Summer Family Photos

Other than Shara and Axel’s wedding photos from 2018, we haven’t had our Dursteler family photos taken for about 5 years. When Jake, Hattie, and Grandpa Wade visited last month, we decided it was the perfect time to update them. It was so exciting to have TWO new family members join us this time around. Babies change so fast, so capturing all of us with Mari & Nico at this age was so special. Both of them have already changed so much! It’s weird to think how big they will be, and if we will have any more little people in our next family photos a couple years down the road. 😉

I know I always say it, but I sure lucked out when it comes to in laws! Each of these people fill such a big place in my heart. And having professional photos to look back on this time in our lives makes me so happy!

The day before we took our family photos with the Durstelers, Tyler proposed to Whitney! He had a family photo shoot already planned, which Whitney was aware of, but she didn’t know that it would end in an engagement! Since it was her best friend who took their photos, we all decided that it would be special to surprise her at the end of their photo shoot to congratulate them and get a few photos of all of us.

It was so fun to be a part of such a sentimental moment in Whitney and Tyler’s relationship and especially to have it professionally captured! My sisters and I haven’t taken photos all together for a couple of years, so I love that we now have updated ones, especially with our new babies, and my soon to be new brother in law. I am so happy for my sister and her girls!

It was strange timing to have both of these days filled with so many family pictures (I thought Derek might kill me when I told him we had to take more 😉 ) BUT looking back, I am so happy that it worked out that way. The month of June was filled with family time, and I’ll look at these photos forever and remember how full my heart was that week, and how special it is to have those few days captured.

Family is something I know I definitely lucked out with, and is a specific thing I don’t ever take for granted. From my immediate family members, to my extended family, my in laws, and everyone in between who I’ve called family over the years, I truly am the luckiest and I love little moments that are captured to remind me just how lucky I am.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Dursteler family photos- Ashleymeaganphotography

Whitney & Tyler Engagement/Family- Kenzie Hinton

Fireworks, Fun, and Babies’ First 4th

Other than celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the only other holidays we’ve had with Mari were Valentine’s Day. Which we spent in the hospital (since she was born the 12) and Easter, which was exciting, but she was still too little to get excited over her basket or goodies. I felt like the fourth of July was the first holiday that we’ve had with her, that made me realize what people mean when they say “having kids make holidays more fun”.

If you know me or have followed along here for a while, you know that I always have “fun” on holidays. ( 😉 ) so to be honest, I didn’t expect my holiday celebrations to drastically become more exciting once we had babies. However, I finally understand how much more special they are. Seeing Mari’s eyes light up watching her first firework show, and having a first of many 4th of July celebration with her cousin made me feel grateful, nostalgic for my childhood, and so excited for future holidays with her. So, I don’t know if you’d call this 4th of July more “fun” than what we’ve done previous years, but man it sure was the most special one yet.

I made this little video to remind my future self of many things:

  • Mari and Nico’s first 4th of July celebration. A BBQ and a driveway firework show at Meemaw and Papa’s, and their first with grandbabies.
  • How proud I was of Harvey. He gets bad anxiety around fireworks, but he sat in between Mari and I the majority of the time, and was so brave to protect his girls.
  • How strange times were in our country, but how thankful we felt to be able to publicly express our views and opinions, and be able to celebrate this beautiful country of ours with our family.
  • I also think back to the 4th of July last year, and how homesick I felt being in another country. I was so physically sick (I didn’t know I was pregnant yet) and all I wanted was to be home with family and friends, having a BBQ and watching fireworks. I remember telling myself “next year, I will have that again.” Just four days later, we found out that our Mari girl would be here to celebrate with us. That day seems like yesterday, and yet here we are.

As you all know, I love capturing memorable moments, no matter how big or mundane they seem. I love these simple times with family, and even if it feels divided and confusing at this time, I love this country that we are lucky to call ours, and I am so glad that we were “home” this year to celebrate it.

I hope you all had a happy 4th!

Onto the next adventure, Wren

To a simple, sweet, special summer

Happy JULY!…?!

Anyone else surprised and also somewhat relieved that this year is half way over? As an empath, it’s personally hard for me to not feel helpless to the events that have taken place in our world in the last few months. I’ve been educating myself, and learning and unlearning what I can to help with current events, but I am realizing that sometimes the only thing that is in my power is to show a little extra love. I’m learning that checking in on friends and family, smiling at a stranger, complimenting someone’s selfie post, or holding the door for people can go a long way…all the time, but especially in these strange times of uncertainty, frustration, disagreement, and confusion.

