Thursday, September 5, 2013

Oh, the places you'll go!


It's so interesting, isn't it?
 It seems to present itself different, yet the same in some ways every day. Marriage, seems to bring up new possibilities each day. With new thoughts and ideas of where to live and what to do with our future, as well as how we should handle the daily functions, new ways of organization, fun things to do with the kids, etc etc. Life never gets old, nor does it seem to stay the same. This is exciting, and this is an adventure! So, life is an adventure, and our family is about to start a new one here soon.

  As many or all of you know, Talon joined the Air Force in November 2007. He was stationed out here in Las Vegas, NV and has worked at both air bases located about 50 miles or so apart from each other.  Since being married in 2009, we have had many big adventures come along our way, which we have been so grateful for. Here is a list of the few bigger milestones we have shared together. 

1. Married in April 2009.
Exiting the SLC temple moments after being sealed!

2. Talon deployed to Iraq July 2009-Jan 2010.

Talon in Iraq. Resembles Las Vegas, NV. Am I right? ha! 
3. I found out I was pregnant with Emery in April 2010.
October 2010. Maternity shoot in CA with my best friend Ashley. 

4. Bought our first house in Nov 2010.

5. Emery was born in Dec 2010.

6. Found out I was pregnant in Aug 2012.

How sweet is her hand?! April 2013. 

7. Talon put on Staff Sargent in the Air Force in Dec 2012.

At his ALS graduation. October 2013. 

8. Talon completed his associates degree online in May 2013. ( photo yet!) 

9. Ella was born in May 2013. In our home. By emergency. Read about that here

In the ambulance getting ready to head to the hospital, holding Ella. 

Emery meeting Ella for the first time. 

In the past 4 years and few months of marriage, we have had some pretty exciting things happen. We have called Las Vegas our home this entire time. We have loved it here. I never thought that I would ever say I "love Las Vegas". Or that I would ever call it "home". We have loved our ward and friends out here. There was a time where I couldn't wait to leave, a time where I never thought I would, where I never wanted to, and now, I'm sad to say, we are leaving.

Remember how I said that life gives new possibilities each day and we are given thoughts of new ideas on where to live, what to do with our future? Let me just say, there has been a LOT of that in the past year. And even more so in the past few months and weeks.

We have gone back and forth many times on whether or not Talon should re-enlist in the Air Force, change careers in the Air Force or go Reserves. We talked about that for the 4 years we were married. Then, about a year ago, he felt that finishing his schooling was the best option and to go for his bachelors. We both felt right about it. For the past year, we have been planning on him attending a university in Southern California. He would be out of the Air Force come November of this year, and we would live with his parents to save on money, he would do school full-time and work part-time, and I would get a nanny job so I could keep the girls with me. It seemed perfect. We were all very excited about it!

Then, a month ago, Talon was TDY to San Antonio, Tx for 7-level training and while he was there, he came in contact with a buddy from boot camp. He had messaged Talon to see how life was etc. Talon called me and explained to me about what his buddy was up to and how it was interesting to Talon. We looked into it, felt very good about it, have pursued this and now, after much prayer, discussion and tweaking things here and there...We are sure on what we are going to do. And we are moving forward with it. We are confident all will work out, but as we know (quite well, actually. Haha), plans can always change or just not work out. So, my dear friends and family. Take a peek into our new and exciting plans!
We are moving to a place that knows all four seasons, has "the greatest snow on earth", was the location for the 2002 winter olympics. Talon and I were both married there, almost all of my family live there....have y'all not guess yet?! Fine, I'll tell you...

(photo curtesy of google) 

 Talon will be attending UpperLimit Aviation to become a helicopter pilot. (!!!) Thankfully, the G.I. Bill will cover all of schooling, which will total well over $100,000! There is no way we would be able to afford this if it weren't for Talon being in the Air Force. Such a blessing! Talon is going to be very busy with pilot's school as well as attending full-time credits at a college there in SLC. He will also be getting a part-time job somewhere. (TBD) 

Talon is scheduled to be done with work sometime in the end of September. We have our house almost all packed up, on the market right now and hopefully going to sell soon! We are sad to leave, but so, so excited to start a new chapter in our life. We have created many friendships here and we have been so blessed in our time here. We are looking forward to being with friends who we have known a long time, and with some of my family as well. It's going to be an adventure!

