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Ten months. We’re already in the double digits, and I just can’t slow him down if I tried. In the past month, he’s started communicating more in his own little baby way. He lifts his arms, and he’s started signing back a little bit. Oh, and he waves to people, which is just the cutest thing ever.

He’s also still very much a people person. If we’re out and he’s grumpy, all I have to do is get him out of his seat (or wherever he is) and let him see people. He almost instantly gets happier.

adorable monthly onesie by Jonley Gifts (etsyfacebookinstagram)

Logan John: 10 months

Nicknames: Logan Bear, Wee Man, Stinky Butt, Boop or Boo-boo (what Maddie calls him), and Ju-ju or Lu-Lu (what Julia calls him).

Likes: his sisters—watching them, being around them, playing with them; eating pretty much everything, standing, crawling, sleeping (for naps, not at night).

Dislikes: being over tired, when his sisters leave, and if he doesn’t have food to eat when he’s hungry.

Milestones: he started lifting his arms to be picked up at the beginning of the month. It’s a small, but favorite milestone of mine. He also started to sign back “milk,” and “all done,” and he waves and gives people high fives if they ask.  

Weight/Height: close to 20 pounds! He also looks longer to me, so maybe he’s had a little growth spurt?

Clothing Size: 9 months for the most part, but still some 6-9 (only because i need to put them aside), and some 12 month here and there.

Sleep: let’s not even talk about sleep. A couple of weeks ago I was averaging 3.5 hours of sleep a night.

Random Tidbits:  he’s just delightful, for the most part!

How are Mama and Papa Doing? Well, I survived a couple of weeks of solo parenting, and have a few more weeks go to. Being the sole caretaker of three kids under 5 is ridiculous, but I’m doing it, and the finish line is in sight.

The post Logan John (ten months) appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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We live less than two hours from the happiest place on Earth, so putting Disneyland on our San Diego bucket list was a no brainer. It’s not just that the kids had a blast; we had so much fun, too. I think we had even more fun because we stumbled on things that made our time there extra magical. We discovered some Disneyland secrets, and I’m here to share them with you!

So let’s get started.

Disneyland Secrets You Need to Know About

A few of these may be tricks of the trade, and may even be common knowledge to Disney fanatics, but if it’s your first time visiting the parks, then you could be in for a (Mickey) treat!

Tickets:

First things first: let’s chat about tickets, because you can’t actually step foot into Disneyland unless you have a ticket.

Well, actually, under three is free, so take those babies to meet the famous mouse and his friends while they’re little so you can save some dough.

(No, they won’t remember it. Yes, they may cry when they see characters. No, you’re not a horrible parent. Yes, you should frame that picture of them crying.)

If you’re military—or know someone in the military—and want to go to Disney (land or world), head over to your local ITT on base and get their 3-day Park Hopper. The price is fantastic for what you get out of it.

Keep in mind that the actual military member must be with you the first time you use the tickets. But after that you can use the other two days whenever you’d like. But on that note, check the expiration date. It’s often a few days before the end of the calendar year.

Be BFF with Mickey or Minnie

Toon Town (the magical place in the Magic Kingdom for littles) opens an hour after the rest of the park does, but don’t dilly-dally. Get there a decent time before the gates open, and you’ll see Mickey and Minnie open the gates and welcome guests to their respective homes.

In fact, they’ll even pick random kids to walk with them to their house. I chalk it up to being in the right place at the right time, but the girls were the lucky ones picked one of the mornings we were there, so Minnie, Julia, and Madilyn all strolled into Toon Town together.

One of the parks photographers will be there documenting it every step of the way, but just in case you forget to have them scan your photo card, or if you lose your photo card and forgot to link it to their app (speaking to myself here), make sure your is camera ready.

If your kid walks in with either of them, they literally go all the way. You can skip waiting in line like everyone else to see them in their house. In fact, they’ll personally show you through their home, and then you’ll be first to take pictures with Mickey or Minnie (depending on which mouse leads the way).

Dinosaurs at Disneyland

Did you know you can see dinos at Disney? Yup! Once you’ve explored all the lands in Disney, and you’re too exhausted to stand in one.more.line, but still want to stick around the park, hop on the Disneyland Railroad and take a loop around Magic Kingdom.

In Primeval World, the last stop before it takes you back to the front of the park, you’ll see an old-school-looking attraction with dinosaurs, lava, and all things prehistoric. In fact, the reason it looks so old is because they were build for the New York World’s Fair in 1964, but parts of the attraction just got a facelift earlier last year.