Honestly, being a new mama this year has been strange. Some days I don’t know if I am worried about our country, or anxious about the future and how things will be while Mari is growing up. I’ve been emotional lately, not really knowing what to think, feel, or say most of the time. But I am learning that if I always resort back to “always choose love” it helps put my feelings and thoughts in the right place.

On another note, things may feel strange, but we have had such a simple & sweet couple of months. I’ve been looking back on previous summers and at times catch myself wishing I was laying on Caribbean beaches, immersing myself in other cultures, attending concerts, and even working weddings. BUT I snap out of it quickly, because even though this summer has been different than years prior, it has been one of my favorites for so many different reasons.

I’ve become so appreciative and have been enjoying all of the little things that I so badly missed last year when we were abroad. Time with family and friends, chasing the sunsets in my car with my loud music and windows down, park days with Harvey, home cooked meals, our AIR CONDITIONING (I caps that because I still don’t know how we ever lived without it) and so much more. I have found a new love for this place we call home, and having a little mini me to experience it all with has made it that much more special. (Even when she hates my excessive photo taking 😉 )

We have also had so many exciting days that are worth celebrating. Other than Derek’s college graduation, we’ve celebrated our first mother’s day and father’s day! For mother’s day, we finally took a little adventure and had a picnic in Pine Valley, about 30 minutes out of town. It was the first time I had gone farther than 20 miles from our house since New Years, and it was the most perfect day filled with all of my favorite things. It was so exciting having a “new” holiday to celebrate, and I sure got spoiled.

On father’s Day, I made Derek breakfast, and his family came over! It was fun to host a holiday for him, his dad, and his brother in law, Axel (who is also a first time dad this year) We didn’t do much the rest of the day and had a lazy Sunday at home, but it was exactly how Derek wanted to celebrate. I’ve seen Derek accomplish so many things and go through different life phases, but watching him become a dad and have a bond with our little love has been my most favorite of all. It was so special to celebrate him, and this new role of his.

Between these holidays that are new to us this year, we also celebrated Harvey’s 5th birthday (^) and our fifth wedding anniversary! It was our “golden anniversary” (is that a thing?) Our fifth on the fifth. We’ve always left town to celebrate our wedding anniversary, but didn’t know what this year would bring with a new baby and the pandemic. Thankfully, we decided last minute that we’d still leave town, but not go too far, and we’d just take Mari with us.

So, we had a little stay-cation in Springdale which is right outside of Zion. We didn’t go into the park since we were only there a total of 15 hours, but we still enjoyed the breath taking views. It had been way too long since we had seen those beautiful mountains. The change of scenery, a fancy dinner, and even just sleeping in a hotel was exactly what we needed. It was the perfect little getaway. In the morning, we visited our “love lock” that we locked the day after our wedding five years ago. It was so cool to visit it on the same day we locked it and retake these photos. We’ve done so much in five years, and it made us realize just how amazing being married to each other has been. 😉

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Other than all of these fun holidays and celebrations, we’ve also had so much family time. The weekend after mother’s Day, we drove up to Salt Lake to FINALLY meet our niece, Scarlett, who is just 8 days younger than Mari. With both having new babies and the pandemic, my sister, Whitney, and I had wait a while to meet our nieces, so this day was very special for us. It was so sweet to see them together, and having Mari meet her aunt, uncle, and cousins. She even met her great grandma Wheeler and her great aunts! It was a quick weekend trip, but it was such a special occasion for Mari’s first (of many) road trips.

Since then, she has also met uncle Jake and Aunt Hattie, who visited from Idaho, as well as great grandpa Wade. They hadn’t met Mari or Nico yet, so that day was also special. We had so much fun catching up and spending time with all of them. We also got family photos done while they were in town, which I plan on posting in a separate post, but here is a cute sneak peak!

My mom and Adam also passed through on their way from AZ to park city that same weekend, so Mari also got to meet her grandpa Adam for the first time. She now knows all of her grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and my heart has never felt more full. It is so fulfilling to be surrounded by so much love, she doesn’t know how lucky she is yet to have all of these amazing people as her family.

Two weeks after we visited Whitney and Tyler in Salt Lake, they came to Saint George for a friends’ wedding, so we got to see them and the girls again! We spent most of our time in the pool, and as always had way too much fun. Tyler also proposed to Whitney during family photos that they had planned, and Derek, Mari, Ali and I surprised them after to congratulate them! (I will post these photos in a later post as well) I am so happy for my sister, nieces, and new soon to be brother in law!

