A travel love story

Chris recently surprised me with a little gift. I knew he was working on a video but I didn’t know just how much I was going to fall in love with it. This video is a sweet ode to our relationship but there’s a little twist at the end. Let’s just say that it left me in tears at the end.

I want to share this little piece of our lives with you. Take a peek at our love story below.


It’s 4:25 in the morning and I’m wide awake sitting in the dark on my living room floor, ferociously devouring a bowl of Lucky Charms while catching up on current events. I forgot to eat dinner last night and I can’t remember when I showered last.

So this is motherhood.

You would think that I’m awake at this ungodly hour because I’m tending to the needs of my newborn son but in fact, he’s passed out and snoring quite loudly in the bedroom. I really should be sleeping too. You know, the whole “sleep when baby sleeps” thing. But I’ve been awake since Holden’s 2:30 feeding, reflecting on the past seven weeks.

I’m a parent. I’m a mom. Nearly two months ago we brought home a tiny little baby and while we read countless books, attended baby classes, and heeded the advice of our friends with kids, we still had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

I’m physically exhausted. For a newborn that’s supposed to sleep upwards of twenty hours a day, you would think that Chris and I would have more down time. I honestly don’t know where our day goes. From the early morning feedings, to the hours spent soothing and cuddling our little one, it feels like our entire day is spent tending to Holden’s needs. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the days of being able to sleep as long as I wanted (and when I wanted).

Everyone tells you that you won’t sleep once you bring your newborn home. I foolishly believed that it was something that I would be able to handle. After all, I was only getting an hour or two of sleep during my last month of pregnancy. The difference is that I was able to nap multiple times throughout the day. That’s no longer the case.

I lose sleep because I’m too busy staring at his adorable face while he naps. I lose sleep because I lie awake in bed, listening to the sound of his breathing (read: snoring), jumping up to check on him if he goes silent. I lose sleep because I’m trying to figure out how to make the world a better place so that he doesn’t have to face the same challenges, struggles, and hate that we are surrounded by today. 

Feeding Holden

And my body, while healed from the trauma of labor, still hurts. It now partially belongs to a tiny human who depends on it for nourishment and comfort. My heart hurts. It hurts with how much I have fallen in love with my little guy. There are days when I am practically crying for the chance to take a twenty minute nap, but as soon as Holden falls asleep, I miss him and spend the time I could be sleeping staring at his perfect chubby face. 

I have never been more exhausted in my entire life.

I have also never been so elated.

Everyone says that the first few weeks are the hardest and that it gets better. I believe them. And while this is one of the more challenging times in my life, I know I’m going to miss the newborn stage once its gone. So bring on the sleepless nights and baby cuddles. They’re only going to be around for so long.

newborn cuddles




Holden Brave’s birth story

Throughout my pregnancy I would constantly find myself in awe at what my body was capable of doing. I could grow and nurture another human being within my womb. My stomach stretched further than I could have ever imagined and I could feel my hips and ligaments bowing under the weight of my growing baby.

It wasn’t until the end of my pregnancy that my body began to succumb to the rigors of growing a child. It wasn’t only my belly that was swollen but also my hands, feet, and ankles. I had trouble drawing a full breath and was constantly tired. I attributed all of these ailments to being at the end of my pregnancy so I was shocked, when at my 38 week appointment, I was told that my typically low blood pressure was alarmingly high. My blood pressure, coupled with the swelling of my hands and feet, lead my midwife to order me to get some lab work done.

Monitoring the baby at what would end up being my last midwife appointment at 38 weeks.
Monitoring the baby at what would end up being my last midwife appointment at 38 weeks.

I immediately knew what they were looking for. I had read up about preeclampsia early on and knew that it was dangerous for the mother. If gone untreated, I could be struck with seizures and even die. It was May 17th, two weeks before his due date, and I went to the lab for blood work. It was early in the afternoon and while my midwife thought that it might just be a fluke, she assured me that she would contact me as soon as the results were in.

I got home and immediately went over our birth plan. I looked over what we had recently added…

-We would prefer not to be induced and don’t want to have to use Pitocin.

-Intermittent fetal monitoring (I want to be mobile while in labor)

-Able to labor in the tub

-Delayed cord clamping

If I were to have my dream labor it would be a very quick, non-medicated vaginal delivery. I mean, it sounds great, right? I would pray at night for a six hour natural labor with minimal trauma to me or baby. Seriously.

