiniest things. 
I learned how to be a forgiving and charitable wife. 
I learned how to deliver a freaking baby!! ;) 
I learned how to nurture and love unconditionally. 
I learned even more how to have an eternal perspective.
I learned (and am still learning) that hard things pass and when it seems unbearable, pray. 

2018 has some really big shoes to fill but I couldn’t be more thrilled to see what those 12 months will bring us this time! I hope everyone has a fun and safe New Year!

December 11, 2017

n o v a : t w o | m o n t h s

While pregnant with Nova, people would always remind me to enjoy that time. I couldn’t look past the swollen feet, loss of breath anytime I moved and back pain. Now I think back to being pregnant and miss her kicks, the little hiccups and that feeling of reality during ultrasounds! When Nova was born, that advise came again. Now, 2 months later, I’m desperately trying to hold onto every moment with her. Each time she smiles, sleeps in my arms or even when she just breathes, my heart explodes! She has become my entire world and I absolutely love it! 

That first month, and even a few weeks following, were so hard. There is no sugar-coating it. I was really struggling with breastfeeding, postpartum depression and feeling completely inadequate. “It’ll get better” always seemed like a lie everyone was in on together just to make me feel better! Well, it has gotten better, no one was lying and I no longer feel completely inadequate. I’m doing this! Every day I wake up and care for my sweet girl!

This weekend, Ryan blessed Nova. It was beautiful. She wore the same dress that I wore when I was blessed as a baby. Everything about Saturday the 9th made my heart melt. Nova was so good the whole time and loved meeting new faces. She looked gorgeous and brought such a strong spirit into our home. Ryan and I collapsed on the couch after a long weekend and just talked about how much we love our daughter. Our DAUGHTER. Those words are still foreign to me. Sometimes it hits us hard. Some days I’m still in disbelief that I am a mom. We’re so grateful and blessed to have Nova. To be her parents is so rewarding. She is the light of our lives! 

| h e r  s e c o n d  m o n t h |

9 lbs. 14 oz. 22 inches long

sleeps through the night with 1-2 dream feeds!

learning how to use a binky

can roll from stomach to back!

loves watching mommy cook in the kitchen

is the happiest baby in the morning!

smiles and talks A LOT 

hates it when mommy leaves the room

loves when daddy comes home for snuggle time!

Each day with this girl is the best. There really are no *bad* days. How can they be bad when she looks at me with those big eyes and smiles! Now, excuse me while I go indulge in some chocolate because it’s a victory I got this done, even if it was three days late ;)

November 8, 2017

n o v a : o n e | m o n t h

Sleepless nights, smiles, tears, laughter, joy. I never thought I could experience and feel so much in just a short 31 days. Nova is one month old! As I write this, she is snuggled up in my arms, dreaming away. I always wonder what she dreams about. I look down at her and fall in love all over again. She’s already changed so much! 

I’ve tried convincing myself that holding her tight enough will force her to stay this small forever. I know better than to believe that is true, but a girl can dream. Ryan and I have loved getting to know this sweet little girl and are constantly in disbelief that she is ours. I’m always amazed how we created someone so beautiful and perfect. Every time I look at Nova, my heart feels like it is going to burst! My life feels so much more full with her in it. 

|  h e r  f i r s t  m o n t h  |

still wearing newborn clothes and diapers

weighs 7 lbs. 5 oz., 21 inches

loves snuggling with daddy 

smiles ALL the time! 

has learned the difference between night and day

farts so loud - it makes mommy and daddy laugh so hard!

fascinated with the glow of the tv and rotation of ceiling fans 

only likes being swaddled if her arms or hands are free 

loves to be wrapped up on mommy 

Here’s to surviving one month with a newborn! Every day is so different with Nova. Some days she’s up and some days she’s down. I’m learning to “go with the flow” and that my life is going to be unorganized for a little while. I’m learning to be okay running on just a few hours of sleep. I’m just learning. Everything is new but I am so glad I have such a sweet husband and baby to learn and grow with. I love my little family and I wouldn’t trade this last month or any moment moving forward, for anything. 