This summer hasn’t been filled with many road trips, live music, airports, or beaches, but it has been such a special time in our life. It’s been filled with so many firsts, so much celebrations, so much change, and so many little moments that I used to take for granted. I know that they say having children makes you see the world in a new light, and I completely agree with that. But having a new baby, being in the middle of a pandemic, and spending this summer in the comfort of home this year has made me not only see the world through new eyes, but has also left me feeling more appreciative than ever before, thankful, and so so blessed. And I guess, coming from someone who doesn’t know how to feel about things at the moment, blessed isn’t a bad place to be.

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Onto the next adventure, Wren

Mari’s Nursery Reveal

IMG_3167If I am being honest, I’ve been meaning to write this post since the beginning of February. My little personal goal was to finish Mari’s nursery, take these photos and have this post up before she arrived. BUT, when she made her appearance 17 days early, before her baby shower gifts were all put away and her nursery was even finished, this post got put on the back burner. I have thought about posting it quite a few times since then, but I wanted to wait until I had her newborn photos printed and hung- since those were the last thing I wanted to complete this room.IMG_3164


After waiting a few weeks for her photos, deciding which ones to print, and then another few weeks for Amazon to deliver the frames..(thanks pandemic)…this room is finally complete! And I am finally finding the time to post it.IMG_3147Like her name and baby shower, I knew that I wanted Mari’s bedroom to be inspired by the ocean and the beach. Poor girl might grow up hating the island life, but right now she doesn’t have much of a choice, but to love it like me. 😉IMG_3148Like the rest of our home, I wanted this space to be filled with pieces that have meaning to us. I printed this giant photo that I took of one of our favorite vacation spots in the Dominican Republic to hang above her crib.IMG_3172Fun fact, I was about 1 week pregnant when I captured this photo. I love sitting in this room with Mari in my arms, looking at this photo and remembering that exact moment…I had no idea that her little life was already beginning in my belly, and that I was already her mama. It’s so special and strange for me to think that she was with me in that moment on that beach.IMG_3150That photo isn’t the only special thing on her walls. On the opposite side of her room, there is this water color painting my grandma painted for Mari. She has painted a picture of flowers for each of her great grand daughters, she titled it “Mari’s flowers” and it is so special to me.IMG_3166A few other sentimental decorations in her room include this cute sign that states “Now entering island time” that aunt Shara made for her baby shower, a picture frame with her hand and foot print that was gifted to us from Derek’s aunt, and a vase full of sea shells from all of our favorite beaches in the Dominican Republic.IMG_3162She also has baby blankets that were gifted from our moms, and a few that were hand made…one by Derek’s aunt, and a couple from each of our great grandma’s, who have passed away. I keep them all in this cedar chest, that my mom had since high school. She didn’t want it anymore, and I thought it was the perfect sentimental, but also functional, piece of furniture to hide away blankets and toys as Mari grows up. IMG_3159Speaking of furniture, I luckily had most of the pieces in this room already. I debated on buying a new rocking chair, but since we have one in our living room already, I just used this big leather chair in here instead. My mom bought this pink foot stool from TJ Maxx to go with it, and it is the perfect set up for feedings, and bed time stories.IMG_3149Next to the chair is this cute white table. Derek and I actually used it as our cake table for our wedding. Back then, it was blue. After I painted it white, I thought about selling it, but I am glad I held onto it a little longer because it is the perfect table for a nursery. Again, a cute piece that has some sentimental value…right up my alley. 😉IMG_3143I’ve had this dresser from IKEA since high school, and we had these shelves collecting dust in our shed, waiting for the perfect time and place to hang them. On either side of her dresser and shelves, there is her momaroo swing in one corner, and her book “shelf” in the other. I found these shelves at target, and they are the perfect modern display for all of her books. I can’t wait until she is old enough to pick out her favorites for story time. (okay maybe I can wait).IMG_3142IMG_3146Her crib is from Wayfair and it was gifted to us by Derek’s parents. It is the perfect color, size and style to keep throughout the years for our next baby(s). I found these seashell curtains on Overstock, and her cute rug from RugsUSA ties it all together.IMG_3160As far as decor goes, I had a few beach and ocean pieces already including this seashell candle, this photo from the DR that I had printed and framed, and a conch shell from our honeymoon. And with a few extra gifts and purchases like these ocean animal sheets, her stuffed whale and octopus, and this cute pineapple lamp from Target, her room was complete!IMG_3163IMG_3165This room is one of my favorite spaces in our house for many different reasons. It lives up to it’s ocean theme- it’s bright, happy, and relaxing. It is filled with sentimental pieces that bring back memories, things that Mari will grow into the future, and items that mean so much to our little family. It has been used for a lot of different things over the last four years, but it has never felt as special as being the first bedroom that belongs to our Mari girl. 