At nine o’clock that night we got the call. My labs came back and I had mild preeclampsia. The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver and since I was far enough along, they wanted to induce me. Our midwife informed me that the hospital was full but as soon as a bed opened up they wanted me to come in. I asked when she thought I would be in, thinking that it would be in the next few days. She responded with, “Probably in an hour or two.”

As soon as she said it I was dumbstruck. We were going to have a baby. And soon. I hung up the phone, told Chris, and immediately ran through a list of things we needed to do before we left for the hospital. I sent Chris to the store to buy snacks for himself so we wouldn’t starve during labor. I started vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms. I went over our packing list and made sure to slip my bathing suit in my bag so that I could labor in the tub. Yes, I packed like I was about to go to a vacation resort. It’s laughable now.

One of the last photos I have of my pregnant. This was right after we arrived at the hospital.
One of the last photos I have of me pregnant. This was right after we arrived at the hospital.

At ten thirty we were told to make our way to the hospital. After checking in and getting to our room, our midwife began running triage. I already had a blood pressure cuff on me and an IV in my arm (so much for being able to be mobile) and as our midwife’s assistant was listening to my heart beat she stopped and asked our midwife to listen. It was determined that my heartbeat had a regular irregular beat to it. It was unlike anything anyone in the room had ever heard before. It was then that they called in for an EKG.

The EKG involved even more wires. As the results from the EKG came back, even more people entered the room. The cardiologist said that the EKG reported that I had a heart attack. Everyone was perplexed. Obviously, I was fine but apparently my pregnancy was throwing my body out of whack.

This was just a fraction of all the things I was hooked up to. Goodbye, birth plan!
This was just a fraction of all the things I was hooked up to. Goodbye, birth plan!

Once it was determined that I was okay, I was told that I was going to be given a cervix softener before I was given Pitocin. I asked if I had to have the Pitocin and was told that was how labor was going to be induced. I was disappointed but also knew that we had to get the baby out. The night nurse assured me that everything was going to be okay but that I should also prepare myself for a long labor. She quoted that it could be two or even three days before our little man arrived.

I was given the cervix softener at 1:30 in the morning. Chris and I then passed out for the night with the hopes of resting as much as we could before labor started. I woke up at 6AM on my own and thirty minutes later my water broke. I called the nurse who checked me and she excitedly exclaimed that I was already 3 centimeters dilated and it looked like labor was going to start all on its own. No Pitocin needed! Thank God!

The contractions came on fast and strong. It took all of my effort to breathe through them. The next few hours seem like a blur. By 9AM I was in so much pain that I pleaded for an epidural. At that point, a natural labor was the furthest thing from my mind. I was already 6 centimeters and I didn’t see how much longer I could endure the contractions.

At 9:30 the anesthesiologist came in. By that point, the pain was blinding. I remember grasping the rail of my bed as I tried to make it through each contraction. Our nurse noticed a shift in my demeanor, looked at the anesthesiologist and said, “I don’t think she’s getting an epidural. I think the baby’s coming.” All I remember after that is the anesthesiologist saying “Good luck and congratulations” as he left the room.

Immediately after he left I looked at our nurse and told her that I wanted to push. Her eyes were wide and I remember a whirl of movement as the midwives and nurses began to prepare for the arrival of our baby. They kept telling me not to push but my body completely took over. Women in baby blue scrubs were running around the room frantically trying to set up everything they needed for the birth. He was coming whether we were ready or not.

The midwives told me to push whenever I felt the urge. I know it’s going to sound weird, but pushing actually brought a sense of relief. I preferred pushing to the intense pain of the contractions. And at 10:05, after thirty minutes of pushing with Chris by my side, we welcomed sweet Holden Brave into the world. He was immediately placed on my chest and it was just like the movies. I cried, Chris cried, Holden cried.

He looks like an alien but this is the first photo we have together. Just a few minutes old.
He looks like an alien but this is the first photo we have together. Just a few minutes old.

My entire world changed in that moment. We spent the first hour of Holden’s life with him on my chest, skin-to-skin. Everyone quietly exited the room leaving Chris and I with precious moments to bond with our new baby. I now understand why it’s referred to as “the golden hour.” We spent an uninterrupted hour (probably a little more) studying his little toes and the soft tufts of hair on his head. He looked nothing like I expected him to but he was perfect in every way.

Cuddling with my little love
Cuddling with my little love

While my labor and delivery ended up being nothing like I expected it to be, I wouldn’t change a thing. I ended up getting the quick, drug free labor that I wanted and most of all, I had a healthy baby. I feel so incredibly blessed and can’t believe that Chris and I are parents. What a sweet and wild ride.

