The best part about having multiple kids is how different they are! Jackson is incredibly smart. I know most people say that about their kids, but he knows directions to everywhere we go, he remembers everything that we have ever done, and he asks the most insightful questions, that sometimes I have no clue how to answer! Paisley is very snugly. This is the opposite of my son, so my husband and I welcome it gladly! She also dances to every single beat that she hears.

I honestly did not know what my future held before meeting my husband.  I knew I wanted kids, I just wasn’t confident that I would find someone worth having them with!  When I met my husband, the thought of having kids became a very possible and desirable.  He proposed to me in September of 2009, but he quickly left on deployment with the Infantry Marines to Iraq.  He finished up college the week before leaving (literally) and we held onto the fact that we could start our real lives together after he got back.  We talked everyday about how we couldn’t wait to get married, buy a house, have kids, and get a dog.  After 5 months of pre-training and 7 months deployment, he came home.  We were so happy to see each other.   We got an apartment in Indianapolis and immediately moved in.  A couple months after he returned home, I found out I was 6 weeks along with our first child.  We had a big wedding planned with deposits down for everything, so my first thought was honestly, “We are both recent graduates with horribly paying jobs with a wedding on the way!”  After we digested this news, we became thrilled at idea of having an addition to our family.  We decided that it was completely out of the question for a large wedding.  And the more I thought about it, the more silly a large wedding sounded.  All I wanted to do was make sure we had everything we needed for our growing family.

I am very blessed to not have had any struggles with pregnancy or labor.   Any postpartum issues I struggle with are related to anxiety about keeping everything perfect.  As my husband says, “all of my ducks need to be in a row”.  If they aren’t, I have some anxiety about getting them done.  I think most moms struggle with this, but you always feel so alone.  Women today are held to such a high standard; work, pay bills, be a mom, all organic meals cut into cute shapes, craft time every day, homemade activities, outrageous birthdays, but also have a good career, etc.  You always feel like something is lacking in your parenting skills.  Not to mention a toddler can make you feel like you have no clue what to do!

I found out I was pregnant when my husband was still on his 90-day post deployment pay.  He was applying for jobs, but didn’t have one yet.  I was a temporary receptionist at the time.  So while we knew we wanted to have kids after our wedding, this was about 9 months before our set wedding date.  Aside from the wedding in mind, we were just thinking about how unstable our income was.  This is where faith comes in.  Matt got a job offer later that day!  I truly believe this was the Lord’s way of telling us to calm down, “you will be able to do this!”

I didn’t have a feeling about what the gender was, but my husband has had dreams about both pregnancies and woke up in confidence that he knew what we were having.  He was right both times!

My second pregnancy was rough.  I didn’t have to go on bed rest, but I had to wear a brace for the last 3 months and I had contractions for the whole third trimester.  Strong ones that made me always think I was 30 minutes from delivering!

I am very fortunate enough to have had very smooth labor and deliveries.  I had an epidural, and my husband still jokes about how talkative I became after it took effect.  Without realizing, I had a conversation with my nurse about our new home while pushing my baby out!

What no one can comprehend is what you feel when you first lay eyes on them.  You spend the whole pregnancy wondering what they will look like, especially since any ultrasound makes them look smooshed.  When I delivered Jackson, it was the first time that I uncontrollably burst into tears.  Usually in a happy moment of a movie, my eyes will just fill with tears.  This was an instantaneous outbreak of tears.  He was so beautiful and I didn’t know how to process how big my heart grew in that very moment.  I know that is what everyone says, which almost makes others gloss over it, but it is very accurate.  After getting him in my arms, I realized that I was seeing my husband cry for the first time.  It was such a beautiful moment!  Paisley’s was similar as well.  Easy delivery, and same instantaneous bursting into tears at her beauty.  I always tell my husband, if I could not do all 9 months of pregnancy and just deliver them that day, we would have six kids!

When you get home, you realize how much you want those experienced nurses to come home with you.  I was suddenly hit with the realization that I am nowhere near qualified to be responsible for this little human being.  Luckily newborns have four main activities: eat, sleep, puke, and poop. And they sleep a lot! Except at night.  That hit us hard.  Especially since my first child didn’t sleep all through the night for the first 15 months!  How did I have another child??


When I first brought my second child home from the hospital, my son immediately wanted to help.  After her umbilical cord fell off, we gave her the first bath.  Jackson wanted to help, so I gave him a washcloth to make him feel included.  As I was washing her feet, my son got the bright idea to pour a cup of water over her face!!  So she basically was waterboarded by her brother on week 1.