Onto the next adventure- Wren





Our Celebratory Spring

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My favorite thing about this time of year is saying goodbye to old chapters and welcoming the changes that Spring always offers. New flowers began to bloom, days begin to get longer and warmer, and other than mine and Derek’s birthdays, there always seems to be something that we are celebrating. Weddings, graduations, baby and bridal showers, vacations, etc.  I don’t know if it’s because Derek and I both get another year older, or if it’s just a natural thing for us to do this time of year, but we always seem to make a big life change or have a very exciting experience when Spring time comes around.image7 (2)


In the last few years, we’ve celebrated A LOT in spring time. I could write an extremely long list of all the small and big celebratory moments we’ve experienced in the months of Feb-May, but over the years I’ve noticed a pattern and for some unknown reason, the first week of May has always been very exciting for us.image3 (17)

On this day last year, we quit our jobs, said goodbye to loved ones, packed our lives into four small suitcases, and moved to the Caribbean for the summerIMG_0264

2018: We traveled out of country and spent a week in Costa Rica with our friends just for fun to celebrate being young and dumb18766084_1329152933804459_3936878527676152148_n

2017: Our best friends got married, so our week was filled with wedding celebrations (they were the second couple in our friend group to get married after Derek and I, so it was a big deal for all of us)IMG_1571

2016: We finally finished our 2 month long renovations and moved our things into our home

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It’s so easy for me to look back and see how different things were, and at times I am guilty of feeling like I wish I could time travel to this specific week in the years prior. A pina colada on a Costa Rican beach sounds amazing right now, attending a big event like a wedding with our close friends or family is what I’ve been missing the most lately, and leaving every responsibility behind to become a Caribbean beach bum doesn’t sound too bad either. But I’ve realized that this year has been just as, or even more exciting, so here are a few things BIG and SMALL that have happened this spring that are definitely worth celebrating.

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-We celebrated Easter with Derek’s family, which was pretty much our first holiday with our Mari girl since we don’t really celebrate St. Patty’s Day, and we were still in the hospital on Valentine’s Day.image9image0 (17)image5 (7)








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-We celebrated Derek’s 27th birthday with our first date night since becoming parents. (take out and a movie at home, while Mari was at grandma’s) and celebrated his actual birthday with a family park day and Chinese take out.

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-Mari reached many new milestones, but her smiling has been my favorite.

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-Harvey has been attending dog training, and has made so much progress. (he’s always been good, just struggled with anxiety and confidence issues)

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-Derek started a new job in website development, and absolutely loves it.image2 (17)image3 (13)











-I’ve taken on the role of a stay at home mom. I have personally grown so much, and have learned to enjoy slow, quiet days more than ever before. (Hence this post)image0 (20)image5 (5)image3 (12)


-And last, but definitely not least, Derek finished school and got Bachelor’s Degree! His graduation ceremony would have been last Friday, but thanks to the pandemic, that didn’t happen. Instead, we celebrated with a date night on a roof, completed with our favorite pizza.image1 (23)image1 (20)image5 (6)image4 (8)

I know in a year from now, I will look back to this time and have the bittersweet feeling of wishing I could go back, but also happy with how many exciting and memorable moments have happened since. If you know me, you know I am a big believer that life is always worth celebrating. Whether it’s weddings, graduations, extravagant vacations, or simply the quiet mornings at home… they should all be celebrated.