Fair warning: if you have young kids who frighten easily, these dinosaurs may be a little on the scary side for them. The girls definitely had to cover their eyes for a few parts, but then they said it was, “neat” after we got off. 

Skip the Character Meals

Let’s be real: the only reason you’re shelling out the extra mega bucks for a sit-down meal at Disney is so your little prince and princess can see the “real” princesses and other characters up close and personal. Am I right? Here’s another little secret: you can see them for just the price of a ticket, and maybe even without waiting in line!

Princesses

As soon as the park opens, head over to the Royal Hall, just to the left of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and meet up to three princesses. When we were there the cast members said they’re always shocked that the lines are so short first thing in the morning. They also said it’s almost always Cinderella, and then two of her special princess friends. When we were there we saw Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel.

Each princess has her own little space to meet, greet, hug, and share the Disney magic with their guests. Have your photo card ready, because they’ll snap your pic for you, and have your camera ready for a backup picture.

If you can’t make it to the Royal Hall, or don’t want to stand in that line, keep an eye on the app for times when you can spy princesses, and their main squeeze, posing for photos just outside in the courtyard.

We saw Princess Jasmin and Aladdin while we were there. 

Mickey’s Friends

Looking to spot some of Mickey’s other friends? They’re scattered around the park throughout the day. If you have the Disneyland app, click on “characters” and it will show you where and when they’ll be in the park. But get there fast. The lines get long pretty fast, and their appearances are short.

Also, you never know who you’ll just run into. We were tag-teaming it in Fantasyland, and while my husband and the kids were riding some rides, I almost ran right smack into Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. There was no time to grab a quick picture, because he almost ran into the Evil Stepmother from Sleeping Beauty, which led to a showdown in front of the Tea Cup ride! You never know who you may run into around the parks.

With that said, you can absolutely see who you want to see if you plan it out a little bit. There are even extra character sightings around the park, like Moana (in Adventurland), Woody from Toy Story (Frontierland), and Star Wars characters, too. (in Adventurland)

See a (Really Great) Disney Show

Speaking of Fantasy Faire, just in front of the Royal Hall is the Royal Theater, a stop you absolutely can’t miss. Here, a storytelling troop share two different tales, either Beauty and the Beast or Tangled (check times to see what’s “playing”).

Why can’t you miss this? Three reasons:
1) It’s covered, which means some awesome shade in the SoCal heat.
2) there are seats, so you can take a load off and rest awhile.
3) The shows are actually really, really, really good!

We saw Tangled, and not only was it completely entertaining, but the kids loved it. They got to sit right up front and were completely mesmerized during the entire 30-minute show.

If your little one can sit still—and even if they can’t—I highly recommend taking a breather and watching.

Channel Your Inner Jedi

So, if princesses aren’t your kid’s thing, or you just want to channel your inner sci-fi side, then head over to Tomorrowland. There kids can actually join the force and become a Jedi. Or at least a padawan (that’s a Jedi-in-training, according to my nerdy husband).

Spaces are limited, and you have to sign up as soon as you get to the park, but once selected, young padawans will wear a robe, hold a coveted light saber, and join the force.

Get Your Dole Whip Without Waiting

Save this tip for the afternoon when it’s hot and you’re tired. Make your way to Adventureland for some of Disney’s famous Dole Whip, only don’t freak out when you see the line. The Tiki Room actually serves the mouth-watering pineapple soft serve on both sides of the shack, and the line is almost always shorter on the other side near the Tiki room.

And speaking of the Tiki Room—it’s the perfect place to cool off and enjoy your Dole Whip in peace. While you’re there, you can check out the show or head on out to your next adventure.

Your turn!

Okay, if you know something fun not mentioned above, comment with your Disneyland secrets below, and share the magical Disney love!

The post Seven Disneyland Secrets For Your First Disneyland Trip appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Because when you turn 34 (tomorrow, by the way) the thought of having an actual birthday party for yourself seems rather silly. Maybe I’ll have one when I turn 40 (whaaaaat?!), but for now, I plan on spending my 34th birthday shuffling kids around, running errands, and picking up a milkshake at Chick-fil-A and pretending it’s my birthday cake.

My husband gets to go do Air Force/Marine stuff for my big day (such is life; he’ll miss three out of the next four birthdays in our house), so my birthday starts day one of our “Let’s Do This” motto.

