our life

Hello 2017 by Kate Brightbill


My dad has been telling people I've retired from blogging. Don't believe him... I haven't! 

It's time that I either give this blog a bit of my time, or truly retire it. In 2017, I've decided I'll give a little heart and attention to this space of mine and see if I can get into a rhythm. I truly started both of the last two years thinking this would be the case, but when real life gets crazy, I just cannot pretend this space is more important than taking care of what's directly in front of me. I'm here and ready now! Hi!

First of all-- a look back. For everyone who has been talking about how terrible 2016 was: be encouraged! Statistically, it actually WASN'T quite so terrible as it felt at times. Perhaps for you, personally, it was, so I will not devalue that, but it is definitely a lot of the media influencing perspectives (and politics. politics were bad this year, but no need to address that here).

Our little (/not that little) family had a really good year, honestly. We were able to travel for the first time in awhile so we took advantage of every single opportunity. We learned to balance three children (it takes a LOT of energy), and our general health was on the upswing for most of the year. We had a couple trips to Urgent Care/ ER because, well... it seems we wouldn't be "us" if we didn't. Our children are not inclined to live those safe, sheltered lives, for better or worse. Adventure and risk seems to run in their blood (like, literally I don't take my girls to playgrounds much anymore because they climb on TOP of structures and outside all the boundaries and cause stress and anxiety for all parents watching).

We had a setback in November with a couple horrid weeks where Maggie's general health was in question-- I've had so many questions about it, so I'll summarize: She is completely cleared for now. She had a bad fever lasting about five days, and a lymph node on her neck that grew to 6cm in diameter, and became infected, so she couldn't move her head, and was in massive pain. She narrowly avoided surgery, and antibiotics and prayers managed to shrink the node to the point where she was totally mobile mid-December, and the swell in her nodes are basically nonexistent at this point. We are so thankful.

We ended our year with a trip to Tahoe, which was PERFECT. Sophie spent a day learning to snowboard, and both girls did some sledding. Tahoe waited until we got home before getting a TON of new fresh snow, but hey- just an excuse to get back over there now that we have all the snow gear in the right sizes!

I'm super excited about this new year. I know it's going to have a ton of ups and downs like any other year, but I'm choosing to be optimistic. I've also already started the most massive spring clean this week, and I'm hopeful that by the end of the year, there will be no more mystery boxes at the top back corners of our closets to clean out. ;) 

'Til next time (soon!),



Thoughts: On School and Change by Kate Brightbill



School is about to start. In three days. My four-soon-to-be-five-year-old is going to kindergarten.

I cried on-and-off all evening yesterday.

My mama heart is feeling a deep desire to keep my baby Maggie tiny. To reverse to the days that school was nowhere in sight and our daily walks were aimless, but so full & meaningful.

Maggie has been by my side for the past five years. She's been my yellow-haired sunshine girl who radiates joy and squeals in laughter the way I've only read about in stories. She has been a delight to my heart during hard moments with her unabashed smile. We have sat beside each other, morning after morning, becoming builders, artists, creators, and princesses with crowns.

She is growing upward and onward, and she is excited about kindergarten. I am excited FOR her, if I'm honest... but I'm still apprehensive about change. I felt this same ache in my heart when I sent Sophie to school for her first day. 

I'm well aware that new challenges- and even adversity- are recipes for growth and character, but it doesn't mean that my mama bear heart doesn't feel every bit of it deeply. I know first hand that little girls are not always kind. I know what it's like when a child is told she isn't wanted as a friend anymore, or that she is not good enough. I want to be there to give her a hug in the moment that she needs it most... when her feelings are hurt or when she falls down. I want to be there to boost her confidence when she is feeling incapable. 


My older daughter has shown me that those challenges and painful moments can be met with endless grace. Grace toward peers being unkind, grace to give second-third-fourth and fifth chances, boosted confidence and assertiveness to say something in the moments that they are needed, the ability to brush off a scrape and recover from hurt. The more challenges, the more opportunity to rise to the challenges and learn from them.