And I am always so thankful to have spring time to remind me of that.image2 (18)image1 (19)











Speaking of looking back, I read my blog post from last April the other day, and it amazed me how much really has changed, what I’ve accomplished in one year, and how different things are. If you want to read that post,  here is the link:

Onto the next adventure, Wren


Mari’s newborn photos & enjoying this strange, beautiful chapter

Mari(1)Mari(3)We just hit the seventh week mark with our sweet Mari girl, which means we are officially out of the newborn stage. Thankfully, she is still fitting into her newborn clothes, because I don’t think I am ready to move on to the next stage just yet. Now, I understand why people have so many children.  😉Mari(6)Mari(4)Life has felt weird lately, and I know it’s that way for everyone in the middle of this pandemic, but having a new baby on top of this new state of the world has made adjusting to everything a little more challenging. Some days I wonder if I feel “off” due  to being new to motherhood, adjusting to this new chapter, being sleep deprived, missing my regular routine, not socializing as much as I am used to, feeling confused about the virus, anxious about the pandemic, or all of the above. Like anyone else, I don’t know a lot right now, but I do know that the best thing any of us can do is take things day by day, look forward to the future, and try really hard to not feel too nostalgic or grieve the past. Mari(17)Mari(7)Mari(16)Mari(9)These photos were taken on February 18, just 6 days after Mari was born, and almost exactly a month before the news of the pandemic. Photos have always brought out so many emotions for me, which is why I am constantly capturing my life. And when a time in my life is professionally captured, it makes it that much more special. When I look at these pictures I think wow, if only we knew that in a month’s time we wouldn’t be able to travel to visit loved ones, or take our time shopping, or attend concerts. We wouldn’t be able to plan our summer vacations or buy concert tickets, go on coffee dates with our friends, or attend our usual family dinners.Mari(18)Mari(22)Mari(23)Mari(19)Looking at these photos feels bittersweet because I think all of those things that I wish we knew that day, but I also notice how much Mari has already grown and how much she has changed in such a short amount of time. In 6 months, or 10 years time… I will look at these and remember that we were in the middle of a pandemic with a newborn baby, and it was a very strange time, but we got through it.Mari(56) Mari(52)Mari(57)

Mari(43)These photos capture our first few days with our Mari girl and the week we became parents and all of the beautiful things that came with it. Our lives drastically slowed down and our priorities instantly shifted. Our days became more meaningful, and our nights more rewarding. Our home felt more comfortable, and we leaned on family more than ever. I stopped taking our free time with just Derek and I for granted, and realized what friendships were worth making efforts for. And Derek and I enjoyed our slow, quiet days at home more than ever before. These are the things I want to remember.Mari(26)Mari(24)Mari(46)

Mari(53)Mari(60)I know that everyone’s lives have felt very different in the last month, but thanks to the constant life changes that took place this past year, mine has felt that way for a while. And today I am feeling thankful for the timing of this beautiful, strange chapter. I like to think that Mari arrived exactly a month before the pandemic broke out to prepare me for this weird time. I personally thrive off connection, social gatherings, celebrations, human touch, adventures/traveling, and spending time with loved ones. And I honestly don’t know how I’d get through having all of these things instantly taken away if I didn’t have her to spend my days with.Mari(27)Mari(29)Mari(31)Mari(35)In the last 7.5 weeks, I’ve grown in ways I didn’t realize I needed, my heart has felt a type of love I never knew existed, and even though life has felt drastically different, it has felt strangely comfortable and more rewarding than ever before thanks to her.Mari_BW(45)Mari_BW(48)Mari_BW(47)




Mari_BW(44)I know that someday (hopefully soon) I will be able to meet up with friends for lunch, travel to see my family, hug my grandparents, enjoy live music and crowded places, plan our next adventures, and get together with loved ones for celebrations- big and small. And just like any one else I am looking forward to it, but right now I am really enjoying being at home safe snuggled up with my Mari girl and Harvey. Because I know how fast things can change- whether its a newborn baby, or the way the world is as we know it, and I already know how much I’ll miss these days when they do.Mari(5)Enjoy the present and don’t take any chapter for granted friends (even the strange difficult ones) sending you all my love.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Photography- Emilymenziephoto



To 26 and the Bittersweetness of Change

image4 (9)Who else feels like this month has already been a year long? With the news of the corona virus, the world and everything around us seems to  have drastically changed in a short amount of time.  I think that eventually things will calm down and the virus will pass, but I believe with all of the changes in our world at the moment, we as humans will always perceive life a little differently. I hope you’re not panic shopping, and instead taking this time to realize and appreciate  all of the little things that could be taken away from you in a days time.

I think we all already appreciate toilet paper a little bit more. 😉image1 (20)Even though at this time things feels a little “off” or  “different”, March is still one of my favorite months. I enjoy all of the little things it brings, like warmer weather, longer days, and fresh flowers and it’s also my birthday month. If you know me personally or have been a reader for a while, you know that I love the day that I get to celebrate my life. For as long as I can remember, I have taken advantage of my birthday to reflect on my previous year, remember all of the good times and lessons learn, and set new intentions and goals for the year to come. Like most people, I go through a similar thought process on New Years, but since my birthday isn’t shared with everyone else around me, it always feels a little more personal. 