I wanted to do something, though. So I decided to bring the party online. I’ve been having Pampered Chef parties online for the past two and a half years, and now it’s finally time to host my own for the companies I like. (Don’t worry…I’m still selling PC; I’m just sharing the love for this party!)

So I’m doing it! I’m hosting a combo party with Beautycounter and ColorStreet. Have you heard of either of them? If you have, then you know they’re awesome. If you haven’t, then here’s my brief rundown:

Beautycounter

Beautycounter: It’s basically like clean eating, but for your skin. There are so many chemicals out there that’s in stuff we use, and now that I’m getting older, I care about what I use. Does this mean that I’m perfect and use organic everything and pay attention to everything I put in and on my body? No. But it means that I’m starting to make little changes here and there.

From makeup and skincare to bath and body and hair, Beautycounter has something for everyone—including men, babies, and kids. I love, love, love that they are looking at the safer side of things. Yes, the prices are a smidgen higher than if you picked something up from Target (there I typically shop), but I see their stuff as a treat that’s actually an investment for myself. Putting makeup on in the morning—even if it’s just their Dew Skin, is how I get a little “me time” in every day. Treat yourself, right?

I personally have my eye on more of their makeup and maybe some face masks! I need to explore all they have to offer more. Do you use Beautycounter? What do you love?

My friend and fellow military spouse is sharing her passion for Beautycounter and safer things, and I’ll share my favorites over there, too. Join the party here and/or follow her group for more info on all things about safe products.

Color Street

Speaking of treating yourself, have you heard of Color Street?

Oh my goodness, this is seriously the coolest thing since mood changing nail polish came out. (Do you remember those?)

So, Color Street: they’re actual nail polish strips. This may sound familiar with another company out there, but the low down here is that you don’t have to heat anything up, which means it’s easy peasy.

Y’all, it’s soooooooo easy! There’s no drying time, and they literally just stick on, but it’s actual nail polish. The hardest part (seriously) is trying to decide which design you want to use, because they’re all so awesome.

Another cool selling point is that they actually stay on. I use my fingers A LOT every day. Three kids, plus all the typing I do, and all the cooking I do means that traditional polish—even with top coats—starts cracking on the tips. Color Street strips stay on FOREVER. Okay, not forever, but for a really long time—around a month, I’d say.

Don’t believe me? Look at this:

I got the glitter strip as a sample at one of her first parties, and walked around with “naked” nails for about a week and a half before I finally painted the other ones. This is how the other nails look after one week (no top coat, because I don’t have time to wait for all of those coats to dry), and the glitter is after 18 days!

Maria will be our Color Street stylist, and she’s been with CS since before they even launched; now she’s working her way up the ladder, and is totally succeeding. I’m excited to check out her portion during the party. Check out here Facebook group for more info, too.

Join my party, yo!

So there you go, my birthday bash in a nutshell. Maybe I’ll even go a little crazy and hand out some Pampered Chef things during the party, too. I’m pretty excited to play hostess, and I love that it can all be online since I have friends from all over the place!

If you’d like to join the party, we’d love to have you—consider this your invitation! Here’s the link to join; there’s no pressure to buy anything, but feel free to check it out.

The post You’re Invited to my Birthday Bash! appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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“Oh, wow!” is exactly what I muttered under my breath as my Uber driver pulled under the ivy-laden archway path leading up to The London West Hollywood, just outside of Beverly Hills.

Warner Bros. Pictures so kindly hosted my stay and meals at The London West Hollywood for the 12 Strong press junket, and it was downright perfect. So perfect that I had to document it so I can remember that things like this actually sometimes happen to normal people.

Located just off the famous Sunset Blvd. is seriously an oasis within a big and bustling city. The London West Hollywood has a California chic vibe pared with Hollywood glamour. In other words: it’s a dream come true.

The Hotel Room

My room for the night was pristine and perfect: a suite with a plush couch, a charming balcony overlooking Los Angeles, a mini bar, and a perfect bed. Perfect, by the way, because it was alllllll mine.

The Bathroom

But my favorite part of the room? It was the bathroom. Yup. It was the most luxurious bathroom I’ve ever stepped foot in.

Seriously. This bathroom was amazing. A huge tub, TWO showers, a mosaic floor and walls, and floor to ceiling mirrors (which came in handy since I was getting all dolled up).

It was so spa-like, that I wished I stayed up all night to enjoy every amenity in there. Especially that tub—I’m kicking myself for not making myself take a bath. I did, at the very least, enjoy their lush bath robes after taking a relaxing shower one night.