I've also learned that even a delayed hug after school can be sufficient. A stop for a milkshake date and a heart-to-heart can boost sad days. Children are resilient-- they are stronger than I realize and far more capable.

My selfish heart is so sad that my girl is growing up. There's no mincing the truth. I'm already nostalgic for tulle princess dresses and bed-head and tea parties and lego building moments that have not yet passed. Historically speaking, there's a good chance I will cry many more times before Monday, and then again most days next week. The ache is real. 

This summer was full. The year before that and the one before that also full. Full of activity, of life, of beauty, of learning. 

We are grasping our moments, all the good and the bad with it. Though I've had more than a few days of rushing my children toward bedtime, I know through and through that I have savored the moments. And that's a good thing.

So now, onward. Through my tears of nostalgia, I also have pride and confidence. My second-born was created to beam her little sunshine everywhere. 

Here we go. 


Happy New Year! by Kate Brightbill

I took down the Christmas tree, shopped for groceries with all of San Francisco, and started a two month retreat from desserts this weekend.

Predictable and VERY happy new year. 

I'm a big fan of new years. I understand that it's only a number on a calendar that is really changing, but I love the newness, the hope of some sort of better me. I expected last year to have gone much differently than it did (i.e. easier ;), but at the end of the year,  I had a healthy baby and hopefully a whole lot more character built through the challenges. It feels good to emotionally leave the (almost two years of) bad health as a memory, and be able to fully enjoy this stage of our lives. 

I had such high hopes of sharing with you the wealth of learning I did during Jack's birth and bringing him home and juggling three children, teaching my baby the beauty of sleep, etc.... but I truly couldn't properly think until week 12, during which the Christmas season was in full effect.

My mom reminded me (on week 11 when I was talking about how I'm finally coming out of the haze) that the first 12 weeks of our babies' lives can be called the 4th trimester. Hormones are out of balance, our bodies are trying to recover from a significantly painful procedure, and we are rest-deprived while trying to bounce back asap to create some semblance of normalcy for our older children. It was a comfort to hear that my flailing attempts at doing it all were unnecessary, and I could forgive myself for falling behind in so many areas. I'm the type who wants to just bounce back! The Rosie the Riveter concept that "I can do it all" and "nothing needs to hold me back."

To moms having babies, here are my biggest tips and words of wisdom: ... it IS okay to be far from where you were pre-baby. It IS okay to have a huge mess, it's okay if you don't write on your blog for months even when you promised you would (wink, wink), and it IS okay if your daughter gets to school a few minutes late sometimes, and if you just completely forget about soccer practice. You just had a baby. 

SO. I've now muddled my way through all of that, and have come out on the other side of the holiday season invigorated. I'm excited to get Sophie to school, Maggie to extracurriculars, and get the grocery shopping done in person (though special thanks to San Francisco for having Instacart and insta-everything to deliver groceries as needed these months). I'm thrilled to be typing words on here (though pardon any typos/grammar; time is totally limited here). I'm excited to organize and keep color coordinated closets and bookshelves back in order. We're all sleeping through the night and Jack is about to move to his own crib, and the forecasts are rainy and cozy. I'm aware that days ahead will hold their own challenges, and that this year- as all years- cannot be perfect... but for today, I'll just worry about today, and I'll declare it to be a good one.

Happy 2016!!

Weekending + Sun Safety by Kate Brightbill

StyleSmaller || LandsEnd

This weekend we hit some seriously high temperatures in San Francisco. Saturday was what I would call "weather perfection," with 70's low 80's... Sunday was basically unbearable for this pregnant girl, and I spent most of the day inside with windows open, dividing my day between crunching cups of ice and eating popsicles. SF doesn't really know about that thing called air-conditioning, because frankly- we don't need it most of the year, but those few days of sun rays beating on us and we all wonder if we should have invested in AC regardless of the fact that 360 days of the year we do not need it. 

We beached it up on Saturday for a couple hours. We were over by the bridge at sports basement on a hunt for the perfect backpack for my husband, and it only made sense to take ourselves to the beach if were were going to be out there anyway. My girls are beach bums... particularly Sophie. She would go all the way in the cold water if we let her, even on the chilly 50 degree days... she is a total fish! I love it. 