He’s here!

Actually, he’s been here. I’ve been so wrapped up in baby cuddles that I haven’t had the time to formally introduce you to my son. The hubs and I are head over heels for this little guy.

Dear World, we’d like you to meet

Holden Brave Christopher Staudinger

Meet the new baby

He was born May 18th, weighing in at 7 lbs 4 oz and 20 inches long. Everything about him is perfect, from his adorably chubby cheeks to his long skinny toes. He’s turned our entire world upside down and we love him for it.

Holden is officially three weeks today and while he still seems so brand new it also feels like we’ve had him forever. I can’t imagine life without this little guy.

I’ll have more on his intense birth story in the next few days. But for now, back to baby cuddles.

Any day now, baby

We are officially nine days from our due date. I can even tell people that I’m due next week. It’s too real.

Chris and I are going through all the emotions. We’re elated, thrilled, terrified, and anxious all at the same time. I’m so ready to have my body back. I can’t wait to be able to see my toes and walk up the stairs without getting out of breathe. I want to be able to wear pants again. Like, real pants. When I accidentally drop things on the floor, they stay there. Bending over is the worst. I definitely want this baby out.

That being said, once he’s out, he’s OUT. And then what? Then we have a baby. A tiny human that is going to depend on us for everything. A baby that we’re entrusted to love, care for, protect, and teach. Baby H literally knows nothing about the outside world and he has so much to learn. And we’re the ones that are supposed to help teach him how this crazy universe works. That’s a ton of responsibility.

We’ve read countless books, attended baby classes, interrogated our friends that have kids, and googled late into the night and we still feel like we know nothing. We’re the Jon Snow of baby rearing. How can one possibly prepare for all of the emotions and feels that come with a new baby? I’m confident in my swaddling abilities, we know to put the baby to sleep on his back and that we have to sterilize his pacifiers. But what about the rest?

Don’t even get me started on labor. How will I feel postpartum? Will I heal quickly? How much will I depend on Chris to care for both me and the baby? Will Baby H be born healthy? What about encountering complications during labor and delivery?

And then what happens once we’re home? What will the first few weeks be like? Do we spend our days feeding, changing, and not sleeping? Will be all be patient with each other as we figure this parenting thing out? How many break downs should I expect.

Oh, and then there’s the future. When will we take Baby H on his first trip? Where will we go? Will he be an easy traveler?

These are just some of the questions that have been plaguing our thoughts as we anxiously await Baby H’s arrival. I’m comforted in the fact that there are a few things I do know. I know that I have, hands down, the best partner to take this journey with me. I know that we’re going to laugh and love our way through the sleepless nights, countless diapers, and many mishaps. I know that we have a huge support system behind us, a plethora of friends and family that have loved Baby H since the second they learned of his existence. And I know that our son is already so incredibly loved.

Baby H, whether we’re ready or not, we can’t wait to meet you. Just go easy on your dad and I as we try to sort this whole parenting thing out.


Getting ready

Alright little guy, it’s official. We have everything that we need for your arrival. Your Keekaroo changing pad arrived this afternoon, the changing table is stocked with diapers, wipes, and creams. We put together your travel system and will install your car seat tomorrow. We’ve been playing with your baby monitor for the last few days and the nature white noise from your bouncer has lulled me to sleep the past three nights. Don’t even get me started on your clothes. You have outfits to last you throughout your entire first year.

I’ve even purchased all the not-so-fun postpartum items for myself. Witch hazel, adult diapers (eep!), pads, and aloe are scheduled to arrive over the next couple of days. I even ordered a new package of dates that are said to help prepare the cervix and uterus for labor. Crazy, right?

So yes, it’s safe to say that we’re materialistically prepared for your arrival. You could come tomorrow and we’d have everything that you could possibly need (and then some). Do we feel prepared mentally and emotionally? Well, that’s a different story.

Thoughts and feelings before baby's arrival

I bounce back and forth between elation and anxiety. As my belly grows bigger (and more uncomfortable) I find myself looking forward to just having you here in my arms. I can’t wait to see what you look like and study the features of your little body. Will you inherit the Filipino nose or the Barut toes? What about your eyes? Will they be the same stormy blue as your dad’s and come with the yellow sunflower-like orb around the pupil? I not-so-secretly hope so.