Relax and Unwind

Since I was flying solo for this trip, I took full advantage of my surroundings and lived it up as best I could, starting with room service.

A hot and delicious pizza was at my room less than 30 minutes after I ordered it.

It came piping hot, and was perfect for my late lunch. Plus, I ate it all. by. myself!

With a little time to kill before I had to meet my group, I opened the door to the patio and read part of a book. A BOOK! It’s been months (years?) since I’ve had time to just stop and read in silence. (I read Origin by Dan Brown, in case you’re curious.)

So let’s recap: I read part of a book in silence and I ate an entire pizza without having to share. See? A literal dream come true.

I got ready for the evening’s events—a cocktail and apps hour with the fellow bloggers on the trip, and then the screening of the movie—by using their adorable vanity. I plugged in my phone, turned up the jams, and had fun getting ready.

The Food at the WeHo

I mingled with the nine other bloggers downstairs at The London Bar, and we sampled appetizer after appetizer—and they were all phenomenal. Like…I wanted to scarf my face with all the apps, but had to restrain myself and be lady like since there were all new friends.

My favorites were their stack of fries, aka Triple Cooked Crisps, Verde Pizza (because I’m a sucker for arugula on pizza, and their Burrata with Candied Pecans, Cherries, Mission Figs. Oh. My gosh. It was served on this big piece of toast, and I wanted to eat all of them. I kept my cool and sampled everything else instead.

The food at The WeHo’s newly renovated London Bar and Boxwood, I quickly realized, was not your regular hotel grub—it was creative and sumptuous. Executive Chef Anthony Keene is the creative force behind the menus, and I give him two thumbs up.

Movie Time in the Screening Room

After our cocktails and apps, we went next door to the screening room—yup, there’s an actual theater in the hotel.

photos above taken by Kelly Clare Photography

Just in case you’re wondering (because I was curious), popcorn and treats were provided. And since I didn’t have my husband’s hand to hold onto during certain parts of the movie, I certainly enjoyed having some popcorn to munch on.

Room Service, Baby!

My thoughts of the food were amplified the next morning for breakfast. Because, once again, when the opportunity arises, you take advantage of your situation and live to the fullest. And my fullest included breakfast in bed.

The London West Hollywood actually offers a complimentary European breakfast, but I just couldn’t pass up having it delivered right to my door. I picked their traditional English Breakfast—because when in “London”—and it was perfect. It reminded me of my days when I lived in Britain and used to eat that for breakfast every now and again.

We had our press interview after breakfast, and while we waited there, they had even more food for us! I skipped out on what they offered since I already ate, but oh how I wish I left some room to try all the samplings they had out.

…And More Food

Before I left, and before our round table with Chris Hemsworth, I had lunch downstairs at the Boxwood. The food was outstanding; I’m still dreaming about their cauliflower fritters and the Brussels sprouts—not pictured, because we all devoured them.

I picked their Hake Fish and Chips for lunch, and it didn’t disappoint. It was filling and flavorful, which is everything you want in fish and chips. 

While I wish I stayed there longer and could explore every inch of the hotel, I was only there for one glorious night. The service was impeccable, and I’m almost happy the rooftop pool was being renovated during my stay, because peeling myself away from there would have been near impossible.

If you want to see a video walk through of my room, check out the highlight reel on Instagram’s app!

If you had a night away like this, what would you indulge in the most?

The post The London West Hollywood appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Imagine this scenario: You’re a busy mom to three kids under the age of five, and have a husband who’s gone off and on, because duty calls. For the past five years, you’ve literally dreamed of what a trip alone with absolutely nothing to do would look like.

Well, I somehow stepped into that dream when an email landed in my inbox inviting me, on behalf of Warner Bros. Pictures, to the 12 Strong movie press junket in Hollywood. The movie, by the way, will be in theaters everywhere January 19—get your tickets now!

After I verified that the email was, indeed, legit, I started freaking out—in a good way, of course. Nine other milspouse bloggers attended the press junket with me, and I was so honored to be in their presence. Plus, as a woman with eyes, I was beyond giddy at the chance to glimpse Chris Hemsworth in real life.

By the way, that’s my excited face, because I was so excited! If you’re wondering what a press junket actually is (because I had no idea), it’s a screening of the movie followed by press interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

Basically, remember the scenes in Notting Hill when Hugh Grant’s character goes to the hotel to try to see Julia Roberts, but gets thrown into interviews instead? It’s just like that.

Yup, sign me up!