I do share a birth week with my sweet grandpa though. He’s my favorite birthday twin and definitely doesn’t look like he’s 81!

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I usually write a blog post about my birth week celebrations, and all of the exciting things I did, with the people I love. But since this year marked so many changes in my life, this birthday post will be a little different. Because even though I obviously still celebrated with family and friends, my current mindset is what I want to remember when I look back on this birthday.

I turned twenty six on the 4th, and while reflecting these last couple weeks, I noticed that not only does it feel like the world has drastically changed, but in the last year, my whole life has personally changed as well.

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Looking back on last year’s birthday, I feel like I was a completely different person living a completely different life. Which in ways I was… twenty five was my most rewarding year. I could probably write a novel about the changes that took place in the last year, but since I have most of it captured in previous posts, I will save us all a little time. 😉 To sum it up, I accomplished so many of my personal goals, spent time in the most beautiful places, surrounded myself with the greatest people, and had so many memorable experiences, including becoming a mom. And the best way to describe the whole year would be “life changing.”

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When I think back to all of the changes since last March, I sometimes feel nostalgic or sad. At times, I catch myself grieving my old life and last year’s chapter, but then I remind myself how much I have grown and all of the things that I’ve accomplished and done since. And overtime, I’ve come to realize that even though change is bittersweet, most of the time it’s more sweet than bitter. Because even though life was so different and so good this time last year, it feels even better now.image0

And THAT is what I want this post to be about.

I want to look back on this post…next March when I turn 27, or in 5 years from now when my newborn baby is going to school, or when Harvey is too old to constantly want attention and play frisbee 4 times a day, or when we no longer live in our little yellow fixer upper. I want to remind myself of all of the things I accomplished and experienced at the age of twenty five, and I never want to forget this beautiful chapter and changes that twenty six brought. I want to remind myself that chapters close, even the really good ones. And with time, this really good chapter will close too.

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I’ve been letting go of what was and appreciating what is, and my main focus right now is loving every little present moment and nothing else. And I think everyone should try to do the same, especially at a time like this.

I think with the current events of the world, there will be more appreciation for the small things, more connection to others and ourselves, more creativity, more time in nature, and most of all more love. I don’t think is a time to be fearful or anxious, because fear is the worst and fastest spreading virus of all. Obviously, I think we should be safe and take precautions. But I also think there is so much good that can come from having to stay home and pay attention to the little things that we may have previously taken for granted. Because like I said before, change and unfamiliarity always feels bittersweet, but most of the time it leads to a lot more sweet than bitter. Sometimes, we just have to look a little harder for the sugar.

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I want to remember twenty six as the year not only that the world changed, but the year my personal life changed too. A previous chapter came to an end and life as I once knew it came to a close. But I accepted all of the love, joy, experiences, lessons learned, and letting go that came with it. And because of that, life never felt sweeter.image4 (8)

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Side note: stay educated, stay clean, stay healthy, and stay safe. Much love to you all, and this beautiful planet we are so lucky to call home.

Onto the next adventure, Wren



Mari’s Birth Video- 2.12.2020

Yesterday, we hit the one month milestone with our Mari. It was probably the most bittersweet thing that has happened since bringing her home, and I was emotional about it all day. Somehow everyday is better than the last which makes me so excited for the future, but other days I just want time to stop and for her to stay this little forever. The joys of parenthood, right?


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In between reaching bittersweet milestones, adjusting to parenthood, and life feeling a little crazy at the moment, (and the world?!) I found some time to put together Mari’s birth video. Derek and I briefly talked about hiring a professional to capture these special moments, but eventually decided together that we would do our best to capture it ourselves and keep it an intimate moment between just us (and obviously the hospital staff). I am very happy that we made that decision. Especially after going through having an early baby, only 7 hours of labor, and having to have a C section.

This little video that Derek captured and I put together means more to me than any other video I’ve ever made. It’s not perfect, it’s not all clear, and at times it reminds me of my old home videos on my dad’s 1990 camcorder. But it takes me back to the moment our lives changed and our very first memories with our Mari girl, and I’ll forever be thankful that I have it all captured. I’ve watched it about 50 times now, and still can’t get through it without the water works. 😉

As always, Thanks for watching!

