In keeping with the Repko family tradition to write a year in review/Holiday Missive/family newsletter, I thought I would do my best to recap what was a most eventful and rich year for the California Repko’s. The highlights of course include the addition of Hudson Jane who completes our nuclear family and Hailee and I tying the knot under the bright sun in beautiful Cambria, California. Yes it happened in that order, because timing is everything, right?
We knew we wanted another baby and we knew we didn’t want Harper and baby #2 to be more than 3 years apart. So we used an app, tracked some basic things that happen in the female body, and boom, Pahokakee* was conceived. Given that we wanted to plan a wedding that was a bit of a destination and Hailee didn’t want to be a pregnant bride, we decided to have the baby in the Summer and the wedding in the Fall. Sometimes, things work out perfectly, and this was one of those times — although having a newborn and planning a wedding was probably a little harder than either of us anticipated.
*Pahokakee was Hudson’s name before (and for a little bit after) she was born. Harper named her that after we picked a few letter blocks from one of her toys and the name stuck for a while. She even refused to call her Hudson for the first few weeks she was born.
Work & Career Things
On the professional front, 2015 was also a year of growth for both Hailee and I. I completed my fourth year at Beachbody and we wrapped up our third year as photography duo Cuckoo’s Nest West — photographing weddings, engagements, babies, fitness, and other portraits. The growth is steady and completely organic and we are enjoying the ride, getting better with every shoot. It’s also really fun to work with Hailee on creative projects. She makes me better and she may the same thing about me, you’ll have to ask her. The only things we fight about on the job are her ability to lose every lens cap and sometimes she critiques my editing in a not so nice way. We’re working on it.
Late this year, we launched Cuckoo Kitch’n, a food photography and recipe blog. We haven’t officially promoted it yet, but expect lots of vegan deliciousness coming your way in 2015. There were a lot of short little vacations and weekend getaways, most of them with the kids, I think only one or two without, but we’ll get into the details of everything in the month by month breakdown below.
We’ve both kind of looked at the work we are putting into photography and blogging as a five year investment. Being that we are now approaching the beginning of year 4, we are closer to reaping the benefits than before. It’ll pay off because timing is everything, right?
Harper D and Princess Things
On the child front, we’ll start in chronological order with the princess, Harper Davis. We call her the Princess, like many families probably call their daughter, but the thing is she actually believes she is a princess. Well for a few hours each day at least. I think she owns 97 princess dresses and as of December 25 she has her own life size Princess Castle. We have no idea where it’s permanent home will be, but the look on her face when she saw it was well worth coordinating with Santa to bring it down the chimney.
Harper is tied with Hudson for my favorite/coolest/best kid in the world. She’s extremely outspoken, opinionated, smart, and knows what she wants in life. As you can imagine, having a strong willed child has it’s blessings, but also it’s challenges. Hailee is the one who seems to bear the brunt of the negative aspects of Harper’s strong will, but being the amazing Mom she is, she’s been able to pivot and work through it. She’s also the tougher parent of the two of us which makes me happy because I know her role as “bad cop” is vital, but it’s also really hard for me to be the disciplinarian. I step up when I need to though, right babe?
We started Harp in pre-school in June 2015 and she has adapted quite well. The first month or so was a battle every time we dropped her off and since I was the one dropping her off on my way in to work it was a heartbreaking way to start the day. I made a deal with her at some point in the early stages that she had to give it at least one month and if she still hated it, we could try another school. After a month went by the crying stopped and the teachers said she was the smiley, happy kid we know and love. She still gets a little emotional from time to time, but hey, so do I. I actually think the first day dropping her off was way harder on me than it was on her.
Harp is also attending a weekly dance class with a focus on ballet and tap. She looks forward to it as much as anything and has made some amazing progress, although she’s still usually about 2-3 seconds off the beat. She gets that from me.