About 12 Strong

First and foremost: 12 Strong is a true story. Not only that, but it’s a true story depicting the days immediately following September 11 that were classified…until now.

You may know him as a superhero, but Chris Hemsworth leads the 12 Special Force troops as American hero, Captain Mitch Nelson.

We throw around the word “voluntold” in the military community (a joke about when our spouse is “volunteering” to do something that they absolutely have to do), but these dozen men truly did volunteer for the job. They were also, quite literally, the first boots on the ground in Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission.

Because of the treacherous conditions, the troops had to adapt and fight on Afghani horses while fighting more than 50,000 Taliban soldiers.

Clearly outnumbered and outgunned, these 12 guys on horses, joined forces with the Northern Alliance to take down the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies, all while fighting against a ruthless enemy that prides itself in taking no prisoners.

It’s enough to make even the toughest soldier crumble, but Nelson and his team literally went all in, going face to face in a covert operation in an unthinkable battle of war and courage.

Take a look at the trailer to literally see this in action:

12 STRONG - Official Trailer 2 - YouTube

The Press Conference

I’ll share behind-the-scenes details of the trip later, but I have to tell you about the actual press junket, because it was so empowering, eye-opening, and even humbling.

The press conference started with the talent and filmmakers walking to their seats. It was surreal to see household names sitting in front of me in real life. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, for example, and of course, Chris Hemsworth. But to see Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers, the book 12 Strong is based off of, sitting next to actor Trevante Rhodes, and Navid Negahban (“Homeland”) sitting at the other end of the table, really put the experience into perspective.

The Interviews

I have to jump in with my favorite part of the interview, because it made me choke up a little bit. The filmmakers really cared about the real-life troops portrayed in the film.

Bruckheimer said it best when he said that the real men the actors were portraying don’t see themselves as a hero. 

“They’re just doing their jobs. That’s what they’re trained to do. They do it because they love their country, they love their families, and they’re professionals; and they’re highly trained, they’re highly intelligent, and they’re deadly…And they’re so good at it, and we’re very fortunate that we could show their excellence in this movie.”

As a military spouse, we know this is true. We know that our spouse and father/mother of our kids don’t want to leave us, but they do it because it’s their job. They do it because it’s what they do.

Director Nicolai Fuglsig went one step further, calling 12 Strong an homage to the human spirit, and he couldn’t be more spot on. “They all rose to the extraordinary,” he reflected. “Both on the Afghan and American side, all these heroes were just ordinary people.”

And speaking of ordinary people, some of the Afghani extras who worked on this film were actually there, literally from the same villages during the time of these battles.

Afghani Refugees in Albuquerque

It turns out that there’s a rather large community of Uzbek families, Tajik families, and Hazara families living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they filmed the movie. But instead of just casting them as extras, they actually sat down and heard their story.

“There were soldiers who are right now refugees, and they live in Albuquerque, and I think they really helped us by telling us exactly how they were feeling,” commented Fuglsig. He went on saying, “It was crucial just to sit there and listen to them.”

And listen to them they did.

Negahban actually visited families who were interested in being extras, sat down with them, and explained the movie and what they were doing. You could tell that he felt humbled and proud that the film took that extra step in getting to know them. 

“I think this was the first film that truly shows what Afghans went through, and how we united with them and to achieve our goal,” Negahban said.

Hemsworth also chimed in, marveling that several Afghani refugees living in Albuquerque came up to him, appreciative for telling this story. He recalls one man in particular, sharing his story.

“I fought with the Americans,” the refugee told him. “But the whole world thinks I’m a terrorist. I think it’s so important that…people know that we are on the same side, and the invading forces—the Taliban, the al-Qaeda—that they’re the ones who are coming in to take over and to restructure the place.”

Knowing that little fact, truly made a big impact on how I viewed the film. I love that the filmmakers and actors took the time to make this as authentic as possible.

Making it Look Realistic

The actors spent around a month doing military training, and they had military advisors on the ground while filming. They also wanted the scenery and the ambiance to look as realistic as possible.

Shot entirely in New Mexico, Fuglsig reflects on the importance of immersing themselves into the scenes. He wanted the viewer to feel like they were in an epic war paint—uncomfortable, and in a hostile environment. He even describes the New Mexican desert  landscape as a character in the movie.

“It was always important for me to try and portray Afghanistan in the most accurate way,” he says. “We’ve seen so many movies that we, you know, try and get the terrain right. And I really feel we did it. We really took pains to go to very remote areas.”

