Bits of Life

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!!

Baby Jack! by Kate Brightbill


In case you didn't realize it- I birthed a baby! Jack is here! He's been on the scene 7 weeks, two days today (7 weeks already!?) and... he is a DREAM. 

Since I've given myself a wealth of maternity blog leave, it's a little tricky to figure out where to start after the break. I've attempted on multiple occasions to write "The Story" of Jack David's birth, and with all the feels, but frankly, I'm too emotionally up and down to really get those words on the screen without a fit of tears. But- like- the thought of a kitten getting stuck in a tree might send me to tears these days, so don't put too much stock in my tears. Mostly it's hormone imbalances, and maybe I'll write it later, but ahh, bottom line: childbirth is a miracle, and this one felt especially so. Jack David is our miracle baby and our gratitude levels are overflowing.

Now. I will answer the top two questions and comments regarding our new lifestyle. Seems fitting. 

1. "how are you sleeping?!" An answer that varies by the day. On a day after a rough night, I've been known to kind of wave my hand as a gesture to my frizzy hair and the dark under-eye circles and just answer... "no." No. (Best thing to do is walk away). 

Other moments, I get particularly verbal and start play-by-playing my nights of that week... "Oh a couple nights ago was dreadful- he woke at 1, 3, AND 5- can you believe it?, then last night was amazing, he woke at 3: 23 and then didn't wake again, but last week! let me tell you..." etc etc. I don't know what gets into me. We all know no one needs the hour by hour and week by week sleep schedule, but hey, if you're going to ask, be prepared to buckle up and listen... Chances are, I've had two extra cups of caffeine and that is what has put us in this situation. 

Bottom line? Ask me again in a month. I was an incredibly faithful sleep trainer with my first two, and they were sleeping 6/7 hours straight by 8 weeks, but when you're running around getting big kids here to there, AND attempting to maintain a newborn daytime schedule, it's a totally different situation. I do my best to keep consistent, but I cannot truly adhere to the high standard, so I can't expect him to sleep to the same standard. That said, he only woke at 4:30 to eat last night, so as of this moment, he's basically a superstar. 

2. Three kids? Your hands are FULL. Most people who have children stop at two around here. I respect this- it's obviously much more conducive to getting from here to there, and definitely more manageable, but three! Three is FUN. Happy chaos. Chaos, yes. Moments of too much noise, moments of disobedience, moments of tears... But I've already realized (from the crazy fact that I'm about to have a SEVEN YEAR OLD, whaaat?) that this whole newborn-dependent-on-me every moment of the day and night stage is fleeting. The answer is that yes, my hands are full. I can't always look eloquent managing the variables, and I may get more than my fair share of glances, but full hands are keeping me on my toes and keeping my prayer life abundant. PS. My abuelita had 14 children, so I'm sure if she would have heard people telling me three children means my hands are full, she would have had a good long laugh. 

It's good to be back here. So much to say, so few moments taken to type! Now back to my regularly scheduled program... baby has to eat! Back again soon!


xoxo. Over and out, friends. 

* Jacks sweater and cozy blanket c/o Hanna Andersson

F O U R by Kate Brightbill


Ohhh my Maggie girl. This one is for you. 

You went to sleep the night before your birthday with a huge beaming smile. "Tomorrow is my BIRTHDAY!!!," you squealed as we kissed you goodnight. You woke and said "Mommy! Is I'm three?" even though you KNOW you turned four while you slept. ;)

Three was epic. I cannot imagine a more compliant, joyous, vibrant three-year-old in the whole world. You made my days so full of sweet and sparkle. You talk from the moment you wake to the moment you are sleeping-- no words spared. On the bus, you sing, you ask questions, you notice what everyone is wearing, and you sometimes tell them that you really like it. You see pets and want to know if it's a girl or a boy, and you want to see if their collar is pink. 

