Monday, March 2, 2015


Anders turned 4 years old this week, which honestly seems pretty unbelievable. How can he already be 4?! I hope to have a separate birthday post up soon, but for now, here are this week's portraits. 

anders // In lieu of a party this year (I just wasn't up to the challenge of coordinating an event for 20 energetic 4 year-olds with a 3 week-old in tow. Next year, buddy!), Far and I thought it would be fun to celebrate your birthday with a special father and son camping trip. We all considered this upcoming adventure when selecting your gifts. Here you are pictured with your new fishing rod and magnifying glass, primed and ready for discovery. I can't wait until the weather warms up a bit and you are able to put them to good use!

aksel // We recently pulled out the bassinet attachment for the stroller, and you've decided it's pretty entertaining. Some days you will randomly wander over and climb in, twisting and rolling around happily, despite the fact that you barely fit! 

august // I know newborns don't consciously smile, but I caught what sure looks to be the beginnings of a grin as your oldest brother attempted to amuse you under the play gym. Both Anders and Aksel took a while to smile, and they made us work hard to elicit such reactions. I often joke that they inherited your Far's hard-to-impress sense of humor. The reality is that they find each other far more hilarious than they find Far or me, and I can't help but assume you will agree. But the thought of you three brothers laughing together warms my heart (and helps soothe my damaged ego ;))

Friday, February 27, 2015


It's week 7 of the portrait project, a portrait of each of my kids, once a week, every week, in 2015. 

anders // This picture captures you well, Cars tattoo and loads of imagination. We made playdough this week, using this recipe, with lavender, stress away, and orange essential oils. You enjoy any activity these days that allows you to rifle through my kitchen cabinets, carefully selecting tools and rediscovering forgotten items from the depths of kitchen drawers. Perhaps that adds a bit of insight as to why you were 'drinking' your playdough ball with a windy straw that had melted in the dishwasher...

aksel // This day you surprised (and impressed!) me with your concentration and fine motor skills, carefully stringing beads onto a pipe cleaner. Don't get me wrong. I helped you quite a bit, but you did manage to get a few beads on there all by yourself! You taught me quite a lesson as you tried something new, over and over, with little success, and did not get frustrated or defeated. 

august // This week Far gave you your first bath, and you looked totally relaxed! We've had varied success with baby baths (Anders basically scream-cried through his entire first bath. Okay, okay, I did too.), but I think the baby-tub-on-the-kitchen-counter method may be a winner for us all!


We are slowly adjusting to life as a family of five...with loads of help, of course. (Thank you to all of our family and friends! You guys deserve all. the. hugs.)

anders // You created a truly beautiful Valentine's card for your Far this year using watercolors. It was particularly exciting for me to watch, because although you opted to apply the paints with your hands, you kept the colors separate and vibrant. This was in direct contrast with your favorite painting method so far - stirring everything together into a muddied mess. Please don't judge me. I value your gray blob art too, but these brilliant hues are a much better reflection of your animated personality!

aksel // You, my child, appreciate a cozy setting and a slow moment. Hygge is in your blood.

august // You've settled into the newborn routine nicely. We are all smitten with you, and I, myself, spend a fair amount of time staring at you sleep. This is partially because you are adorable and partially because you are the loudest sleeper in history. Whether you are squeaking, snoring, grunting, or growling, I'm constantly returning to your resting spot only to find you sound asleep. I'm not complaining, though. It's a pretty sweet view. 

Monday, February 16, 2015


This week was pretty epic, as we welcomed our third son. August Lukas Vang was born on February 5th at 12:29pm. He weighed in at 9 pounds, 3 ounces, or 4,167 grams for our family overseas (the smallest of the three, if you can believe it!). So, this week I'm going to stray a bit from the standard format, because this event deserves more than three pictures.

This was my third C-section, and while I've never experienced an alternative birthing method and would not encourage election of this particular surgery unless absolutely necessary, I must admit there are some perks to knowing exactly when you will meet your baby. For us, it meant being able to make firm arrangements for care of the two older boys while we would be at the hospital. That task is no small responsibility, and having a plan well in advance put my mama heart at ease. In addition, several of our relatives were able to be in town for the birth, which meant Anders, Aksel, and August were all showered with an obscene amount of attention and affection. For me, an added benefit of a scheduled C-section this time around was that I got to deliver at 39 weeks. Perhaps you glossed over the previous reference to my natural proclivity to grow Sumo babies, but I'll take this opportunity to express my relief at delivering a 9 pound, 3 ounce baby at 39 weeks rather than an even larger baby at 40+ weeks. Suffice it to say this baby habitat (that's me) was uncomfortable and oh-so-ready.  Now, I feel the need to reiterate that none of these 'perks' is worth choosing to be sawed in half just to appease your Type A tendencies. But I also want to dispel the perception that a C-section can't be a magical birthing experience. I certainly didn't anticipate having a major operation the first time I was pregnant, and initially I was disappointed at the prospect. But in the end I got to hold my sweet babe in my arms, and in that moment, all was right in the world. 

