Family Pictures + Behind the Scenes in Life

We were extremely blessed by the talented Jillian Goulding (@jilliangoulding on Instagram) to capture our first family session as a party of five! This girl is unbelievably talented (obviously) and blew it outta the park. The cherry on top is she is a former kindergarden teacher, meaning the kids absolutely loved her. & when you win my kids over, you’ve just won me. If you’re in the Sacramento / Bay Area, she’s your girl! Can’t thank you enough Jillian! XO

Jude was a little over a month when these were taken so he’s grown a TON since these shots. It’s actually crazy looking at them as he looks like a completely different baby now in my opinion. Time is flying by and I’m really torn about it. I’m not the biggest fan of the newborn stage (just keepin it real- mainly due to lack of sleep ;)) so now that were outta that phase, things seem to be getting a little bit easier. I thought I’d answer a few questions I seem to get fairly often surrounding life with Jude. If you’ve followed along with me for a while, you know that I tend to be pretty honest and sometimes blunt. Mainly I just like keeping it real with you all as mommy hood is one crazy ride!

How did you lose your baby weight so quickly? 

I touched on this briefly in a previous post, but this is one area I have been very fortunate in. I am definitely abnormal when it comes to my quick weight loss post baby. Part of it is tied to breastfeeding and the other is linked to my genes. I just lose weight. There really is no how-to behind it rather than it just happens. I know that I am a rare breed in this area so please don’t compare yourself to me!

You make three kids look so easy- what’s your trick?

Oh man. Let me be real- three kids is not easy. honestly. It’s been the game changer (just like we were fore-warned). Sometimes I think this pretty little app called Instagram with pretty little pictures can play games with people’s minds in tricking people to think my life is perfect. I have this perfect little family and we live this perfect life.

I love my life and I love my family. I also love sharing “pretty” pictures of these things. But behind the scenes & behind the reels, we face “life stuff” just like you. I never want to be seen or known as someone who has it all together, someone who is on another level than others. I try my best (and it’s really hard, if I’m going to be honest) to balance both the realistic and the not-so-realistic side of Instagram. Because there is a not-so-realistic side, as much as people will tell you otherwise. And I get it. If you’re on the business side of things, I see why people do what they do, post what they post, and appear the way they appear. But I also think it’s extremely important to tell it like it is and to not always paint the pretty picture like everything is perfect, because it’s not. There’s so much strength and freedom found when you know you’re not the only one facing craziness in life.

With three kids, there is always something to be done. You kind of have to come to the realization that there will always be something to do, meaning your to-do list will never be checked off. What will drive you crazy is if you feel like you have to do it all. You won’t. You can’t. So I’ve allowed myself some grace in this area and have tried my best to take a step back in being a perfectionist in every area of my life. It all comes down to balance and priorities. What’s the most important to you? For me, I’ve had to let our house go (specifically the laundry, piles and piles….) so I can focus on getting a blog post done or snap some pics of my kids / family. I’ve MADE that a priority which is why it may appear to you that I “have it all together”. What you aren’t seeing in those pictures are the stack of clothes sitting right next to me, the piled up dishes, or the whiny child 🙂

On a different note… here are some things that have helped me tremendously with the transition.

Exercise- Find a time (even if it’s odd hours) where you can workout. Even if it’s 15 minutes. Do it! Walk, run, put on a DVD at home, pull up you-tube- whatever. Something you can do to release tension and gain energy.

Time alone- My husbands schedule is pretty flexible so I’ve been able to take off for an hour or two here and there to help me get some work done or just breathe for a bit. It might even mean taking a hot bath at night when your baby goes down. Anything 30 minutes or more always helps me refuel.

Talk to your friends- Don’t do mommy hood alone. I PROMISE it’s 100X easier when you can bounce things off of people and gain a different perspective/opinion on the matter. Sometimes we think we can do it alone (or we know it all) but it’s so much easier to do this journey with others. It’s life giving and freeing.

Social Media- Don’t resort to social media. Be in the moment with your kids- it’s easier said than done, I know. This is probably the craziest of times so if it means putting your phone down for a day, do it. It’s often times hard to resist, but in the end I always feel so much better when I’ve taken a break and release myself from the pressure of having to keep up with everyone. And on that note, don’t compare. Remember, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Coffee- Put some caffeine in your body, & lots of it!!! My go to is the iced coffee from Starbucks since I get free refills all day (yessss!)

Do something for you- Paint your nails or get your hair done… do something for you! I mentioned this in a previous post in how to prepare for baby’s arrival… but this will also help post baby. Do something that will make you feel a little more put together as most other areas of your life will be all out of sorts 🙂

Time with God- If you’re religious, spend time alone praying or reading the Bible. I’ve gotta admit that this has been put on the back burner for me but the few times I have, I’ve noticed such a difference in my outlook and perspective. He makes all the difference.

