port aransas: our first family vacation

With the opening of Lunar happening soon, Mark and I realized our downtime is about to decrease significantly and a family vacation before all the madness seemed like a good idea. So we booked a vacation in one day…and we left one week later. haha.

The drive there was partial hell because, I mean…9+ hours in a car with two toddlers. I don’t think I need to say any more. But we had so much fun once we got there!


Solid attempt at a family photo. 😉

– amanda

momma + cora + dex

Being a mom to two under two remains the hardest thing I’ve done. Our first year was very tough for me emotionally and there were multiple times I wondered what the hell I’d gotten myself into. And then, almost overnight, things got easier. And easier. And then things got fun! And I know now that we’ve made it out of the toughest part.

Back in April, Ashley of Aspen Blue Photography (a photographer I love and have known for years) offered mommy and me sessions, so I snatched one up and had photos done of me and my babies to celebrate the fact that we are all alive and thriving. I told Ashley I had very low expectations because I knew a 2.5 year old and a 1 year old totally weren’t going to sit and smile for the camera, so we would take what we got. And I’ll be damned if she didn’t get the sweetest smiles and silliness from my little devils.


Thank you for these photos, Ashley! They mean the world to me. ❤


– amanda

pumpkin patch

We attempted to hit up Orr Family Farm about two weeks ago, only to arrive at noon and realize we forgot the stroller and there were approximately 14,000 people there (slight exaggeration). So we turned our asses around, went home, and vowed to try again the next week.

We went on a Monday and arrived right when they opened (and remembered the stroller!) and considering the fit she threw when we left, Cora had so. much. fun. Y’all she cried so hard she almost threw up. It was also nap time and we were a leeeeeettle bit batshit, but there were some significant tears.

We went on the hayride, picked out pumpkins for both kids, went down some huge ass slides (I was not a fan, but Cora loved them), hung out with some goats, bought some fudge, and rode the carousel. I can’t wait to bring the kids back next year when Dex is a little older.

(That was the best photo of both kids. I expected nothing less.)
– amanda

two years old.

As of Sunday, I became the mother of a TWO year old. I can hardly believe it. Well, I can believe it.. We have hit the terrible twos with a fierceness and I have quickly learned that Cora inherited her momma’s temper. Something doesn’t work the first go around? Throw it. Leave the room. Don’t speak for half an hour. Cora and Amanda logic.

Tantrums aside, this girl blows my mind daily. I’m sure Mark gets tired of me going “Do you see what that girl is doing?” or “Listen to her! She’s so smart!” or “Let me tell you what Cora did today!” She impresses me so much with how quickly she picks things up. She can watch an episode of her favorite cartoon and have the song and half the dialogue memorized by the third time she watches it. (It’s Rain Man shit, you guys.) She uses “please”, “thank you”, and “sorry” appropriately. She adores cleaning. She is ridiculously timid in new situations for the first half dozen times she’s in them but the moment she’s comfortable she rules the room. (She is her mother. I have to reel myself in if and when I get too comfortable somewhere.)

This year we got almost every single tooth (she only had two teeth for hew first birthday!). We hit the WORST SLEEP REGRESSION I EVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED…Mark and I would have to sit on the porch for half an hour after we put her down because she would scream bloody murder. We decided Bubble Guppies weren’t the greatest things ever anymore and now we think Team Umizoomi hung the moon…mom and dad hope Bot shorts out, but Cora can count to five because of those assholes so it’s whatever. She started “school” (Mother’s Day Out twice a week) and dance class and we’re watching her confidence blossom with each week.

Cora has become her own little person with her own thoughts and opinions and it is wild to watch. We are so proud of the little lady she’s becoming.

Here are some snaps from her “Tea for Two” party and our annual birthday trip to the zoo. ❤


– amanda

dexter apollo’s birth story. (alternate title: the day i birthed a toddler.)

(This is long, but this is more for me than anyone. I want to remember everything!)

In honor of Dex turning 6 months old today, I decided to finally share his birth story.

After having a less-than-ideal birth with Cora…refresher: attempted a home birth, my water broke, she was in a bad position, I never started having contractions, and we had a c-section after 3 days of off-and-on labor…I knew I wanted to try for an home birth VBAC (or HBAC) with baby #2. Literally days after seeing those two lines on the pregnancy test, I contacted our midwife, Dawn, and got on her calendar with a due date of March 17th.

I was damned and determined to have this baby at home. By the end of pregnancy it had become like training for a marathon. I took the supplements (I probably took about 20 individual pills throughout the day), I did the Spinning Babies exercises religiously, and I spent a lot of time with my chiropractor. With Cora being a large baby, we decided it wouldn’t hurt to try to bring Dex into the world between 38-40 weeks if possible.