I am a softer, happier, and more responsible person now that I'm a mom.  A better Christian.  A better friend, although I don’t have as much time to visit all of them with be living 45 to an hour away.  I think so clearly about what is right and wrong, whereas in college I didn’t think past that day.

The best part about being a mom is seeing their faces and the way they light up when they see you.  When you get to daycare after a long day of work, and they both come running across the room yelling “MOMMMMMYYY!!!!!!”.   When they are sick and just want to be in your arms.  When it is the weekend and they look like little angels lying next to you.  And my new favorite part, watching them love each other.  Hearing them giggle at each other while playing a game.  It makes my heart melt every time!

Not knowing if you are handling things correctly.  Punishments, temper tantrums, or even hard questions that they spring on you.  Another challenging thing is needing a break.  You feel bad for wanting it, but know you need it.  We have family far away in our case, so a break is usually about twice a year!

My husband and my family have been my biggest support system on this journey. My husband is really good with toddlers, and I am really good with babies.  We help each other through the transitions.  I am interested to see how we are when they are older.  Also, our family has helped out so much.  Even though they are far, they are always willing to help out if needed.

The hardest part for me is the amount of doubt you have about yourself.  I wish so badly that I could be one of those moms that say “I am a great mom”, because to me, I am overly critical.  So I always think “am I doing something that is going to have some hidden impact on my child?”  But then I see them be sweet to another child at school, and I know I’m doing okay.

I wish they could always have their innocence and positive outlook in life.  They do not have to worry about anything!

I always hope that I am doing a good job and fear that I may not be.  I hope that they see me as being a good mother that is always there for them.  I wish that I could keep them little forever.   A friend once told me that “if your child is good in school, then you are doing a good job.”  Even if they push you to your limits at home, you may still be doing a good job!

I hope to raise confident children that found their passion and follow their dreams! I fall under the “authoritative” parenting philosophy.  I always try to let my child explain why he is upset and his side of things, but I stand firm in what I think is right.  He understands that certain behavior will not be tolerated, but his voice is also heard.

Moms, please stop comparing yourself to every mom around you.  You all have different children, with different personalities, different support systems, and different financial situations.  One thing that “absolutely works” for their kids, may not work for yours.  You can take advice as desired, but parenting is trial and error.  Each kid needs a different approach taken, so make decisions based on that fact.  You are great, today will be great, and they will only be this little for a short time!

Do moms have the power to change the world? Of course we do!  We are raising the next generation!

dear jackson & paisley

Now that you are older, there are some things I would like you to know.  Your dad and I love you so much and cannot imagine our life without you.    My biggest goal for the both of you is to have confidence.  Have confidence to say how you feel, chase your dreams, and be humble enough to ask for help from us when needed.  You are going to make mistakes.  It is our job to try and help you learn from them.  I know you may not understand why we do what we do, but trust in us that it is for the best.  You see, in parenting you two, I have realized how God’s relationship is with all of his children.  Sometimes you don’t understand the timing or the reason, but it is for the best.  That will happen a lot in life.  Keeping your faith in the Lord is going to get you through anything.

Jackson, your dad and I currently joke about how you will go into politics or be a lawyer one day.  Seriously, you will do one of these things.  You will argue your point (that is usually frustratingly correct) until the cows come home.  That is also what I love about you.  You have never missed a beat.  You also make me so proud of how you are with your sister.  I know this may change, but you genuinely have a soft spot for her and you make her feel so important in our family.  Please don’t ever change your sweet and caring personality that everyone loves so much.

Paisley, when that ultrasound technician said you were going to be a girl, I was so excited.  Your dad was terrified and immediately started researching how to keep you locked up in a padded room until 35 years old.  Hopefully I have helped him not be so crazy now that you are older.  I was so excited to show you how to keep up with the boys in our house.  Even though, as I write this, you know about 8 words, you are very opinionated and definitely know how to get your point across.  That is a great quality that I never imagined seeing in someone so little!  Please, oh please, remember that you are worth so much more than settling for anything in life.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something.  Because if you are anything like me, that most assuredly makes it an accepted challenge.

Lastly, I hope the both of you keep your faith in God.  We have had you in church since you were both born.  This is not to push our beliefs onto you, or make you feel obligated, but more to give you the basic knowledge in life to make good choices.

I love you both more than you will ever realize and cannot wait to see what your future holds!

Love always,



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Ashlee also provides magical and delightful services for: newborn photography, cake smash photography, baby's first year plans, maternity photography, family photography, and Newborn mentoring for photographers.

If you have a milestone or special moment you want to remember forever, let's chat! Ashlee loves to photograph in the woodlands and around downtown Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, and Greenwood. She also has a professional studio space available for sessions.