*(though maybe not if I showed her the insane shark + surfer video from the weekend- did you see that??? SO glad he was safe!!! And another side-note: we debated at length whether the SF bay has sharks, and researched the answer- yes, small harmless bay sharks, not legit terrifying ones, phew) 

We packed a bag of only the essentials. Water- (because the girls love to chant 2-4-6-8 everybody hydrate!), my favorite beach towel ever (monogrammed with my initials because it seems every mom should be allowed to take ownership of at least a few little things in their life that little hands can't claim, yes?), sundresses, shades, hats (SUN SAFETY), and got ourselves cooled and sandy until we were all losing our charm.... then we headed home for some nice afternoon naps. Ahh, perfect. 

I'm going to be terribly honest and tell you that- though I'm super cautious with my girls and their hats and sunscreen, I can be a bit lax with my own application and other sun precautions. I don't burn (thank you, 50% Mexican blood for that!), so it doesn't seem quite so urgent to re-apply as often as I do for my family. I have, however, been humbled this pregnancy in more ways than simply adding numbers rapidly to the scale.... To my mortification, my skin has been getting some dark sun spots near the freckles on my cheeks. Aghhh! I know some of this will go away after the pregnancy, but it is SUCH an essential reminder to me: none of us are immune to skin damage and melanoma!! 


Shortly after I noticed my new skin imperfections, LandsEnd reached out to me about spreading the word about MRA (Melanoma Research Alliance), and their summer sun safety awareness campaign... It was meant to be. I received the prettiest, extra-soft lightweight swim tee to protect my body- it can cover any swimsuit and be worn in-water or out. I love a good tan, but I love the idea of preventing splotchy skin spots and - for goodness sakes- melanoma- far more! The LandsEnd swim tees are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation as an effective UV protectant- they are a UPF 50 sun protectant. 

I don't know if it's because I'm in my 30's now and thinking more responsibly, but this REALLY matters to me these days. I do not want to become a statistic- are you aware that skin cancer has increased 30% this year? YES. I know. 

SO, what can you do? 

  • First of all- cover up! Slather that sunscreen on your children AND yourselves! And USE SWIM TEES (right now is the best time to buy because they're all on sale!!).
  • Grab some sun UPF products for yourselves... I will literally be wearing mine all the hot days of the year.
  • Share pics of you being sun savvy in your swim tees and tag @LandsEnd on Instagram and Facebook... for every picture tagged with the hashtag #LandsEndSunSavvy, LandsEnd will be making a donation to the MRA! 

Sun safety is kind of a big deal. Weekend away, vacation away, but be summer safe!!

Ps. LandsEnd swim tees are perfectly stretchy, so I recommend ordering exactly your size- no bigger, and if you're between sizes, size down! They're priced as low as $12.99. so it's seriously a no-brainer. :) 


This post is sponsored by LandsEnd. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support us! xx

Facts & Feelings by Kate Brightbill


Dear Friends!

I'm here... now where do I start? So, so much to catch up... about nine months, really. Prepare yourself for the longest essay ever written on this blog of mine.

How about I start here? I'M PREGNANT!! BABY #3 is coming in September!!

PHEW, I said it. Secret is out, finally! I'm 15.5 weeks, and growing faster than the other pregnancies. ;) I've had nausea, exhaustion, and total pregnancy brain (promise, it's a thing! spacey and forgetful!) for 15 weeks, and only this week has the nausea subsided. Brian was working long hours, as the beginning of the year often requires of him. I over-booked our first three months with extracurriculars for the girls, and found myself walking 4-6 miles per day, and taking buses, and basically running around our fair city to an extreme. It was a good and full (but very hard) January - March. I'm accustomed to being healthy and full of life, and I felt as though I was running every day to keep up. As of a couple weeks ago, we cleared our girls' schedule and headed last weekend for a long-anticipated vacation during Spring Break. 