(Almost) One-on One with Chris Hemsworth

Which leads me to the second part of our press junket: a round table, 15-minute discussion with the one and only, Chris Hemsworth. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly one-on-one, since there were 10 of us there, but Hemsworth did sit right smack dab next to me (swoon!), and I even got to squeeze in a question.

Of course, I couldn’t let him get away without asking something about New Mexico. He’s no stranger to filming in the Land of Enchantment, but this was a little more remote and rugged than when he portrays his Thor character. I asked him what it was like filming in the middle-of-nowhere desert for this movie.

In his perfectly dreamy accent, he explained the conditions and how it related to his character:

“We shot day and night scenes, and you’d be sort of sweating all day in all your gear…and then it gets to night time, and you’re like, ‘I think my character wants to wear that jacket.’ [But] It’s a continuity set, buddy. So you have to kind of think in character and out of character a fair bit about with what you’re wearing and how you can adjust it.”

It was so welcoming sitting around the table with fellow military spouse bloggers, because we get it. These seasoned spouses, who’ve been around the block a time or two, had excellent questions.

Someone asked Hemsworth how he found courage while portraying this character. He recalled talking to Mark Nutsch, the man his character is based on, and Nutsch was completely nonchalant about the incredible mission they accomplished.

“There is a no sort of bravado or sort of ego in the presentation about what he’s achieved,” recalled Hemsworth. “It’s just, ‘It’s my job.’ He could be talking about doing the grocery shopping, like it’s that sort of matter-of-fact and honest and truthful. And that sort of humility and that integrity, that was something that I’ve noticed in all of the military guys we were interacting with. It’s just this complete, selfless sort of attitude, and I think we were all trying to embody and grab a hold of and imbue into the characters.”

Hemsworth also commented that he admires the role we, as military spouses, play. As he was leaving for the press junket, his daughter was sad that he was leaving again. He admits that it brings him to tears to leave his family, but then he put things into perspective.

“To be walking out the door going to war—what you guys deal with—I mean, I cannot imagine. And again, it takes a certain person to be able to do that. And I don’t think I have that strength. So yes, it’s incredible.”

To close out our intimate time with Hemsworth, Sharita Knobloch from Army Wife Network asked if he had a message to military members and their families, and he did.

“Thank you, thank you for what you guys do and the commitment…so that we can live our life in peace, and enjoy the freedom that many people don’t get,” he said. “We are fortunate enough to receive [freedom] due to all of you guys, and all the military.”

For those of you who know me, you probably know that I couldn’t let him leave without asking him New Mexico’s state question about his preference for chile.

Crossing my fingers and hoping he’d know what I was talking about, I just went for it and asked him, “So…red or green?” It took him a few seconds, and then he said, “You mean chile?!” A smile broke out across his face as he said, “Whatever is less hot. Green. I like green.” (For the record, there’s no wrong answer.)

12 Strong, in theaters everywhere January 19. Thank you again, Warner Bros. Pictures, for this opportunity.

The post Inside the 12 Strong Movie Press Junket appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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We’re nearing the point where Logan’s getting close to being in that toddler stage, but still very much baby-like, so I’m clinging onto these last few months where he still wants to cuddle and nurse, and actually gets super happy when he sees me.

Don’t get me wrong: I actually love watching them grow up. Watching them explore and learn is one of the greatest joys of being a parent. But knowing he’s our last is making me appreciate this fleeting time more so than I did with my other kids. 

It helps that he’s a ridiculously happy baby and smiles any chance he can. Oh, Logan. You’ve captivated our family so much.

Logan John: 9 months

Nicknames: Logan Bear, Wee Man, Boop or Boo-boo (what Maddie calls him), and Ju-ju (what Julia calls him). Kids are funny.

Likes: doing ALL the things: eating, standing, crawling, creeping, sleeping, nap time.

Dislikes: not having food to eat the second he’s out of food to eat; being alone, and getting over tired.

Milestones: He slept through the night TWICE this month, so that was glorious. Now he just needs to do it allllll the time. He also survived a night away without mama, which was also glorious (for mama).

Weight/Height: 18 lb, 5.5 ounces, and 27.5 inches. He’s still a wee little man, clocking in at 25% on the growth charts, but he’s doing fine on the growth chart, and his doctor isn’t worried in the slightest. 

Clothing Size: 9 months are working great.

Sleep: Sleep is good, and that’s all I”m going to say about that so I don’t jinx anything..

Random Tidbits:  He’s starting to mimic back to us. If we babble, he babbles, if we screech, he screeches. If we tap the table, he does the same. I love watching him grow and explore. I also love snuggling him.