November 4, 2017

Welcoming Her Into the World

Since January, so much has happened. We were successful getting pregnant with a healthy little girl, we moved into a house in a new town, Ryan accepted a new job and we got a dog! It feels like I’ve lived an entirely new life with so much change. Especially with becoming a mother. We welcomed Nova Violet Fullerton on October 8th at 11:37am. She is perfect and we just love her to pieces! 

While motherhood is beautiful and an amazing experience, it hasn’t come on as naturally as I had hoped. I was fully aware that it would be hard and thankless but that still wasn’t enough to prepare me for this type of hurting. Breastfeeding has been what I consider to be the biggest. challenge. ever. While I was pregnant, I was asked several times if I was planning to breastfeed and my answer was always “yes!” (note the explanation point). I’ve always been passionate about it! In the hospital, she just would not latch. It was frustrating to come home with little to no guidance beyond the pile of packets that was included with my discharge papers. 

That first night home was miserable. I sat in Nova’s nursery with her screaming out of hunger. She was so tiny and fragile. Again, she wouldn’t latch. I sat in the rocking chair crying with her thinking “Is this how it will be? Is this my new life?” I was only two days in and already about to give up.  

Eventually, she learned to latch and I was so grateful. At her first appointment with the pediatrician we discovered she lost 10% of her birth weight. I felt awful. How could this happen? She was basically attached to my breasts ALL day. It didn’t take long to figure out that my supply is just too low. I quickly ordered all the supplements, started to drink even more water, nursed her twice as much. Next appointment came around and she had only gained two ounces. At this point, I had to supplement with formula to help her gain weight. 

Feelings of guilt, inadequacy and hopelessness washed over me like I have never felt in my life. Formula was the last thing I wanted to introduce her to. Fear of nipple confusion and colic ran through my mind as I gave her that first bottle.

Nova finally passed her birth weight, feedings have become more regular with less formula and she actually sleeps during the night with only one or two feeding wakes! Things are looking up. Motherhood is so tough. Tougher than I could have ever imagined. I see other moms and feel an immediate appreciation for what they do every day. 

This isn’t the last time our little family will go through a huge learning curve but now I feel more prepared for hard things to come. I’ve come out the other side stronger so if this is what it takes to be a better mom and wife, it is so, so worth it. 

January 18, 2017

26 reasons for loving you

We celebrated my husband's birthday for what felt like 2 weeks straight! It was so much fun to pamper him and make sure he knows he is loved. We started the celebrating simple by going on a hike with his family and eating cake, playing games and spending time with them. The hike was really beautiful. Elfin Forest is where we went and to be honest, I'm not sure why they call it a forest. There is nothing forest about that hike! However, it was beautiful and we were able to look out pretty far over the San Marcos/Escondido area. We went to dinner on his birthday, had my parents over the next day and spent the entire weekend out in a cabin with our friends to celebrate his and my birthday that's coming up. 

Because Ryan's birthday was so special this year with it being our first one to celebrate as a married couple, I decided I wanted to do something I've never done before. With all of the baking and cooking that I do, I've never actually decorated a cake before! I've iced a homemade cake and thrown on a few sprinkles on it and voilĂ ! You have a cake. But I've never taken the time to actually decorate a cake with fondant and making it look like something. So, I wanted to do this for Ryan's special week! If you know Ryan at all, you know that he likes sloths. The slow little creatures crack him up! That is where the inspiration came from and I've gotta say, I was really happy with the outcome. 

Working with fondant was sort of a nightmare, in my case. I put just a little too much water in my mixture but I learned for the next time. Here is the recipe I used to make homemade fondant:

Now, I guess, would be a great time to get to the point of this post! Ryan turned 26-years-old. He woke up that morning and looked at me, very concerned, and said, "In four years, I'll be thirty...". I'm so glad he still knows basic math ;) Life is going by so quickly but we're grateful for the time we have at this age to make memories and look forward to the years in our thirties, too. 