NOW, let me back up a bit: I had two extremely healthy pregnancies with my girls. There was a slight chance of placenta previa with Maggie, and plenty of sickness with both, but as far as complications, there were none. 

That which has remained unsaid until now is that this current pregnancy actually follows two miscarriages.

The first would probably be called a "chemical pregnancy" because I wouldn't have known I was pregnant were I not tracking like clockwork. It was a wake-up call that hey... this getting pregnant deal is not always simple. It may not be seamless. We told almost no one that it happened and looked forward, rather than dwelling in disappointment, though disappointed I most definitely was. 

I got pregnant again last August. We had a beautiful healthy 8-week ultrasound where our wiggling baby's heart beat brightly and looking perfectly healthy on the screen. One week later, we took a tearful drive to the ER, and saw on that 9-week screen-- absolutely nothing. Where there had been a tiny baby one week earlier, there was an empty space. I'm not sure exactly what I expected to see, but it was such a stark blow to my hopefulness to see that beautiful child was no more, and I was absolutely crushed. 

I find in life that I want to be the upbeat one. I want to be the one who keeps her chin high, regardless of what's brimming underneath. If I want to cry, I will do so in the privacy of my cozy bed, with my face smushed in my pillow. I do not cry for sympathy, I do not cry to be noticed. It's a hard burden to carry tears below the surface. The roller coaster of hormones, paired with fears now realized, gave me two months of total fogged sadness. I didn't want to talk about it, I didn't want to feel like the one bringing everyone down by being so bummed, but I was so thoroughly bummed. It was this realization that no matter how I try to keep everything in life tidy and under control, the control does not belong to me. Even typing this now, almost six months later, it feels melodramatic and trivial compared to the realities of so many others. SO many couples lose babies. SO many people have the hard stuff staring them in their face daily. Who am I to feel this loss so deeply?

I came to a place early January where I finally recognized that I cannot orchestrate that which happens. I truly cannot. God is sovereign, He loves me, and He understands even when I do not. I was discouraged by the futile efforts put forth for this third child, and came to a place where I was absolutely certain I was not pregnant- yet another month... and in that moment, I let go. My heart finally came to grips with the reality that God knows best, and I am finished battling and allowing sorrow to steal my joy. I have two beautiful girls directly in front of me, a husband looking after our every need, and doting on me in my lingering sadness, and I will choose joy in this life, regardless of the shades of my 32nd year looking much different than I had expected. 2015 would be new and bright, and hopeful- perhaps new creative endeavors or new passions, but probably not that baby I had so desired. 

Later that VERY week, I found out that- contrary to my maternal instincts, or lack thereof- I am pregnant. 

I truly believe sometimes we simply need to come to an understanding that we are created by a loving Creator who wants us to learn to trust Him. He wants to take our sadness and bring beauty from ashes. Sometimes it takes heavy rain to appreciate sunshine. This was cautious sunshine. I wasn't ready to shout from the rooftops that I was expecting. We didn't tell a single person (even family!) that we were pregnant until that 9th week had come and gone. Sophie and Maggie kept the secret from any and everyone with us (impressive!). We kept our mouths tightly sealed until that beautiful, sickly, but HEALTHY first trimester had passed. Then, we told all our friends and family.

Last weekend, at 15 weeks and totally in-the-clear, we headed down south to the land where palm trees sway. Ahhh southern California. Such a beautiful place. Two sunny beach days, followed by time with my family at Disneyland and the next day at California Adventure... Ohhh, but that day, Brian and I spent mostly at the ER. 


The ER. The ER is really a terrible place. I've been to my own plush OB ER, specifically for expectant mothers, and was seen immediately, felt cared for and sorted through the issues immediately. Then there's the ER that you find in a foreign city, in the nearest hospital to where you are, and that ER is a terrible place. No further details necessary. ;) 

Hours later, we had our news: baby is alive and kicking and healthy!! Contrary to ALL thoughts my mind had in that waiting room, our child is alive and kicking

My body, however, has a SubChorionic Hemorrhage, size x- large, behind the placenta. 