I'm sure you'll be seeing many more photos something like this in the near future...

August 2013- Second time up in the helicopter to see if it interests Talon. It did. Obviously.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Homemade chocolate cake - yes. I made it! Betty Crocker at your service!

I have always wanted to bake a cake by scratch. I have always wanted to bake a layered cake.  I also didn't want to just make one for fun, because then I would have an entire cake to eat by myself. That would be awesome bad, I know, so I waited for the perfect opportunity.

A few weeks ago, we had a lot of my family in town for the weekend that Ella was blessed. My brother Jason happened to be celebrating his birthday that Friday. So, guess what? I took that opportunity to feed a lot of people a lot of cake. And it was amazing! Probably hands down the best cake I have ever had. I will be using the recipe again in the future, that is for sure!

Want to hear something funny? After baking, layering and frosting this 2 layer cake as well as cupcakes, I did my best to make it look beautiful. And it looked pretty good!
 I had to drive it to the hotel everyone was staying at, and since Talon was out of town, I had it on the floor nicely placed on a pan with a lid so it wouldn't get dirty. Sadly, with all of the turns, the top layer of the cake slid off. HAHA. Seriously. I felt awful. It looked awful. But, before we embarked on the delicious challenge of eating it, I was able to put it back together mostly and it still tasted amazing!

Since I am all about sharing that which I love, I am going to share with you how I made this amazing cake. It is a very moist chocolate cake, with homemade whipping cream between layers and a homemade chocolate ganache. Yes, I know. AMAZING.

I'll direct you straight to the source of the chocolate cake and then explain what I did differently.
Find that recipe here. The recipe made enough for 2 round cakes and 15 cupcakes.

Now, the recipe calls for hot coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker, nor were any of the people I was making the cake for, so I googled the heck out of what I could substitute the coffee with. Lots of suggestions were just water, tea, liquor (again, not going to use liquor! haha We don't drink alcohol and there were a lot of kids at this birthday celebration!)  or some other liquid form I could use. I chose to use Starbucks Hot Cocoa mix. I found it at Target! Anyway, it worked out just fine! I made sure to make the water hot before mixing it with the cocoa and before adding it in the batter.

The last two ingredients are used for the frosting. I did not follow that, I found this recipe here that was perfect. On that note, the ganache wasn't setting quick enough for me to spread, so I whipped it up with the electric mixer until desired consistency. This made it very creamy and fluffy. I liked it like this!

For the whipping cream, I mixed up heavy cream and sugar until the flavor was just right. Mmmm.

After both cakes cooled completely, I put a whole bunch of the whipping cream on the first cake and then layered the second cake on top. Make sure to fill in any spaces on the side!

Be sure to assemble cake on a greased location because the cake will stick to wherever you place it!

Looks like a giant Oreo, right? 

For the cupcakes, I took out the center section and filled with whipping cream. Then frosted with the ganache. (Unfortunately, I was in a hurry to head out the door and didn't get a finished picture of it.)

The final product. Mmm. I'm craving some now! 

Let me know if you try this cake out! I can't wait to make it again. The greatest thing? It's rich, but not so rich that you take one or two bites and can't finish it. No, it's worse better, because you can't stop eating it and you just want more and more and more.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Baby Ella's Birth Story

If you want the shorter version, skip down to “Sunday, May 5th.” Or for the shortest delivery version, jump to May 6th!

Ella's Birth Story

Before even getting pregnant with Ella, I decided I wanted to do things a little differently with my second pregnancy and labor than I had with my first. I wanted to focus more on my health by working out regularly and eating better during pregnancy, and my ultimate goal was to have an unmedicated hospital birth. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had talked with my doctor and she advised, “Labor at home until you feel like driving in the car to the hospital sounds awful. My patients that do this usually show up at about 8 cm.”  Perfect!, I thought. I couldn’t have planned it better myself. The hospital I would be birthing at is just over 30 min, so I had to take that in account and maybe leave a little earlier than she suggested.