You asked me before almost every one of my ten ultrasounds if maybe this doctor will tell you that our baby is a girl. You also made wishes with coins into water fountains that you would have a baby sister. You eventually came to grips with your big sister being your only sister, and you have reminded me with a glint in your eye about how when Sophie knew she was getting a baby sister, she was so excited to meet her, and "then- mommy- then it was ME! Her baby sister was baby Maggie!" You've embraced that, and you've embraced that you're getting a baby brother, and you are thrilled-- you just adore babies.

You love the book Green Eggs and Ham. Your sister has learned to read it to you and you cuddle together and listen while she tells the funny story about the cranky guy who did not like the green eggs and ham because "he never even tried it." You "read" it on your own as well, and it's one of the best things ever to hear in your voice. Your other favorite book is a kitty puppet book, and you can meow all the words.

Sophie got stocked with school supplies for her new year, and you know with all your heart what you will want a year from now: kitty backpack, kitty lunchbox, kitty water bottle... future cat lady, we call you. One day, we had the ipad on origami tutorials, and somehow you found cat videos on youTube. HA! Resourceful 3-year-old. 

You have a flair for acting. You love dressing up. You love sparkle, and your new word is "dazzle." Your little pony is named Rainbow Dazzle Sparkle, or maybe I've transposed the words. Almost all your other stuffies are named Shilah or Rosie, which I'd imagine may get confusing, but you think those are the two most beautiful names of all. 

For your family birthday party, we had pasta- your favorite, and you and daddy collaborated to create a "how well do you know Maggie" questionnaire. Sophie and I won! I'm logging them below for your future reference:

  1. What is Maggie's favorite color? Pink!
  2. What is Maggie's favorite stuffy? Monster! (she's had this neon pink octopus fondly named Monster since she was about 6m old, and never sleeps without her!)
  3. What is Maggie's favorite ice cream? Strawberry. Because it's pink.
  4. Who is Maggie's favorite princess? Sleeping Beauty.
  5. What is Maggie's favorite sports team? WARRIORS (Steph!)
  6. What is Maggie's favorite thing to play? Legos! (duplos, if we're being technical here)
  7. What is Maggie afraid of? Monsters (ironically, since her best stuffy is called Monster, ha!)

ALL of these answers change weekly- except maybe your favorite sports team, so it was basically who talked to you most recently about your favorites. ;) 

We lovvvvvve you, our big kid! Our lives are SO bright with you and that smile of yours! 

Maggie's other birthdays: ONE || TWO || THREE

(one of the best things about blogging is having all of these in one place! :)

Squash and Bay Clubs by Kate Brightbill


School starts on Monday, but we are savoring our last few days and remembering our summer fun!! One of Sophie's favorite weeks of the summer was her SQUASH CAMP at the ever-so beautiful SF Bay Club. She started the week barely able to throw her "magic ball" against the wall properly, and only hitting the return once, and by the end of the week, she could actually play a match with her squash coach Charlie! Since camp, she has been tossing a ping pong ball against our walls and use a ping pong paddle to return it -- not effective, but it's a valiant effort to keep the skills she acquired! (she tries to find walls without pictures, but since I've finally finished my gallery walls, it's a little trickier, haha!) We need to get this girl some real squash supplies. ;)

I actually took VIDEO during squash camp! I'm such a picture person that I hardly ever switch the lever to take video, but when your firstborn is in her first sports camp, you want the in-action video proof of the improvements she made! I'm so used to seeing princess Sophie, and fashion Sophie, and creative Sophie, but now we have Sporty Sophie too. I love sporty Sophie! 

SO. Here you have it... our video chronicling Bay Club squash camp! Enjoy!!

ALSO! They have academic year classes for those of you who want to start getting your kids involved in sports regularly! HIGHLY recommend!

Coach Charlie!! 

Coach Charlie!! 

* Post 2 of 2 in collaboration with Bay Clubs. We received complimentary camp and services from the Bay Club in exchange for writing about our experience. Post is NOT sponsored. ALL opinions are my own. The Bay Club is amazing, and I am recommending it to friends in real life as well as to you!

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.