So, I had a C-section. We've well-established that detail. This time, my boy was so stubborn about coming out that my doctor ended up widening my incision AND using the vacuum. I sort of feel like one of those lightbulb know, how many Aggies does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Except it's more many medical interventions does it take to get a baby out of Ashley? Thank God for modern medicine. 

I don't know if this is a normal or unique detail, but either way, it's appreciated. At my hospital, the nurse anesthetists are often gracious enough to offer to take photos during surgery. This is such a blessing because it frees Andreas to support me and bond with the baby. Plus, so many special moments are captured! So shoutout and credits go to the awesome Plano Presby staff for several of these pictures. 

I'm going to be honest, we really had no idea how Anders and Aksel would react to a new baby in the family. As far as I could tell, Aksel never really acknowledged that I was even  pregnant! We are only a week and a half in, so there's still a lot that will certainly change, but so far the big brothers have totally embraced August. Aside from the occasional over-aggressive hug (Aksel) or introduction of tiny toys (Anders), they have been so appropriate, affectionate and interested and gentle. It's so sweet to watch, and I am beyond excited to see how their friendship develops over the years. 

Wecome to the family, August. We already love you more than words can describe.

Monday, February 2, 2015


It is completely surreal to me that this is the last week of the portrait project that will feature only 2 pictures. Our littlest babe is set to make his appearance this Thursday, and we are so excited to meet him! I'm grateful that this photo challenge will hold me accountable to document the new season in our family.

anders // This is my view each morning as we gather in the kitchen for breakfast (you're currently on a yogurt kick by the way). My favorite aspect of our morning meal is how liberally you dole out hugs, frequently leaning over to give me a squeeze and tell me you love me. It's a pretty outstanding way to start the day.

aksel // You recently discovered our piano. It's terribly out of tune and even has a couple of broken keys, but that doesn't seem to bother you a bit.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


A portrait of my kids, once a week, every week.

anders // My boy, you are expressive and passionate. We like to play a game where I name an emotion and you quickly pull a face that communicates it best. I like to think I'm teaching you words that you will one day enlist to describe your feelings, but I'm pretty sure you mostly enjoy the theatrics of it all. This was your 'angry' face, and while it doesn't look especially angry to me in the picture, I loved how your whole body reacted as you lunged towards the camera. 

aksel // You are curious, and you love to chase the sunlight. Many mornings after breakfast, you walk over to the sun dancing on the wall and attempt to touch the golden light. This particular afternoon, you plopped down on the patio in a harshly bright area to inspect the chiminea. You used the racing flag pole from Anders' Big Flyer (that you boys typically reserve for digging in the sand box) to prod the charred wood. In this moment, and so many others, I find myself wondering at the innate boy-ness with which I am surrounded.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Creating habits is tough, people. On some level I knew that keeping up with this project would be more difficult than it initially appeared, but I have been surprised at just how challenging it's been to capture glimpses of our days. It takes discipline to pause, to identify seemingly mundane moments as potentially special or unique. And even beyond that, it's required a fair amount of discipline to lug around and reacquaint myself with my camera. But it's Week 2, and I made it. And I suppose the point of this whole exercise is to instill new habits. Good habits. So, here we go.

anders // After spending an early afternoon hiking and playing at a playground, you insisted you didn't need a quiet time. I made a special exception and allowed you to watch a movie instead. This was the first time I've ever seen you fall asleep on the couch, and honestly, I lived to regret the decision. You woke up after a brief half hour and were in a terrible mood. But during that short-lived nap, it sure was sweet to sit next to you and listen to the steady rhythm of your breath. 

aksel // We were greeted with sunshine and amazing 70 degree weather in the middle of January. Far assembled a new water table, gifted to you boys at Christmas by Aunt Signe and Uncle Michael. I tried to sneak you to the backyard to explore and enjoy on your own for a bit, but Anders caught on to our plan about 90 seconds later. Of course you both loved playing and were completely soaked in no time.