How are Mama and Papa Doing? We’re doing good!

The post Logan John (nine months) appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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After Logan was born, I found myself wandering the hospital halls every three hours. Every one hundred and eighty minutes, like clockwork, I took an elevator down from my room and took baby steps (because I just pushed out a 10 pound baby) over to feed him; this is how I spent Logan’s first week of life in the NICU.

Logan’s Birth

They say third kids can be wildcards, and my third baby certainly threw us all for a loop. He was born pretty much on time—just two days early—but my labor was really fast and interesting. When I got there, my contractions were one on top of the other; 1-2 minutes apart, and they were painful, but I was only around 5 cm dilated.

After breaking my water, and giving him an internal monitor, because they couldn’t get a good reading on him, the doctor flat out said he didn’t have high hopes of me delivering vaginally and started prepping me (mentally) for a possible c-section.

A c-section was not in my birth plan, but obviously I’d do whatever was safest for my baby. Long story short, less than two hours after I arrived, with no time to ask for an epidural (I waffled too much, and then my window to get one was gone), I pushed out a 10lb, 4 ounce baby. (Read his birth story here)

Yeah, that’s not a typo; he was huge. Yes, I did have gestational diabetes, but I also kept it all very diet and exercise controlled; I also just make big babies (my other two kids—without GD—were over 9 pounds).

They immediately put my new squishy baby on my chest, but he was having a hard time breathing. He also had a fever…then they discovered I had a fever, too.

Thankfully, they gave us that golden hour to spend together, hoping our fevers would improve with skin-to-skin.

That hour was glorious. Despite the getting-stitched-up part, of course.

My mom ended up arriving just a few minutes after I had him, and we just snuggled, nursed, and bonded during that time. She brought a photo of my dad to show Logan who he was named after. The two missed meeting each other in person by 8 months. Stupid cancer.

Once our hour was up, the nurses came in to check us. Unfortunately, our fevers remained.

I didn’t know this then—or maybe I did, but I was in that euphoric, just-gave-birth haze—but his official diagnosis was that he was septic, which is not good. That means there’s an infection in the blood, and for new babies, that can literally be deadly. 

Life in the NICU

They immediately sent him down to the NICU (my husband went with him, and my mom stayed with me), and  started us both on antibiotics: two rounds for me, and a whopping seven days for him.

That meant that my brand new little boy had to spend his first week of life in the NICU hooked up to wires, surrounded by constant beeping, and in the hospital instead of at home with his family.

Thankfully, the antibiotics worked, and he kicked his infection quickly; I’m so thankful for the quick action from the staff and nurses, and for the care we received. I know not all NICU patients are as lucky.

Staying at the hospital

When they said he’d have to stay after I was discharged I almost panicked. The nurses could see the look on my face and potential breakdown into a puddle of tears, and quickly followed up with the fact that they actually offer complimentary rooms on a different floor so postpartum moms have a place to stay literally in the hospital while their little one is admitted downstairs.

This offer was amazing, and I really did cry tears of gratitude. My girls were both breastfed until they were a year and a half, and I know how crucial those first few weeks are, not just for establishing a supply, but for bonding, postpartum recovery, antibodies for the baby, and laying down nursing roots with the baby.

The NICU staff was wonderful and new about my intentions to nurse; they were also extremely non-judgemental and compassionate when they’d mention options for formula feeding him if I needed extra sleep. Thankfully, they also let me use one of their pumps, so a few nights during that week-long stint, I pumped enough to get a few extra hours of sleep.

Logan hit all of their check marks, indicating that the antibiotics were knocking out his infection, and we found ourselves counting down to graduating from the NICU and going home.

I’m so thankful my mom was in town, and that the military gives 10 days of paternity leave so they could stay with the girls. My mom would stay with the girls and Kenny would hang out with us at the hospital, or he’d stay with the girls, and she’d come over and hang out with her grandson.

It was a relief on my end to have someone there with me.

I started getting cabin (hospital) fever, and needed to leave for a little bit. Of course, I felt totally guilty, but the nurses reminded me that I needed to take care of myself. I also missed the girls, so it was nice to hang out with them.

We all went out for a little bit, in between feedings, to a bookstore nearby. It was wonderful to not be surrounded by all the beeping and machines that come with hospital life.

The girls meet their brother

Since it was RSV season, Julia and Maddie couldn’t come inside the NICU to meet their brother. They sent him pictures and drawings, and constantly asked us to give him hugs and kisses. The bond these three shared, even before they all met, was overwhelming.