To prepare myself to actually live through the contractions and not want to give in to that amazing relief of an epidural, I read through and studied the book, “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way." This book literally explained things so perfectly and gave me the instruction and confidence I needed to know that I could, indeed, have an unmedicated childbirth. I felt prepared, healthy, and ready by the time my 40th week approached.

May 2nd 2013 - 2 days before due date: I began to have actual contractions. They started at 3:40pm. I kept an eye on them, and noticed them coming every 5 min for a few of them. Then they went up to 10 min, then 7, 10, 4, 8, 5, etc etc. They weren’t consistent in how far apart they were, but they kept coming. After 2 hours of this, I sent a text to my best friend Ashley, (who lives in Utah and wanted to be at the birth to take my birth photos) I informed her of my contractions just to give her a heads up. She had a 7 hour drive ahead of her, so I wanted her to be alerted ASAP so she could get here in time for the birth. Emery’s labor had started out the same way, and those contractions eventually grew closer together and led me into active labor and a birth. (From first contraction to birth it was 21 hours.) So a few hours later, after more irregular contractions, Ashley hopped in her car and headed this way. The contractions continued all night long. She arrived at 2:30 am and that uterus was still doing its thing. We really felt like we would be having a baby very soon.

May 3rd, 2013:
After some well needed sleep, we woke up and to our dismay, the contractions weren’t as consistent. But they kept coming. Every once in awhile I would get a few hours where the contractions were strong and consistent, then they would die off and come back a little while later. Talk about a tease! Luckily, we took advantage of the time together and had a lovely day. My Mom, (who had driven out a week before from Utah), Ashley, Emery and I spent the day at the mall being spoiled by my Mom. She bought us MAC make up, and we had a delicious lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. It was a lovely day spending that time together. Ashley and I haven’t had much girl time since we both had our first child, so this time together was very well deserved. (Did I mention that Ashley left her sweet 20 month old baby boy at home with her husband? Yes, she did. Luckily, the two of them had a very eventful weekend with family and friends in town, and so they kept busy while Ashley had time with me. It worked out great!) 

May 4th, 2013- Due date!: Due date came and went with the same ol’ silly contractions that didn’t seem to want to progress. So we made Saturday a fun day as well-- we went out to breakfast, made a Target run, (Ashley went for a literal run as well-did I mention she’s 31 weeks pregnant, too? She was my workout buddy during our pregnancies, and my mentor with the unmedicated birth preparation as well. Thankfully to her and my loving and supportive husband, I had a very successful pregnancy.) and drove all the way to the other side of town to eat some very yummy Cafe Zupas, as well as tried the delicious and famous frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity on the strip. It was a very fun day, yet, no baby. 

May 5th, 2013:
For those who want the shortened version, start here. All you need to know: I had been having constant contractions that weren’t very consistent in their timing for 3 days. My best friend drove out from Utah to be there for the birth that hasn’t happened yet. I thought I had been in early labor this weekend because I was experiencing the same things I did in early labor with Emery.
My birth plan that was previously discussed with my doctor was that I would labor at home until I couldn’t bear to sit in the car for my 30 min drive to the hospital. In theory, this would allow me to arrive at the hospital soon enough yet late enough that I wouldn’t need an epidural. 

Sunday made my baby girl officially “late." Past her due date. (Em was born ON her due date, so I had figured this baby would either be early or right on time.)  I wasn’t too sad she wasn’t born on her actual due date, especially when I woke up Saturday morning and found out that it was “Star Wars Day." “May the 4th be with you." Look, I like Star Wars and all, but I just didn’t want my baby girl born on that day. Maybe I would have felt differently if I was having a boy?