I think your imminent arrival feels even more real now that our friends greeted their newborn baby girl just a few days ago. It seems like yesterday that we were having dinner with Kim and Steven when they revealed that they were expecting. They had reached eleven weeks and were positively glowing with pride. Your dad and I hadn’t told many people at the time but we knowingly looked at each other before revealing to them that we were also pregnant. Excited screams were shared by all. Being four weeks behind them, it’s crazy to think that you’re coming next!

Your dad and I are anxiously counting down the days until we have you in our arms. We might not know what we’re doing, but we promise to be patient as we all try to navigate this new adventure together.

Featured image taken by the talented Naomi with Flytographer in Maui.


I’m a big fan of lists. There’s something about making a list and then crossing off each task once you finish that is so immensely satisfying to me. I tend to make lists for every occasion: shopping lists, to-do lists, wish lists, etc.

My parents recently visited and brought with them four huge containers of relics from my high school and college years. Among the embarrassing photos, graduation tassels, and hand written love letters, I came across an old journal. Thumbing through the pages of “I heart so-and-so” and high school drama, I stumbled upon a check list. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed to be a list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30.

I’ve always been a girl with goals but I was astounded at just how ambitious I was at that age. My list included adventurous feats like “go on an African safari”  and “become fluent in another language” to the silly and arbitrary like “send a message in a bottle” or “get a bikini wax.” The last one made me laugh out loud. Oh, to be sixteen and excited at the prospect of an “adult wax.”

After scrolling through the list, I realized there were only a handful of items that I couldn’t check off at 30 and a half years old. It’s amazing to think that my sixteen year old self thought that so many of these goals were unattainable, only to be achieved in my wildest dreams. And yet, here we are.

Things to do before I’m 30:

  • Travel to France [x]

travel to france

  • Go on an African safari [x]
  • Go flyfishing [x]
  • Visit an orphanage [x]
  • Get married and have children [x] Well, the baby’s still cookin’...

Get married and have children

  • Send a message in a bottle [x]
  • Get a bikini wax [x] This one still makes me giggle.
  • Get a tattoo [x] Or five…
  • Swim with dolphins [x]
  • Learn to drive a stick shift [x]
  • Vote [x]
  • Learn to salsa [x]
  • Go skydiving [x]

Go skydiving

  • Invent something [ ] This one is up for debate.
  • Meet someone famous [x]
  • Be on TV [x]

Be on TV

  • Stay at a dude ranch [x]
  • Ride horses on a beach [ ] I have rode many horses and been to many beaches, but never at the same time. 
  • Run through a field of wildflowers [x]
  • Go white water rafting [x]
  • Have a kiss in the pouring rain [x]
  • Change someone’s life for the better [x] Chris says I can cross this one off for him. 
  • Visit the bayou in Louisiana [x]

Visit bayou in Louisiana

  • Become fluent in another language [x] Fluent-ish?
  • Learn how to play the banjo [ ] Apparently I need to work on this one.
  • Sing at a karaoke bar [x]
  • Learn sign language [x]
  • “Step” to the top of the Empire State Building [ ] I think I wanted to literally take the stairs to the top. Ambitious. 
  • Be interviewed by a reporter [x]
  • Learn either Arabic or Italian [-] I mean, I know a little bit of both. Half a point. 
  • Learn how to ride a motorcycle [x]
  • Go on a missions trip [x]
  • Go skinny dipping in the ocean [x]

I’m pretty proud of all that I’ve been able to accomplish in my 30 years on earth. I think it’s time that I make a new list of goals for this next decade.

Your chariot, little one

Dear Baby,

The arrival of April has gifted us with the ability to now say that you’re due next month. Sure, your due date is technically towards the end of the month and yes, we’ve heard that first born babies tend to come late, but that hasn’t stopped your dad and I from telling everyone that you’re coming soon.

Preparations are underway for your arrival. When we first told your grandpa’s co-workers that we were expecting, the first thing someone said was that we’ll be back in the dealership to upgrade our car to a Forester. Well, they were right. We figured that you would want some space in the backseat and had been looking into upgrading over the last few weeks.

This morning, your grandpa called and said he did the math and that with a trade-in we would end up spending the same amount that we did now. I told him that we could come by this morning to take a look at Foresters while we were getting the oil changed in our current car. His response? “No, you’re not getting an oil change. You’re getting a new car.” 

Subaru. Best new car for baby
TOP: April 6, 2013. Buying our first new car together. BOTTOM: April 1, 2016. Buying our baby-friendly car.

And he was right. There was no sense in us changing the oil in a car that we weren’t going to be driving. We walked into the dealership where your Papa works, test drove a Forester, chose the color (your dad actually agreed to WHITE!), signed a few papers, and before we knew it, we were driving off the lot. It pays to have family in the car business.