She has been the most amazing big sister. Every worry/concern I had about adding a new addition to the fray has been nixed by Harper’s reaction and attitude toward her sister. She can be a little rough with her, but it’s all love. She adores her and it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever. The feeling is definitely mutual, too. Hudson will track Harper everywhere she goes. I think there’s going to be a lot of Hudson trying to keep up through the years, something I can definitely relate to as the middle child. She loves her Grammy and Popsie and gets to see them at least once every week, but sometimes more. She also loves going down to GJ’s house and dropping in at all random hours of the day. The girls are really lucky to have such loving grandparents so close.
When I think about Harper I get this crazy feeling of love and hope for the world, mixed with an anxiety that’s sometimes hard to control. I truly try to cherish every minute with her and feel so guilty when I’m not able to give her my 100% attention. The anxiety comes from the fact that for the first time I really wish I could make time stand still and hold on to the fact that it’s a Sunday at 3pm and she’s 3-years-old because once that moment is gone, it’s gone. And I suppose it’s that way about everything, but something about having kids makes it really come to life. I’m getting teary eyed thinking about it. Timing is everything, right?
Here are some other notes I’ve written down about her throughout the year:
- Has endless energy. We do our best to get her to bed at a reasonable hour, but she literally could stay awake until midnight most nights if we let her.
- The other day we were driving to school and she asked me the name of the song we were listening to. It was called Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift. So she asked me what Wild Dreams are. I told her they are something wild and crazy you strive to accomplish in your life. She said, “I don’t want have wild dreams, I’m happy just being a kid.”
- She would eat chocolate chip pancakes at every meal.
- She’s very into asking people if they are vegan, and this is (mostly) of her own doing. We really don’t talk about it unless she asks.
- She was very into the wedding and was the cutest little flower girl
- I would estimate that she spends at least 50% of her day playing in an imaginary made up world with a mix of characters from Aladdin, Frozen, or another book or movie she’s into – pretty much the way it should be.
- Hailee and I joke that she has a new demand / request every 30 seconds and it’s not actually that much of a stretch.
- Her teachers were pretty shocked at how outgoing she was when they saw her outside of school. They said she was pretty shy and reserved at school.
- Getting her to eat healthy and not be picky has become challenging as she’s gotten older. She basically wants to eat everything with agave and chocolate chips, but mommy and daddy aren’t really having it.
Now onto Hudson Jane, who came into this world by giving us all a few mini heart attacks and her Mom a solid 30 hours of intensely painful back labor. Hailee went into labor early in the morning on June 1st and it progressed pretty slowly. By 4pm, she having contractions about 5-10 minutes apart so we decided to head to the hospital. If you’ve ever been to the 405 in LA at rush hour, you know it’s basically hell on earth. Someway, somehow on this day the traffic was unusually forgiving (and I drove up the shoulder a few times), but we made it to UCLA in less than 30 minutes. Timing is everything, right?
The first four hours went slow and painful. Around 9p Hailee received an epidural shot and within 20 minutes the baby’s heart rate was dropping because her contractions were so intense the baby didn’t have time to recover. Within seconds there were about 9 people in the delivery room and one of them was throwing scrubs at me to put on. Hailee was whisked away and I was left standing there wondering WTF had just happened.
I soon found out they were prepping her for emergency surgery. My heart sank. The doctors did their best to explain the situation but they were understandably cryptic and I was left just kind of waiting. Fortunately the contractions slowed down and they didn’t have to do a C-Section. Only problem was they had prepped her for surgery so she was numb from the neck down. The plus side of all of it that she was able to get some sleep. Then around 4am (~26th hour) the contractions started up again and she was close enough to be able to start pushing. I’ll spare you the details on this, but it’ll suffice to say it was an extremely intense 4 hours and nothing like what you see in the movies. Finally around 9am, they had to use a vacuum to help pull her out. To add to the drama, they will only use the vacuum 3x before they have to call it quits and go for a C-Section. On the third try, the vacuum popped off and you could feel the energy in the room drop. But luck was on our side because it had moved her just enough for Hailee to be able to push her out on her own and within 20 minutes, at 10:23 am, we had another baby girl! We didn’t know she was going to be a girl, but when we pulled Harper in to tell her, she said, “I knew it was going to be a girl the whole time.” She was right.