I paid close attention to my posture to avoid bad positioning (y’all, I didn’t recline for three full months). Starting at 37 weeks I walked at least a mile every day, I forced down castor oil not once but twice, I danced, I walked up and down stairs, I did squats, I ate eggplant parmesan, I hooked myself up to the breast pump for two hour intervals multiple times, if I was sitting I was bouncing on a birth ball, I tried acupressure, I tried acupuncture, I ate spicy food, I had my membranes stripped, I tried a foley bulb, I both prayed and cursed the heavens and I’m here to tell you a little secret.. Babies come out when they’re ready. And only when they’re ready. All of those old wives’ tales are bullshit.

I was convinced Dexter was never coming out. My due date came and went, then 41 weeks passed us by. My photographer kept reassuring me that it would happen and both of her babies were born 12 days past their due date. We had an ultrasound the Friday of my 41st week and it appeared Dexter was doing beautifully…I had plenty of fluid, he was in a great position, and my placenta looked perfect. Our ultrasound tech made a bit of a face after doing measurements and said “Oof. Big guy.” The estimation was 10lbs, but she assured us it could go a pound either way and typically with larger babies they’re a pound smaller than their estimation. Cora was 9lbs 11oz so we assumed he would be in the same weight range. (This is where we laugh.)

The Saturday of my 41st week I tried every single trick in the book to induce labor and Easter Sunday saw me with no baby. We met with my midwife on Monday evening and came up with a plan: If Dex hadn’t decided to join us by that coming Thursday or Friday, I would be headed for another c-section. It broke my heart quite a bit, but I was so tired of being HUGELY pregnant and so ready to meet our baby that I was willing to do anything. I would expect a phone call the next day to set things up. Dawn swept my membranes one last time before we left and I went home and starting googling things to pack in a hospital bag for a c-section. I looked at our home birth kit with longing and knew we would once again be packing it up to donate to another home birth family.

I woke up Tuesday morning, 12 days past my due date, feeling crampy and having some awful lower back pain. I chalked it up to the membrane sweep and continued about the morning. At 9am I texted Mark and told him I was going to turn on cartoons for Cora so I could try a hot shower to relieve some pain…twenty minutes later, while taking off my pants to climb in the shower, my water broke.

I called Mark first so he could head home, then I called Dawn, my mom, and our photographer. I’ll always remember standing pantless in the bathroom for half an hour making phone call after phone call while trying to keep Cora out of the room so I could get all the fluid cleaned up before she stepped in it. There. Was. So. Much. Fluid.

Mark arrived home and our doula, Taryn, not too long after. We timed contractions (they were still getting themselves together), checked vitals, and Taryn made me some eggs and fruit for breakfast while Mark took Cora to the babysitter. After Taryn left I remember sitting quietly in our kitchen by myself, and calmly eating my breakfast. I wasn’t anxious or nervous, or honestly even excited. There was an inexplicable peace.

By the time Mark got home contractions were coming on harder and more consistently. Before long I was ready for my birth team: Dawn (midwife), Taryn (doula/assistant), Lauren (doula/assistant), Ashley (photographer), and Mark. Everyone arrived, they set up the birth pool and it was at that moment that I think Mark and I both had our “Holy shit we’re having a home birth” moment.


I labored in the pool the entire time, save for a few trips to the “Dilation Station” (toilet!) per the request of the birth team. The whole day was such a blur. It simultaneously felt like it zoomed by and like it lasted forever. It was far more intense than I ever could have imagined! I remember focusing on my breathing a lot and involuntarily making some of the most animalistic sounds. The whole thing felt like an out of body experience.

At some point during labor, mid-contraction, I felt a huge POP and quite a bit of pain. In the midst of it all I shouted “What WAS that?!” Turns out my son had just fractured my tailbone, which apparently curves inward a bit too much. I would not sit correctly for a solid two weeks afterward. ha! (That pesky tailbone sneaks its way back in the story soon…wait for it…)

Things progressed and before I knew it, it was dark outside and my body was pushing on it’s own. Pretty soon we were able to feel the top of Dex’s head, and pushing lasted about an hour.