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Maternity Photos- Feb 9, 2020

DSC_0576-1DSC_0631-1These photos were taken about a month ago, just 3 days before Mari arrived! We weren’t planning on taking maternity photos since I took a photo of my bump every week of my pregnancy, but when I won a free photoshoot on instagram, we thought “we might as well take advantage of that, and professionally capture this chapter of our life”.  And like every thing I have captured, I am so glad we did. DSC_0664-1DSC_0692-1DSC_0674-1DSC_0698-1Like most things I look back on, these photos makes me emotional. As much as I love having Mari in the outside world to love on and to hold in my arms, I can’t help but miss having her on the inside and so connected to me. I also didn’t think I would, but I miss my bump and the experience of being pregnant, even though I was uncomfortable for most of it. We didn’t know it at the time, but these beautiful photos capture my full term belly, and also our last weekend of just Derek and I before we became parents. DSC_0656-1DSC_0653-1DSC_0732-1DSC_0725-1DSC_0706-2DSC_0641-1DSC_0584-1DSC_0589-1DSC_0597-1DSC_0611-1DSC_0606-1Life without Mari already feels like a lifetime ago, and it hasn’t even been a month. I know that as more time passes, these photos will only become more precious to us than they already are. We have entered a completely different phase of life. And like all new parents do, have changed our lifestyle, outlooks, and mindsets. Derek and I both feel like completely different people than a month ago, because in a lot of ways we are. I am just glad I got the final days of our previous chapter captured so beautifully. DSC_0629-1DSC_0617-1DSC_0568-1DSC_0711-1DSC_0716-1I love this guy, I love our little girl, and I love this beautiful phase of life we are currently living in, and all of the amazing things that it has brought with it.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Feb 9th, 2020 37 weeks and 1 day pregnant

Photos by Kenzi Reynolds Photography—->



Adjusting to our new life with our Mari girl

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Yesterday marked two weeks since our Mari girl surprised yet again and made her grand entrance into the world, 17 days before her due date. Looking back, her surprise arrival should’ve been expected since she was surprising us from the beginning. But at the time, it was definitely not expected.

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I wrote out a whole novel that goes into the details of her birth story and the events leading up to her arrival, so I can look back and remember them, but I want to keep those little details and intimate moments that happened that night between Derek and I.  So even though I plan on sharing all of the little details of her birth with her in the future and to friends and family that ask, I have decided not to post it to the world wide web.

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However, since I have this blog to document the big and small moments of my life and share them to the internet, I feel like I have to document and share at least some of such a big day of my life. So without going into too much detail, here’s a brief summary of events that occurred leading up to one of the best moments of my life.

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DSC_0541That morning started out like any regular Wednesday morning for me. Coffee, Harvey snuggles, getting to the to do lists and chores that needed to be done before Mari’s arrival. Thankfully we had finished our big projects that weekend like our exterior paint, and most of her nursery …just in time! I still want to share both of these projects in separate blog posts, but I’ve been a little preoccupied these last two weeks. 😉

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There were just a few more small things to get done before we were completely “ready” for her to come home. (Quotations because do we ever feel completely ready to become parents and bring home a new baby?) We needed to hang a few more shelves, get her car seat in the car, find a pediatrician…I thought of all of these things that morning, but felt as if I got hit by a train and had no energy to get anything done. I was so exhausted and could not get moving.

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I told myself I still had a couple weeks to get to those to do’s and decided to just rest and snuggle Harvey until about 11AM. Looking back, I am so glad I took these extra hours to spend this time with him. We both didn’t know it would be our last morning of just us, but I am glad we were able to soak it in and enjoy our undivided attention to each other.

(Speaking of Harvey, as you can see in the photo above- he loves his new sissy and has been so good with her!)

The rest of the day was filled with a drive thru smoothie, visiting Shara and Nico, and an afternoon Doctor’s appointment. I picked Derek up on the way to the doctor and told him how “off” and exhausted I was feeling, we both assumed that I was just hitting the “I am so over this” part of pregnancy, and agreed to ask the doctor if this normal.image2 (18)image3 (14)

I saw the doctor at 4PM, and every hour after that felt more unreal, shocking, and surprising than the last. Derek and I left the doctor’s with the information that the baby might be joining us that night, or next week, but to go to the hospital if I felt ANY pain at all, even if it was minor. After updating our family with the news and the details, taking Derek back to work, and getting back  home- I couldn’t help but start to feel anxious. Home alone and having consistent cramping, I thought..What should I do? This needs to still be done…Should I pack our hospital bags? Was last night our last night without a baby?…

I decided to take a shower and wait for Derek to get home and as I let the hot water run down me, I couldn’t help but get emotional thinking this might be the last shower with my big belly, and this might be the last few hours at home with just Harvey, or the last time Derek would come home from work and not have the title “dad”. I tried to take deep breaths and take it all in. I was emotional, but I was also so excited to finally meet the little soul that I loved so much already.