I can’t believe that this is the car we’ll be bringing you home in. That in a few weeks we’ll have your car seat installed in the back. And before we know it, we’ll all be on your first road trip. It’s bananas.

We truly hope you enjoy your new ride, kiddo. We expect to have this one for a while.

All the feels.

Dealing with pregnancy hormones

These pregnancy hormones are no joke. I’m all across the board these days. The mere mention of Old Yeller on Jeopardy literally had me in tears this evening. Why did he have to get rabies?!

Mommy brain is also on in full force. Just last night I put back a bag of spinach but instead of setting it in the refrigerator, I placed it in the cabinet with our pots and pans. Oops.

Chris and I used to joke that when I got pregnant I would be one giant emotional mess. I was pretty hormonal pre-pregnancy (ask my parents what my teens were like) and we just figured that I’d be all out cray-cray with a baby brewing. In fact, the opposite has happened. For the past 7 months I’ve been the most even keeled than I’ve ever been. It’s freaked both Chris and myself out. We can only guess that the true test will be once the baby is out. I can only imagine what that will be like.

As our due date approaches, I find myself bouncing between sheer excitement to all-out terror. There’s a part of me that can’t wait for baby H (we think we’ve decided on a name) to be here and then there’s another giant part that knows that once he’s here nothing will ever be the same again.

It’s been “Chris and Tawny” for over eight years. What will Chris and Tawny plus child look like? Will I miss the days when it was just the two of us? Are these thoughts even normal?

I’ve loved the past eight years of life with Chris and I can only hope that the addition of a mini-Chris will only enhance our lives. I’m apprehensive that our lives will shift and we’ll long for the simpler days of only having to worry about keeping ourselves alive. I’m anxious to see how Baby H changes our lives for the better. I miss being able to button my pants. I miss being able to sleep. I miss the ability to use a bathroom stall without hitting my belly on the way in and out (a rant about teeny tiny bathrooms is brewing for another time).

Overall, my emotions (much like this post) are all over the place. I can’t wait to see how our lives shift over the next few months and hope that I’ll be able to look back at this post and laugh about all of my inhibitions.

Dressing the bump

I honestly thought that when I got pregnant I would be one of those expecting moms who took weekly bump photos and had a cute DIY chalkboard that noted baby’s growth and development in utero.

Chris and I took our first official “bump photo” at eight weeks, right around the time that my morning sickness kicked in. Most days I could barely pull myself out of bed let alone get primped and dressed for a cute pregnancy photo. In the end, I think we’ve taken about 6 “weekly” bump photos in all. Nailed it.

Weekly pregnancy bump photos

Now that it looks like I’m shoplifting a basketball under my shirt, it’s hard to believe that I was ever as small as I was in the photo on the far left. It’s so impressive that women’s bodies are made to stretch and grow to accommodate the little life within us. Too bad most jeans can’t do the same thing.

I miss fitting into my clothes. I refuse to purchase maternity clothes as I find them to be (mostly) hideous and mind blowingly expensive. I did cave and buy a pair of maternity jeans off of craigslist but I tend to stick to oversized shirts, flowy tops and dresses, and jeggings. I used to detest jeggings. Even typing out the word sends a shiver down my spine but truth be told, jeggings are the only reason I look semi-presentable most days.

On the plus side, my newfound love for stretchy jeggings should take me through the remainder of this pregnancy and down the road to eventually (hopefully) getting back to my pre-baby weight. The AG leggings worn below are my absolute favorite (I basically live in them) and I scored them for $30 at Nordstrom Rack.

Dress the bump without buying maternity clothes

I wanted to wear something special for our maternity photos and scoured the internet for dress ideas. Our photos were taken on the beach and I was looking for something light and flowy. All of the dresses I really liked were from Free People and just a little too pricey to be frolicking on the beach with.

I ended up in Forever 21 the day before we flew to Hawaii and found the perfect dress for our shoot. It wasn’t a maternity dress but almost anything that’s empire waist is a pregnant woman’s best friend. I knew I was only going to wear the dress once or twice and didn’t mind spending the $30.

Dress the bump without having to buy maternity clothes
On our Flytographer shoot in Maui

Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to dress the bump the last seven months. It’s definitely getting harder now that the ever expanding belly is growing at a rapid rate. I figure that I’ll just go back to my Hawaiian roots and settle for muumuus in the last few weeks. Feel free to send any that you have lying around the house my way.