1. He is kind.
2. He loves the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
3. He is aware of his weaknesses and tries to be better.
4. He is strong, emotionally and physically. ;)
5. Family is the most important to him.
6. He makes me and everyone around him laugh!
7. He's so silly and is hardly every too serious.
8. His dance moves put Michael Jackson to shame. 
9. He's smart.
10. He is humble, even in situations when most people are not.
11. He only yells or shouts when he's being a goof.
12. He wants to badly to be the best person he can be.
13. He's the best at giving sincere compliments.
14. He's fair.
15. He passions that he works on & develops into skills.
16. He's helpful.
17. He has the biggest heart I know.
18. He can eat which puts my cooking to good use!
19. He's laid back and calm but not so much that he's boring.
20. If it were my world, he would win for world's best cuddler.
21. He works so hard to provide for our little family.
22. He honors and values his Priesthood.
23. He's a wise spender.
24. Instead of depending on others or his situation, he chooses to be happy.
25. He's respectful. 
26. Above all, I love who he is, what he stands for and who is becoming.

I love you Ryan Bradley! I'm so happy you chose me to spend eternity with and that I get to be there for all the happy times, hard times and every time in between.

January 1, 2017

how 2016 changed me

I've heard so many people saying how much they hated this past year but I simply cannot relate! Some of my favorite events happened in the year 2016. It was a year full of love, marriages, babies, adjustment, happiness, laughter and changes. It was a year that I will never forget for the rest of my life. The marriage to my best friend of over 4 years, took place in June. We had 7 friends/family members get married throughout the summer into the fall. We had food on the table and a house to come home to each night. That's been enough for me! 

For as long as I can remember, I hopped on the bandwagon and set resolutions for the new year. I try and try but I will always forget or justify not continuing working on them, in about February. I never last long at all! It's really sad... pathetic, really! I'm not going to sit here and write about how this year will be different because, let's be honest, it might not be. However, I can say that I'm going to continue to try!

Amidst all the beauty and magic of 2016, I still experienced a lot of heartache, trials and challenges of my own, just as everyone does. Earlier in the year, I was still living in Salt Lake City, UT, studying at LDS Business College. When Ryan returned home from his mission (the best week of my life!), he asked me to marry him and we decided that California would be the best place to start our marriage. We are close to both of our parents, Ryan had a job offer here and it would be easy for me to transfer with my job. It was the right thing to do and I will stand by that decision until we feel it's time to take our family somewhere new. 

This move created a huge adjustment period for me. I didn't necessarily want to stay in Utah but California didn't offer a whole lot for me either. I didn't have any friends out here and all of my family except one sister and my parents, live in different states. I was optimistic at first but that diminished very quickly as my routines had to change, money became tighter and tighter with each passing day and my work schedule was the opposite of my new husband's schedule. 

I very quickly slipped into a bit of depression and found it really difficult to get out of bed on the days that I wasn't scheduled to work. I didn't want to go out, or do anything at all. It was the worst I have ever experienced depression or anxiety. As luck would have it, I am so blessed to have a really amazing husband who was supportive throughout the many emotions I was experiencing. It wasn't easy for him either. He would tear up as he held me tight during the worst nights of them all. His hugs weren't the only thing that helped me during this time. He gave me a blessing of comfort with the priesthood he holds. It's been such a blessing to have that power in our home. 

Soon thereafter, I felt more confident in my job, started to make more friends and got even closer to my new sister-in-law. It didn't happen overnight or even in the matter of a few days, but rather, in weeks and months of relying on my Father in Heaven through prayer and my sweet husband for guidance and comfort. It's through my challenges that I become a better person. I've felt myself having more compassion towards others and wanting the best for them. I want so badly to be the best version of myself everyday and that comes with the constant ability to learn from my mistakes. 

 I've learned so much about myself, about the gospel of Jesus Christ and about family and marriage in 2016. What I'm most excited for in 2017 is continuing to learn through my challenges and getting closer to my husband. Each year can bring us happiness, if we allow it to. I'm excited to see what this new year brings for me as an individual and for Ryan and I as a family. May you all have a very happy and safe new year!