After his head came out, I suddenly stopped having contractions. Things became a bit of a whirlwind after that. I was asked to quickly get out of the tub, and within seconds I was laying on our dining room floor while Dawn had to help our big guy out…his shoulder had gotten caught on my tailbone. I couldn’t tell you what I felt at that time because somehow my brain has totally blocked it out. I have no memories of it, but it’s likely for the best. 😉

At 8:10pm, Dawn laid him on my chest and I remember thinking how huge he felt laying on me. It didn’t take long for me to realize he wasn’t alert and he was pretty pale, and the birth team had this sense of urgency about them. Not panic at all, I just noticed them get their “game face” on, if you will. There were hands flying around and times being shouted, and it was at that moment that I realized just how much I trusted these women. I was worried, sure, but I never felt like we were in danger or like we weren’t going to be taken care of. I just laid there and talked him, rubbed his back and held his chubby little hand. I’m still in awe of how quickly and efficiently the team worked together to help Dex take his first breath.


Not long after, he did just that! He let out his first cry and didn’t stop for the first six weeks of his life. 😉


Mark took him to our bedroom for some skin-to-skin while I got cleaned up (and apparently I blacked out at one point, because of course I did), my mom arrived with Cora, and our little family of four got to hang out in our bed for awhile. There was an air of excitement as we got the scale out to weigh our big guy. Dawn asked me to guess and I said somewhere around 9lbs…she laughed and said “Add 2 to that.”

I had somehow, by the grace of god, just birthed an 11lb 5oz, 21.5in long baby boy with a stomach circumference larger than most babies’ heads. (And somehow walked away with just a second degree tear that was stitched up in the comfort of my own home.)


The biggest contrast in Cora’s birth and Dexter’s birth, to me, is the way I felt after my children entered the world. With Cora, I was exhausted, feeling defeated, and even somewhat confused as to what exactly went wrong. With Dex, I remember cracking jokes with my birth team (and cracking up hearing them take selfies with my son while I was in the bathroom), Mark having celebratory tacos on our porch with his best friends, and feeling like I just won a UFC match. (No really, I felt like I had the shit beat out of me.)

I hope, if nothing else, our story proves that proper baby positioning is super important, and that women’s bodies are capable of SO MUCH MORE than we realize! Whatever you think your limits are, your body can go further.


– amanda

P.S. I hope all my c-section momma friends know that there are options if you want them, and educating yourself goes far. There are more and more providers popping up who encourage VBACs! Every situation is different, but you are likely not stuck with having c-sections forever. ❤

P.P.S. Mark, it’s time to grow your beard out again.

all images ©Births by Ashley Porton

our wedding video.

For those who don’t know, Mark and I were engaged when we found out we were expecting Cora. We ended up nixing what was going to be a traditional wedding (her due date was two days from our planned wedding date) and opted for an elopement in Colorado a year later instead. I think we can both agree it was one of our better life decisions. Low cost, no stress, no drama…just our little family, a minister, a photographer, and a videographer.

It was a beautiful weekend and our day was perfectly low-key. We woke up when we wanted (when Cora wanted), we made breakfast, I made my own bouquet, we made our own cake, we chose our ceremony site and we did things the way we wanted on our own schedule.

When it came time for the ceremony Mother Nature decided to dump a bunch of rain. After waiting it out for awhile we decided what the hell.. We found a canopy of trees and we got married right there on the side of a mountain in the middle of a light drizzle. I truly believe it couldn’t have been better if we tried.

Thanks to our friend Chris for knocking this out for us. It’s perfectly us and I love that all the small moments got captured.

If you have a spare half hour, have a seat and join us on our big day. ❤

(I talk with my hands soooo much. And look at tiny Cora!)

– amanda

happy first day of fall, kids.

I confess, I absolutely turn into your typical Basic White Girl once September rolls around. FALL WREATHS. CANDLES WITH FALL SCENTS. LEGGINGS AND BOOTS. CUTE LITTLE PUMPKINS NESTLED ON THE PORCH. I don’t lose my shit over pumpkin spice anything, but otherwise…I’m a complete cliche. I’m not sorry.

I have no idea when this started, because for me fall usually means winter is on its way and I’m not a huge fan of winter. Let me rephrase that: I fucking hate winter. But there’s a certain laziness about fall I can totally get on board with. Like hey it’s slightly cool and foggy outside, it’s completely okay to spend all day buried in a book. (I’m fondly remembering a time in my life that I could do this, bear with me.)

All this to say.. I went full on Basic White Girl and made a Fall Bucket List for our family. Like, back in July. Still not sorry.


I’m going to try to photograph these things on my handy dandy iPhone (I don’t own a “real” camera anymore, how’s that for quitting photography?) as we check them off but mostly I’m just going to try to keep my children alive and unharmed throughout the process. I’ll do my best.

– amanda