Thankfully, one day Logan had a wonderful nurse who suggested the kids see each other through the little glass section of the door. One of the nurses even made them little wrist bands just like the grown ups had to wear. It was the little things that really made our day.

They were beyond thrilled. If waiting nine months to meet their little brother was hard, then that week was like an eternity to them.

Finally Going Home

Day after day, Logan kicked his infection to the point where we were just waiting for him to take that last dose. He finally did, and they gave us the a-okay to go home.

I’m so thankful for the nurses, doctors, and staff who work in the NICU. It can be a very scary and overwhelming place, but they handle things with ease, grace, and patience. I know babies often have to stay much, much, much longer than Logan stayed, and so I’m very thankful for his short-lived stint in the NICU.

The post Logan’s First Week of Life in the NICU appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: family photos are worth the investment. We try to take pictures once a year, because besides the candid iPhone snaps I take, or the overly-posed school pictures, it’s not often that we have an actual good picture of all of us together. And now that there are five of us, I really need a professional behind the camera. When I was thinking of where to take them, it was an easy decision: family pictures at the beach.

When it came time to take our photos last year I knew exactly where I wanted them: because when you live 30 minutes from the most perfect backdrop you can think of in California, you take full advantage of that and schedule a session during that stunning golden hour. Family pictures at the beach was something I’ve always wanted, so I was excited to see it come to fruition.

We actually had our pictures scheduled for a couple of weeks earlier, but SoCal was going through a heat wave, so we nixed the idea of sweating during our fall/winter pictures. Thankfully, our second date was perfect—like really, really perfect.

I asked Chrissy Walther, who took Logan’s homecoming pictures (that I just realized I also never shared with you; they’re coming, promise), if she would shoot our family session, and she happily obliged. I love how down to earth she is, and that she has kids of her own. She knows that little ones are unpredictable, and also knows how to get them to stop for half a second so she can snap a quick photo of them. If you’re in San Diego, look her up!

Once again, I have too many favorites, and have no idea how I’ll make a decision on which to get printed and hang up on our wall.

I love seeing my kids play together in nature. They look so free, wild, and frankly, acting like kids!

I pray these photos will be with them forever. They’re certainly fun to look at now, but I can only imagine how they’ll be treasured decades from now.

These babies will only be little for so long. Before I know it, they’ll be immersed in technology, their friends, sports, activities, and who knows what else. I will literally treasure these photos—this snapshot in time from when they were little and carefree.

Do you take family pictures? What do you do with them once you get them back?

Thank you, again, to Chrissy Walther Photography for capturing our life, one frame at a time.

The post Family Pictures at the Beach appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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I used to be pretty good about sending out Christmas cards. And then I became a parent, and survival is what I tried to excel in. Well, then after I realized “excelling” in something as a parent is pretty much a unicorn trait, I settled for just getting by every day. Which leads me back to: Christmas cards.

Last year I was sooooooo close to sending them out. Actually, they were going to be Valentine cards because I missed the boat on getting them out for Christmas, but I actually got them printed and everything.

February became March, then March became April, and I was going to send them for “April Fool’s,” but then I had a baby, and now they’re.. in a box upstairs. I just missed signing, sealing, and actually mailing them out. Ooops. So close, but yet so, so far. (So…um…if anyone wants one, let me know, because I have like 100 of them just sitting in a pile in my office.)

But this year I was motivated and determined to get them out BEFORE Christmas. And by golly, I did it!

It helped that I had a gift card from Minted from a giveaway that I won burning a hole in my pocket, and it expired at the end of the year. So as soon as I got our family photos back (post coming soon!), I couldn’t wait to design our Christmas cards.

Since we took our photos at the beach, I really wanted something simple, but with lots of places for pictures. Because I love how they turned out and, yup, I wanted to show off my family. No shame in saying that; I couldn’t help but put as many pictures as possible on the card!

Chrissy Walther took our photos at Oceanside’s beach, and they’re everything I could’ve hoped for, so I had to plaster them on a card for all to see.

Now, this isn’t a sponsored post for Minted, but I was super impressed with how fun their site was, how much we could customize our cards, and how easy it was to navigate. I only wish I’ll always have a gift card to spend there, because goodness gracious, Christmas cards are expensive these days!

Here’s hoping I can make this a trend and send out cards before Christmas next year, too!

The post Our 2017 Beach Christmas Card appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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