What does this even mean? Ahh... how to explain? I'm not a doctor, but here's my attempt: It's a blood clot that develops during pregnancy, and it CAN cause complications, and it CAN cause a lot of things that are bad... OR it can simply resolve itself in short periods of time through some bleeding and some of the body just absorbing it, and all is well and lovely the remainder of the pregnancy. 

Bottom line? Bed rest.

Yes, bed rest.

Until further notice. Whaaaat? 

It's rather comical to me as I lay here in my room, day three. I think about my life and the way I used my time thus far in 2015- the way our first three months were scheduled and packed with lovely play dates and extracurriculars, with volunteering, with hosting, with social events, with any and everything we could imagine. It was too much and the four of us FELT it was too much. We talked about how as soon as spring break comes to a close, we are pulling all of the extras off our plates. We are simplifying and saying no.

SO. Here we are, closing out our spring break... Saying no- quite literally- to everything!  (except Easter! I'll be lying on my parents' bed for Easter celebrations, and being as much a part of celebrating our risen Christ as I possibly can!)

I've been handed a wealth of time in bed to rest. It doesn't feel particularly like a gift, but I'm sure going to try to see it as such. Our sweet baby is not yet out of the woods, but we are encouraged- by stats, by doctors, and most of all by prayers of our friends for peaceful hearts. We are thankful that that beautiful heart of this dear baby of ours is still beating strong, and we are hopeful. 

Also, THANK YOU, friends. Thank you for coming and reading my little blog- even during my months of half-hearted posting and radio silence. I really do love blogging, and I've missed it, but real life has had to come first. 




The Juggle Lately by Kate Brightbill


Hello from the least consistent blogger of 2014... I miss this little space! I wish I could say I was off reading books on beaches and taking leisurely strolls to get coffee, but nope! I've just been here, there, and everywhere. I'm not one of those people who enjoys being busy- I'm a total homebody by nature- but I'm also enjoying everything so much, it's been hard to take anything off the plate. 

I started tracking my steps to prove I'm busy {ha!!!}. It worked properly for five days, during which I averaged 3.1 miles of daily walking. It became this competition with myself- like, do I take that second bus, or should I just walk the remainder to get more steps into my walk? I had a 7 mile day where my legs felt like jello by the evening, and it was a strangely satisfying feeling. I don't have to have a gym membership, or subject myself to pilates torture to get a workout! After those five days, my phone's step tracking reset and I stopped paying attention, but I am still mostly making the choice to walk when I can, rather than bus it. I recommend it. Maggie really enjoys her stroller, so we're all happy.

We're in a bit of a groove now that school has been in session for awhile. My time alone with Maggie has been very sweet. We play a lot of candyland, and take a lot of scooter rides. She has extracurricular classes that keep her week varied rather than mundane. I've heard that when kids get home from school, they're wiped out and sleepy... not in our case. Sophie gets home and the two just squeal and play like they haven't seen each other in weeks. It's high-energy fun, and it cracks me up. 

I'd be lying if I said I'm not a bit worn out! I'm worn out but in the happiest way. It's this strange phase where I cannot perhaps sit as much and unwind, but watching my family doing things they love and seeing them thriving is making me so happy. I mean, is treking my child to swim class my favorite part of the week? Not at all... but seeing her successfully swimming {especially when at the beginning of the year the water made her scream} is so thrilling. Is making the perfect lunch every day for my school-kid the most exciting part of my day? Not so much... but seeing her articulate her specific preferences in a mature way as I pack it makes me smile {also! crazy enough, she almost entirely flat-out refuses to buy lunch! I do not get it, but she thinks so much of her lunches in her lunchbox, and I'm a bit flattered about it, haha!}.

There will come a day that I have a consistent blogging schedule and a full blog- {and a full shop, for that matter!} but for now it is taking a bit of a back seat, and that's okay for me. Adjusting focus and schedules is part of life. I will be sneaking posts in as often as I can- if you know me well, you know I always have so much to say and share about. It just cannot be daily as it was before... just for this stage. ;)