Welcome to my blog! I’m Mandy, a wife, a mom, a dreamer, and many other things mixed together. I’ve wanted to start a blog for years, but I also wanted to start a bakery, write a novel, make wedding invitations, become a party planner, and a hundred other things. I finally forced myself to focus on just ONE dream so I could actually make it come true, which is how La La Mandy was finally born. I had a hard time deciding on just one focus for my blog, so La La Mandy focuses on a few things: motherhood, womanhood, relationships, writing, and sometimes food (because I love it). Most of what I write will be for entertainment, but I also hope to provide helpful information sometimes too.

I’m a Colorado native, but I live near Salt Lake City, Utah, with my husband, James, and our 17-month-old, Haven. James is the cutest dad, and we both love being parents, though Haven definitely keeps us on our toes. She’s super determined, curious, social, silly, and sweet, but also a bit of a drama queen (i.e. dramatically throwing her head back when she’s upset and biting whatever is in near her when she’s upset). She’s one of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen, and I really don’t think I’m biased.

Our first family picture. Totes adorbs, right?

James and I met at church in Salt Lake City. I had spoken in a meeting on Mother’s Day, and he and his mom had sung together. I hadn’t paid attention to him because I was so nervous about speaking, but then his mom came up to me after the service and said she’d told her son and nephew that one of them should date me, mostly because of how awesome my mom was (she had been the topic of my talk). For the next 5 months, we occasionally chatted in the halls between classes, and apparently James and his cousin tried to follow me home once (creepy! But they were following the wrong car). I’d always thought he was a good dresser, and I was impressed that he had a college degree, but it was until he was at my house for an activity that I started to see him differently. That week, he asked me out, and then things progressed quickly. He even came to Colorado to meet my family just two weeks after we’d started dating. We were married in the summer of 2014, 9 months after our first date.

The night we got engaged! I love how giddy we look. This is kind of how I feel every day when I know he’s on his way home from work.

Haven was born later the next year, and I fully intended to stay home with her. James and I both fell in love with her and her chunky cheeks immediately. Just two weeks before my maternity leave was up, we decided I’d need to go back to work because of my incredible health insurance (dang insurance). The plan was for me to keep on working while he found a better paying job with awesome benefits, but we weren’t sure how long that would take. I think at first I imagined I’d be back at work for no more than two weeks, but things weren’t working out in that way. I ended up working full-time for 6 more months until James found a full-time job that would work for our family. Working full-time with such a young baby was a tough experience for me because I’d always planned to be a stay-at-home mom, but I was grateful I could see that side of life and come to appreciate working moms on a new level. Ever since that day, I’ve been home with baby girl, sneaking in freelance writing (or naps) whenever I can.

I miss the days when she would fall asleep in my arms. Haven at 2-months-old, just before I went back to work.

Here are a few more things to know about me:

I love to writeI knew I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. I started writing stories when I was a kid, and even wrote a short, probably pretty terrible novel when I was 14 (nope, I have no clue where it is now). I constantly occupied the computer growing up, but I hated it when anybody would peek over my shoulder at what I was writing. I actually still hate that…When I started college, it was a given that I would study English. I’ve always been working on writing a novel, but have a really hard time finishing one. I’ve probably started at least 50 (go ahead, judge me, J.K. Rowling). I’ve been so busy with life and freelance writing that my nameless novel has been put on the back burner, but it’s my dream to someday have a bestseller and know that when I’m really ready to put in the work it requires, it’ll happen.

I worked for my dad’s firewood company growing up. It was the most random job and also the worst I ever did (I can say that because I’m sure he’ll never see this), but it taught me a lot about hard work and discipline. Instead of playing sports or hanging out with friends all the time, I spent a lot of my youth working outside. Sometimes I feel like I missed out, but mostly I see the benefits of all the lessons having that mundane job taught me. (Dad, if you do see this…sorry, but it’s true: firewood is not fun.)

I (kind of) speak Albanian. You may have heard a few words of Albanian from the movie Taken. And you know Eliza Dushku from Bring It On? Her family is Albanian. I served an 18-month mission in Albania for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons) when I was 21. Gosh, some days it was so hard that I wished I could get some random, yet painless disease and have to go home, but it was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I loved getting to know and teaching the people and learned a lot about myself during that time when I could only rely on God.  I got decent at speaking the language, but I’ve been home for over 7 years now, so I’ve forgotten most words.

Creeping through an Albanian bunker.

My husband was my first boyfriend. Yep. This wasn’t on purpose; I wanted a boyfriend basically once I knew what boys were, but I was always SUPER awkward with guys. I went on a fair amount of dates throughout college and afterward and was thiiiiis close to actually dating guys seriously, but it just never happened until I met James. I can’t say exactly why this was my reality, but I do know that when I met James, I was more confident in myself than I had ever been before. I had always walked on pins and needles with guys, freaking out about how I acted or what they thought of me, but I feel like I finally came to accept myself by the time I started dating James at 27-years-old. I was lucky to find the sweetest, most patient man I’ve ever met to help me navigate life in a relationship. 🙂

My nieces and nephews made me want to be a mom. I always thought that someday I would become a mom, but it wasn’t until my first nephew was born that I really felt that I wanted kids of my own down the road. I was 18 and away from home for the first time when he was born. I moved back home right after his birth, partially because I was homesick and partially because I wanted him to know me. I started babysitting him for a few hours each week while my sister-in-law worked on their new house, and I fell in love. I could stop his tears just by singing opera or brushing my teeth. He kept me company when my young heart was broken. I didn’t think I’d love another child as much as I loved him, but I was shocked with how much love could go around as each new kid was born into our family.

My oldest nephew, completely unaware that I’d captured this embarrassing photo.

I LOVE CUPCAKES. I always have, and I always will. I think this will be easy to figure out by how often I reference cupcakes. They make me happy. My two favorite places to get them are Sweet Tooth Fairy and Cravings Cupcakes, both of which were featured on Cupcake Wars.

This was not an ad, but it could’ve been, right? My face doesn’t express how happy this and every other cupcake has made me.

I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you enjoy La La Mandy!