If you guys have any other specific questions regarding my schedule, current season in life, or maybe just about me in general, leave a comment or e-mail me. I’m thinking about starting a series of #honesttalk – where I’ll honestly try to answer any questions you guys have. Sounds like fun to me!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from our session with Jillian…


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  • Raina Elegado
    June 1, 2016

    You have the most beautiful family! <3 And I totally agree, you make 3 kids look easy which encourages me that I can handle 2 under 2! Lol

  • Mari D
    June 1, 2016

    I love your post and the photos! I also love your honest talk.
    Since you asked to comment/email for some honest questions, here I go (please feel free to not answer it if you don’t want to). Finances!
    My husband and I always wanted to have three kids. However, we have been thinking about our decision lately. I honestly don’t see how families work that out. I see you and your husband are young, and you stopped working on your part time job while pregnant with Jude. How do you guys manage to cut down your income and increase your expenses by adding another child? Does your hubby increased his work hours? Do you guys have an extra source of income?
    I’m sorry about the very blunt/straight forward question, but I am trying to figure it out how successful people do it. I want to see where I can change in my own life 🙂

    • ellabrooksblog
      June 1, 2016

      Hi Mari! I don’t mind answering at all. Honestly, I kind of see it as, you will always find a way to make it work. I’ve had friends who have cut out so much of their budget to stay home with the kids etc. We don’t make a ton of money to be honest- we’re probably somewhere in the middle if I had to guess. I actually have income that comes in now from my blog / Instagram so that helps some. My husband still has his full time job and works one additional night a week. We definitely don’t have an abundance of extra money leftover per month but were also not living super tight. So far our monthly expenses haven’t increased much since having Jude. That may change as time goes on but for now we are doing alright. Hope that answers your question!

      • Mari D
        June 2, 2016

        Hi Mel,
        Thank you so much! To be honest, I immediately regretted after posting my comment as I was afraid I touched such a private subject. I apologize for that. However, you were so graceful and candid in your response that made me feel better. I like bloggers like yourself who try to demystify the glamorous world of social media. We all have our glories and struggles and it is ok to be open about it. Thank you so much for your advice and I will try to figure it out a way to afford three kids while living in crazy expensive San Diego. Wish me luck! 🙂

  • Blake
    June 1, 2016

    Love this! Where did you get your sons comforter from?

    • ellabrooksblog
      June 1, 2016

      Hi Blake! It’s from Hanna Anderson 🙂

  • Chloe
    June 1, 2016

    Hi Mel, you mentioned a post about preparing for a baby’s arrival, which one is this post? I love the idea of self care being a part of it! X

  • Jenna
    June 2, 2016

    This post is so helpful as a soon to be mommy of two because all I hear is how hard the transition from 1 child to 2 children. Perspective sometimes helps make things not seem so bad! Your perspective on life is infectious and I love following you and loving the mommy community I follow on Instagram and other fellow mom bloggers? You are so right in the fact that we as mamas can’t do it alone and it’s good to know there are people there for you!

    Thanks for the #honesttalk gorgeous mama?

    • ellabrooksblog
      June 2, 2016

      Hi Jenna! I think any transition is a little hard at first- 1 to 2 was actually harder for us because our circumstances were a little different with my newborn (Brooks) having a severe case of acid reflux. If he hadn’t… I think I’d say it was an easier transition than 2 to 3. But like I said, any transition is hard at first until you find your new normal. You can do it 🙂 And your right, find your community of mamas and they’ll help you through the rough patches! Good luck girl! XO

  • Katie Elizabeth
    June 2, 2016

    Love your dress! Looking for something similar for our newborn pictures here in a couple of weeks! Not sure if I missed you tagging it, but where is it from?!

    • ellabrooksblog
      June 2, 2016

      Hi Katie! I actually didn’t- probably should have! It’s from Zara, and pretty recently too! Good luck!

  • Erika
    June 3, 2016

    Hi Mel! You have such a beautiful little family! May I ask where is your white tassel throw pillow from? Love it! ?

    • ellabrooksblog
      June 3, 2016

      Hi 🙂 Of course! It’s from Home Goods – I’m not sure if they’re a national chain store but we have a few where we live in Sacramento 🙂 I got it a few months back.

  • Megan
    June 6, 2016

    Can you do a post about your everyday? I understand that not everyday is the same but just in general. If you wanted to do everyday of the week that would be nice too. Another thing I can’t help but notice is that your family is all so happy! Like I understand kids and even adults have bad days but y’all look down right happy! another idea of a blog post would be how your blog “job” works and money and stuff also some about your church I understand you guys are religious and I think that plays a big part of your children’s and family’s happiness. So just throwing some ideas out there have a great day week and month love you all -megan

    • ellabrooksblog
      June 7, 2016

      Hi Megan! lol – we do have good days and it definitely shows! We also have bad days too like everyone else. Thanks for the suggestions about future blog posts!

  • Andrea
    June 19, 2016

    such sweet images of your beautiful family. loved watching them grow over the years.

    • ellabrooksblog
      June 20, 2016

      Hi Andrea! Ditto!!! Funny how you can feel like you really know someone just from social media- you have a beautiful family!

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Family Pictures + Behind the Scenes in Life