We woke up and got ready for church. At around 10:00am I noticed some cramping along with some loss of the plug. I tried to ignore it though, because well, my gosh! I had been teased all weekend. I didn’t want to read into it and not deliver any time soon. We went to church and I continued to notice cramping here and there but nothing too intense. Again, I did my best to ignore them. Ashley and I decided it was best for her to head home because she had to get back to her baby. (Plus a 7 hour drive is really long and we didn’t want her to get home too late.)  She decided she would just fly out if I felt I was having the baby the next day. We felt confident in that decision and she went on her way. About 45 min later I received a phone call from her and she said she was on the side of the freeway because her bumper on her car fell off. Talon, Emmy and I left church a few min early and went to save the day. Talon duct taped her bumper back in place. As he was doing so, Ashley and I joked that maybe this was a sign that she should just turn around and go back to our house. Again, we thought that since my contractions were still not consistent, it was more important for her to go home to her family. 

Around 4:00pm I looked at Talon and said, “I would be very surprised if this baby doesn’t come by tomorrow night. If this stuff isn’t real and isn’t going to progress, I will literally be shocked.” So I chose to lay down and rest for about an hour and then got up and we finished some last minute things.

Emmy had a hard time going to sleep that night, which was sort of random because she has been amazing at it for quite some time. It was around 10:00pm that she finally went to sleep okay and I decided I would try to sleep as well. 

For the past few hours I had a few contractions that I could tell were beginning to be stronger and almost painful but again, they would be coming every 15 min, then I would have one at 7 min and then wouldn’t have one for another hour. They were very sporadic, very unpredictable. No pattern, no measured progress that would signal active labor. I continued to lose more of the plug, so I called the labor and delivery unit and asked them a question. The nurse at the front desk asked me several questions about myself and this pregnancy, my past pregnancy, etc. She told me that because my contractions were still not consistent that I should wait at home and call back when they were anywhere from 2-4 min apart for a few hours. 

11:00pm. I was laying in bed trying to sleep when I had a VERY strong contraction. At this point, I realized that things were starting to progress a little so I prepared myself for a long night. I knew I had several hours ahead of me and would probably be having a baby the next day some time. Silly contractions! They still were so sporadic! Anywhere from 7 min, 10 min, 5 min apart, then a random 3 min break with a contraction that didn’t last very long. Then it would jump back to 10 min. I was so confused. I couldn’t figure out if I was in the early stages of labor, active labor or if my body was just playing a very cruel joke on me. Either way, I worked through those contractions and kept telling myself they weren’t that bad. I expected way worse. I knew it was only going to get worse if this was going anywhere. So I did my best at being positive and totally zoned out during those contractions.

  I learned for myself, that the most comfortable way to handle those contractions was standing up, bracing myself on either my bathroom counter, or the wall and dropping my pelvis and relaxing my belly to allow the contractions to do their thing. I breathed normally through them and just did my very best to let that belly relax. (The best thing I read in that book, that I reminded myself with every contraction, was that MY job as the laboring mother is to “get out of the way of the uterus by relaxing, let the uterus do its job.” I couldn’t have done that if I tensed up my belly and fought the contraction. The contractions are there for a purpose. If I fought them, it was only going to make my labor last longer.) With the intensity of the contraction, I felt that it was hard to relax my entire body, so by bracing myself against something, other parts of my body were taking the heat of the pain while my belly was relaxed. This worked for me. I doubt it would for everyone else. But I’m grateful I learned that during those earlier stronger and almost painful contractions.

Talon did an amazing job being there by my side. He didn’t leave me once. He was the one timing the contractions and would rub my back if needed. He gave me comfort, reassurance and encouragement when I needed it. I’m so grateful I had him!

Monday, May 6th- Baby Girl's Birthday:
12:00am. I was in the shower laboring. The warm water felt great on my back and belly. It was a nice change of scenery as well. During the shower is when we noticed the contractions staying closer to 6 min or less apart. So this was good news. This meant things were finally progressing! (I was expecting a few more hours of this because that is typical with labors, and that's how it happened with my first.)
  However, they still weren’t consistent with their timing. With Emery, I was having contractions either exactly every 15 min apart in the early stages, then it progressed to exactly 10 min apart, then it went to 5 min apart to 3 min apart. None of this all over the map minutes. So that threw all of us off.