Hudson is very much a Hudson and in many ways not like her sister at all. In the first 3 months, she was sleeping 6-8 hours per night. She is also a little more “go with the flow” and her demeanor is a little more zen than Harper’s was in the first six months. She’s more mellow in some ways, but is also very active, strong, and wants progress through the baby stages very quickly. She was sitting up by 5 months and pulling herself up on her own at 6 months. She also regressed in the sleep department and pretty much has to sleep attached to Hailee for the night. Her napping/sleeping schedule is pretty predictable whereas Harper D was erratic and wanted to play at 2 in the morning. It’s hard to imagine our little family without her.
2015 was a year of growth, but also a year of loss. We said goodbye to our Patriarch, one of the most steadfast and enlightened souls I’ve ever known. David Russell Burd, known better to me as Grandpa, passed in January. He had severe kidney failure and his last days were spent at home surrounded by his family. I was lucky enough to be able to make it out Arizona and there were some truly special moments in those final hours. None better than this moment when my Mom read him a letter that my brother Jayson wrote.
Other highlights and things
Two thousand and fifteen also saw the addition of Grandma Burd to the left coast. She was living solo in Arizona for a few months and after a visit to LA and a lot of pressure from her kids and grandkids, she decided to make the leap and move to Redondo Beach. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to leave the life she had built in Tucson, but I do think it was time and is the best thing for her. Selfishly, we are really enjoying that she gets to spend time with Harper and Hudson and will hopefully have very fond memories of them, and vice versa — something that just wasn’t going to happen with our previous proximity. Papa Jay was able to make a visit out in April for Harper’s third birthday and again for the wedding in October. Speaking of…
The Wedding and Central Coast Things
The week of October 23, 2015 we gathered ~120 of our closest friends and family in Cambria and got married. The whole week was insanely perfect and the Wedding Day even better than that. I know it’s cliché, but something about marrying your best friend in front of all of your best friends and family is a pretty surreal feeling. Hailee looked like an absolute goddess, and Harper and Hudson were like little dolls in their handmade matching dresses (created, concepted, and stitched by their Aunt Kathy). I couldn’t have scripted it any better. One of our biggest hopes for the wedding was to bring people together for multiple days and make the “wedding” last — because timing is everything, right? Our plan worked. Hailee’s parents were incredibly thoughtful and generous hosts and accommodated even our wildest requests, like bringing airstreams and a VW bus onto the property.
Speaking of the VW bus, Hailee and I took off for Big Sur for a short honeymoon two days after the wedding. We spent a lot of time sleeping, taking pictures, and enjoying the coastline. We actually got to really talk to each other for the first time in a while. Anyone with chatty kids will understand that it’s pretty hard to get in a word in with your spouse when you have a child or two monopolizing all your attention.
All in all, life is extremely good. I think we face the same/normal challenges that many young couples with kids face, and doing our best to navigate through it. I am thankful every day that we have two healthy and smart kids and don’t ever take that for granted. The only thing I wish for is more hours in the day to spend doing things I love with the people I love and less time on things like working and driving. But, we laying the foundation to make all that happen and I think 2016 is going to be another year of growth.
Now we have so many pictures I want to include, so if you think you’ve seen enough, you can stop here. But, if you want to see some more, keep scrolling!
January – Gelato & Portland
February – Maternity Photos & Colorado For Kegs 30th
March – Dance Class & A Visit To Stepladder Ranch
April – Harper D Turns Three
May – Popsie Wins An Award & Harper D Meets A Wedding Girl
June – Hudson Jane Arrives & Harper Starts Pre-School
July – America, Being Home, and Harper D Swims!
August – Jake Bachelor Party & Hailee Wedding Shower
September – Yosemite & Hailee Bachelorette
October – Weddings and Honeymoons
November – Paternity Leave and Family Things
December – Huddy’s First Christmas & Harper’s First Christmas Recital