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When Derek got home, my pain got more consistent. After waiting it out for a hour and half, we decided to go into the hospital. I was still walking around just fine and didn’t want to get too excited or get my hopes up in case we got sent back home.

After walking into the hospital, everything happened so fast. Within two hours, we received the good news that I was progressing fast, we weren’t going back home, and that I apparently have a very high pain tolerance. We also learned that baby would be there before midnight and that within the next few hours, we would become parents and finally meet our Mari girl.

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image2 (19)image0 (19)Things were moving right along and seemed almost too good to be true at this point, but right as we said that out loud, we received some not so good news. And the next events all happened within the next hour. We learned that Mari was breeched, head up bum down, which meant that we would have to do a C section. Trying not to feel too disappointed I watched all 12 nurses and doctors come into the room to prep me for surgery and as the drugs hit my blood stream and started to numb me more I had a lot of thoughts go through my head

Derek and I don’t get that extra time that I thought we’d have to soak in the final moments before it was “time to push” and become parents … I won’t be able to do skin to skin right away, I won’t be able to see my daughter take her first breath, Derek won’t be able to cut the cord…. In the next half hour, I will be cut open and I will be awake during the surgery, I will have a scar, I will have a long road to recovery….

I was emotional and a little overwhelmed at this point, but the thought that was keeping me calm and getting me through all of it was that in less than a hour, I’d get to meet my Mari. That thought alone made everything else I was feeling go away. She was really coming into the world, and I don’t think it really hit me that I was going to be a mama until that little thought was the only thing that I could hold onto to feel somewhat relaxed. Because I knew the second I saw her, all of the craziness I went through in the last 9 months to get her here would all be worth it.

The next 27 minutes were the longest of my life.

Updating family, getting wheeled down the hall, a temporary kiss goodbye to Derek, a cold bright and chaotic operating room, a blue curtain, nausea, shaking uncontrollably, and the most vulnerable I have ever felt… being reunited with Derek, squeezing his hand, listening to the doctors, my body jolting left and right, a lot of pressure, but no pain, anxiously waiting for a cry.image2 (16)Finally after what seemed like an eternity, I felt a huge relief and I could breathe better than I had in 6 months.  “baby is out” we heard through the curtain, and Derek and I both anxiously waited for her cry. “Do you want to take a look Dad?” Derek stood up and peeked over, and then they lifted her higher to give me a glance.

There she was. My Mari girl. My heart swelled up in a way I’ve never felt and my eyes instantly filled with tears as I laid my head back on the table. And then we heard it…her cry, her breath, her life. That Derek and I created together. It was all so surreal.

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image3 (12)image5 (5)I felt more love in that moment than I ever have in my life. It’s like time stood still. Everything that was ever missing was complete, everything that was ever complicated was simple, and everything that was ever bad in the world was suddenly perfect. I always knew a love like existed, but couldn’t ever fathom how it would feel and that moment changed it all. Life has felt a little brighter since, and everyday seems better than the last.

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image4 (11)Between all of the visits, support, and love from loved ones, adjusting back to our routines, watching Harvey become a “big brother” & Derek become a dad, and soaking in every moment with our Mari girl, I feel like the last two weeks have been a dream and I have to pinch myself to remind me that this is all indeed real life.image3 (13)image5 (7)image1 (19)

Mari has experienced her first family walk, rain storm, photoshoot, car ride, doctors appointment, restaurant, first three baths, and many visits from family and friends. She wasn’t even supposed to be here for another 2-3 days, but we already can’t imagine life without her.

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THANK YOU for all of your kind comments, messages, support, and love at this time in our life. I’ve loved Derek through a lot of different chapters, but I think watching him become a dad has been my absolute favorite. And being this girl’s mama is my most favorite thing I’ve ever been.image1 (17)Cheers to surprises, adventures, new chapters, change, parenthood, and the greatest love we’ve ever known.




Mari Michelle Dursteler

2/22/2020 10:54PM

6 lbs even, 18.5 inches

Onto the next adventure, Wren