12:45am. I started having contractions that stayed closer to 3-5 min apart. Talon and I begun discussing that we would be leaving for the hospital soon. I then had a break where one didn’t come for 7 min. At this point, I got really confused. Why couldn’t they just stay close together and let me know at which stage of the game I was at? So I waited for the next contraction to see how far apart it would be. 3 minutes later I had another one. “Okay, Talon. I can’t take this anymore. This pain is so intense and I want to die. I need that freaking epidural! If I get to the hospital and I am at a 6, I am getting one. I don’t care. I tried this out, and it hasn’t even been 2 hours. The pain is so awful, I am doing my best here. Let’s go.” Talon encouraged me letting me know how GOOD I was doing and that I had to be closer than I thought because I really was doing so well. I told him we had to go.

So I went to put my clothes on and BOOM! Another contraction that was 2 min from the last. It lasted over a minute. I looked at Talon and said, “Seriously. Let’s go.” BOOM! Another one. 2 min apart from the last and lasted over a min. BOOM! Another one. I told him, “I need to go to the bathroom. We have to leave.” It was almost 1:10 am.
I went to my bathroom and what I thought was the sensation to actually go to the bathroom quickly turned to, “Um....I feel like I have to push!” BOOM! Another contraction. The sensation to push was so intense I just couldn’t not let it happen! I told him I felt the head coming. He looked at me and said, “What?!” I told him, “I think the head is coming! GET MOM!” So he ran out to get my Mom who was sound asleep in her room. I reached down and sure enough, I felt the head crowning. Talon came back and called 911. SPLASH! Water broke. Head was still there. I was so panicked. I wanted to sit down because I was having the sensation to go to the bathroom yet I knew I didn’t want to have a baby on my toilet!

Conversation I remember between Talon and Sharon the dispatcher:

Talon: Hi. My wife is having her baby! She feels the head!
Sharon: Okay. Where is she?
Talon: On the toilet. (hahaha)
Sharon: Tell her to get off the toilet. Grab a towel. Lay it on the floor. Have your wife lay on the towel. You are going to deliver this baby.

Talon does as she says and helps me to the floor. I got on all fours and felt the baby go back inside a little. I felt relief. I was like, “Oh, this is good! The paramedics can hurry their tushes over and deliver this baby. I’ll stay like this.” (That was all in my head by the way)
Talon tells me, “Baby you need to lay on your back.” I hesitated. Because I didn’t want to feel the urge to push again! Then the thought came to me that if she had already crowned, it was best we get her out ASAP so there wouldn’t be any complications. I laid on my back on the towel, in the middle of my bedroom floor. 

I don’t remember much conversation detail here. All I remember is my Mom running around grabbing blankets, towels, and listening to what Talon is telling her to get. Talon is down at my feet listening intently to Sharon. I hear her say, “Now, your wife is going to feel the urge to push and you are going to see the head.”

Let me interrupt by saying, I felt at such peace. I looked at my Mom and Talon who seriously looked like they were experiencing the most horrific thing ever and I just didn’t understand why they were so panicked! I kept looking at Talon as I heard him taking guidance from Sharon and I said, “Babe. You are doing amazing. I am so proud of you. You got this. Everything is going to be okay. Guys, everything is going to be okay. I just know it.”

I don’t think they heard me.
Me: I feel like I need to push.

Talon: She has to push!
Sharon told Talon what to do, and I pushed. He said he saw the head. She told him to grab the baby’s head and to pull it out with my push and then the shoulders would come out etc. 

I pushed one time. (Surprisingly, it didn't even hurt!)

Out came baby girl! They placed her on my belly and she took her first breath. Seconds later she started crying. Sharon went on to congratulate us on doing this successfully. Then she told Talon to get a shoe string. My mom gave me blankets to wrap around the baby and made sure to keep her low on my belly so it wouldn’t pull on the umbilical cord.  Talon tied the shoe string around the cord but didn't cut it yet. Moments later two firemen and two paramedics showed up. Their job was already done
Proof. I delivered the baby on my bedroom floor. She is laying on my tummy under all of those blankets. 
Dr. Talon delivered his baby girl at approximately 1:25 am. I felt amazing. Baby girl was doing amazing. And I think my Mom and Talon were able to take a breath again. 
Talon holding Ella just moments after he delivered her. Notice his sweet face?  Every time I look at this photo it makes me tear up. I just love him so much. I think of how he held himself together when he wanted to fall apart. I think of his tears and he feared of hurting myself or Ella. I think of his faith as he relied on the Lord to make everything okay. 

I remember feeling really good but my legs began to shake uncontrollably. Which was rather funny because I couldn’t stop it! I couldn’t believe I just had my baby. That it happened so fast. That we both were perfectly healthy and it was not like we just went through a delivery. Paramedics checked her and she didn’t even need to be suctioned out. She was breathing perfectly. 

After some time, they helped me up on this chair that goes down stairs and took me to a stretcher that was waiting for me in my entryway. I was in shock. Here I am being rolled out onto my street with a fire truck and ambulance with their lights going all crazy like a giant disco ball in front of my house. (Was that necessary? I didn’t think so.) Where was the music? I wondered. I kept looking in my neighbors' windows to see if I noticed any curious Joes or Susans peeking through to see what the fuss was about. I kept thinking to myself, “Nothing to see here, folks. We only had an emergency delivery. Go back to bed.” 

I got in the back of the ambulance and began chatting with the paramedic who looked so young! He was the sweetest though. He was the one answering all of my questions and had all of the answers. His name was Stephen. So anyone in the North Las Vegas area, I hope if you ever have an emergency that you meet Stephen. He knows his stuff. Anyway, I found out it was his first in-field emergency delivery. I would have never known.

Baby girl (I’m calling her that still because at this moment in time we still hadn’t decided on a name.) latched on perfectly and had a little snack on our way to the hospital. But thanks to the placenta still being there, it would contract like a labor pain, so my ride wasn't all that exciting. Not fun guys, not fun. We finally got to the hospital where they took us into the labor and delivery room to make sure we were both okay, and we were. I could have told them that. But it was so comforting to hear their amazement at how smoothly everything went. Two hours after delivering baby girl, I finally delivered that placenta and WOO(!) was that fabulous. Life became 100 times happier and comfortable. Doctor finally came in after that (yes, I delivered the placenta myself as well) and said I had one small tear. So, she stitched that up real quickly and that was that.

Um, hi. In the elevator going TO the hospital after giving birth to my baby on my bedroom floor, no medication and very unexpectedly! No doctors. Just me, my husband and my mom. 
L&D staff getting everything ready to check baby girl and I out to make sure we were okay. Waiting to be moved from stretcher to bed. Holding my baby! 
Still waiting on the doctor to come and check on us. 1 hour later she did. 
Right after her first bath. 

We arrived in our recovery room at 5:45 am. No, we didn’t get rest because everyone kept coming in to check on us and then they had shift change which lasted forever. All in all, I was able to sleep for one hour before our day started.

Later that day we decided on a name. So! Ella Rose was born on May 6th at 1:25 am. She weighed in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19 inches long. You will find on her birth certificate our home address as her birthplace and her father’s name as the one who delivered her.

Later on that day. Just hours old. Getting some snuggles in!

Well, my beautiful Ella, you made quite the entrance into this world. Yet, you did it so gracefully and beautifully. You gave us an exciting adventure yet kept it non-dramatic at the same time. You are perfect already! Thank you, my sweet girl, for brightening our lives. 

I know for a fact that our Heavenly Father had a hand in the delivery. It was because of His tender mercies that all went so well and complication free. We will forever be in gratitude. Each time I look at Ella, I give Him thanks. We are so blessed.